A discussion on linearity -

Anchuent Christory

Socially Awesome and Cool.
kiwifarms.net
The term linearity is often seen as a four letter word in the industry, or as a cheap insult by people who don't like a game where that structure is prevalent. When it comes down to it, a game with a linear design philosophy often allows the developers to create a much tighter and more refined experience. An example could be with a modern shooter, where all the encounters are designed with the knowledge that the player will enter from a specific point, so the enemies will react accordingly, and this would fall apart if the player came from a different direction.

Now talking about the two fps maps shown in the op, Doom is a good example of great level design, but then consider an up to date shooter with that kind of level design, corridors that go nowhere, elevators and pits in the middle of the room, sliding walls with items randomly behind them. This would all be incredibly jarring in a game where the graphics are realistic and environments are meant to resemble real life places.
Fun fact, did you know Doom was never originally designed as a fps, and was meant to be a top down shooter? With that in mind, the way the levels are the flow of the combat actually make more sense.
 
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Cishet dudebro
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The term linearity is often seen as a four letter word in the industry, or as a cheap insult by people who don't like a game where that structure is prevalent. When it comes down to it, a game with a linear design philosophy often allows the developers to create a much tighter and more refined experience.

I wouldn't call linearity refined. There are games that used linearity for specific reasons. Such as Half Life's showcasing of it's new scripting technology. But that's not where people demonize linearity. I have played numerous games and forgot I even finished them years later. Even critically acclaimed very linear games like Bioshock Infinite are also seen as lacking replayability. As once you complete the story there's very little reason to do it again. It's also not a new concern either, if you read contemporary reviews of very linear games it's usually one of the biggest complaints.

There's a reason linearity is the norm in games today. It's easier to test, allows for more "cinematic" scripted sequences and relies entirely on the visual. Good map design however is more than visual and in very good linear games like Half Life 2 they try things that couldn't have been accomplished in a non-linear environment.

Now talking about the two fps maps shown in the op, Doom is a good example of great level design, but then consider an up to date shooter with that kind of level design, corridors that go nowhere, elevators and pits in the middle of the room, sliding walls with items randomly behind them.
There are many other kinds of non-linear map design than Doom. An example is Goldeneye for the N64 which had the developers create hallways that lead to dead ends and rooms that had only furniture to make the environment seem more realistic. In Deus Ex like I mentioned in the OP, objectives have creative ways to go through them allowing for more replayability.
This would all be incredibly jarring in a game where the graphics are realistic and environments are meant to resemble real life places.
There are examples of recent games with non-linear map design akin to Doom. Serious Sam 3 is a great example, as is Rise of the Triad. Both of which have secret areas and large upscale maps.

Does that mean AAA release games should feature such map design? Not necessarily. Doom 3 was more muted and hub based, and it was a feature I liked about the game.

Fun fact, did you know Doom was never originally designed as a fps, and was meant to be a top down shooter? With that in mind, the way the levels are the flow of the combat actually make more sense.
According to the Doom wiki, Doom was always intended to have a pseudo-3D engine and it was created right after Wolfenstein 3D and Spear of Destiny. Both of which were FPS games that had a very similar design to Doom. Wolf 3D was also not even Id's first FPS and they made a few before that as well.

The only FPS I'm aware of that started out as a top down shooter was Duke Nukem 3D. The remains of the design are still implemented in the game with the fully textured map.
 
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Anchuent Christory

Socially Awesome and Cool.
kiwifarms.net
I'm trying to find the article that talked about Doom being designed as a top down shooter, but it eludes me. Maybe I imagined it?

Anyway, I wasn't specifically saying that linearity in itself is refined, more that it allows that kind of focus from the developer. Games like Resident Evil 4 and The Last Of Us wouldn't have been the experiences that they were if they weren't so tightly focused.
I don't favour linearity over other methods, but I tend to find the constant berating of games that feature linear design these days to be unfair. If a linear game's not very good, the chances are it wouldn't have been any good if it was more open as well.
I just feel that many people don't understand why certain choices are made by game designers, especially in this day of rising developmental costs. Linearity is also nothing new, Mario, Sonic, Streets of Rage... you don't get any more linear than that, yet they don't suffer from it. I find the constant cries on game forums of x game series to become "open world" are coming from people who don't realise what they're asking for.

Half Life and Deus Ex aren't just good examples of open design, they're good examples of talented developers breaking the mould, sadly, not every game can be up to this standard.

When it comes down to it, I'll play anything, and to be honest I don't really make the distinction. To me, a good game's a good game, and I'll enjoy it for what it is. I love my Elder Scrolls and GTA's as much as my Uncharted's and The Last of Us'
 

Watcher

Cishet dudebro
kiwifarms.net
I just feel that many people don't understand why certain choices are made by game designers, especially in this day of rising developmental costs. Linearity is also nothing new, Mario, Sonic, Streets of Rage... you don't get any more linear than that, yet they don't suffer from it. I find the constant cries on game forums of x game series to become "open world" are coming from people who don't realise what they're asking for.
For the most part yeah, a game requires a system that benefits it. There are inherent downsides to open world design just as there are to linear games.
 

Alec Benson Leary

Creator of Asperchu
Christorical Figure
kiwifarms.net
The term linearity is often seen as a four letter word in the industry, or as a cheap insult by people who don't like a game where that structure is prevalent. When it comes down to it, a game with a linear design philosophy often allows the developers to create a much tighter and more refined experience.
Agreed. The fact is, sandbox gameplay and a tight story sometimes butt heads, and in today's world of GTA clones a lot of people seem unwilling to open their mind to the latter.
 
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Anchuent Christory

Socially Awesome and Cool.
kiwifarms.net
Agreed. The fact is, sandbox gameplay and a tight story sometimes butt heads, and in today's world of GTA clones a lot of people seem unwilling to open their mind to the latter.
This, I feel, was the Mass Effect series' undoing. They had a strong narrative to impart on the player, yet made a big deal of the ability to choose the outcome at certain key points. Sadly, most of the time your choices made no real difference because the story demanded events go in a particular direction, and they clearly had trouble wrapping the whole thing up in the end.
 

Alec Benson Leary

Creator of Asperchu
Christorical Figure
kiwifarms.net
This, I feel, was the Mass Effect series' undoing. They had a strong narrative to impart on the player, yet made a big deal of the ability to choose the outcome at certain key points. Sadly, most of the time your choices made no real difference because the story demanded events go in a particular direction, and they clearly had trouble wrapping the whole thing up in the end.
 
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Cishet dudebro
kiwifarms.net
This, I feel, was the Mass Effect series' undoing. They had a strong narrative to impart on the player, yet made a big deal of the ability to choose the outcome at certain key points. Sadly, most of the time your choices made no real difference because the story demanded events go in a particular direction, and they clearly had trouble wrapping the whole thing up in the end.
Almost everyone I know that talks about the strengths of the Mass Effect franchise tend not to mention main storyline. They tend to focus on things like the distractions and the characters. The most successful game in the franchise, both commercially and critically is ME2 and for the majority of the game time you're not doing anything related to the main quest at all.

I feel the lack of choices relating to the storyline is a result of incompetence and lack of direction. The lead writer changed between ME2 and ME3 (Actually the lead writer Karpyshyn left the studio entirely, as did Bioware's CEO of 20 years) and much of the team had to refocus development on multiplayer. I wrote about this more in another topic but in terms of the ending, Bioware clearly had something bigger planned for the ending but were rushed to meet a deadline given by EA. Most of the fanbase even doesn't want ME4 to pick up from ME3 at all and want it to focus significantly more on character interaction and side content. As that is where Bioware shines in their games.

There's a lot more I can say on the subject with regard to differences between each game in the trilogy. But on the whole I saw ME3 coming given how bad DA2 was.
 

Alec Benson Leary

Creator of Asperchu
Christorical Figure
kiwifarms.net
I feel the lack of choices relating to the storyline is a result of incompetence and lack of direction. The lead writer changed between ME2 and ME3 (Actually the lead writer Karpyshyn left the studio entirely, as did Bioware's CEO of 20 years) and much of the team had to refocus development on multiplayer.
There's nothing I hate more than tacked-on multiplayer mode. Because most of the time it's unnecessary, and it always diverts crucial resources away from every other part of the game that needs work.
 

Surtur

Destroyer of the Universe.
Retired Staff
kiwifarms.net
As a bit of an aside, it kind of irks me when people rage about DA3 having multiplayer. DA is suppossed to be the spiritual successor to Neverwinter Nights whitch had *gasp* multiplayer!
 

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Cishet dudebro
kiwifarms.net
As a bit of an aside, it kind of irks me when people rage about DA3 having multiplayer. DA is suppossed to be the spiritual successor to Neverwinter Nights whitch had *gasp* multiplayer!
I thought Dragon Age was supposed to be a spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate...

Coincidentally Baldur's Gate also had multiplayer, which was essentially like coop.

DA3's multiplayer isn't going to be nearly as good as NWN's. I remember NWN's let players become the DM and change the nature of the game. Like spawn in monsters and change quest variables.
 

Surtur

Destroyer of the Universe.
Retired Staff
kiwifarms.net
Maybe, but yea BG and NWN were both amazing RPG's and I loved NWN's multiplayer. I can only wish DA3's MP could be as deep as that.
 
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