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Default Rampant Games - Game Design: Mazes Suck

December 5th, 2009, 02:19
Jay Barnson writes some tips for designers to make mazes suck less:
Game Design: Seven Ways to Make Mazes Suck Less
Maze (n): A confusing intricate network of passages.

The maze is a popular old-school gaming standard. It's a gameplay device that sounds awesome on paper, especially for adventures and RPGs. It's a navigational challenge, requiring problem-solving and memory skills. It's alternative gameplay to supplement existing mechanics, and most importantly it is EASY to implement! What's not to like?

The first maze appearance in a video game that I'm familiar with was in the original Colossal Cave Adventure by Will Crowther and Don Woods. There were two mazes: the little twisty maze of passages all alike were created by Crowther, and Woods created the maze where all the passages were different. It was then, in the 1970s, that players first began experiencing the joy of mazes in computer games. And I believe it was then, in the 1970s, that players discovered the truth about mazes in computer games:

Mazes suck.
More information.
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December 5th, 2009, 02:19
Wait a second, wasn't "twisty little passages, all alike" the maze in Zork?

Descent actually had some great maze elements. You had plenty of time to explore and plenty of fun doing it as you blew up the bad robots. Once you blasted that power plant, though, the countdown started and you had to make your way back through the tunnels. The joy of hitting that exit just as the countdown lady said "Zero" was one of my greater moments in gaming!
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December 5th, 2009, 12:07
I like designing mazes. Usually I'll include an easy way to give up, like a magic maze where going south always deposits you at the start, but then some kind of pattern you need to figure out to be able to progress through. And/Or reward players for doing things to help work their way through the maze like breadcrumbing etc.

My 3d mazes I tend to keep more simple and try and make sure that players with spacial awareness can work out the relationships between level changes etc.
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December 5th, 2009, 23:06
It was quite amusing, after reading this yesterday, I then had to go and test out one of the complex mazes in U6P which actually makes use of many of Jay's suggestions!! Did anyone say Sutek?

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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December 5th, 2009, 23:19
Glad to see it was good for something besides giving myself guilt! If only providing entertainment.
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December 6th, 2009, 04:03
Jay, I think you might actually enjoy this maze in U6P. Since it's a 'free' Indie production you might like to take a look if you haven't already. We're trying to squash all the minor annoying bugs at the moment; you know the ones, where you can kill monsters through stone walls if they're close enough, but other than that, the beta is completely playable and able to be finished. Though we're saving an alternative ending for the final release!!

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December 7th, 2009, 06:37
I've been waiting for it to become final, but if it's a stable beta I'll have to give it a try.
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December 7th, 2009, 09:20
I've been playing it and it is very stable. I only had one problem loading the game, but all I did was restart the program and it worked just fine the second time. No CTDs yet and all the quests seem to be working just fine, although I'm still early on in the game. The monster descriptions having a 'TBD' entry in the compendium, a few of the NPCs don't have a picture yet, and Lord British looking like he is walking around in rags, but other than a few cosemtic TBD items it seems like a solid release.

I've come across a few bugs, but not many and it let's me explore wherever I want without freaking out on me. As long as I can survive the exploration, it seems to have no problem with going off the beaten track

You should definitely give it a shot. All I have to say is be careful of giant rats. They'll swarm all over you faster than you think.

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I'm still just a rat in a cage.
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December 7th, 2009, 10:20
Most of the bugs are fairly cosmetic/polishing/improvements/etc. Don't knock the Compendium, I helped put that together!!

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December 7th, 2009, 13:38
I love that thing. I was just stating the facts The only thing missing (I think) are the descriptions for the monsters. Other than that it is great. I really want to find out what a Nether Abonimation is. When I saw that thing I of course had to see how I could fare against it. I think I lasted about 3 - 5 seconds before it knocked the stuffing out of me and I found myself back in the throne room.

It is really weird seeing Lord British in rags though. I think they are rags, not sure. You guys must still be polishing up his armor

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December 7th, 2009, 17:12
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
Wait a second, wasn't "twisty little passages, all alike" the maze in Zork?
Zork was a later version of Adventure (Colossal Caves).
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