Rampant Games - Lousy Choices and Linear Dungeons
Jay Barnson writes about the "evolution" of dungeon design in RPGs from the complex to the strictly linear. Skyrim is the obvious touchstone, with Jay currently playing Bethsoft's latest release:
RPG level design is a funky thing – particularly with good ol’ traditional dungeons. The linear dungeons of Skyrim are awfully convenient, and in all honesty may be a trifle more “realistic” (does that ever matter?) than the sprawling dungeon complexes of many classic games. It’s easy to avoid getting lost in them – the map screen is usually only necessary to see if you missed a corner or closet somewhere where there may be some additional loot.
But they do rub me the wrong way a little. I like my big, sprawling dungeon complexes. And I do like to harp on having choices. However, a choice between a door on the left or a door on the right – or whether you take the left or right branch in a corridor – is a lousy choice. Without some kind of knowledge about the difference between the two (or more) choices, it’s really no choice at all.