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June 19th, 2011, 06:39
Jay Barnson's latest piece on cRPG design asks Why Dungeons?
A) They make structuring adventures easy
As a designer (pen-and-paper or computer/console game designer), the confining nature of a dungeon makes things a bit easier to structure. Dungeons are not open-ended environments, and form natural barriers requiring predictable navigation. This means designers donít have to jump through all kinds of contortions to structure an interesting adventure without imposing arbitrary limits on players. Dungeons form natural tree structures (at least well-designed ones do), albeit with loops, which lends itself easily to creating ordered events, choke points, and so forth.
Of course, in many games the players can take some extraordinary measures to bypass them, like spells to pass through walls or teleport. This is very cool if the adventure is structured flexibly enough to tolerate this -it rewards the player for taking initiative. But itís still an extraordinary event, not the preferred means of navigation. Whereas in an outdoor environment, itís harder to justify why the player canít just take a shortcut through the woods to go straight to the next castle.
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June 19th, 2011, 06:39
I've considered for awhile that the dungeon as a device for role players (as compared to storming the castle) was first realized by Gygax, Arneson and company after reading The Scarlet Citadel by Robert E. Howard.

At the point which Conan the Cimmerian is thrown into the Wizard's dungeon it almost reads like the game.
Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
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