Blue_Dust is who i am. Not much to say here.
Table of contents:
1. Level design mistakes from modern shooters.
2. Open world level design mistakes.
3. Level design for shooters from the 90's - early 2000.
1. Modern FPS - A game more merely a 6 hour long movie?
When it comes to level design for first person games nowadays, they resemble an action packed game with a deep story, or so it seems. In reality, what a shooter tries to offer in today's age of video games is merely just an experience being lead by the developer and sorely lacking input from the players themselves. While these games could have a decent multiplayer, the idea of players leading the game is preposterous, the developers should show the players the game they want to see it.Of course, that also means that quite a bit of features within the maps will be missing. From the point obvious of "mission borders" that don't allow you to even try to move left once to explore something new, to the headache inducing forced events. All of these come in an overall unpleasant experience for those seeking gameplay in addition to the storyline.These shooters remove the idea that ammo is something important to the player and they sometimes just give you infinite ammo as it seems too hard to hide ammo within the stages or make the player explore. This movie-like experience also costs more money than expected. The FPS experience that's linear with branching paths would still cost less if the focus wasn't just some Hollywood experience with lots of explosions. With no freedom given to the player, what is to be expected of the majority of shooters in the future?
2. Shooters with open world level design - A big failure at some points.
The game that will be used as an example of this will be Far Cry 3 (as it seems the most obvious choice). A game with the premise of a "survival experience" where resources are scarce and the player is just trying his best to survive within the wild dangers of a tropical island. Of course, 2 hours in you already get sub machine guns and start hunting wild animals like Craven the hunter but that's a whole different story.The problem with open world shooters is that developers work a long time on making these open worlds, but they completely forget weapon placement and overall making it an actually difficult experience for the player. The survival element goes down the drain when you're able to get health and weapons so easily. Yes, open world games are beautiful and have an exploration aspect in them, but with nothing to do and so easy to achieve power within them, the fun goes away after the first few hours within the game. A perpetually going progression within the game would make more sense. A system where the player slowly gets to the actually strong weapons instead of the player just waiting around 2-3 hours until finally he gets some kind of powerful assault rifle or such. The big issue here is that it would take too much time to really perfect the open world with some details, making the game far less dull. The easy excuse for poor level design within these games is a story. However, with lacking gameplay, they are not as enjoyable as they should really be.
3. Old school-like level design - A bad storyline or some great gameplay?
What could be said about the older level design is this - it's far more interesting to explore! It's as simple as that.Branching paths within these games truly make it more interesting. In a maze-like setup or sometimes a big open area (from towns to a desert dam, it's all very interesting). Very interesting enemy placement makes these also harder but more rewarding when an enemy is defeated. The secrets within these games have to be cleverly placed to encourage the player to carefully look around. While such aspects are present within modern shooters, they are placed maybe slightly on the right of the player. The older style of secret placement would require you to go around vents, buildings, tunnels, even sliding walls. These secrets would also end up rewarding the player with a weapon to help out, not just merely a document or something along those lines. But that weapon is powerful and you get it early in the game, so doesn't that make it kind of easy like in modern shooters? Well, not really. These weapons from secret places have scarce ammo and more often than not, you'll be saving that for an emergency situation.Seeing as how we're talking about scarce ammo, let's talk a little bit about weapon, ammunition and health placement. Well, older shooters didn't have slowly regenerating health. If you got shot several times, you wouldn't magically regain your health and you would have to begin searching around to find a medkit, adding a challenging survival factor to the game. Regenerating health just seems like an excuse to remove medkits from maps. The guns in the game, you don't get that many just at the beginning of the game but as you slowly progress, you're able to carry more guns. While it seems insane carrying 8-10 weapons at a time, it's much better than just being able to carry a pistol and some kind of assault rifle or sub-machine gun. And the ammunition for these games, well, there's not a lot of it. If you start shooting wildly you'll end up with no ammo leaving you to situations where you'll be cornered having to use desperate methods to survive. Those methods will leave you in quite a cheerful state where you'll feel like what you've done is actually rewarding on it's own right.And how the levels look themselves, well, even if the graphics are dated the games look really interesting. From large cities to underground laboratories, they're actually pretty interesting to look at. More often than not, the levels themselves try to tell the story and not some kind of dull narrative. Flaws within the old school shooters would probably just be the platforming sections. No one likes platforming in an FPS game and it's just frustrating, nothing more.
Overall, level design within modern shooters is something quite dead and it's just pictures around a tunnel with no different twists and turns within it. You are just here to look at a movie and play it the way the developers have intended, nothing more. If you, as a game developer would like you change that, try and take the old school approach. If you want to tell a story, try to do it in the Half-Life sense. But please, stop making boring action movies for the players. Not everyone are here for the movie-like experience.
For a more simplified "straight forward" explanation of level design within shooters, please use the following link: Youtube.com