→ ToC and first chapter.
Divide and measure: parametrisation and its application in level making and procgen
Each level can be ranked on any defined axis with two opposite extremes. Consider the following ones:
- vertical / horizontal;
- mountainous / flat;
- spiky / smooth;
- repeating / non-repeating;
- static / moving;
- dead / filled with life;
- modular / monolithic;
- irregular / synchronised;
- noisy / ordered;
- cold / hot;
- intertwined / straight;
- tight / spacious;
- requiring quick decisions / strategic;
- clear / disorienting;
- concise / full of superfluous elements;
- sparse / dense;
- light / dark.
Note that these are not binary values but a scale on which one can pick any value.
What do these scales give to us?
These scales serve several roles:
- They can be used for the generation of levels' ideas. Pick any values on the list of these scales: they will describe a unique level for you.
- They can also be used for level ranking and further grouping into larger stages, which will help to lay out the whole game.
- Lastly, these scales can be used in procedural level generation or assistive tooling.
By locking several sliders to some positions, it becomes easy to create levels with one theme. This can be used to additionally make groups of levels in your game distinct from each other. Gradual changes in values give a sense of progression.
Let's look at a couple of possible patterns:
- Levels in this section are spiky and have lots of movable elements. Initially noisy and rough, they gradually become more ordered and vertical, with towering construction, and the weather becomes darker. This by itself will give a sense of approaching something menacing and superior, starting in an already hostile environment.
- Let's invert everything from the previous pattern: levels are smooth and mostly static. Starting levels are smooth, artificially clean, with high hills and mountains. Everything glows in the dark. But gradually levels become more wild, noisy, and flat. You come out to a brightly lit plain, with just a hint of a breeze. Now, this sounds like some sort of an escape from something ordered to something free and wild.
What are your thoughts on this? Can you make up new axes? Which patterns would you make?