Labyrinth

Baldur's Gate, maze under the Thieves' Guild (image source)

Description

The labyrinth is a challenge built into the level's design. The player must navigate through a literal labyrinth to find items or NPCs. The labyrinth may also be populated with enemies, though enemies aren't the primary challenge. The labyrinth is often an uncharted area. Labyrinth is used loosely, as the inclusion of maps makes it more of an orientation challenge, so we can broaden the definition of this pattern to include levels where navigation is challenging because the design is purposefully disorienting.

Labyrinths slow the pace of the game and can lower tension levels, forcing the player to spend a lot of time in the same area. If a player can't figure out the maze, then this challenge can bring gameplay to a halt.

Variables and Affordances

  • Length: the longer the maze is, the more time the player potentially has to spend inside. This can either increase challenge or gameplay time
  • Objectives: objectives mean the player spends more time inside the maze.
  • Solutions (One or Multiple): multiple solutions allows the player leniency in their search.
  • Number of entrances/exits (One or Multiple): a maze with only one exit limits the player to only one solution, but does give them a clearer goal. Multiple exits may appear as objectives to the player, forcing them to explore each one.

Examples

  • Fallout 3 (Metro Stations). The metro stations are made to be mazelike and each corridor indistinguishable from the last. This design choice seems intended to disorient the player.
  • Dragon Age: Origins (Lost in Dreams quest). The player is placed in a dream realm made up of rooms linked with teleporters, though the teleporters don't always link back to each other. This creates a disorienting level that the player has to learn the layout of.

In Worked Examples

Quest Level Relationships

  • Choice. Labyrinths present the player with many choices as to how they navigate them.
  • Compilation Quest. A compilation quest may require the player to navigate every corner of a labyrinth in order to collect every necessary piece of the sought after item.
  • Search. Search quests that end in Labyrinths can be some of the most dynamic and challenging, as the necessary destination is rarely ever clear within Labyrinths.
  • Hidden Quest. Hidden quests can serve as secondary objectives within Labyrinths.
  • Altering Side Stub. An altering side stub for the labyrinth's final objective can be found in the hidden twists and turns of the Labyrinth.
patterns/labyrinth.txt ยท Last modified: 2011/06/20 21:47 by Gillian Smith
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