Open World


An open world is a game-defining superstructure in which the player is allowed to progress through the game in whatever order they choose, rather than forced to follow a linear path. There may be a brief linear tutorial level before the player is allowed to move freely. Some games allow the player to transfer freely between smaller sublevels, while others have a single level contain the entire game.

Open worlds can give the player a great deal of freedom. This design choice requires additional guides, like bridge quests, soft gates, and very specific nuclei placement, to make sure the player is motivated to explore the majority of the map by more than just their own volition.

Variables and Affordances

  • Level of player guidance (Low ↔ High): A low amount of guidance means the player might miss a lot of content, while a high amount of guidance might be intrusive to the openness of the world.


  • Fallout 3. Open world in every sense, the map allows players to move freely between points of interest.
  • Oblivion. Also a true open world, the player can move wherever they please. The difficulty of enemies is dynamically adjusted to the player can explore dungeons in whichever order they wish.
  • Mass Effect. An open world in design; the player travels between planets in a ship. However, the quest structure channels the player through the world following a linear story.
  • Nucleus. Nuclei serve as the stopping places between quests in the world, and need to be placed purposefully within an open world.
  • Soft Gates. Soft gates are good at guiding the player away from certain end-game areas without explicitly closing entire areas.

Quest-Level Relationship

patterns/open_world.txt · Last modified: 2011/06/20 23:55 by Gillian Smith Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki do yourself a favour and use a real browser - get firefox!! Recent changes RSS feed Valid XHTML 1.0