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So I have been playing a bit of Cyberpunk 2077 lately and it made me think about some things.

My issues with it are simple:

  • I feel lost in it and not in a good way;
  • It feels claustrophobic and unfriendly;
  • I can’t shake the feeling of being trapped in it;
  • And most importantly I couldn’t understand why.

So I too closer look at what makes Night City do these things to me.

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I think we might have reached a point where outposts exist to support gameplay rather than being built directly to reinforce it.

I said this many times, and I will say it again: Level Design is supposed to facilitate gameplay rather than enforce.

I have been playing a lot of Valhalla (around 130 hours) and since I have finished all the content I can now sit down and look at how the content is structured in the world.

One of the main differences between how Valhalla builds its settlements/outposts is the introduction of gating mechanism. …

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A brief comparison:

One of the things that I see going around lately is the focus that junior and amateur level designers put into building block-outs and showcasing them around without any concern context context and/reference references to what the layout in question is grounded in.

This is where a significant difference between world design and classical level design arises:

  • Level Designers look at a picture and immediately appreciate the form and proceed towards generating a gameplay structure to support for it.
  • A world designer looks at the picture, identifies the locals and starts thinking bigger towards the context of the snapshot, the location, the historical context of it. …

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As you probably know when designing a video game, you need to determine how the player interacts with the environment and how the environment pushes back.

Depending on the type of game, the player can either push or pull on the systems threads leading to interesting results:

  • Actions games ask the player to push the system and in return the system pushes back. This leads to something not completely different then a boxing match. Last man standing takes the prize.

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Southwark — Bricklayers Arms Intersection


The District of Southwark Spans sits in the lower south-est side of London. Right around here:

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Traversal is the act of going through the environment to either reach an objective or a goal.

Based on the type of game that you are making this can come in a variety of ways:

  • Driving
  • Horseback Riding
  • Climbing / Parkour
  • Flying
  • Walking

And this leads to a lot of variety in the way you shape your world maps:

Ex: A game built around the idea of high-speed vehicular racing is going to look a lot different than a game build for on foot navigation traversal.

One important tip to consider here before anything else: Make sure you understand your avatar speed, size, proportions, and metrics. …

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· With the occasion of the LD Challenge happening over at The Design Den discord channel these days, I have a chance to look at some of the ongoing levels being made.

· While by no means complete or playable, they did spark a bunch of toughs in my head that reminded me of some key things that, I believe, need to be mentioned.

Parkour and Rooftop Traversal

There are a couple of rules that need to be stated:

· Using rooftops should be easier than navigating the streets

· Getting to the rooftops should be easy and fun

· Rooftop running is not an option, it should be the default…

A level Design method.

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Molecule design is a design method conceived with the simple reason of rationalizing Design Work.

The focus with this method is to try to apply a top down macro to micro approach to level design, with the purpose of keeping things going without getting bogged down in the small details from the very beginning.

Applying this method implies 4 Steps:

  • Abstractions
  • Deconstruction
  • Connection
  • Relation

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The importance of game components.

When discussing how to approach open world locations, great attention needs to go into what defines a game location in terms of game-play variety.

It goes without saying that in open world games the amount of challenges that the player encounters are to some extent limited, so limited in fact that the way we use them frames the boundaries of our design.

Level Design is mostly about constraints. Without constraints the game will go of the rails and there will be no way to achieve global consistency.

Game Components

Components fit into different types of categories and it is important to try to keep them separated as you work your way through compiling this list. …

I just hit my 27-hour mark today and the game is starting to hook me.

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“The Elders House” Trope.

This game makes it very hard for me to talk about it. The more I try to sum it up and break it down the more it challenges me to play it more, mostly because I think I managed to tap into the actual core game-play loop and it resonates so much with me in a way that games haven’t resonated with me since the last time I took “Grand Strategy Games” seriously.


Iuliu-Cosmin Oniscu

As a level designer I am not a creator, I am a facilitator. Lead LD @MachineGames. #Leveldesign. All my opinions are my own. @notimetoulose.

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