My situation:

I was very sceptical initially because I didn’t seem to wrap my head around its simplicity, but it is starting to grow on me as of late.

I was sceptical because I was (and still am) under the impression that the game brings nothing fundamentally new to the open-world formula.

Why it just works:

I decided to return to Night City.

Building space, in some ways, can lead to confusion if we ignore the fundamentals of orientation.

I think that’s what makes Night City so interesting. It’s committed to breaking all the rules to support the narrative of the game.

I am not going to be the advocate of building a perfect theme park world. I don’t think that’s an accurate way of creating spaces.

It could be, and it most definitely works when it comes to Navigation and orientation, but these days, there seems to be a heavy focus on moving away from…

This entry explores the relationship between player and environment in natural spaces.

It applies to most open-world games that offer a naturalistic approach to their world (Far Cry Series, Death Stranding, Zelda Breath of the wild, → I am looking at you)

Affordances — Player and Environment

A look at Liberty City — Portland Island

It has been some time since I played this game and I must admit, my relationship with the GTA franchise has never been very strong. Regardless, I remember playing this game with my brother back in the day as we got caught up in the crime fantasy that the game attempts to deliver.

The game takes place in the fictional city of Liberty City, a virtual sandbox modeled (loosely) around the city of New York.

I am not using any mods or fancy 2020 graphic or map tweaks. …

And how to make it compelling

The 40 Second Rule

This matter is highly dependent on Player speed and Map Size, since the number of encounters in an open world will be higher or lower depending on those factors.

  • Number of Encounters decreases if the map is small and the player is super fast.
  • It also increases if the player is super slow and the map is very large.

Ideally you want…

A look at New Bordeaux — Downtown District.

It’s no secret I love Mafia 3. It’s one of my favorite open world games out there.

In this article we will discuss a few details about how the Downtown district is composed and why I think it’s an excellent study case for open world design in terms of orientation and navigation.


I am going to start this entry with a quote from Whitelight, from one of his videos about Watch Dogs 2 (4 years later) available bellow.

“If we associate fun with decision making and we understand that depth is the sum of balanced choices the Watch Dogs 2 is going to be most fun when you are considering as much of the sandbox as possible. For that to be the case you need to be willing to experiment. To excuse taking risks you need the ability to make small mistakes and recover from them.”

“If the game is overwhelmingly…

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.

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. …

A brief comparison:

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…

Iuliu-Cosmin Oniscu

As a level designer I am not a creator, I am a facilitator. Senior Open World Designer @MassiveEntertainment. #Leveldesign #Open World #Design @notimetoulose.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store