And how to make it compelling

The 40 Second Rule

When thinking about the scope, size and distribution of your encounters in the open world you will have to consider the time between encounters. This tends to vary from game to game.

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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.

Ideally you want…

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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.


Downtown sits in the middle of the Mafia 3 map and acts as a focal point for the entire world, mostly because you will have to converge in this location at some point or another while trying to reach your objectives.

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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…

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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;

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.

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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

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…

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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

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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