Building onto Skyrim: Week 2
This week was all about learning about game flow of the level. It didn't start right off the bat, but it quickly became the theme. With the initial Navmesh completed, which allows the AI to know where it can go, and thus pathfind around, it was time to test, test, and test again. Adding little details, fixing walking areas, moving clutter around, finding new areas for loot, over and over again I came back to the same conclusion: the play space was too small for these multiple encounters.
Often going from one encounter would trigger another that were in too close proximity. This is an issue for several reasons: first and foremost it lowered the player's control over their experience, which is not a fun prospect. It's not enjoyable to accidentally back away from an enemy into another unseen enemy that you couldn't have guessed as there until its much too late. The other major issue is that it also leads to an inconsistent flow. There's no natural transition from one encounter to another with the natural downtime between encounters lost. This leaves the whole area feeling stilted and confusing to the player. To add to that, finishing the dungeon yielded little sense of rising and falling action. There was no crescendo to accent that a dungeon was cleared.
In my mind, my fix was to take what I already had as a base and add a little more to it, limiting the amount of paths while making the experience a lot more authored and nearly doubling its length. This actually ended up working well with staying with the Bethesda design structure in a few ways. It helped keep the pacing present in their own authored spaces in my own, on top of fixing the problems at hand. I'll take the two critical paths and re-purpose them: one to be closed off and instead act as foreshadowing: allowing the player to peek into the room containing the necromancers/warlocks while keeping the pathing for it as a separate room, the other only temporarily closed off, with it opening through a prefab lever that would be accessible after the player had passed a boss encounter; leading them right back to the entrance after a much more lengthy exploration of the space prior. It's what I will be working towards in the next week.