Game Development Reference
Any game that has a linear story line similar to that in topics and movies
will require a linear map to ensure that players play through the story and
live out the full life of their character. If the physical map has sidetracks
and circuits, players will require a motivational story by which to choose to
explore them. This can be achieved by placing side rooms or corridors off the
main path that reward players' exploration with extra ammunition, health,
or other items that can assist their game progress.
A level with branching has the one starting position and multiple ending
positions, as shown in Figure 7.4e . Narratively speaking, this means a
story that starts in the same place but has multiple outcomes depending
on the player's game choices. These are difficult narratives to write, as a
new story needs to be written for each branch. In addition, extra branches
require extra artwork with respect to map designs. While a fork in the
road might not literally represent a branch, it could mean that the
player travels to another map or enters through a one-way door
into another world.
If branching is used in physical terms in a game map it will mean that
players can skip over a lot of game play and be content on their way to the
end. On the other side, players can replay the game and take a different
journey each time until they have explored all branches.
Spoke and Hub
Last but not least is the spoke and hub structure. This provides a
progressive set of challenges by which the player must achieve challenge
1 to unlock challenge 2, complete challenge 2 to unlock challenge 3, and
so forth. After each challenge, the player returns to the same central hub
state. The single player path in Starcraft II is very much like this in which
the player is located on a spaceship representing his home base; however,
he must leave this hub to take on challenges. After each challenge, the
player, if successful, has accumulated money and points and can upgrade
his armada, weapons, and troops before proceeding to new unlocked
This level design structure requires numerous maps or map areas in which
the challenges take place. Because of the progressing unlocking nature
of the design, the player will eventually explore and experience all the
game play and maps, unlike in a branching scenario.
As mentioned previously, today's games are far more complex than the
preceding level structures; however, they do include elements of one or
more. What is important to keep in mind is that the game does not start
with the game art or map levels. It must start with a conceptual design
and story, as otherwise you might find yourself developing a lot of art
assets that never see the light of day.