Friday, October 8, 2010

Gameplay Concepts: Exploration

Wow, 5 days since an article, that's too many. Well, let's see where this goes!

I thought I would whip up another running series of articles called 'gameplay concepts.' These articles will be about the ideas in games which make them fun. The first concept I would like to talk about is exploration.

Exploration can be a very enjoyable experience during gameplay if its pulled off the right way. In most games, exploration is completely optional, and it's a second thought for most people, but in some games, exploration is the key to gameplay.

Exploring the environment in Shadow of the Colossus is completely optional, but damn, is it beautiful.
When exploring a game's environment, the player looks for something to progress the game's story or objective. It's important for the designer to make this exploration an enjoyable experience, especially if the game relys on the concept for it to succeed.

Endless Ocean relies on the player to explore to advance the story and complete the map.
A genre of 3-D games that utilize this exploration are sometimes called 'sandbox' games. Most people are familiar with Grand Theft Auto in this genre, but not only sandbox games do this. There is a genre of 2-D exploration games which resemble the classic Metroid and Castlevania games called Metroidvanias.

Roaming the city to gawk at the environment in GTA is my favorite part of the game.
Metroidvanias usually give the player the option to explore the entire environment once they unlock all the abilities the games gives them. A couple of games that aren't Metroid or Castlevania that show this kind of exploration gameplay include the independently developed Cave Story and the Xbox Live Arcade title Shadow Complex, and I would recommend playing both. Some Metroidvanias are more linear than others, but they still hold the same gameplay.

It's available on WiiWare right now, go buy it!
There's also a very short flash game that I think shows off this concept of exploration really well. The game is called Small Worlds and you can play it on Armor Games. It only takes around 15 or 20 minutes to play, go ahead and play it to see what I mean about exploration!

No comments:

Post a Comment