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Original design plans for Atrophy placed it in the adventure genre, mixing combat with puzzles to create a fluid experience. As the level designer, I wanted to find a decent flow or progression to the level. How much combat should there be versus puzzles? I decided it best to look at several levels from some popular adventure games.
Zelda was an original inspiration for Atrophy and a common series played by most of the design team. Twilight Princess was one of my favorites regarding theme and visuals. I decided to analyze the first dungeon, the Forest Temple.
I wanted to cross reference Zelda TP against another series in the genre though in order to get a better perspective of pacing. I was currently playing the Darksiders series- riding the high from completing the first game, and really enjoying the second one. The Darksiders series holds a lot of similarities to the Zelda franchise. Both are adventure games with similar level designs, but Darksider’s combat is more ferocious akin to God of War 3 while Zelda has stuck to it’s slower but more calculated fighting.
Drenchfort is the 2nd dungeon, but the pistol awarded from the previous dungeon opened up ranged puzzles similar to the Forest Temple in Zelda TP. Measuring as similar an experience from each game was important.
I watched 100% playthroughs of each dungeon from YouTube. Links below. These players knew exactly what to do and did not waste unnecessary time in unimportant areas. This may skew the average player experience, but I set this as my standard in order to accurately measure between the two games. I then recorded how long each action was performed and created the image above with an overview of the dungeons progression.
Zelda Twilight Princess – Forest Temple
Darksiders II – Drenchfort
Atrophy ended up going a different direction and I never got to fully utilize the information I gathered, but I post it here now for anyone who might find it useful. In my next post, I will break down the information in the image and what can be learned from it!