R P G A M E R . C O M   -   E D I T O R I A L S

Design it!

Philip Bloom

Dark Cloud 2, a game that I wanted so much to like. It had much going for it: beautiful art, good setup, and entertaining game play. Then, I got into the dungeons. All randomized. No scheme, no artistry, no individuality. All it had was a mess of mass produced dungeons. Where did it go wrong? Right there.

Some consider the amount of game play to be highly indicative of value in an RPG. Eighty hours must be better than forty, and you're just not getting your money's worth when you buy a twenty hour game. We encourage this type of stuff with that behavior. The game's value isn't in its length, it's in how enjoyable each part is.

Growlanser 3 randomized all of its dungeons using SQUARES. It is bad enough that they used the four walls with four doors room design, but to randomize the dungeon structure with it? Truly horrible, a dungeon should never be made up of almost nothing but square rooms. It is boring and worse when it is being randomly generated. This type of thing can ruin a game, no matter how much it adds to the length and shaves off the price of design.

Paper Mario 2 had many rough spots, but one thing it can't be faulted on is its effort to make dungeon design interesting. Each level was hand designed. It was considered. It was more than just tossed in there to be a dungeon. The construction, the blend of organization and design lent more to the overall experience than any long string of random dungeon could. The last level provided a beautiful finish as it combined in a manner wholly impossible to randomly generated dungeons the artistry of design and atmosphere. The dungeon was a crypt, a prison, a dark abyss, and a clockwork fortress. Skillfully blended together, hand crafted to deliver an experience that augmented the end of the game considerably.

They toss these in there commenting that they provide more replay value, they make each play different, or some such crud. Don't hide behind such excuses. Design it. There's nothing that can replace a well designed dungeon. We, the players, will appreciate the extra effort as we spend our hour of gaming going through a truly interesting environment designed to hold our interest instead of just our rears in the seats.

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