Compressing  Space
Monday, November 1, 2010 at 9:21PM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid) in Dynamics, Level Design, LittleBigPlanet, Zelda
Not all games use space to develop gameplay challenges, but the vast majority do. In fact, I'm having a difficult time coming up with examples that don't. Though some gamers associate the dimensions of gameplay with the graphical presentation, we know that they can be entirely separate. A while back, I covered the dimensions of gameplay in an article series called 2D + 2D = 3D. To reiterate, these articles strictly use "1D, 2D, and 3D" to describe the dynamics of gameplay. Let's not conflate the term "3D" with 3D polygonal models/renderings or 3D stereoscopic visuals. Now that most games feature polygonal graphics we don't need to use the descriptor "3D" to describe it. Actually, now that 2D, hand drawn, pixel, or cell graphics are the rarity such descriptors are more useful. The PS3, some PC titles, and especially the 3DS are pushing 3D stereoscopic gaming experiences. To differentiate, let's all use the word "stereoscopic" to refer to the new technology of eye popping visuals.
Super Mario Bros. Compressed
Most games use space. Whether you jump, shoot, or move through it, the dynamics of the space are powerful additions to game systems that are also highly intuitive. For design and/or financial reasons, many designers have found ways to get more out of the spaces they assemble. Or cram more gameplay challenges per "inch" of game space. Or display more space in less/simpler spaces. There are many ways this can be done, so I created a list to highlight a few examples. 


From left to right, Fusion, Super Metroid, and Metroid (NES)

Update on Sunday, December 12, 2010 at 10:48PM by Registered CommenterRichard Terrell (KirbyKid)

Kali is an "indie" board game that I stumbled across. Notice the pattern of the game board. The dissecting lines create various triangles, rectangles, and squares. Unlike a normal grid (like in Chess or Advance Wars) these lines create uneven moving and capturing opportunities. Watch this video for examples. While Chess and Advance Wars feature different units with different movement abilities, Kali warriors are almost entirely uniform (like Checkers pieces). The unique board compresses (or perhaps redefines) space to facilitate a variety of movement speeds/limitations and capturing scenarios. 

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