This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from their new Senior Curator Zoya Street, on level design, NDAs and The Witness.
Developer-oriented analytical writing goes from strength to strength. Edwin Evans-Thirlwell explored spatiality and movement in Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, highlighting some of the exemplary design choices that made it influential.
"[...] as freeing as it feels, the Prince's moveset is all about serving the needs of the space rather than vice versa. It might allow you to defy gravity, but it's designed to permit the elegant solution of problems within a rigorously mapped environment, rather than in order to be exploratory and transgressive."
Jerome Bodin shed light on "navigation nodes", an aspect of spatial design that will be instructive to anyone working on or writing about 3D first-person games.
Mark Brown analysed how enemy design and level design came together in Doom (video) to create interesting problems that players solve through skilful use of space.
Deanna van Buren built on the example of The Witness to advocate for the role of trained architects in game development.
Speaking of which, Heather Alexandra’s review highlighted The Witness‘s arrogance as well as its charm. In a forthright piece that takes no prisoners, Lulu Blue captured what makes the game so galling. In a similar vein, Garrett Martin argued that the game is not as deep as it thinks it is. Meanwhile, Darius Kazemi's interactive review is affectionate and illuminating; a lovely thing to observe and ponder.
Beyond 3D game design, Joel Couture provided a guide to communicating through visual language, theme and puzzles.
Anjin Anhut published a super helpful guide on how to talk about art style.
Finally, Rick Lane talked to developers about the things they cannot talk about, in a piece on industry’s overwrought use of non-disclosure agreements.