Crafting satisfying combat encounters is by no means a simple feat. Few titles are renowned for successfully delivering gratifying combat scenarios for players to experience. Much can be learnt through analysing some of the best examples that are on offer, and extracting the key principles and they way they have been implemented to gain a better understanding of what makes them so rewarding. This is an analysis of the Knock Knock level in Gears of War, taking into account some of Epic's publicised design principles as well as more general understanding of cover based shooter combat and level design.
One of the much lauded aspects of Gears of War's level design was its "hourglass" sequence structure. More open arenas, referred to by Epic developers as "combat bowls" are linked together by confined corridors. This creates an expanding and contracting volume of space as you move through the environment, which is where the hourglass dubbing comes from.