In Gamasutra's latest feature, Embracing the Chaos: Freedom as the Cornerstone for Open World Mission Design
, Red Faction: Guerrilla
design director James Hague explains how designing for open world games is a skill very different from the linear structure most game designers are familiar with.
Hague, who led the design at developer Volition, said that even he was initially thrown by the concept of designing an open world game where the player can destroy any structure in the game world. "If ever there was a game that struck terror into the heart of a design team, that was it. Not only was it open world, but every single wall and fence, every door, every building -- including the ceiling and structural frame -- could be damaged and completely destroyed in arbitrary ways," says Hague.
"The key to designing an open world mission is to identify -- and avoid -- places where the player thinking for himself could break things, and that means looking places where time is a dependency," says Hague in his in-depth feature, which includes case studies of the design process behind three of the game's missions, including examples of where the design was changed to better fit the game's open world gameplay.
"A rite of passage for new designers upon joining the Red Faction: Guerrilla
project was to declare that arbitrary destruction was too difficult to work with and we should abandon it. Heck, even I said that," says Hague.
However, by the end of the process, Hague found the process rewarding. "The chaos of open world destruction meant that occasionally there was a short-circuiting of objectives, such as shooting down a gunship and having it crash into one of the target buildings. An exploit? Only if you're paranoid about controlling what happens. To players who saw it happen, and knowing full well that they caused it, it was brilliant."
You can read the full feature, Embracing the Chaos: Freedom as the Cornerstone for Open World Mission Design
, live on Gamasutra.com now.