Every gamer knows those buildings that are just standing in a level for effect, to make it seem like you are standing in a huge, buzzing city. But whenever you try to enter one of those doors, you just bump head-first into some flat texture.
The thing is – the same thing happens in the real world as well from time to time. Which is exactly why the bldgblog's post on subway air vents disguised as houses has such a gamey feel.
Makes you wonder whether you could reverse that – create levels that seemingly consists of pure facades turn into actual buildings, where stuff is hidden, where dungeons open up. Question is – how do you visualise that? Directly followed up by the question of whether the general public is ready to play games that are meta on some level.
Yes, I should still play Robert Yang's Level with Me.
When it comes to games, I often find that architecture can yield the best inspirations – especially when it comes from sources like the BLDGBLOG.
In this case, it's all about trapdoors. Funny things, trapdoors. Even funnier that they are not in much use when it comes to games.
Most levels are, when analysed thoroughly, mostly 2D: they might go up and down and wind around themselves a bit – but in the end, they're just long strips. Trapdoors undermine this simple structure, by opening up unexpected shortcuts. Yes, this might confuse the players … but couldn't this be fun, too?
I have not yet played Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but I do hope that this game uses trapdoors (and other unexpected shortcuts) more often.
A Spatial History of Trapdoors, as BLDGBLOG proposes, would be a good start to explore those devices:
Someone should write a short history of the trapdoor as spatial plot device in Broadway plays, literary fiction, Hollywood thrillers, and even dreams, CIA plots, Dungeons & Dragons modules, and more. How does the trapdoor, as an unexpected space of strategic perforation and architectural connection, serve both to move a plot forward and to give spatial form to characterization?
The parallels and disparities between videogames and movies are endlessly debated, but there's one certainty: they both return, routinely, to the architecture of New York City. The most frequently filmed city in the world is also the most frequently modeled.
The canyons of New York are as useful for game designers as they are for film directors. If the decision is arbitrary, then New York represents a kind of go-to alpha city: the logical choice if you need a city at all. For film directors it's a grand and familiar backdrop, and the same bold geometry is relatively straightforward for game technologies to render. The grid-like topology, an added bonus, is easy for gamers to understand and navigate, too.
It seems New York is not just the alpha city, but some sort of blueprint for any western city, both for films and games.
I wonder whether Tokyo or Hong Kong serves a similar purpose in the east – any research on that out there?
The bldgblog remains a source for inspiration and ideas.This time, Geoff Manaugh reviews the book The Meadowlands by Robert Sullivan. The Meadowlands are basically New York's dump, a forgotten and abused patch of land. But just because of all this trash, a curious landscape began to emerge.
Lutz's book describes the region as a "32-square-mile stretch of sweeping wilderness that evokes morbid fantasies of Mafia hits and buried remains." As Lutz explained in a 2008 interview with Photoshelter, "When I first saw the Meadowlands I was completely blown away at this vast open space with the Manhattan skyline in the distance. It was this space that existed between spaces, somewhere between urban and suburban all the while made up of swamps, towns and intersecting highways. None of it made any sense to me, still doesn't."
In many places, the so-called ground is, in fact, trash—so much so that "underground fires are still common today... you can see little black holes where the hills have recently burped hot gases or fire... huge underground plumes of carbon dioxide and of warm moist methane, giant stillborn tropical winds that seep through the ground to feed the Meadowlands' fires, or creep up into the atmosphere," forming a particularly Dantean local climatology of reeking crosswinds. One of these fires "burned for fifteen years."
The Meadowlands are, after all, a massive dump, more landfill than landscape.