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PERSONAL PROJECTS

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This section of my portfolio includes a variety of personal projects and exercises exploring the different aspects of game design, from UI to balancing and so on. Almost everything on display here is constantly being worked on and improved upon on a daily basis. I try to update this page as often as I possibly can!

You can also contact me through the form on my homepage in case you have any further questions.

I hope you'll find this as interesting as I do. Enjoy!

Prince of Persia Warrior Within Level Composition

 

Prince of Persia is one of my favourite games ever. While growing up playing this title I was fascinated by its aesthetically pleasing imagery and how it was perfectly combined with its satisfying gameplay. Now I know this experience was possible thanks to its fantastic art direction, and above all to the compositional techniques present within the levels of the game, which played a fundamental part in organizing all the in-game visual elements.

The way the general aesthetics were imbedded inside the mechanics and systems of the game helped shape the game's design and iconic visual identity.

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The scope of my analysis

Being a linear single player game, PoP constantly relies on compositional values to guide the viewer's eye through the visual elements of each level, thus helping the player progress. An example would not only include traversal or platforming sections of the game, but also the harmonious balance of enemies to engage with, or within the array of weapons available during conflict. But for now, in this exercise I wanted to specifically focus on the paths the player has to take to progress and how the game makes sure that they are being intuitively seen and understood.

The core compositional values applied to the level design of PoP

Considering the single player nature of the game, some traditional compositional theories have been adapted and applied to the level design to help influence player direction through the game space. Since the game features a player-controlled camera, there are no guarantees that the players will be looking where they have to, when they have to. Therefore, the most important thing to make sure of when working with compositional theories is the focus on guiding the viewer’s eye through elements of an image. I investigated into how certain compositional theories have been adapted inside Prince of Persia to influence the player’s eye towards the areas to look at or go towards. I find the single player level design of this game very intelligent because of the way it applies composition to help guide and constrain the player through an optimized narrative path that has been specifically crafted.

As I highlighted in the the images that I analyzed, vertical lines have been used to guide the player through perilous climbs in situations where there was a need to exaggerate the impression of height and grandeur architecture. The Prince after all finds himself in an oppressive, intimidating castle that he needs to explore and cross multiple times throughout his adventure.

Horizontal lines imply a sense of calm and tranquility. It is not a coincidence that they can be spotted in the game's central 'hub' area of the castle, and in rooms that only feature simple traversal challenges with no enemies or traps. I found these to be indeed very effective during moments of exploration where the player navigates though confined, yet safe spaces with little to no danger.

The arrangement and position of architectural elements, as can be seen in the image in the upper right corner, can lead the player’s eye along, directing movement as well as attention. The flow of interconnected spaces is enhanced by these directional elements, utilizing physical world properties to effectively lead the player where the game wants them to go. In this case, the light is used in conjunction with everything else to reinforce the path that needs to be taken, heightening the expectation of what may lie at the end. In fact, effective use of lighting can also be used to direct the player’s attention towards a certain spot or location within the level space. As the screenshots I've taken evidence, singular spotlights are often used to guide the player’s eye towards an area of interest.

Framing is traditionally used in composition to highlight an area of interest within the field of view, manipulating it. In one of my examples I show the moment when the player has a frontal view of the large castle for the first time; the strategic use of stairs 'force' the player to (unconsciously) set the camera and look from below towards the top, emphasizing the menacing atmosphere. In this case, the framing also helps to perceive the castle as a central landmark compared to the rest of the island.

The use of space

Shapes are the result of both the physical geometry that occupies the space and the emptiness that surrounds it. This creates spatial elements, resulting in design possibilities that can be interesting both aesthetically and in terms of how the player interacts with the level. Effective implementation of this technique also aids the readability of the level's structure, further clarifying to the player where they need to go.

In conclusion

It is undeniable how clever application of composition in level design can be incredibly important in directing the player and communicating information through the environment, as well as maintaining visual balance and rhythm within the level space. Carefully placed elements will influence meaningful player decisions in interesting ways, providing experiences unique to the video game medium.

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