ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Design Techniques for Planning Navigational Systems in 3-D Video Games

By Dinara Moura, Magy Seif El-Nasr
Theoretical and Practical Computer Applications in Entertainment, [Vol. 12, No. 2]

DOI: 10.1145/2701657.2633421

Navigation is an essential element of many high-budget games (known as AAA titles). In such products, players are expected to walk through and interact with aesthetically rich 3-D spaces. Therefore, designers should provide meaningful information to guide the users within a challenging environment. While there has been much research on both games and 3-D environments, there is very little research investigating design techniques used to guide players through 3-D game worlds. This paper is focused on proposing a set of navigational patterns or techniques currently used in commercial 3-D action-adventure titles. These design techniques are composed of [a] 21 patterns used to aid navigation, [b] three level design choices affecting navigation, and [c] eight game mechanics related to navigation. We uncovered these design techniques through a detailed analysis of 21 3-D action-adventure games. This contribution has several important facets. First, the set of design techniques and terminology proposed here can be used as a training construct to teach 3-D game and environment design. Second, it can also be used as a toolset for designers. Third, it will provide an important start for a formal vocabulary that can be used by designers and researchers discussing navigation in 3-D games.

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