Patterns of Contrast
Presenting the Level Parameter Segmentation Model – A tool for assuring variation in game level design
In January 2009 I handed in my Master’s thesis in which I attempted to construct a level parameter segmentation model (LPS-model), for linear AAA-game level design, based on universal design principles. From my abstract:
The goal is to identify universal principles which can be organized within a structuralistic framework to aid designers in creating a more interesting play experience. A semantic analysis of a number of reviews reveals the parameters which game critics emphasize the most, and these parameters become the groundwork for the LPS-model, combined with a look into tips & tricks from industry professional and game scholars.
Additionally I will present a theory on neuroaesthetics which identifies Contrast, Rhythm, Balance and Proportion as the most important aspects of human aesthetic appreciation, which will further justify the overarching claim of this thesis; that variation, in its own right, is an extremely important aspect of any experience, thus being the prime focus of the LPS-model. With variety as the ‘meta-principle’ the identification of areas of discussion, which are subject of critic emphasis, allows the LPS-model to categorize the elements of play experience which could benefit from having orchestrated variation i.e. assuring that the player is never exposed to the same stimuli for a longer period of time, by changing setting, lighting, gameplay etc.
The LPS-model is a physical model, which is meant to be hung on the wall and provide a visual overview of how the various parts of the game play together. Since game development is iterative by nature, the constant changes can often blur the outlook on the game. Being that the LPS-model is easily modifiable, it allows designers to get instant feedback on the effects of the change. In conjunction with being a tool for designers to verify that the design vision is adhered to, the model also provides a tool for communicating changes throughout the entire team without each team member having to constantly attend meetings or frequently re-read the design manual. The LPS-model, as a tool for communication, is not thoroughly addressed in this thesis, since validation would imply using the model in a large scale production. Instead the focus is on its use in design, and an analysis of a critic acclaimed game is performed to verify if it adheres to the principles set forth by this thesis.