I’ve been abusing my level design because I never really thought it hugely necessary, with the focus on art and visuals. But I needed to create a weaving environment which encouraged exploration and openness, so I had to experiment a lot. In the end, I created an area just as backdrop I decided to let the player explore with an Easter Egg if they did choose to explore. A radio awaits players in the top left and I thought i’d give an example of player exploration I’ve seen through play tests. Each colour shows what a handful of players did.
As you can see (S) is the start and (F) is the end, a lot of players explored the top left. In order to reward their curiosity I added extra content! That’s what my research has taught me thankfully. A lot of players just went straight for the goal, which is fine in some respects but they’re missing out and I will try and encourage them by making the secondary routes more appealing.
Shown in red is the main route, generally the quickest and easiest route taken by those less experienced in games, or generally not an explorer/ achiever type. The blue and green options are there to explore, and will reward players with more beauty and set dressing which will educate them on their surroundings and the events that have unfolded.