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Game Design - Walking Direction

By Cyangmou
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23 Comments
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A small infograph about walking directions in side-scrollers.
It has been a while since I have posted here anything, mostly due to the fact that I am drowning in freelance work since the beginning of the year.

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Comments23
anonymous's avatar
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DanVzare's avatar
While this does make a lot of sense, and I do agree with it. I think you've missed out on one major problem. Metroid was made in Japan. And people tend to read from right to left in Japan, especially pictures. With that logic in mind, the opposite of what you've said should be true.

I didn't think of this until a week after I read this though.
What are your thoughts on it?
Cyangmou's avatar
CyangmouProfessional Digital Artist
well I think that Nintendo in the early years just got heavily inspired from some games from the west and didn't necessarily consider it per se.
Since computers also use western arithmetics and coordinate systems, just coding a left to right scrolling game is probably easier, as someone pointed out here in the comments.
dokitsu's avatar
dokitsuProfessional Digital Artist
I want you to be the lead game designer of The Mummy Demastered, man.
Such disappointment coming from a great Metroidvania title (with your background art).

Awesome stuff/analysis.
Cyangmou's avatar
CyangmouProfessional Digital Artist
Well I really just did art as a feelancer for Mummy.
And just considering the schedule I had for the art, the whole game seemed to be produced quite quickly and the outcome for it is definitely playable, at least I played through all of it.
Although just considering the market the 20 bucks is probably too much considering that Dead Cells and Hollow Knight have more content to offer and are in the same range.
Making games is hard.
dokitsu's avatar
dokitsuProfessional Digital Artist
"Making games is hard." -I think so. haha
It is interesting tho if you talk about content, mainly the fact that you can get much more out there for less as you say. Anyway, I won't blame game designers because the game was rushed (if that was it). It is definitely "playable"; I think the game is good too, btw. If that is what you mean... The thing I concern the most is about boss design, no matter the game is short or not, it is wrong in many ways! What do you think about it? If you don't mind.
Cyangmou's avatar
CyangmouProfessional Digital Artist
I was playing Metroid Prime the other day and the bossfights in that game are comparable too Mummy, mainly that they are huge damagesponges unless you got the right weapon and that they usually just have 1-2 attacks.

What seems to make a (non-puzzle) bossfight fun, if it's action based s a lot of patterns and how they are telegraphed and force you to move in different ways.
If a boss keeps doing the same loop over and over it's just not exciting and if that same attack does a lot of damage it feels rather unfair than intimidating,
Chaosian01's avatar
I've heard it before, but I'm not entirely sold on the idea that game designers back in the day intentionally laid out left and right progression as a way to manipulate emotion. This is an effective technique for modern audiences to be sure, but before it was a convention, the Japanese audience at the time was likely far more comfortable with reading from right to left.
Another just as possible justification for why games might have you progress from left to right instead of right to left is simply the logistics of the tools they started off with. In terms of computations and trigonometry, right is typically positive and left is typically negative. In early days of game development, developers would have to always be fighting with what their mathematics was telling them so that their characters could move left. It makes much more sense to put the first goomba at (100,10) than at (-100,10). Similarly, a level would have had to have been built with it's far end, it's ending, first - which is not intuitive game design.
Cyangmou's avatar
CyangmouProfessional Digital Artist
The maths could be a very good explanation why it is like that for Mario and this is something I haven't thoguth of, so thanks for letting me know.
Another reason could be that Nintendo did not make the first games and they just got inspired by whatever was around at first, before really learning a lot of design as they went on.
For series like Castlevania, which are more popular in the west than in the east this is with later installments either a carried through tradition or well intentioned designed.

For design and art you don't necessarily have to be conscious about something, but it can affect your piece/production/result.
Means if you first do something by accident, but you later find out that it works great and you use it as stylistic tool from then on, it doesn't mean that it works differently in the accidental version.
The same goes for "mistakes" which are usually just something the designer overlooked.

I'd say the feeling this effect provokes is real for many people and therefore it's something which is good to be conscious about if you design 2d games nowadays.
Seothen's avatar
SeothenProfessional Digital Artist
I haven't played a lot of sidescrollers but it's a very useful tip; maybe loading up on saturated blues/red too as the character walks left, or is that tension overkill? ;)
Cyangmou's avatar
CyangmouProfessional Digital Artist
What do you exactly mean with tension? The color of the notes in the image?
Seothen's avatar
SeothenProfessional Digital Artist
Psychologically red and blue are supposed to have the heaviest impact on a viewer; filmmakers do it a lot to heighten the tension in combat sequences (Aliens towards the end of the film is a great example).
Cyangmou's avatar
CyangmouProfessional Digital Artist
Metroid was directly inspired by Alien, so probably that's where they got this from.
TheVerySleepyGamer's avatar
TheVerySleepyGamerHobbyist Digital Artist
This is really interesting. Thank for this gem of info!
Dualmask's avatar
DualmaskProfessional Digital Artist
I'm teaching myself game design, and I've found that level design is a big weakness of mine. This is something I never really thought about, even though I've been playing games since forever. Nice tip.
EtherKyu's avatar
Interesting.
That could also lead to the conclusion that Mother Brain fights from left to right and therefore gets more attention by the viewer.

Also I think there is a typo in "...can be used to give THE player..."
Cyangmou's avatar
CyangmouProfessional Digital Artist
Yeah the original Metroid seems to be generally really conscious about the fact which direction you get to certain scenarios.

Thanks for letting me know of the typo, I just fixed it.
EnemyOfPrinciple's avatar
Good old trick!) Thank You for reminding.)
Cyangmou's avatar
CyangmouProfessional Digital Artist
really old trick =)
EnemyOfPrinciple's avatar
Could You make tutorial about influence of color schemes too(like about the trick, that facebook used for their icon, and why new messages always marked with red, and how similar teicks worked in game design)?
Cyangmou's avatar
CyangmouProfessional Digital Artist
Don't got much useful to say about it connected with a meaningful example for a game.
SInce I do the tuts just how ideas come up, I never really know what comes next =)
Hergman's avatar
huh
thats interesting

didn't know that directions helps building atmosphear or can be used as a learning experience
Cyangmou's avatar
CyangmouProfessional Digital Artist
Well it's some very basic Level/Gamedesign knowledge.
Nothing fancy but sometimes overlooked.
Hergman's avatar
overlooked is the right word

i might be a gamer rather than a game designer, but i had never thought of things that way
anonymous's avatar
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