The deer hunting section from the Last of Us has similar ideas to the way Shadow leads its player around the environment. Lead Designer Ricky Camblilear talks about strategies to lead a player.
“I was seeing some great feedback about how some people were thinking it was just this great open deer hunt,” says Cambier. “And yet in the end I guide them directly to this building that they go through. And it’s really just about keeping the player invested in the experience so that they’re kind of doing what you want and you can set up those views and those vistas.”
The player is in a flow state, focused on hunting the deer, and doesn’t realize they’ve been constrained. (Ok, when I played, I realized I was seeing the same assets/layout over and over, but A – I know enough about game art to notice these things and B – I was terrible at that section, so I was there a while.)
“So I was just hunting this deer and following this blood trail through this forest that was huge and then I happened to come to this building and this mine shaft…!’ But we led you there! In a very specific way and if you step back the space isn’t as big as probably you thought but because of the layout or the way we put the trees and the view and the vistas, we’re just crafting this experience.”
Naughty Dog make use of the weenie, a term coined by Walt Disney to describe a tall structure that acts as a focal point when navigating an environment. The classic example is of course, Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disney World. There are several smaller structures that are still visible over other things, that act as mini weenies.
“ [In] game design in general there’s the idea of the Weenie. Which is back to the Disneyland example of how when you’re walking in Disneyland you can see the castle off in the background and you wander and do rides and you can still see it and its getting closer. And you keep going. So we found little ways of having that macro goal always out there but getting the player really invested in the micro goal.”