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Changing Levels

Typically a computer game is broken down into a number of levels and there is usually a clear logic behind this. The levels could be individual races, missions or waves of enemies to be destroyed. The levels provide a break in game play and also usually ramp up the level of difficulty to keep the player engaged. Technically there are also good reasons for these levels, they provide a logical way to organise development and manage compute resources at runtime. This is particularly important when a large area or “map” is involved which could overwhelm any computer if things aren’t managed effectively.

With the Great Trails model we have a logical breakdown of levels between Overview, Explore and Experience and transitioning between these levels is important. Currently we offer two methods to move on from the Overview Level.

The first of these methods is the transition Spheres which we discussed in a previous blog post, these allow the user to drop onto the model roughly at the centre of the sphere. However there are many other possibilities for accomplishing this transition. As an example of this we have also linked transitions to some of the building models located on the Overview Level. In this case we have made the building model itself clickable, indicated by the orange colour. When the model is clicked an information panel appears along with buttons to move to the Explore level near the building or the Experience Level, if available.

Transition options displayed when a building is clicked

When the user moves to the Explore Level two other types of transition become relevant, moving from Explore to Experience and also moving between different “tiles” of the Explore Level. In our first implementation both these transitions are accomplished using a “Transition Arch”. A Transition Arch appears when a player reaches a certain position and a message is displayed describing what lies on the other side and the action that is required to move through the arch. Two examples of Transition Arch are shown below.

Transition arch between Explore and Experience Levels (left) and between Explore Level tiles (right)

There are both pro’s and con’s with this approach. On the positive side they do give the user an update on where they are and passing through can also convey a sense of achievement. However the other side of the coin is that they do interrupt the user experience.

It is possible to use a streaming approach where content is dynamically loaded and unloaded depending on the position of the player and a development objective is to assess this technology to see if some of the transition arches could be removed.

The user can return to the Explore Level at any time but pressing the “E” key. At present this returns the default starting position but it is planned to update this so the user is returned to the same location they were at when they entered the Explore/Experience levels.

This is something that will evolve as the concept develops but we are happy with this initial implementation in our proof of concept model.

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