Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Rails to be Ridden Upon in "Aldea Lenta"

One of the more obviously unique qualities of "Aldea Lenta" are the rails that define the paths that the player can take. These rails allow for a different approach to level design; more control is given to the designer regarding where the player may go and what type of movements they can make within the 2D dimensional space of the game's world. Even though the player is snapped to the rails, limited in the locations they can visit, this does not automatically mean that the "Aldea Lenta" is linear. In fact, it is not. Just like the rails that make up a train system, the rails in this game create a complex web.

Above is an elementary example of how these rails look and connect. As one can see, amongst the expected, straight rails are what I have come to call "rail nodes"; spots where the player is able to come to a stop and decide which direction to go next. It should be noted that the game's logic dictates that once the player has chosen to take a path, they cannot stop until they reach another node.

The complex, winding structures that are made up out of these rails exist as a pure example of the tree of potential choices a player can make in a game. Each decision leads to certain gameplay results, whether they be progress or regress. This is one of the most defining qualities of games; there are not branching results to be found in other mediums like film, theater, or literature (though there are odd exceptions that might exist as hybrid forms of entertainment, such as "Choose-Your-Own-Adventure" books, they really are not representative of their purely linear peers).

I am hoping that rails provide a new experience to players. I believe that even more innovation can be found in designing gameplay elements that are compatible with this system.

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