I am not completely finished with all three documents, but it is definitely very interesting to read. I already saw my own biggest flaw in the first couple of sentences. I tend to build realistically, which is in many cases not very interesting to sneak through. Well, I will see that I get a couple of the game design lessons into my WIP and maybe finally finish a mission that I think is worth playing
You shouldn't be too hard on yourself in that regard, only the best level designers are experts in marrying gameplay-driven spaces with a sense of real place (like Arkane guys). It seems like these two are almost polar opposites. But, if the games I played are any indication (and the history of games in general), you really don't need your spaces to be realistic at all to be perceived as functional or to belong to a certain class of locations.
In games I played in my childhood, the concept was to evoke an idea of a place, rather than trying to reconstruct it (technology and performance reasons, obviously). "Forests" in games like Dungeon Master II or Lands of Lore looked more like garden mazes, but it didn't prevent players from getting the idea: "ok, I'm in the forest now". Games like Ishar 1-3 perfected the formula, but those are still garden mazes, just with better set dressing.
KOTOR games are another good example IMO. Most of the mission maps are basically multiple "kill rooms" with lockers strung by sets of corridors, just with a different theme in mind: jungle, spaceship, temple etc. Even Bioshock games mentioned in the second presentation are pretty poor in terms of architecture. They hardly feel like real place in terms of space, which is mostly rooms and long blocky corridors. Still, these games have a strong theme and keep players busy with those small stories. This wacky underwater world is quite lively, even if the layout is pretty much artificial (Bio:Infinite might have gone too far in that regard, IMO it feels like a giant museum tour).
Even now you don't need much to evoke a concept of a place and make it somewhat believable. Drangleic Castle in Dark Souls II is a huge maze that doesn't make much sense in terms of architecture (like it has a throne room and a dungeon, but not much else), but it's a great space for gameplay and exploration.
I've never done this myself yet, but for my first little TDM mission I want to start with totally artificial spaces. Problems to solve. Floors with spatial puzzles and stealth gameplay. Then I'll try to to make the whole thing look like a place. Bioshock-level blockiness wil be more than fine for the first attempt I already have a theme which should be pretty flexible for that. T3Ed was never fit for iterative design, but DR is a great tool for fast whiteboxing and assessing measurements. I can make a giant room, focus just on how the floor should look like, add z-movement options, lights, enemies, loot, iterate as much as I need. Then I'll worry about translating that into a something more plausible
Edited by Judith, 23 January 2017 - 03:06 PM.