Why game developers can not handle doors

The best door in a video game is the one no one remembers. Sure, everyone can appreciate a big, beautiful door with amazing animations, says Pete Galbraith, developer of Owlchemy Labs. But in a video game, doors are often synonymous with a major design headache. Forgetting means that a developer has done their job well. “If it fits into the environment, makes sense for its context and works exactly as the player expects, then at that moment it was simply a door like any other in the player’s real life,” Galbraith says. “I can not imagine higher praise for a door in a game.”

Over the past week, dozens of developers in different disciplines and teams have shared their frustrations on Twitter. Death drum creator Stephan Hövelbrinks explained that doors “have all sorts of possible flaws.” The Last of Us Part II co-star Kurt Margenau call it ‘the thing that took the longest to get right’. How the doors work differs during ‘combat tension’, when players are facing in the middle, as opposed to, for example: doors automatically lock during battles, but remain open during reconnaissance. “If a player is going to open a door, not only can he magically fly open, but the character has to reach for the doorknob and push it open,” Margenau explained in one tweet. ‘But what about closing it behind you? How do you do this while running? ‘

Doors are not the only ordinary object developer they struggle with. Developers The edge spoken to point to objects such as ropes or mirrors. After Half-life: Alyx‘s release, one developer of the project spoke at length about how they managed to bottles of liquor seems so realistic. Designer Liz England also points to ladders, elevators and moving platforms. ‘I think doors themselves tend to get a much bigger reputation because they are terrible because they (1) are so much more common in the real world (I use doors every day!), And (2) then occur much more frequently , in games, so that more people can use it as a touchstone for ‘unexpectedly difficult interactivity’ ‘, says England The edge. “I’ve never had to implement a mirror or a rope, but I had a fair share of the doors.”

A door is not exactly humanity’s best or even smartest invention in the real world. It’s a comically simple concept – an open large rectangle for entry or exit – that becomes a team-wide problem in development. As Crystal Dynamics’s game director Will Kerslake puts it in a message to The edge, there are ‘so many problems with doors’. In one example, which specifically touched on animation, Kerslake explained that doors can open to you or away; handles can be on either side. “If you can engage the door from different conditions, such as squats or sprints, it’s an extra set of animations,” he says. ” A door you open requires you to back up in the real world to step out of the way, that’s another set of issues. In a first person game you can animate the door and not the player, and it’s easier. In a respectful third-person match, the expectation is that the player’s hand will move to the handle. And the players’ location and angle when they link to any door can and will differ.

Other problems can include having multiple players scramble to a door at once, or even non-characters. If a door hits an NPC, then stop the door or move the NPC? “The choices here can cause all sorts of mistakes, depending on your game,” says Kerslake.

It’s not that making doors in a video game is an impossible task. For some developers, it just is not worth it. “As a result, a lot of games avoid doors in the game, and you’d be surprised how many games do not have interactive doors at all,” says Keslake. ‘Many doors, but the important doors are missing or are already open. The next step in complexity is that doors are used only as progress gates; they just open and then can not be closed again. ”

Technical points, of which there are many, are set aside, how players process the digital representation of a door matters. Everyone knows how a door works and therefore has a subconscious understanding and expectation of how they move, sound, look. The level of accuracy required for a player to believe that the door is a door is higher for a common object than a fantasy, says Galbraith.

“Our ideas about how we deal with them are incredibly clear due to the cognitive enhancement we have received by communicating with them so often in different ways. For doors like in our homes, we subconsciously learn the finest details about how they behave, such as the rate at which they lock or how much we can move them while they are locked. So if we see a door in a game that closes too quickly or without friction, or if there is a closed door where the handle does not twist and make a sound, we will see that something is not quite right. ‘

You can still get a little fib. While most doors only go in one direction, for example, the doors of games will turn in any direction. ‘If this kind of virtual door looks, sounds and acts like ordinary doors, then it becomes a degree of spiritual acceptance on the part of the player that enables the player to continue without asking why every door in the game is so of they open down. , ”Says Galbraith. “To them, it’s just a strange coincidence that the brain subconsciously chooses to ignore it.”

Doors are not just an aesthetic or immersion technique in video games; often they serve as part of level design. These are gates that prevent players from moving until they have completed a puzzle or beaten a boss; they can act as markers for the player’s progress, build up tension or act as cover. “Doors are just one of a variety of tools a developer can use to design levels,” says Galbraith. “Many games use other methods next door to avoid potential problems and even just to help vary the content.”

With one exception: “Unless the door was really small and cute, in which case it’s just door-state!”

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