The following post outlines “principles” often referred in general design considerations, there are obviously many more but for addressing specific problems within the Level Design discipline – I’ve listed principles that commonly questioned elements for my own guidelines rather than providing solutions to an issue.
It shouldn’t be a ‘heavy read’ and it’s up to the reader how you retain the information provided.
“The process of using spatial and environmental information to navigate to a destination.”
The basic process of wayfinding involves the same four stages:
· Route decision
· Route Monitoring
· Destination Recognition
Orientation refers to determining one’s location relative to nearby objects and destination. To improve orientation, divide a space into distinct small parts, using landmarks and signage to create unique subspaces. Landmarks provide strong orientation cues, and provide locations with easily remembered identities. Signage is one of the easiest ways to tell people where they are and where they can go.
Route decision refers to choosing a route to get to the destination. To improve route decision-making, minimize the number of navigational choices, and provide signs or prompts at decision points. People prefer shorter routes to longer routes (even if the shorter route is more complex), so indicate the shortest route to a destination. Simple routes can be followed most efficiently with the use of clear narrative directions or signs. Maps provide more robust mental representations of the space, and are superior to other strategies when the space is very large, complex, or poorly designed. This is especially true when the person navigating is under stress, where the wayfinding may need to be adaptive (e.g., in escaping a burning building).
Route Monitoring refers to monitoring the chosen route to confirm that it is leading to the destination. To improve route monitoring, connect locations with paths that have clear beginnings, middles, and ends. The paths should enable a person to gauge his progress easily along their lengths using clear lines of sight to the next location, or signage indicating relative location. In cases where paths are particularly lengthy or the traffic in them slow moving, consider augmenting the sight lines with visual lures, such as pictures, to help pull people through. Breadcrumbs – visual cues highlighting the path taken – can aid route monitoring, particularly when a wayfinding mistake has been made, and backtracking is necessary.
Destination recognition refers to recognizing the destination. To improve destination recognition, enclose destinations such that they form dead-ends, or use barriers to disrupt the flow of movement through the space. Give destinations clear and consistent identities.
“A method of creating imagery, emotions, and understanding of events through an interaction between a storyteller and an audience”
Storytelling is uniquely human. It is the original method of passing knowledge from one generation to the next, and remains one of the most compelling methods for richly communicating knowledge. Storytelling can be oral, as in the traditional telling of a tale; visual, as in information graph or a movie; or textual, as in a poem or novel. More recently, digital storytelling has emerged, which involves telling a story using digital media. This might take the form of a computerized slide show, a digital video, or educational software. A storyteller can be any instrument of information presentation that engages an audience to experience a set of events.
Good storytelling experiences generally require certain fundamental elements. While additional elements can be added to further augment the quality of a story or storytelling experience, they can rarely be subtracted without detriment. The fundamental elements are:
· Setting – The setting orients the audience, providing a sense of time and place for the story.
· Characters – Character identification is how the audience becomes involved in the story, and how the story becomes relevant.
· Plot – The plot ties events in the story together, and is the channel through which the story can flow.
· Invisibility – The awareness of the storyteller fades as the audience focuses on a good story. When engaged in a good movie or book, the existence of the medium is forgotten.
· Mood – Music, lighting, and style of prose create the emotional tone of the story.
· Movement – In a good story, the sequence and flow of events is clear and interesting. The storyline doesn’t stall.
Use storytelling to engage an audience in design, evoke a specific emotional response, or provide a rich context to enhance learning. When successfully employed, an audience will experience and recall the events of the story in a personal way – it becomes a part of them. This is a phenomenon unique to storytelling.
“A state of mental focus so intense that awareness of the “real” world is lost, generally resulting in a feeling of joy and satisfaction”.
When perceptual and cognitive systems are under-taxed, people become apathetic and bored. If they are over-taxed, people become stressed and frustrated. Immersion occurs when perceptual and cognitive systems are challenged at near capacity, without being exceeded. Under these conditions, the person loses a sense of the “real” world and typically experiences intense feelings of joy and satisfaction. Immersion can occur while working on a task, playing a game, reading a book, or painting a picture. Immersion is characterized by one or more of the following elements:
· Challenges that can be overcome.
· Contexts where a person can focus without significant distraction
· Clearly defined goals
· Immediate feedback with regards to actions and overall performance
· A loss of awareness of the worries and frustrations of everyday life
· A feeling of control over actions, activities, and the environment.
· A loss of concern regarding matters of the self (e.g., awareness of hunger or thirst)
· A modified sense of time (e.g., hours can pass by in what seems like minutes).
Incorporate elements of immersion in activities and environments that seek to engage the attention of people over time – e.g., entertainment, instruction, games, and exhibits. Provide clearly defined goals and challenges that can be overcome. Design environments that minimize distractions, promote a feeling of control, and provide feedback. Emphasize stimuli that distract people from the real world, and suppress stimuli that remind them of the real world. Achieving the right balance of elements to achieve immersion is more art than science; therefore, leave ample time in the design process for experimentation and tuning.
“A point of Physical attentional entry into a design.”
People do judge books by their covers, Internet sites by their 1st pages, and buildings by their lobbies. This initial impression of a system or environment greatly influences subsequent perceptions and attitudes, which then affects the quality of subsequent interactions. This impression is largely formed at the entry point to a system or environment. The key elements of good entry point design are minimal barriers, points of prospect, and progressive lures.
Barriers should not encumber entry points. Examples of barriers to entry are highly trafficked parking lots, noisy displays with many unnecessary elements, salespeople standing at the doors or retail stores, or anything that impedes people from getting to and moving through an entry point. Barriers can be aesthetic as well as functional in nature. For example, a poorly maintained building front or landscape is an aesthetic barrier to entry.
Points of Prospect
Entry points should allow people to become oriented and clearly survey available options. Points of prospect should provide sufficient time and space for a person to review options with minimal distraction or disruption – i.e., people should not feel hurried or crowded by their surroundings or other people.
Lures should be used to attract and pull people through the entry point. Progressive lures get people to incrementally approach, enter, and move through the entry point.
Maximize the effectiveness of the entry point in a design by reducing barriers, establishing clear points of prospect, and using progressive lures. Provide sufficient time and space for people to review opportunities for interaction at the entry point. Consider progressive lures like highlighting, entry point greeters, and popular offerings visibly located beyond the entry point to get people to enter and progress through.
A space that has territorial markers, opportunities for surveillance, and clear indications of activity and ownership.
There are three key features of defensible spaces: territoriality, surveillance, and symbolic barriers.
Territoriality is the establishment of clearly defined spaces of ownership. Common territorial features include visible boundaries such as walls, hedges, and fences; privatization of public services so that residents must take greater personal responsibility and ownership. This communicates to outsiders that the space is owned and protected.
Surveillance is the monitoring of the environment during normal daily activities. External lighting as an example makes it more difficult for people to engage in unnoticed activities.
Symbolic Barriers are objects place in the environment to create the perception that a person’s space is cared for and worthy of defence. Note that when items that are atypical for a community are displayed, it can sometimes symbolize affluence and act as a lure rather than a barrier.
A strategy for managing information complexity in which only necessary or requested information is displayed at given time
Progressive disclosure used in the physical world to manage the perception of complexity and activity. For example, progressive disclosure is found in the design of entry points for modern theme park rides. Exceedingly long lines not only frustrate people in line, but also discourage new people from the ride. Theme park designers progressively disclose discrete segments of the line (sometimes supplemented with entertainment), so that no one, in or out of the line, ever sees the line in its entirety. Video screens, signage, and partial glimpse of people on the ride other additional distractions.
· Video screens entertain visitors while they wait
· High walls prevent visitors at the beginning of the line from seeing the length of the line
· Status signs indicate wait time
· Low walls allow visitors near the end of line to see they are getting close to the end.
· Windows allow visitors at the end of the line to see the ride.
Prospect – Refuge
A tendency to prefer environments with unobstructed views (prospects) and areas of concealment and retreat (refuges).
People prefer environments where then can easily survey their surroundings and quickly hide or retreat to safety if necessary. Environments with both prospect and refuge elements are perceived as safe places to explore and dwell, and consequently are considered more aesthetic than environments without these elements.
The prospect-refuge principle suggests that people prefer the edges, rather than middles of spaces; spaces with ceilings or covers overhead; spaces with few access points (protected at the back or side); spaces that provide unobstructed views from multiple vantage points; and spaces that provide a sense of safety and concealment. The preference for these elements is heightened if the environment is perceived to be hazardous or potentially hazardous.
In natural environments, prospects include hills, mountains, and trees near open settings. Refuges include enclosed spaces such as caves, dense vegetation, and climbable trees with dense canopies nearby. In human-created environments, prospects include deep terraces and balconies, and generous use of windows and glass doors. Refuges include external barriers, such as gates and fences.
‘Universal Principles of Design’