Groping The Map: Introduction.

Next week witnesses the beginning of a new phase for this site. Starting Monday evening (GMT) Groping The Map is a series of in depth examinations of a single level. Each new instalment will see me take a detailed look at a game level from the past several years that has been personally memorable or influential. For each level I will look at structure, encounter placement, aesthetics, layout and related design issues. Accompanying screenshots will be used to highlight particularly notable aspects of the design. The individuals posts that make up a single Groping The Map instalment will be longer that is traditional for this site, however I will strive to make each one worth reading.

The time needed to produce a single instalment is variable but significant, and so I cannot commit to a fixed schedule, however I will endeavour to provide at least one instalment approximately every six to eight weeks. Traditional posts will continue, time permitting, in the intervals between instalments. I am open to suggests for levels for subsequent instalments of Groping The Map, as the current list is specifically focused on those levels that resonate with me personally, therefore it is biased towards a particular style of game. Once I have worked through these first few instalments I will begin to move beyond the first person shooter genre for my analysis. I’m also soliciting suggestions for a better name for the series.

UPDATE: Future plans for Groping The Map are detailed here.

I have now complied the three existing Groping The Map articles into .pdf files for easy distribution, they can be found here, feel free to share:

10 thoughts on “Groping The Map: Introduction.

  1. I’m very happy to see that last level there! It’s possible that Rescue Attempt is my favorite level from NOLF, though I have a soft spot for several others.

    Since you asked us what other levels might be worthy of this list, here are two levels (though these are levels that mean a lot to me, so maybe they’ll be less inspiring for you…):

    The Prison Escape (from under UNATCO HQ) in Deus Ex – I hate that old “You wake up without your weapons in a dungeon” thing, but the way you walk your way back out of the secret base, back out through UNATCO, is pretty excellent, as is the struggle to regain your items.

    (This one might not be the kind of level analysis you wanted to do, being an isometric faux-turn based game, but it’s a _great_ level) The first level of Baldur’s Gate 2: SoA – This one always delights me. The slow Irenicus character reveal, Khalid’s death (!), the powerful enemies [if you were making the jump from BG 1] and the quick, efficient introduction of the game’s major players (Irenicus/Thieves of Amn). It’s a little long-winded, but the final scene with Irenicus and Imoen is great.

    Anyway, I’m quite excited for all of these, even if I’ll be holding my breath, waiting for that last one.

  2. Best of luck with your ideas, I really like it and looks like you have a great selection to work with. Will you be keeping a set format per day for each installment or will it be a bit more freeform based on the level itself?

  3. A couple I would love to see:
    1. Anything from Psychonauts.
    2. The first stage of Hard Rain, the Left 4 Dead 2 campaign.

    Can’t wait to read what you’ve got.

  4. Oh, I should add. The “Return to Town” stage of Hard Rain is included in there, since its going back through town backwards while its flooded and raining. So technically, stage 1 The Milltown and stage 4 Return to Town.

  5. The first instalment is a prototype for how the series is going to unfold so structurally it might not be the format I stick to.

    I’ve chosen the levels I have because I know each of those games well enough that I can discuss how those levels make use of the mechanics of each game and where they fit thematically.

    Hopefully after the first instalment it’ll become clearer for everybody, myself included, exactly what type of levels will be more interesting to examine. Therefore the listing above is entirely subject to alteration.

    I will also be using this post as a table of contents for the series and each level on the list will eventually link to the first post for that instalment.

  6. Certainly looking forward to some of these, especially “The Silent Cartographer” and “We’ve Got Hostiles!”

    Just read the intro to Pauper’s Drop. You are off to a good start :)

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