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April 20, 2014, 05:19:05 AM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeDesignWhatever Happened to Warp Zones? (Level Warps in modern games)
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Author Topic: Whatever Happened to Warp Zones? (Level Warps in modern games)  (Read 1815 times)
SirNiko
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« on: October 09, 2010, 11:14:26 AM »

I'm currently playing Deadly Rooms of Death: Journey to Rooted Hold. It's a semi-exploratory puzzle game that I would describe quickly as turn-based Sokobon with monsters. One thing that stands out in this game, is that it contains warp zones. For example, on level 21 you can solve a few rooms and smash a cracked corner of a wall and there are stairs that lead directly to level 23.

I find myself locating these, but skipping them. After all, isn't the fun of the game in exploring each level? I felt the same regarding New Super Mario Bros - I felt compelled to play the levels in order.

I did NOT feel this way when playing the original Super Mario - it was years later before I ever even saw Worlds 5-7, since I always skipped them with the world 4 warp zone. I suspect the advent of save files is what caused this, since you could easily play through the whole game in several sittings.

Perhaps if a game lacked linearity, warps wouldn't feel like you were skipping content so much as choosing your own path? Then you could come back later and finish up what you missed, assuming that the early levels aren't extremely easy when played out of order.

You might develop the game where warps add replay value, for example, the player skipping ahead to a later level with fewer upgrades to assist them. This could be similar to sequence breaking, except, intentional.

Is the age of the Warp Zone over?
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zacaj
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« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2010, 11:24:55 AM »

I think the problem with SMB1 is that all the levels looked the same...  If you look in SMB3(which has warp whistles, which are sorta like warp zones), all the levels are unique and theres a surprising amount of levels with unique monsters too.  Coming from someone who plays SMB3 on my NES every weekend, the warp zones act more like save points actually.  Once youve played the game enough to find them, and are good enough to get to them easily at the beginning, its basically a level chooser, like in a game where you can choose any of the levels youve played to play again, except for an age without the ability to save.  Once you knew about them, you were only worried about completing a single world, and then you could safely turn off the NES and just warp the the next world the next day

As to the nonlinearity, I think that would make me LESS likely to use warps.  I mean, if all the world is random generated(im thinking a minecraft type of nonlinear game, with infinite generated worlds)what point is there to warping somewhere else vs just exploring the area next closest to you?  In a non random non linear game, Id be worried of missing something in between where I warped
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« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2010, 11:29:07 AM »

Warp zone, collectible, power ups, hidden room, shortcut, secret passage, bonus items, score, the more gamey, the more they disappear from (mainstream) game. Now it's about controlled corridor and even open game are rather straightforward, they are just empty space for you to link orderly dots.

Those old tricks became Indie and party game only.

Warp zone was a reward of skill and exploration, they were in secret passage and they were used as shortcut. They makes the player think there smart and part of a higher league by having this knowledge. They also serve as counter measure to the lack of save system.

We are in the age of internet, secret are for everybody. Who would care?

edit: NInja'd Huh?
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« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2010, 01:06:11 PM »

its definitely an outdated concept, but that doesn't mean it isn't fun to play around with
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« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2010, 01:21:26 PM »

I don't think I would ever put Warp Zones in my own games. I don't really like the idea of people skipping content unless they already beat the game, personally. Besides the comparisons to the save points, and a heightened wanderlust or non-linearity in current games, I think it could be that feeling too what with all the budgets and higher workload I guess.
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« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2010, 01:29:28 PM »

original super mario bros didn't have any saving... it kinda makes up for that in a way. now we've got frequent saving, there's less of a need for things like the warp zone.
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« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2010, 01:58:05 PM »

We are in the age of internet, secret are for everybody. Who would care?
I think this is the core of it, really. Including secrets in your game is a lot less fun when it takes people 10 seconds to look up a walkthrough on GameFAQs.
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« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2010, 02:12:43 PM »

Only if your game is an Icebergvania. It takes as long as looking at faqs than playing the game. the faq would be so pack full it would be worthless.

I remember that feeling while playing Kid Chameleon, the sensation of random progression, the game layout and level was so convoluted, each session of play got me confuse. Exit are not at the other side of a level, and there is many exits, sometimes that enemy or that costume lead you somewhere else and suddenly Oups! where Am I holy shit! Some times you get another level which was far ahead. It felt like a labyrinth, it was awesome.
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« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2010, 05:35:01 PM »

I didn't know Kid Chameleon (looks hella interesting though), but there's a Wiki for La-Mulana where it's pretty easy look for puzzle solutions, item locations etc. You can even take a "guided tour" through the game by watching the Let's Play videos while playing.

On the other hand you could say that the internet makes games like La-Mulana, Simon's Quest etc. playable in the first place.  Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2010, 06:34:20 PM »

I would say the era of Warp Zones is definitely over in modern games. However, I don't know if that's the way it should be - any linear, level-based game I would make would contain them. Know why? Because when I was a kid, I fucking loved them. The feeling of skipping vast portions of the game because you had found a secret was just utterly fantastic to me. Super Mario Brother 1, Brothers 3, and World all had wonderful level-skipping zones, and they were fun because it really did feel like you were being rewarded for going out of your way to look for things.

In fact, SMW was something of a genius in regards to secret stages. There was one thing in Super Mario World that I liked a lot: In the second world, a very short way into the game, you could fiddle around with severel secret levels in succession to make your way to a secret overworld path that led you to another secret level. That path took you right through the last world. Far before you could ever play any of the final levels, you could go by them on the overworld and see Bowser's huge, intimidating castle on your way to completely different playable areas. I think this is a very clever thing to do, and am totally incorporating it into any overworld-based games I make.
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« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2010, 06:38:35 PM »

The secret passages in super Mario world is probably the ONLY think i hope to see in a Mario game since that.

in the level where you found the green switch, i would only get as far as the switch JUST so i could skip the rest of it.
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« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2010, 07:09:49 PM »

Quote
Perhaps if a game lacked linearity, warps wouldn't feel like you were skipping content so much as choosing your own path? Then you could come back later and finish up what you missed, assuming that the early levels aren't extremely easy when played out of order.

So essentially a megaman boss elimination mechanic applied to warp zones? I think that would be cool. I've been toying around with the common idea of being able to do any level you want, but you eventually have to beat all of them. It'd be interesting if you had warp zones that took you to another level but you could resume the level you left later on in another warp zone. Then again would be more like a separate check point system or some kind of complex lightworld/darkworld/xworld/yworld mechanic than just open ended warp zones. I guess the term "warp zones" gets lost if you stretch it too much.
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SirNiko
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« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2010, 07:20:38 PM »

I was thinking more like Mario World and Kid Chameleon (I was actually thinking Kid Chameleon specifically). In Mario World, you can forge the path via the star road (like PbN pointed out) but later come back and play the older levels to find the other paths. Kid Chameleon has you going all over the place, sometimes finding shortcuts and other times just getting lost along the way. Both of those are examples of warp zones you could implement in a modern game without them feeling too out-of-place.

Your example is kinda cool, too. Like, you wander about and discover a warp to a bonus level, you explore that until you're content, then you go back to the level where you left off and keep playing. That could be fun as well.
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« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2010, 08:57:36 PM »

To me the warps (cannons) new super mario bros on wii also felt more about re-ordering levels than skipping them -- because you can go back and work on any world at any time, and there's extra stuff in the game to keep you going back to all the levels.  So finding a cannon just gives you that joy of seeing a new world a little early ...

It also still worked pretty well as a secret, for me -- I didn't feel much temptation to go to look up a FAQ while sitting on a couch with some friends playing the game, especially not for something optional.

Another recent (rather different) use of something 'warp-like' in games is tunnel man in spelunky -- there it really is about skipping ahead ...

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baconman
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« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2010, 05:29:17 PM »

I do agree that Warp Zones have given way to other things such as level-select codes and game-saving, but other things have opened it up a bit as well, like the Teleporter in Cave Story, the warp-to Save Points in Hero:Core, or the Ancient Turtles in Aquaria. But I do agree, and was thinking about that recently as well. They may not be an essential ingredient in ordinary or score-based/completion-percentage gameplay, but they make a tremendous difference in speedrunning; and also make an otherwise-long game accessible in a short period of time. And by skipping power-ups and extra lives along the way, it can add a different degree of challenge to the later levels as well; like the difference between taking on SMB's 8-3 with 4 lives, versus taking it on with nearly 40.
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