Eagle Dungeon

For a lot of modern gamers the first (or second, depending on how you look at it) generation games are a bit difficult to get into. Due to extreme limitations both graphically and design-wise and the sheer newness of the medium, the older games left a lot of solving up to the player.

The original Legend of Zelda, for instance, features a large overworld which is mostly open to be traversed right from the moment the game starts, allowing you to visit nearly any dungeon right from the get go. The dungeon design itself was also quite a bit different back then, with many branching paths, walls needing to be bombed through with nothing indicating that fact graphically, walls that had to be walked through also with no graphical indication, many dead ends… the game excelled at making you feel like an adventurer discovering all of this on your own.

Gamasutra article writer Mike Stout breaks down some of the dungeons in Zelda to discover what makes them so successful and what modern game designers can learn from this early, great game. He does get one thing wrong, however, in assuming that the infamous “Eastmost peninsula is the secret” is referring to something within the first dungeon when it really seems to be referring to the eastern peninsula on the overworld where you can walk through the rock wall. You can read his article here.

Have you tried your hand at game design? Have you looked to the masters of the games of old for guidance? Or do you just really love the original Zelda? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Gamasutra


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  • Demise

    I think we can learn a lot from the games of old

  • TriAuz64

    I’ve tried mapping for quake 3…I’m not very good though.

  • I think it'd be neat if the original were remade into 3D, but that'd make it lose its value and lessen the importance of the memories belonging to countless fans over the generations.

  • Lamus

    I know this isn't the first game, but here is Zelda II in 3D. http://3dnes.blogspot.com/

  • Speaking completely honestly, I'm trying to create a video game myself. We have a vague plot, enough to set the story but loose enough to be changed drastically, and a nice general map. We've created the races, and the bosses, but we've really put in a ton of thought of how we can make the best game possible. Here are some topics we've discussed, some of which do relate quite nicely:

    In dungeons like the Link's Awakening's Turtle Rock, there is so much you can explore that isn't necessary. It adds a whole new level of feeling and magic

    Enemy Placement/Gimmicks
    Another topic we have talked about a lot is using abilities and items. There is a difference between an annoying room and a room with an annoying gimmick. Back when games were limited, the challenge was really put onto enemy placement. The same old enemies found all over the game, but none of them forced you to "shoot them in the eye" or "pull them apart". The enemies had attacks, they had ways to kill them, and that didn't change throughout. Even though you got used to them, eventually you'd see them again in difficult places, and it really made you learn how to fight.

    Graphics vs. Gameplay
    Gameplay is DEFINITLY more important than graphics. If the controls are broken its hard to fix. If the graphics look stupid, well, you can really hack it doing little editing.

    After a bit, we finally figured out what we wanted to do with this game. The main thing is just getting to make it in a smooth format. If anyone has suggestions on how to offically start the process, contact me on Deviant Art (link below) or at TheGlitchMechanic on Youtube!

    • Jquestionmark

      What gameplay style? Adventure, rpg, action?

  • Jquestionmark

    We should learn a lot from the games of old, but in a lot of ways, we clearly have not. Zelda games are a perfect example of this. Once upon a time, Zelda was about exploring. Not just the setting, but the mechanics as well. You played to learn how to fight the enemies. Up until recently, the Zelda games were pretty good at giving us something and letting us figure it out.

    The fall started with OOT, when we were given a sidekick that wasn't there to add functionality or options, but to harass us with constant reminders to get on with the main quest in a game full of optional quests. This got worse and worse, to the point where I can't pick up a key without being reminded what it is and where I can use it, or get a random collectible item (which feel painfully pointless anyways) and be presented with me holding it up to the camera. We've fallen away from tight gameplay, elegant mechanics, and a sense of adventure where you come to explore and understand the world around you (not just in where to go, but how things act and what you can do). It's well and good for those of us playing games to be reminded of the brilliance behind the classics, but the people making games need to take a look as well.

    • Dotsidious

      In all honesty I feel the same way, also with the difficulty level, but that is partially because I have been playing Legend of Zelda games since I was young so I know what everything does immediately. The change, I think, is due to a new generation of people playing Zelda for the first time who may not know it, and likely don’t know it, to the same degree you or I do. I don’t have a problem with that, but if the games stayed the same way, they would have nowhere to go and would become antiquated quickly because the only people who could enjoy them would be the people who had played them before. It is slightly necessary and not always obvious to us because for us, it’s repetitive and redundant. For new people, it may be necessary because they simply have no idea what they are being handed is.

  • Zac

    The thing that I think about implementing the exploration aspect of the original Zelda game is that games anymore a very story based and that it would be exceptionally hard to create an in-depth story when you can go to the equivalent of the last part of a game first, the first in the middle, and the middle last. I would love a game like that for a modern console if it was done right, but I don't think there would be much emphasis on story at all if there was one made in such a way.

  • EDracon

    Binding of Isaac tried to do a similar layout with it's dungeons
    and it was aweful. Not that it did it wrong, it just wasn't very good.