July 14th, 2016
Watch a few minutes of the video above. What do you notice about the nature of the environment? And what effect do you think these things would have on the player?
Here are some observations I made whilst playing:
- The wall textures look similar throughout Tairon.
- There are many realistically modelled doors, but most are static textures.
- Tairon consists of a network of winding pathways which branch out in multiple directions.
- The large hall near Military Gate looks appears to be a hub, but isn’t.
- It’s possible to dash around the rooftops, yet only about half of the visible accessible elevated areas are actually accessible.
- Blood splatters are non-permanent.
- When you revisit areas, fallen enemies respawn anew.
The visual and structural design, as well as the lack of permanency, make it difficult to orientate oneself within Tairon. Because most rooms are narrow and bendy in shape, it is harder for the player to define the room as a simple shape, a technique which is useful when organising the town layout into a mental schema (for example, “the big round room comes after the narrow walkway”). The samey texturing and lack of landmarks similarly deny the player the visual resources with which they can make each room in their mental model of Tairon distinct from the rest. The constant respawning of foot soldiers every second time the player returns to a room prevents one from using the presence of enemies as a means of monitoring their movement through the environment. And, finally, the doors and ledges deceive the player into investigating unnecessary dead ends. Tairon, as a site the player must traverse in various ways throughout the adventure, is a somewhat sluggish stop gap that punctuates the otherwise linear and forward-moving sets of Ninja Gaiden Sigma.