Destroy All Humans: Big Willy Unleashed - which hits the Wii on the 25th of this month - is an action game of, well, big proportions set in an open world filled with humans ripe for the destroying. Posted here for your perusal is the first developer diary we’ve seen that’s actually a diary, in which the developer shares with us the challenges and delights of creating an open world.
Creating An Open World
And now for a peak behind the curtain! Here’s the inside scoop on how we approached designing and building Big Willy Unleashed.
One of the distinctive features of the Destroy All Humans game series is the open world style of game play. Open world games give players the freedom to explore and get to know the lay of the land without the confines of mission objectives. Traditional character games, with linear levels, don’t. So, off we went, creating an open world game in keeping with the previous Destroy All Humans games.
But we faced a number of challenges in the process of creating a free roaming open world game. If you’re thinking about designing an open world game, read on!
Among the issues our designers faced were the impact of upgrades in an open world game. We had to make sure the player could still roam around the same invasion site (our version of game world) as both a novice character AND a fully upgraded character, and still make the experience exciting.
To address this, the design and art teams created each invasion site so it appeared to be to an environment the player could fully explore once the player’s characters were fully upgraded. For example, early in the game, Crypto’s jetpack has a pretty limited range, and thus Crypto can’t reach the top of the stadium or the cargo ships anchored in the outer harbor. But when fully upgraded, more of the invasion site can be fully explored (and destroyed).
Another challenge we faced was how each invasion site would evolve as the player continued to complete the missions offered there.
For instance, some of the missions in the first invasion site required you to destroy certain buildings. But what if the player destroyed those buildings while playing another mission or while playing between missions? So, those clever souls in the design department opted to offer story missions in a specific sequence and limit objectives for widespread destruction just to those story missions. This allowed us to offer a mission objective to destroy the movie theater in mission two and have it remain destroyed until the player flies off to another invasion site.