What is pacing?

What is pacing

  • Pacing refers to the rate at which excitement occurs in a game.
  • Player's may disrupt pacing depending on the speed at which they play.
  • Level design techniques can be used to restore pacing.

Belszinski argues that continuous excitement eventually dulls player senses causing surprises to be expected. Lull periods should occur to create false sense of security, which increase the impact of exciting events (Bleszinski 2001b).

Belszinski, however, fails to observe that the pacing of excitement is partly dependent on the progress made through a level, which varies according to individual players. For example, as Ryan (1999b), notes some players may prefer to thoroughly explore a level, which could slow the pace and cause the game to become dull and uninteresting, while other players may rush through, by-passing the exciting elements.

Ryan identifies two methods for overcoming such problems. The first is using a time limit to speed up player actions. The second is altering the terrain and enemies. A swamp terrain that houses many enemies, for example, will slow progression.

These devices, however, are problematic, as they force the player to obey the designer’s pace lowering individuality. A better tactic is to create a level that caters to different play styles. Hidden routes and secrets, for example, retain interest for slower players, while a screen the charts the number of optional secrets discovered would encourage a fast player to slow-down to look for items s/he missed.

Bleszinski, C. (2001b) ‘The Art and Science of Level Design’ In: Gamasutra.
Available at: http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20010110/cliff_01.htm [accessed: June 2006]

Ryan, T. (1999b) ‘Beginning Level Design Part 2: Rules to Design By and Parting Advice’ In: Gamasutra.
Available from: http://www.gamasutra.com/features/19990423/level_design_01.htm [Accessed: June 2006]

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