Level design can direct players through a game in quite a few ways these being actual barriers or simple markers on a map. Depending on the type of game there is different ways navigating a player through a level. First let’s look at how a racing game does this.
Most racing games use tracks to race on. This leaves them with a path to follow and is assisted with signs with arrows pointing which direction to go, or it has a mini map telling them what’s coming up.
As you can see from this picture you can see a mini map on the bottom left and arrows directing the player around the map. Not all racing games are like this some of them are sandbox racing like Burnout Paradise (Personal favourite. )Burnout Paradise is an open world street racing game that uses a mini map to points you where to go in the race but it also leaves you to chose how to get there like you don’t have to take the same road as every other car in the race you can take shorts cuts to help you get there faster, this is mainly up to you to find them though but they do have flashing bollards indicating them while racing.
Also another thing you’ll notice in this video is that the cars indicator will blink when a corner you need to take is coming up you can chose to take or take a longer route or shorter. I really do like this idea because it not bluntly pointing it out to you but, it is there if you notice and want to pay attention to it.
FPS games use mission narrative to guide you through levels and also use Marker points on mini maps to guide where to go.
This video of battlefield bad company 2 shows a good example on how the mini map has highlighted area in red where to attack and also has characters to follow around. They also called you to help them go a certain way to get advantage on the enemy
Most games in general have paths in the game that lead to places having a open level with nothing there just leaves a player lost and confused where to go unless there are giving a direction where to go. But mainly most games this generation have a path to follow which makes most games quite linear.
Environments have to create atmospheres in games to create feeling and to suit the game. Like you wouldn’t have a horror game in a sunny beach place to say (not unless you Dead Island). A horror game is classically a dark gloomy filthy place that creates a fear of where are you and makes it creepy.
I think depending on the game you want to play realism and stylised comes in to consideration. At the moment I’ve being playing a game called moon diver which is like a old style arcade game where your run right through this 2D level to the end of the stage fighting enemies this game is very stylised and doesn’t have much realism to it apart from psychics like gravity and stuff but they are nowhere near realistic. But most games have a balance between realism and stylised as when you get a game that’s completely real if that ever comes to be one it will be more of a simulator and that’s not a bad thing but when a gave has a bit of stylisation to it, it becomes to me more interesting and fun. And environment I really like is Burnout paradise city it’s really stylised and less realistic but I find the stylization of this game makes it why it’s so fun. It also brings realism in to it with crashes
I really like how it uses construction sites to make creative fun places to drive and do stunts around. Like whenever I see a construction site now I wonder what could be move about to make a fun place to drive your car around.