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Compression of Space

Listening to the Gamers With Jobs podcast today, and they’re talking about Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and the compression of city space. In Detroit, you have a massive skyscraper, homeless projects, markets, and your apartment all within a block or two of each other.

It reminded me of the original Deus Ex, where apparently several corporations, secret societies, and Tong headquarters are all in the same 1/10 mile block of Hong Kong.

Once you’re aware of the compression of space, it’s fun to observe it in games. Like how rival military bases always seem to be built a few hundred yards from each other.

I always thought the first area of Borderlands did this brilliantly – the Arid Badlands had a full town, several NPCs, huge explorable areas, terrain features, side areas to discover, and tons of quests. It was really a great start to the game, and gave it a very open world feel. Borderlands loses that feel pretty quickly – the Dahl Headlands are open, but mostly dull featureless terrain. And once you get to New Haven, it’s time to get used to changing zones two or three times to finish quest. But they really knocked it out of the park for the first zone of the game.

Did you realize you can start in Fyrestone, jump Piss Gulch, battle through Titan’s End, then do a few rounds in the Circle of Death, all without ever hitting a loading screen? That’s good stuff.

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