Favorite World Design



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h.e.hassanein

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hey guys, i had no idea where to start this thread- i hope this is the right place!

i study architecture, and i'm really into the idea of how video game worlds are designed. kingdom hearts has some great world designs that combine style/emotion with exploration and really fit into the plot- like Traverse Town itself look mismatched, like a bunch of broken worlds came together into one place, and it felt lonely, like a refuge for people whose worlds disappeared should. KH I's Hollow Bastion was a treat to explore, I still love replaying the game just to try and find all the nooks and crannies there- and it was so gorgeous! BBS overall did a great job in world design (except for Sleeping Beauty's world imo) especially with how they made exploring the same worlds 3 times over not feel too repetitive. I could go on!

So if you could tell me your favorite KH worlds in terms of design and what made them your favorites, or even other game franchises that have interesting world design, I'd love to hear your opinions :redface:
 

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First off, interesting thread! I'd love for this aspect to be explored more!

My favorite world design has to be the design for the end of the world from the first game. From making everything look mismatched and broken to the gorgeous and colorful minerals and rocks poking out of every corner of the world, I love the idea of this world! The World Terminus is excellently designed too, just thought I'd point that out *W*
 

h.e.hassanein

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First off, interesting thread! I'd love for this aspect to be explored more!

My favorite world design has to be the design for the end of the world from the first game. From making everything look mismatched and broken to the gorgeous and colorful minerals and rocks poking out of every corner of the world, I love the idea of this world! The World Terminus is excellently designed too, just thought I'd point that out *W*
hey there and thank you! :redface: i'm considering basing my thesis studies on something like this, fingers crossed it goes well!

yeah the End of the World was really well designed, to this day I still feel spooked while exploring it!
 

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Unpopular opinion; I loved Deep Jungle. Maybe it's because of a deep attachment to the original movie and a fondness of Africa and the jungle and whatnot, and also a love of platformers in general. Many would disagree but I loved the vine swinging and tree surfing. If Deep Jungle were to make its appearance now in this generation of consoles, they could have done wonders with the environment.
 

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I don't know much about design or architecture, so I'll just go off of my own gut instinct about this.

Since two notable examples have already been listed off, I'm going to go with DDD's version of The World That Never Was, while playing as Sora. I liked this one for the similar reasons I did The End of the World: the unsettling, melancholy atmosphere, and just how darned big it is.

From Sora's angle, the world's the Dark City. At least, that's what it looks like until you turn a few corners to find that this place is a shattered, twisted version of scenery that anyone who's played KHII would be familiar with. The further you go in, the less the city looks like a "city." Instead of being firmly planted in the ground, skyscrapers are suspended in the air at odd angles, and the few that are attached to the ground contort and shudder. Oh, and did I mention that you witness some fairly bizarre scenes from the get-go and several more times afterwards? The world itself is a freaking spiral of insanity.

You also have that hollow-sounding and almost creepy song "Sacred Distance" to enhance all those things further. And the only thing your info bar tells you to do? "Keep going!"

I don't think any world gave me a greater feeling of apprehension than this one did. Besides The End of the World, of course.
 

h.e.hassanein

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Unpopular opinion; I loved Deep Jungle. Maybe it's because of a deep attachment to the original movie and a fondness of Africa and the jungle and whatnot, and also a love of platformers in general. Many would disagree but I loved the vine swinging and tree surfing. If Deep Jungle were to make its appearance now in this generation of consoles, they could have done wonders with the environment.
you know, I actually share that unpopular opinion- as aggravating as it was the vine swinging really made you feel like you were in a jungle (not just some rooms with appropriate textures that look jungle-y)... also imagine if the tree surfing took place in the rooms you actively explore in the world, so at any time you jumped off you'd land in a new part of the world? It would've been a great way to experience that world in a totally different way :redface:

I don't know much about design or architecture, so I'll just go off of my own gut instinct about this.

Since two notable examples have already been listed off, I'm going to go with DDD's version of The World That Never Was, while playing as Sora. I liked this one for the similar reasons I did The End of the World: the unsettling, melancholy atmosphere, and just how darned big it is.

From Sora's angle, the world's the Dark City. At least, that's what it looks like until you turn a few corners to find that this place is a shattered, twisted version of scenery that anyone who's played KHII would be familiar with. The further you go in, the less the city looks like a "city." Instead of being firmly planted in the ground, skyscrapers are suspended in the air at odd angles, and the few that are attached to the ground contort and shudder. Oh, and did I mention that you witness some fairly bizarre scenes from the get-go and several more times afterwards? The world itself is a freaking spiral of insanity.

You also have that hollow-sounding and almost creepy song "Sacred Distance" to enhance all those things further. And the only thing your info bar tells you to do? "Keep going!"

I don't think any world gave me a greater feeling of apprehension than this one did. Besides The End of the World, of course.
to be fair I'm only a sophomore, so I don't know that much either :redface:

Square was really great at creating some unnerving environments, considering the KH games are supposedly 'just for kids'! and yeah, the bigger the worlds seem the scarier...i wonder who those skyscrapers are even supposed to house?
 

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Unpopular opinion; I loved Deep Jungle. Maybe it's because of a deep attachment to the original movie and a fondness of Africa and the jungle and whatnot, and also a love of platformers in general. Many would disagree but I loved the vine swinging and tree surfing. If Deep Jungle were to make its appearance now in this generation of consoles, they could have done wonders with the environment.
deep jungle's issue was bad platforming and controls, if it was done in current gen it would be spectacular but same could be said for all worlds.
 

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Square was really great at creating some unnerving environments, considering the KH games are supposedly 'just for kids'! and yeah, the bigger the worlds seem the scarier...i wonder who those skyscrapers are even supposed to house?
Ever sliced em in half? They look like solid black material criss-crossed with glowing white, like ore veins. Something tells me they aren't buildings, just a whole lotta physical nothing with a skyscraper facade.
 

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My favorite world designs are Castle of Dreams in BbS; Atlantica, Hollow Bastion, and End of the World in KH1; Notre Dame, Pinocchio and Fantasia (I forget their world names) in DDD. Those are my favorites based on a combination of how visually appealing they are and how fun they are to explore. I enjoy worlds that have openings that interlock different rooms in various ways. Unlike, say, Wonderland, Agrabah, Monstro, and Deep Jungle in KH1 that interlock very well, but aren't the nicest things to look at; or Halloween Town in KH1 which is beautiful, but has a boring setup.

Traverse Town, The World That Never Was, and Twilight Town are also all nicely designed, in all their appearances in the series.
 

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My favorite worlds are Traverse Town and Hollow Bastion from KH1. Hollow Bastion was beautiful, and Traverse Town was fun to explore, and I love the mismatched feel of the town. It also felt the most "alive," at least to me.
 

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my favorite world is probably Traverse Town from KH1. Although, i loved the much larger, open areas in KH2. I hated the "box" feeling in chain of memories. i didnt like any of the worlds in chain of memories.
 

h.e.hassanein

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Ever sliced em in half? They look like solid black material criss-crossed with glowing white, like ore veins. Something tells me they aren't buildings, just a whole lotta physical nothing with a skyscraper facade.
that actually makes a lot of sense...beings of nothing, making their headquarters in a world made of nothing.

My favorite world designs are Castle of Dreams in BbS; Atlantica, Hollow Bastion, and End of the World in KH1; Notre Dame, Pinocchio and Fantasia (I forget their world names) in DDD. Those are my favorites based on a combination of how visually appealing they are and how fun they are to explore. I enjoy worlds that have openings that interlock different rooms in various ways. Unlike, say, Wonderland, Agrabah, Monstro, and Deep Jungle in KH1 that interlock very well, but aren't the nicest things to look at; or Halloween Town in KH1 which is beautiful, but has a boring setup.

Traverse Town, The World That Never Was, and Twilight Town are also all nicely designed, in all their appearances in the series.
You know a lot of people hate on KH I's Atlantica, mostly because of the frustrating controls, but the way it really makes you believe you're underwater, and the way you're really forced to explore the world and sort of get lost in it until you find your way around, makes the world a lot more memorable to me. The Castle of Dreams was gorgeous, I almost swooned when I found out we were going to explore the inside of the castle...a pity we didn't get to see more of it and it was sooo devoid of NPCs- I think this is a thing that really affects all the KH worlds poorly...characters give worlds feeling, so NPC-less worlds make for pretty but emotionless worlds :/

potato man boogie time, hey-rogby: give this poor game some npcs

My favorite worlds are Traverse Town and Hollow Bastion from KH1. Hollow Bastion was beautiful, and Traverse Town was fun to explore, and I love the mismatched feel of the town. It also felt the most "alive," at least to me.
I loves exploring both, even though 4th grade me was really creeped out with TT the first time I attempted KH :biggrin: that's actually really cool that TT felt most alive to you, could you tell me how so?

my favorite world is probably Traverse Town from KH1. Although, i loved the much larger, open areas in KH2. I hated the "box" feeling in chain of memories. i didnt like any of the worlds in chain of memories.
I feel like the larger areas in KH II sometimes made for emptier, less interesting worlds unfortunately, at least compared to those of KH I....but yeah there are many great things about COM but world design is definitely not one of them D:


thank you for your answers guys :redface::redface: if i could add a further question to anyone who answers here, what would you guys say makes for good world design? in KH for example, worlds have to balance being able to hold battles while encouraging world exploration so that's usually the formula chosen to design most of the worlds. what would you consider most important in world design instead?
 

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I like the Hollow Bastion/Radiant Garden designs in all of the games. The world has always given me a sense of exploration, from its castle in KH1, to the city outskirts in KH2, not to mention the Cavern of Remembrance addition in FM+. The fact that you can only explore certain areas with certain characters in BBS only made the world feel like it had even more potential to expand. If we could just get more NCP's to populate the area I feel it would be perfect.

I would say a good world design is one that captures a players attention. The design should give off a vibe and make you feel some type of way while exploring it. I feel like in terms of vibes, Kingdom Hearts does an excellent job with the use of its music and the different designs that each world has. As an overall opinion, the design should just make you want to explore and learn more about whatever area you're playing in.
 

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I loves exploring both, even though 4th grade me was really creeped out with TT the first time I attempted KH :biggrin: that's actually really cool that TT felt most alive to you, could you tell me how so?
It's hard to pinpoint exactly why, but I think the reason it felt more "real" compared to the others to me is because I could imagine people actually living there. It had the Final Fantasy characters, moogles, Pinochhio and Gepetto, Merlin, Fairy Godmother, Donald's nephews, the NPC's in the First District, etc. You could enter and explore quite a few buildings and houses.There were a lot of shops and signs, the mail delivery system, etc. It actually felt like a town instead of simply an area where you just destroy heartless.
thank you for your answers guys :redface::redface: if i could add a further question to anyone who answers here, what would you guys say makes for good world design? in KH for example, worlds have to balance being able to hold battles while encouraging world exploration so that's usually the formula chosen to design most of the worlds. what would you consider most important in world design instead?
I don't know if it's considered "most important," but personally speaking I like it when there are areas and buildings to explore, NPC's to talk to, houses and shops to enter, etc. (assuming it would make sense for the world to have those things). The area should be dynamic, fun, lively and engaging, with a lot of hidden secrets. Appropriate music is incredibly important, too.
 

h.e.hassanein

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I like the Hollow Bastion/Radiant Garden designs in all of the games. The world has always given me a sense of exploration, from its castle in KH1, to the city outskirts in KH2, not to mention the Cavern of Remembrance addition in FM+. The fact that you can only explore certain areas with certain characters in BBS only made the world feel like it had even more potential to expand. If we could just get more NCP's to populate the area I feel it would be perfect.

I would say a good world design is one that captures a players attention. The design should give off a vibe and make you feel some type of way while exploring it. I feel like in terms of vibes, Kingdom Hearts does an excellent job with the use of its music and the different designs that each world has. As an overall opinion, the design should just make you want to explore and learn more about whatever area you're playing in.
yeah, i'm always excited when visiting HB/RG and seeing the different form it takes. that Cavern of Remembrance....the really creepy design paired off with (at first) boss-level heartless made it so intimidating when i first unlocked it, then when i got past the initial room and got to see the rest of the Cavern...and then when i finally got to that room where you get to battle Org. XIII!! and the one-way waterfall door leading you out of it! if only all the kh worlds were that beautifully designed, i fully enjoyed every minute spent going through that Cavern <3 <3

speaking of HB/RG's potential to expand- where do you think KH III will take us next? i think the FF characters were working on restoring RG to what it was pre-Terranort troubles...but I don't believe the world we'll see in KH III will be anything like the RG we saw in BBS.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly why, but I think the reason it felt more "real" compared to the others to me is because I could imagine people actually living there. It had the Final Fantasy characters, moogles, Pinochhio and Gepetto, Merlin, Fairy Godmother, Donald's nephews, the NPC's in the First District, etc. You could enter and explore quite a few buildings and houses.There were a lot of shops and signs, the mail delivery system, etc. It actually felt like a town instead of simply an area where you just destroy heartless.

I don't know if it's considered "most important," but personally speaking I like it when there are areas and buildings to explore, NPC's to talk to, houses and shops to enter, etc. (assuming it would make sense for the world to have those things). The area should be dynamic, fun, lively and engaging, with a lot of hidden secrets. Appropriate music is incredibly important, too.
you know, for a town that's supposed to be a lonely, sad place, you're right, it's probably the liveliest in terms of NPCs, houses, shops- evidence that there's life going on. i don't think Twilight Town did as well, the world felt a bit empty (having all these NPCs show up in the middle of your mini-games only to disappear straight after highlighted this) however Twilight Town was a lot bigger than Traverse Town, which probably made it easier to make it seem more populated, since everything was condensed into roughly four 'major' rooms

i brought Twilight Town up because i too really value how lively any given world seems, and both Twilight and Traverse Town were great at this- even though they give off totally opposite vibes! while HB/RG in most of its variations is huge and fun to explore, it rarely seems lively...

actually that's a common falling in KH worlds. i don't think having most of the worlds feel populated wouldn't be appropriate (almost every world has one type of area that's supposed to be full of people and life)
 

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I'm surprised people like the Hollow Bastion KH2 design. I mean, I guess I like the areas leading to the 1000 Heartless battle and where you fight Sephiroth, but most of it's a little too straightforward for me. And they put the marketplace off in a complete dead-end where I will never visit (and nobody lives?) unless I want to see what Cloud, Leon, and Aerith's text bubbles say. If they'd put a Save Point there or moved Merlin's House over there with everything else, I probably wouldn't say that.

But most of KH2's designs are about moving you from point A to point B and less about encouraging exploration.
 

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Most of the worlds from 3D looked amazing, probably the best aspect of that game.
My favorite might still be Hollow Bastion from KHI though, hard to decide.
As for games in general Dark Souls (and Demon's Souls, that one might be even better) has to be my favorite followed by Bioshock with the best designed realistic world, both Rapture and Columbia look amazing.
 
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KH I's Hollow Bastion was a treat to explore, I still love replaying the game just to try and find all the nooks and crannies there- and it was so gorgeous!
Kingdom Hearts 1 was great in the fact that there were many optional things to explore. Hollow Bastion is where it really stands out. There's the optional areas in the Waterway, the bubbles that you can freeze and use as platforms (which I didn't even know about until I read the Bradygames guide!), the secret lift in the Library that takes you up to small platform at the top of the Lift Stop, and the switch at the High Tower that changes where said lift goes.

There were also many treasure chests and trinities and superbosses that you couldn't access until later, which made revisiting the worlds fun.

Dream Drop Distance also has many expansive-looking maps that also have little nooks and such with treasure chests. But it still doesn't compare to the first KH, although it comes close at times. The only real reason to revisit the worlds from what I know are the secret portals.

BBS overall did a great job in world design (except for Sleeping Beauty's world imo)
What was it about Enchanted Dominion that you didn't like?
 

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I tend to prefer Kingdom Hearts I's designs for nearly every world considering that they put a lot of care into making it both beautiful to look at and a load of fun to traverse through. Traverse Town and Hollow Bastion are my favorite areas to go to in that game. The former has a really nice "Disney London" sort of feel to it and has the trappings of a somewhat disjointed town that feels incredibly homely. Hollow Bastion amazed me with its architecture from its stained glass windows to floors filled with Heartless and Nobody signs on them.
 
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