A common issue I feel in open world games is that traversing the landscape feels like a chore. How do you make even just moving about in the landscape fun?

I give you exhibit A:

Spider-man web-slinging through New YorkALT

If I had to try to reduce fun locomotion into a recipe, I would say that the journey must feel (not necessarily be) fast, responsive, and flow.


The player must be able to get to their destination within a reasonably short time frame. The longer a player has to do a specific activity without interruption, the easier it is to get bored of it. Humans have an innate enjoyment of moving quickly. Added touches like motion blur, doppler-directional sound effects, visual effects, and the like should combine to create a sense of speed.


It’s extremely frustrating when a player desires to do a thing, but cannot do so at the precision that they want. It’s the sense of frustration we get when we picture an image in our mind’s eye, but our physical attempt to draw it looks hideous in comparison. That gap between expectation and actual results result in frustration. The control scheme for the character movement must allow for players to be precise as the game makes them feel they should be. Animations should not only capture the desired speed and directionality of the player, but should also direct the player character to locations the player wants to go.


Flow here means that the experience of moving should feel smooth. Avoid hard turns, large camera angle changes, or sudden changes in speed. Movement of both character and camera should be done in smooth arcs. Hard angle changes feel like impacts, breaking the sense of speed and hurting the experience. Each motion should smoothly blend from one to the next. Acceleration should ramp up and down, starting off slow, ramping up sharply, and then easing off again once the desired speed is reached. 

These core qualities combine to form a fun, engaging navigational experience. Players need to feel a sense of speed so they don’t get bored with traversals. Locomotion must be responsive, so players feel like they are going where they want when they want. And finally, the experience should flow pleasantly and smoothly, without any jarring impacts or interruptions to the feelings of movement.

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