Game design and directional choices

Suppose you are playing a video game and your character enters a square room with three doors, one to your right, one to your left, and one in front of you. Without any additional information, which door would you choose to go through?

Does it make a difference if you believe you can backtrack later?

Would you say your choice is arbitrary, or is it a response to what you expect from game designers? Or something else?

I would take the left one, as the first step in systematically exploring this new area. Following the right wall works just as well, of course, but I’m in the habit of picking left for this (reinforced by my many hours of Diablo II, where left really was usually the correct choice).

This decision is the same regardless of whether I can backtrack later. However, if I have reason to believe I can’t, then I save first.

I also choose left for systematically exploring an area. Why left and not always right? I am left handed, so maybe that has something to do with it. Or maybe it’s that we drive on the left where I’m from. I don’t know.

Yep, left as the traditional “left-hand-wall” rule for exploring mazes, in the absence of other information.

Knowing that I couldn’t backtrack would re-inforce this decision if taking long paths is better (more loot, probably), and reverse it if taking long paths is worse (time limits or overly dangerous area), since on average the left or right paths to an exit on the other side will be longer than the center path.

funny, i would always choose left too, for pretty much the same reasons stated above. unless i feel that the other option might be a dead end. eg, a corridor to the left vs a door to the right. i didn’t know this was a traditional rule.

Given we have no extra information, I’d be inclined towards left.

I’m assuming I could backtrack. If I couldn’t, I’d look for a clue as to which was the ‘correct’ door to take. If none was forthcoming I’d assume that there was no best choice. If it turned out there was, but without any clues to make the decision with, the next gameplay choice I made would probably be to play another game. :slight_smile:

Left, because that’s how many of us have been trained to solve mazes.

Dinaroozie is also right: if there’s a clear best choice, no clues as to which is best, and no backtracking, you’re gonna end up on my long list of “game devs who don’t get my money”.

I wonder if the left side was chosen because a warrior’s shield protected his left side (typically) when turning corners.

Does this go back any further than pencil-and-paper rpgs? Because few if any of those simulate at that level of detail.

I would say: with your left hand you hold the wall and with your right hand your sword/torch

I would say: with your left hand you hold the wall and your right hand holds the sword/torch

It depends on the specific game; in general I follow the left-hand rule, which is like the right-hand rule but assumes that people have heard of the right-hand rule (thus you’ll find the desired destination faster by using the left hand, since the design is set to make the right-hand path long); I’m also likely to draw a map if one is not available/I don’t like the one available, in order to detect any spots which either-hand rules would miss.

I answered the left.

… unless it’s a call of duty campaign - in which case you go where the ‘rails’ take you.

Sad fact of some modern games - elimination of the ability to explore.

If you’re asking about the origin of the wall-following or “left-hand” rule, so far that eludes my Googling (although there’s a metric crapload of robotics sites out there designing robots to do it, they don’t seem to be interested in discussing who first proposed the method).

However, shield use seems at least tangentially relevant to mazes to me.

There’s a long history of architecture taking the “shield side” into account; architecture so that a left-side shield gives an advantage to a defender or disadvantages an attacker goes back at least to Roman times. Cite: A Dictionary of Military Architecture.

And the first person to solve a maze in the Western cultural canon definitely expected danger as he navigated the maze (although he was not following the walls with either hand).

I once played a game (shan’t name it, but those who have played it will recognize it) where you started the game by choosing one of four different companions to guide you through the world. But they had only bothered writing dialog, options, etc. for one of the companions. So what they did was, immediately after you chose a companion, you were put in a room with four exits. Without giving you a chance to choose one yourself, your companion immediately chose one for you… And if you picked one of the “wrong” companions, they took you through a door that led to immediate death. C’mon, guys, at least have the honesty to admit that you’re putting the game on rails.

Sorry if I missed where someone mentioned it but for my part at least, the ‘left door first’ rule is simply a product of the fact that I read left to right. If there was a grid of nine doors, I’d take the top left first, then the top middle, then top right, then over to middle left, and so on. Do we have enough dopers whose native language reads right to left that we can see if that makes a difference?

It depends on what sort of building I’m in. If it’s truly a maze in a proper 3-D space, I’ll probably go to one side if I’m exploring. Otherwise, I’ll head for the door that seems architecturally most important. I’d expect this to be the middle one, but square rooms with three doors leading out are relatively rare.