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Game Design Question: Are Repeated Dungeons Okay?

When Dragon Age II came along there was a lot of complaints about the re-use of dungeons in the game. This should not be confused with the use of modular dungeons, where the same base assets are used to randomly generate a new dungeon. In Dragon Age II the trouble was that many encounters, even when a fair distance apart, used the same dungeon maps.

Having a player revisit a dungeon can be a great way to save on creating unique dungeons, and having all dungeons follow a basic design style and aesthetic can be a good way to save on resources. Skyrim did this to great effect on many of the dungeons where the caverns and things were made up of a lot of the same base pieces with a few added in specialty items to make each dungeon more unique.

But what about purely repeated dungeons such as those used in Dragon Age II? Are those ever acceptable to use in a video game? Can you think of any situation where they would be acceptable to use? What alternatives might you suggest for people seeking to reduce resource requirements in their game?

I can see where it would be okay to reuse the same dungeon map for something such as a training area in a guildhall, where the dangers and traps and things change, but the base floor plan and room positions remains the same.

Or perhaps a dungeon that evolves as the story progresses, new groups moving into the dungeon and changing the decor, but not the base elements of the area.

Please, share your thoughts and ideas on reuse of dungeon environments in video games in the comments. Have you seen it done really well anywhere? Do you want to get some ideas on how you can make it work in a game you are working on?

Next Monday’s Game Design Question: Should Game Designers Use The Base Character Creator for the Game’s Default Hero?

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