Interchangeable Video Game Parts

The notion of reusable gaming worlds.

Often when I do play video games it will be on servers that use custom maps/worlds. These vary greatly in quality, from top notch to bottom of the barrel, but mostly the people loyal to the server do their own quality control and the better the server, the better the average quality is.

But the experience is still limited. Most of the maps are not open source. The assets generally cannot be migrated from game to game, particularly if the gaming engine is separate.

There’s a great opportunity for assets to be reused, improved, and evolved over time, to the point where whole, seamless worlds of assets could be constructed and used by many games.

I’m not talking about having a consistent world across multiple games, though that’s a possibility as well, but just sharing the world.

This already happens on a limited basis. As said, custom maps are used on a variety of servers, some of which have their own custom game modes. Other maps have been released by their authors for multiple games or multiple versions of the same game. Or multiple versions of the map, with variations.

High quality maps don’t come easy, they require a lot of exacting work. And then testing. Reworking. But the idea that there should be an equal number of high quality maps as there should be high quality games, to me doesn’t add up. My understanding is that the act of creating the game world is one of the most laborious parts of producing a game. Even dud games may have beautifully architected levels.

It just seems like a big shame to waste these levels, by having them used once or twice and never again.

Sound effects for films have been reused as long as they’ve existed. There are some famous ones, and others that are not famous but still recognizable if you listen. Point being that reuse doesn’t necessarily detract from the entertainment.

There are tangible benefits to reuse beyond the fun of the games. They help level the playing field for game design a bit, where at least some of the code for handling the maps is free and open. They give more designers an opportunity, as they can market themselves to a wide, inclusive gaming community at once, rather than one small niche of a particular game at a time.

It may also help to keep old environments alive. I’ve not played the likes of Quake or Doom in years, but I still recall bits of their levels. While I doubt any risk of these games being lost forever, I also doubt they will be often adapted to new games except through a down-in-the-dirt recreation from the skybox in (or maybe from the spawn entities out?). It just seems like being able to pull up one of those worlds and stroll through could and should be as easy as something like Google Earth.


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