Beautiful Asymmetry

Yesterday we talked about the three different styles of stairs.  Today I want to talk about why I didn’t just use one template.  It all comes down to asymmetry.

Asymmetry is important from a gamesmanship perspective.  If all three sides of the rocket are identical, that limits the tactical possibilities.  You need to give players those choices between alternate routes, some faster than others, some with more cover than others, to keep them on their toes.  When there’s no difference between right and left, the choices don’t matter as much.  If the right path is more direct, but heavily guarded, now you’ve got to balance factors.

This also gives you more scope when it comes to designing scenarios.  If you place that goal point behind a choke point, you get a different game than when you put it somewhere with multiple routes of entry.

In the case of the stairs, the solid staircase blocks off a potential ladder down to the ground floor of the rocket (in this case, the engine room).  There won’t be a ladder down on the right hand side of this picture, either.  That forces the little dudes to cross over to the back side of the rocket if they want to get into the bottom room on this picture.

Note also that there’s one door on the top level shown in the photo.  There’s a great big hole in the floor blocking the front room from the back left.  To get to that room in the back left, you’ve either got to run around through the door on the right and the back right room, or climb down to the small landing on the left, around the wall, and back up the ladder on the other side.  Going left takes longer.  Going right exposes you to enemy fire while you sprint around the level.  Those are choices that matter, and those are the kind of choices you want players to have to make.

The solid staircase also makes a nice little hidey-hole for tribbles, and you only really need one of those.

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