You do a lot of downward climbing in zk map, but the core activity is route-finding. You look across a haphazard pile of shapes, and your eyes trace possible ways down, imagining the lines of sight and obstructions along each meandering path. Route-finding is one part forward planning and two parts 'dead reckoning': making a choice and then figuring out how to get yourself one step out of the mess you just made. There is something magical about route-finding in a videogame, since videogame worlds are untrammeled, immaculate spaces. Every unguided turn you take is yours and yours alone.
The thing about making a game involving route-finding is you can't really get there by designing great routes. No matter how good your level design skills are, if the player is following a path you laid out for them, they aren't really route-finding at all. The player becomes too aware of your intentions, and their own autonomy becomes subsumed in them. As mkapolk explains:My process for making the levels was to scatter geometry more or less randomly and then try to traverse it. Sometimes when I was going down a map if I thought that an area shouldn't be a dead end I'd add some more stuff to it, but that's about as far as it went.You can construct a level that players can route-find through, but you can't design it... or to put it more precisely, you can't crack out the Good Game Design if you want players to experience route-finding. To pass through a well-designed level is a hike, not an expedition.