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What is a flow chart?
A flow chart is a simple system I created to show how key-doors, backtracking works in a level and how you can create one in a simplified form. Flow Charts are essentially for non-linear levels, i.e levels that aren't go from A to B.
 
(Flow Chart)

The picture to the right is a level that goes straight from A to B. Basically a level that has no key-door structure. A key/door structure is used to create an obstacle for the player and forces the player to search the level for the key. Note there are also
 
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skill/door, item/door, enemy/door. Designers have become smarter by replacing key/doors with get the grappling hook, so you can grapple over the chasm. Or escort the scientist to open the door, But a spades a spade at the end of the day.
 
(Note: A large part of a game designers job is to dress up new key/door systems. Steal the enemy car to enter the compound etc.)

Here we see the most simple key/door flow. 'S' is the Starting point, 'G' is the Goal or end of level. 'a' is the Key, and 'A' is the door. You would then design your level ontop of this structure, doing your flow chart first is essential.

This is a newer variation called the multi/key-door. It's the whole steal a taxi to enter the compound thing, it adds alot of variety to the gameplay as there isn't just one way to complete the level.

The old dual door system, still pretty common in games today! This is get b to open B then get a to open A. For example it could be 'a' is a pilot that must be rescued brought to 'A' the plane, then 'b' is a switch that must be hit to open the hangar doors, etc.

A very basic level design giving an idea of how a level is built on the flow. The keys 'a' and 'b' could be in any position, but they're generally placed away from eachother to promote exploration.