Pearson was on the Kiwi Talkz podcast, hosted by Reece Reilly, where he talked about the design decisions in Metroid Prime and Donkey Kong Country Returns, which he worked on whilst at Retro Studios. You can see the podcast embedded below.
“You can basically mitigate against those difficulties by the construction methodology as well as meticulous planning,” Pearson said of designing the levels in Metroid Prime 2. “One of the things about the way we would set up rooms and halls within the Metroid Prime games is that there’s docks that connect.”
“Ultimately meaning that you can take any room and any hall and change its arrangement in the world, but things still have to cohesively fit together in terms of real world space.”
Pearson then goes on to say that these rooms would need to have a matching art style, and that the transitions and room layouts “still actually fit together mathematically.”
This was a fast process for Metroid Prime 2, as first the team at Retro Studios would layout the entire map, figuring out room connectivity and player pathing before anything else. It would then take seven days to build a room, three days to build a hall, and one day to build a pickup room. This came down to the fact that Metroid Prime 2 had both light and dark versions of every room to account for.
“Ultimately we would pre-plan a room, and then we’d start working on blocking out all the blue rooms and the gameplay sequences there,” said Pearson. He does also note that the dark version of the world was blocked off in places because of how difficult the design process ended up being.