The Layer Universe: How to build an infinite world from limited bricks

The Layer Universe
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Zone borders and level walls can impair immersion. The Layer Universe is a plausible way to overcome this limit with a design approach. It is possible to build a coherent, immersive world from limited zones or levels. Read how!

The Layer Universe is a design idea that you can combine with The Vortex Worlds and is already integrated with Generation Ship Golgossa.

Table of contents

Composition of the Layer Universe

The Layer Universe is composed of an infinite number of layers. Each on top of the other. A layer is something like a pocket dimension. The thickness of a layer is about 10 to 100 meters. Each layer is of variable size and self-contained. Like walking on the surface of a sphere, you arrive at your start when walking steadily in one direction.

You cannot move from one layer to another with normal means. When drilling into the ground, you come out at the ceiling.

Apart from that, each layer has its own natural laws and appearance. One might be filled with a giant ocean, another the brick fortress of a goblin king, the next a paradise landscape, and the next filled with earth.

Travel to other layers

There are two ways to travel to other layers: the needle and the loops.

The needle

What is the needle?

The needle is an invisible transdimensional megastructure. Like a needle that goes through layers of fabric, this needle goes through all known layers.

Every layer has two fixed locations where the needle is: the ground hole and the ceiling hole. Both holes are not necessarily on top of each other. In fact, they rarely are.

Holes to other layers

A hole has no particular physical manifestation. It is just a place where you can move through the ground or ceiling to the adjacent layer. In its natural form, a hole is closed.

To enable passage, both connected layers must open it on their side. Opening a hole is specific to each layer. Some holes are closed by a big stone. Some are a locked hatch, and others look like a magic portal. It is easier to open a ground hole than a ceiling hole for obvious reasons.

Entering through a ground hole will let you leave a ceiling hole and vice versa.

There are ways to detect the holes in a layer. However, in populated layers, the positions are well-known. A developed layer’s inhabitants might build staircases, an elevator, or even an entire port around their hole.

A developed layer’s inhabitants might build staircases, an elevator, or even an entire port around their hole.

What is the most crazy hole access you can think of?

Travel is dangerous

Many holes are heavily guarded. Other holes are abandoned or surrounded by bandits hoping for unlucky travelers or mislead goods.

Opening unknown holes can be dangerous. There have been incidents where the adjacent lava layer flooded an entire world. Not all layers are inhabitable. Even if they are, the inhabitants might not be peaceful.

Therefore, it is not possible to travel far with the needle. It is uncommon to find more than half a dozens connected layers in a row. That´s why you need the loop.

The loop

What is the loop?

The loop enables traveling to non-adjacent layers. It is the basis of large trading networks and layer-spanning empires. Imagine the needle to be like an interdimensional elevator. The loop means going in and taking a non-stop ride to the destination.

So, how does this work?

The loop works with dust

Everybody going through a hole will find a fine layer of dust on himself. The dust is completely harmless. Rather, it is of great value. Dust can be collected and stored in boxes, bottles, or envelopes.

Going from layer A to layer B will cover you with the dust of layer A and vice versa. Dust from different layers does not mix up. Therefore, when you know the origin of a dust sample, you can identify more dust of the same origin.

You can transport collected dust through holes. Nothing happens as long as the dust is covered.

However, if the dust is on an open surface like your skin or cloth, it shows its effect. You don’t migrate to the adjacent layer. Rather, you come out where the dust is from. That is how the loop works.

Be careful with dust

The trade with dust is a major economic factor. However, dust is also the cause of countless tragic accidents. Ruthless merchants sell dubious dust with the promise of treasures in far exotic layers. Mostly, the unlucky customer fiends himself in an inhospitable far world or something worse.

A dust trader table
A dust trader table – image by freepik –

Not always is ill will the source of trouble. More often, just careless behavior. Even a small portion of dust forgotten on your cloth from the last transit can make your next journey an adventure.

Therefore, it has become a ritual at many hole ports to carefully clean all goods’ surfaces and all beings before the transit.

Advantages of the Layer Universe

A deeply rooted concept

The first 3d games evaded showing open sky due to technical limitations. We don´t have this limitation anymore. However, the feeling of being secluded to a small, clear world is still appealing to many humans.

The concept of other worlds above and below is deeply rooted in the human mind.

Countless mythologies and religions place their gods and devils above and below. Deep caves are places of mystery. Humans want to reach high into the sky, to the stars, to discover new worlds.

The Layer Universe adopts this concept and makes it more simple and more palpable.

Coherent design

The Layer Universes gives a logical and coherent explanation for limited worlds. You don´t need to make islands or non-traversable chasms around your levels anymore.

Furthermore, having a pocket dimension collection gives you a natural explanation to have very different environments next to each other.

Channel content

The Layer Universe design and the travel options give you all the tools to channel content to players in a meaningful way. You can create chunks of connected layers. Also, you can let new single layers drop in by exotic merchants selling dust. Furthermore, you can even let bosses drop dust.


To build a coherent, immersive world from limited zones or levels have a teleport mechanic that is

  • well-integrated in the setting
  • never gives a complete overview about the available destinations
  • allows unlocking destinations
  • has different modes of travel to destinations

Also, you may need to channel content to prevent players spread out too much on too many different zones.

Game design considerations.
Design Doris

The Layer Universe is the concept of limited, connected pocket dimensions. It builds an attractive, coherent, and secluded game world.

(Last Updated on April 1, 2021)

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