Tom used to be a lawyer. Now he's a game designer. The two have more in common than you think.
Maze-like levels get more interesting when there are plenty of paths through them. Dead ends create binary spaces where the only options are “there’s no enemy here, everything is fine” or “an enemy blocks my exit, I’m doomed.” Interconnected areas invite maneuver.
If you want the player to interact with the antagonist, the antagonist must be where the player wants to be. Otherwise, the best strategy is always to go where the antagonist is not. In the picture above, the waypoints the knight uses for its AI pathing are not particularly close to the piles of gold coins the player-dragon wants to dig through; this means the player can usually dig in near-complete safety.
Even a little bit of power can be very exciting. It’s not necessary to immediately ramp the player to a balance-destroying level, even if the thrill of powering up is a goal.
Always keep in mind why you made a decision in the first place. When a technical problem forces you to revisit that decision, don’t jump to the most technically feasible option. Remind yourself why the design was as it was, and ask how you can get that same result.