About Reaching Perfection
Reaching Perfection consists of a series of short articles on Level Design, written by Ray Benefield over the course of several years. The articles were originally published on his website (www.reachingperfection.com), and are republished here on Next Level Design with permission from the author. The subject matter is wide ranging, covering everything from Threat Zones, to Peer Review, to Cohesion, and many, many other aspects of level design.
- These articles are a snapshot of the authors viewpoint at the time they were written, and should not be interpreted as 'truth' - take them as food for thought, and an impetus for discussion on the various topics.)
- The website these articles were published on was focused exclusively on the Forge mode within Halo 3 and Halo: Reach, so there will be many references to Forge and these games.
Missed Chapter 29?
Read it here: Degree of Focus
Ever build a map that has played completely differently from how you designed it to? Have you made a design decision expecting one result but getting a completely different one? Level design is not a piece by piece or step by step process that one follows. Everything affects everything else and learning how everything works together sometimes requires experimentation and study. Sometimes you never know that something is going to work until you try it.
From theory to reality
We didn’t just start out knowing exactly how to walk, write, read a book, do a back flip, or even create a super computer. We always start out theorizing how one might go about doing something based on what we know, what we’ve been told, and what we’ve researched. You never know exactly what is going to happen until you try something yourself. Most of the time it is one thing to think about how to do something and another thing to actually go out and do it. Many people will tell you that smoking is addicting, but you never actually know how addicting until you try it right? Some people will tell you that horseback riding is a blast, but you never know that until you actually jump on a horse and ride it around. I may tell you that people will go over to a rocket launcher and pick it up over a pistol, but you never actually know that for sure until you try it right?
Context is everything
So what if I told you that people will pick up a pistol over the rocket launcher? Most of you would probably call me a liar. Now what if you knew that I was talking about a game where only headshots will earn you points. Am I right now? Possibly. Did I forget to mention that getting a kill with the rocket launcher will earn you an extra life? Now the rocket launcher looks quite a bit more promising. Then again I also forgot to tell you that you can only have a maximum of ten lives. So what will people choose; the pistol or the rocket launcher? After going through this scenario, you will realize that it depends on the context of the situation. Everything in map design works this way. Just because it is typically good practice to put the sniper rifle around high areas does not mean that is what is best for your map, and this could be because of anything on your map.
Never know until you try
So how do you know that the sniper rifle belongs in the sniper tower of your map? Well you don’t yet. You only know if you put the sniper rifle there and play your map. At first it may seem like a good idea based on what you know, however when you play your map it may prove to be a bad decision due to unforeseen circumstances. Nobody knows everything and nobody can consider every possible variable that plays into that decision. Sometimes you never know until you try. This goes for everything that you may read in these lessons. You never know that players are going to take the shortest path possible to the flag unless you actually go out and place a flag for people to go get. You never know if color contrast is going to grab people’s attention until you go out and setup a scenario to test it. So what are you waiting for? Start applying these lessons. Learn what works and what doesn’t for you. Don’t just assume.
Read Chapter 31: (to be updated)
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