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 30?
Read it here: Application
Have you ever done something that made time fly without you realizing it? Ever play a game where you felt you spent only an hour, but then realize that four have gone by? Ever play a map where you were so deep into having fun and fighting the opposition that you had no time to criticize the map fully because you were so focused on playing the game that the map was made for?
What is immersion?
I’m glad you asked Jimmy. By the books immersion is the state of being deeply engaged or involved. Immersion is all about giving your players such an enjoyable experience that they don’t pay attention to things that can ruin their day. Whether that experience is having to go to a doctor’s appointment or meeting up with an ex-wife to settle some differences. Immersion ensures that the only thing that matters is what you are doing, not what is going on around you. Arguably that isn’t always a good thing for the player, but it is a sign of success for the designer. It means he did his job. Now it is time to do yours.
Creating a dream
Let’s talk about dreams for a second. In a dream you get the feeling that everything is real. Everything in your dream works together to create a believable experience that gives the illusion of everything being real. Then all of a sudden you notice that something is amiss. Something doesn’t feel right and then you realize that you are dreaming and the whole experience is destroyed now that you have a full realization of what is going on. Typically at this point you wake up. Even if you want to re-immerse yourself into the dream, you can’t because the experience was broken for you. Making a map is very similar to a dream in that you seek to immerse your players into your map and to distract them from everything that shouldn’t matter to lock them into your experience. Once you lose that immersion then it is very difficult to regain it. If your player is busy saying that your map is ugly, then they are obviously not immersed. If your player is asking you where to find the sniper rifle then they are not immersed. And once they lose immersion they start looking for other things and finding more and more problems turning from a player to a critic. And trust me... we hate critics.
Playing the game, not the map
As a level designer, you have to realize one thing. Your map is only a tool for the game. It is a way to experience the gameplay in a different setting. When players play on a good map they don’t typically talk about how awesome the map was. They talk about how much fun they had destroying the tank across the map. They talk about how they jumped over the wall and snuck upon their friends. They talk about how they worked as a team to capture the flag in those final seconds. When your map is amazing, people don’t talk about your map... they talk about their experiences on the map. And that is what designers should look to achieve. You are not creating a map. You are creating something to give your players an experience to share with their co-workers the next day at work... as they talk about how they forgot their wife’s birthday because they were too busy destroying on said map. That is the power of a designer my friend. Enjoy it.
Read Chapter 32: (to be updated)
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