• Kantalope
    Kantalope

    December Challenge: Thinking Ahead

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    Happy Holidays, NextLevelDesign, and welcome to the December design challenge. As many of us are looking to our memories of holidays' past, let's have our players take a glance at what's in store in the coming minutes; let's get them Thinking Ahead.

     

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    Design a level, encounter, enemy, etc that in some way requires the player to think ahead in order to succeed in the end goal of said level/encounter/enemy/etc. This can be done in many ways, but, for multiplayer experiences, they are all about predicting and countering the enemy player's strategies so encouraging certain ones should be a designer's goal. Objectives, sandbox, and level design are all integral to how those strategies are formed, so everything must be accounted for in order to theory craft strategies into a game through balancing. How will you reward Thinking Ahead?

     

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    Only three guidelines apply to this challenge:

    • The level must be designed around players acting upon predictions of upcoming scenarios
    • The level must be posted on the December Challenge: Thinking Ahead Submission and Discussion Thread
    • The post must include at least one picture/sketch of the level

    If you're not registered on the site, it's an easy process. Here's a link to where you can do so: (link)

     

    The submission thread will remain open until January 6th. There is no limit to the number of levels you can submit. Submit one and go into as much detail about it as possible, or submit many with the bare minimum of detail. Take Whichever route you feel will be the most beneficial to your own development.

     

    A couple of details that could be included in the level post as a way to better convey the design process are:

    • The sandbox of which the level is designed for (relevant examples)
    • Multiple Pictures, and/or video footage of the level
    • An overview of the layout
    • A flow diagram of the map
    • An explanation of the source of inspiration for the level
    • Anything that helps convey the thought process behind the level

     

    Here's a link to the Submission thread for this Challenge:(link)

     

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    I've always found pentagons interesting to design around. Back in 2014 I had almost completed a map called "Pentakill" for Halo 2: Anniversary and then reforged it in Halo 5 a year later, playable in it's entirety. Unfortunately I don't have screenshots, so y'all will have to imagine a fairly donut-like futuristic refinery with 4 arms reaching out from a small pentagonal pit in the middle. It took two more years for me to revisit the idea again, but the map that resulted was only there to satisfy my geometric obsession. Speaking of orgasmic shapes, have you heard of a D12? That's what I based my next step into the cult of the pentagon on.

     

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    With this gorgeous shape in mind, I had to actually make it. First, the basics: the internal angles of a pentagon are 108°, and the dihedral angle is about 116.565°, and with Halo 5's lowest rotation snap being 0.5°, 116.5° should be sufficient for this endeavor. Constructing the shape only took about 5 minutes, but finding a good orientation for the shape took far longer, culminating in the picture below:

     

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    The structures jutting about the outside are the same set of primitives rotated differently for each face. I think that I was designing for as much randomness as possible because I was watching a metric buttload of numberphile videos to keep me awake as long as possible. The way areas became fleshed out was through giving utility to almost every position on the map. Most of this was through access to additional positions and a plethora of sightlines, seen in the finished screenshot below this paragraph. It has a lockdown on a whole third of the map as well as the top path, including the ability to simply drop down to a multitude of positions, having many varying sightlines of the map. Chasing power was more important than chasing your opponent because predicting their movement enabled taking a power position over their next position. Running for the sake of running is punished harshly, forcing a player in the lower position to instead seek a position of power, creating what I call a cycle of power.

     

    Uppermost power position:

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    Sightline from nade platform directly below top position into middle:

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    Sightline from path directly below nade platform into middle:

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    From what you see above, seeing more and more of the map only took seconds, reinforcing that idea that running is not an option unless you know where you're getting shot from and how much time it takes for someone to get sightline on your new  position. This is also the cause of it being such a mental tactic; now every decision you make must be done to gain more control, and to do so requires knowledge of the enemy's strategy, position, and movement. A true 1v1 space that let's the smarter, more skilled player come out on top.

     

    Now, I must address an issue that persists with this map to this day. If you want to understand the map, you have to analyze it due to the disorienting nature. PC players using the Exuberant Mod aren't nearly as effected as those on console, but the lack but two level surfaces really doesn't help. In the coming months, a reforge should be taking form within the coming months, so stay tuned for that!

     

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    If you'd like to suggest some changes and/or improvements for subsequent challenges, feel free to do so in our Challenge Feedback thread here: (link)


    Article Preview: Over this winter break, many of us will be looking back on holidays of yesteryear, and as they plan for the coming year, designers will be making them turn around and think ahead.


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