a Chunk

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  1. a Chunk

    Inspirations

    Share Images that inspire you to design game spaces
  2. a Chunk

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    From the album: Inspirations

  3. What is Mythic? Mythic is a new Halo 5 playlist which features Battle Rifle starts, with no radar and limited abilities. The Mythic playlist has been a long time in the making. It’s journey to matchmaking was ultimately a collaborative effort between members of the Halo 5 Forge community and members of the 343 Industries sustain team, as they sought to create a fresh, classic style Halo experience. In addition to the new settings, the Mythic playlist features all new maps, built and refined by the community, with support from 343. These brand new arenas have been tailored for the settings, with layouts and aesthetics inspired by Bungie's legacy. Mythic is, in essence, a love letter to the older Halo games. Many, many people have contributed to the making and refining of Mythic Maps and Settings, and ultimately to its implementation into Matchmaking, beginning today. The primary driving forces behind the scenes have been Hex Reapers (the brains behind the settings), Sgt x Slaphead (map design and development lead), and Whos Blaze (343 sustain team advocate). We’re eager to share their thoughts and stories about the Mythic Journey to Matchmaking, so let’s dive right in. Slayer on Frontier Mythic Settings Mythic settings differ greatly from default Halo 5 to the extent that it can almost be considered a different game. Aside from the already mentioned Battle Rifle starts and no radar, there are numerous changes that have been made from what you may expect when loading up a Halo 5 playlist. To learn more about the Mythic settings, we touched base with the man behind them - Hex Reapers. Hex, we know that there have been multiple variants of ‘classic’ settings during Halo 5’s lifetime. Were the Mythic Settings based off of some pre-existing settings? Mythic is the amalgamation of everything that we have learned over the three years of making classic settings inside of Halo 5. After about four separate attempts seen throughout the game’s lifespan (Gold Pro, Old School, Evolved, and Halo 3 Throwback), I think it’s safe to say the biggest challenge is finding the best way to deal with the sandbox. Gold Pro and Evolved buffed the Magnum and reduced the sandbox to a limited number of pick-ups. Old School tuned player movement to reflect the speed of Sprint and the reach of Clamber. Halo 3 Throwback disregarded everything and simply focused on recreating the feel of Halo 3. Unfortunately, each of these methods came with significant drawbacks. Gold Pro and Evolved plant themselves in a niche area where combat is almost always utility versus utility. Forgers have very little to work with when placing pick-ups on their maps. Along with this, the Magnum is the biggest victim to Halo 5’s shot registration and aiming mechanics. Prolonged use of the Magnum in a classic environment made these issues extremely noticeable and caused a lot of frustration among players. Old School seemingly nailed the balance between player empowerment and sandbox variety. However, the weapon tuning Title Update nerfed its starting weapons, the standard Battle Rifle and the Gunfighter Magnum, to a degree that rendered them unusable. Another major downside was how its movement was modified to only work on maps that were designed with Sprint and Clamber in mind. Halo 3 Throwback ignored addressing the sandbox and opted to label itself as a more casual offering. Because of this, obvious issues played out accordingly. The movement was too slow to deal with weapons that were designed around Sprint and Thruster Pack. Taking all of this into account, Slap (Sgt x Slaphead) and I were unsatisfied with what we had available to us. We really wanted to craft a new classic-style experience that addressed a lot of these issues while taking full advantage of Forge. Was your intent to duplicate a type of play from a previous game? Yes and no. Slap and I definitely sought to replicate the feeling of the older titles, but also wanted to include new features that would make Mythic stand out on its own. We initially did not utilize any Spartan Abilities, so I would say it used to play like something along the lines of Halo 2 Anniversary. When taking our settings and sandbox usage into consideration, Mythic is an entirely original experience that will still resonate with many classic fans. Not having to rely on Sprint and Clamber to move around maps is an integral part of the mode’s identity. Our modified Thruster Pack and Stabilizer are not nearly as potent as their vanilla counterparts, but instead become little multipurpose tools in the player’s back pocket. Slayer on Vengeance As has already been mentioned, Mythic settings weren’t made overnight. What kinds of changes were made to the settings over time, and why were those changes implemented? Our base trait adjustments were tuned as testing progressed for a variety of reasons. Most of the stuff we tweaked was small, but added up towards making a noticeable difference. These changes range from vitality recharge speeds to grenade effectiveness. How quickly should a player enter or disengage from fights? How fast should a player be able to use their grenades? Does the explosion radius pair well with our increased movement speeds? While we are on that topic, is the strafe speed fast enough to deal with certain weapons? Is it slow enough to keep close quarters engagements from getting too messy? These are just a few of the questions we constantly had to keep in mind when creating the settings. Two big goals we aimed to accomplish with the settings involved settling on a starting weapon and prioritizing sandbox variety. We opted to design the settings (and maps) around the Halo 2 Battle Rifle. When the standard Battle Rifle received its nerfs, Slap and I were devastated. It held the perfect balance of skill and effectiveness best seen during the days of Old School. The Magnum was our next option, but after using it for so long we had grown to hate it with a passion. The weapon’s inconsistencies drove us to look for something more straightforward. The Halo 2 Battle Rifle became the most logical solution. Despite its infamous ease of use, It proved to be both consistent and strong enough to fight against the rest of the sandbox. Our increased strafe acceleration coupled with the modified Thruster Pack ended up making fights with the Halo 2 Battle Rifle way more interesting than we first thought. With the introduction of Mythic into matchmaking, a lot of new players are going to be introduced to it. What are some of the differences these players should be aware of? Thruster Pack and Stabilizer in Mythic are very different from vanilla Halo 5. The speed and distance of Thruster Pack closely matches that of normal strafing. Rather than acting as the be-all-end-all in the majority of gunfights, players will see themselves using their Thruster Pack more often as a means of mid-air redirection. Stabilizer only lasts about as long as it takes to perfectly four-shot someone with their Battle Rifle. This means players must time their activation more consciously to engage at unconventional angles. Chaining these abilities can help players gain advantages when moving and fighting, though they’re not detrimental to previously established mechanics. It was extremely important for us to return major emphasis to things like strafing and crouch jumping. Thruster Pack and Stabilizer were included as a means of counteracting aspects of the sandbox and adding a little extra depth to traditional gameplay. One of the other differences is the 3-hit melee, which was implemented to address the absurdly high melee lunge and magnetism seen in Halo 5. We felt it was way too easy to double-melee and two-shot-melee players in Mythic. As such, we decided to create a melee system that combines aspects of Halo 2 and 3. It will take three melees or three full bursts followed by a melee to kill a player. King of the Hill on Cryptic Recapping some of the Key differences Mythic, compared to Vanilla Halo 5: Faster Base Movement - Movement speed, strafe acceleration, and jump height are all increased. This increase in base movement speed, combined with traditional map scaling, makes player movement feel fast and responsive. Limited Spartan Abilities - Limited spartan abilities include only thruster pack and stabilize, both re-balanced for the maps and settings. Thruster pack speed and distance is balanced more closely to standard strafing with it's recharge time increased. Stabilize duration is slightly decreased. Sprint and clamber are disabled. 3-Hit Melee System - During the course of testing Mythic settings, it became apparent that Halo 5's melee lunge range is too powerful on classic-scaled maps. A 3-Hit Melee system has been found to work best, preventing cheap panic melees, and bringing more depth to close range engagements. Melee is still an effective too, as combos such as 3 shot beatdown or 1 melee followed by 1 headshot will still end a close quarters fight very quickly. GAME MODES The Mythic Playlist consists of a variety of traditional 4v4 modes, including the returning ‘King of the Hill’. The following modes are compatible with all official Mythic maps: Mythic Ball (Oddball) Mythic Bomb (Assault) Mythic Flag (Capture the Flag) Mythic King (King of the Hill) Mythic Slayer (Slayer) The Mythic Maps A good gameplay experience always requires that the gameplay mechanics, gametypes, and levels all work together in harmony. The map development for Mythic was very much a community effort, with multiple designers contributing to the design and art of the maps, and even more supporting through playtesting and feedback. The Mythic Map pool is the result of repeated iteration and fine tuning. Map List Abyss Cryptic Vengeance Goliath Oracle Frontier All Mythic Arena maps are shown here, in the order of the bulleted list above Slap, designing an entire pack of maps for custom settings sounds like quite an undertaking. What was your general thought process on how to approach this? The initial conversations about Mythic took place over a year ago at this point so It’s certainly been a lengthy process! Each map was built as part of a cohesive vision and I want to talk briefly about the vision guiding Mythic. Our focus had always been about capturing the ‘Halo feels’. What that means exactly will vary from person to person but knowing we also wanted a 4v4 arena experience specifically helped narrow down what Mythic would be. It’s not possible to capture the entirety of Halo multiplayer in just 6 maps but using competitive 4v4 as the focus, we prioritised some of the most beloved arenas from the past as inspiration. Maps like Lockout, Midship, and Warlock immediately stood out and the idea came about that each Mythic map could serve as a call back to several classic maps at once, combining their best elements while having its own unique spin on them. Every map had to serve a specific role as part of a larger map pack which would overall satisfy a range of game modes including the returning King of the Hill. Making the maps distinct yet work as a set meant a cohesive art style. Though Halo 5 Forge is a powerful tool, it’s not always possible to create highly detailed maps without running into performance issues. The Mythic maps therefore take Halo CE and 2 as inspiration with a clean old school art style. I’m curious about how you took this general vision and used it to create specific experiences. Can you give us a short breakdown of each level, and how share how you saw it fitting into Mythic as a whole? Abyss Because of Abyss’ linear nature and deadly middle hallway intended for fast paced action, it provided the perfect conditions for Neutral Bomb Assault, as both the map and mode work well with tug of war style gameplay. Almost every match on this map in testing has been incredibly intense because Abyss leaves little room for flanking and avoiding fights, placing emphasis on team pushes. Cryptic The original version was first released in late 2013 for Halo 4, making the design around 6 years old now. I wanted to remake it since it always proved to be a strong King of the Hill map as each room offers a unique hill location and setup. With KotH returning as our ‘new’ standout gamemode for Mythic, I felt this map would highlight the mode well. Frontier Anyone who has played Lockout will know that matches on it often result in a standoff between the two main towers. I wanted a map of a similar style except with far less camping by adding more danger to the higher levels to keep players moving. The big difference from Lockout is that Frontier uses a third main tower as a neutral power position which encourages movement away from the other two towers. Two teleporters also allow players to quickly cross from one side of the map to the other. All these factors combined make for a free-flowing map where recreating the sometimes stagnant situations found on Lockout become near impossible. Goliath An appropriate name for a map revolving around its large interior atrium. Players familiar with Prisoner from Halo CE will see the inspiration here with Goliath as well as thematic influence from Halo 2’s Colossus. Originally designed by Whos Blaze, my challenge with this latest iteration was to have it ‘slapified’ to fit within the Mythic style. Taking on such a complex map and making the space feel intuitive and readable was the main challenge. Cutting away areas which felt unnecessary and using coloured lighting to highlight key areas helped massively in the end. Oracle 4-way symmetrical arenas filled a special role in Halo CE/2 and have not reappeared much since. With 4v4 arena being the focus for Mythic, it was important to include staple symmetrical arena archetypes from the past to compliment some of the more complex asymmetrical layouts. Halo CE’s Wizard and later Halo 2’s Warlock were fundamental to the competitive experience in each respective game. Derelict/Desolation while not technically a ‘4-way sym’, had a similar arena layout. The goal of Oracle was ultimately to combine elements of both Warlock and Desolation into a new design. Vengeance As mentioned with Oracle, fulfilling staple arena archetypes was important to Mythic and there is perhaps no map more fundamental to the competitive Halo experience than Halo 2’s Midship. It’s seen countless adaptations as well as inspiring Zealot from Halo Reach. Vengeance was the first map made for Mythic as we needed a solid reliable design with which we could test game mode settings and resolve scaling standards. The maps and settings were co-developed and most of that development took place on Vengeance. Mythic Matchmaking The story of Mythic could have ended there...but it didn’t. Of the hundreds or thousands of community made game types, Mythic is one of the very few that has found itself in the rarefied air we call ‘Matchmaking’. How and why did this happen? Whos Blaze from the 343 Sustain Team is here to tell us all about it. Blaze, as you know there are many, many community built custom gametypes. What is it about Mythic that made it stand out from other similar endeavors? The community had been testing iterations of similar gametypes for some time, even before I had joined the 343 Sustain Team and I have enjoyed just about every version. Though, it wasn’t until maybe October of last year that I really started seeing magic spark in the community which showed me that this isn’t just my ideal Halo experience but truly something special. Going back a little bit; for a couple months, I dedicated my Monday mornings to hosting lobbies where we could test community maps and modes in an attempt to bring people together and discover some new awesome content. I would test just about whatever we could find players to support. This included some of the gametypes that eventually became Mythic. As Mythic came together, it was becoming less and less of a struggle to fill lobbies, people were pre-emptively building their own maps to hopefully play with the Mythic settings, and overall, people were excited to jump on and play for hours. Soon after Mondays were renamed to be “Mythic Mondays”. I can’t say for sure when exactly we began pursuing it as an official sustain beat but I’ve been involved on a personal level for a bit over a year now. It’s a pretty blurred line, if I think about it because I’ve pretty much wanted to do a playlist, if I had the opportunity, since the moment it started to come together. Oddball on Goliath Was there an interest internally within 343 to have a more 'classic' playlist? Or was this driven more from the community? There is always a demand for classic style Halo content within the community but that isn’t exactly what drove us to these settings. Luckily, we get a lot of trust as designers; while the appeal of classic may not be as large as the appeal for something like super fiesta within H5’s audience, that trust allows us to explore a lot of different playlist opportunities. And in my opinion, I think it’s good to have a balance of experiences to explore, especially with the game being 4 years in now. With the endless possibilities of H5’s forge, it would be a shame not to try to get a wide range of playlists for returning players to try out. The variety in just the last of 2019 is a great example of that. Since July we’ve added new content to Actionsack and Big Team Super Fiesta, brought 2v2 competitive in to align with our tournaments, a new off-core slayer experience called ODST Slayer, the long awaited return of Ranked Snipers, Husky raid! And now Mythic Arena. I may even be missing some but my point is that it’s neither directly influencing it, but both at the same time. We only want to provide new and exciting content for everyone. I'm curious, were any major changes required to get the playlist into matchmaking? No major changes were made that didn’t involve many in-depth discussions amongst the community developers and us on the sustain team. We ultimately came to an agreement on what we think is best for the scenario for every major change considered. Even when either side felt passionate about their stance, we all recognise that there are pros and cons, and further implications on the goals each person wanted to achieve. One example that I can give which may seem like a very simple task was the name for the settings. We were initially concerned that Mythic may be confusing to some players because of the association with pre-existing playlists like, Mythic Shotty Snipers and Mythic Warzone Firefight, both of which have Mythic in a different context. Early on, before it was being officially considered for an upcoming playlist, we talked about this and what other names might be appropriate for them, if the situation would arise. As you can see, we eventually ended up sticking with Mythic despite these concerns due to the increasing awareness and popularity of the settings within the custom and forging community, among other things. The Mythic Journey Continues The Mythic Playlist is LIVE and waiting for you, so load it up and give it a shot. Interested in creating your own maps for Mythic Settings, or downloading the Maps and Settings to play in Custom Games? Add or look up the gamertag "H5 Mythic" and you’ll find what you’re looking for in the Bookmarks. Or you can use these links to download them directly: Download Maps Download Settings
  4. Welcome matricaria!

    Thank you very much for joining Next Level Design.  Feel free to contact myself or anyone else on staff if you ever need assistance with anything.  😉

     

    We can be contacted directly with this link:

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    Cheers!

    Jeff

  5. Preface Architecture theory is a considerably broad subject, an amalgamation of numerous artistic and psychological sensibilities. However, regardless of architectural movement or era, one idea has proved itself a philosophical mainstay. In the words of architect Louis Khan; “architecture is the thoughtful making of space”. For centuries, architects have been concerned with how physical forms shape and manipulate the spatial void they are placed within, exploring how this influences the ways in which human beings interact with space. Even though digital game levels are intangible, players interface with these spaces in a fashion to how their own bodies would interact with the world around them. Hence, level design can be approached through an architectural lens to enrich the player’s experience of digital spaces. In this assignment, I shall explore how level designers have utilized architecture theory in their craft. Throughout, I will introduce and explain several spatial principles and present a curated range of game spaces that employ them. This will display the ways in which level designers have utilized, subverted or otherwise re-purposed architectural theory to enrich player experience, but may also show how genre affects these decisions. Emotionally-guided Planning of Space A ‘parti pris’¸ often shortened to ‘parti’, is a planning technique that some architects use early in their design process to identify their project’s layout and spatial qualities. Usually a sketch of the site’s overhead layout, the parti can be informed by external ideas which often transcend the physicality of architectural form. Through this approach, an architectural piece can become a physical manifestation of the philosophical concept it was founded upon. Meaning ‘spirit of place’, the Roman concept of genius loci has been adapted by architects to describe when a place is recognized for a remarkable or memorable quality. For some level designers, the genius loci may exist through an intended gameplay experience that is shaped by their game genre. In horror game Dead Space 2, hostile enemies were omitted from the chapter ‘Déjà Vu on the Ishimura’ which subverted player expectation and placed it among the most memorable moments of the game’s campaign. The genius loci here can be considered as being the elevation of dramatic tension throughout the level’s spatial atmosphere. Place and Space Figure-ground Theory Generally, it can be assumed that both architects and level designers must possess a fundamental understanding of how shapes and spaces are visually organised. A way for this to be achieved is application of gestalt theory; the psychological study of human perception. Level designer Christopher W. Totten refers to level design as “an art of contrasts”, in which the gestalt component of figure-ground theory can be applied. Figure-ground theory states that all components within a person’s visual field can be separated into two contrasting elements: ‘figures’ and ‘ground’. For Gestalt psychologist Kurt Koffka, “the whole is something else than the sum of its parts”. Through the lens of architectural design, this idea is present; form and space must be considered equally to be distinguishable and understood. Architect Francis D. K. Ching defines the relationship between figure and ground as “a unity of opposites”, alluding to both elements having equal significance to a visual composition. There are two ways in which the placement of figures will determine how the surrounding ground is visually processed: Positive space is created when figures are arranged to imply shape within them. The ground itself can be perceived as a figure. Negative space occurs when Figures are placed distantly from one another, making the ground appear shapeless and uncontained. Ching reinforces how the base principles behind figure-ground theory remain significant when applied to Architecture, claiming that “architectural form occurs at the juncture between mass and space”. This perspective echoes throughout the application of spatial theory in both architecture and level design. Here, mass and space are the tangible equivalents to figure and ground. There must be always be a perceivable contrast between form and space to retain visual clarity. The contrast between figure and ground has numerous was of being achieved, including colour, value, and texture. N++, as a two-dimensional platformer, does not adhere to many architectural sensibilities. Despite this, the game’s minimalistic level design highlights the symbiotic dichotomy between mass and space. The figures and ground are easily identifiable from each other due to their heavily contrasting colours and values (see Figure 1). Fig. 1: N++ 2016. 'Parkour Park Prototype' level. [screenshot by the author]. Here, the white masses shown are physical structures, and the navy-coloured void is the space in which players navigate through. The placement of obstacles and enemies within the playable space help to prevent the player from alternating their perspective of the game’s figures and ground, a problem that occurs when both elements of a visual composition have roughly equal presence. Some levels in N++ are prone to this problem, where their masses and spaces dominating equal space and disrupting the distinction between figure and ground. This is exacerbated when the level’s masses appear to be extensions of the surrounding game border (see Figure 2). Highlighting the shortcomings of a minimalistic colour palette, scenarios like these have potential to confuse the player, as the game environment consequently becomes more difficult to read. However, these abstract visual compositions could be considered a positive or otherwise intriguing quality, contributing to the level’s genius loci. Fig. 2: N++ 2016. 'Learning Process' level. [screenshot by the author]. Landmarks Urban designer Kevin Lynch proposed that urban city environments are comprised of five key elements. One of these elements, landmarks, can be considered a significant level design tool to enrich a game’s environment. At an urban scale, landmarks are typically physical structures like towers, distinctive buildings, or statues, that serve as spatial anchors or reference points for pedestrians. Furthermore, landmarks have potential to contribute to a space’s genius loci. Lynch believed that the “principal factor” for an object to be considered a landmark was its visual contrast to a background, which could be achieved through application of figure-ground theory. The Eiffel Tower is perhaps one of the most renowned examples of a landmark utilizing figure-ground effectively. Here, the sky itself is the ground in which the figure is placed upon (see Figure 3). This grants Paris a landmark of immense scale that can be observed and referenced several kilometres from its origin. Fig. 3: Gustave Eiffel 1889. The Eiffel Tower. Landmarks as World-enriching Figures Naturally, Level Designers can use skyboxes in outdoor environments to similar effect. The skybox can also be made visually distinguishable from the game’s horizon, resulting in a significant amount of negative space to be used as the ground for landmark figures. In World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, players are immediately greeted by a monolithic structure upon their arrival to the fictional city of Dazar’alor (see Figure 4). This structure is a gilded, Mesoamerican-influenced pyramid that houses the upper echelons of the native society and their seat of power. Visually, the pyramid contrasts its background to a similar magnitude of landmarks like the Eiffel Tower. Fig. 4: World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. 2018. Pyramid landmark in Dazar'alor. [screenshot by the author]. The placement of Dazar’alor’s pyramid echoes architectural conventions of spatial elevation. Ching identifies how the physical elevation of a structure is often a culturally informed decision, venerating the site’s religious or social importance to the area it has risen above. The pyramid itself is among the tallest locations on the entire continent of Zandalar, indicating its significance to the city’s cultural identity. Home to the Zandalari Trolls, the races’ occupation of the structure symbolises their dominance and mastery over the land. This notion continues through the bold, triangular shape of the pyramid, which mimics the surrounding mountains. Similarly, the Citadel in Half Life 2 carries a similar theme of dominance over the surrounding landscape, but in such a way that it appears overwhelmingly oppressive. The Citadel’s futuristic, muted features and monstrous size have a discordant but contrasting presence among the dated, brick-and-mortar apartment blocks of City 17. The tower evokes a sense of dread or unease, which is fitting, as Totten explains how the game establishes very early that the Citadel is the location of the game’s primary antagonist. Using Landmarks as Diegetic Pathfinding Devices Additionally, level designers can place landmarks throughout game levels as physical goals or locations that the player must reach. The impact of using waypoints in this manner can be augmented by an architectural technique that Frederick describes as “denial and reward”. Generally, the intention behind this is to make arrival to a landmark or destination feel more satisfying. In the context of level design, denial and reward is used during the player’s passage to a landmark. Landmarks become temporarily obscured from view, only to be revealed later from a new distance or perspective. Revealing the landmark from increasingly closer distances can indicate the passage of time to player in a natural and unobtrusive way, compelling the player to proceed. Journey utilizes this technique well. The game’s primary objective is to reach the mountain, a distant landmark that is introduced almost immediately after the game begins. The mountain often leaves the player’s field of view as they complete puzzles and traverse the abandoned landscape, but will occasionally resurface, appearing closer to the player. The physical qualities of the mountain are layered; new details are made apparent to the player as they get closer to the summit. These details include changes in weather, as well as the addition of small ruins and structures that would have been impossible to see from a greater distance. Further Exploration of Positive and Negative Spaces Positive Spaces in Urban Environments In urban environments, architectural figures are often placed in such a way that shapes the within them, implying spaces without using form. These positive spaces act as “dwelling” zones where people are typically found to socialise. The Nolli Map demonstrates the use of these spaces throughout the entire city of Rome, Italy (see Figure 5). Fig. 5: Nolli 1748. Segment of the 'Nolli Map'. Major cities in World of Warcraft, social environments using the same considerations of positive space. Like many urban environments, the positive spaces in the city of Stormwind are shaped by the placement of architectural figures. Overhead, the city is shown to have its districts separated by rooftop colour. This is the primary way in which each district’s visual identity can be distinguished. Characteristics like these, although simple, reflect urban planner Kevin Lynch’s criteria used to define ‘districts’ in urban cities, another one of his five urban city elements. Additionally, Stormwind’s layout uses canals to further separate these spaces, resulting in the transition between the city’s district a being very apparent to players navigating through the city. In Stormwind City, the Trade District is typically where social interactions between players’ game avatars are concentrated. By observing a figure-ground plan of the area, (see Figure 6), these hotspots are shown to be within the district’s positive spaces. Fig. 6: Tancock 2018. Stormwind Trade District Figure-ground Diagram. The high number of players in this zone can be attributed to the clustering of character services that are otherwise sparsely located in the game world, namely the Bank and Auction House. Like many dwelling spaces in urban architecture, the high player activity can be taken for the Trade District’s landmark. This mirrors the findings of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, that designer Claire Hosking references in her exploration of positive spaces. The positive spaces in the Trade District can be considered a ‘social canvas’, where the high concentration of players has increased potential interaction. These spaces can be utilized by level designers to create memorable social gathering places. Negative Spaces in Multiplayer Shooters Like positive space, negative space in urban design is defined by the spatial relationship between architectural figures. Here, negative space occurs when the arrangement of figures does not imply space, making the ground appear uncontained and shapeless. The use of negative space can be further considered from a three-dimensional perspective. Like landmarks, playable spaces can be visually identified by contrasting the negative space surrounding them. The rampant popularity of the Unreal Tournament map Facing Worlds (see Figure 7) is often attributed to its use of negative space. For arena shooters, the use of negative space allows players to distinguish other players, both hostile and friendly, from great distances. Additionally, negative space aids in the identification of power weapons and game mode objectives. Fig. 7: Unreal Tournament 1999. ‘Facing Worlds' multiplayer map. Level designer Jim Brown compares the use of negative space of Facing Worlds to the lack thereof in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 map Favela. Here, the environment’s negative space is more difficult to distinguish from the playable space, leading to confusion and frustration from players. Despite this, Brown admits that the map’s environmental design was faithful to its architectural source material; the favelas of Brazil. The primary threat in competitive shooters comes from the presence of hostile players. Therefore, level designers must emphasize negative spaces to make all players identifiable from the game environment. This approach should reduce external factors, outside of the individual skill of the player, that reduces the frustration from failure. In this context, the ‘failure’ comes from being killed by an enemy player. In Modern Warfare 2, the single-player mission ‘Takedown’ is also set within a Brazilian favela, utilizing the same level design language and lack of visual clarity as its multiplayer equivalent. Level designer Dan Taylor uses this level to justify that “confusion is cool” but admits that these situations should be carefully and sparingly implemented. It can be argued that using negative space to a similar extent of Facing Worlds would have detracted from the level’s experiential qualities. Repurposing Architectural Conventions for Level Design Although many spatial considerations of level design are analogous to their architectural roots, the ways in which people and players experience these spaces are inherently different. Totten manipulates architect Le-Corbusier’s philosophy towards modern architecture, as he states how Level design is often constructed around challenges or situations that must be overcome by the player; “the game level should be the machine for living, dying, and creating tension by exploiting everything in between”. Some principles of architecture must be subverted or otherwise manipulated to achieve said intended experience. Spatial Considerations of Multiplayer Map Design First introduced in Call of Duty: Black Ops, the multiplayer map Nuketown has been embraced by game modding communities and has since appeared in later Call of Duty titles. Nuketown’s popularity, like many other renowned competitive multiplayer maps, could be partially attributed to its use of synergy between positive and negative spaces. The spatial organisation of Nuketown (see Figure-8) is based on a suburban living space. Positive and negative spaces are combined in order to separate to allow for both dwelling and movement spaces. Similar layouts can be found on various College and University campuses. Fig. 8: Tancock 2018. Nuketown Figure-ground Diagram. Although multiplayer maps like Nuketown follow the same spatial arrangement of real suburban spaces, the purpose of these spaces is manipulated to better serve the shooter genre. The outdoor positive spaces of Nuketown are located on either side of the level’s layout and contain the initial player spawn points. These areas are safe from enemy fire unless encroached upon. To encounter members of the opposing team, players must make the conscious decision to venture from the safety afforded by these spaces into the central space, where lines of sight are opened. The map uses vehicles as figures to define this negative space. In level design, the aspects of prospect and refuge spaces can be considered. These spaces share some of the architectural considerations of positive and negative space, where Nuketown’s central area can be considered a prospect space, as the space is an open area that exposes the player to potential threats. The large suburban houses that dominate each team’s side of the map are, alternatively, refuge spaces by way of their positive space being used break enemy sightlines and protect the player from gunfire. The dichotomy between prospect and refuge spaces in multiplayer level design should inform a player’s spatial experience by exploiting their survival instincts; players within prospect spaces are likely to subconsciously seek the shelter and protection of a refuge space. From here, the player may once again venture into the prospect space to engage enemies. Additionally, players can use the houses’ balconies to gain a vertical advantage to the centrally-contested prospect space, although this requires sacrificing the safety granted by the houses’ refuge spaces. As a final consideration of Nuketown’s level design, the level’s layout is comparably small to other maps found in the genre. Naturally, this means that the transition between positive and negative spaces are more frequent, raising the frequency in which players will encounter each other. The genius loci of this level could be attributed as a high-paced, thrilling multiplayer experience. Conclusion Architecture has long been concerned with spatial theory. Over time, this philosophy has guided and established design principles that remain considered even today by contemporary architects. From my research of architecture theory, it is apparent that the medium’s spatial lessons have been embraced by level designers. Where contemporary architects are guided by the virtues of human comfort and efficiency, level designers can craft virtual social environments by adhering to similar rules. Alternatively, level designers can use the implications of game genres to repurpose architectural theory entirely, allowing players to be subjected to numerous emotional experiences. From overwhelming dramatic tension, to the empowerment from claiming a tactical advantage over a contested space, level designers have been shown to achieve genius loci that are unique to digital games. Exploiting the relationship between positive and negative space can foster a competitive atmosphere in what would otherwise be a safe and social space. Video games provide virtual experiences that are meant to be interacted with, where levels act as the stage on which those experiences are presented. *Note: This article is re-published in full, with permission from the author. References can be found at the source, linked below. Source: https://charlietancock.com/third-year-written-assignment Follow Charlie Twitter: https://twitter.com/tancoque Portfolio: https://charlietancock.com/portfolio Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: http://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/register/ Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NextLevelDesig2 Discuss on Discord: https://t.co/hkxwVml0Dp
  6. This makes me want to design something. I think that's about the best compliment I can ever give. Really awesome level! It's clear that you put a lot of thought into it, and tested thoroughly. I think I'm in love.
  7. Nicely done Frank. The video definitely helped me get a better sense of the scale. I like the breakdowns on your site too. 👍
  8. Review This is one part in a series of articles that attempts to explain how I think when I design. The purpose of these articles is not as much to provide a hands-on practical approach – just to explain how I do stuff. Once I finish this series, I’ll focus on some more practical applications. (Link to Part 4) Important Point from a Previous Article Principle #1: As a game designer, your job is to ask your players Questions. The players’ job is to answer those questions using the Tools you give them. Last Time Last time we identified major weapon, enemy, and terrain Archetypes – some of which we will use in this article. This Time We’re going to talk about how I use the combat Archetypes we made in the previous article to create a series of enemy “Setups.” Note: We’ll talk about how I chain setups together with increasing complexity to form “Ramps” in the next article. Archetypes According to Google, an Archetype is “a very typical example of a certain person or thing,” and that’s how I want to use the term here, but with one difference: Archetype: A very typical example of one of the extreme boundaries of your game’s design. In the following diagram, each of the black dots represents an Archetype. You can see how they all exist at the extreme boundaries of our enemy’s possible powers (Health, Range, and Damage). Note: If these diagrams don’t make sense, check out the last few articles – that’s where we created these. A lot of people ask me why I choose only the extremes, and don’t make “jack of all trades” type enemies. According to Principle #1, our job is to ask players Questions. It’s vital that the player understand what question they’re being asked, otherwise I’ve made it impossible for them to play my game the way I want them to play it (if at all). The closer you get to the extremes of your design space, the clearer players will be on what they’re being asked to do: an enemy that takes 10 hits to kill is MUCH different than one that takes 1, or 5 hits to kill, and so prompts a different response from the player. Example Archetypes I’m going to use four enemy Archetypes, three weapon Archetypes, and all four terrain Archetypes that we went over in the previous two articles. I hope to show how these 11 Archetypes, as representatives of the extremes of your design space, work together to create a series of Questions and Tools that you can ramp up in difficulty over the course of a Path. (We’ll go over Ramps and Paths in later articles). Enemies Four enemy Archetypes: Swarmer – Low Health, Low Damage, Close Range Heavy – High Health, High Damage, Far Range Far – Low Health, High Damage, Far Range Near – High Health, Low Damage, Close Range Our example Archetypal enemies, as found in various games Weapons Three weapon Archetypes: Blaster – Long Range, Direct, Low Damage Flamethrower – Short Range, Direct, High Damage Bomb – Short Range, High Damage, Indirect. Where our four weapon archetypes fall on the view diagram we made in the last article I chose these three as examples because they overlap very nicely with the terrain and enemy archetypes, as I’ll show you later in the article. Terrain Four terrain Archetypes: Flat Gap Ledge Cover Examples of our four major terrain types, based on our “enemy placement” choice field from the previous article Creating an Enemy Setup Using Archetypes An enemy Setup is just a variously sized group of enemies of different Archetypes, placed on varied terrain. Each Setup should ask the player a question. In the combat system we’re creating, every setup asks the same two questions: “Who do you want to attack first and what weapon will you use to do it?” For example, using the Example Archetypes from above: Simple Setup: [2 Near enemies on flat ground] Who do you want to attack first? This setup is basic. It doesn’t really matter which enemy the player attacks first (except that the player may wish to shoot the closest one or target both). What weapon will you use to do it? The bomb or flamethrower may be able to hit both for high damage, so the blaster isn’t as great in this area. Combined Setup: [2 Near enemies on flat ground backed up by 2 Far enemies on ledges.] Who do you want to attack first? The player has to dodge high-damage shots from the Fars while fighting the Near enemies. Because the Far enemies have low health, the player might normally attack them first — but in this case, the ledges they’re on make them less accessible than the two nears. You can see how these questions begin to overlap to create options for the player to choose a weapon. What weapon will you use to do it? The two near enemies have lots of HP, so you’ll want to hit them with the flamethrower or the bomb. The far enemies have little HP, but are inconvenient. The player is encouraged to use a weapon like the bomb (area damage) or the blaster (range) to take them out. Note: If we had ammo in this system, the weapon choice could be even further influenced by how much ammo players have left for each gun when they arrive at this setup. Complex Setup 1: [5 Swarmers backed up by 1 Far enemy with cover and 1 Far enemy on a ledge.] Who do you want to kill first and what weapon will you use to do it? I combined the two questions here because it’s starting to get difficult to describe the answer to one without considering the other. Because they are small fast targets, Swarmers aren’t easily killed with the Blaster. The player would probably want to get all of them with the Flamethrower. The bomb might also be a good pick, if it has enough area of effect to get all the swarmers. Half of the leftmost Far enemy is obscured, making him a harder target for the Blaster, while the one up on the ledge is exposed and would be an easy target for that weapon. The bomb is probably a good pick for the Far enemy behind cover – it can arc over the cover and there’s plenty of floor behind the enemy for the bomb to land and catch the enemy in its area of effect (assuming the bomb has that, of course). You could use the bomb to attack the Far enemy on the right, but as there’s no wall near it and you can’t see the floor, so you’d have to be very accurate with a relatively inaccurate weapon. The blaster is probably best there. Complex Setup 2: [5 Swarmers on flat ground in front of 2 Heavies across a gap. Between you and the swarmers are 2 Near enemies. 2 Far enemies stand on ledges shooting down at you.] Who would YOU attack first? With what? Who do you want to kill first and what weapon will you use to do it? Personally, I’d whip out the Flamethrower and try to take out the Nears and the swarmers, then switch to the blaster to wipe out the Fars. Then I’d run up on the ledge where one of the Fars are standing and fire bombs down at the heavies – but you can see how many options have arisen from these 11 simple tools. Conclusion Once you understand your game design’s extreme edges (which we’ve been working on for the last few articles) you can begin to define archetypes for the various parts of your game like enemies, weapons, terrain, and so forth. By combining the archetypes together, like using letters to form words, you end up with a complexity and depth of meaning that defies the simplicity of the method. (Link to Part 6 - To be Updated) *Note: This article is published with permission from the author, and in accordance with Creative Commons guidelines. Source: http://www.chaoticstupid.com/trinity-5-setups/ Follow Mike Website: www.ongamedesign.net/ Website: http://www.chaoticstupid.com/ Twitter: twitter.com/MikeDodgerStout Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: http://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/register/ Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NextLevelDesig2 Discuss on Discord: https://t.co/hkxwVml0Dp
  9. Greetings ncee5811!

    Thank you very much for joining Next Level Design.  Feel free to contact myself or anyone else on staff if you ever need assistance with anything.  😉

     

    We can be contacted directly with this link:

    https://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/staff/

     

    Cheers!

    Jeff

  10. Very good points. When you say 'downvote', are we talking a Thumbs Down? Arrow? Something else?
  11. This is easy enough to implement, and I was planning to do so at some point. What reaction/s do we want to see for negative rep? Right now, the confused and sad reaction are neutral. We could always make those negative, or replace them with something else. 💩 😡 🤮
  12. Very cool! Seems like it will be a lot of fun. You also did a fantastic job on the PDF. Thank you very much for sharing your work with us.
  13. Hi ChargedUp!

    Thank you very much for joining Next Level Design.  Feel free to contact myself or anyone else on staff if you ever need assistance with anything.  😉

     

    We can be contacted directly with this link:

    https://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/staff/

     

    Cheers!

    Jeff

  14. Yeah, I ended up moving it after I realize what it looked like on Mobile. I may change it back though.
  15. a Chunk

    NLD Update: Week 48

    The weeks are flying by, and here we've arrived at the end of November. Join us as we give thanks for all that was shared during the previous week on NLD. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. Articles: In the 3rd chapter of Reaching Perfection - Path Manipulation, Ray Benefield looks at determining where you want players to go, and how you encourage them to do so. In the 4th part of his Trinity series, Mike Stout addresses 'Spectra' (a plurality of spectrums). He walks us through an example, demonstrating how various 'Spectra' relate within a 'Choice Field', tying together concepts of earlier articles. The Competitive Design Guide from Joel 'wviper' McDonald is a must read. It covers basics like connectivity, scale, and verticality. Also gets into layout types, items placement, and more. Miriam Bellard shares her insight into creating cinematic experiences when you don't have control of the camera. She suggests using 3 tools: 2D screens, Movement, and Time. This GDC presentation goes into each of these in detail. Forums: We have had several teasers from @S0UL FLAME in recent months. This week he shared download links for the 3 of his 2v2 maps Resulting from a discussion on the World Building for a book versus a game, and the amount of time required for each, a video was shared: "No Time, No Budget, No Problem: Finishing The First Tree" Lots and lots of great Twitter content this week. Check it out in our Twitter Thread Contests: The conclusion of our November Challenge is near. Get your last second submissions in! New Members: To our newest members, we say - Welcome! We're glad you found us. @CANADIAN ECHO @Feornic Interested in joining Next Level Design? Use the links below. Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: http://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/register/ Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NextLevelDesig2 Discuss on Discord: https://t.co/hkxwVml0Dp
  16. Greetings Feornic!

     Thank you very much for joining Next Level Design.  Feel free to contact myself or anyone else on staff if you ever need assistance with anything.  😉

     

    We can be contacted directly with this link:

    https://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/staff/

     

    Cheers!

    Jeff