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  1. About Reaching Perfection Missed Chapter 28? Read it here: Perspective Direction Intro Ever wonder what makes a spot easy to control compared to other areas of a map? It isn’t always just the amount of pathways that lead to it. There are many factors that can determine whether an area is easy to control or hard to control, but one of the main factors is the degree of focus that the area requires for control. What is degree of focus? Well let’s find out. Sphere of attention The degree of focus refers to the amount of area that a player must focus on visually in order to fully lock down an area. A completely open flat field requires 360 degrees of focus laterally and vertically... a full sphere of attention. In order for a player to fully control that type of area they have to divide their attention everywhere and stay vigilant at all times. Now on the opposite side of a coin, imagine a room with one entry way into it that can be watched without moving one’s perspective. The doorway serves as the only area of focus. The given area hence has a very minimal degree of focus required to lock down that area. An area with a high degree of focus is typically not desirable, while an area with minimal degree of focus is typically very advantageous as it allows a player to divide his attention less. Path Manipulator Degree of focus is a very important thing to pay attention to for popular areas and main pathways. A low degree of focus can actually serve as a very strong incentive for many players acting as powerful as a sniper rifle or rocket launcher, as it gives them the ability to focus all of their attention with very little perspective variance. Increasing the degree of focus of an area can lessen an area’s incentive weighting and too much can actually become a strong deterrent. A large open area in the center of a map is a very popular technique to stop players from taking the quickest route as it has an extremely high degree of focus and is very hard to be in for any given amount of time. These areas are also popular places to situate powerful incentives like the rocket launcher as the high degree of focus lowers the incentive weighting of the rockets serving as a counterbalance to its power. And areas like a room with minimal entrances are great incentives to encourage players to move as they offer a sense of security. Degree of focus can serve as a powerful path manipulation tool if used correctly. More than just multiple paths Just having multiple paths to an area does not guarantee that the area will have a higher degree of focus. Degree of focus is based on how many perspective directions are required to lock down the area. If all three paths in a room can be watched from one perspective then the room is just as easy to lock down as a room with only one entrance. Requiring more perspective variance to control an area will also help decrease an area’s incentive weighting. Keep in mind that degree of focus includes the third dimension. Aerial combat is becoming very popular as a game mechanic. Placing a roof above an area can help reduce the degree of vertical focus while still keeping the high degree of lateral focus to help create the experience that you are looking for. Degree of focus can make or break a map and it can also be the focus of a map’s essence. Players love having tons of control over situations. As a designer, you control how much power they get. Read Chapter 30: Application Follow Ray Twitter: https://twitter.com/RayBenefield Mixer: https://mixer.com/RayBenefield 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://discord.gg/RqEy7rg
  2. About Reaching Perfection Missed Chapter 27? Read it here: Reputation Intro Are you still having problems getting players to find the incentives that you have placed around the map? Do players just walk past weapons laying around the map despite the eye catching techniques you used to draw attention to them? There’s more to getting people to notice things than just using color contrast. Have you ever thought about their attention being drawn elsewhere in that situation? Point of Focus When in a combat situation players are constantly maneuvering their focus to things that they feel require their attention at the time. If someone is shooting at them then their attention is drawn to that deterrent, not the weapon lying on the ground beside them. If the capture the flag waypoint is straight across the map then their attention is going to be towards the shortest path to get to it, not the sniper rifle that is sitting comfortably in a cupboard behind them. If there is a rocket launcher sitting high up on a pedestal with lights shining all over it they aren’t going to notice the hidden shortcut that is off to the side out of their view. Standing in their shoes When trying to draw attention to something think about the most likely places that a player is going to be; whether it is coming in through a doorway, hiding behind cover, or sitting at a control point. Now imagine the player’s current priorities and where their point of focus is; this could be any possible threats, any obvious incentives, the next objective, etc. Now in your mind draw a sample of their possible perspective based on their focus point and position. Use that as a guideline as to what the player is looking at. Place what you are trying to draw attention to in that perspective keeping in mind the rule of thirds, color contrast, and other eye catching techniques. If you know a player is moving around a lot, keep in mind the possible perspective variance and plan accordingly. This technique can be used in a variety of ways. You can use it for area introduction, deterrent warnings, incentive presentation, and other such instances. This is similar to the way that you setup spawn perspectives except that a spawn perspectives direction is always known. Perspective direction is about making an educated guess and imagining yourself as a player, not as the designer. A third dimension When considering a player’s perspective direction it is easy to keep in mind that they can be focused anywhere in front of them, behind them, or to either side of them. Most designers forget that there is a third dimension in most games. Imagine a ramp. If a player is sitting at the bottom of the ramp and their path map reads that they are likely to be going forward over that ramp where is the player’s focus point? It isn’t straight ahead because then their perspective is filled with the ramp. Their perspective direction is towards the area of highest possible threat. When sitting at the base of a ramp that area is typically the very top of the ramp. So placing an incentive at the very bottom of the ramp is probably not a good idea as it is out of the player’s perspective. Always put yourself in your player’s shoes. Remember that they don’t know your map like you do. So show them. See your creation from their eyes, not from yours. Read Chapter 29: Degree of Focus Follow Ray Twitter: https://twitter.com/RayBenefield Mixer: https://mixer.com/RayBenefield 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://discord.gg/RqEy7rg
  3. Follow Game Design with Michael YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBDJsz_SgRaV96Xd9gqEemg Twitter: https://twitter.com/GigityMcD 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://discord.gg/RqEy7rg
  4. About Reaching Perfection Missed Chapter 21? Read it here: Incentive Weighting Intro Have you ever taken a picture of yourself or family and friends centered in the picture? Have you noticed that the picture just doesn’t feel right and doesn’t feel pleasing? Have you ever placed an object directly in front of someone for it just to go unnoticed? That’s because a person’s focus is typically not on the center of their current perspective. Learning to place objects at a player’s focus point is key to ensuring that they notice what you are trying to show them. Rule of thumb Remember when we talked about how perspectives are like pictures or photographs? Well applying common techniques used in art and photography can be used to truly help enhance a player’s experience on your map. Photography is all about object placement, depth, scene composition, as well as various other techniques. I’m not an expert so don’t judge me when I talk about their techniques. However I do know that one common rule of thumb that photographers use is known as the “rule of thirds”. The rule of thirds states that if you divide a picture,photograph, screenshot, or whatever into thirds both vertically and horizontally, the perspectives main points of focus lie at the intersections. Not the center So taking the basic definition of the rule of thirds we can take any good screenshot and divide it with two lines going vertically in thirds and two lines going horizontally in thirds and find the main focus points of the screenshot. What you end up getting is a little square in the center with its corners being used as focus points. This is why you see many pictures and self portraits with the subject slightly to the right or left and not directly in the center of the picture. If a painting is being drawn with the sun as a main focus it is normally placed at one of the top two corners of that center square. This rule is one of the simplest rules of photography and will help assist you in your quest towards becoming a great map designer. Application So now you’ve got the gist of the rule of thirds so let’s take some time to re-tie it back in with level design. You should be very well versed in the definition of a perspective. Let’s run through a scenario to help you get a bit more acquainted to working with the rule of thirds. Imagine setting up a spawn perspective for your map. You want a player to first spawn and pickup the sniper rifle that is in front of them. First of all you want to place the spawn facing towards the general direction of the sniper rifle. Second, you want to set the sniper rifle a good distance away from a player in order to follow the smooth spawning concept. Now keep in mind the spawning default eye level of the player. Tweak the spawn perspective so that the sniper rifle is placed near one of the four points of interest. Apply whatever eye catching techniques you would like and viola you have encouraged your player to take the role of the sniper. Well done. This technique doesn’t just have to be used on spawns. It can be used for when a player first walks through a doorway. Take the time to imagine the general direction that the player is facing and setup your objects based on the rule of thirds in order to maximize their attention. Make your map fun to play by making what they need to have fun easier to find. Don’t you hide that good ol’ rifle. Read Chapter 23: Static Perspectives Follow Ray Twitter: https://twitter.com/RayBenefield Mixer: https://mixer.com/RayBenefield 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://discord.gg/RqEy7rg
  5. About Reaching Perfection Missed Chapter 16? Read it here: Innovation Intro You know how important catching a person’s eye is. It can attract players to places they would never explore otherwise. It shows players a weapon that they may not have been able to find otherwise. There are many ways to draw a player’s gaze. One of those ways is to use contrasting colors in an otherwise bland scene. But color contrast isn’t just about eye catching. The color wheel So everything we see exists on our visible color spectrum with each color slowly blending into the next and becoming a new color. A natural occurrence of the color spectrum is a rainbow. A rainbow is seen by the human eye as several colors blending into each other from Red to Purple. The color wheel just places all of these colors in a perfect circle that links the red to the purple in order to restart the color sequence. Most color wheel diagrams consist of 12 colors containing the three primary colors that blend together to form three secondary colors and then all six of these blend with the one two next to them to create six tertiary colors. You can easily find an example of the color wheel by searching google. The difference is black and white Contrast is defined as the difference between two colors that appear next to each other. It is easy to notice when something black is on a white field, but how easy is it to tell when something black is on a purple field in comparison? With that in mind how much do you want that black object to stand out? If you want the object to just accent the scene then maybe the black on purple is a good idea, however if you want it to stand out then maybe the black on white is a better idea. High and low contrasts are both important in their own situations. You do not want to be bringing attention to something that doesn’t need attention and you don’t want to hide something that needs to be seen. So how do you find low contrast and high contrast color combinations? Take a look at a color wheel. Pick one color on that wheel and then grab the color directly across from it. That color is known as its complementary or contrasting color. Now pick a color next to it. That color is known as an analogous color. These colors blend really well together and hide things while still adding color to the scene. Applying to maps So through the topic of eye catching you already know when to use high contrast colors. Place purple weapons on a yellow backdrop in order to draw attention to them as incentives. Place a dark red door in a bright green wall to show players that it exists. Place yellow explosives against a dark gray wall in order to make them aware of the deterrent. So when do you want to hide something? Why not just high contrast everything in the scene to draw attention to it? Because the more things that are trying to pull attention the less affect each one has on the player. So next to that purple weapon on the yellow backdrop don’t place purple chairs around it or people may miss the purple weapon and only see the purple chairs and move on. Scenery and other objects that help smooth out the feeling of the map, that aren’t necessarily important to gameplay, need to use low contrast in order to not draw too much attention to them. They are there to complete the whole experience and keep the map from feeling bland; not to draw attention. Read Chapter 18: Patience *Note: We have a thread dedicated to Color Theory, with a lot of useful links on this subject. Follow Ray Twitter: https://twitter.com/RayBenefield Mixer: https://mixer.com/RayBenefield 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://discord.gg/RqEy7rg
  6. *Header Image Credit: Ovidiu Mantoc About Reaching Perfection Missed Chapter 15? Read it here: Purpose Intro So you know how to make a good map right? How the hell do you get it noticed? There are thousands of maps out there, what is going to get people to notice your map and want to take their time out of the day to play your map above all others? The trick... you’ve got to have a little pizzazz and give people that WOW factor. You’ve got to do something that is unique and powerful. Otherwise you’re just another fish in the sea. It is time for you to be the whales of the sea. Who could miss an animal that large? 😉 The power of jaw dropping I’ve seen the power of innovation cause crazy things to happen. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people register for a site and post just so they can comment on how crazy and innovative something is. That wow factor is a very powerful thing. Have your maps ever caused someone to just pause and look around instead of play? Innovation is defined as something newly introduced, such as a new method or device. Think about something that your audience has never seen before and do it. Whether it is remaking the Titanic or making a game out of betraying your friends. Look through all the competition. What is everyone else doing? Now do the opposite. If people are making maps with lots of cover and hallways make a map that has lots of open areas. If people are utilizing blue and red lights everywhere then use the yellow and green ones. Be different. Stand out. Profit. Judging by a book’s cover Your best way of creating shock and awe is using aesthetics. Players normally see a map before they actually play it. So make them see something crazy. Make a statue that is as tall as a building (cue Statue of Liberty). How about making a map that is based around dark alleys? Maybe base the map around the sun and utilize those burning visuals. Build the map completely underwater like in Bioshock. Maybe you can recreate a popular symbol in the world. Have you ever thought of a yin yang shaped map? How about one to resemble a lizard or something and capture a player’s attention with the map overview? Looks are the easiest way to attract attention, but that isn’t the only way to do it. Break the rules I have found great success in going against gameplay standards and practices. It is common practice to create multiple paths and what not around a map in order to address the issue of Combat Congestion and Traffic. Well what if you intentionally didn’t have multiple paths and only had one linear path? Surely that is unique (cue Conquest). What about the standard of having multiple paths into a base? Could you make a successful map with only one path into the base? Is there something that people tell you not to do ever at all? Find the exception to that rule. Take every challenge that people present to you. There is no such thing as impossible in your mind. If people are saying it can’t be done you tell them that it can and you show them. If you are the first to break the rules you will be the innovator. The rest will then just be posers, and while they are being posers you can go try another challenge. Try something else new. Never say never. Be that person to break the trend and do what they say can’t be done. Anything is possible. Read Chapter 17: Color Contrast Follow Ray Twitter: https://twitter.com/RayBenefield Mixer: https://mixer.com/RayBenefield 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://discord.gg/RqEy7rg
  7. 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. *Note: 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 3? Read it here: Path Manipulation Intro You know what the best part about design is? Observing something from the smallest units possible and understanding what changes to those small units can do. By observing the smallest unit of an idea you can tweak the idea from a smaller setting. You can essentially take a larger problem and break it down into the smallest chunks possible and find the chunk or chunks that are causing the problem. Learning to keep track of all of these small chunks is essential to being adept at any sort of design. So what is one of the most significant and smallest observable chunks that I have discovered so far in level design? That chunk is the same as any media relating to a TV or monitor or any display similar... a single frame of relay to the user. In essence a screenshot in time of what the user is seeing. In this case I call those screenshots, Perspectives... One moment, in time Yes I am saying exactly what you think I’m saying. This topic is about the importance of a screenshot of a player’s current perspective, whether it be in 1st person or in 3rd person (in the case of driving vehicles). Analyzing a screenshot in time can tell you a lot of things and learning to modify that screenshot is essential to controlling your player’s decisions. A perspective will tell you what the player’s current visible options are. A perspective will tell you what the player has their attention on. A perspective is worth a thousand words... Drawing a perspective It is important to note that a perspective requires; a focus point or position, a point of view, and a direction. Point of view in a first person shooter is almost always going to be first person. The main focus point is going to be the player. After those two, the direction (a three dimensional direction) will define the perspective. The focus point is based on the player’s movement around the map utilizing path manipulation to move the focus point around, essentially the player. The direction is based on the player’s current eye focus and where their attention lies. Learning to control the direction of a future perspective is vital to having full control over a player’s decisions, movement, and feelings. Learning to mix the power of manipulating perspectives as well as manipulating the position of the focus point is crucial to any true level designer. Worth a thousand words While analyzing perspectives, analyze them as a picture... as a piece of artwork. We will be utilizing various art theories to analyze perspectives. In the thousand words that perspectives give us you can find the general sense of feeling (fear, excitement, etc), where the main attention lies (and thus where the eye is drawn to), and what is being noticed and how much. Understanding a split second in time makes for a lot of little chunks to analyze. I will teach you the important perspectives to keep an eye on. I will teach you what you need to analyze in the pictures presented to your player. And always keep in mind that the designer’s perspective is in no way the same as the player’s perspective. That is essential to being a good designer. Being able to see what your player sees. If you can’t do that then you are crafting the wrong experience. You are crafting the experience from what you see way up in the sky. Not from what the player sees right in front of them on the bottom floor. Don’t make it fun for you... make it fun for them. Read Chapter 5: Deterrents Follow Ray Twitter: https://twitter.com/RayBenefield Mixer: https://mixer.com/RayBenefield 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://discord.gg/RqEy7rg
  8. "In many video games, the player has control of the camera. However, the developer can control what's on screen through use of the environment to direct the player's movements and attention. Miriam Bellard has been referring to this as spatial cinematography. Miriam's talk explores spatial cinematography in theory and practice using examples from GTA V Online DLC (pre-production to final art). A truly cinematic experience can be developed by adapting film concepts such as shots, editing and 2D screen design as well as understanding how the player interacts with and perceives the game environment. Miriam discusses the effect of the 3D environment on the cinematic experience, including through movement, player attention, and spatial design." Follow Miriam Twitter: https://twitter.com/MiriamBellard Linkedin: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/miriam-bellard-a4339a127 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://discord.gg/RqEy7rg
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