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  1. Follow Core Ideas Twitter: https://twitter.com/CoreIdeasYT YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLLJDyZ7kmJ8sgbuuc3oazg Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/CoreIdeas 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
  2. What happens when you remove objective indicators, minimap, and other user interfaces that tell players where they are and where they need to go? Brendon Chung talks about ways to approach solving this problem. Follow Brendon Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlendoGames Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/BlendoGames/videos Website: http://blendogames.com/ 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
  3. This is a recap of an interview with Lighting Artist Gabe Betancourt which is posted on 80 Level. The full interview covers many subjects, and is linked at the bottom. It's shared here for educational purposes. This recap consists of only a small section of the interview. The topics covered in the full article are: Working as a Lighting Artist When exactly do you get on into the production? Production What do you usually work with as the lighting artist? What are the peculiarities of lighting game environments? The Challenges Behind Game Environments Lightmaps Indoor and Outdoor GI Dark Areas Destructible Environments Framerate What is the best and most efficient way to light the scene? Advice Here, we share a portion of the Introduction, tools of the lighting artist, the peculiarities of lighting game environments, Lightmaps, Indoor and Outdoor, making light work with gameplay, and Gabe's advice. Please click the link at the end to read the full interview. Introduction My name is Gabe Betancourt, Lighting Artist at Naughty Dog, and have been working in entertainment for over 15 years. I was born and raised in Miami, FL. Graduated from International Fine Arts College (IFAC) in 2003, acquired by Art Institutes, now Miami International University of Art &Design. Before Naughty Dog, I worked at Activison/Treyach on Call of Duty Black Ops and Call of Duty World At War, for single player, multiplayer, and Nazi Zombie campaigns. My first full game dev opportunity happened at Crystal Dynamics on Tomb Raider Underworld, ironically around Uncharted’s first game, Drake’s Fortune in 2007. Before that I worked in visual effects for TV, film, music videos, and game cinematics. What do you usually work with as the lighting artist? Mostly Maya and proprietary tools. A lot of what’s used is developed in-house. What are the peculiarities of lighting game environments? Artistically, to provoke. When a player walks into a space, does lighting urge a sense of presence? Does it excite wonder, dread, joy, anger, reverence, peace, or sadness? A lot goes into capturing a feeling that takes being in touch with one’s inner sense and watching how others react to get right. It’s the most difficult challenge to accomplish. Second to that, avoiding flat shapes. Lighting builds depth. A prudently lit area has a sense of focused direction (what we call directionality) but also conveys volume by shape, silhouetting values between foreground, midground, and background geometry. Technically, we wrestle with lightmap UV artifacting, resolution, UV space allocation, memory constraints, and areas too bright or too dark for gameplay. Bakes can produce artifacts and splotches we don’t plan for and we investigate the cause. Some lights will or won’t appear as intended or colors won’t look right even though we used the right source texture (like with skies). We try to push values as far as we can to get the most dramatic result, but if it’s interfering with gameplay we scale back. Sometimes we exaggerate to lead players around an area or make enemies more visible during combat. Foreground elements will not always blend well with background and we figure out workarounds for that. Lightmaps Generally lightmaps take advantage of quality from pre-processed rendering such path tracing or ray-tracing and global illumination, to provide bounce, shadows, and occlusion with detailed precision. Otherwise, a game with all those features at runtime would run very slow if at all and make the game unplayable. Or it might work well with large scale environments but fall short of quality up-close. Raytracing is expensive. Baking frees up CPU and GPU bandwidth for more things like AI, polygon vertices, physics, particles, etc. Tech is improving and runtime GI is emerging in popularity as well as techniques for dynamically refreshing lightmaps. It’s hard to say if all games benefit from lightmaps. Some open-world, hub based games fare better without because scale is too massive for practical purposes. In our case it’s ideal for cinematic quality and adventure themed projects. Generally it starts with appraising what’s beneficial to lightmap. Sometimes baking into polygon vertices can yield a good result and save lightmap space. One rule of thumb I like to use is to measure geo against the hero. Anything larger than the main character benefits most from lightmaps, anything smaller is better for vertex baking. It helps because we often judge scale in relation to character size and our perception of detail adjusts to compensate for objects looming over the hero. Exceptions include round or long objects such as columns or door frames. A bookshelf is likely to look better lightmapped, but if it’s at knee height, it might not matter as much or look better if vert baked. Next we try to make sure UV layouts are clean. It’s vital to get the most out of texture space which can quickly take up memory. Then we appraise whether the resolution of lightmaps justify the amount of screenspace it takes up. Is it worth the scale it uses? If too dense we shrink, if too low we scale. A mountain in the background gets decreased compared to a cave in the foreground since the player might never approach it. Then, what isn’t manually UV’d gets auto arranged. We look at the result and from there, iterate art. Indoor and Outdoor Every scenario is different. For outdoors the camera can go almost anywhere, so there’s a lot of ground to cover to make everything look good. It can take a while and challenge one’s ability to make a close up detail or large vista wide have equal quality and depth. It’s difficult to achieve both simultaneously. We look at time of day and weather for opportunities of grandeur; sunny days allow for godrays, heavy rain gives us dense fog and bright reflections, and night time allows us to use fire. Some areas don’t work well and we end up cheating a bit with runtime lights, cloud shadows, or particles. Interiors are different, a main source might not be available for good lighting or the camera’s limited reach can make it harder to show the environment. To remedy that, we try to figure out if there’s a source we can improvise, and make it hit a target area with bounce. Sometimes we’ll decide to use electricity, fire, flares, or player flashlight. How do you make light work with gameplay? We look at intended paths, where to guide or distract players and iterate on anything that may discourage or encourage advancement. Also assisting combat, making sure enemies and cover in an area remain distinct. Sometimes a light can entice players to pay attention to an object, location, or help with puzzle. Some of the most involved is with light-based puzzles. We’ll work closely with designers to get runtime lights working well with mechanics. Advice If at all possible, find a really good reference from a photograph or a film that captures the overall color or mood you’re going for and try to match it with just one light. While it sounds oversimplified, if you can get a strong base for that end result as much as possible, it goes a long way. And like previously mentioned, only after exhausting the most you can with one, then add another. *Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev Read the full article here: 80.lv/articles/learning-lighting-for-video-games/ Follow Gabe ArtStation: www.artstation.com/gabearts Portfolio: www.gabereel.com/
  4. Welcome to the Lighting Master Course, courtesy of Andrew Price of Blender Guru. Andrew adeptly guides us from the basics of lighting, into more advanced concepts. Here's an overview of the course: Part 0: Intro Part 1: Direction Part 2: Size Part 3: Color Part 4: Readability Part 5: Emphasis Ways to Improve your Lighting (demonstration) Follow Blender Guru Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOKHwx1VCdgnxwbjyb9Iu1g Twitter: https://twitter.com/andrewpprice Website: https://www.blenderguru.com/ 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
  5. In this blog post I’m going to elaborate on a selection of tips and tricks that I’ve tweeted over the last few months from my account @TomPugh1112 These tips are methods that Level Designers use to move players, encourage progression and create areas of immersive gameplay. The tips I’m going to share are general bits of advice that work in different ways for different games. As a Level Designer these tips should be interpreted in a way that is relevant to your level designs. Every game is different so every game requires a different approach. This selection of tips are in no way “rules” of level design. As far as I’m concerned there are no rules, only guidelines that help create the best experiences possible. Every designer has their own approach to creating levels and solving problems so please take these tips and tricks as just that, and not some gospel of level design. Each one of these “tips” could easily have a whole blog dedicated to it, and in the future I may write some. But for now I’ve tried to give as much detail in as few words as possible. Tip 1: Have clear and consistent Affordances An affordance is a rule that is created through your games level design. For example in “Tomb Raider” the player learns that if they see a piece of wood or a old cart which is angled in the air, they know that they are able to use it as a launch pad to make longer jumps. A simple real life example of an affordance is a door handle. A pull bar or a push pad on a door informs you what action you should take to open the door. It is very important to have clear and consistent affordances (rules) in your levels. You need to build a trust contract with the player so that they clearly understand what they can and can’t do in the game. You should avoid breaking this contract. If you do you’ll cause confusion and frustration for the player. How annoying is it in real life when a door says push but really means pull? There are times when your game may require you to break this contract with the player. In a survival horror game breaking affordances is a good way to create stress and put the player under pressure. Even this can be risky and may ultimately irritate some players. Tip 2: Use Leading Lines Leading lines are a technique that helps to guide the player’s eye towards a specific location, item or event. Use leading lines to subtly move players in the right direction without the need for additional prompts or breadcrumbing. Leading lines can range from pipes on the ceiling, hedge rows or different textures on the floors and walls. Leading lines can draw the players eye to an important gameplay moment. These should be used in combination with lighting and other techniques. For example you might have a new enemy you want to reveal to the player. Pipes along the roof and walls could be used to make sure players are looking in the right direction, while the area where the new enemy appears is nicely lit. These techniques in combination should control where the player looks. Tip 3: Make use of the Architecture to shape the play space You should always be looking at real life spaces and how their architecture can translate to level design. Architects have been doing the same thing as level designers for hundreds of years so it makes sense to examine and gain an understanding of architectural elements. Architectural elements should be used to shape your level designs. Structural components are tools for organising and shaping a space. Think about what your architecture can do before filling a level with crates as obstacles. For example, rather than placing crates in an open area why not position pillars that can still be used as cover but create a more believable space. By looking at real life spaces you can find ways of creating more believable levels with intuitive architectural elements. Tip 4: Learn to Teach Mechanics One of the jobs of level design is to introduce, pace and teach the player new mechanics when they become available. This is something designers new to the field often get wrong (and sometimes more experienced designers too). You’re very knowledgeable of your game mechanics which means that it’s very easy to make a difficult challenge. Making an introductory challenge is often where mechanic teaching falls down. You can use pacing techniques to plan mechanic introductions and the difficulty of skill gates. Get the pacing right and you shouldn’t have too much trouble with players understanding and trusting mechanics. The rough sketch below gives an additional idea of how this works. An improvement to the sketch would be to make sure that when the player picks up their new weapon they have some targets to shoot at in the area, such as some tin cans for example. This gives them an opportunity to learn the shooting mechanics without have to be concerned about enemies. Tip 5: Use Denial and Reward Denial and reward is an architectural technique that is primarily used to enrich a person’s passage through a built environment. Architects do this by giving people a view of their target and then momentarily screening it from view. This same technique can be used for progression in level design to enhance a players sense of progression. Give players a view of their objective, send them on a route where they can no longer see it, and then emerge them closer to the objective with a new angle of visibility. This image shows how you might start a level using denial and reward. The player can see the objective clearly, they can see the path is blocked and are given an alternative route to take towards the objective. In the following image the player will have a new angle of visibility and the objective being closer will reward them with a real sense of progression. The Last Of Us uses denial and reward in the Pittsburgh chapter. The player is given a glimpse of the yellow bridge (their objective location) and then loses sight of it for a while until it comes back into view. This chapter shows how denial and reward can be used to make a journey much more interesting. Tip 6: Give players a good starting point How players arrive in an area will influence their first move. Start players facing the right direction and be sure their start position gives them visual cues and options on how to proceed. The image above from Uncharted 4 demonstrates how you can craft the players starting position by giving them a clear view of the path ahead, leading lines and framing from the surrounding environment give a clear view of the objective location and the player can see openings and other options. This example uses multiple techniques but it is key to understand how all of these methods combine with the start location to give players a clear understanding of what they have to do. Sometimes this tip can be twisted, but in a cool way. For example the players path or exit could be positioned behind or above them. As long as the player has clear messaging of this it can encourage map exploration and discovery which can create a very rewarding experience. Games like Uncharted have instances of this. This can become a problem when you can’t control the players start position. In linear games it is easy to determine where the player is when a level starts and making sure they have clear cues can be done. But in an open world it’s much harder to be sure of where the players is. One way this can be done is to create areas of linearity within an open world. A recent example of this is Horizon: Zero Dawn. Guerrilla have done a great job of funneling players towards mission areas and creating linear experiences during story missions. In some cases this has been done by creating two or three different entrances to a location. Horizon: Zero Dawn is an excellent study on open worlds for more on this I recommend watching the GDC talk Level Design Workshop: Balancing Action and RPG in Horizon Zero Dawn Quests where Blake Rebouche goes into more detail on their process. Tip 7: Set up some boundaries Boundaries are a way of showing players when they are transitioning between areas. There are two types of boundary - soft boundaries and solid boundaries. Solid boundaries can be used to mark an area of surprise or enemy activity. You don’t want players to know what’s inside and you want them to clearly understand they are changing location. Soft boundaries should be used to entice the player into an area. You want the player to be able to see what’s inside and this should draw them into the area. Tip 8: Bread-crumbing If you’re struggling to get players to go where you want you could try using breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbing can come in many different forms including; a different texture on the floor, gold coins that put the player back on track and collectibles dotted along a path. In the above example you can see the gems in Spyro are placed in this area so as to draw the player to a higher location I find this and the example below to be two subtle ways of breadcrumbing the player without breaking immersion. Tip 9: Lighting You can use lighting to draw attention to exits, points of interest and enemy locations and it can be used as an effective way to guide players through a level. Lighting in levels should be used to highlight the following; exits, path guiding, enemy introductions and points of interest. In the images above you can see that exits, paths and enemies are clearly lit and visible to the players. These examples also show how lighting can help set a tone for your levels. Tip 10: Iteration is key The key to a good level is iteration and constant play testing. The sooner you can get a blockout of your level into the hands of someone the better. It’s through this initial play test that you’ll see the problems, find the solutions and make a start on improving your level. Don't be afraid to let people play your levels, after all that is why we make them. Conclusion: Well thanks for reading this two part blog! I hope you found some tips and guidance that will help you with your own level designs. Remember these are guidelines, not rules. I tried to go into as much detail as I could in as few words as I could. So if you want to talk more about a subject covered here, or not covered here then please feel free to leave a comment and start a discussion. Thanks for Reading, Tom Pugh. *Note: This article is posted on Next Level Design with permission from the author Source: https://www.tompughdesigner.com/single-post/2018/10/20/Level-Design-Tips-and-Tricks-Part-1 Follow Tom Website: https://www.tompughdesigner.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/TomPugh1112 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. Tricks of the TradeLevel designers are usually tasked with creating environments that are both engaging and also provides relevant information to the player so they can navigate a space. A level should ensure that players understand how to overcome the challenges set before them without explicitly being shown. There is a multitude of different ways that this can be achieved and it typically requires the use of multiple level design techniques. These techniques are quite broad and how they get used differs among designers. However, they are ultimately used to achieve the same end result, creating an engaging space that communicates relevant information to the player. “Good player navigation should never take control away from the player, levels should be intuitively designed so that players understand what they have to do and how they can achieve it using the mechanics they have available." In my previous post, I discussed good player navigation and understanding a level. Well in order to achieve a navigable level it helps to understand the tools and techniques available to level designers and how they can be used when designing a level. Once again the things covered here aren’t by any means gospel but more of an overview of some of the techniques available and how they can be used effectively. Level Design TechniquesThe techniques that will be discussed here all share the same primary objective of helping to communicate to players where they have to go or what they have to do within a level. This information can be used to convey design intent, reveal where the player has to go, highlight important level aspects and even provide a frame of reference for the player so they always know where to go. We will look at the more visual based techniques that you can use to convey your design intent such as colour coding, lighting, signposting and implicit storytelling.Colour CodingThe use of colour within a level can be utilised to very easily to bring things to the player's attention whether that be revealing to the player where they have to go, the current state of an object or when something is dangerous. When deciding to use colour coding it is important to assign a meaning to each of the colours that you will use, that way it is easy to understand exactly what each part of your level represents it also makes it easier to recognise patterns. Establishing patterns within an environment can be really useful for a player as it helps them to understand when they’re going the right way or making the right decisions. Maybe every door they go through is identical or coloured the same. This will naturally begin to draw players through an environment as you intended. Patterns can be established in many ways within a level but colouring is probably the most obvious. When colour coding is been considered if you factor it in early on you can plan for it to be incorporated into the game art and textures used to build out your levels. This will allow for things to appear more natural within the game and not look completely out of place which will help you to more naturally lead players through an environment, creating a more immersive space. Lots of games use colour coding to some degree whether you realise it or not and some use it more than others. In most games you find things like climbable surfaces are all highlighted using a coloured texture which not only indicates that they can be climbed but it also highlights the path that the player should climb. Rime, God of War, Tomb Raider and Uncharted all do this to help guide the player forwards. Mirrors Edge is a good example of how colour can be used to encourage how players traverse a space in a specific way. The Use of colour is a lot bolder in ME and is effectively incorporated into the game world through the artwork and textures. I recently started playing Mirrors Edge catalyst and couldn't help but notice how colour coding was used to lead you through spaces. A good example was the “Benefactor” mission where you have to climb the Anasi Emporium tower. As you climb the tower the way forwards is clearly highlighted using the colour orange where all the jumps, ledges and climbable surfaces you need to use in order to proceed are orange. This doesn’t look out of place because it is incorporated into the wider art too. To further help guide the player the way forward is also well lit while other areas in the same space are in shadow, creating contrast within the level that helps to more naturally lead the player forwards. LightingIn level design lighting can be a powerful tool when it comes to communicating to the player where they have to go or what they have to do in a given area. Lighting can also be used in conjunction with colour coding very easily by simply tinting your light to help create contrast within a level. It is also an effective way to reinforce positive and negative actions. Establishing contrast can help to more naturally lead the player through a level as people tend to be drawn to the brightest point on the screen. This can be as apparent or subtle as you like, it can also be easily incorporated into the rest of the games lighting design so it doesn’t look too abrupt to the player. You might think that the more explicit or intense the light is the better but, that isn’t always the case as if you make areas too bright it will break the overall look and feel of the game and come off a lot more hand holdy than you might want. Remember you want to show the player what to do or where to go not explicitly tell them. This also helps to maintain a strong sense of player agency within your level as players will feel like they have more control if they feel like they’re the ones figuring out where to go. Lighting is used for a lot of things in games but it is a great tool for level designers to use when it comes to player navigation that can be very easily used to complement other techniques.Signposting & ForeshadowingWhen building a level it's important to think about signposting so that the player can quickly and easily orientate themselves within a space. This is usually achieved by setting up structures throughout a space that can serve as landmarks for the player. These landmarks help to highlight exactly where the player has to go, signposting objective locations for the player, making it more obvious whether or not the player is actually progressing towards a goal. Likewise, it helps to have landmark structures placed along the path the player has to travel down so that they can easily work out where they’ve been if they get turned around. This is more important in open world games where it is more likely that a player might go off on a tangent. Placing basic structures at key locations throughout a level is a quick and helpful way to start breaking up a space and break line of sight where needed while also establishing a navigable path for the player. When using signposting in a level it is still important to follow the concept of “Show don’t tell” which should really be applied when designing any challenge for a player including navigation. So in terms of signposting the player should always know where they need to get too but the steps that they take to get there are for them to discover, creating part of the player's journey. With the basic concept of using landmarks, you can choose to very quickly plot out the flow of a space and then start to fill in the gaps between each destination that will inevitably start to form a path to the players objective. A common use found in most games is to foreshadow the players overall objective, whether that be an important location that they have to work towards or an enemy they see travelling to a destination just out of reach. Both of these elements help to inform the player about where they should be heading and provides players with their initial orientation within a space. Storytelling TechniquesWhen you design and build out levels you will typically have a good idea of where your level fits into the overall game which will inform the location, current state of an environment and any characters that you might encounter. With that in mind, you can even use storytelling to help inform where the player has to go. How this is applied within a level is entirely dependent on the type of game you’re working on but it's worth considering what options you have available to you. In games, you have multiple storytelling techniques at your disposal and you can leverage these in level design to help communicate information to the player, and better justify more explicit methods of directing the player. Some games may have devices or technology that the player character is equipped with that gives context to any in-game UI that gets used to direct the player around a space. This allows you to take a more diegetic approach with any navigation assistance you might want to provide for the player. In Dead Space Issac’s rig would project a line that leads players to their current objective, this is a nicer approach as it blends into the game world and doesn’t just add UI overlays which can be slightly immersion breaking. Similarly, In Mirror’s Edge Catalyst players are given an ability called runners vision which highlights climbable objects in red, and also highlights the path to an objective with a red line projected in the air. This seems a little bit heavy handed but it operates almost like a sat nav that leads the player to objectives and waypoint markers throughout the game world. Right out the gate, the player is given a justification for why and how this works when they’re given a contact that gives faith a HUD overlay that presents real-time information about the world. Environmental storytelling is a good and interesting technique that can be used to help guide a player through a level. This is more of an implicit method that doesn't explicitly call things out through speech or text but instead conveys information through the environment. When trying to tell stories through a level environment it's important to think about what’s happening within a given level. If the player is tracking something or following someone it makes sense to have some kind of trail left behind that player can follow. This could be a trail of footprints, scuff marks, destroyed structures or some kind of anomaly within the level that will be noticeable enough for the player to pick up on and follow. Implicit storytelling can also be used quite well for cause and effect events, where the player does something and they can visibly see the effect it has on the level environment. Cause and effect can be used on both a small a big scale, it can be something as simple as unlocking a door from a control room to destroying a large chunk of the environment ultimately revealing the way forward for the player.These are just a few of the level design techniques that you can utilised to help lead players through level environments but they’re effective and can be easily adapted to suit your design needs. Think about what it is you’re trying to achieve in a level and what the player needs to do, then you can identify which techniques can be used to effectively communicate that intent to the player. *Note: This article is posted on Next Level Design with permission from the authorSource: https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/JonathonWilson/20180720/322564/Level_design_Tricks_of_the_trade.php Follow JonathanTwitter: https://twitter.com/Omnislash92
  7. Recently, I decided that I wanted to start blogging again so that I could discuss various aspects of game development and the game industry. In the hope that it will help to improve my own understanding and provide some insight into the world of Game/Level design.Back in September 2017, I was invited to do a Rezzed session at EGX, where I decided to talk about level design, as that’s one of the areas of design I’m most passionate about. So as my first blog post I wanted to take some time to explore what goes into creating a navigable space.Fun Fact: Level design is an area that I’ve always been interested in, and where I got my first real break in the industry. My first real industry job was working as a QA/Design intern during my final year of University which gave me great insight into development processes. Shortly after graduating I joined Coatsink as a level designer working on Shu, I have been with the company almost 3 years, in which time I have worked my way up to become Lead Designer. What is a level?This might seem obvious to most, but due to the sheer amount of terminology, you’ll encounter, defining exactly what a level is, may differ from person to person or even game to game. Level’s can also be characterised as missions, stages, maps, worlds, rounds, waves, acts or chapters. Put more simply a level is a venue/space used for player interaction. That being said - even though the terminology we use might differ, what goes into a level is usually the same. With that in mind what I’m going to discuss is, by no means, a definitive definition - but some of the characteristics should go into creating a good level. Defining a levelAs a level designer, you’re tasked with creating levels, missions, stages, episodes or player areas. These are just a few of the terms that are used to describe the spaces that a player will encounter. A level is usually a space that has been constructed to convey a series of different gameplay events, that are composed in such a way that they can if done correctly, lead the player through an environment.One very important thing to bear in mind - when it comes to level design - is that a level acts as the conduit between the player and the game’s mechanics, helping to establish a relationship between the player and the rules that govern the world. Understanding the play spaceRegardless of the type of level you create, all levels have some kind of play space - an area identified by a designer in which they allow players to play, usually defined by logical boundaries. These spaces aren’t always boxed off, some are more free-form and allow players to come and go as they please, but any space in which the player must occupy to complete a challenge, objective or perform an action is defined as a play space.A play space is usually comprised of a lot of different elements and different types of information and, as a designer, it’s your job to ensure that the player doesn’t become too overwhelmed or get lost while trying to navigate.A large part of any play space, are the challenges that it presents to the player, the severity of which can differ greatly, throughout the game. These challenges can be both big and small; Defeating a large group of enemies or using logic to solve a puzzle that has multiple stages and requires players to utilise the entire space. Smaller challenges can be as simple figuring out how to navigate through spaces successfully, there doesn’t always have to be a conflict to create a challenge. Look at a game like Portal most of the challenge comes from figuring out how to get through a space by setting up portals is the correct configuration. Most spaces will always present some kind of navigational challenge, so it’s important that these space are navigable. Good player navigation should never take control away from the player, levels should be intuitively designed so that players understand what they have to do and how they can achieve it, using the mechanics and tools they have available. This can lead to players feeling more empowered it can also help to establish a certain level of emergent gameplay.Player choice is an important thing to consider when creating a level even when the destination or objective is predetermined and will always be the same. Even when you have a linear experience or sequence of events it’s still possible to offer players the illusion of choice. This is most commonly achieved by presenting players with multiple ways to accomplish something so the destination may always be the same but the decision is up to them. We call this the illusion of choice because despite that it’s the player who chooses how they get to a destination, where they have to go, it’s always the same. Uncharted 4 embraced this approach, you were given small open environments to explore, but you always left through an intended/ predetermined exit. Level design considerationsWhen designing and creating a level you need to think about the affordances you offer to the player. Affordances account for any visual aspects found in a play space, and how they’re presented in relation to the player’s goals. In level design when we talk about affordances, we usually refer to the clues we give to the player, about how something can be used - either through the object itself or the context in which it appears.As level designers, we can utilize affordance theory to help make spaces more readable and easier to understand. Affordance theory states, that the world is not only perceived in terms of spatial relationships and object shapes - but also in terms of object possibilities for action, the affordances. For example, a door in a game has multiple properties, it can be open or closed, locked or unlocked and even obstructed. The characteristics of a said door can be shared but there needs to be some kind of difference that informs its current state. A door that is left partially open with no obstructions will be interpreted as usable. Likewise, a similar closed door with no obstructions will be interpreted in the same way. If you don't want the player to use a door make it obvious that it is obstructed or locked through the visual language you use. When identifying what affordances will appear in your level, it's important to remember that perception drives action. So, in the case of a game, it’s important to think carefully about how areas and objects will be perceived. If it looks like the player should be able to interact with something, then they should be allowed unless there’s a well-communicated reason why they can’t.Affordances need to be careful consideration when you’re building out a play space - but they aren’t the only thing that goes into making a good level. Levels should be fun/interesting to navigate when trying to achieve this, you need to address various factors. Avoid causing frustration and make sure your design intentions are clearly communicated. If they aren’t it won’t be clear to the player, leading to the player becoming stuck or lost - potentially giving up - and no one wants that!Techniques that can be used to help with communicating information include colour coding, signposting, waypoints and even lighting. When applying techniques to communicate information to the player try to ensure that the visual language you use is consistent so that player can start to identify the relationships between the language used and what it is trying to tell them.One of the more common techniques that we see used in games to aid navigation is colour coding. Good use cases can be found in Horizon which use yellow paint to highlight your way forward especially when it comes to climbing, likewise, Rime also uses colour coding to highlight climbable surfaces and show the around cliff faces. Level progressionLevel progression influence’s how a player navigates the space, it also allows the developer to control pacing and how events unfold. Progression can be a powerful tool for a designer; it allows you to dictate how and when players will reach certain areas when they will learn new information and encounter mechanics which means you can ensure a player doesn’t end up in a situation where they aren’t prepared.One of the last areas that I wanted to touch on - when it comes to designing and crafting levels - is the concept of, show don’t tell. Levels should always tell the player what to do, but not explicitly how to do it. When building and designing a level make sure you provide all the tools (mechanics) and objects (props) that the player will need in order to overcome whatever obstacles and challenges that come their way. Level’s don't have to be exclusively used for telling the player what to do they can also be used to tell stories. Visual storytelling is another aspect of level design that can help to better establish a game's story and emphasize the current state of the game world, in how it reacts to the player and their actions.You don’t need to necessarily need to show the player how to do it, if your level is intuitive enough and the game mechanics are well-established, players should be able to figure out what it is they need to do. Well, that's it for this post, in future posts I will look into some of the different level design techniques that can be used to encourage navigation and help to create believable and readable spaces. I’ll then take look at a general level design.Thanks for taking the time to read my post, hopefully, you found it a little interesting until next time take it easy *Note: This article is posted on Next Level Design with permission from the author Source: https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/JonathonWilson/20180206/314359/Level_Design_Understanding_a_level.phpFollow Jonathan:Twitter: https://twitter.com/Omnislash92
  8. Follow the PresentersDavid Shaver:Twitter: https://twitter.com/DavidShaver?lang=enWebsite: http://www.davidshaver.net/ Robert Yang:Twitter: https://twitter.com/radiatoryangWebsite: https://radiatoryang.itch.io/
  9. In this 6-Part Youtube series, -m0zidesigner- shares his level design process, step by step. Watch how he develops the map from the early blockout stage, breathes life into it through detail work and lighting, and then releases a polished map.Watch the entire series and you're bound to come away with something that will help you improve your own process. And even if you don't, I think you'll enjoy watching the map come alive. Contents: Part 1: Map Blockout Part 2: First Pass Static Mesh Work Part 3: Detail Work Part 4: Creating Level Collision Part 5: Level Lighting/Tutorial Part 6: Map Complete! Part 1: Map Blockout Part 2: First Pass Static Mesh Work Part 3: Detail Work Part 4: Creating Level Collision Part 5: Level Lighting/Tutorial Part 6: Map Complete! Follow Mozidesigner Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClh3vveZ0jPy6zmziHuil0w/featured Twitter: https://twitter.com/mozidesigner
  10. Radiosity, Ray Tracing, and Rasterizing...oh my. In this talk, the father of Doom and Quake discusses light and rendering. John explains the challenges of creating realistic lighting and rendering in video games, how the industry has approached those problems thus far, and discusses what the future may bring. Follow JohnTwitter: https://twitter.com/ID_AA_Carmack
  11. IntroductionThe following is a recap of an article from David Ballard that was posted on 80 Level. Follow the link at the end of this post for the full article. In this article, David walks us through his multiplayer level design process. David explains that he had originally build for co-op play. Representation of the PlayerIn order to be able to understand the players will feel and interact inside a play space, it's critical to put yourself in digital shoes. From there, you must understand and support the overall conceptual goals and approach of the game you're designing for. Blocking Out the General SpaceAt the Blockout stage, David worked on things like geometrical focal points, movement options, and scaling. He started off with a drawing, and made adjustments as needed as he transitioned it into a 3D world. Making AdjustmentsAs is always the case in a collaborative environment, it's critical to be flexible, and able to develop creative alternatives quickly. Adding Assets to the LevelIt's time to get fancy. After plenty of playtesting and iterating, David's next step was to begin adding assets. ConclusionFinally, the level is complete. David looks back at the rewards and lessons that came of it. Source: https://80.lv/articles/the-last-of-us-multiplayer-level-design-process/Follow DavidSite: http://www.davidgballard.com/Twitter: https://twitter.com/DBalArtStation: https://www.artstation.com/dbal
  12. Next Level Design has been given permission from the author to host this entire book in PDF format. Download the attached PDF at the bottom of this article for the entire book, or view it here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1uB3pUjPkHuWWOYEc70nkVjVlR09ua70zStill not sure? Read through this section on lighting that was recently posted on Next Level Design: In addition, we've included another small section of the book right here: pg. 25 INTRODUCTION Due to games’ ever-increasing complexity and the expanding nature of levels in general, it can certainly be said that levels are not easy to design. Levels, as said before, are combinations of dozens of different aspects, the conglomeration of which render them complex by nature. This combination of complex systems itself requires good design from the start in order to avoid an inconsistent and downright messy result. Because the different aspects are so interdependent, it’s very important not to lose sight of a level’s ‘big picture’. This chapter highlights some of the issues that can pop up when designing a level, as well as some more minor aspects to keep in mind. The overall design is the foundation for a level. Without a clear, strong design, there is no solid base on which to build the level. THE CREATION OF A NEW WORLDThe most important part of a successful level is its beginning. The way a level starts will determine a great deal about how the rest of the level will evolve and how quickly. In these days of growing complexity, efficiency and speed are valued highly. Getting off to a bad start or using bad work methods can cost time which is usually at a premium to begin with. Part of starting a good design is foreseeing potential problems before anything is created. By doing this early in the process, a good level designer can quickly and easily modify the design to better fit the available time, workload, difficulty, technical limits, or all of the above.How one begins a new level is different for every person. One designer may write everything down in a design document while another, like me, just plans it out in their head. The method used also depends upon if one is working in a team environment. Working with a team means that the level’s design must be communicated throughout the team which usually means some sort of written, drawn, or quickly modeled design that can be passed around and/or presented. How it’s done isn’t important as long as several key aspects are kept in mind and the end product is of a sufficient quality. If the technology used cannot create lush jungles, for example, then this must be recognized before starting.A design should progress only when exactly what is wanted and how to accomplish it is known. Exact information is the key to this. Again using the jungle example, one must know what the jungle will look like, the colors it uses, the overall style, how the player will move through it, if the engine can render thick vegetation, what kind of physics will be involved, and too many more to list here.To assist in this task, I have developed a type of checklist that is at the base of everything I design. The list compares several key values against each other to see if they are possible and if they should be modified. It also helps define the values better. The list checks to see if the rules of, for example, lighting and composition are contrary to each other and if the goal is possible and what direction to take. This extensive chapter will mostly be about the latter.A level is complex and it takes increasingly more time and effort to successfully complete one; thus failure is not an option. All the areas that could potentially cause a problem should be identified before starting any work. Once the design process starts it should go smoothly; design dilemmas should not occur or, if they do, should be easily overcome with few modifications to the overall plan. Getting stuck can be very demoralizing and time consuming. pg. 26THE CHECKLISTA level always begins with a goal, a theme, or both. The goal may be that the game requires a medieval castle, or that it’s missing an ominous environment, or that the level is to be the central hub of the game.After identifying the basic idea, certain key information needs to be pinned down before starting the level. This ‘key information’ will be referred to as ‘the keys’. The keys communicate important properties about the level. They are the key words the level is built around and provide more information on the level’s requirements.The following are questions to determine the key information for the level-to-be: • (1-Time) How much time is there available? Is there a deadline? • (2-Tech) What tools and game engine will be used? • (3-Limitations) What limitations are there? Is there a shortage of art assets or staff/personal skill limit? Can anything be made or are some aspects beyond the scope of the project because of their complexity? • (4-Requirements) What kind of requirements are there? Are there any specific elements, for example, special buildings or areas that have to be in the level? When compared to the rest of the game what visual style or theme must the level adhere to? • (5-Purpose) What is the overall purpose? For example, is it a multiplayer practice level or a singleplayer boss arena? • (6-Gameplay) What should the gameplay be like? How should it be played? Should there be enough room for a large boss encounter? Or does it need to be large enough to contain a large number of enemies attacking the player? Perhaps it’s a vehicle level? Or it is a stealth level? And so on. • (7-Theme) What theme and/or style will the level have? Will it be a castle or a jungle? Will the style be cartoonish or realistic?This is all essential information for a level. The order of the list is not as important as the answers. Once the essential elements of the level have been identified it can be run through a checklist to see if it holds up. Will it work? Look right? Play right?The keys provide the information while the checklist determines if it is possible or not. The checklist combines two or more keys in order to determine if they fit together or not. If the desired theme is a jungle, but the engine can’t handle rendering dense vegetation, then these are two keys that do not fit together and the design will need to be adjusted accordingly. This is the type of information the keys provide: essential information that design decisions can be based on before actually starting work on a level. Thinking ahead is the key to success.The checklist itself is a system for asking questions and making comparisons. The questions are different each time, but the comparisons remain the same. Verify that the individual elements compliment each other.Here's the entire Table of Contents: Download the attached PDF below, or view it here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1uB3pUjPkHuWWOYEc70nkVjVlR09ua70z *The Hows and Whys of Level Design is hosted on Next Level Design with permission from the authorFollow Sjoerd De JongWebsite: http://www.hourences.com/Portfolio: http://www.hourences.com/portfolio/Twitter: https://twitter.com/HourencesYoutube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Hourences/feed The Hows and Whys of Level Design.pdf
  13. Lighting: The theory behind lighting out your levels. How to create an interesting setup and what to watch out for. IntroductionLighting is one of the most important and influential elements in environments. It has the power to make or break the visuals, theme and atmosphere.Lighting is often forgotten or underestimated. Designers often add it quickly and without much love. While in the past that was partially excusable by the weak hardware and game engines, these excuses just won't hold up anymore. Lighting is just as important as geometry. Without lighting there is no environment but just a group of 3 dimensional objects. Lighting has the capacity to bring life to a group of objects and take them to the next level of quality. Its purpose goes further than just giving the players the ability to see where they are going.It creates atmosphere. It makes places look scary/cozy or warm/cold. It augments the three dimensional feel of objects and it creates composition and balance to lead the player's eyes around. Yet considering all of that there is a very large group of games and levels out there which use nothing more than white ambient lighting everywhere.The SourceThe most basic rule of lighting is that it always needs a lightsource. Even more important, and this is the second rule; the light should appear to be cast by a source. It is impossible to have lighting in an area with no source, like in this bad example. Info P083: UT2004 level DM Rankin – Personal work – Owned by Epic Games – Modified version to fit the example While there is plenty of lighting in this corridor it's impossible to tell where the light is coming from. This completely breaks the illusion and looks fake.Also to be avoided is lighting that is out of balance with the size of the source. For example, a small light source that somehow manages to illuminate an entire room or corridor, like in this bad example. Info P084: UT level CTF Ortican – Personal work – Owned by myself and textures by Epic Games – Modified version to fit the example Keep things in proportion!Light sources can be anything: small or large lamps hanging on walls or from ceilings, the moon or the sun, crystals, lasers and other type of high tech beams, fire, mirrors, magical effects, water surfaces that bounce back light, lava or radioactive slime and so on. Everything is possible as long as there is a noticeable source.The same goes for the brightness of the source itself. If the lighting is very bright the source itself should not be dim. It should be just as bright and, if possible, have effects like a glow to enhance the brightness. Info P085: UT level DM Sion – Personal work – Owned by myself – Modified version to fit the example The left example is bad because the lamp appears to be disabled even while the environment does seem to receive lighting of it. The brightness of the light source and the brightness of the lighting in an area must be balanced and appear equal.Related to this is the next important aspect. Show the player where exactly the light is coming from. The area near a source should look the brightest. A logical thought. Info P086: UT level CTF Raid – Personal work – Owned by myself – Modified version to fit the example The first example is bad, the second one is good. The first one is bad because the entire area has an equal brightness which is strange. It doesn't feel as if the lighting is really coming from the lamp. The lighting should be considerably brighter near the source than ten meters further away in a corner. It should fade out as it travels further and further away from the source. It should show variation and that's not only more realistic but it also helps the lighting composition. Show a direct influence from one element on the other!ColorsThe most complex rule of lighting is that colored lighting is a must and absolute requirement in almost every situation. Colors can make or break a composition; they shape the atmosphere and emotions associated with an area and they simply make environments more interesting and lively to look at.Most light sources in the world cast lighting that, in one way or another, have color. Therefore it is not very realistic to place white lighting in the environment. For example, a lamp might cast yellow light because it is surrounded by yellow glass. Or perhaps it is an old lamp and the glass is beginning to change color due to the wet environment it is in. Or perhaps the light is shining on a yellow wall thus causing the light rays to bounce off and carry the yellow color to another surface which results in the seemingly yellow lighting.That bouncing is the radiosity effect and as up to now there still aren’t any games which can offer correct and complex radiosity lighting.Therefore, until there is such technology available, one must color the lights oneself instead of relying on how the atmosphere or materials might enhance the lighting. They won't because of the limited technology. If color isn't added, the result will be very bland and fake.Another aspect of lighting is the light temperature. There is a theory that says light is energy and the stronger the light the more energy it has and thus the warmer it is. The temperature influences the strength. Info P091a: lighting temperatures – Owned by myself 1600K is sunset and sunrise and 1800K is a candle. 2800K is a regular light, 5000K is midday sun and so on. Thus the chance that the light in the game environment would cast pure white lighting is rather small.Also notice that red is actually colder than blue. Arc welding or lightning are blue because they are much hotter and stronger compared to a pretty weak, regular, orange fire.A warm blue and a cold red contradict what you will read in a few pages about the warmth of a color. Remember that blue is only warmer than red in a scientific perspective. Emotionally, on the other hand, red probably feels warmer than blue. Common color associations are at the base of that feeling. When something is hot it will glow red while cold things like water and ice are blue. They influence our perspective toward colors. These are very powerful clichés.Another reason to use colors is the composition. In fact one color is not enough most of the time; at least two colors are needed or else creating contrast will be impossible. If only one lighting color is used, that very important color contrast is lost and the result would again be very bland. Info P091: UT level DM Sion – Personal work – Owned by myself – Modified version to fit the example Change is also necessary in order to form a composition and one color can not offer the necessary changes. The colors used need to be balanced. They need to strike the right balance between providing enough contrast yet still complement each other. Harmony is the word to remember well when dealing with lighting.Before being able to work with lighting colors one must understand how colors work. There is a huge difference between the regular colors used to create textures and the colors used to light an area with. Lighting is made of RGB, which stands for Red, Green and Blue. CRT monitors and TV's use this system as well.On the other hand paintings, pencils, prints and so on are CMY. They operate on three totally different primary base colors: Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. Or, in very simplified terms, blue, red, and yellow; the primary colors - which are often learned about when one is very young.The real difference between the two systems lies in how they create colors; or how they mix. CMY colors will end up as a brown black mess when mixed together. Think about what happened to all the colors when someone mixed all the paint together back in grade school.RGB on the other hand will end up as white when mixed. Shine multiple colored lights at one spot and they will end up creating a white spot.The important difference for us is that certain color combinations which work great in a painting will never work out in lighting! And the other way around. It is impossible to use a color combination that works in CMY for lighting because of two reasons.First off, any color viewed is a mix of the three primary colors. RGB mixes differently so the colors it creates simply will look different than those created by CMY. This is especially a problem when one color accidentally mixes with another in spots, something that is bound to happen when working with lighting. Mixing blue and red in CMY might look nice in paint but when red and blue are used in lighting they will create purple spots. Certain variations and mixes of colors are not the same in both types.Secondly, lighting RGB (notice the word lighting in front of it as what's about to be explained is only true for lighting) simply doesn't have all the colors CMY has. Converting color combinations is therefore not always possible. RGB does not have dark yellow, dark red and so on. It can't create dark colors because lighting cannot be dark - it is always light. It can however be more or less saturated or intense but not dark. Black light doesn't exist. And thus neither does gray or brown light exist.One could say that lighting uses simpler colors and has more limitations. There are fewer colors and less subtle changes to use because of the lack of dark colors. Lighting is constrained to a relatively small set of colors that can be used.What makes this even more difficult is that half of those available colors almost never work out well in most themes and subtle changes in hue or saturation are barely noticeable. Colors like purple or pink are almost impossible to use in most themes and styles because they simply do not fit in nor look natural. Using them will most likely result in some weird and unrealistic disco style rather than anything else. The palette of colors to use is very small and mainly consists of yellow, orange, blue, cyan, red and a tiny bit of green.Never use painter logic and rely on mixing brighter lights with darker lights to create changes in your environment. Dark colors do not exist! One can only see a difference when a light's color or saturation radically changes so subtle changes won't be noticeable. Here's why: Light is always a gradient. It always creates a lighter area and a darker area. Lighting simply starts somewhere and then fades out as it travels further away from its source. If one attempts to create contrast by using darker and brighter lights of the same color then the result wouldn't show a contrast at all but would look weird because some lights would appear too weak to be possible.Now that the theory of color has been explained, it is time to apply this knowledge to light application in a level. The idea behind colors is to allow them to add to the theme and atmosphere and to let them create a composition to aid the eyes and to keep things interesting.Colors continued: composition and choicesColors offer various types of contrasts and feelings. It is essential to understand them and use them correctly in order to create interesting and fitting lighting for the level.One should almost always use more than one light color in the level. As mentioned before, the key to create an interesting look and composition is to create well balanced contrasts. Too little or too much contrast is bad. Info P092: UT level DM Sion – Personal work – Owned by myself – Modified version to fit the example Neither looks good. The first picture is very repetitive and thus boring because everything has the same lighting color. The second picture has so many different lighting colors that there's no harmony and it looks completely random. This is undesirable.Avoid weak compositions or very harsh ones. When transformed into the flow charts, previously seen in the composition chapter, the above two pictures show clear problems. Info P093a and P093b: Scanlines The line either has very little change or the change is so hard and sudden that the eyes hit several steep walls when they follow the line.The line should show changes that are quite noticeable yet flow enough to not hurt the eyes. Info P094: Scanline It is for this reason that the right combinations and placement of the lighting colors are needed. I personally always use two main light colors such as blue and yellow and then a third color, like orange, to give extra contrast and difference to a few special elements.The third color is to prevent the two main colors from becoming repetitive. Too much of the same combination can also become boring. The third color's purpose is to occasionally break up that combination.I refrain from using four colors because too many colors can make things look random. It should never look like a mess; unity is the goal.Composition-wise, lighting colors should follow the same rules as highlights. Their composition must be evenly spread out so there are no large spots of the same color which could unbalance the visuals in that area! If the entire right side of a room only has blue lights and the left side has blue and yellow lights it might appear unbalanced. This also depends on the composition of other elements such as the architecture and any moving geometry though.Now one may wonder what colors to use and combine. Combining colors in lighting is about more than just finding a random combination that looks cool. There are systems and arguments that help create the right combination. The lighting colors should not only enhance the visuals and the composition but they should also enhance the theme and atmosphere. The choice of what colors to use depends, for a large part, on the theme and desired atmosphere. A scary theme requires cold colors for example.There are different types of color combinations and each one of them offers another type of contrast.First of all there are cold and warm colors. Some colors feel cold, such as blue, while others feel warm, like orange. Cold colors are blue, green and purple. Warm colors are yellow, red and orange. It is logical that combining a warm and a cold color can give nice results.Another type is the strong and easy color combination. Some colors are very aggressive and powerful while others are very easy and relaxed. Strong colors grab a lot of attention even if they are used in small amounts. Red is the best example of this. It is such a powerful color that even a small spot in an environment can be dominating. Info P095: TCOS Carnyx – Personal work – Owned by Spellborn NV – Modified version to fit the example In this picture the one thing that stands out the most is the red light. Red is incredibly aggressive and thus should be used with caution since it can make the player forget everything else in the scene. That might not be the desired effect.Other aggressive colors are orange and then yellow. Easy colors are the colors that invoke comfort and calm. They rest the eyes. Easy colors are blue, green, and purple.The last type of color combination is the light and dark one. Is the color closer to white or closer to black? The simplest way of checking if a color is light or dark is to think what would happen if it was converted to grayscale. Think of what a copy machine would do to it. Red is a dark color. It becomes almost black when converted to grayscale. The same is true for blue and purple. On the other hand green, and especially yellow, are bright colors.Choosing the right color is not just a random choice. The better the choice the better the contrast will be and therefore the better it will look. Two cold colors should not be chosen as the main light colors, for example. One is better off combining different types of colors together like a warm orange with a cold blue.The best combination of colors to use in lighting is yellow with blue and all the variations on it (for example orange-blue and yellow-turquoise).Yellow is a bright, aggressive, and warm color while blue is a dark, easy, and cold color. It is the only combination that manages to use the opposites of all three types, which is also the reason why it is used in so many games. The yellow also is subtle enough to not draw all the attention to itself like red would. And next to all that it is also the most natural combination. More on that later.To complicate things more, there is one element which can make the effects of each of these different types stronger of weaker and that is saturation. White is a special color that feels neither cold nor warm, aggressive or easy. Apart from being a bright color, it is very neutral so lowering the saturation of a color can neutralize the effects a little and that can be useful. In order to achieve a balanced look it's necessary to find the right saturation for the colors. If all the colors are one hundred percent saturated the result would probably be a very harsh look with very strong colors. Info P096: UT level DM Sion – Personal work – Owned by myself and textures by Epic Games – Modified version to fit the example While creating contrast, unity should not be forgotten. In the example above the contrast is way too harsh resulting in an ugly, unbalanced, and unrealistic situation. It is the balance between the two that forms the key to success. I usually pick colors that are only fifty percent saturated but whatever works for the particular situation is good.Slightly desaturating your main colors is, in most cases, the way to go although there are always exceptions. For example, colors like red will turn pink when desaturated. There are also a couple of light sources that always need very saturated light; fire for example.The amount of saturation something has can greatly alter its look or feel. A very white blue feels colder than a very saturated blue. This is important when one is after a cold feel.And that brings us to another very important point: theme. As mentioned before colors are not randomly chosen. 'Because it looks nice' should never be the sole argument about why color X is being used. The color combination should not only fit together but it should also enhance the theme and atmosphere. For example, if the theme is an ice environment, then lots of warm colors, like orange, shouldn't be used. Info P097: Example – Personal work – Owned by Spellborn NV The first example is bad, the second one is good as it feels colder. A cold environment needs cold colors; blue for example.People associate colors with feelings. The whiter the color is the cleaner or colder the area will appear while darkness is experienced as scary or depressing. When I design a new level I always ask myself the question 'What color do people associate with the theme I have in mind?' If I design a lava environment it's very clear I will need a lot of red and orange lighting.After I have my first main color I always try to find the second main color. The second main color has to create a contrast yet look nice in combination with the first color. When my theme involves lots of water or a sea my first main color will be blue and my second color yellow. A dawn environment asks for yellow or perhaps even a deep orange as the first main color and blue as the second main color. Humid environmentsfeel better with some green and so on.As mentioned in other chapters it is about clichés. People need to quickly recognize something and they can do that through clichés.Sunlight is perhaps the best example of how radiosity and contrasting colors work and how the atmosphere affects the color. Unless it is noon, direct sunlight is always slightly colored. Think of what color the sun has in the evening or at dawn. It will appear as orange or yellow most of the times. Indirect sunlight has a color as well. It is usually a blue/slightly purple color. Info P098: Examples – Personal work – Owned by myself In these evening beach photos the color of the sun and ambient lighting is readily apparent. The direct sunlight is orange while the ambient light is blue. White lighting is, in almost all situations, unrealistic; just as coloring an entire outdoor area with the same color is. In most situations there should always be two colors around. One for the direct sunlight, which is likely a type of yellow, and one for the indirect sunlight, which is usually a type of blue. Not only is this realistic but it will also look much better.Texturing and lightingTexturing can make or break your lighting. Textures are the base for the lighting. The texturing of the world carries a large responsibility. While I already explained this theory in the texture chapter I would like to give a few common mistakes extra focus.If a texture is too dark it cannot be lit well. The same goes for overly bright or white textures. They will look very bright when lit. Info P099: Examples – Personal work – Owned by myself A solution could be to up or downscale the intensity of the lights but that is not the best way to go. In the end the fault lies in the texturing and not in the lighting so it is the texturing that has to be fixed. Fix the cause, not the result.Changing the light intensity will also cause trouble if the level uses a combination of dark and bright textures (a snow level with dark buildings for example). Downscaling the light intensity would make the darker textures appear even darker and if one were to upscale it the bright textures would look way too bright. Therefore the textures used in an environment should be balanced and have roughly the same level of brightness!The same is true for colors in textures. The colors used in textures can influence the look and feel of the lighting and they will. It is essential to foresee which lighting colors to use while texturing the level. If the textures in an area are, for example, very orange and yellow it might end up weird when they are later lit with blue lighting. Info P100: Examples – Personal work – Owned by myself If the design is to light the environment with many blue lights for whatever reason, then, during texturing, it should be ensured that the textures are desaturated enough or have roughly the same color as most of the lighting.The point is that the texture choice can heavily influence the lighting. Textures and materials are the base for lighting, and if the texturing isn't in harmony with the lighting, then one of the two is going to suffer. All elements in a world are connected and influence each other.Article Source: https://www.moddb.com/tutorials/lighting-in-game-environments-the-hows-and-whys*This article is posted in its entirety with permission from the authorFollow Sjoerd De JongWebsite: http://www.hourences.com/Portfolio: http://www.hourences.com/portfolio/Twitter: https://twitter.com/HourencesYoutube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Hourences/feed
  14. Table Of Contents: I. Introduction A. Purpose B. Audience C. Thanks II. Getting Started A. Links 1. Articles 2. Forums B. Decision Time C. Drawing Up a Layout D. Testing Time III. Layout Design Theory A. Purpose B. Definitions 1. Tournament Mode 2. Device #1 - Levels 3. Device #2 - Items C. Fundamentals 1. Verticality 2. Balance 3. Flow 4. Connectivity 5. Scale D. Layout Types 1. Single Atrium 2. Duel Atrium 3. Tri Atrium E. Examples 1. HUB3AEROQ3 2. CPM1A 3. PRO-Q3DM6 IV. Item Placement A. Purpose B. Weapons 1. Shotgun 2. Grenade Launcher 3. Rocket Launcher 4. Lightning Gun 5. Railgun 6. Plasma Gun 7. BFG C. Ammo D. Health E. Armor/MH 1. Placement 2. Sets F. Other 1. Powerups/Holdables 2. Shards/+5h's V. Level Design Considerations A. Purpose B. Architecture C. Clipping D. Aesthetic E. Lighting F. Performance VI. Other Considerations A. Trickjumps 1. Creation 2. Types B. In-Game Sounds C. World Dangers 1. Lava/Slime 2. Void 3. Traps D. Spawnpoints 1. Amount 2. Location E. Vertical Transport 1. Teleporters 2. Jumppad 3. Elevators 4. Stairs I. IntroductionA. Purpose This guide will attempt to clarify the seemingly mysterious methods, rules, and design techniques one should take into account when attempting to create a competitive level. Specifically, the guide will focus on the aspects of mapping for the Challenge ProMode mod for Quake III Arena. I know, you're probably wondering why you would need this guide when you've already got all those other great articles around. But this particular guide will be a sort of culmination of previous knowledge–taking in all past information and conglomerating it into one single comprehensive article. Hopefully this will make it much easier for the beginning mapper to create quality competitive maps without having to take ages to learn all the aspects of creating them. The guide is to be used as a sort of reference book. Although reading it one time through is okay, it is best to treat it as if it were a kind of manual. You don't usually read manuals straight through, but instead keep them handy for looking up various things at different times. B. Audience This guide is for anyone who has ever thought about, is presently considering, or is thinking about creating a serious playing tourney map for Quake3. While not a guarantee, the guide will set you in the right step forward to get your maps play time on actual servers. Even if you are just wanting to create a fun non-competitive tourney map, the guide will still be of use. C. Thanks Before I get started I would just like to thank all of the guys over at the Promode Forums for putting up with all the testing of my maps and for actually showing me most of this stuff. II. Getting StartedA. Links First of all, there are already some very informative articles out there which have a great deal of useful information in them. Much of what this guide says is simply shadowing what some of these articles have already said. 1. Articles: - TwoAM's Level Design article (Link Not Available) - DM4 Discussion (Link Not Available) - Lunaran's Design Theory (Link Not Available) - Gameplay is King (Link Not Available) - HowTo: Level Design (Link Not Available) - Spawnpoint article (Link Not Available) 2. Forums: - Promode Forums (Link Not Available) - CPMA.ORG.UK Forums (Link Not Available) - XSReality (Link Not Available)B. Decision Time Before you even start your map, you should decide exactly what you are wanting to do with the map. This is A Good Thing(tm) to do for any map you do, not just tourney. So you need to decide if you really want to do a competitive tourney map, or if you'd rather just do a "fun" tourney map. What's the difference? Well, the biggest visible difference occurs in the layout/item placement area. But there are also hidden differences one can only see during the design/creation stage. This is because the mind set that you need for one type of map verses the other is completely different. So in doing a "serious" tourney map, the whole design process is going to be different from a "fun" tourney map. You will have to constantly test the map with players who know what they are doing, and you will also have to make every decision based on how it will affect the gameplay of your map. "Fun" tourney maps, on the other hand, usually will have a decent layout, but on average, will not have enough depth or complexity to quench the thirsts of the more serious players. These type of maps will also usually focus as much attention on the looks part of it as the gameplay part of the map.C. Drawing Up a Layout So now that you have correctly chosen the path of the Enlightened (making a competitive tourney map of course!), you will need to design a layout for the map. This step is the single most important part to the map, so much care and thought is needed in the process of the design stage One thing to caution in designing your layout is careless randomness. Although starting out with a "kewl room" and "going with the flow" to create your level might seem like the right thing to do at the time, in the long run it will most likely cripple your map. This is because, unless you're an expert at this stuff, making rooms as you go results in a layout which usually doesn't work very well and lacks the depth and strategy needed in a tourney map. Instead, you should intelligently come up with a design either on paper or in your head. You don't need to necessarily come up with every little detail of the level, but at least get a rough layout of the map going. In the alpha and beta stages you will most likely end up making many small changes to the layout so you don't need to be worrying too much about the first few layout attempts Here is an example of a rough sketch I did for my level wvwq3dm3: [See Pt. III of this guide for more details on designing your layout.] D. Testing Time This next part is also quite crucial to the design of your map. Once you get that killer layout drawn out, churn out a simple little alpha map for some players to get a hold of. In this first alpha map, you want to get all of that basic layout that you thought/drew out and apply it to 3D brush form. Don't worry about any texturing, detailing, or lighting in this first version. You just want to get the basic "skeleton" worked out. This includes one of the hardest parts for many mappers–getting the scale right. So the main purpose of these earlier map testing projects is for getting a feel of what works and what doesn't. To do this, you'll probably want to enlist the help of a clan or some players from one of the forums I have linked above. If the general consensus of the testers is that the map's layout doesn't have what it takes, suck it in and scrap the map. After all, that's why you're doing an alpha–to see if the layout works. Often, even if the layout isn't all that great to start with, enough changes to it in the early stages of design can improve the gameplay drastically. A sample shot from the alpha of my level wvwq3dm6: III. Layout Design Theory A. Purpose This section is going to attempt to go into detail on some of the design theory behind creating good layouts. I will first make some simple definitions in an attempt to give the mapper a clear view on what exactly it is that he is mapping for. I will then go into more detail, describing the different aspects of a good layout. However, this section will not try to give you a quick "easy-as-1-2-3" way to making great maps. Instead, when you understand the basic fundamentals, you will be able to apply what you know to an actual map. Just remember that experience is the best teacher though. You can know all the fundamentals in the world, but experience will still take you that extra step and make it that much easier to create your maps.B. Definitions1. Tournament Mode [also called: tourney, 1-on-1, DM, match play] A type of play, specifically in the FPS genre of games, in which two and only two players oppose one another with the single goal of "scoring" more "points" than their opponent. They must do this by killing their opponent more often than they themselves are killed. a. Basic: In its simplest form, players would "float" in an empty 2D space with absolutely no interferences or boundaries. Also, players would be completely balanced in that there would be only one single method (weapon) to "score" on their opponent by. One hit would kill, and there would be nothing to pick up. Players would reappear after being scored upon exactly as they were before. b. Complex: Quake 3 has added many things to complicate this process though, and in this case, complicating things is a good thing to do. Roaming around an empty space with no items would get awfully boring after about three seconds. There are two main "devices" which Quake3 utilizes to create a fun and strategic experience for Tourney Mode–3D Levels and Items.2. Device #1 - Levels The function of the level is to create a continually interesting playing field for the players. Without any items at all, a level already presents several new strategies for the players. All of these strategies in and of themselves give the players sufficient reason to traverse the level, if only to gain the tactical edge. a. Higher Ground: Players on higher ground (a higher ledge or floor) have several advantages over the lower player. (1) Higher weapon utility - weapons "work" better because your line of sight opens up more and because you may use the floor as a backstop for any splash damage weapons. (2) More freedom of movement - Players at higher levels have more choices since they can simply drop down to any lower level they wish. (3) Cover - Players may take cover more easily by using the floor/walkway that their feet are on as cover simply by moving back out of sight from the player below. b. Multiple Routes: Players can now make intelligent decisions as to which routes they will and will not take. This allow for much more strategy since it will make the players have to predict which route their opponent has taken at any given moment. It also allows for new gameplay opportunities such as ambushes and route cut-offs. c. Cover: Level architecture provides important coverage of players so they are not in the line-of-sight of their enemies all the time. d. Distinct Geographic Features: Levels provide players with useful information as to where they are in location to their opponent and to the rest of the level. This allows the player to create a mental map of the level in his head.3. Device #2 - Items a. Control: This is one of the most important functions/aspects of an item set. Players must now relocate from their starting position to the locations of different important items in order to gain an upper hand on his opponent. He may do so either by gaining a better weapon, gaining more life (in the form of health or armor), or a combination of the two. With this, the idea of control is introduced. Players must now find the best way to be able to gain all the items needed to gain the upper hand while still fighting off his opponent. b. Higher Ground: As stated in the Level category, weapons further the desire of players to attain a higher position than their adversaries. This is due in part to the increased line of sight, therefore making their weapons more effective. It is also due to the way splash damage weapons work. Since they explode on contact with any surface, it is naturally easier to hit someone from above since the radius of possibly damaging them is greatly increased with the induction of the floor. c. Ceiling Splash Damage: Splash damage weapons also introduce the possibility for ceiling splash damage. This is often a way for the mapper to give as much or more power to the lower level players. The mapper must make sure to have the upper floor ceilings low enough for this to be effective if he wishes to implement this strategy. d. Sound Cues: Due to Quake 3 having assigned sounds with the pickup of items, players can now predict where their opponents are based on the sounds of items they hear. This leads to all sorts of new strategies for players to take advantage of. They now have reason to bypass a certain item due to it possibly giving away their position.C. Fundamentals1. Verticality As you probably remember from the definitions section, this is one of the aspects that a level may introduce to increase the playability and strategy of the map. The intelligent mapper must take advantage of the 3D space allotted to him by creating multiple tiers/levels to further the gameplay of his map. With proper verticality, the gameplay will be greatly diversified and interesting. So how do you create good verticality in your map? (as opposed to bad verticality) Well, besides the obvious point of adding more levels to it, there are also specific ways you can create interesting play. Here is one way: In the first design, the mapper has foolishly decided to put all three levels directly on top of each other. (Silly mapper!) Thus, the only possibly way of adding visible connections between the levels will have to be through the use of holes made in the floor. The second picture shows a better way to layout your tiers. In this method, the mapper offsets the different levels so players can have much more contact with players on other levels than their own. 2. Balance [Lunaran's explanation] A perfectly balanced map would ultimately be pretty boring to play. See the link above for a very good explanation of what too much balance can do for a map.On the other hand, a completely unbalanced map can also make for boring play in that the first player to gain control will keep control easily. The ideal is a map in which there is enough unbalance to make it interesting yet not so much as to make it overwhelmingly controllable. DM4 is one of the more unbalanced maps you will find, yet it is also one of the most popular precisely for that reason. - Symmetry - Please, do not make your levels completely symmetric. This effectively halves the gameplay of the level since there is now only half of the level which is unique. The only reason q3tourney2 can get away with being symmetrical is because it has an asymmetric item placement. Even then, q3tourney2's gameplay is severely limited because of its symmetry. 3. Flow [Lunaran's explanation] Generally, a map needs to have a circular flow on the macro level. Not necessarily resembling a circle, but a flow in which the player doesn't have to turnaround and do a 180 all the time but instead can just run around the map in loops. Flow is very closely related to the layout of a map, so you'll want to see that section for more info. - Dead Ends - Generally, dead ends are a very, very bad thing. They abrupt the flow and slow down the gameplay. But every so often the mapper can in fact use a dead end to house an important item. DM4's MH deadend is probably the best example of this. The player has to risk being trapped in the deadend in order to gain an upper hand on his opponent by gaining the MH. 4. Connectivity [Lunaran's explanation] This is a word often used to describe a well-playing level. People often say "That level has good connectivity." The word actually describes how well players areallowed to flow throughout the map from one section to another. The more paths/openings a level has, the more connective it will probably be. It is always good to have a somewhat high connectivity because this gives the player options on where to go, resulting in increased strategy. Just be careful not to make too many passages from one area to another, otherwise it turns into Swiss Cheese and loses the effectiveness of the layout. Achieving proper connectivity often can be a difficult thing to do for many mappers. Often maps suffer from what I call "room-hall-room" syndrome. This iswhere the player can easily tell one section of a map from another due to there being strict and distinct passages from one area to another, thus creating poor choke-points and bad gameplay. Instead, the mapper should attempt to create a continuously flowing map where rooms flow into other rooms. Maybe an illustration will help: As you can see, the first pic is simply a room connected to another via a simple stairway. Not only does this create a very bad choke point, but it also creates bad connectivity. The second pic shows another possible way, which would provide much more connectivity. There are now 3 possible routes from the lower level to the upper level. One route via jumppad takes you to an even higher level (3), the second route uses a teleporter, and the third route use the stairs method. 5. Scale This aspect of the layout is often one of the hardest to nail down for many mappers. One must strike a balance between too large/open and too small/tight. Onething that helps is to look at some other good maps and get a feel for the scale used in them. You could even use the -bsp2map function of bspc to create a pseudo test map to check out the maps scale and quantify it. For example, with my map wvwq3dm5, I de-compiled CPM1A since I was wanting my map to be similar to it in scale. I then measured the distances between different floors, measured the width of walkways, and measured the distance of various jumps.Also, another important thing which the mapper needs to get right is the "chunkiness" of the architecture. Paper thin walls don't do well for gameplay or for aesthetics. Here are some specs to help you out (none of these are "official", just what I have observed): - Walkways - CPM1,3 type = 128 units wide. 192 units is also common, and if you're doing major hallways/walkways you will need even larger. - Distance between Levels/Floors - Average seems to be about 256 units. - Atrium Size - 1024 units for smaller/tighter maps - Wall Thickness - 64 units D. Layout Types Over the years, there have been a number of basic layout types that have worked. Just by looking at the major successful 1v1 maps you can already start tocategorize them into various groups. Here are some of the most common layouts that have worked: Note: These are just here for guidance. Don't think for a minute that you HAVE to follow these layouts. Feel free to experiment and find what is best. 1. Single Atrium [hub3aeroq3, q2dm1, q1dm4, cpm7] This type of layout consists of only one main area with smaller sub-areas usually surrounding the main atrium. Since there is only one atrium, there's often fouror more separate levels to the map. Flow usually ends up being somewhat circular on the outside of the main area with players inextricably pouring into the middle for the main fights. Play is usually very fast with mid-ranged hide-and-seek type play from multiple levels in the main atrium. On the "outside loop" the play usually results in quick up close and personal skirmishes. Item placement usually consists of the armors on opposite sides of the outer loop, and a major item such as Mega Health in the central atrium. 2. Duel Atrium [cpm1a, cpm3, hub3tourney1 (cpm12), ik3dm2] The seemingly undisputed champion of recent Quake 3 maps. This layout consists of two separate atriums (large rooms) which are connected "at the hip" There are usually at least three distinct tiers (levels) to each atrium with hallways/passages winding all about the two atriums going from tier to tier via stairways, jumppads, or teleporters. As far as item placement goes, you'll often find an RL and an armor of some kind in each atrium. This item placement works here because the pair of RL's and pair of armors correspond to the 2 players who are dueling in the map. Duel-Atrium style often results in there being a player in each atrium for half the time, and then the other half of the time will be brief medium distance fighting. It also can create "armor running" in which a player traverses from one atrium to the other to grab both armors and remain in control of the map. A duel-atrium map will usually result in a figure-8 style of flow, therefore keeping players on the go all the time. 3. Tri Atrium [ospdm4 (mrcq3t6), pro-q3dm6] This layout often leads to the most strategic and complex, albeit slower games. Although the gameplay can't really be compared to that of the duel-atrium style,one could still say its basically a duel-atrium map with a third room tacked on. This third atrium may be either larger or smaller than the other two. Since there is a bigger footprint with this style, there are often only two or three floors at any one point in the level. Players will now not see each other quite as often as in other styles of layouts, and when they do, it will more likely be at longer distances. Item placement can be similar to the duel-atrium style with an armor in the two equal sized atriums. The third atrium, depending on its size will usually serve as either the main fighting forum, or as a regrouping area for down players. E. Examples One of the best ways to develop a layout is to look at current map layouts that work. This section will specifically analyze three different maps, one from eachof the categories above. 1. HUB3AEROQ3 [single atrium] This map's layout, originally developed by Preacher, is probably one of the best examples of the fast play a single-atrium map induces. The map has a total of 4 floors for players to traverse on. As you can see in the following illustration, the lowest section/floor is in the center of the map. It then gradually increases inheight as the players make a complete circle around the center atrium. The 2 teleporters in the center bottom create good opportunity for the player to get to both the mid and top levels. This results in players being seen only sporadically in the central atrium at different ledges and also jumping down into the teleporters and vanishing from the wide open. The teleporter on the left hand side however, is the key one. The area surrounding the GA teleporter is often subject to a number of heated battles due to the fact that the teleporter takes you from the bottom of the map to the top very quickly. Not only that, but it also give the player quick access to the railgun up top. As far as item placement goes, the second pic shows how the red and yellow armors have been places separate at opposite ends of the outer loop. Also, the Megahealth's placement in the middle creates many interesting fights in which players can come from any number of areas and angles by simply dropping down. Lastly, the Green Armor area, with its important teleporter, functions as a regrouping area for down or newly respawned players. - Here is a key control point for the up player. The area in red represents where the player can be to have access to all of these areas. The blue lines representtop level routes and Lines Of Sight (LOS) which the players have immediate access to. The green lines represent drop down routes and LOS's which the playeralso has access to. Not only does the player have access to all of these, but he also can guard the important RG teleporter, and more importantly the MH area. One disadvantage of this area is that the player can't directly defend the RA area, therefore leaving his opponent open to grab the RA. 2. CPM1A [duel atrium] One of the most popular CPM maps ever, and my personal favorite, this map sports a nifty duel-atrium style which works very well. Three major floors make up the map (although you can't see that from the pic below). What you can see, however, is the general flow of the map. The two atriums are connected diagonally with the hallways wrapping around in between. The single set of reciprocal teleporters are very important to the map due to the fact that players can venture from the bottom to the top very quickly. This results in many great fights because the top level players who are in the hallway section can keep track of both teleporters at once, therefore maintaining control. But if the up player decides to get either Yellow Armor, he has to give up his position of control for a moment, therefore allowing the down player to regain control. There are also the 2 jumppads that are shown in the pic which allow for vertical mobility. These are not used as often, but may allow players to sneak up on their opponents or launch surprise attacks. In the second pic, you can see how the author has decided to separate the armors at opposite ends of the map, in separate atriums, and at separate levels. This makes it harder to run the armors for the up player, but instead makes the player have to work for it. - This next pic shows one of the key control areas to the map. The red area is where the player will often be. Here, he will have access to the YA to the left, and the 2 25h's behind him. On the upper level, the player has 3 options to take. These are again represented by the blue lines. The green lines once again represent the LOS areas which the player may keep track of their opponents. With the railgun, this upper player is in one of the best positions due to the multiple routes and multiple LOS's he has access to. Not to mention the teleporter LOS. Probably the only big disadvantage to this position is the difficulty it is getting out of it. The player has to either turn around and go down the dangerous hallway with their opponent potentially waiting for them, or he has to jump into the wide open atrium to get to any of the other areas (blue & green lines). This leaves him open to any kind of attacks that his opponent might launch on him. - This final pic shows another key control area for the player. Once again there are 3 good upper level escape routes/LOS's (blue lines) and 3 good lower levelescape routes/LOS's (green lines). The player also has a LOS's to the full set of reciprocal teleporters, meaning he can fully control them, therefore keeping the player on the bottom level better. For items, the player has access to the mid-level YA and either 50h. But to do this, he must make the dangerous wide open jump across, opening himself up to attacks once again. 3. PRO-Q3DM6 [Tri Atrium] This map, being the favorite id map of many players for competitive play, is one of the few tri-atrium tourney maps that work. Even though the q3dm6 layout is very large and spread out, the map shrinks immensely when learned and due to the speeds which players can get to in the map. The pic below shows the relative sizes of the 3 atriums. As you can see, the middle one is the largest and the two outside ones are slightly smaller and elongated. The flow is very circular, taking the players from one atrium to the next in sequence. Most passages eventually lead to the center however, therefore creating the most action in this central atrium. With the addition of the bottom-to-top level jumppad in the center and also the MH, this makes for some very interesting action. Due to the extreme verticality in the center of the map, many long range hide-and=seek fights occur with the railgun/rocket launcher. In the side atriums however, fights usually will be more horizontal with long LOS's therefore once again making the railgun an important asset. This is why the railgun has been intelligently placed at the end of a somewhat dangerous pathway. Players must either travel along the pathway, or make a dangerous jump from the RL platform. In the second pic below (the gray one), you'll notice that the armors have been placed for maximum separation between each other. This is to prevent easy armor-running by the up player. The MH's position is much like that of HUB3AEROQ3 in that it has been placed in the bottom middle, making it a dangerous item to grab. - Here is one of the primary control points of the map. When the player is anywhere in the red-zone, he has two top level routes/LOS's (blue lines), two mid-level routes/LOS's (green lines), and 2 bottom level routes/LOS's (yellow line). This allows the player to guard all entry points to the MH, therefore allowing him to grab the MH himself. It also allows the player to escape via any number of routes if in conflict. One disadvantage is the jumppad right ahead of the player. This can allow for his opponent to get right in his face very quickly, possibly allowing his opponent to regain control. IV. Item Placement A. Purpose In the last section, it was mentioned that items are one of the devices used to complicate gameplay. This section will further go into how to place items in your level–when to put something in, when not to, where to put it, etc. There, of course, isn't any set rules for this kind of thing, but there's plenty of useful previous knowledge which may be applied to your current maps.B. Weapons We'll start with the most important items of course! Without weapons, play would get boring extremely fast. With Quake 3, id decided to try and balance the weapons as much as possible. Why you ask? Because if any one weapon completely ruled everything else, players would end up only going for that weapon and once they got it, would be able to easily control the map. (see BFG) And on the opposite end of the spectrum, if any one weapon was weaker than everything else by a large margin (besides your spawn weapon), there would be no point in having it. What unfortunately ended up happening though was that the hitscan (mainly the railgun and machine gun) weapons began to rule play. This resulted in gameplay which relied on pure aiming skill as opposed to the skill of the player as a whole. Since then, Promode has fixed this problem with a number of weapon tweaks to the weapons. So now, in Promode the weapons are balanced a little bit better with the RL, LG, and RG being the "terrific three" of the lot. So where does that leave the mapper? Well, with the weapon set being like it is, the mapper doesn't get many choices. Currently, pretty much 99% of the competitive tourney maps have the following weapons: SG, GL, RL, LG. The RG is also in most maps, but every once in awhile it is excluded. The PG is in every once in awhile it seems, depending on the map. BFG almost never (although that might change with the new CPM changes to it) So there is not really that much question as to WHAT weapons you should put in your map (with the exception of the PG and RG), now just a question of WHERE you should put them.1. Shotgun (SG) a. Utility - The shotgun is a frequently understated weapon which used in the right hands can deal some heavy blows. It is most often useful to the down playerbecause it is a step up from the MG and gives the player something to use until he gets a major weapon. The weapon's effectiveness is directly proportional to the type of map it is–tighter maps mean it is more powerful, larger, more open maps mean it is less effective. Plan accordingly. b. Placement - I've noticed that in most maps the SG is placed in a somewhat well frequented area, yet off to the side and not the center of the attention. Also, if you are wanting the down player to be able to grab it quick, make sure there are a few respawns close by. c. Amount - Usually 1. Sometimes 2 depending on the map. d. Ammo - To give down players even more of an edge, one may include an ammo pack right next to the weapon. Other than that, the SG doesn't usually need all that ammo around the level, if any at all because the players don't often use the SG enough to warrant the need. If you do put ammo in, 1 pack should be enough.2. Grenade Launcher (GL) a. Utility - Another overlooked weapon, the GL can also be useful to the down player. In close combat, a direct ‘nade to the face can cripple a player's opponent. The weapon may also be used in conjunction with other weapons to confuse the player into either stepping onto a grenade or walking into the line of fire of another weapon. Third, grenades can be very useful to block off different areas temporarily or to spam lower levels when you know the player is below. Overall, the GL adds a lot of depth to a level. It provides for more interesting fights (although it can slow down play sometimes), therefore it is almost always good to have a GL in. b. Placement - Two schools of thought on this: Place it high and encourage spamming, or place it low to discourage spamming. Both are actually valid techniques, but it really depends on the map and what the mapper is wanting to do with it. Just know the consequences of the placement ahead of time. c. Amount - Almost always one. d. Ammo - Really doesn't need any usually. However, if it's a rather large level or you are wanting to produce spamming, then include a pack of ammo.3. Rocket Launcher (RL) a. Utility - Ah, the mighty Rocket Launcher! With Promode's changes to its velocity and damage, it is now the major weapon to have. Its vast possibilities for use is one of the reasons why it is so popular. Players can use it in close battles to bounce their opponents around, mid-range battles by predicting where their opponent is going to be and usually hitting them with splash damage via walls or ceilings, and long range to protect certain doorways or spam various areas. It also, of course, allows the player much more vertical mobility with the rocket jump. b. Placement - Most often, the RL will end up being not only a highly used weapon, but also a spamming weapon. Because of this, it is usually good to place any RL's in the map in the more frequented areas. Place them in central locations making the player expose himself to get it. If you decide to have two RL's in your map (which is usually a good idea) you will most likely want to spread them apart in opposite atriums and likely on different floors. c. Amount - 1 or 2. It seems as if more and more maps are sporting 2 RL's as this allows for more rocket spamming and lets each player grab an RL, making it a somewhat standard weapon when dueling. d. Ammo - If you are wanting to encourage spamming, you'll want a few ammo packs in your map also. With 2 RL's, not as many packs are needed, but it might work to put an ammo pack next to one of the RL's (CPM1A does this). This makes the one RL more important to control than the other. Overall, 2 or 3 ammo packs is usually good for the RL.4. Lightning Gun (LG) a. Utility - Provides excellent short to mid-range offensive capabilities. Due to its fast (somewhat) hitscan nature, it is often used in combos or to finish off the opponent. The weapon is usually the most effective in smaller single or duel atrium style maps where long range battles don't come into play as much. b. Placement - From what I've noticed on maps, the weapon is usually placed in a "sub-area" or side room off the main area. This area is frequented every so often, although not continually. So why does this type of location usually work for the LG? I think its because the LG is more of a specialized weapon, and something that needs to be sought after to get. Its usually in a side area because this creates just enough danger (but not too much danger) to allow the players to grab the weapon, yet still make for interesting battles over it. c. Amount - Definitely only 1 is needed. d. Ammo - Usually, the mapper wants to make the ammo somewhat scarce in order to limit the weapon somewhat. Sometimes there is an ammo pack a hop, skip, and a step away to allow the player a little more long lasting flavor with the weapon. Only do this if you don't think the LG is powerful enough as is, and needs a bit of extra ammo to keep up with the other weapons. Otherwise, just place 2 or 3 ammo packs around the map in order to make the player have to move around to stay loaded.5. Railgun (RG) a. Utility - Covers the long-range combat aspect quite well. Also may be used in combos to finish off enemies. Acts as a great spawn-raper in Promode unfortunately (or fortunately depending on who you are) Can be over-powering in more open maps, so its inclusion is not always a good idea. b. Placement - By default, the RG is a very dangerous weapon. Therefore it needs to be in a somewhat dangerous location. Either place it in the open, making players have to expose themselves, or place it in a dangerous area like a small dead-end or 2-door area. For example, CPM1A's RG placement is perfect because it makes the player very susceptible to an attack from his opponent, and initially renders the weapon not as effective since it is on the lowest level. Careful when thinking about putting it at a top level, as this might encourage unneeded sniping. c. Amount - If you do decide to include the railgun, never include more than one. d. Ammo - Almost always none. Every once in awhile 1 pack which is dangerous to grab.6. Plasma Gun (PG) a. Utility - This weapon does decent to good in every area of combat (short to long range), yet it doesn't excel in any. This may be the reason why it is often left out–another weapon can do its job. At close range, the PG can eat away at a players health faster than any other weapon. At medium to long range, the weapon usually serves as more of a defensive weapon through the use of spam. It also is the anti-railgun as it can confuse the player with the RG when his opponent is shooting a bunch of projectiles at him. b. Placement - May usually be placed in a similar manner to the LG. Often it serves as more of a down player weapon, so it may also be placed in an easy to get spot, yet out of the way. c. Amount - No more than 1 if any. d. Ammo - Usually only 1 or 2 packs. If you are wanting more spamming with the PG, for example if the RG is becoming too dominant, give the player more ammo.7. BFG The BFG has no place in the serious tourney map, especially the vQ3 one. It reduces all strategy into a simple "Whoever has the BFG wins" type play. Recently, the Promode mod has made some big changes to the way the BFG works. With these changes, the BFG now acts as a slightly faster, slightly more powerful RL. While with these changes, a level might actually work now with the BFG, I would still have to say to leave it out. It's a bit late in the ballgame to be adding a "new" weapon to the weapon set, and I seriously doubt players would accept the map for tournaments or in leagues because of the BFG–no matter how well it works in the map.C. Ammo I know, I've already gone over this in the weapons section. But here are just a few general rules to follow: - Don't place ammo by its respective weapon. Instead, you should place the ammo a little ways away to make the players traverse the map more. - 3 ammo packs for any single weapon should be the limit. More often than not, 1 or 2 ammo packs will be plenty. - It is usually a good idea to group different types of ammo into groups of 2 or more. This focuses on one area instead of 2 to remember, which makes for both simpler gameplay and better reason to visit the one single area.D. Health Not usually a huge issue in item placement, yet health placement still has some certain guidelines to follow: - 150-250h is usually the range of health per level (not including +5h's) Larger levels require a bit more usually. Also, the amount greatly depends on whether you want players to have access to more health and less armor, or vice versa. For example, CPM1A gives the players a total of 225h which is quite a lot for such a small level. This shifts the focus over to the armors more though. - If there is a Megahealth in the level, less health is needed. - Put health into different types of groups to diversify gameplay. Usually, you'll want to limit it to just a few main areas in the level to group health in. Don't spread the health out too evenly, otherwise gameplay will dull since players will be picking up health every where they go. Place the larger groups of health in more dangerous and fought over areas, and place smaller amounts of health in "down" areas. Just don't make it a kamikaze run for the down player to heal up. - 2x25h vs. 50h - With a 50h in there, players can deny their opponents health easier. With 2x25h, if the player has >75h, he can only take one of the 25h's, therefore leaving the other one for his opponent. Therefore, if in testing, the up player is denying the down player health too often by picking up the 50h's, change them to 25h's.E. Armor/MH Armor is one of the most important items to control in a level, so much care is needed in adding armor to your level. The armor you choose and its placement in the level can dramatically affect your level's gameplay: such as the importance of different areas, the paths players will take, and the balance and controllability of the map.1. Placement A few guidelines regarding the placement of armors: - Spread the armor out as much as possible. You don't want players to be able to run the armors too easily. - The danger in grabbing an armor should match its respective armor. Meaning the RA should be more dangerous to get than the YA and the YA should be more dangerous to get than the GA (Green Armor). Note: "dangerous" doesn't necessarily include world dangers like lava or the void. The danger can also be in relation to the other player. For example, if an armor is out in the open on a bottom floor, the player must expose himself to possible attacks from a number of angles. - There should be interesting architecture and sufficient verticality surrounding most armor locations. This is because the area of the armors will most likely be fought in the most, so the players need different angles and levels to attack from. - One thing that has been successful in the past is to put an armor (specifically the RA) in an easily camp-able/defendable spot such as the RA+MH in Q1DM2. What this will do is give the down player a chance to control the armor even with limited weaponry due to the chokepoints going to the armor. If done right, this results in some very interesting fights for control of the major armor. Note that the rule above about interesting space should be more important than ever if you are to use this method. - The GA often serves as an armor for the down player, so place it accordingly. Often the GA will be placed in a regrouping area out of the way. - Treat the MH as a kind of armor. It usually has slightly higher precedence than the YA, but not quite as high as the RA.2. Sets There are quite a few combinations of armors one can have in a level. Here are a few of them (Taken from Pure Imaginary's post in this thread - Link Not Available😞 a. 2 YA (MH) - Often ends up in players armor running the map all the time. Usually more fast-paced but often results in an unbalanced map when one player is able to run the armors. An MH is useful in making for better games since it gives for the down player a chance to get back up. b. 1 RA, 1 YA (MH) - Similar to the 2 YA system. The map usually must support this set by being unbalanced in relation to the RA and YA. No third armor makes it hard for the down player to get back up if both the RA and YA have been taken. The addition of the MH makes play more interesting since it will often up RA vs. MH+YA. c. 1 RA, 2 YA (MH) - Better player will often end up with RA + YA by running armors. If the map can somehow allow for RA vs. 2 YA fights, it will be better. An MH will further mix up things, making the inevitable armor runs not as effective. d. 1 RA, 1 YA, 1 GA (MH) - Balances out the map more because the down player can grab the GA+YA against the up RA player, therefore making the RA weaker. With the MH thrown in, the down player can now attack the RA player and possibly gain the advantage. e. 1 YA, X GA (MH) - With 1 GA, this system becomes similar to the 1 RA, 1 YA system except the MH will become more important. With 2 GA's, it is similar to the 1 RA, 2 YA system, except once again armor isn't as important as health.F. Other1. Powerups/Holdables These items (quad, enviro, regen, invis, haste, flight, medkit, and personal tele) absolutely have NO place in a competitive tourney map. Why you ask? Powerups don't belong in a level because they are all based on a certain amount of time that they are effective. Because of this, whenever a player has a powerup, his opponent simply can run and hide until the powerup is gone, therefore slowing up the game immensely. The medkit isn't good because its annoying to have your opponent use it right as you're about to kill him. The Personal Teleporter isn't good because it makes the game too gimmicky–you'd never know if your opponent is about to disappear. 2. Shards/+5h's These items are often overlooked and just randomly placed in areas, but they can actually serve some quite useful purposes. - They provide important sound cues as to where the opponent is. Because of this, it is always good to put shards/+5h's in varying numbered groups. If the mapper does this, a player can know where his opponent is based on whether he hears 3 shards or 4 shards being picked up. Groups almost always range from 2-5 shards/+5h's. - Shards/+5h's can also make certain areas more powerful than others. The classic example is q3tourney2 in which the 10 shards in the main room make that room much more valuable to control (as far as armor goes) than the other YA room. - Important to the down player. A down player in CPM can pick up a single shard after he respawns and therefore be alive even after a RG hit. V. Level Design ConsiderationsA. Purpose This section will focus on the other aspects of level design besides gameplay. These aspects, however unrelated they may seem to be, will still be directly or indirectly related to the gameplay of the map.B. Architecture This topic is often misunderstood by many mappers. Many mappers love the kind of architecture that makes the map more "pretty" while the players want the kind of architecture that makes the map more interesting to play in. Often times, mappers have the false idea that players want completely empty rooms with "padded walls" when in fact the opposite is true. Now, when I say architecture, I'm talking about any brushwork that the player can interact with or move around which will result in more interesting play. Well placed architecture can provide players with a number of things such as cover, higher ground, lines-of-sight, and trickjumps. Here are some ideas to help you when doing architecture:Cover - A simple pole or obstruction in the middle of the room (such as in q3tourney2) can make an area a whole lot more fun to play in. Players hide and seek around the obstruction taking quick shots at one another. Castle-wall type structures (also could be bars in a window) also provide an interesting dynamic to the gameplay of a map. As players walk by, they are exposed every so often because they are not behind a structure. Higher Ground - Simple deviance in elevations can greatly change the way an area plays. A few stairs here and there to change the height of one area over another make for better fights in general. Just be careful not to make your floors too "bumpy", otherwise players will get annoyed at not being able to aim correctly. - NOTE - One thing to watch out for when doing your level is low overhangs such as doorways. Its not usually good to be speeding through the level only to run your head into a doorway that's 16 units too low.Lines-of-Sight - Fully detailed levels can provide for more interesting play if they can give the players better angles in which to attack from. For example, an L-shaped hallway with completely flat walls will not be as fun as if the hallway's halls were riveted and the corners were rounded off a bit .If this were to happen, when players are at opposite ends of the L-shaped hallway, the architecture would allow them to fight better by shooting through the rivets or bouncing grenades off the angled walls. Here is a pic in case you didn't catch what I was saying: The top drawing shows the flat-walled cornered hallway. The only option the players have is move forward into sight in order to fight their opponents. The second drawing however, shows the more detailed walled, angled cornered hallway. The green represents the "riveting" in the wall which can be shot through at certain angles/heights. Players now have more angles to shoot their opponents from without giving away cover, and also may bounce grenades off the angled walls or use splash damage more effectively. Trickjumps - One of the best things that the mapper can unknowingly do when adding architecture is to give the players more options by trickjumping. More will be said about this later on in the guide, but for now, know that well placed architecture will inevitably spawn trickjumps. For example, any small changes in height such as stairs will automatically allow the players to double-jump off them (in CPM of course!). Any ramped brushes such as trims will also allow the players to reach areas they couldn't before hand. For this reason, adding ramped trims to the sides of stairways can often be a way to introduce more trickjumps. C. Clipping Closely related to architecture, clipping is often overused in levels. Its really not all to hard to know when to clip. Here is the key thing to remember: The clipping of a level should match the visual This means that if it looks like a player should be able to get caught on a light fixture, don't clip it off! If it looks like a player can get up on top of a roof, don't block it off! So when do you use clip brushes? - Clip bumpy floors to smooth them out. Players never like it when they can't aim due to being constantly jumbled around while running along. - Use angled clips to smooth out certain details jutting out from walls. Just be careful not to use it too extensively. D. Aesthetic Just a few notes about the aesthetics of a map. First of all, many mappers have a misconception that players care nothing for the aesthetics of a map when in fact they do. They like a good looking map just as much as the rest of us. But the crucial difference is that they care for the gameplay of that map a lot more than its looks. Also, when developing the aesthetic of the map, make sure to test it out in different configs to make sure it works. For example, a higher picmip setting on some textures could potentially wash out any distinguishing features–therefore making it harder for the player to navigate the level. Another thing that aesthetic is good for is to mark different areas of a map. Things such as weapons, items, different rooms, and floors can be marked with distinguishing textures to allow the players to navigate the level better. So don't feel confined to doing the same old plain gothic aesthetic. Feel free to make your map good looking and well playing at the same time. Just be sure that the aesthetic never hurts the playability or performance of the map. E. Lighting Lighting is closely related to the aesthetic of a map. The brightness of the lighting in a map has been discussed between mappers and players frequently in the past. Mappers argue that they want their maps to have moody atmospheres, and players just want to be able to see their opponents. Lighting however, really shouldn't be that big of an issue. In a standard competitive player config, pretty much any map will be bright enough, and if it isn't, you are doing something terribly wrong. So just develop the map to look good in lightmap mode, and every once in awhile, check it in a player's config to make sure it looks okay in vertex mode. As long as the lighting has no affect on the gameplay, feel free to do whatever you want with it to make it look good in lightmap. Once players start complaining about dark areas in the map, you better get it lit. F. Performance Here is another touchy issue for the mapper. There is that magical ratio between performance and looks that every mapper must attain with his map. For the competitive tourney mapper, he must always be watching out for poor performance throughout his map. So how do you know where to stop adding detail and start optimizing? The best way is to have the map tested on a number of different systems in order to see if there are any slowdown areas. Many mappers rely on the r_speeds tool, but this doesn't take into account a number of other performance hogs such as fill rate and overdraw. For this reason, checking the framerate in conjunction with checking the r_speeds is the best method for you yourself to test the map. Things to watch out for: - shaders with multiple stages can greatly increase the amount of fill on the screen. - texture use: check \imagelist and make sure your texel count isn't too high. What's too high? Compare with other maps. - overdraw will result in extra tris and pixels being drawn. Hint/build properly. - as a general guide, r_speeds usually need to stay below 7 or 8k - in major areas that will see a lot of action (not that kind of action...), watch out for slow downs with both players in there spamming each other. - speaking of spam (mmm... spam), if you decide to have the PG in the level, watch out for slow downs with that weapon - often overlooked, if you are wanting the level to play well with bots, make sure to simplify the map with botclips as much as possible. Also, if you can, try to clusterportal the map. This will relieve the CPU a bit and will hopefully make the map play better with bots. VI. Other Considerations A. Trickjumps While it isn't necessarily required for a level to have trick jumps, they do add certain extra dimensions to the level. Trick jumps allow skilled players to be rewarded (in the form of an item or strategic advantage) taking jumps or risks they normally wouldn't. Trick jumps also add to the "cool factor" of playing a map and watching a demo of the map.1. Creation This is one main question about trick jumps that needs to be answered however. Do you, the mapper, knowingly add trick jumps to your map, or do you allow the players to find the jumps themselves? It seems as if everybody has a different opinion about this (as demonstrated in THIS thread - Link Not Available). On the one hand, players like to discover trick jumps on their own. Obvious trick jumps that look like the mapper put them in are never as good as the player found trick jumps. But on the other hand, its extremely difficult for the mapper not to know about the trick jumps in his map. Unless of course, he's a bad Q3 player. So this still leaves us with the question of what to do about trick jumps. I personally think the best way to go is to make the map in such a way that there will be trick jumps that are somewhat obvious (although not forced) and then there will be trickjumps which will be brought up to the surface as the map gets played more. This is one of the many marks of a great tourney map. If the map has been built right (plenty of architecture, not "padded-walls"), trick jumps should show up. 2. Types Promode has introduced a number of new possibilities as far as trick jumps go. If you're not an avid player of Promode, yet still want to map for it (is this possible? ) then you'll want to know the trick jumps available. There are a number of articles written which explain the Promode physics and the new trick jumps associated with it. If you really want to get in depth about trick jumps, you'll want to read these: - Promode Movement: Art Meets Science (promode.org) - Link Not Available - Promode Movement (cpma.org.uk) - Link Not Available Here are the basic trick jumps (for explanations on how to do them, see links above) you'll need to be aware of: a. Circle Strafe Jump - Allows players to jump very far distances such as gaps. This can allow for players to take shortcuts or to surprise their opponents. CPM1A's jump from upper YA to opposite path is a good example of this jump in which players can exit quickly after grabbing the YA. b. Double Jump - Allows players to jump greater heights using any varied height surfaces like stairs. A good example would be on CPM3–going from the lava walkway up to the RL using a double jump. Also, since a double jump is due to the player jumping consecutive times in under 400ms, very low ceilings can allow the player to double jump. (e.g - q3dm14tmp) c. Ramp Jump - This jump is another addition of Promode. When players jump off of a ramp, if the ramp is sloping up they will gain vertical speed and if the ramp is sloping down they will gain horizontal speed. The steeper the angle the more effect it has on the movement (up to 45 degrees at least) This presents a number of possibilities to the map. d. Double Ramp Jump - A combination of the double jump and the ramp jump, this trick jump can launch players in many circumstances. It was used extensively on CPM4 with ramped lights, allowing players to get to higher levels quickly. e. Tele Jump - This is essentially a double jump going through a teleporter. The jump allows the player to gain speed quickly after teleporting, or to get to different areas of the map quicker .For example, on CPM1A and CPM3 players can reach areas otherwise impossible to get from that location. In order to allow tele-jumps, make sure the teleporter destination is on the ground and not floating in midair. Also make sure there is nothing in the way for the player to bump their head on when jumping out. f. Framerate based jumps - DO NOT include framerate based jumps in your map. Most often, these come in the form of the 64-unit jump like the one in q3dm13 to the MH. Pmove_fixed has partly fixed this problem, but its still not a good idea.B. In-Game Sounds Adding target_speakers to the level to generate ambient sounds is not usually a good idea. It will only serve to hinder the gameplay, so its best to leave them out. Players need to concentrate on their opponents and the sounds associated with them picking up items–not on world noises. C. World Dangers In the right situation, the addition of world dangers can further the gameplay of a certain part of a map. World dangers include lava, slime, void, and traps. Often if the mapper decides to include a world danger, he should place it around an important item like MH or RA.1. Lava/Slime Probably the only world danger the mapper should use. Not every level should have this, and when it is used it should be used sparingly. Proper placement will result in making an area of a map more dangerous than others because the player has to risk falling in and hurting himself. Two consideration go along with this. The mapper has to decide how much the lava/slime will hurt the player, and he has to decide how hard to make it to get out of the danger. The dangerousness of the area will of course increase depending on how much hard it is to get out of the lava/slime. 2. Void Probably shouldn't be used. Players get annoyed when they are in the lead, are full of ammo and weapons, and stacked up on armor–and then fall into the void. 3. Traps Unless you can conceive an ingenious trap which will further the gameplay of the map, its probably not a good idea to add any kind of traps. This usually will lend to slow gimmicky gameplay.D. Spawn Points First of all, read over Hoony's spawn points article here (Link Not Available). It explains everything quite well, and the inherent problems associated with the current spawn point system. Besides that article, there aren't really any concrete rules on placing spawn points. So I'm just going to describe some of the effects that may result from doing the spawn points a certain way.1. Amount No, there is not a magical number of spawn points you should put in your map. Just know that fewer spawn points (lets say under 😎 will often result in more spawn-raping. But then again, more spawn points could make it more likely for the down player to spawn directly in front of his up opponent therefore giving him a free kill. Note that spawn-raping isn't always necessarily a bad thing. That is one of the things that made dm4 such a great level–the frag runs that could be had by the experienced player. So if it's a type of level where you want more spawn-raping to occur, than lower the spawn point count. 2. Location Once again, it comes down to what you are wanting in your level. If most of the level is open and railgun spawn-raping is a problem, it might be a good idea to put more spawns in untraveled, unexposed areas. Generally you will want to place most spawns in less traveled areas anyway. Also, make sure to keep them near walls and out of major pathways–otherwise you might get unwanted spawn frags.One other thing you can do is place spawn points on major items such as armors or the MH. This works effectively in maps such as CPM1A and CPM3 because it gives the down player a better chance at survival if he happens to spawn directly on an armor/MH.E. Vertical Transport1. Teleporters Teleporters are probably the best mode of vertical transport when going a somewhat good distance. In recent Q3 maps, it seems as if mappers have almost been afraid to use them, instead focusing more on jumppads. Teleporters are good however, because they keep the flow going better than jump pads. This is because jump pads create stop-and-go type play. Some of the best tourney levels have a number of teleporters, for example dm4 had 5, and aerowalk had 4. Two problems you should be aware of appear when putting a bunch of teleporters in your map. First of all, players can get confused as to which teleporter takes them to which area, thus steepening the learning curve of the map. Not really all that big of a problem since you're not designing the maps for newbies, right? The second problem that arises with the addition of teleporters is the possibility of telefrags. This problem occurs most frequently when the map has reciprocal teleporters. So does that mean you shouldn't include 2-way teleporters? That really depends on the map. CPM3 contains a good implementation of a 2-way teleporter set in that the teleport destination is off set from that actual teleporter by a strafe jump. Some players think telefragging completely ruins a map, while others think it adds strategy to the area. So if, in testing the map, the players complain about telefragging, you might want to reconsider your teleporter system. 2. Jumppads Jumppads are a relatively new addition to tourney maps which Q3 introduced. If you do decide to use jumppads in your level, you must be very cautious as to how you place them. First of all, as mentioned earlier, jumppads often create a stop-and-go type flow, which ends up slowing down the map. Secondly, jumppads can render the player useless and open to any rails that his opponent can get in. With those issues in mind, here are some general rules to abide by when placing jumppads: a. Flight Cover - Unless you're purposely wanting to make a jumppad dangerous to use, you'll want to make sure the jumppad has some kind of cover from enemy line-of-sight. Not necessarily the whole flight, but at least part of the flight. See CPM1A for an example. b. Height - Know when you should be using jumppads as opposed to some other form of movement. If the player just needs to go up a half a level or so, stairs are usually a better mode of transportation. If the player needs to go from the bottom level to the top level, a teleporter might serve better.3. Elevators These kind of got left in the dust after Q2 when Q3 added jumppads. One of the things that was holding them back from being used more extensively in Q3 maps was the borked up sound associated with them. Luckily, arQon has fixed this in his recent CPMA build. Now mappers can associate any sound he wishes with the elevators. So what are elevators good for? They are somewhat multipurpose in that they can serve as vertical transporters for relatively small height changes or multilevel height changes. They also add strategy to the level for two reason. First, players can now hear where their opponent is going depending on what elevators their opponents take. Secondly, players can deny their opponent vertical transport rights by sitting on elevators or guarding elevators. Because of this, make sure that it doesn't hurt the gameplay if a player does do this. Just make sure you tweak the speed of the elevators to fit the gameplay. Nobody likes going up an elevator for what seems like an eternity. Q2DM1's main atrium elevator is a great example of what a lift can add in terms of gameplay. Many an intense fight has occurred on that elevator due to a down player running away from his opponent by trying to get to the top of the map. Another good example is the lift in the recent Q3 map FFDM2. This lift is the single vertical transporter in the room, making it a heated point of battle. A player from below may hear his opponent go up the lift and rocket-jump up to meet him with a shotgun blast to the face. 4. Stairs Ah, the old standby–stairs. Stairs should probably be the most used vertical transport, especially for small height changes. Stairs keep everybody moving and don't hinder gameplay at all. They also can provide for more possibilities for player movement such as trick jumps and so on. Some guidelines: a. Stair-Height - Long flights of stairs usually disrupt the gameplay of a map. Stairs work better for shorter height distances. Replace with a different mode of transport if need be. b. Step-Height - Q3's maps pioneered the 8-unit step height. Recent tourney maps seem to have gone with larger step heights such as 12 or 16 units. Once you do go with a certain step-height, try to maintain some consistency with that step-height throughout the level. Also, remember that higher steps make it easier for players to double-jump off of them. c. Trim - The mapper has the option of adding trim to the stairways of his map. In doing this, he can potentially create a number of new trick jumps in the map, so be aware of that. Source: http://polyculture.co/polyculture/cdg/ Follow JoelWebsite:http://polyculture.co/polyculture/ Twitter:https://twitter.com/mcdjoel 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
  15. In part one of this short series on lighting from Steve Theodore, we learned about colored lighting and how to use it to impact your audience. As part of that article, Star Wars was used as a bit of a case study. This week we're not talking about Star Wars, but we are going to talk about the dark side...of lighting. Today we talk about contrast. Let's start off with an observation on the relationship between color and contrast: Now we know that contrast can ruin the mood we set out to create through our use of colored light. Can it have the opposite impact? Can it enhance the mood? The answer to this is an emphatic 'YES'! Here are Steve's thoughts on how contrast can complement color in creating the desired mood: These ratios don't need to be (and in most cases shouldn't be) strictly followed, but they can be good guidelines to start with. Experiment to see how adjusting this ratio can impact the feelings that are evoked. Finally, we get to the problem of outdoor lighting, which Steve has quite a lot to say about. So how can we work within this limited range of shades, and still create outdoor settings that look realistic? The answer is...drum roll...contrast. Next, we get to the issue of how textures are impacted by lighting: Though this recap should provide a fair sense of what the article is about, we've skipped over a decent amount of the information. I recommend reading the original article, which can be found here. Source: https://gamasutra.com/view/news/196583/Lighting_design_fundamentals_using_contrast_in_your_game.php
  16. "An article describing my opinion that art and emotions are an important factor in level design compared to common design“ Index • Introduction • "Small Tale“ • What is Art/Design ? • When is the time to bring art in design ? • Show your own emotions • Creating emotions for the player • Color-itself-contrast: • Bright-dark-contrast: • Cold-warm-contrast: • Simultaneous contrast: • Quantity contrast: • Quality contrast: • Architecture and composition • Imported art • Mistakes which you could do • Final wordsIntroduction First I have to say that this article is based on my own experiences and opinions. I simply want to define another way to see levels in general. Before I wrote this article I talked with a lot of people - level designers and artists who have never touched a computer mouse, like my last art teacher in school. I was in an advanced art course in school and of course - like every normal art student in school - I hated theory and history of art. In the end I think it helped me to understand my own work at the computer in another, better or more interesting way. Of course there are plenty of intolerant people out there who would never like the thinking of some designer geeks who perceive levels as art, but I don‘t care about it, especially if I think back in history. Like you already noticed, I‘m writing this article in a very personal way simply because art and emotions are in my opinion something very personal and I hope even more people think about it in a similar way after reading this article. Sorry for the article being a bit long, but I take the subject matter serious. But I always try to lighten the text with some humor, pictures, small stories and examples.Small Tale Before I really start, I have to tell you a small tale about my school time, where/why I really started to think about art and level design. Every student in a Bavarian/German secondary school has to do in his 13th year of school a major work on his own. I was able to choose between a project in math and one in arts, and you can bet that the decision was definitely an easy one. Of course I decided to do the work in art. I asked my teacher whether I could do something with the Q3A engine, but of course he had absolutely no clue about computers. After some long discussions and presentations we found something he would accept: "A virtual museum of the 20. century“. He didn't accept my NS:CO maps because in his opinion I don‘t solve any kind of creative problems there and simple design is not suitable for this kind of work - no, the intolerant bastard wasn't able to understand anything. Then I spent more than 3 months working on the problem of how I can translate common 2D art in 3D rooms. Actually, the whole work was pretty boring and very dry, but while I was building the virtual museum levels - with all the knowledge about art theory in my head - I started to think about the possibility of influencing old school art in modern level design. The more I thought about it I was sure that it had already happened. At the end I got 12 out of 15 points on my work. I didn't get more because I had to add hallways to improve the performance, and my teacher simply said: "If you are not able to make a real museum, you did the wrong work or the technology is not ready for such an experiment!“. Then he told me something about 'Render' or 'CAD' , but it looked like he had already forgotten that you should be able to walk through the museum in real time with a normal PC - no, I never liked my teacher. What is Art/Design? Now we have to clear "what is art?“ in general. I just show you what I found in an internet dictionary (http://dict.tu-chemnitz.de/) :Art:n 1: the products of human creativity; works of art collectively; "an art exhibition“; "a fine collection of art“ [syn: {fine art}] 2: the creation of beautiful or significant things; "a good example of modern art“: "I was never any good at art“ [syn: artistic creation, artistic production] 3: a superior skill that you can learn by study and practice and observation; "the art of conversation“; "it‘s quite an art“ [syn: artistry, prowess] 4: photographs or other visual representations in a printed publication; "the publisher was responsible for all the artwork in the book“ [syn: artwork, graphics, {nontextual matter}] If you read this you might think that making a map definitely matches this description, simply because it‘s creative or because it‘s beautiful. Believe me - this would be too simple, especially because it‘s called level design. Now on the other hand we have to take a look on the word "design“ (http://dict.tu-chemnitz.de/) : Design:n 1: the act of working out the form of something (as by making a sketch or outline or plan); "he contributed to the design of a new instrument“ [syn: designing] 2: an arrangement scheme; "the awkward design of the keyboard made operation difficult“; "it was an excellent design for living“; "a plan for seating guests“ [syn: plan] 3: something intended as a guide for making something else; "a blueprint for a house“; "a pattern for a skirt“ [syn: blueprint, pattern] 4: a decorative or artistic work; "the coach had a design on the doors“ [syn: pattern, figure] 5: an anticipated outcome that is intended or that guides your planned actions; "his intent was to provide a new translation“; "good intentions are not enough“; "it was created with the conscious aim of answering immediate needs“; "he made no secret of his designs“ [syn: purpose, intent, intention, aim] 6: a preliminary sketch indicating the plan for something; "the design of a building“ 7: the creation of something in the mind [syn: invention, innovation, excogitation, conception] v 1: make or work out a plan for; devise; "They contrived to murder their boss“; "design a new sales strategy“; "plan an attack“ [syn: plan, project, contrive] 2: design something for a specific role or purpose or effect; "This room is not designed for work“ 3: create the design for; create or execute in an artistic or highly skilled manner; "Chanel designed the famous suit“ 4: make a design of; plan out in systematic, often graphic form; "design a better mousetrap“; "plan the new wing of the museum“ [syn: plan] 5: create designs; "Dupont designs for the house of Chanel“ 6: conceive or fashion in the mind; invent; "She designed a good excuse for not attending classes that day“ 7: intend or have as a purpose; "She designed to go far in the world of business“ As you can see, it‘s not really easy to say "level design“ is pure ART or pure DESIGN and that‘s definitely not the intention of this article! In my opinion something is only really creative - and then art, based on the above definition - if it‘s based on emotions, if it creates emotions or is in a way more or less ingenious or original. It doesn't have to be political, force the viewer to think about something, be based on exceptionally great skills, etc. Sometimes when the artist wants to show the viewer an intention of his, he submerges it in the background, and this creates the feelings or emotions that he wants to project into the art product. On the other hand there is e.g. Dadaism: "a nihilistic art movement (especially in painting) that flourished in Europe early in the 20th century; based on irrationality and negation of the accepted laws of beauty“ (http://dict.tu-chemnitz.de/). One artist just turned around a urinal, put it on a table and then it was real art for a few days. I don‘t expect that anyone really understands this, but in some way it was freaky and ingenious - he was simply the first one. If we want to be serious, common level design is definitely more design than art, but in my following text I try to give you impressions and ideas on how to change this a little bit - otherwise it will become boring or cheap. As a level designer you should always have the wish that your work will become something more interesting, not just a bunch of bits where some kids play slaughterhouse.When is the time to bring art in design? After we clarified the different terms we should think about how we can add more art and emotions to our levels. One important factor is simply to give a specific scope for development. It is absolutely impossible to be creative in any way if someone else designates in detail what you have to do. Another death for art is if you have to do an exact copy from a photo or another game/etc. Of course a mapper has to work with sketches on paper, but that is only the second step in developing a level.The first approach should be always an impression, a picture or movie which influences you, or a freaky gameplay idea. The first part should be completely in your imagination before you note down your thought. On the paper you can place your ideas and integrate them in a well-designed gameplay. My sketches never go in detail - I always create a gameplay then I am painting a raw map with exact proportions. I need it to build the first basic model of the map in the editor. Within these rough blocks I slowly increase the number of details, lighting, textures, sound, etc... but you have to roll back to your first thoughts again and process them in your already designed environment. This progress is exactly the right time to use your creative freedom as mentioned above.Show your own emotions There are two main possibilities in dealing with emotions in art. First we start to project your own feelings down in the map. This sounds more complicated than it is. It is a very subjective and personal way to design and you shouldn't be absolutely disappointed because other players don‘t notice that while you filled the room with furniture and wallpaper your favorite Britney Spears CD has broken. Okay, I think now you know what I mean and now back to the topic. You have to find a way how you can impress your feelings in the current part of the level. The easiest way is to work with colors. Just imagine that you are a small child. In your right hand you have a lot of pencils and in the other hand you have a coloring book version of your map, which is only printed with sharp black lines. Now it should be your job to shade the picture with the colors which are most suitable to show the full facet of your current feelings. Remember to use contrasts and different colors as well, otherwise the player might think you felt damn bored when you built the level. After this small return to your childhood you can open your eyes again and choose the textures which best match your vision. Hey, closing the eyes and thinking back shouldn't be a stupid or cheap drug experience - sometimes it really helps if you think something is wrong with how the level feels or you are missing something specific but you don‘t know what. But of course colors are not everything, and one of my personal favorite methods is lighting. With interesting shadow play you can not only energize a boring looking scene without wasting a lot of polygons but you can simulate your feelings as well. Whether your emotions are confused, depressed, or out of control, it doesn't matter, you can always project them in your levels with a little bit of fantasy. If you are choosing the lighting it shouldn't be important if you are in a bad or good mood, because normally you already represent that with the choice of colors. But it is still important that lighting and textures fit together. I am not sure if architecture or gameplay can be a mirror of your current mood, but if it is possible at all it would only happen in the subconscious. On the other hand this might explain why my levels are always big and complex ;-þ. Ditto for details and sound in my opinion. They have less to do with your current feelings, because they are something which you normally place deliberately. But they play an important role if you want to create emotional feelings for the player. I already did some minor or funny experiments - while building ns_junglecomplex I only heard hardcore music. Of course now I cannot say if I would have built the level in another way or style with e.g. church music. Personally I can only say that the whole level is more rough than previous levels, which were built with blues or jazz. Yes, music can influence your emotions and thus your level to a certain degree. Creating emotions for the player The second method used to deal with emotions in art is to influence the player directly with intentional sentiment. An easy word for this process would be "atmosphere“. This might sound a little bit provoking, because atmosphere should be an essential point for every mapper. I learned that "standard“ level designer talk about atmosphere consists of 90% about "gloomy atmosphere“ and the remaining 10% about "happy“, but that is normally only an excuse for boring shadows. I already talked about colors in the section above, but there your own emotions should show you the right ones. Now we start to talk how to influence players with colors. This is very easy and doesn't need a long explanation. I guess everyone learned in school something about this e.g. red = hot/love, blue = cold/endless, green = relaxing/hope. Other colors transport other meanings, too, like e.g. white = sterile/clean, yellow = danger/warning. But not only the color itself can be a tool for you, don‘t forget e.g. temperature or quality. A whitish red has definitely another expression than a strong red, and a table with a pallid wood textures looks cheap compared with a robust one. I‘ll talk about this in more detail below. In my opinion contrasts are very important! Definitely the most common one is black vs. white. The bright parts always have something safe/friendly as opposed to the black parts which everyone always handles with a little bit of care because they are dangerous/sinister. But although everyone uses it and is proud of his "gloomy atmosphere“, we should try some other contrasts and check the whole common list:Color-itself-contrast: e.g. yellow vs. red, yellow vs. blue, red vs. blue. Working with the three basic colors is the easiest contrast and the most powerfull method to make objects distinguishable from each other (excpet with shaders of course). Personaly I use it rarely, never with intent and I have no real good picture of it.Bright-dark-contrast: This is an optical primary contrast. The easiest way to work with this contrast is with light. Between white and black is the whole optical world, all colors and the complete greyscale. It is one of the main methods to create a 3D effect. I guess every mapper knows that his level looks extremely strange/boring if he forgot to compile the light. Sometimes you can increase this effect to highlight something or you can enliven a scene without wasting a lot of polygons. Cold-warm-contrast: This is very subjective and relative, e.g. a reddish orange vs. a greenish blue. I guess a player would have a strange feeling in an orange meat locker or inside a blue furnace. Another easy contrast. Cold-warm-contrast: If you mix two colors and the result is grey they are complementary. e.g. yellow vs. violet, blue vs. orange, red vs. green. The simultaneous contrast is an optical complementary contrast. If you look at something which is intensely blue and then you close your eyes, you see the opposing color, orange. I really like this uncommon contrast because in my opinion it enlivens and freshens the scene even more than some other contrasts. Quantity contrast: This has less to do with the colors itself but with the balances among them. If a specific color dominates a scene then evey other single color is in contrast with it. e.g. a red ski suit inside a big white avalanche. This is of course another good method to highlight something. Quality contrast: You can get very different results if you mix a color with grey. The color loses its intensity/quality and is now in contrast to its original one. Perhaps it might be an interesting contrast but personally I never really used it with intent. These are the main contrasts of colors which you can create with textures or lightning. But colors aren't the only things in a level which create atmosphere or influence the player. Let‘s talk about the contrast of form. The appearance of a level is normally very blocky because of the grid of your level editor. Creating curves is one way to avoid that problem, and another one is to use map objects (imported models from another 3d model editor e.g. 3D-MAX or Milkshape). Both of them delight/soothe the eyes of the players and can make your level very stylish. On the other hand, sometimes a mapper simply doesn't want an elegant feeling, he want it rough and hard (no I don‘t mean his sexual liking's!). For example you can make a wonderful mansion with a lot of nice looking details, everything smooth and full of curves but as soon as you go down in the cellar, everything becomes coarse. The player would feel the difference at once even if you work without light contrast. Another possibility of highlighting something special is to place a coarse object inside a very curved background. Now you know some different possibilities to enliven your level and to increase the richness of emotions. I can talk for hours about different contrasts e.g. sound, movement, details, etc. but contrast is not everything. Before you try something new you should definitely test some more variations. A single contrast may not be strong enough or has an effect on every player. For example, you have a jungle, night setting with two cottages and you want to place some lights. As soon as you place a single white light you have a bright-dark, quantity contrast in addition to the form contrast of the cottages and the organic plants around them. Now imagine if you would a change in the light to a little bit of red/orange (yes, I said: "a little bit“ !! we don‘t want to create a stupid looking Disney/Chuck-Norris scene) and automatically you have a simultaneous (red - light vs. green - plants) and cold-warm (red - lights vs. dark/blue - sky) contrast. In the eye of the viewer the cottages become now even more friendly, interesting and the surrounding area even more threatening, dangerous. I don‘t want to force you to use contrasts everywhere. Sometimes no or less contrast can create an even better feeling. Especially in realistic outdoor settings you should be more skimpy with your contrasts. Please don‘t start to write down a list of contrasts which you would like to use, while you plan your map! The idea to work with ANY kind of art element should come more or less spontaneously. Simply follow your design sketch and then you should feel that something is missing. You simply have to develop the right feeling/vision.Architecture and composition We talked long enough about contrasts and emotions in our levels, now it is time for some other aspects of art. Now I want to take a look at architecture and composition. Architecture has always been esteemed as art as long as it isn't simply a copy! I am tired of telling other people that they should please use their brain and try to create their own architecture instead of making copies of existing buildings. You should see it as a challenge to be your own architect. Of course it is obvious that in a normal boring part of a city you can‘t start to place extravagant or modern buildings. On the other hand the mansion of a drug lord should not look like a drab building which you would normally use in a harbor setting. In my opinion if you have the chance to be creative you should really take advantage of it! I don‘t know why, but most mansions I see in computer games are in a neo-antique style. Especially some original European styles are very interesting as is modern art architecture. All of them could have amazing gameplay elements and would be something fresh for the player‘s eye. The architecture of your houses should always fit in the current environment. A blocky style definitely doesn't fit into an old district or old city. The blocky style only fits in industrial or harbor settings or if this part of the town is relatively new. Such a blocky town planning always reminds me about America and is normally totally different compared with what you find in older European cities. Town planning only plays a minor role in the history of art but you can find it in baroque parks. In my opinion gameplay and performance should be more important than a well-designed part of a town. Okay, I know that normally every editor uses a 90° degree grid and it is not very easy to work against it. Composition might play an important role for paintings but it is very hard to use it in level design. If you want to work with it you simply need some basic knowledge about theoretical art. As a small memory aid I copied what I found in my favorite/lifesaving internet dictionary for you (http://dict.tu-chemnitz.de/😞 Composition:n 1: a mixture of ingredients 2: the way in which someone or something is composed [syn: constitution, makeup] 3: the spatial property resulting from the arrangement of parts in relation to each other and to the whole; "harmonious composition is essential in a serious work of art“ [syn: composing] 4: a musical work that has been created; "the composition is written in four movements“ [syn: musical composition, opus, piece, piece of music] 5: musical creation [syn: composing] 6: the act of creating written works; "writing was a form of therapy for him“; "it was a matter of disputed authorship“ [syn: writing, authorship, penning] 7: art and technique of printing with movable type [syn: typography] 8: an essay (especially one written as an assignment); "he got an A on his composition“ [syn: paper, report, theme] 9: something that is created by arranging several things to form a unified whole; "he envied the composition of their faculty“ For level design we should take a look at point number three: "harmonious composition is essential in a serious work of art“. Yes, composition is used to create harmony. Such a harmony is often desired to create a specific feeling. If you have a scene which is strongly dominated by horizontal and vertical lines it would totally destroy the strict, still, organized harmony if you add something organic/angular/aquiline. On the other hand you can strongly influence a chaos/natural arrangement if you place something very blocky within it. It might destroy the harmony but on the other hand it is of course an eye-catcher. Players normally need things which stick out for orientation and navigation. You should simply give it a try. Normally I automatically include composition if I plan a town or develop special architecture. For me it is simply another element for adding harmony or disharmony.Imported art Okay, we have been working the whole time on how to improve your level but why not make it even more simple? Why not simply import art in your level e.g. as a texture or model? Do you really need a lot of skill/thinking to include a model or texture into a level? No, even Garfield the cat can implement this. Of course I am doing this too, but definitely not to improve the art level in my map! In one of my last NS:CO level (ns_beachhouse) I included pictures which were simply holiday images from fans. I asked them to send me some pictures. Imported art can be used to invigorate your level but it has definitely nothing to do with the topic of my current article. We want to improve the quality of level design, not to present your modelling/2D skills or the abilities of other artists. That doesn't mean that artistic models or textures couldn't really help your level! I was just talking about single models and textures which have less to do with the surrounding artistic/atmospheric environment.Mistakes which you could do Art within level design for me is only another interesting aspect. It might be wrong to give art a very important role in your map. Gameplay, performance and quality is definitely still more important than anything else. In my opinion it would be wrong to say this level is bad because e.g. he follows no aspects of art or the designer chose the wrong contrasts. On the other hand it might be incorrect to compare the art you know from museums or school with the art I am talking about here. It is nonsense to say something like: "Hey, Ben ns_junglecomplex has the similar feelings like many pictures from Vincent van Gogh, which I saw in Paris.“ Personally I have no problem with such compliments but they could be a little bit too freaky… Yes, it is true that art can be extremely boring for most young people - I am young, too - but it is wrong to forget everything we know about art, especially if you are doing a creative process like level design! Keep everything simple, otherwise even the more experienced people would never notice some details. It shouldn't be very common in your level. A museum with a hundreds of old pictures in every small room will definitely flash you the first time - the time of flash is different from person to person - but then your eyes/you get sick of it. The same would happen in your level if you have too many different things drawing your attention or you are using the same technique all the time. Try to be diversified and innovative where possible.Final words What a surprise! I was making a small break while I was writing this article and was watching TV. I switched between the channels and there was an interesting documentation about history of computer games and its different influences. There an American professor compared the way the designer of Myth - an old render adventure - worked with textures and light with the work of Rembrandt - a famous Dutch painter of the 17th century. This professor was not the only one who saw parallels between game design and art itself. The reason why I am telling you this is that I have mostly the same point of view and was reinforced by the documentation. Otherwise I am happy that they didn't talk about level design because then I would have to rewrite most parts of the article again ;-). No, I am not one of these freaky art geeks! I just wrote down what I remember from school and what I am still using during the creation of levels. I hate to tell it but it is true that some of the theoretical stuff you learn in school might be helpful in your future. Perhaps you wonder why I wrote this article. Of course I want to bring more new/exacting/fresh elements to level design, and if you are not a level designer perhaps you start to see maps with a new point of view. Perhaps you have some more respect for the people behind your favorite levels and start to think why. But for me creating a level is a very personal process and I wish that even more people felt like that. Every normal level was built out of nothing. The level designer is the only one who brings life into the map and he is the one who gives it a soul. The level is a reflection of the thinking of its creator. He is the person who determines how everything will look. If you would take a look at the map of a designer who is color blind I guess you‘ll see some very funny texture combinations. Perhaps that example is too simple but that is his view. I guess you know what I mean. You have read to the end and you might have learned a lot of general and theoretical knowledge/nonsense. Now it is your turn to think and try to develop your own ideas and styles. The most important thing should be that you start to use your brain. You can be proud of yourself if you create a wonderful looking level but craft skills alone are nothing if there is nothing intellectual behind it. Perhaps you don‘t share this opinion with me, no problem, contentious discussions enliven the community. Thank you for reading, Benjamin Bauer *This article has been published on Next Level Design in its entirety with the authors permissionSource: http://www.benb-design.net/Articles/benb_article01.pdfFollow BenjaminWebsite: http://www.benb-design.net/ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_qb1MnHEV4xaVBpQaigspQ 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
  17. The Importance of Planning I think there are a lot of different and often very good ways to start a level and what you should do depends greatly on the kind of game you want to create something for, your own experience, and so forth. So there’s no ready recipe for that. In general the most important thing is to think things through. Properly sit down and think about what it is you want to make. Especially if you are new to this. I do a lot by the flow, because I base what I do on previous experience and I know it will work out anyway, but if you are new to it – plan everything. Whether you plan by just sitting down somewhere and thinking it through, or by drawing a plan, or by using Lego, it doesn’t matter. Just ensure you think it through in detail. Exactly what are you building? What are the potential problems you might face? What will make this special and unique and can you amplify that further? Sculpting The Landscape The Solus Project I’ve used World Machine for one of the sections in The Solus Project but it didn’t help too much. Our landscapes are too specific and small for World Machine. I do use World Machine to generate distant mountains and landscape elements though. Works very well for that. The way you should build the landscape depends so much on exactly what you build. You should of course always take the player’s camera angle into account. A real time strategy game with an overhead camera would see different things than a first person player of course, but other than that it is a very wide question. I personally start out with nothing more than the landscape and sculpt it until it is about what I had in mind. Then I place the biggest rocks on buildings on top, and continue with sculpting the landscape. These objects give me a better understanding of scale, distance, composition and so forth. Style VS Reality A stylized look can be really cool, I love The Walking Dead for example, but it is not my style. I like keeping it realistic, but at the same time I don’t want to make the real world. There is enough of that around us already, and if you do that you need to do it super well because everyone is going to compare you attempt at realism with what they know of the world. That makes it hard to pull off properly. Going more artistic solves that, and it is more fun also. It gives you a lot more possibilities to create something impressive and memorable. Don’t Confuse the Player I tend to place things carefully. Like a tree that fell down can create a line, a kind of border where it fell, so I will deliberately place these kind of things to create subtle barriers and lines where I need them to guide the players in the right direction. Even if people can just step over said fallen tree, you tend to recognize these kind of lines and borders and change your navigation accordingly. Navigation aside there is also visual composition to keep in mind. You don’t want it cluttered with random elements, so I will place things to create balanced and varied yet not too varied areas. In TSP in particular also tend to place stone blocks in rows, statues, or blue ship debris to highlight certain directions or areas. Look At The Sky The skies in The Solus Project are all built by me from scratch. They are not actual skyboxes, but gigantic 3D skies. The planets you see are a million units across and actual 3D objects that orbit the world. The first Unreal taught me that skies are crucial to the experience, so I have always put a lot of emphasis on making good skies. A sky should be varied, have a sense of scale, drama, and give a clear indication of where the light is coming from. The sun in general is crucial. I see a lot of people simply paint in a bright dot in the sky with a lot of bloom and be done with it, but I spend many days making my sun and it consists of many different layers of flares. The great majority of my sun has nothing to do with Bloom or Lightshafts or such at all, it is all done by hand, and I think people greatly underestimate the work you should invest in making the sun and the sky. Do Light Early On I always do basic light early on, after I placed the majority of most important geometry, just to get a sense of space and feel for it, but after that I will hold off doing lighting until texturing and geometry is nearly entirely finished. You cannot do lighting if you don’t know what kind of colors your textures will have, so that must come first for me. Keeps development streamlined also by doing things in clearly divided steps. Lighting has a major impact on gameplay, for example it can help or confuse the navigation of the player by highlighting or darkening the exit. It can make the player careful if it is dark, or it can make the player feel more stressed if there are for example a lot of blinking red lights, and so forth. Everything is Connected In general everything has an impact on everything. If you build games you should always look at the entire picture and never do one thing independently of another. Optimize Your Scene A lot of students hit a problem with optimization for two reasons. First of all they never really get forced to think about it, because a portfolio piece is almost always small in size, plus doesn’t has to run on a wide range of platforms and devices, so they never get to cover the optimization part of the job. And secondly this is also something that just needs a lot of experience, which you don’t have if you start out. I don’t really care if I can make one particular area look nice, that isn’t very hard to do, what I care about is if I can mass produce similar graphics and art throughout dozens if not hundreds of locations in the entire game, and done in such way that I never have to go back in and optimize it. So when I begin building something, I will immediately take into account everything that could potential slow either me, the player, or the hardware down further down the line and I try to cover as much of it as I can right away. Think about the big picture, and think it through what could all end up being slow, and tackle it all before it is a problem. Guide The Player I tend to create pockets of free space, followed by linear sections and bottlenecks. So you can explore freely in certain areas, but there is only one way out of each of those areas. I ensure the way out is always in a way special, for example the top of a hill, or near a large statue. So you can find it back and feel naturally inclined to go there, yet still have the opportunity to go elsewhere also. If you look at a game like GTA 5 which is pretty much entirely about trying stuff out and doing whatever you feel you want to do, that still has a very streamlined singleplayer experience build in as well I would say. So it is perfectly possible to combine the two, but it depends on the type of game on exactly how you are doing it. Technology Does Not Kill Creativity If the technology becomes better you actually have less need for avoiding creative risk because you don’t have the tech to worry about and you can thus go all out on more creative games. I think that that is actually happening in a portion of the market because powerful and free engines like the Unreal Engine create a new kind of niche market. It attracts small teams who don’t need a multi-million dollar hit game to survive, and thus those teams can focus on more creative experiences. That said, there are of course also a lot of run of the mill kind of games being released, but I don’t think the tech is to blame there. What you we are dealing with in general is a games market that has exploded over the past few years. 10 years ago it was very hard to sell a game without a publisher, nowadays there are a 100 different ways of getting your game out there. That attracts a lot of people, and a lot more games get made because of that. That consequently also means you will have a lot more copycats, simply because there are so many more games and because it is so much easier to step into the market. On top we have seen the mid tier developers disappear over the last couple of years, only to begin bouncing back up now. For a couple of years now we have been left with only some of the largest studios around, and those large studios can’t usually take the risk of doing something too new or creative due to the budgets involved. Budgets that are nowadays a lot higher than they were before, and games made for a market that has a million times more competition then 10-15 years ago. Original Article Location: 80.lv/articles/10-rules-of-building-great-games-and-levels/ *This article is posted in its entirety with permission from the author Follow Hourences Website: www.hourences.com/ Twitter: twitter.com/Hourences