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  1. This is the final part of a 2 part series from Mike Stout on Designing FPS Multiplayer Maps. Missed Part 1? Read it here: https://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/content/articles/designing-fps-multiplayer-maps-part-1-mike-stout-r304/ What is not Fun in Multiplayer? Incredibly long view distances This was covered a bit in the “cover” section, but it is important to break up long views with cover. Failing to do so reduces the importance of skillful close combat and increases the importance of “fire and forget” splash weapons and long distance sniper weapons. It also makes large open areas less useful as good “risk/reward” areas. Linearity The ability for players to choose their own routes, lines, and flows is essential to good multiplayer gameplay. Extreme linearity is a barrier to this and should be avoided except in the case that you want to present a “risk/reward” scenario. Unassailable ambush spots / sniping positions Sniping and ambushing people is a lot of fun. However, being on the receiving end of either of these things is not fun at all – especially if you can’t stop it from happening. To that end, sniper and ambush positions should be carefully placed and balanced. Any unassailable position should either be opened up or removed from a good multiplayer map. Secret areas While secret areas are fun to find in single player, every attempt should be made in a multiplayer game to remove intimate map knowledge as a major determining factor for victory. Secret areas, especially those with very potent powerups or weapons, encourage intimate map knowledge or hiding to the detriment of skillful combat. Creating a Multiplayer Level Determine Requirements Does it need to be symmetrical? Objective-based modes, such as Capture the Flag, are usually well-served by symmetrical maps. It’s very difficult to balance non-symmetrical objective-based maps, but it’s definitely possible. What kind of level is it? Natural, alien, man-made? Is it a city? What kind of assets will you be using to make it? By establishing this early on, before you do your first maps or blockouts, you can get a head start on what basic shapes you’ll want to use to construct your map. While it’s tempting to jump right into construction or mapping, I’ve seen plenty of maps get ruined because not enough thought went into this part of the process. Does it need to support multiple modes or game sizes? In Resistance: Fall of Man, most of our maps were constructed to take advantage of different player counts and game modes. Because we had to balance these maps for so many different variables, we made a lot of choices to ease in the balance process. That’s why most of the resizable maps were symmetrical, for example. Choose your Areas I define an FPS multiplayer level as a connected series of “areas”. A good area is any space which: a) Has a focal point, b) Is a good space for 4-8 players to fight, c) Contains a good amount of terrain choices (like verticality), and d) has at least 2 (preferably 3) entrances / exits. Choose Focal Points When thinking of focal points, you need to think of them in two scopes: Area focal points and Map focal points. Both serve the same twin purposes: 1) To serve as navigational aids and landmarks for the area / map. 2) To provide a gameplay and artistic focus for the area / map. Focal points also tell the players what an area is. “The Lighthouse”, “the base”, “the cave”, or “the docking bay.” Each of these gives you an idea of what it basically is, and what a focal point might be. For example, the docking bay may have a space ship in it that you fight on or around, while the lighthouse is pretty self explanatory. Here’s a number of guidelines that I found useful in constructing maps for Resistance: Every map should strive to have one major focal point that the whole map is based around. The focal points must serve to add visual interest and to drive players towards a goal. Focal points can be gameplay objectives, structures, powerups, etc… The best multiplayer “spaces” are built around a focal point that attracts both visual AND gameplay interest Determine Flow / Connectivity A good first step when starting a Multiplayer design is to create a simple flow diagram. A flow diagram is simply a series of simple shapes representing areas (squares, circles, triangles, etc) with arrows between them which represent connectivity. You may remember me talking about these in a previous article. I called them “Bubble Diagrams.” Pictured above are three examples of simple flow diagrams. Every simple shape represents a different type of area, while the arrows show the flows between them. Keep in mind that these arrows only indicate flow. They don’t necessarily convey any information about number of entrances, exits, or anything else. When thinking about flow, it’s good to consider the following: Global flow (pickup placement) Local flow (focal points, terrain advantages) Think about how to best encourage the player to make good decisions Entrances / exits (every area should have at 2, but preferably 3) Good deathmatch maps connect everywhere to everywhere else Good node / CTF maps strategically block off some connectivity (to make chasing your opponents or defending objectives more possible) Begin Roughing out the Areas Now that you’ve got your flow down, it’s time to start roughing out your areas. This can be done on paper or in 3d, as suits the individual designer. When coming up with gameplay for these areas, it’s good to begin considering the other aspects that make up an area. Most important of all, however, is to add verticality. Verticality is important! Adds visual interest Good re-use of space Fit more gameplay into smaller footprint Gives players interesting choices You’ll also want to start thinking about things like view distances, how good you want your various spaces to be for camping, or what (generally) you want the gameplay to be in those areas. Open Space Vs. Covered Spaces In general large open spaces should be avoided in favor of spaces with lots of cover and/or verticality. The exception is when you want the player to be vulnerable, such as when creating a risk-reward scenario Risk / Reward Scenarios A good way to encourage players to make choices is to place a few “Risk / Reward” setups into your areas. These are any time you want to tempt the player into taking a big risk to obtain some big reward. An example would be a powerful weapon in a vulnerable spot (such as on a small beam, or in a large open area, or near a wall). Other times you can tempt a player with an eventual strategic advantage. For example, you could place two paths leading into a base – one has good cover and excellent spots to attack the defenders. The other has a short patch that is open and easily defended, but leads to some good high ground you can use to further demolish your opponents. A Few Extra Notes CTF Support (Symmetry) CTF and Node modes almost require symmetry to achieve balance. CTF requires that the flag carrier have good places to run, but not to hide Useless Spaces Sometimes you will have places in your map that a good player will never go, since it only gives them a disadvantage. Try to avoid this, whenever possible. If you find, through testing the space, that a part of the map is useless space, try creating a risk/reward scenario there. Put a pickup there or create some other reason why it’s a good place to have. Failing that, block the area off to keep newbies from having enough rope to hang themselves. FPS-Specific Tidbits Avoid extreme changes in terrain grade. Not only do they look too steep to walk up, but they are also pretty hard to see when walking towards them. More gentle grades will often be more obvious. When designing corridor style spaces (Pathways, valleys, streets), determine the minimum amount of space needed for the game play you are intending on before designing these area. If possible, strive to use to already built (to-scale) assets when roughing out a 3D space. This can give you a good idea of whether or not a space you designed is going to be big enough once it has been populated with art assets. Player Map-Knowledge While knowing a map well is a key to attaining vicory, in general it should not be an incredibly important arbiter of who wins or loses. Skill with the core mechanic fills that role. Knowledge of the map as a determining factor of who wins the map is a bad thing when you have: Secret areas – Secret areas allow flag holders to hide in CTF, and reward map knowledge over skill contests. Powerful hidden pickups – Only people who have played the map will know where to get these. In general, place your most powerful weapons in easily accessible places and use them as focal points. Hard-to-find gimmicks – Things like buttons hidden in the level that call in airstrikes make everyone else explode. These can be cool when they’re in an easily accessible area and provoke a gimmick that you have some countermeasure against, but not when hidden or secret. Teleporters (sometimes) – Teleporters in general discourage fair fights, since only those with knowledge of where they go can make good decisions on coming out the other side. Teleporters can be good in some instances, but unless you really have some really good gameplay in mind, there’s usually a better solution *Note: This article is republished in its entirety on Next Level Design with permission from the author. Source: http://www.ongamedesign.net/designing-fps-multiplayer-maps-part-2/ Follow Mike Website: www.ongamedesign.net/ Website: http://www.chaoticstupid.com/ Twitter: twitter.com/MikeDodgerStout Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: http://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/register/ Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NextLevelDesig2 Discuss on Discord: https://t.co/hkxwVml0Dp
  2. 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