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  1. https://www.moddb.com/games/unreal-tournament/addons/goldeneye-grit-complex https://www.moddb.com/games/unreal-tournament/addons/chemical-tank https://www.moddb.com/games/unreal-tournament/addons/mystic-pyramid https://www.moddb.com/games/unreal-tournament/addons/deck16-modern https://www.moddb.com/games/unreal-tournament/addons/deck16-industrial https://www.moddb.com/games/unreal-tournament/addons/nali-arena https://www.mapraider.com/maps/search/legodeck/5932/Legodeck https://www.mapraider.com/maps/search/legocurse/5951/Legocurse https://www.mapraider.com/maps/openarena/domination/5934/Red-Green-Blue Unreal engine 1's BSP is the worst nightmare of all time. No matter what you do, your map is going to suffer from BSP holes and invisible walls. I don't know what math is behind it, but it's full of errors. RGB was an attempt to make a map that is literally the color wheel itself. I never made a map with a blockout first. That's one thing that I have to change. All my maps up to now were following the "I want to make a deathmatch map" philosophy were the only rule is to make something with many paths.
  2. Hello everybody, got another core style map (however I'm really pushing the envelope on that definition) and I have an original layout that is best played ONLY slayer, and is good for 2v2 or FFA up to 8 players. It should also be stated that once again the layout is asymmetrical but all placed items are symmetrical. It will always take players the same amount of time to get to each item from that player's spawn. What is to note is that this map's architecture and visual style is derived from Quake 1, or so at least I tried to replicate that. The map is still playable, however I have only used 900 entities, so the map will still be subject to change as needed without any budget problems. Changes won't be posted until there is a few large changes or a large amount of fixes and tweaks. Being a quake styled map, I wanted to replicate the really W E I R D level design and height, but still have my own layout and have it function well with H5's movement system. Obviously Halo doesn't feature movement mechanics like bunny hopping, strafe jumping, wall running, rocket jumping, stair skating / stair boosting and other techniques, so just straight up remaking a map would most likely not transition over well to halo. What's the map missing? Intro cameras Named locations Some detail (Potentially) objectives Maybe a few more weapons This map's current available arsenal is: 1x Halo CE Magnum, 2 Magazines 4x H2 BR, 2 Magazines each 2x Plasma Pistol, 40% Battery 4x Brute Plasma Rifles, 100% Battery 4x Magnums, 2 Mags each 2x Needlers, 2 Mags each 1x Over Shield 1x Speed Boost 16x Frags 8x Plasma Grenades In terms of the potentially questionable weapon choices, most of these power weapons are spread apart a decent distance, have long respawn times and are only stong in niche areas of the map, since a lot of this map has many sightline breaks and midrange engagements. Precision weaponry will still be the main gameplay loop for this map. In view is the most standard section of the map currently and will probably be updated soonest is the monument overlook. While this map is intended for FFA, this does function as Red spawn in 2v2. Don't really have to much to say for this section as everything about this area currently is in view. Here is the most enclosed section of the middle currently, that being the CE Magnum spawn. Some would say a railgun better fits quake's theme, I say shut up. I've used it on to many maps and I have to change it up at sometime. directly behind is the monument previously spoken about; across this perch is blue's doorway, windows and a door towards the speed boost on the right hand side. a window onto the roof of that building is also on the right side. To the left a doorway on the perch in view and another doorway directly behind the view of the camera that leads into one of the connector halls to over shield. Here is the over shield room and yeah its complicated I know, so complicated that I couldn't find a single area to screenshot the majority of the area at once. In short, both Red and Blue have 4-5 entrance points and I promise it isn't actually that complicated to remember in game I swear. All entrances are clear to players from either side of the entrance, for as little confusion as possible. This section doesn't have to much going for it, but it does have some verticality, and get this, a one way teleporter. Yeah we getting CE up in this bitch. It is also a flank for red during teamplay. Here is the speed boost spawn. Its got a few entrances, a one-way hatch on the roof, several access points onto said roof with a few being less conventional. Not the weakest area in the map currently, but definitely could be spruced up in later versions. Other than that it functions perfectly fine as a play space. This is currently Blue spawn's layout. In terms of unpacking what's on offer, I don't wanna. Look at the picture yourself dummy. And here is the final noteworthy area. This platform bends around 180 degrees into the over shield area, has a gravity lift into blue, a pseudo-sniper tower, a ramp on the right into a T connector on the lower part of the tower and the teleporter exit. So yeah, that's the map currently. I have more maps in progress but I do plan on revisiting this map and seeing if I want to rework anything or decorate the level better. I don't think its perfect by any means but I think its a good start for this version. Like I said I will update this page with any noteworthy changes. As always if you want to playtest, host customs, give criticism or more I'm always down for discussion and game nights so just shoot a text. My GT is Jam on Bagel and have a good one.
  3. a Chunk

    Quake January Jump Jam

    As we roll steadily towards the new year, the Monthly Quake Map Jams roll on as well. JCR has announced the January Jam: You are hereby challenged to making a unique Quake map that takes advantage of the new jump boots items, using Jump Mod progs. Mod and Assets Check out my Triune Discovery + Jumpmod + Devkit which features maps, the mod, a devkit and sources for those maps. Link: http://celephais.net/board/view_thread.php?id=61791 Schedule I’m thinking this can run from now until January 19th 2020. Countdown Timer: https://www.timeanddate.com/countdown/generic?iso=20200119T12&p0=156&font=cursive This should give everyone time to figure out how to best use the jumps. I will whip up a start map, so let me know if you’re in. Email completed maps or any questions to jcr@stronzi.org, or send me a message on Discord @JCR#4142 Join the Quake Mapping Discord to stay up to date on this Jam, see progress from the participants, and get support from the community. Quake Mapping Discord: https://discordapp.com/invite/f5Y99aM Follow dumptruck_ds on YouTube for detailed tutorials on creating levels for Quake. dumptruck_ds YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF502yOYr_olPaw6xgnYmaQ We also have some info on Quake Mapping here on Next Level Design. Trenchbroom Tutorials: https://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/forums/topic/82-trenchbroom-tutorials/ Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: http://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/register/ Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NextLevelDesig2 Discuss on Discord: https://discord.gg/RqEy7rg
  4. Introduction The purpose of this document is to provide guidance and insight for designers who are creating or working on a multiplayer level. I will address such topics as Flow, Item Placement, Initial Design, Architecture, and Testing. Although Capture the Flag and other team games are rarely addressed specifically throughout this document, because they are typically for a minimum of four players (two teams of two), with a higher number more often being the case (e.g. 4 on 4, 6 on 6). That being said, many of these guidelines will apply to those types of games as well. (The major new issue in a cooperative/team game is how the new goals will affect gameplay. For example, if capturing the flag and returning to your base is more important than killing your opponents, then a speed power-up may become more important than a better weapon. For another example, consider a location in the map that might be very difficult to hold in free-for-all play, but would become very easy to control for two teammates.) There are many accepted design principles that apply to level design in general. These will not be discussed in depth in this document, and include such things as: Attention to detail. Use of a consistent theme. Effective use of sound and lighting to convey an atmosphere. Sufficient time on either end of the design curve (i.e. planning and testing). However, there are many aspects of the multiplayer experience that can be handled incorrectly if approached from a single-player point of view. This will often result in the production of lower quality, unbalanced, poorly planned levels that will provide a disappointing multiplayer experience. For emphasis: You cannot reliably design good multiplayer levels from a single player point of view. Since overall level flow and item placement are two of the ways in which multiplayer level design differs most dramatically from single player level design, these two aspects will be mentioned first, then followed by more general design principles. Important: The following design guidelines in this document are general rules. As with all general rules, there are always exceptions and special cases. Sometimes good level designers can ignore some of these guidelines and produce excellent levels... but it's not the way to bet. Flow For purposes of this document, flow is defined as a combination of direction of movement, speed of movement, and pace of movement through a level. In a level with an extremely high degree of flow, a player will be able to move at a relatively consistent pace from any area of the level to another with a minimum of dramatic changes in direction and speed. In a level with poor flow, there will be starts and stops, awkward geometry to navigate, edges and corners to get stuck on, and many dead-end areas. Multiple entrances and exits Ideally, any major area in a level should have at least two (and preferably at least three) ways in or out (e.g. a room might have two hallways leading into it, a ledge above it that the player can drop from, and hole in the floor that a player can jump into to get to another area (three ways in, three ways out). To explore the idea of multiple entrances and exits, and the resulting effects on gameplay a bit further, imagine a room like the one below. "W" is a powerful weapon, and "H" is a health kit, and the room has exits/entrances on the north and east walls, and is somewhat flat and unremarkable: It's relatively simple in this particular example for a player to "camp" the weapon by standing in the corner and keeping a sharp eye on both doorways, attacking any player who tries to enter, and using the health kit to counterbalance any damage he or she might have received. Keep in mind that this "camper" does not have quite the same advantage that he would in a typical first person shooter (i.e. It's much more difficult to be sneaky in a game where the other player can easily look at your part of the split screen to see where you are), but it's still a tactic that can have a significant effect on gameplay. Consider the change below: Another door has been added on the west, the health has been moved to the NW corner, and the weapon has been moved to the south wall. Three doorways across a much wider field of view are more difficult to watch than two, and if the player still tries to camp the weapon, he or she has to move back and forth a bit more to obtain the health. This also leaves the camper open to attack by two or more other players from radically different directions (and it's much more difficult to watch what two or three people are doing on the split screen than it is to watch what one person is doing). For another approach, consider the following: The weapon has been moved to a spot between the two doorways where any player who moves through that corner of the room can quickly grab it, and the health is now by itself in the SW corner. Above the health is a shaft from the room above--impossible to travel up, but easy to see down and jump down. This produces some interesting gameplay possibilities and tactics. If a player is camping the weapon, he can be attacked easily through either doorway, and will find it difficult to watch both doorways at once. Suppose he decides to wait in the far corner, picking up health if he needs it, and ambush a player trying to get the weapon? It may work once or twice, but when his opponent catches on, the player will be attacked from a position of relative safety above, or his opponent will simply pay more attention to the player's position via the split screen. Relatively simple changes in room design and item placement can produce much more complex and flexible gaming situations. Note that teleporters, which instantly whisk a player from place to place, can serve to increase connectivity and flow within a level if the level geometry itself is uncooperative. However, teleporters are also easily abused by being used as a quick fix for substandard level design that shouldn't have seen the light of day in the first place. Clipping Geometry "Invisible boxes", "clip brushes", "see-through walls"--different terms for unseen geometry that aids the player in navigating through the level with minimal difficulty. Ideally, this aid should be of the subtle variety--anything that is too intrusive might distract the player from any immersion in the game world that has been created. For example, if there is a slightly protruding arch in a hallway that players tend to get caught on when moving down the hallway, the designer could place an invisible box along the length of the hallway on both sides with the inner plane of the box flush with the inner edge of the arch. What if the arch sides didn't protrude slightly, but instead stuck quite far into the hallway? A box that kept the player from getting anywhere near the wall would be an obvious and blatant "fix", but the designer could place a wedge-shaped brush on the near and far edges of both sides of the arch to gently force the player out and around the arch as they passed by. *Note: The use of clipping geometry will differ somewhat depending on whether the game in question is first person or third person. Something that might work well, and feel relatively unobtrusive from a first person point of view, might be very obvious and clumsy when experienced from a third-person perspective (and vice versa). This is just one area where a great deal of playtesting and feedback is essential. Dead ends In general, dead ends are a bad idea in any multiplayer level for a number of reasons: Dead ends promote poor flow. If a player has to stop or do a U-turn at the end of a dead end passage, then that area is somewhat awkward and clumsy. Dead ends are boring and/or frustrating. The player has to travel back through an area that he or she has just seen. Dead ends can easily result in "no-win" situations for a player. If he or she is trapped in a dead-end, there is no option for a tactical retreat. However, although the preceding points are generally true, in specific situations dead-ends can be useful (e.g. a powerful weapon or item can be placed in a dangerous dead-end in order to properly balance the value of the item with the risk involved in obtaining it). Summary: Have two (and preferably three) ways in and out. Think "outside the box". There are always multiple solutions to a level design problem. Use clipping geometry to aid flow and navigation. Use dead ends sparingly and for very specific reasons. Keep lines of sight in mind, and be aware that different camera views can produce unusual situations. Item Placement Poor item placement can turn an otherwise solid multiplayer level into an unbalanced and irritating gaming environment and can interfere dramatically with flow. Excellent item placement can add much-needed spice to an otherwise forgettable level, and accentuate the architecture and environment that has been created. The items in a multiplayer environment can be divided into four basic types: Offensive Items (e.g. weapons, ammo) There is generally a maximum amount of damage that a player is able to inflict in a given period of time in a given situation. Offensive items increase that amount. Defensive Items (e.g. health, armor) Defensive items increase the amount of damage that a player is able to endure, make that damage have less effect on the player, or allow the player to avoid those effects. Special/Other Items (e.g. binoculars, mine sweeper, jet pack) These are items that can somehow change the balance of the game in a way that isn't purely offensive or defensive (but could strengthen offense or defense for a player, depending on the player's particular situation). Team Items These are items that somehow affect game goals in cooperative play. The best-known example would be the flags in traditional two-team Capture the Flag. Flags are traditionally placed in two opposing bases that often have the same layout, geometry, and item placement (to more easily avoid giving one team a subtle advantage over the other). As a side note: As previously mentioned, this document does not focus on capture the flag (and similar games) to any great degree. However, one of the simplest ways to introduce a CTF-like element into a map for fewer players is to have some single power item or power spot on the map that a player gets points for holding or capturing. Item Quantity and Placement There is a fine balance to item quantity. There should be enough items to make it relatively easy to get the most basic necessities (e.g. basic weapons, some degree of health/protection), but not so many items that the challenge is eliminated and the player is stumbling over some new item every few steps. Generally, there should be fewer of the more powerful items in a level. There would be no reason to pick up the weaker items if there was a better item nearby. The more rare and powerful items can also be placed in locations that are more difficult and/or more dangerous to reach. There is nothing necessarily wrong with placing a powerful item in plain sight in the middle of the level where it is easily reachable by all the players. This placement in itself can add an element of danger as players wait nearby, simply watching the item, and attack other players as they approach. Just realize that much of the action will occur around that powerful item, and that there should be sufficient incentive for players to travel to other parts of the level. Powerful items can also be used to "balance" the level. In other words, if there is a powerful item or weapon at a certain location within a level, a good designer will be likely to put a similarly powerful item or weapon in another area of the level. This accomplishes three things: It makes it less effective to try to "camp" either item. It encourages players to move gameplay around the level. It makes it harder for a player to continually have both items and more easily control the game. Finally, some weapons can be placed in such a way that they are not only balanced to some extent, but also encourage more game flow and movement through a level. One simple example would be to place a sniper rifle in an enclosed area in the depths of a level--in order to make the best use of it, a player would have to get the item, and then travel up to the top of a high tower to get the best vantage point from which to snipe at other players. Ammunition and Minor Item Placement The placement of ammunition (if it exists in the game separately from the weapons), and the placement of minor items can be a much more subtle process then the placement of powerful items, and can be approached in different ways. Furthermore, many of the fine points will be very dependent on specific game mechanics. For example, a game with differing levels of health (or healing potion, or whatever generic "more life" item it happens to have) can have a much more complicated and "fine-tuned" item layout than a game with only one type of healing item. If a game has multiple weapon types and multiple ammo types (or even multiple ammo types for each weapon), this will result in more fine-tuning and more complicated decisions for the designer. A good general rule to remember is that if a player has everything he/she needs in one area, then there's little reason (gameplay-wise) to leave that area and explore the rest of the map. Item Setting It can add significant atmosphere and "feel" to a level if the items are placed in appropriate settings, and not just strewn about in relatively equidistant spots. One good (albeit subjective) rule of thumb: Every area of a level should be attractive enough for a player to want to visit it. Creating a proper item setting is a much more subjective process than some of the ideas that have been mentioned previously, as it deals with artistry and aesthetics rather than easily quantifiable factors such as damage and movement. Items, especially powerful items, are best placed like a gemstone placed in a ring. Impressive and/or detailed geometry, eye-catching lighting, or even props and other items can all be combined to create a memorable setting for items. Camping Revisited As was touched on above, it is very easy to create a situation in a multiplayer level wherein a powerful item (or even a not-so-powerful item) is placed in such a way that it is very easy to defend once it's obtained, and a player can "camp-out" at that location and dominate others who attack that position or try to get that item. For example, a machine-gun with a large supply of ammo and a health kit are placed at the end of a long corridor, behind a pillbox with a small "gunner slot" to shoot through. A player can stay there for a long time racking up victories with relative ease. While this example is an extreme one for illustrative purposes, it is easy to make this mistake in more subtle ways. This mistake becomes less likely if the designer uses the "at least two ways out" guideline, and incorporates some sort of vulnerability into every major item placement. Item Placement and Player Start Locations There seem to be two schools of thought on placement of player start locations relative to weapons and items, the first being: "Players should have to work to get good items/weapons. Gameplay becomes boring when players always have access to all the good items immediately upon starting a level." The opposing point of view goes something like: "When it's a difficult process to get good items and weapons, then the player who wins any particular skirmish always has the advantage, since he/she already has all the good stuff, and the defeated player has to restart, recollect items, and possibly fight off a beefed-up opponent while doing so." There is no clear answer or definitive formula to resolving this issue. Both points have some validity, and it will usually be safest to try to place your player spawn points while keeping both these points in mind. This is an issue that is usually resolved best with a great deal of playtesting. Ideally, player start locations should be placed with the following additional things in mind: Player starts should not be in a direct line of sight with each other. If they are, this potentially eliminates a major part of a good multiplayer game: maneuvering and responding based on where your opponent is (or where you think he is), and reacting to his movements with appropriate strategy or tactics. Player starts should be placed in places that are "off the beaten path" to some extent. It can put a player at an unfair disadvantage if he/she appears in the middle of a central combat area in the level, and can be frustrating if he/she is immediately defeated before gaining any real momentum. There should always be at least two nearby exits from any player start location. A player spawning into the game in a no-win situation (because a beefed-up opponent has them trapped in a dead end) is simply a result of poor level design. Secrets Finally, placing items in "secret" locations is generally a bad idea in multiplayer levels, since there will often be one or more players who don't know how to obtain the item (bad enough), but may be unaware that it even exists (worse). This sets up a dynamic wherein one player can easily dominate another player or players, only because of the "insider" knowledge that he or she possesses, and results in a blatantly unfair situation which can frustrate and anger players. (Note that I am not referring to items that are simply very difficult to obtain. If everyone knows where it is, it isn't a secret.) Again, although the preceding is generally true, there are some ways to make secrets work in a limited way in multiplayer games: The secret shouldn't be a "game-winner". A secret that gives someone an overwhelming advantage in a game = bad idea. A secret that helps a player slightly, or that simply gives some background color, or information of some kind about the game world = good idea. Secrets that are a relative "one-shot" (i.e. once the secret is discovered, pretty much all the players will know about it) are much less unbalancing. Secrets that have a random factor can work. These can be fun without being too unbalancing. For example, suppose there's a somewhat out-of-the-way spot where a powerful weapon will appear 5% of the time instead of the regular health that appears the rest of the time. Further suppose that there is no additional ammo for the weapon, and that there is no other weapon of this type in the level. This results in a player randomly finding this weapon on rare occasion and only using it for a very short time (thus being likely to establish no serious advantage). In a situation like this, "insider" information can be fun and can produce some interesting gameplay situations (as players begin to shadow the other player trying to find out where the "odd" weapon came from). Summary: • Balance item quantity carefully--enough items, but not too many. • Use powerful items sparingly and in a balanced way. • Spread minor items out, and avoid all-in-one locations. • Place items in a setting to be more aesthetically pleasing. • Make locations of powerful items dangerous or vulnerable. • Handle secrets with care to avoid unbalanced gameplay. Initial Design The initial design process can be a dramatically different one for different designers. Some individuals greatly enjoy it, because it allows them to visualize the level in broad strokes and come up with various ideas without necessarily needing to address some of the more "tedious" or "exacting" details that will appear near the end of the construction process. Other designers struggle to come up with a new and creative idea, or a broad outline, but excel in providing the fine points of a level's look and feel. Some level architects plan out their levels in exacting detail on grid paper beforehand, or work from detailed concept sketches, while others simply start from scratch, allowing ideas to evolve as they work. Both approaches have their pros and cons: A high level of preplanning assures that the designer won't wander off down the wrong track and possibly waste a great deal of time and energy, but can also stifle creativity and force a designer into "mental blinders" that reduce his or her potential. Summary: Everyone has their own way of working... but don't be afraid to think "outside the box" of your own habits, and possibly discover methods that will work better for you. Also, don't assume that work habits that were effective with one set of tools/one game/one design process will work well all the time. General Testing and Game Mechanics Testing is at least as important in multiplayer levels as it is in single player levels, and some would say that it's more important because the actions of a group of players are more unpredictable than the actions of a single player. While multiplayer levels are simpler in some ways than single player levels, players in a multiplayer setting can try new things (and find new problems) that might not have occurred if they were playing alone. Some design questions become exponentially more complicated when designing levels with a multiplayer focus. A few of the basic points to consider in testing and game mechanics: Testing Start Locations If you are one person testing a multiplayer level, it's easy to overlook non-functional or flawed start locations, especially if the start location is not always randomized, and if you do not have any sort of artificial opponents. Always make sure all start locations work consistently and correctly. Gameplay habits We all have a tendency to do things in a certain way, and repeat habits. The only way to be sure that the gameplay in a level isn't broken in some major way is to have the level playtested by someone (preferably many players) other than the designer. That being understood, you can at least playtest better as a designer by doing everything you can to break up your habits--if you find yourself always following a particular path in a level, then consciously go another way. Pretend that you haven't memorized every nook and cranny, and try to play like a new player: "Gee, I wonder what's over here..." Try to look at your map with new eyes, and you will often find problems or possibilities that you didn't realize were there. Gameplay mechanics Be aware that all games--even all multiplayer combat games--have different (sometimes radically different) gameplay mechanics. A couple of notable examples: Camera Angle Lines of sight are as important in multiplayer level design as they are in single player level design. Being able to see an enemy, or be seen by an enemy, is a key factor to victory. When playing from a third-person perspective (again, depending to some extent on camera movement) it's relatively easy to see where players are in relation to one another, and, if you are in a relatively high position, to potentially get a bird's-eye perspective on the entire field of play. In addition, when you are in a low position in a third-person game, it can be quite difficult to see what is above you when compared with a first-person game. When playing a first-person game, your field of view is limited horizontally to approximately 90 degrees, so losing track of your opponent can happen in the literal blink of an eye. In a first-person game, it's pretty much impossible to see anything that your in-game character wouldn't be able to see (i.e. you see through the character's eyes). In a third-person game, the circumstances involved in having a third-person camera view that doesn't necessarily change consistently with player movement can result in a variety of unusual possibilities at any given moment: If it's a console game, no players can see the others directly, but everyone still knows where all the players are by looking at split screens. No players can see the others directly, but players can shoot the other players (e.g. with a weapon like the grenade launcher or mortar that can shoot in an ascending-descending arc). Players can see each other directly, but players can't shoot each other. (This can happen if the players are positioned in such a way that the camera sees around a corner or over an obstacle for each player.) One player can see and shoot at another player without it being possible for the other player to see him directly, or hit him with return fire. (This could happen if, for instance, a player had a high vantage point, and was behind an obstacle of some sort. Direct fire from the other player would hit the obstacle, and arcing fire would either overshoot or collide with other geometry.) Line of sight issues are further complicated by the fact that any player might be able to kneel or drop prone at any time, which could change any of the above situations. It is also possible in some third-person games for a player to change the camera angle without actually moving (by rotating the camera in place). This makes it possible to stand facing in one direction, but keep a 360-degree watch. This would, of course, only provide an advantage in certain situations, and if you have the control skills to make it useful. Also, consider the effect of ground cover on combat. In a first-person game, the heavy use of ground cover (e.g. bushes, low walls, obstacles) can easily obscure the field of play and add a hide-and-sneak element, emphasizing the importance of accurate prediction of an opponent's tactics. In a third person game with any sort of height to the camera angle, this sort of ground cover is more of a simple obstruction to movement than a serious influence on tactics and strategy. These issues become very important to a level designer when questions about gameplay, balance, and tactics arise. Auto-Aiming For another example, consider the subject of auto-aiming. Auto-aiming (when the computer/game system does some of the work of aiming for the player), gives a very different feel to a skirmish, and a player must concentrate more on positioning, movement, and any other ways in which he or she can help the auto-aiming system along, and less on accurate crosshair positioning and shot-timing. Summary: Test extensively with real gameplay. Break up habits. Get another point of view. Alter your design to best utilize the specific gameplay mechanics and tactics that will be involved. Research To make good multiplayer levels, and to continue to grow in his or her skills, a designer needs to play lots of good multiplayer levels, and, unfortunately, the only way to play lots of good levels is to wade through even more levels that aren't so good. While you're playing a particular level, analyze what is working in that particular level--very simply, what makes that level good and not bad? If you don't know quite specific answers to that question, then you may not be able to create the same great gameplay and fun experience in your levels, and if you do, it may be by accident rather than by design. Finally, write things down. That may sound obvious and slightly juvenile, but you will not remember important things if you don't. I have a simple text file called "tips" that I just copy and paste tidbits of various kinds into--technical tips, design tips, interesting gaming anecdotes, "here's a great idea for a level" bits, obscure design facts, and so forth. If you have any doubt if you should put something in, go ahead and put it in, then review the file periodically and weed out things that are outdated, have lost their usefulness, or were just never quite as useful as you thought they might be. Summary: • Keep looking. • Keep learning. Source: http://www.robotrenegade.com/articles/multiplayer-level-design-guide.html *Note: This article is shared in full on Next Level Design in accordance with the Creative Commons Guidelines noted on the source site. Follow Patrick Website: http://www.pjwnex.us/ lvlworld: https://lvlworld.com/author/pjw Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: http://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/register/ Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NextLevelDesig2 Discuss on Discord: https://discord.gg/RqEy7rg
  5. Andrew Yoder (Twitter, Website) is hosting a Quake Map Jam that focuses on Sewers. "Your map should draw on the ideas of sewer levels, but there is flexibility. You can make a canal, a cistern, or water treatment plant." As Andrew points out in his Announcement Article, sewer levels can be REALLY difficult to design well. "At their worst, a sewer level drags with no end in sight and stretches a game thin." On the other hand, a sewer level where everything comes together can be really rewarding. "A good sewer level is raw design. This isn’t the place for the one-off scripted sequence or the expensive art setpiece. Instead, a good sewer level is subtle in its mastery of the craft: geometry, lighting, and textures working in unison." This event begins on July 28th, and concludes at 1:00PM Est on August 31st, so you'll have plenty of time to build, test, and polish. It's also a perfect opportunity to build your first Quake level. Check out our Trenchbroom Tutorials thread (which features articles from Andrew) to learn the basics, and some more advanced stuff too. Are you ready to take on the challenge? Read the full Announcement Thread (which includes far more detail than this article) here - https://andrewyoderdesign.blog/2019/07/21/announcement-quake-sewer-map-jam/ We'd also love to see what you're working on. Feel free to share your progress in the 'What Are You Working On?' thread, in the discussion thread for this Jam, or to post your own thread in the Projects Forum. Happy Mapping! Follow Andrew Website: https://andrewyoderdesign.blog/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/Mclogenog 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. 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
  7. Lately I've been studying the connectivity in classic and modern duel maps and I'd like to share what I've found in this article. I was motivated to study connectivity when I noticed that almost all competitive maps have highly complex junctions between their rooms, especially on the low level. Of course the rooms play well independently, but it's the serpentine way they are woven together that really elevates the gameplay to the next level. The junctions are so intricate that you can almost think of them as additional rooms unto themselves. I think this is what turns a good map into a great one that can be played competitively for years and still not be fully solved by the players. First, if you haven't read my “fundamentals” articles you may want to check them out below because I'll be referencing them from time to time. Fundamentals of Gameplay: Part I & Part IIConnectivity is definitely the most complex topic I have written about yet so I won't be making as many de facto conclusions as my previous articles. What I'm going to do is just observe the connectivity systems using top-down diagrams, classify them into a few groups, explain how the different systems affect flow and map control, and talk a little about which systems I like the best. Of course I'll leave it up to you to make your own conclusions about what you prefer. Ultimately I'd just like to give you and entertaining read that improves your ability to analyze the connectivity in any map whether you are a player or a mapper, and maybe we can have a nice discussion at the end. Also, some of the principles I laid out in my fundamentals articles can only truly be applied to individual rooms, so hopefully this article will make for a more comprehensive model that better describes the big picture of these maps.Analyzing and classifying connectivity systemsConnectivity can be difficult to describe because in a way it exists everywhere, but in order to study connectivity we have to break the maps down into simpler parts. Like my previous articles, I am going to do this using the different levels of the map (low, middle, high), and the level we are going to be focusing on the most is the low one. My main reason for classifying the connectivity systems based on the low level goes back to the height-and-continuity relationship. Basically this states that the low level is the most continuous and the high level is more fragmented. Therefore, the low level will be the driving force that lays the foundation for the connectivity system and the high levels will serve to support it. We are going to see a couple slight exceptions to the height-and-continuity relationship with the maps Furious Heights and Dismemberment. In those maps the continuity is more balanced between the high and low levels, but for consistency I am still going to analyze them the same way. Really it isn't that important which level we choose since the levels of a map are like cousins to one another, we just need to pick one that plays a dominant role and study it.I think of connectivity systems as a collection of branches and loops which form more intricate shapes. A branch is defined as any significant one-directional path and a loop is any path that has a circular flow. I am going to categorize the eight maps in this study into three groups: branched layouts, top-loop layouts, and bottom-loop layouts. Branched layouts have many one-way paths on the low level which usually end in forced transitions to higher levels. (By “forced”, I mean the player has to do a complete 180 to avoid taking them.) Top-loop layouts also have branched lower levels, but have an unusually expansive upper level that connects the majority of the map. Bottom-loop maps have a roughly circular path running through the lower level and have very few branches or forced transitions.A few other odds and ends to mention: Although transition points are colored in yellow in my diagrams, I am going to include the stairs on the low level leading up to the middle level as part of the low-level connectivity system. Basically everything up until the middle level cutoff point will be thought of as the low level. Also, for simplicity I am not going to be doing to much analysis on across-the-map teleporters like in Blood Run, but this would be an interesting thing to study another time. Finally, I have to mention that my model for studying connectivity only holds up for multi-atrium maps. Maps that are primarily made of one large central atrium, e.g. Aerowalk, can't be studied in this way. It's just too hard to distinguish the junctions from the rooms they are connecting. I'll post a diagram of Aerowalk below in case anyone is interested in studying it.Branched layouts: (Blood Run, Toxicity, Lost World, Campgrounds)Blood Run by ztnNumber of rooms: 3Connectivity system: T-shaped junction Blood Run is a great starting point for this article because it's a very obvious example of a branched connectivity system. If you look at the purple level, it creates a simple T-junction with the three branches of the T leading each leading to an atrium. (Note that this means each room can only have one door on the low level. Any other doors must lead to forced transition points within that same room or to teleporters leading elsewhere.) The T-junction makes for a really interesting connectivity system where players have many chances to cut each other off from passing between rooms. As a result, Blood Run has some of the most dominant positional map control of all the maps in this study.The problem with the T-junction is it doesn't have very much flow. In Joel McDonald's Competitive Level Design Guide, he states, “Generally, a map needs to have a circular flow on the macro level.” That's where the top levels (green and red) come in. The top levels connect the branches and create a perfect figure-8 flow for the whole map. Now you have a map that flows AND gives opportunity for interesting control of areas by allowing players to cut each other off between rooms. Blood Run is a perfect example of a connectivity system where the low level lays the foundation and the high level serves to complete the circular flow of the whole map by tying together the loose ends where the low paths branched out. Of course it's not a totally linear layout either. Some paths still overlap such as the top path above the T-junction and this allows the rooms to have interesting multi-level gameplay.Toxicity by thefuryNumber of rooms: 3Connectivity system: U shape with two branches Toxicity is another classic branched layout and it has a unique and complex low central junction. I'd describe the top-right portion of the low path as a U-shape and the rest of the low level as two branched paths sticking off of it. (I suppose you could also call it an X-junction.) The branches lead into the MH and RA rooms and both ends of the U shape lead to the high YA room. This kind of isolates the RA and the MH from each other while keeping them both well connected to the high YA room. The low passage also allows players to see straight across the map and this can be exploited by the dominating player for lining up spawn kills. The high paths generally sit on the sides of the low branches rather than being directly joined to them and they turn the overall flow into a triple-ring shape. This is a good point to talk about door placement and introduce a principle that I call the rule of two sides. If you look at the three rooms in this map as simple rectangles, you will notice that each room has its doors stacked on at most two sides of that rectangle. Exceptions to the rule can be found in maps with a large centralized room such as Lost World or Campgrounds. Central atriums tend to have doors on three sides. Otherwise, the rule holds up quite well. You may have to use your imagination a bit as to where exactly the boundaries of a room are, but directionally speaking in almost all cases you will only enter/exit a room from two of its four sides.At this point I can imagine some Q3 players scratching their heads thinking, “Well, DUH!” Pointing out the doors-on-two-sides rule or saying that the rooms in branched layouts can only have on door on the low level may be overstating the obvious to some, but I think this could help a lot of mappers during the gameplay-planning phase of their maps. Understanding the consequences of door placement allows mappers to be a lot more intentional with their designs. If a mapper starts a layout by designing a room that has entrances in three different directions, he knows that this room is going to have to be centrally placed. If he wants his map to have a branched connectivity system, he knows that he can't have more than one door entering/exiting his rooms on the low level. This could save mappers a lot of headaches during planning and allow them to make intentional rather than random decisions when connecting their rooms together.Lost World by id SoftwareNumber of rooms: 3Connectivity system: loop with three branches In the case of Lost World I am going to analyze the connectivity system on the green level since the two levels below it are negligible. Lost World is a three-atrium map with the largest of the atriums centralized. The connectivity system is composed of a looped path which connects the central and top room and three branches sticking off of the loop. Each of the branches ends in a forced transition upwards. Interestingly, the YA room with the curved staircase only has two doors and is quite isolated from the rest of the map, so players have to be very wary about getting trapped there. The connectivity on the upper level is similar to the lower level except it doesn't have a complete loop. The complexity of Lost World's connectivity system leads to slower games, but its heavily branched layout provides a lot of interesting opportunities for map control and I think this is a key reason for its longevity in the pro map pools.Campgrounds by id SoftwareNumber of rooms: 3Connectivity system: loop with two branches People have talked about the flow and connectivity of Campgrounds for years so I won't spend as much time discussing it here. Campgrounds used to be a staple in pro duels and it was my favorite layout for a long time, but in recent years it has been all but abandoned for being too easy to dominate. This is mainly because the map only has three armors and the dominating player can occasionally run all of them, but it's also because the map is so well-connected that the out-of-control player has nowhere to hide. Campgrounds is unique because it's like two connectivity systems built into one map. The low system is a loop with two large branches leading to YA and RA, and the middle system is a large figure-8 with another branch sticking off. If I was going to make a Campgrounds remake, I'd be interested to see how the map played with a more fragmented middle level system. Any of the three middle level paths between the RA and MH rooms could easily be removed and the map would still flow fine. (Don't worry though, I'm not going to make a Campgrounds remake.)Top-loop layouts: (Furious Heights, Dismemberment)Furious Heights by id SoftwareNumber of rooms: 3Connectivity system: hip junction with two branches Dismemberment by HubsterNumber of rooms: 3Connectivity system: hip junction with three branches I'm going to talk about both of these maps at the same time because they both employ the same tricks to balance their extensive top routes. I remember these maps were an enigma to me when I first saw them because I didn't think they could possibly be balanced. Why on Earth would the dominating player ever drop down to the low routes of the map when he can get to every room using the top level? Well, from a continuity standpoint, both maps use a lot of stairs, choke points, and forced jumps to balance the upper level. From a connectivity standpoint, both maps have a direct connection between the RA and MH rooms which I call a hip junction. The hip junction makes it extremely fast to run the main items using the low level, which makes the dominating player more inclined to use it. The upper paths are much slower, for example in Furious Heights the high path to the low-YA room actually forces the player to meander out and behind the armor before dropping down to it. One other thing I'd like to point out which is not connectivity related is that Dismemberment has only two levels and Furious Heights barely has a third level between high and low. In maps with only two levels, top loops seem to be less of an issue but they still need to be balanced.Bottom-loop layouts: (Sinister, Cure)Sinister by yellack & akmNumber of rooms: 3Connectivity system: loop with one branch Cure by cityyNumber of rooms: 3Connectivity system: loop with two (small) branches Sinister and Cure are two popular duel maps that I have identified which have little to no branching in their connectivity systems. (My map Goldleaf is another example.) You can see that the rooms are connected on the lower level by a simple loop. This means that there are two ways to enter/exit any room on the lower level which makes it a little harder for players to cut each other off between rooms. It also means the transition points are not forced because there is a functioning circular flow on the lower level. In other words, the levels on the map function more independently compared to branched layouts where the levels are woven together by the transitions between them.Although maps like Sinister and Cure have proven that bottom-loop systems can work well, this is probably the type of connectivity system I prefer the least. I think branched layouts incorporate the different levels together more naturally and also encourage exploitation of the connectivity system for map control. Loop layouts also just feel less complex in general. That's not to say that I don't enjoy fragging in Sinister and Cure – I do. I also don't think any one formula exists for optimal map making and I'd much rather have variety in the map pools anyway. I'd be really interested to hear what other people enjoy the best!Here are a couple more examples that were added after the fact:Aerowalk by Preacher & Hubster Trespass by Pat HowardNumber of rooms: 3.5 (maybe 4)Connectivity system: Jughandle branch That's all for now. For any players reading this, I hope you now have a slightly better understanding of the connectivity systems in your favorite maps. For mappers, hopefully this gives you more foresight and saves you some headaches about how to connect your rooms together. Rather than thinking about connectivity as simple hallways from point A to point B, I suggest you consider it to be just as important if not more important than the gameplay of each individual room. With this in mind, we can think about connectivity less in terms of the quantity of connections in a map and more in terms of the quality of them.Source: https://www.quake3world.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=51102 Follow Patlvlword: https://lvlworld.com/author/Pat%20HowardTwitter: https://twitter.com/lvlpathoward 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
  8. Missed Part 1? Read it here: https://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/content/articles/fundamentals-of-gameplay-part-i-pat-howard-r45/ In the last article, I talked about how to structurally balance a map by following two fundamental relationships: the relationships between height and center point, and between height and footprint. This time I want to introduce a third height relationship, because while the first two are the most obvious and the easiest to describe, they actually didn't tell the whole story.Note: When I say, “the full story,” I don't actually mean to create a formula or instructions for Q3A level design. Not at all. I think it would be really lame to try to encompass such a creative activity in just a few short articles. There are infinite possibilities in level design, and I'm just trying to point out a few reliable patterns that exist in the most successful maps. Hopefully this will give you and me some tools to create interesting balance in our designs.Here are the first two relationships once again to recap from the last article:Relationship 1: Height and center pointThe highest levels of the map should generally be the furthest away from the map's center point.Relationship 2: Height and footprintThe highest levels of the map should have the smallest footprint. The footprint of a level is a combination of both surface area and path width.Again, for the reasons supporting why this is, please refer to the last article.To visualize the relationships, imagine you're on a beach enjoying some margaritas and you push the bottom of your glass down into the sand. When you pick the glass up, it leaves behind a solid, circular imprint. Now you finish your drink, flip it over, and place the rim of the glass into the sand over the circular imprint. The rim would leave behind a larger, circular outline in the sand around the smaller solid circle. If you think about maps on a macro level, this is a good way to describe the difference between the high and low levels. The low levels should be like the solid circle, they have a large and fat footprint closest to the center point. The high levels should be like the circular outline. They look mostly like a thin outer rim of paths around the perimeter.Unfortunately, there is a major characteristic of Q3A level design that this two-relationship model leaves out. To see it, take a look once again at these diagrams of Q and Campgrounds. (Don't worry, I'll introduce a couple of new maps in this article as well.) Look specifically at the upper levels in red. Compare them to the “circular rim” analogy that I used to describe the high level before. What's different about them? Figure 1: Top-down view of Q by me. Figure 2: Campgrounds by id Software. Figure 3: An isolated view of the lower and middle levels of Campgrounds. Did you notice that in both cases, the upper level is divided into three separated regions, while the middle and lower levels are each continuous? The difference between this and a complete outer rim analogy has to do with something called continuity.Continuity is how straight-forward a path is from one point to another. So the most continuous path would be straight line with no changes in elevation. But paths can get broken up by gaps, turns, stairs and bouncers, choke points, and basically anything that slows down movement or makes the player more vulnerable. This is where the third height relationship comes in. Just like center point and footprint, continuity can be used strategically to create balance among the levels in a map.Relationship 3: Height and continuityThe highest areas in the map should have the least path continuity. Too much continuity on the upper paths will allow players to run the entire map without ever needing to drop down to the low levels. This creates a situation where players will run the same high paths over and over again, only rarely visiting the lower areas to retreat or to collect items. After a few short games, players will hate your map and call you a loser. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to restore balance by disrupting continuity.Continuity can be disrupted by adding kinks, gaps, forced dropdowns, bouncers, dangerous bridges, and choke points such as confined halls or small rooms. Stairs are also very useful for breaking up continuity because they slow the player down and they are difficult to fight on. Interrupting path continuity like this not only makes the upper levels more precarious to navigate, but it has the pleasant side effect of being more visually appealing as well.Here's another example of the continuity principle in action. This time I am going to analyze Lost World which has quite a large upper-level footprint due to the map being made of mostly two levels. But notice the continuity on the high level (red) is consistently broken up using stairs, sharp kinks, tight doorways, dropdowns, and a central suspended bridge. You can see that the middle level (green) has significantly fewer stairs and kinks. In other maps with more levels, the continuity discrepancy between the ground and top floors is even more pronounced. Figure 4: Lost World by id Software. This map is largely consists of two levels, but has an extra two levels under the main atrium for vertical action around the low red armor. Figure 5: An isolated view of the lower and middle levels of Lost World. The classic map Blood Run is a composed of four levels and it's a great example of how long paths with a high degree of continuity can work perfectly fine on the ground floor (purple). Notice the end-to-end straight paths that have almost no interruptions. Now imagine if these paths were on the upper level. It would be way too easy for a player to run the whole map and still maintain a height advantage over his opponent. Instead, the upper levels are nicely broken up by long staircases, kinks, a few tight halls, and ledges for dropping down which completes the balance between high and low. Figure 6: Blood Run by ztn. This classic map is a great example of a four-level design. Figure 7: An isolated view of the lower and middle levels of Blood Run. Putting it all togetherIf you follow the three height relationships between center point, footprint, and continuity, I can't promise that your map will land itself into the next QuakeCon Duel Masters pool, but you should be able to save yourself a lot of time and frustration during the layout process where many novices fail miserably. The best part is that these relationships can all be analyzed on paper before you even start building your map, which saves tons of time and frustration in the editor.I think this is a far better strategy than what most inexperienced mappers do, which is the map-as-you-go strategy. If you jump into the editor and make just whatever you feel like, it will be fun for a while, but eventually you will identify some severe problems with your map's gameplay. This will stall development with tons of revisions or even worse, cause you to scrap the map completely. Instead, try checking that each area of your map roughly follows the three height relationships before heading into the editor. The areas that deviate should have a very good reason not to.Finally, I'll just add that if you can break these relationships and still produce a fun map with lots of replay value, then by all means do! Your map will stand out against conventional designs and be a lot more unique for that reason.I hope you've enjoyed these articles so far. Of course, there's so much more to mapping than just to balance the high and low levels, but the principles I have talked about can get you off to a great start. Source: https://www.quake3world.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=50437 Follow Patlvlword: https://lvlworld.com/author/Pat%20HowardTwitter: https://twitter.com/lvlpathoward Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: http://www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/register/ Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NextLevelDesig2 Discuss on Discord: https://t.co/hkxwVml0Dp
  9. What is “good” gameplay, and what makes good gameplay happen? Level designers mull over these difficult questions all the time. They are tough ones to answer because, like most art forms, level design barely has any laws about what makes a map successful. Whenever some kind of law gets proposed, you can be sure it will only be a matter of time before a level designer goes in direct opposition to it and still comes out with a great map. Blanket statements about mapping almost always fail.So look at the advice I'm about to give you simply as one mapper's best practice, not rules or laws. This is simply the stuff I keep in mind when I am designing the gameplay prototypes for my maps. With all my experience in level design, these guidelines are the closest I can come to offering a “formula” for gameplay success.So back to the first question: what makes good gameplay? Personally, I think good gameplay is balanced, yet varied. The best games are the ones that keep us guessing. We keep playing them because we haven't quite figured them out yet. There are many possible strategies, but no one strategy is the best. So in this article I am going to give you a few ways to create interesting structural balance in your maps. The concepts are simple and the first one is familiar to everybody. HeightFor the purposes of Quake III Arena, I tend to think about maps in terms of height. This is probably because at some point I observed that fun maps tend to make good use of height, the third dimension. Two-dimensional maps with no change in height are often so boring that it is basically torture to play them more than a few times. Look at it this way: With every new dimension you add to your map, you get more directions that you can fight your enemy from. In a one-dimensional map (that would be a straight line), the enemy can be either in front of you or behind you. Add a second dimension and your enemy can now be to the left or to the right as well. Add a third dimension, and your enemy can be above or below you in addition to all the other directions. That's a lot of options, and more options usually means more replay value. Height is usually integrated into a map in levels. There is no rule for how many levels a map should have. Toxicity does very well in its gameplay with only two distinct levels. Campgrounds has three levels and Blood Run has four. These are all classic maps, but in general authors tend to stick with two distinct levels for CTF maps and three levels for the other game types. Toxicity (Quake Live) The discrepancy in height between levels can also vary quite a bit. Toxicity is an example of small height discrepancy. Campgrounds and Blood Run are examples of large height discrepancy. Notice that you don't lose health when you fall down in Toxicity, but you often crater in the latter two maps. I usually start by placing my levels 192 units apart. This is almost the maximum distance you can jump off of without losing health. I then move them closer or farther apart based on what I think fits the map's needs. Height advantages are really powerful in Q3A. When your opponent is positioned below you, it's a lot easier to hit him and also to dodge his fire. Therefore, using height incorrectly can quickly lead to huge imbalances in your map's gameplay. So, when you're building levels onto your map, there are two key relationships you should keep in mind in order to maintain balanced gameplay. Relationship 1: Height and center point A second type of positional advantage is how close you are to the center of the map. The more centralized you are, the easier it is to control the whole arena. Not only can you see more areas from the center, but you can also get to them faster too. We now have two positional advantages that we can work with. This is a lot better for creating balance than only having one. It's kind of like having two fat kids on the block instead of just one. If you can pit the two of them against each other, neither one will have all the power on the playground and harmony will be restored. So, in order for all the areas of a map to stay balanced, the highest areas of the map should be the ones that are furthest away from the center. If you only remember one thing from this article, let it be that! To illustrate this point, let's take a look at my map, Q, which is a very simple example. Figure 1: Top-down view of Q by me. Sorry if you are color blind. The map is kept balanced by following the key relationship between height and center point. The lower level is the most mobile. A player can reach almost every area from the lower level directly without traveling a large distance. However, it's not good for attacking. The upper level has the greatest vantage points for fighting, but the entire span of the map has to be traveled in order to get to some areas. The middle level is a nice mix between the two. It's not quite centralized, but it does have some height advantages over the lower level. Transition points between levels are exempt from the height and center point relationship. As long as the transition points are all equally useful, they will be sought after pretty much no matter where they are. It's often convenient to place them around the perimeter of the map, even on the ground level. What happens if you put your highest levels in the center of your map? Generally, the two positional advantages will compound and the area will become a giant camping site. Sometimes though, this is done in moderation for a very nice effect. How do some maps have centralized high points that become fought over for positional advantage without being a drain on the gameplay? This is where the second key relationship comes in. Relationship 2: Height and footprint Footprint is how big and “chunky” the floor space is for each level. Much like the proximity to the center point, the footprint of an area is closely related to its mobility. The larger the surface you are on, the easier it will be to get around on that surface. In Quake, your ability to fight your opponent has a lot to do with how effectively you can jump around. That makes surface area another convenient way to balance positional advantages in your map. The highest areas of a map should have the smallest footprint. This will allow you to balance the most dominant vantage points in your map by impairing the players' ability to move on them. This relationship is more subtle than the first, but still quite powerful. This time, let's take a look at how Campgrounds makes use of height and footprint for balanced yet competitive vantage points. Figure 2: Campgrounds by id Software broken down into three regions for analysis. Isn't that some sexy photoshopzz? I nearly killed myself six times while making these. Figure 3: An isolated view of the lower and middle levels. As you can see in Campgrounds, the lower level of the map will generally have the largest footprint since it's the base, or the foundation. Moving up to the middle level, the footprint in Region 1 is only slightly smaller than the ground level footprint, but these openings allow players opportunities to jump down in some areas. In Region 2, the middle footprint is only about half the size of the ground level due to the exposed central floor which leads to a lot of vertical battles. In Region 3, the middle level has been removed almost completely. The upper level has the smallest footprint of all. It has been reduced to slim paths and exposed bridges. In Region 2, the footprint is limited to the small area around the central bouncer. This is key for balance because it's the most powerful vantage point in the map. In Region 3, the player actually has to jump across pillars to get from one side of the upper level to the other, making him very vulnerable here as well. What happens if you give your higher levels the largest footprint? The higher levels will remain imbalanced and overused for camping, and the lower levels will be mostly inaccessible from above. This will lead to repetitive gameplay and poor connectivity, and your map will weep silently as it collects dust on long-forgotten hard drives. Oh the shame. A final thought on item placement By now you might have wondered aloud, “OMG, when are you going to mention item placement? Pat?? Pat!” I think item placement is an extremely important consideration for any map's gameplay, but it's one that should be worked on last, after all the structural components have been nailed down. When designing the floor plan of any area, it's certainly okay to have a general idea of where the power items will go, but anything more than that will usually end up in you spinning your wheels. You should be flexible about item placement in the early stages of your map or you will be too stubborn to make important and necessary structural changes. Remember that when you just can't seem to get a room to work right and you are about to trash the whole thing. Structure comes first, item placement is the final touch. Don't get confused. When you're ready to move on to proper item placement, check out Joel McDonald's Competitive Level Design Guide for some great strategies and tips. Source: https://www.quake3world.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=50394 Follow Patlvlword: https://lvlworld.com/author/Pat%20HowardTwitter: https://twitter.com/lvlpathoward 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
  10. Jim Rossignol examines the evolution and influence of Level Editors. In this 2010 article, he takes a look at the evolution of editors over time, and the opportunities and challenges that go hand in hand with that evolution - a subject that's just as relevant today as it was 9 years ago.INSIDE LEVEL DESIGN Anyone who has been a gamer over the past decade or so will have noticed that many games shout about an additional creative feature: the level editor. These allow us, the players, to produce maps for our favourite games, and to feel like we're giving something back to the gaming community when we share them online. These tools are, of course, rooted in the actual tools that game development studios use to make the games in the first place, and it's the significance of that toolset, for both commercial and hobbyist purposes, that we'll be examining. Way back at the time of Doom lots of us picked up the editor and began to work out how to turn these line-models into playable levels. It was fiddly stuff, and not exactly the most obvious process. Reading tutorials was a must. Nowadays, however, things are a little shinier, and seemingly a little more straightforward. As the tech has developed, so the design process has moved onward, giving us new stuff to play with at home. Powerful editing suites for games such as Unreal Tournament 3 and Crysis give us far more instant gratification and flexibility than ever before, and yet the flipside of that is complexity. Loading up one of these editors and playing with its toolset gives the impression that these game-authoring tools are more accessible and easier to use than previous generations, and yet commercial operations talk about games being harder to make than ever before. Mods for big games are taking longer, and maps are become a colossal undertaking. So what's really going on with level design? Is it really becoming too complex for the hobbyist? That's been id's excuse for not supporting mods in Rage, for instance. Have we already lost the art of the one-man level? We'll talk to some of the experts who use the current editors, see how the process has changed in the past decade, and examine some of the strange applications that people ending up finding for game level design. Could level design possibly be… art? Level design is one of the fundamental processes of game development. Building the 3D environments we play our games in is a talent that underlies a huge number of gaming experiences, from Tomb Raider to Wipeout. It's probably within the first-person shooter genre that this process is at its most visible, since the level-editing kit is regularly released to us, the gaming public. Many level designers start out using these tools and then find their way into the industry proper. One such case in point is Neil Alphonso, a level designer currently employed at UK studio Splash Damage, where he's making the new shooter, Brink. "I worked in special effects and editing for television and film after graduating," says Alphonso, "but after some introspection I thought I had the necessary skills to take a different career path, one in games. I took the time to learn an engine and started making maps, and in a total case of being at the right place at the right time, I landed a role on the first Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell game." Alphonso's career path following this decision was pretty exciting, even by jet-setting games industry standards: "I then worked on a game called Shadow Ops: Red Mercury, and then spent some time on the infamous Duke Nukem Forever, before moving to Holland to work on Killzone 2." Alphonso is now working on a multiplayer shooter, a genre that can be regarded as the heartland of level design, because it's where so many designers get started. This is evident in the kinds of maps that Alphonso mentions as classics, when we prod him for some suggestions: "The first levels that always come into my mind are 'The Dark Zone' and 'The Bad Place' from the original Quake (DM4 and DM6, respectively), as they played a huge role in my decision to pursue a career in the games industry. A more recent single player focused example is the outstanding 'All Ghillied Up' for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, a level in which you re-enact a past mission of your hard-nosed CO. All three of those levels would certainly qualify as classics among level designers, but by now that list has gotten pretty large!"A Craft Refined What we've seen in the past ten years is very much a refinement of the level designer's art. Great levels, in which everything is built to lead the experience, without ever betraying that to the player. While a multiplayer deathmatch level might need to be essentially donut-shaped and circular (so that players can move through the level to pick up weapons and not become trapped by their opponents), other game designs demand other kinds of environments: open levels that close down into corridors so you can perform specific objectives, for example, or the non-linear levels that allow you to explore but create paths so that you don't get lost, such as in STALKER. Ever notice how you get lost far less in modern games than in the games we saw a decade ago? Probably not, because it's such a subtle effect. Level design in single-player games has become the art of sign-posting, which is about pointing people in the right directions with subtle visual aids: a light here, a blood trail there. As Alphonso mentions, this is all encoded within the architectures that designers create. "Levels like the original Halo's 'Silent Cartographer' have formed a sort of language that we can use to convey form, pacing, direction, and the other various aspects of level design," says the Brink level lead. Level design is essentially a new frontier – a place where designers are learning to create artificial environments with constantly refreshed technology. What you learned two years ago might not be relevant in a couple of years time. It's a huge challenge to stay on top. However, what has driven the development of level-editing tools, says Alphonso, is less about this craft, and more about the commercial concerns of the people who make game engines.THE BUSINESS OF LEVEL DESIGN "The biggest evolution in level editing systems has been driven by a desire to commercialise the product, to make it a licensable application for the production of top-tier games, rather than simply an extension for hobbyists." People working at home on levels they made for their friends will put up with a lot from a free level editor. But if it's a commercial company that's paying for this stuff, then there have to be big leaps forward. "This has driven huge improvements in the usability and versatility of the systems," says Alphonso, "which directly reflects the growth and profitability of the industry as a whole. Similar advances have been made in the display and management of the increasingly numerous and complex varieties of assets needed for games, along with advances in scripting the logic that lets the environment function as a game space."The Road is Long Videogames are, of course, inextricably linked with both business and technology. The continuous upward curve of development in tech is something that has driven games forward over time, making them bigger and better, and more complex, at least at a visual level. Compare the first Quake to the most recent shots of Rage, and you'll see what we mean. Games are a medium in which progress, new stuff, is seen as integral to the experience. This rapid evolution is something that has changed how we create environments for games, even if the experience of playing the games (running about and shooting) and the reality of building the levels (piecing together shapes and making sure they have the appropriate textures on them) have basically continued along in the same direction. "It's not really changed in ten years," says Rob Hale, a level designer at UK studio Ninja Theory. "However, it's harder to make something now than it was ten years ago." The tools might be shinier, and the product of labour might be more impressive, but the journey is much longer. It's a point on which Alphonso concurs: "The biggest change in the level design process has come from the changes to the sheer scale of game development teams. Improvements in tools have made things a bit faster and easier to pick up initially, but the bar constantly being raised in terms of quality has meant that the workload hasn't gotten any smaller. Level designers are always the last to assemble the various pieces of content that the rest of the team produces, so with team sizes sometimes now up in the hundreds, improvements have definitely been necessary!"Problems of Scale Hale goes on to explain to us why the symbiotic nature of business and tech has sometimes been bad for the designer's game craft: "I've been using Unreal since 2001 and while it's been made easier to import art and put it in levels it's only gotten harder to actually realise a level as a level designer. It involves far more people, far more mark-up and the turn around time is much longer. In fact a lot of the skills that level designers possessed ten years ago are now being lost because of the increased number of people required to deliver on the perceived 'required' quality of a level. Level designers no longer take an interest in the overall look of a level as this is an artists job, while I argue that you cannot separate how a level looks from how it plays. The two are uniquely linked." Hale has witnessed first-hand the nature of a changing industry. What would have been made by a single guy with a vision ten years ago is now generally built by a team who must agree and work together on the direction of a level. This could potentially lead to a regression in the actual play subtleties of levels. "Take Unreal Tournament 3 for example," says Hale. "The levels look very lovely but they tend to play really badly. In comparison to the original Unreal Tournament, where each level was generally crafted by a single designer they are much less enjoyable to play often because of the increased detail that has been made possible by modern design tools." Hale argues that the forward progress of visuals has hampered understanding of what makes a level great, not least because companies are making the same old levels over and over again. "Level design relies upon the tools your game provides. If your game design doesn't provide your level designers with interesting tools in the games mechanics there isn't much they can do. Mirror's Edge demanded interesting level design because of the games design, as did Portal. If you're going to rehash mechanics that are ten years old you're going to get rehashed levels. There are clearly a few outliers and oddly enough they all do very well at market. Bioshock, Portal, Mirrors Edge all had good level design, but that's three games out of lots and lots."Different Designs There are plenty of people making stuff who have very different ideas about what level editors are for. Artists like Tom "Nullpointer" Betts, for example, see these as just another tool in an artistic repertoire: "Level editing software allows artists the ability to leverage the power of commercial game engines to realise their own ideas," says Betts. "For the price of a game you can essentially buy your way into a part of the development chain. Of course, there are limitations to the control you can exert over the overall game mechanics and behaviour, but the trade-off is access to tools and tech that would otherwise take months to build up." Betts has used modding in gallery art on several occasions: "After working with the source code of Quake I realised that level editing was a much easier way to modify the games I was interested in. QQQ was an art installation based on Quake3 Arena where real time death-matches were re-presented in a hacked version of the client where modified levels and graphics led to a psychedelic flow of glitched imagery. I also used a modified Counter-Strike level in another installation where all the surfaces of the level were texture mapped in real time from CCTV cameras in the gallery, leading to a kaleidoscope of fragmented video." Another level-editing artist is Alison Mealey, whose UnrealArt project led to some inspired pieces of game-generated art. "The UnrealArt levels ended up as massive empty landscapes. The bots would play, Godlike, a Deathmatch map of my creation. These levels had a complex web of bot paths; the paths when viewed from a distance revealed a line drawing of a face. The idea was that the bots would go about their business killing each other, all the while their movements were being tracked and they were slowly revealing a beautiful, serene, traditional portrait." Alison set up the level so that bots would produce the data she needed to create beautifully impressionist portraits: "Essentially the final UnrealArt portraits can be seen as a visualisation of the level and the gameplay generated from that level from a top down perspective. It's a little more than that though (or at least I like to think it is), while I was the one who laid down the paths for the bots to walk along, it was them, their situations, their decisions and their movements that actually created the portraits." But what of the increased complexity of these tools? Doesn't that just make the artist's job harder? "I don't think so," says Mealey. "New technologies aren't scary, intimidating things for artists, you just need to look at it from the perspective of what does this new tool do, and is it something I can use to make my own lovely things." The lesson perhaps, is that creativity will always find a way, as long as we can provide the tools. The past ten years has seen the game industry create a toolkit that was unimaginable twenty years ago. What we do with it in the coming decade will be up to us. Source: www.techradar.com/news/gaming/the-science-and-art-of-level-design-662204Follow Jim Website: www.thesignalfrom.com/ Twitter: twitter.com/jimrossignol
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