Continuity Level Design

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Continuity Level Design

GodlyPerfection
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Continuity Level Design


Another one of my favorite articles on level design. It states at the beginning that this is heavily single player focused, but I beg to differ. It covers the concept of player navigation in great detail and I think player navigation is very important even in multiplayer maps. It covers topics from scene composition, to lines, to player perceived goals, visual language, mechanic consistency, etc. The idea is to always make sure the player knows where they are going or what they need to do next.

Here are some questions that can help get your reply started:

- What key purposes does navigation serve a multiplayer level designer?
- A lot of concepts here refer to concepts relating to photography, can you think of other concepts photographers use that could be of use to multiplayer level designers?
- Can you think of a segment of a campaign where good navigation kept you going and bad navigation had you spinning in circles?



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Re: Resource #8 [10/13]

AtlasisShruggin
Another great article, even though the author mentions that the techniques are mostly used in single player, the application to forge is very apparent. I especially enjoyed the concept of establishing a visual language, and the section on lines. Lines seem to be a very useful tool and the examples he gives of good usage and what he labels ambiguous lines, really help push the point home.

Ambiguous lines feel like they should be avoided all together in multiplayer arenas. He mentions that rules are made to be broken, but I feel like this is one I'll stick to.
"This dread born of risk is not the opposite of joy, or even of quiet activity and calm enjoyment. It transcends such oppositions and lives in secret communion with the serene and gentle yearnings of creativity."
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Re: Resource #8 [10/13]

InnerSandman
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
The main purposes of navigation are for the purpose of player orientation in games. If a player has no idea what to do, and there is no clear evidence or hints of how to complete a problem, then the player isn't able to navigate through the map at all. Puzzle maps use this idea of "hidden navigation" where you really have to look for these subtle details which will help you get past areas. My examples of good navigation and bad navigation come from the first Halo. The good navigation was in The Silent Cartographer, where the player discovers the path to inner area of the island. I found satisfaction in finding this path. Some bad came in the 2nd mission Halo, where after the first tunnel section, I had no idea where to go. XD
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Re: Resource #8 [10/13]

external memory
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I'll disagree on one point because I think it's an assumption that's repeatedly made an that doesn't always hold true. "If you want the player to not go somewhere shroud it in darkness".What if the last time I saw natural light, it led outside to a dead-end balcony and a bottomless drop, and this area is meant to be an indoor space like inside a highrise? Rigidly following this lighting "rule" that makes the assumption the brightest lit path is the one the player is always going to follow is equating a human with an insect, acting only on knee-jerk reactions and instinct. It also makes for predictable level.

The problem with having a lot of little "rules" like this is because they aren't just that in a player's or designer's mind. They're all involved in different hierarchies and relationships jockeying for whatever is most useful for the situation to a player. That's, to me, why the meat of the game is putting together all the things the designer has either forced you to learn by holding your hand (not always enjoyable) or by letting you pic them up yourself. You also don't need to worry about the player being stumped in many cases (remember adventure games) as long as you can put yourself in their shoes given the opportunities to learn the solution or possible solutions and they will feel the solution was clever rather than stupid. As a player, I want to be challenged, too.

If anything, I think this perspective and approach is harder and why you see more and more games that talk down to and smother the player.As far as the ambiguous lines, I think those red lines would have been fine as long as they are there to say "both roads lead to the same destination here". I never really played much Mirror's Edge though, so I don't know if the game is often meant to be one long twisting corridor with basically a single path.

Anyways, I feel like thi post is a good general guidline, but woory that the "accessibility" trend factor may turn off longtime games if left unhecked; take that statement as you will. I do feel that for new forgers starting from that perspective may be instrumental, however. I certainly fall into the category of new forger despite what I've seen and absorbed, so I take my own advice with a grain of salt. My actual input is I guess where I would most like to see this theory judged, which I assure you is coming soon...
EXEM
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Re: Resource #8 [10/13]

Der Flatulator
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
Interesting article. To me it seemed mostly single player, and focused on linear game-play. There are a few things that can be applied, such as lighting and lines, but the majority of the article was about linear movement, and how to aid that. With a multi-player environment we want to persuade users to use all of the map, and not get them to go in one direction, but we could reverse engineer the principle, and use it for that reason.

GodlyPerfection wrote

- Can you think of a segment of a Halo campaign where good navigation kept you going and bad navigation had you spinning in circles?

The Library. Halo CE. I spent hours trying to complete that for the first time, but after a makeover, including textures and lighting, in Halo CE Anniversary it takes me around 30 to 40 minutes.
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Re: Resource #8 [10/13]

ForgedExodus
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
First off, I give props to the Author of that Article, in using Half Life 2 as an example. I never palyed Mirrors Edge, but HL2 was one my favs back in the day.

Secondly, I completely agree with the navigation concepts used in this article. While the author was more concerned with single player "How to get out of this place" encounters such as breaking objects with other items found in the map, Multiplayer takes the same ideas.

With the Halo campaign....I'd say Cortana from Halo 3. While I can easily make my way through the level now, in a few areas of that mission, navigation was lacking. Whether it be going forward, just to find you need to go back and up, or simply not finding the right area to go.
I however agree with the lighting aspect. Having coloring and lighting distinguish which area goes where is priority 2 (Priority 1 being flow). A map in Halo I feel does this wonderfully is Prisoner, or Solitude from CEA more specifically. The main room is lighter, due to the broken snow white window, and you know when there will eb a ramp due to the darkness surrounding the entrance. (It also uses the window for Orientation, as I'm seeing now that I look at it.)
Breaking the Limits, Without Breaking the Rules.
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Re: Resource #8 [10/13]

Dr D04K
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I honestly didn't get much new out of this article.  The main points relevant to MP map design were already touched upon in previous articles.  Concepts like weenies, lighting, and directed player movement (map flow), while obviously crucial to successful map design, have already been introduced, and in more useful contexts.
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Re: Resource #8 [10/13]

GodlyPerfection
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Dr D04K wrote
I honestly didn't get much new out of this article.  The main points relevant to MP map design were already touched upon in previous articles.  Concepts like weenies, lighting, and directed player movement (map flow), while obviously crucial to successful map design, have already been introduced, and in more useful contexts.
I think this is a valuable article because more re-enforcement of the concept as well as the combined example at the end using Half-Life really helps solidify the concepts. It is also nice to see things from many different people's perspectives. Many of these topics will be looked at by many of the resources, but I'm trying to make sure I also include as much variety as I possibly can. Today's article is a good example of this.


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Re: Resource #8 [10/13]

Gnappy As5A5sin
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
Nice to see an article that sums up some of the things I had mentioned prior in regard to contrast and lighting in L4D and Mirror's Edge helping navigation. Good stuff here. Really stringing those thins together for a noob in a multiplayer experience is a matter of a Choose Your Own Adventure book- The continuity of whatever visual style you're pushing can lead you anywhere really. It's just a matter of keeping options clear. For your veterans, these things will be ingrained, but the time it takes someone to go betweent those two stages changes drastically based on how you handle these details.
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Re: Resource #8 [10/13]

Dr D04K
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
GodlyPerfection wrote
Dr D04K wrote
I honestly didn't get much new out of this article.  The main points relevant to MP map design were already touched upon in previous articles.  Concepts like weenies, lighting, and directed player movement (map flow), while obviously crucial to successful map design, have already been introduced, and in more useful contexts.
I think this is a valuable article because more re-enforcement of the concept as well as the combined example at the end using Half-Life really helps solidify the concepts. It is also nice to see things from many different people's perspectives. Many of these topics will be looked at by many of the resources, but I'm trying to make sure I also include as much variety as I possibly can. Today's article is a good example of this.
 Fair point, and re-enforcement of those crucial design concepts is important.  A diversity of perspective, even on the same topic, can be very constructive.  I guess since I've never played Half-Life, and since I'm pretty aware of these basic concepts, the article fell flat for me.  That's not to say it won't help others in the community, and I wouldn't advocate you not posting this kind of information, or any kind of information just because I, or anyone else, didn't find if helpful, as long as someone did.
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Re: Resource #8 [10/13]

Valiant Outcast
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I think that, while the third rule, is almost always applicable, a good level designer will use environmental elements to change which direction the players is looking, but not always which way that are facing.
It is possible to have a players eyes facing one direction while they are listening to something in another direction. Audio cues like those used in grav-lifts are always useful for alerting players, even if the action is not in their physical field-of-view.
I am neither the Judge or His jury; only His witness.
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Re: Resource #8 [10/13]

Nitro
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
Using signs, like in foundry or colored sides in reach are good navigation tools. While they aren't the best, but they are ok for what we are dealt with. Now, navigation in Halo 4 might be difficult, or just different on the Impact map. The lighting is going to be the tool for that map. Like the sun, will feel like it will always be located on one side, the shadows will be a huge indicator as well. Overall, I hope Halo 4 brings more to the table for identifying object colors for sides. Hopefully screen lag isn't a issue with the forge maps either, then we could add those glowing orbs for navigation as well.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, we as forgers also can you turn on or off motion sensor, whether we are forging for Slayer Pro or casual play. Me in particular, I forge competitive maps and I hate motion tracking as it gives away the element of surprise to the battle. So, I will use natural navigation more in my maps to help the players out since motion sensors will be off.
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Re: Resource #8 [10/13]

P1 Mario
Rule 3: Everything Happens In-Front of the Player

Applying Rule #3 to multiplayer is going to be interesting.  In a single-player experience, you can script movement of everything in your level, but in multi-player, the only real movement that's being done is beyond your control - other players.  The reason this rule exists for single-player is because we humans hate getting surprised (or killed) by things we had no chance to predict.  It makes us feel like there's no control of the situation.  If we can predict it, we might grump  at the tactics that set up our demise (like a camping shotgun man) but we'll hate the player, not the game.  Perhaps this is why many skilled players hate the idea of "randoms" who can outperform them in some situations.

I wonder then, if this rule argues for more open map design?  Line of Sight at least, even if not Line of Shot. (Har har)  Essentially, by giving players the chance to predict where the opposition will be *generally,* I wonder if it's possible to reduce frustration at surprise kills.  I say generally, of course, because unless there's a specific reason for it, giving away the specific location of players is usually a bad idea.
Nitro wrote
Oh, and I forgot to mention, we as forgers also can you turn on or off motion sensor, whether we are forging for Slayer Pro or casual play. Me in particular, I forge competitive maps and I hate motion tracking as it gives away the element of surprise to the battle.
Like Nitro said, the element of surprise is important.
~Ask not why I get to be Player 1.
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Re: Resource #8 [10/13]

Solo XIII
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
A lot of the information in this article was interesting, but I don't see much of it influencing the way I design.
The part with which I most identified was the topic of movement and how it attracts the eye.

After reading this, I couldn't help but think about Haven.
Haven has a series of light-tracks along the ground that sweep toward the center of the map in pulses.
Not only does this help orient players (they will always know which direction they are facing) but it helps lead them into combat as well.

The usefulness of this knowledge, unfortunately, is a little out of our control. At least within the Forge system.
So far, I only know of one object that has moving parts, but I certainly see myself putting it near the center as "bait" for players.

--

By the way, the invisible monster boss fight was hilarious.
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Re: Resource #8 [10/13]

DarkJediMasterX
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
Another great navigation resource! This does seem more for single player games though, but it can be referenced for multiplayer games too. Great post :)
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Re: Resource #8 [10/13]

SmartAlec13
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I think one of the biggest parts is making sure the "Where am I going" question is answered. Obviously we don't deal with this a huge amount since the main objective is just to seek out and kill on a  smaller scale map compared to a single player adventure, but it still applies.

 I like to think of Narrows from H3. Right away you spawn and you can see that there is a bridge /path extending outward in front of you, with light in the center/distance. So this right away attracts you and tells you that you should go there.
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Re: Resource #8 [10/13]

Spiteful Crow
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
It's interesting when comparing the single-player focus of this article to the arena-multiplayer focus of the Quake one.  Something this article would seem to emphasize, for example, is the use of windows and openings to allow the player to update their internal model of the world more frequently.  However, many players hate these because: a) they appear to be something you can shoot through from a distance but you can't, and b) they remove the ability to sneak up and surprise an opponent.

This article suggests that you don't want to negatively surprise the player, and maybe that works in SP but in MP it's a whole new ball game.
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