Open Areas and Spatial Dynamics in Maps

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Open Areas and Spatial Dynamics in Maps

noklu
Legendary LurkerAdmin.
nokluu
Well, that's a nice and fancy title, am I right?

This topic arises from Mr GreenWithAGun
mrgreenwithagun wrote
I have been told that one of my maps (I don't have it any longer) had too many wide areas on it. I was taken by that, since it was similar to Boardwalk in many ways. And there are a number of maps that I could say the same about, but it seems like people are trying to tell me something and I am just not getting it.

So the topic would be, "When does a map have too many open areas?"
So, what is an "open map", how and why does it affect gameplay, is it always bad and how can you make it work/fix it?
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Know this and fear.

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Re: Open Areas and Spatial Dynamics in Maps

GodlyPerfection
RP Founder
Irrelephancy
GodlyPerfection
So for me when determining if a map is "too open", I try to take a look at cover vs threat zones. A map being too open means that while walking through it you are too vulnerable... but you don't want a map to be too closed either so finding a balance is crucial. So an understanding of how open an area is requires an understanding of your vulnerability at each point based on the chance a threat has to hit you from any given position

Imagine threat zones being a light that is centered on the threat (your opponent). The strength of the light is determined by the effective range of the weapon he can currently activate (melee/held weapon). Then imagine cover as just that... cover. The lighter the area affected the more vulnerable that area is to the threat.

To calculate the general vulnerability of an area you would have to sample every possible threat location vs every possible location that you could be at. So an algorithm to calculate this would be:

For each traversable position
    For each other traversable position
        If the first position can hit the second position
            Then the second position is vulnerable to the first position

So every time a position is vulnerable we would add one to its vulnerability. By doing the above algorithm we would be able to calculate the general vulnerability of every traversable spot on the map. Now, just knowing these numbers isn't very helpful, a visual aid would be much more appropriate. To create one we could easily just find the range of vulnerability, use the ratio of that vs the range from white to black and then create a sort of heatmap based on potential vulnerability. This algorithm could also factor in effective range of the weapon and could calculate multiple weapons at a time... like when you are considering melee and the held weapon.

Of course this would not be an accurate way to get a feel for how open a map is because you also have to take into account things like how often a player is going to be in each traversable position, which requires also calculating things like eye catching, incentives, etc. Maybe if I took the time to create a program to calculate a vulnerability map based on cover placement it could act as a strong tool to help understand our maps better and maybe help understand this concept a little better.


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Re: Open Areas and Spatial Dynamics in Maps

FeanorOnForge
FEAN0RPHOENIX
This post was updated on .
I will add to this later a I am in a rush to get to work

Annother aspect that needs to be taken into account is false cover. by this I mean somthing that obscures LOS but wont stop bullets, in Reach, this is usually trees. looking at your example of Boardwalk there are alot of open areas, but these are segmented off by large blocking walls and all areas have interspersed cover available- in almost all areas you can usually get behind safe cover before anything bar a sniper can finish you off at mid-long range. Unless you decide to run in a straight line right down the middle, you shouldnt be in LOS of any normal firing position for more than a few seconds and trees help in this. look at the placement of the trees and I believe you'll see that some are very strategically placed to block LOS, without blocking bullets passing through- they have saved me from an inexperienced sniper many times as they have fired off blindly into the trees once I get behind it.

In general I think I find larger open areas one of the hardest things to balance, Especialy taking all 3 dimentions into account. Godly's ideas are of a great help but finding the right amounts of cover in relation to high-ground, ramps, sniper points and even the threat of vehicles on some maps is very hard. I believe if someone was saying you map has too many open areas (somthing similar has been said of one of mine) that they infact mean that it has too many areas that are over-exposed to ranged fire and lack cover. When I questioned about my own map I found out this was what they ment and simply adding some extra wall height on the raised area running parallel to the open area to block firing down appeased them completly and changed the feel of the area from an exposed one to a more viable path through the map. I had placed enough viable cover for ground level fighting but forgetting the high ground left the low cover over exposed.
 
"Not all who wander are Lost"

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Re: Open Areas and Spatial Dynamics in Maps

MythicFritz
MythicFritz
"The map is too open" is a common reaction from players with a multitude of reasons behind it.

Like Godly said, areas are often too open when there are too many areas of threat for a player to focus on. They are spinning around in circles trying to figure out where all the bullets are coming from. The obvious reason a player would comment on a map being too open would be:



But maybe you've created just a portion of the map purposefully open as a high risk area with a power weapon for a reward. If the "too open" comments keep coming, it might be because players are drawn into the exposed areas. Pay attention to map flow in your test videos and see where paths lead players. Eye catching, spawning, and incentives can be subtly used to alter players attention away from the open area and towards the rest of that awesome map.

Certain aesthetics could simply make players feel exposed as well. Even if a building, wall, or ceiling aren't necessary to protect players from enemies, it might protect them from their imagination.
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Re: Open Areas and Spatial Dynamics in Maps

noklu
Legendary LurkerAdmin.
nokluu
MythicFritz wrote
Certain aesthetics could simply make players feel exposed as well. Even if a building, wall, or ceiling aren't necessary to protect players from enemies, it might protect them from their imagination.
That last section is really important. What the player is experiencing isn't really the objective reality of the game, it is their perception of it. A player can believe that they are extremely exposed in a fairly safe place, or vice versa. You can make use of this by creating spaces that seem really safe but, in truth, aren't or creating areas that are really safe but appear exposed. The latter is useful to deter camping. If the infamous sword room on The Pit (H3) had glass windows and no roof, I dare say that far fewer people would camp that place.

Players tend to remember memorable events. That is obvious but it is really important to keep that in mind. A player might only remember the times that he was getting pwned while crossing a open area but forget the multitude of times he crossed it safely. Another thing about the memory is that negative events are easier to remember than good events. A larger magnitude is required for a good memory to remain than for a negative memory.
The otters are coming with whiskers honed to razor blades.
Know this and fear.

Email me at xnoklu[at]gmail.com should you need to contact me.
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Re: Open Areas and Spatial Dynamics in Maps

Zombified Panda
Zombified Panda
I like everyone's view and opinions on the subject, especially Mythicfritz's Theory about the illusion of safety with false cover. To answer the threads question, the lack of cover isn't necessarily a bad thing. I think its just a balance of risk and reward, like a power weapon in an exposed area of combat. High grounds has an advantage, so i generally give it less cover and is why i like mythicfrit's theory. On a map i'm working on now the middle high grounds had little cover, through play test players felt too vulnerable and would hardly travel to the top. I added a small barricade, SMALL, if you crouched half your body would still be showing, suddenly there was much more traffic and no more complaints about the area being too open. So there is defiantly a psychological factor to account for, you could also try using color. A calming blue might make the player feel more comfortable than a frantic yellow.
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Re: Open Areas and Spatial Dynamics in Maps

pinmikaa
 Discrete navigational tools as they are built into the UI. So if you are only concerned about making maps and not just games in general then feel free to skip to the Immersed navigational tools, however I highly suggest you read all of it because it will help you create situations where the Discrete tools and the Immersed tools work together well. The Immersed tools is the particular section that applies to forgers. Various techniques like contrast, style, lighting, motion, lines, landmarks, composition, weenies, etc. Can help you construct your map well enough so your players will never get lost.
ahsan
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