Points of Interest and A Theory of Flow

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Points of Interest and A Theory of Flow

GodlyPerfection
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This post was updated on .

Points of Interest
Theory of Flow: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3


These posts are by the first real "guest author" at RP for the blog on the homepage. He also happens to be an admin here and is an aussie. True story. This is a solid discussion on really determining what "flow" is. Even Secret Schnitzel likes this shit... no joke. ;) The "points of interest" article is mentioned as sort of a pre-requisite as he references it. Enjoy folks.

Oh and all of the links in the article are Forge Lessons that you can read to get up to speed on the topic.

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

- How would you define "flow"? Does your definition coincide with Noklu's?
- What kind of points of interests are there?
- Are choke points an part of your map that you actively think about?



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Re: Resource #14 [10/20]

SmartAlec13
I remember reading this when he posted it those years ago. It is a very important point, Points of Interest (see what I did there). One thing I see with a lot of maps sometimes is that they look like any other. Sure the layout is different, but there isn't exactly anything that makes you want to see or play it much. So I like to always make sure my maps have some very unique element.
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Re: Resource #14 [10/20]

AtlasisShruggin
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I will always love how he began that third post :) Flow is a very deep and complicated subject, but when I'm trying to break down the flow of a map I always look to see how easily I can find my way to where I want to be. If I see a balcony, I want to know immediately how to get there. If I see a rocket spawn, I want to instantly see what the fastest route is. Player recognition of the map using visual clues and smart geometry and path can all add up to achieving this goal. It's restating much of the same ideas, but it's a simpler way of analyzing a map that is always easy to diagnose quickly.
"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 #14 [10/20]

DarkJediMasterX
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
Another great piece of resource! After reading it I was thinking of my map and I am like "oh yeah that is over there" or "thats how the tunnel system is" so this was a very good read and great resource! I might make a walkthrough video of the map in its current stage because it has the tunnel system finished and more :)
Halo 4 walkthroughs, lets plays & more http://www.youtube.com/user/darkholegames

For daily game news go to http://darkholegames.net/
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Re: Resource #14 [10/20]

AtlasisShruggin
DarkJediMasterX wrote
Another great piece of resource! After reading it I was thinking of my map and I am like "oh yeah that is over there" or "thats how the tunnel system is" so this was a very good read and great resource! I might make a walkthrough video of the map in its current stage because it has the tunnel system finished and more :)
I try to avoid walkthrough videos. I would upload a game being played instead. Comment over it if you want, but let us see how it plays and how players react. It's a lot easier for us to give feedback :)
"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 #14 [10/20]

Valiant Outcast
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I think that the trick to good flow is to design a map in such a way that the players always feel like the path they take is completely their own decision, rather than a train ride through a bunch of shooting galleries (hello Battlefield 3 campaign).
Good things to include toward that end are: shortcuts (skill jumps, environmental risk areas, and the like) multiple parallel paths (but don't always let them seem parallel), and drop down areas.
I am neither the Judge or His jury; only His witness.
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Re: Resource #14 [10/20]

Dr D04K
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
Very nice and thoughtful post.  In part 1 and 3, I love the acknowledgement of using choke points intentionally in maps to improve their lasting impressions by bringing strategy to a map.  Some of my favorite maps from the Halo franchise utilize choke points brilliantly for this purpose (Damnation, Longest, Chill Out, Lockout, Zanzibar, Sanctuary, Guardian, High Ground, Valhalla, Powerhouse, Boardwalk, Tempest).  While it is important to note that some of the worst maps in the franchise have been plagued by imbalanced choke points (Chiron, Boarding Action, Ascension, Burial Mounds, Ivory Tower, Countdown, Anchor 9) there are just as many maps who fail because they offer no strategic stronghold to play for (Foundation, Snowbound, Condemned).  For part 2, I found it a bit comical to cite the central diamond in Think Twice as an exemplar of using a POI to manipulate player movement, as if players ever need encouragement to move towards the middle of a map, especially when all halls lead there to begin with.  
Gamer tag: "Dr D04K" (thats a zero and a four)
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Re: Resource #14 [10/20]

Valiant Outcast
Dr D04K wrote
Very nice and thoughtful post.  In part 1 and 3, I love the acknowledgement of using choke points intentionally in maps to improve their lasting impressions by bringing strategy to a map.  Some of my favorite maps from the Halo franchise utilize choke points brilliantly for this purpose (Damnation, Longest, Chill Out, Lockout, Zanzibar, Sanctuary, Guardian, High Ground, Valhalla, Powerhouse, Boardwalk, Tempest).  While it is important to note that some of the worst maps in the franchise have been plagued by imbalanced choke points (Chiron, Boarding Action, Ascension, Burial Mounds, Ivory Tower, Countdown, Anchor 9) there are just as many maps who fail because they offer no strategic stronghold to play for (Foundation, Snowbound, Condemned).  For part 2, I found it a bit comical to cite the central diamond in Think Twice as an exemplar of using a POI to manipulate player movement, as if players ever need encouragement to move towards the middle of a map, especially when all halls lead there to begin with.  For Part 3,
A good number of those maps are still fun to play, and several are fan favorites. Ascension is one of the most played Halo 2 maps. Countdown is my personal favorite map in Halo Reach. Condemned offers a variety of gameplay styles that can be fun and successful.
You called it 100% right on Anchor 9 and Snowbound, though.

I am neither the Judge or His jury; only His witness.
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Re: Resource #14 [10/20]

Nitro
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I wrote heavily about flow in one of my earlier discussions on this board. Flow to me is the most crucial thing for a forger to create. It is by far the hardest thing I had to learn when forging. You don't just lay down a colliseum wall as a floor an put objects on top and call that flow. Of course that is what one of my first maps looked like.



But I moved forward as my forging life progressed and now simple but complexed maps often create the best flowing maps around.

I try to create choke points, well honestly it depends on the map itself. A two base linear map will be very flat as choke points are to vast and not closed. Now a multi-level room based map can have some awesome choke points, points of interests the players will either flock to or avoid. As a forger. I need to keep that a balanced see-saw, not to much but just enough for the teams to fight for position. Now, you can do that by weapon placement or for spawn trapping a team or just the center of the map where it is fun as hell to fight in.

Once again, understand flow and your maps will grow.
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Re: Resource #14 [10/20]

ForgedExodus
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
Flow to me is key. It's what matter the most and what keeps the game moving, time after time. While sight lines, choke points, rounded walls ect. are important, They all fall under one category: Flow. However, several aspects can change the fow, such as Noku's "POI" subject. Elevation, Power Weapons and camping spots all alter the flow of the game. Not that these things are terrible (Well camping spots yea) but the forger must be aware of what he is building.Typically, when I add something, I make sure it is either view-able from more then one angle, reachable by more then one entrance and is also blocking lines of sight to other areas on the map. Unless the area meets AT LEAST 2 of those criteria, It's scrapped and redone.While I think of choke points as being more RTS related, I completely understand the need for them in FPS games. The Pit, Guardian, Narrows, and almost every other successfully made map has one or two. When you're making infection or lets say invasion (Possibly dominion), choke points become EXTREMELY important to watch. "Do I make this place more defensible here, since the other place has that over sized hill?" "Do I sacrifice that open feeling to make it more aesthetically pleasing and balanced?"  All these questions, ned to be going through the forgers head. Good read.
Breaking the Limits, Without Breaking the Rules.
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Re: Resource #14 [10/20]

Randy 355
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
The Points of Interests article has given me a great idea for a map theme! So, that is definitely a plus. That being said, I like a lot of the points, and some of these articles are actually coinciding with the art design class I have in college. POIs are what make maps memorable, and I think it's rather vital to having a successful map.

POIs also help a great deal with callouts for teamwork, and this is not something that should be intentional. You can have a POI, but what is your PPI supposed to be? The less identifiable or describable it is, the harder it might be to call out. Now, overtime, you'd find some callout for every area, but I think this would help more in terms of randoms. I'm almost always a random, but I still like to communicate. I'm not as used to it though, so I don't know what to call areas some times, and I need to make sure my teammates know what I mean. For example, Zanzibar's wheel. Even if it's your first time ever on that map, it should be pretty easy to figure out where the wheel is.
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Re: Resource #14 [10/20]

deathxxrenegade
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
This, along with reading all the posts before me, gave me a few ideas for my Earth Temple remake.....Ideas to even help me solve the problem of possibly not having trees.  When I think of 'flow', I actually think of a river. Every time the river changes direction, there's a reason. Maps must do this as well. Maps should make sense. I was thinking about this when I made Earth Temple.  It moved with the land. It was easy to see how to get from point A to B.
To command the past you control the future. To command the future you conquer the past.    

Kane
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Re: Resource #14 [10/20]

Gnappy As5A5sin
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
Every map I have an Idea for always starts out as a group of loops. That's all that movement in a multiplayer level boils down to- loops. The paths between cover, weapons and objectives are what matters to maintain a player's sense of control. When a map gets to the point where it's a part of the player, that looping is going to be what makes or breaks the map. It's the map at it's core. Everything you can do to modify a map changes how those paths are going to be used.
On Skype Wolfpack Dragon wrote
"i came on the radio so I had to mention it"
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Re: Resource #14 [10/20]

Spiteful Crow
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I thought this article might be about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's concept of "Flow" and since it's not, I figured I'd chime in with thoughts on it anyway.

Csikszentmihalyi's concept of Flow is really about happiness but can be translated to games.  In short, if something is too easy we quickly become bored, and if something is too difficult we quickly become frustrated with negative emotion.  You know that feeling of playing Tetris for like 5 hours and you had no idea that time passed because you were groovin' along?  It's kinda like that.

I think that's a good concept to take into map creation and navigation.  If your map is too simple, too easy to "see through" to all the best spots, the best outcomes, etc. then you get bored with it.  How many maps have you tried and said, "this map sucks, all you do is take X position and Y weapon and you win."  That's no fun.  I never thought that about a great map, like The Pit.  It was more, "Sure, they got the rockets, but we got the sword and their sniper.  Let's get them to use up the rockets and start to close the gap on their shotgun," etc.  There never was a simple solution, but at the same time there were MANY simple solutions.

Similarly, you don't want to go into a map where trying to figure out what to do is difficult, or accomplishing it is hard.  This is why you should be able to walk around a map (ramps, etc.).  Jumps can be fun but you don't want to force them because they're a skill move and can break up your flow in gameplay.
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Re: Resource #14 [10/20]

P1 Mario
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I took away the most from the choke points section of the resource.  The part about making sure choke points are easily flanked was fairly obvious, but I had never considered weighing a choke point as a power weapon before.  That's a useful insight.  I worry, however, that choke points are not quite on par with a power weapon.  This is especially true when the opposing team has a power weapon that plays into the choke point's strength.  For instance, a rocket or sword in a small room, or a sniper over an open ground choke point.  Designers will just have to be careful to consider what kind of counters are available to the attacking team when designing their strongholds.

On another note, one consideration we might have is the effect Domination can have on choke points - namely, it makes them dynamic.  I'm sure we'll see plenty of this once the custom Domination maps start to show up.
~Ask not why I get to be Player 1.
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Re: Resource #14 [10/20]

Spiteful Crow
P1 Mario wrote
I took away the most from the choke points section of the resource.  The part about making sure choke points are easily flanked was fairly obvious, but I had never considered weighing a choke point as a power weapon before.  That's a useful insight.  I worry, however, that choke points are not quite on par with a power weapon.  This is especially true when the opposing team has a power weapon that plays into the choke point's strength.  For instance, a rocket or sword in a small room, or a sniper over an open ground choke point.  Designers will just have to be careful to consider what kind of counters are available to the attacking team when designing their strongholds.

On another note, one consideration we might have is the effect Domination can have on choke points - namely, it makes them dynamic.  I'm sure we'll see plenty of this once the custom Domination maps start to show up.
I think it depends how you "look" at a power weapon vs a chokepoint.  Sure, they feel different, but in the end the match ends up being about who gets the most kills.  Chokepoints can therefore be VERY powerful, even more than power weapons, because they are a great way to get kills without losing much life, and they tend to have a lot more longevity than a power weapon (not limited to 4 rockets or whatever, for instance).
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Re: Resource #14 [10/20]

external memory
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I want to point out that flow control will be a really interesting challenge in Halo 4 given personal ordnance.

One: considering standard Infinity Slayer Personal Ordnance (ISPO) you have to see the weighting and assume that, in addition to whatever Initial Ordnance (IO) and Random Ordnance (RO) is in play either in the player's hands or out on the map, by a certain amount of standard kill medals or even quicker with multikill and special kill medals, a player could absolutely bypass the risk-reward you had set up with your map using IO  spawns and by tuning specific RO spawns to only drop appropriate classes of weapons. It will be very instrumental to check the standard maps and gametypes to see how and to what extent 343 has accommodated this by map design.

If your goal is to make a map to work with those gametypes, as with this challenge, you have to consider that simply by holding a close quarters position with an AR, plasma pistol or boltshot and picking off kills opportunistically, a player can upgrade to a scattershot, shotgun, detonator or in rare cases even a more deadly rocket launcher or incinerator. That can confound the intended flow of the map by having multiple power weapons come into play in less predictable positions.

But they can be predicted.

If you think of the heatmaps of status (kills and earning points basically) versus deaths in the Polygon feature on playtesting Halo 4, this can be used to predict where players will be earning points in order to call in ordnance. Now it doesn't make sense to call in ordnance in red/deadly/risk areas, but if a player does, this isn't as much of an issue anyhow; if it's good stuff, it will act as a point of interest promoting flow into that new point of interest. A player has all the time in the world (well, the game on that map) to choose a good opportunity to call it down, and will likely do so when there's a lull in combat, and this is most likely to happen in those less risky areas. So it's still a matter of making each area variable based on different approaches by different contextual roles, like was explained back in Resource 12, the small bible of level design I think.

More than ever, you have to take into account how each area can be approached by a different AA as well as multiple players with power weapons, because otherwise, you have the chance of a player calling down a shotty or sword without having to fight for it on a specific IO or RO. That's a contextual opportunity you can't control directly, but you can control whether there are places where a player can just use that uncontested. So being able to toss grenades into an open window that doesn't support much of a sightline is one way to promote flow in this new situation where anyone can call in a campy weapon. Another might be shield door lifts behind that position, so a player has to either move down through that shield to use the weapon and give up the position temporarily, or turn his back to the other approach, allowing for a coordinated attack from his enemy's teammate. There's all kinds of other possibilities.
EXEM