Why you should share your game design

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Why you should share your game design

GodlyPerfection
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This post was updated on .

Why you should share your game [level] design


Today we are going to take a bit of a detour into a topic that I think is an extremely important step to improving as a designer. This article talks about general game design, but I will argue that since level design is a subset of game design that the same principal applies to what we do as map creators. It has been one of the reasons why I feel like I've progressed far as a level designer. Getting feedback and seeing other people's process is enough of a reason to do so and I highly encourage you guys give it a shot. Sure we are a little more vulnerable to theft, but it isn't as common as you would think. And think of it this way. If you show off your early designs, then people know that you did it first. Enjoy folks!

Oh and Lost Garden is one of my favorite game design resources out there. For those interested in Game Design I highly suggest taking a closer look at it.

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

- Have you kept designs secretive in the past and if so, for what reason?
- When you shared designs, if ever, did you feel that it was worth the feedback and collaboration from other forgers?
- How many instances of "creative theft" can you think of in your Halo career or any user created content community?



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Re: Resource #9 [10/14]

external memory
This post was updated on .
Well, Godly, remember Project Armada, and the Halo 3 Standoff variant it was based on, Armada (I think we met once or twice in a game on that map back when you had a different tag)? I did a lot of the work on the original but it was partly a collab between me and Fluffysushi aka Urm4mm4. without whom I probably never would have finished the map up or even gotten into Forging to begin with– still don't know whatever happened to that dude, the last thing he did was in 2010/early 2011 and he vanished from Halo's scene for good.

So anyway, I know this isn't necessarily the same topic, but in that project there were kind of a couple times that I didn't articulate my own ideas when we were working together as replacements for things he'd thrown down, instead just making them on my own time after collaborative sessions. He was much quicker than me at that point with iteration, but the thing is that the balance in terms of time investment fell way more on my side. He just lit the fire under my ass to continue the concept from Armada, and do this whole symmetrical/asymmetrical 2 maps in 1 idea.

It worked out fine later as I had the opportunity to state my case with the finished design, versus just shooting down his contributions right there, which I still kept a saved version of. And I did readily share the map's "unique" conceit BECAUSE I was less worried about someone just doing the exact same thing. There was such a combination of features, not all unique on their own but taken  together as a whole I haven't seen a combination out there like it in Reach. I'll have to put it back up in my fileshare so you guys can DL it and check it out, maybe do up a proper portfolio entry for it over break.

So in terms of open/closed development: I definitely favor open in the long run. A little background is in order. Skip this wall if you plan on DLing the map, don't care, or already know (Project) Armada.

***
Like Armada, the Reach edition, Project Armada (it never got a finalized version or name being more of an experiment) had a bunch of stuff:

2 symmetrical UNSC-aesthetic "airship" bases, both of which were designed using a stationary, trapped Warthog for a rocket turret, and which spawned an air vehicle (Falcon) in its hangar.

Airships accessible via multiple routes: docking bridges to a center platform, jump downs from smaller floating "blockade runner" ships also linked to opposite ship by teleporter, jumping back and forth from top center platform, and of course by air.

In asymmetrical games, one symmetrical only base ship and side blockade runner ship is replaced by an entire asymm-only bridge extension from the center that reaches into the Coliseum, acting as the Defender's base (Elites in Invasion), where the core spawns. This coliseum base is completely covered off by the coliseum window.

An additional structure and teleporter is added to one of the side blockade runner ships in asymm and Invasion (phased) to promote movement to the bridge and base from multiple paths. This Invasion phased dimension to the map is actually a continuation of the Halo 3 Standoff base gates, believe it or not, which also incorporated the concept of phases in the sense the door locks were irreversible. Those bunker doors actually blocked of otherwise inaccessible teleporters leading up to the ships from the inside of the normal ground bases in Armada; the idea of secondary linked bases not unlike Sidewinder/Avalanche was carried over to the Reach installment as well. In Project Armada, the ship teleporter linked to just outside the defender base, instead.
***

So, TL;DR:

As you can see, there were so many balls being juggled here that even if I was worried about the ideas being "stolen" (I don't care I just want to play a variety of interesting maps) the project was ambitious enough to question whether the idea could be done to begin with. It definitely seemed to end up favoring one or two ideas done on a smaller scale rather than all of them simultaneously in a single map. As it stands, the thing is at max budget in so many categories that the wiser choice would be to design the symmetrical and asymmetrical sections as different maps.

I guess I was inspired by Boneyard to try and do something that could potentially be used in multiple BTB gametypes, and to make a crazy map that functions with every gametype fairly for both teams (though with varying degrees of success and failure) whether a symmetrical vs asymmetrical game. That brings up another point: I hope for the sake of maps and Team Slayer that Team Slayer is at least defined as "symmetrical" by the forge/game engine again like it was in Halo 3. Maybe someone's already asked Overkill on the OT of Forge thread, over at THC forums...
EXEM
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Re: Resource #9 [10/14]

Nitro
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
There has been several maps that I have kept secret just either I was working towards a submission or just plain nervous someone would steal my ideas. But those were my earlier days of forging, now I forge for the heck of it and in hopes to get fast feedback because I let others in. By having my design out there to test, it either got positive or negative feedback right there. I knew from that moment I needed to get instant feedback like that more often. Having a thread is not the same as to having a forge lobby. Now I have never personally seen anyone steal anyone else's design. But that's not to say that no forger has gotten inspiration from a design they were shown, to better their map making abilities.
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Re: Resource #9 [10/14]

ForgedExodus
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I 100% agree with this article. Open 'developing' is crucial for feedback and improving the overall gameplay of the map. Countless times I have been well rewarded for getting multiple views on my creations, all wanting to help improve it. And the whole "5 different teams will come up with 5 different games" idea is completely true as well. That is the whole point of feedback. I typically get 4-5 single people to come in and tell me what my map is missing, and after wards, i try and implement all the additions that don't counteract each other. Then those 4-5 people come back and play it again, and usually, 3 of them find nothing wrong with it, and the other two say something like "Well i see you didn't do what i said, but i see you added this over there, thats fine too"

I have never actually heard of a map design theft happening, Most people stay away from that because, well let's face it, Halo has a respectful forge community for the most part. That and if you have seen a new map, 9 times out of 10 others have seen it as well and will be able to call you out for it.
Breaking the Limits, Without Breaking the Rules.
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Re: Resource #9 [10/14]

AtlasisShruggin
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I agree with the above, while I've witnessed someone trying to pawn a map off as their own, they were immediately called out for it and everyone in the lobby removed the kid immediately. Feedback is crucial as is taking the advice, or at least giving it serious consideration.

That's not to say small things can't be stolen when it comes to forge. For those of us who insist on having a long production time for a map, with testing and may reworks, I've seen many other forgers take advantage of this and steal an aesthetic flare or a small gameplay mechanic as their own. It happens. But 9 times out of 10 the thief had a bad reputation in the community. It may be annoying, but the pros of sharing our works in progress greatly outweighs the cons.
"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 #9 [10/14]

Dr D04K
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
This is even more true for forgers since it is inherently a community activity (unless you only want to play your map by yourself).  "Internal" beta testing is essentially impossible without sharing your design.  I personally have never let others play my maps and regretted it.  I have always learned something valuable from letting fresh eyes and thumbs loose on my creation.  I really do not understand the fear of theft, particularly for forge maps.  The only thing really vulnerable to theft is a map gimmick, and if your map relies on a gimmick being novel to be fun, you've got a different set of problems.
Gamer tag: "Dr D04K" (thats a zero and a four)
RP Portfolio
Maps:
Wishbone Alley
Dosado
Infinity Garden
Epicurean
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Re: Resource #9 [10/14]

Valiant Outcast
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
What I learned back when I did a lot of forging, and also writing (took a break from forging for a while) was this: your perspective is not identical to everyone else's. Other people can see mistakes that you have grown so accustomed to that you simply overlook them. They can see solutions to problems that you can't from your point of view.
My advice: find people to share with that might like things in maps or games that you don't. A lot of them, and as varied as possible. Pay attention to their ideas, even if they sound stupid or you know that you won't use them. Your content will be better for it in the long run.
I am neither the Judge or His jury; only His witness.
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Re: Resource #9 [10/14]

InnerSandman
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I haven't had many instances of creative theft, mainly because I've been very secretive with it. I've always kept them secret, or haven't done any at all, mainly because even though the comments I get are helpful, most of them say things way too complicated for just basic errors within the map, which has always urked me. :/
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Re: Resource #9 [10/14]

Gnappy As5A5sin
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I never understood the whole keeping everything completely secret side of things. I mean it makes sense in a corporate setting, where there are people's salaries on the line and there are lawsuits at stake, but for us forgers- not so problematic. At best we get valuable input on a map, at worst we get some awesome publicity (someone found my map awesome enough to steal!)

I could see keeping some things wrapped up- palette tests, texture tests, base rough drafts, things like that. But full map designs? Share that. Scream your designs from the rooftops! You should always be open to see something cool, or to show someone something cool. Period. It's a fundamental basis on which iteration is founded upon. Design, Assess, Iterate. Bringing fresh eyes in to assess the work is crucial.
On Skype Wolfpack Dragon wrote
"i came on the radio so I had to mention it"
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Re: Resource #9 [10/14]

Randy 355
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I never thought about it like this before, but I have never really hidden any designs I've had for games. I just never really talk about it unless I'm with close friends.

This article couldn't be more right. I mean, truly, one could get really damn specific about what game they plan to make, but how the hell could someone make it just like you would? That's just unfathomable. Look at Donkey Kong Country Returns. Retro's take on DKC is not like Rare's. It shares similarities, but that was their intention. When it boils right down to it, nobody could do it like Rare could, and Retro had 3 games to look at.

There is nothing to fear. Well, we should fear what we could miss out on by not sharing an idea. Nobody views things like you, and it is astonishing what ideas people could give you that you would have never even dreamed of. People are unique, and they are useful because of it. Even if your game design was "stolen", you could look at your competitor's rendition with a silver lining, and learn from their interpretation. You could build an all new game based on what they have done with your idea. All I see is potential.
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Re: Resource #9 [10/14]

LieutenantNasty
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I can see why people would hide there design when it comes to a contest. As for myself I'm all about the community. Supplying people with well built maps that focus on gameplay is my main concern. Even if someone steals my map, its ok as long as its out there for people to play. Now why I think posting maps early is good other then just feedback, like i said it's all about the community and some of us good forgers can help inspire and teach though our work. I have a few people in my plagroup that have advanced in forgeing competitive maps just from playing on my maps. So go forth inspire and teach. Lets all grow together.
Play Hard Start to Finish
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Re: Resource #9 [10/14]

P1 Mario
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
It would seem that a lot of us already apply this, or plan to... Namely the pre-production workspaces associated with this contest.
I do wonder about the unique mechanics never being copied, however.  Specifically because Forge is a very easy tool to use, a unique mechanic isn't as much of a "risk" because there's very little cost associated with trying it.

That being said, I think it's a better attitude to view imitation as a form of flattery and not to get too attached to "Forge Fame" or something along those lines.  Ultimately, tossing an idea out will only improve the community, even if it's "stolen" and implemented into another successful map.
~Ask not why I get to be Player 1.
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Re: Resource #9 [10/14]

Solo XIII
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I generally keep my designs between myself and a few well-trusted friends. It's absolutely important to get your designs out there so you can get proper feedback and generate interest among the forge community, but it can be frustrating when other forgers see something they like in your map and mimic its style or purpose, cheapening the originality of your work.

With that said, there are certain designers with whom I will pass ideas back and forth, the two of us building off the other's concepts, trying to out-do one-another. Friendly competition can be one of the most productive methods of producing original work. Sometimes you just have to buck up and accept that your ideas are going to press toward a better forge map, regardless of who the eventual designer is.
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Re: Resource #9 [10/14]

DarkJediMasterX
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
This is good because it lets you know that your design cannot be stolen. Everyone in the game industry plays games and they reference their designs from all aspects of life, including other video games. That is fine, its how you make it different and pitch it that is important. That was a fun course in college.
Halo 4 walkthroughs, lets plays & more http://www.youtube.com/user/darkholegames

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Re: Resource #9 [10/14]

SmartAlec13
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
I used to be nervous about sharing my map ideas, until I at least had enough down where I could talk about it and show that it is indeed mine. But now I know its better to share, especially at early stages. Sharing with people can help you get a feel for how other people see it withought the mental image that you have in your head. So now I share :P
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Re: Resource #9 [10/14]

Spiteful Crow
In reply to this post by GodlyPerfection
This article seems to be telling me that I shouldn't be mad if somebody, say, makes a map called "Chateau" even though I already made a map called "Chateau" earlier.  Interesting!  ;)

Overall, it's a good article.  It's a good idea to share ideas and information.  That's about getting feedback and criticism at all stages of the process, not just the end.  It makes for a better map and less heartbreak at the end!
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