1. [Guest] Height Manipulation: Part 1

      written by Ray Benefield
      Good morning Reaching Perfection readers. Today I will not be posting... today's post is by a very regular and loyal reader. He has been a good friend of mine for quite a while. As we have grown to get to know each other we would typically talk about level design theory topics just for the fun of it. He has been an avid learner of level design and would like to share one of his theories with the world. I am a big fan of getting the community involved and part of that is allowing you guys to share your opinions and theories in the world of level design. I have done this once in the past and I got pretty good feedback on it. So today I present to you part 1 of 2 of Bartoge's Height Manipulation theory. Stay tuned tomorrow for another Forge Lesson.

      Height Manipulation: Part 2

      By: Bartoge

      Height manipulation is an important technique to learn if you ever want to design great competitive maps. Have you ever played on a map that only has 1 level? No, that would be boring, especially compared to maps that have 3 or 4 levels to play around in. Correctly using different types of height manipulation can make you map so much more interesting, but if you screw it up, the effect will turn people away. Before we dive in, let me explain a word I use a lot: height. Example: There are 2 heights. What I mean by height is that there are 2 areas, and one is at a higher elevation than the other. That’s all I mean by the word height.


      Jumping is the simplest form of height manipulation, and it’s also user controlled. By taking a look at why people jump, we can figure out why we want different heights in our map. People jump for two reasons.

      1. Jumping allows the player to suddenly be somewhere else, in most cases, higher than where they were. If you are in a BR fight, its sudden movements that are to your advantage, because it requires more skill to suddenly move your reticule somewhere completely different than to just slowly follow your opponents head. It is the difference between walking and strafing. Pros can follow where you walk, but if you have a good strafe; it’s much harder to keep up with where your head is. Jumping is similar, where if you head keeps bobbing up and down, it’s a much harder target than something staying on a singly level.
      2. Jumping gives you a height advantage, even though it is only for a short amount of time. Lets actually discuss why being higher is an advantage. If you where looking at somebody directly above you, what would you see? Their butt. You cannot see their head because the rest of their body is shielding it from you. If, however, if you were directly above them, all you would see is their head, making it a much bigger and easier to hit target. So as you go higher than your enemy, your head becomes harder to shoot, while theirs becomes easier. Jumping gives you this advantage, and while it’s minimal in effect, and lasts a short time, it does help.

      Those two reasons translate directly into why you need height variation in maps. There are 2 types of height variation. Each one focuses on one of the reasons above. Let’s dive in, shall we.

      Drop Height

      Drop heights are easily the most used in user created forge maps, mainly because it is easier to forge. This type of height variation is essentially when one height drops off directly to another height. The Pit offers the best example of this.

      See how the top platform just stops and then the floor continues lower than where the platform was. This is the easiest way to look at it, but drop height can also be over large areas of the map. From the top of Construct to the bottom, that is a drop height. This…

      is also a drop height. Whenever there are 2 heights in which the change to them isn’t gradual, you have a drop height. What that means is that the top height doesn’t have a ramp to the bottom height. When the top height is done, it just drops off, like a cliff.

      Rolling Height

      The other type of height is rolling. This is more specific to Bungie maps, particularly because they have the tools to create it with ease, but with the coming of Halo: Reach and coordinate editing, rolling heights may be more common. Rolling heights are based on hills, arcs, and ramps... One of the best examples is on Narrows.

      See the long arc the goes across the entirety of the map. Well, that is rolling height. Whenever you play on Narrows there is always that rush to the middle and you always wait for the other teams head to just poke over the top of the arc, and that’s when you start shooting. The other player can move back down to get into cover, but you can move up to see more of them. Rolling height doesn’t have to be that noticeable though. It can be just slight variations in height, like in Valhalla.

      See. Look at any of Bungie’s terrain and you will get a good picture of rolling height. It’s basically a gradual change in height over a specific area. There is one more type of rolling height. Ramps.

      This is how forgers create rolling height. While it’s not as complex as Bungie’s terrain, it does offer a gradual change in height over a specific area.

      That's all for part 1. Tune in later this week (Thursday or Saturday... who know?) for the second part of Bartoge's Height Manipulation theory. Please give him as much feedback as you possibly can on his writing style, comments on his theory, or anything else that you may want to comment on... like whether or not you like these special guest posts. Remember you too can share your theories on Reaching Perfection. Just get in touch with me somehow and let me know. If I think it is atleast a decent thought for an idea then we can get you setup with your own post time. Til' tomorrow's Forge Lesson... laterz peepz.


      BadCompany Brik said...

      Good post, just one spelling mistake that I noticed, and one repeated word (in the second reason people jump, you say "If, however, if...") The spelling mistake is in the last paragraph, "Thursday or Saturday... who know?"

      Besides that, a good post, with a good theme. Height is definitely my favorite variable to play around with in Forge, with most of my maps coming around to the main feature being height changes in certain areas.

      Canadians said...

      A nice article, interesting to see heights broken up and classified. Jumping covered the advantages of height well, though I feel jumps do not quiet have the same advantages geographical height. Once you have jumped you are on a very predictable path, it leaves you vulnerable, open to un-dodgable grenades and incoming fire. Drop Height and Rolling Height do not have those disadvantages.

      As for Drop Height, I feel that drop heights a player can jump, have a different purpose to drop heights that cannot be reached by a jump(at least from a certain side)

      Since this is only a section of your height theory I can't tell what you will be covering later, but I hope to see heights roll in lines of site, paths, and risk vs reward pop up.

      Some disadvantages to height would be nice to see as well, after all the higher you are the easier it is to be seen. For example being atop the hill in Valhalla leaves you very vulnerable from almost every angle and the priority target for an enemy sniper.

      One last thing I'll add is that the advantage from height varies over distance. The farther away the opponent the less effective your height advantage becomes. The line of sight to the head is the hypotenuse in the triangle with distance and height as its legs.

      Interesting read Bartoge, really got me thinking, keep up the good work.

      Bartoge said...

      Question: Was this a good length article? I think it was longer than some of Godly's recent ones, but was it too long that it didn't keep your attention all the way through?

      Thanks for the feedback. I do have some of that stuff in mind for the next part, so hopefully you shall approve. And as for the jumping bit, I realize that there are disadvantages to jumping, but despite them, people still do it while in combat, so I looked at those advantages and saw that they reflect back onto the geometry height variation, and while they dont serve the same purpose, they are similar.

      Anonymous said...

      Hmm does this have something to do with why those little ledges are on both sides of the pit's camo hall? The ones you can jump on and get the sneak on somebody coming out of the hall.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Actually now that you mention it yes. That is a great reason for why that particular level designer put it there. Theories can be seen being applied everywhere. Good catch Anonymous.

      As for the length Bart, I actually think it was a wee bit long, but that's because I have my own style of posting. I also feel that there was a bit too many pictures, maybe about two less next time. I do think the pictures did help with the length though.

      Sotha said...

      Well, most of it is good. I don't entirely care that you spent the majority of the time merely classifying the different types of heights (though I imagine that this is just the introductory part of the "Height Manipulation" post, and that you will delve deeper in the second one).

      I did not like the way you wrote your definition of height though:

      "Before we dive in, let me explain a word I use a lot: height. Example: There are 2 heights. What I mean by height is that there are 2 areas, and one is at a higher elevation than the other. That’s all I mean by the word height."

      It is incredibly redundant. Perhaps something like the following would be better (of course you shouldn't just directly copy my phrasing into the post though):

      "Before we dive in, allow me to explain a word I use quite often: height. For example, if I say there are two heights, I mean that there are two areas, one at a higher elevation than the other, no more, no less."

      Canadians said...

      I would say it was a decent length Batoge.

      IxFlashPointxI said...

      Nice... Bartoge good job. It kept me interested since jumping is a big part of Halo. It even made sense too! Usually it would take me about two readthroughs to understand that type of explanation but you explained it perfectly...

      Good job.