1. Lesson 13: Area Introduction

      written by Ray Benefield
      The word is slowly spreading about these Forge Lessons. I am slowly getting some traffic from Forgehub. Not only that this series is going to be featured at the Forgineers and at The Custom Experience. Maybe your community will be the next to feature these Forge Lessons? Who knows? I wouldn't mind seeing these on Forging 201 at FH. ;) That section has died with only two theory articles. Anyways, for those aspiring level designers that have been reading these I highly suggest you take the time to go back and read/respond to the comments to each of the lessons. There is some good discussion in them and I help clear up some questions that some aspiring level designers have had. I think it will be great if you are trying to learn everything that you possibly can. Today we represent another bridging lesson that connects a ton of the previous lessons you will start seeing this more often as we progress forward. There is still tons to learn about level design. Let's move on shall we... remember I post a new one every other day so next one is out Friday. See you then.




      I want you to think about all of the maps that have very important areas in them that players use to orient themselves and their teammates. Ever heard of people calling out the shotgun room? How about when players say that he is in the sniper tower? In order for player’s to enjoy the optimal experience on your map it is probably best for them to be able to understand where these areas might be, correct? Even more so it is probably best if players knew about every single area that exists on the map in order to allow them to make the best decisions possible, right? You tell me…


      Defining the obvious


      Hmmm so what is area introduction? I don’t know… maybe it is introducing areas to a player. But it is more than just that. It is showing players everything there is to a map. It is showing your players the options that they have when choosing where to go from where they are. Area introduction is a form of Path Manipulation that is used when a player is new to a map to show them major sections that are available to them. But why is area introduction so important? If a player explores enough won’t he/she find every place on the map eventually? Well sure, but it is more than just that. If I give you a dictionary eventually you will memorize every single word and definition in it if you read it enough right? No? Well why not?


      Tying things together


      Remember when we talked about how a player’s first impression of a map is extremely important? Remember when we said that Knowledge is Power and in order for a player to give a proper analysis of a map he needs to be introduced to the most important parts of the map? By mixing these two concepts we see the importance of teaching players the map as fast as we possibly can because we do not know how long a player’s first impression will last. You only have the player’s attention for a short period of time until you win over their trust. Once you win their trust then you have their attention for a long while. The key is proving to them that it’s a good map to play on. And in order to do that they have to know the important parts about the map in order to judge it well or their judgment will be skewed and you will lose them for a while because they didn’t know about that one thing that could have made their experience better.


      Giving them the tour


      So how do you show the player around without doing it yourself? How do you show the player the map while they are in the heat of combat and focused on winning the match? You already have a good amount of tools at your disposal. What does the player see in his first perspective? Is that a pretty blue room that has caught my eye? Oooo… look there’s a shotgun over there I’m going to go check that out. This place looks too open and will leave me too vulnerable so I’m going to go see what’s over here instead. You see what I did there? By mixing spawn perspectives and eye catching you can show of the blue room. With incentives like a shotgun you can show people the shotgun room. Using deterrents and traffic control you can encourage people to take a look around somewhere else. All of these things relate in the greater sense of Path Manipulation. Now that you know how important area introduction is… go use it.


      24 comments:

      IxFlashPointxI said...

      Quite a short lesson, Godly. Good nontheless, though. I think most people could have gathered this technique from reading earlier posts, but your nice so you compiled it together for us.
      The main point of this lesson was controlling a players path or tying things together using deterents, incentives, and eye-catching techniques... Correct?

      Also, I have been spreading the word. We need to get together some time on Halo soon.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Actually the lessons are all the exact same length... I have a system that keeps them that way. ;) Anyways, this was a lesson to point out the importance of Area Introduction. You can't always assume that your readers are just going to pick up on it. And the main point of this lesson was introducing players to new areas Flashpoint... not actual path manipulation. Just area introduction.

      And I know you are spreading the word. I saw your post on FH to help a guy out and it is much appreciated. Just that one post got like 20+ visitors to the site. Congrats and keep up the good work. This whole stats tracking thing for blogger is quite awesome and allows me to see the traffic sources. Forgehub is actually in the lead today right now... lol. Typically the guardianz is in the lead with traffic.

      IxFlashPointxI said...

      Oh okay cool, I should of read the title ://... Lol, but yeah, I need to check out the Guardianz... I'm a member but not so active... They need a website or something...

      BadCompany Brik said...

      I particularly enjoyed the first paragraph having heard you frantically calling "He's at OVs! He's at OVs!" on Ravinia today when I had no idea where OVs was :)

      Anyway, good lesson. But I think some of this is getting a bit heavy considering how minor the effect will be. For example, in the last paragraph, you used the Shotgun as an example to show someone a room. But a Shotgun would have a huge impact on gameplay, and I don't think showing someone a room is a justifiable reason to add a power weapon to your map, or any incentive for that matter.

      Phaazoid said...

      So basically try to make each major area in your map have an obvious purpose, for people to relate back too, in order to remember better for an overall better experience. gotcha.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Actually brik it doesn't have to be a shotgun. How about a battle rifle? And what about traffic issues Brik? Say you have too many people traveling through a commonly used path? You typically have this problem with new players because they don't know about other parts of the map. Or how bout those rooms you built on the map that never get used? With a little area introduction you can get them used. You can setup your spawns and eye catching to fully control where you players move. But don't worry... you will see how important it is when I start doing demonstrations and stuff.

      And something like that Phaazoid. It is more to introduce you to the term area introduction in order to open your eyes to how everything you have learned up to this point can be used to push people to unused areas.

      StingerSplash01 said...

      Here's a strange thought... have you guys ever noticed that power weapons tend to be placed by elevation and position more than anything else? snipers are usually placed at the high points of a map, rockets and short ranges weapons in the low points, melee weapons like a gravity hammer or energy sword are usually placed dead center of a map and are almost never put above the ground on other levels. BRs/DMRs are placed at the middle elevation as well essentially I mean that the greater the range something has the higher up it is placed. Is this some kind of human brain pattern or something else entirely?

      GodlyPerfection said...

      It is just a typical standard... don't get caught up in following what everyone else does. Whenever you place something on the map know why it is there, don't just do it because everyone else does. That is an important lesson that I will write about one of these days.

      Debo37 said...

      You know what's funny? The entire FH Forging 201 section was actually my idea. There's a thread in the old Hub Pub to prove it. ;D

      But, since they never took off with it, I got frustrated, started my Bungie.net group (for which I wrote a lot of similar articles), and then we moved to The Custom Experience.

      Congrats on your Gamasutra feature, GP!! It was certainly deserved.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Thanks Debo for the congrats. I find it hilarious that the Forging 201 section was your idea. I can't believe they never kept going with it. It is a great idea and like all the great ideas suggested, they kinda just passed it up. Maybe they don't have the level designers to properly fill it up. I only know a few good level designers that are still there and even fewer that could write guides like that.

      Greasyhippo said...

      Hey Godly, it's Greasyhippo from Forge Hub. I got your message but I deleted it, and I don't remember what it is you wanted me to do..lol. At least I found your website.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      lol Yo greasy... glad you found the site. I was wondering if you would take some time to look over my forge lessons that cover level design theory. I saw you were trying to help someone out on Forgehub with forge tips and that you redirected him to Insane's article. So if you could be so kind as to read my lessons and give me some feedback, that would be awesome. And who knows... maybe you will learn something from them. lol...

      Greasyhippo said...

      A great way to introduce areas is with the use of vectors, lines of sight kinda.. that draw attention to places. Also the use of open areas can be drawn to as well, a player will see the large open space, and perhaps it is dangerous, but there is a rocket launcher making it worth the journey. Open spaces are immediately noticed but avoided unless a player wants a fast route to where they are going.

      A great way IMO to showcase your map, on first impressions would coincide with your spawns. Make your players spawn looking at a major feature of the map, showcase it's beauty so to speak. An easy way to do this is the obvious, making your map clean and merged.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Pretty good analysis Greasy. You may want to take the time to read the lessons in order though. I cover pretty much all of those topics in previous lessons. The talk on vectors and lines of sight I talk about as utilizing perspectives and utilizing eye catching to move a players perspective around. The example of the rocket launcher in open space is a good example of utilizing an incentive to introduce risk and reward. As far as the first impressions go I cover all of that too.

      I hope you take the time to read all the other lessons. Your feedback so far has been awesome. Keep it up.

      Greasyhippo said...

      Based from Insane's guide "Map Design Theory"
      So a Major topic of interest for making maps is the players flow of movement, you will want a map that isn't just blocks and cover everywhere, generally a good map will have set paths and routes, most areas will be accessible by at least 2 paths to prevent camping. Each path creates a decision which would be influenced in many ways such as: Perspective, Line of Sights, Aesthetics and power weapons. You want to make routes for a purpose, not just because there is only one way to an area.

      Another aspect talked about is points of interest and how you can draw players with aesthetics. For example: a long narrow corridor with lights or something fancy which draws attention, inside may be an energy sword but it is prone to grenades and some long sight lines so snipers may kill the campers. Insane points out how people won't know your map, so using points of interest will assist them in making informed choices and if wanted guide lines to power weapons.

      Finally, an important point is to make the safest routes the longest, so if you want to avoid large open spaces, long open corridors like the rocket spawn on "the pit" then you have an alternative, the rockets are wanted by most players so they will go straight to them, but other players may choose the safe route and sneak up behind, the negative about these 'safe' routes is there would be no power weapons, possibly just an assault rifle.

      In the end, Godly, you have posted most of the important points already. Perhaps Lesson 14: could contain map elevation, how to use it correctly, map routes and anti-camping techniques and how important lines of sight are.

      Greasyhippo said...

      Sorry if i am not helping a lot, i read most of your lessons, you seem to have covered most of which Insane & Mick Raider did, something to write about next time would have to be map elevation, I couldn't see anywhere where you covered this topic.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      You have helped quite a bit and provide a very good comparison of what Insane talks about and what I talk about. I did teach most of the vet forgers my techniques though and a lot of the things that Insane knows is based on what I've taught the general community back in the day. And I still have LOADS of lessons to cover greasy. I'm just barely scratching the surface of level design. I have atleast 15 more lessons easily planned for the next month. Keep an eye out. Map elevation will be covered in it's own way and line of sights I cover under a better subject that explains line of sights much better. Line of sights are way too specific and terrible for use as a theory on its own.

      Just wait till you see what I have coming up bro. With 15+ lessons to go that gives me loads of ground to cover. What you have been reading are just the basics. ;)

      Greasyhippo said...

      One last point before I go for the night. If players want an in-depth knowledge of this stuff, and want to learn, go play custom games, play objective games online, re-watch films of online play. This will show you what influences other players choices when they move around the map, see how Bungie made their maps, and how each route has it's ups and downs.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Don't you worry hippo once Reach comes out I will be working with several people to get video demonstrations made of the lessons. It will help teach players and designers that are more visual learners. The trick will be making and finding the perfect examples.

      Dasachi said...

      Dude, i love this, this blog is definitely going on my bookmarks.

      Dasachi said...

      Demonstrations? As in videos?

      GodlyPerfection said...

      You are correct Dasachi. I am working with a friend of mine, Time Glitch, and he is going to be making videos for each of the lessons when he has time after the first few weeks of Halo. He is the same guy that made the Forging 101 videos for Forgehub. Here is some of his work:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8vdKuCn0dw
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZtbqeQQt5o
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufswuEv15kc
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgngLDhlChc
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYhieVTFuEg

      IxFlashPointxI said...

      If you'd like I could possibly record for you guys. So youy guys can talk and stuff. I could also be the little dummy you guys use for fodder and demonstrations. :P

      GodlyPerfection said...

      I'm actually not sure how Time Glitch does his videos. So if anything you would have to talk to him. He is the one doing everything for it. I am just watching over it.