1. Lesson 4: Perspectives

      written by Ray Benefield
      Tis another lesson. Today I introduce a new way of thinking when it comes to level design. This is something that typical designers don't really think about. It is a style that is quite unique in the Halo community. It is something that I started doing two and a half years now and I want to share my style with the rest of you. Note that this is an introduction to the concept to prepare you for future lessons. I hope you enjoy it. Next lesson comes out Wednesday and I have a special treat for you tomorrow. Stay tuned... oh and before we start I have discussed these concepts in more depth in a past post that covers general game design from April called Defining Visuals. If you want to go more in depth feel free to read that. Onward my friends...




      You know what the best part about design is? Observing something from the smallest units possible and understanding what changes to those small units can do. By observing the smallest unit of an idea you can tweak the idea from a smaller setting. You can essentially take a larger problem and break it down into the smallest chunks possible and find the chunk or chunks that are causing the problem. Learning to keep track of all of these small chunks is essential to being adept at any sort of design. So what is one of the most significant and smallest observable chunks that I have discovered so far in level design? That chunk is the same as any media relating to a TV or monitor or any display similar… a single frame of relay to the user. In essence a screenshot in time of what the user is seeing. In this case I call those screenshots, Perspectives…


      One moment, in time


      Yes I am saying exactly what you think I’m saying. This topic is about the importance of a screenshot of a player’s current perspective, whether it be in 1st person or in 3rd person (in the case of driving vehicles). Analyzing a screenshot in time can tell you a lot of things and learning to modify that screenshot is essential to controlling your player’s decisions. A perspective will tell you what the player’s current visible options are. A perspective will tell you what the player has their attention on. A perspective is worth a thousand words…


      Drawing a perspective


      It is important to note that a perspective requires; a focus point or position, a point of view, and a direction. Point of view in a first person shooter is almost always going to be first person. The main focus point is going to be the player. After those two, the direction (a three dimensional direction) will define the perspective. The focus point is based on the player’s movement around the map utilizing path manipulation to move the focus point around, essentially the player. The direction is based on the player’s current eye focus and where their attention lies. Learning to control the direction of a future perspective is vital to having full control over a player’s decisions, movement, and feelings. Learning to mix the power of manipulating perspectives as well as manipulating the position of the focus point is crucial to any true level designer.


      Worth a thousand words


      While analyzing perspectives, analyze them as a picture… as a piece of artwork. We will be utilizing various art theories to analyze perspectives. In the thousand words that perspectives give us you can find the general sense of feeling (fear, excitement, etc), where the main attention lies (and thus where the eye is drawn to), and what is being noticed and how much. Understanding a split second in time makes for a lot of little chunks to analyze. I will teach you the important perspectives to keep an eye on. I will teach you what you need to analyze in the pictures presented to your player. And always keep in mind that the designer’s perspective is in no way the same as the player’s perspective. That is essential to being a good designer. Being able to see what your player sees. If you can’t do that then you are crafting the wrong experience. You are crafting the experience from what you see way up in the sky. Not from what the player sees right in front of them on the bottom floor. Don’t make it fun for you… make it fun for them.


      9 comments:

      Anonymous said...

      Keep it up.

      IxFlashPointxI said...

      Yet another great Lesson, I think this and path manipulization (Bad spelling LawL) are the most interesting so far. They have helped me and I really hope you come out with some interesting theories when Reach comes out.

      BadCompany Brik said...

      "It is something that I started doing for about two and a half years now..." doesn't really make sense. Besides that, well written.

      When you say see things from the player's perspective, does that simply mean going into your map as a Spartan, and looking around? Because I already do that with my maps, but I want to know if there's something more I could be doing.

      IxFlashPointxI said...

      Brik I think he might of put the started on accident...

      Also with your map. Yeah, I think he was trying to say "Walk around your maps and other good maps to see the line of sight, the perspective, and the other stuff he said. Just see if the power weapon spawns have too much of a view on everywhere else, or where someone can get a good spot with the sniper... Same with the other power weapons.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Again you are being much to specific Flashpoint. Don't just see this as a way to view for power weapons but to see everything. The player does not care for the design process. The player only cares for the fun the content brings. Don't only take the time to walk around as a spartan, but put yourself in the player's shoes. How do they feel as they walk around your map? What kind of decisions will they make? What will they see, how will they move?

      I will show you guys how to utilize Perspectives in the future, but for now you are atleast introduced to it.

      As for the line it should be "It is something that I started doing two and a half years ago." There should be no "for about". I am changing it now. Good eye.

      Canadians said...

      Very wonderful lesson Godly. A level designer has far more control over players emotions then most players will ever realize. The fear of a low ground position on a map with multiple levels, anxiety when stranded in the open with little resources, control comes with strong vantage points, safety with cover, etc. Power weapons can also be used for such purposes but they are only a piece, as Godly said to the entirety of a perspective.

      It would have been interesting to see you deconstruct a perspective into its "small chunks" in one of your later articles.

      As always great work keep it up Godly.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Oh it will be interesting because I will start teaching little things about perspectives over time. With time new lessons will come and glad you can see the control that a level designer has Canadians. Btw, Brik stated that his new monitor is quite dull/dim so I changed the template a little. What are your feelings about the new colors? Are they manageable or too bright?

      walnutzzzz said...

      nicely done once again mr. perfection, you seem to have a talent for really breaking things down and explaining them. When reach comes out i think you should explain in detail in your map post exactly where you used all your knowledge in it like the paths and game play flow etc.

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