1. Lesson 6: Incentives

      written by Ray Benefield
      PHEW! Forge lesson #6. We are on a roll folks and just getting started. We are slowly getting more and more advanced as we go but we are still just in the basics. Wait until you see the crazy interactions that can happen between all of these lessons. It will blow your mind when we do a map analysis and use every technique that we possibly know to see how a map was built and understand how it plays. Who knows... maybe we will observe the new Bungie maps and maybe even fix them up. Anyways, today's article is like the yin to last lessons yang. Instead of discouraging players, we are now encouraging players. But there is more to Incentives than you once knew good sir/ma'am. Look inside today, and comeback on Sunday.




      So sometimes just having the will is not enough to complete the objective at hand. Sometimes you need new weapons, or sometimes powerups will make winning easier. And now that there is danger at hand that wall to your right looks quite appetizing as cover. As you strive to win the game at hand there are many things around a map that encourage you to detour away from your main objective. These things that encourage us to move around… we call them Incentives.


      More than the obvious


      Most people understand a base concept of incentives when they think about weapon placement. If you place a rocket launcher here people are going to want to head to it to pick it up, right? Well a sniper rifle or spartan laser isn’t the only thing that can get you to move. Maybe ahead of you there is a turret acting as a deterrent on the main objective path. You see a bunker slightly ahead so instead of being discouraged by the turret’s threat zone, the cover acts as an incentive to continue moving forward. An incentive isn’t always an item, sometimes it is an area or some other type of advantage. The height advantage is definitely seen by many as an incentive to travel up a ramp. Items are just the obvious incentives.


      Non-existent incentives


      Now while incentives are great for moving players around a map, some may not be there forever. Most incentives only exist until they are used up. If the only incentive on a path is the sniper rifle then when it is not there then there is no use in going down that path anymore is there? Sure you have the rocket launcher off on the side but that rocket launcher isn’t always going to be there. Using the previous turret example, if no one is on the turret then that bunker is not much of an incentive anymore and you can just continue down the center path. A key skill to master when utilizing incentives is taking the time to realize when incentives are turned on and when they are turned off. After mastering that you can follow that up with learning how to effectively control that trait of an incentive by moving players down a path when you want them to go down there and then stopping them from going down there whenever you want. It is a very handy skill to have and one that is well worth the investment in time. That skill alone can fully control the traffic on the map.


      Taking account for the advantage


      Something that designers tend to forget is what effect that particular advantage has on the player. When a player picks up active camouflage, do you take the time to consider that he can now travel for a certain distance without being seen? Do you consider that when a player picks up a feather in Mario that they can now fly through the whole level with no opposition? Do you consider that if they gain the high ground that they have full control of this half of the map? It is one thing to offer an advantage to the player. It is another to account for that advantage and make sure that you don’t give the player too much of what they want. Always keep a good balance, any time you give the player an advantage make sure to compensate. If you don’t find that balance then you will end up pulling away from other incentives on the map and pushing too many players to that one incentive. You ever fight over one piece of cake? It’s not pretty. 


      10 comments:

      IxFlashPointxI said...

      Under Taking account for the Advantage you mentioned that designers tend to forgot the advantages. Do you mean by placing a powerup within up to 30 seconds travel time of a power weapon coulld be bad? Say I pick up the camo, I walk over to the shotgun in 10 seconds, I still have 20 second camo left and a shotgun.That means I can walk over to sniper spawn grab that while picking off players while I still have camo. So I'm guessing the main idea of that final paragraph means don't place weapons/power ups to close to eachother otherwise 1 player or an entire team could control the whole map. COrrect me if I'm wrong.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Definitely too specific of a situation, but that is the general idea. Sometimes though you want that situation to happen, sometimes you don't. It is your choice as a designer to craft the experience that you want to give. That may not always be a bad idea. It is not the idea that is bad, but the use of the idea that can be either good or bad. Open your mind a little and thing of games where you wouldn't want that to happen. Say something like a predator gametype or something.

      You have your thoughts on just balancing for Slayer and general gametypes. You have to open your mind and imagine all possible gametypes and you as the designer decide whether or not the advantage is too much for a given situation. This is the same for all lessons.

      These lessons are not just applied to Slayer, CTF, KOTH, etc. They can be applied to mini games, infection, etc. They can also be applied to other games other than Halo. Like the Mario example I gave. Think outside the box Flashpoint. I'm gonna keep reminding you until you do. ;) Cuz once you do then you will be a huge step closer to being a great designer.

      Canadians said...

      @Flashpoint I dont think Godly covered over-doing incentives, but you do have a point. There is always too much of a good thing or in this case good things. By placing power weapons and equipment all over your map every route you take would have high advantages/incentives and they would no longer really have their intended effect. It would just lead to hail of power weapons and drawn out equipment battles which does not usually do well for gameplay.

      IxFlashPointxI said...

      Lol but I do have a few gametypes already in mind. And trust me they are going to be outside the box. More like a rectangle... or maybe a sphere...

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Not gametypes being out of the box. I meant you thinking about theory outside the box... lol geez Flashpoint. You are going to be a hard one to teach. rofl

      Spud Nuggets said...

      During this whole lesson, the only map I thought about was The Pit. Stupid spartan laser breaking immersion.

      Zapzap09 said...

      I'm really digging the Incentives/Deterrent theories. I've never thought about it much, and now this has kind of opened a new window for me. Keep up the good work.

      BadCompany Brik said...

      Good lesson, well written.

      These lessons are good, but I'm more into the specifics of what you're writing and how to use them. Understanding an incentive is all well and good, but I want to know how to use them. I am pretty impatient though, carry on at your own pace :)

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Lol I will carry on at my own pace and don't you worry things are going to be picking up quickly soon you may have to go back and read old theories to fully understand them. I think my next theory is on Eye Catching possibly followed by Perspective Variance.

      Haloacl said...

      Great post, and as always, nicely written. As brik said you aren't teaching us how to use them quite yet, but it's good that we have a refrence to go back to once you post how to use it.