1. Lesson 7: Combat Congestion and Traffic

      written by Ray Benefield
      So this lesson comes out today kinda of late. It was a long night. Anyways, welcome to today's lesson. I promised that I would start getting more advanced with some of your lessons, well before I do that I have to make sure that you remember what the big picture is. So today I will introduce a new concept while tying it into the past lessons and future lessons. Keep in mind that it is VERY helpful and will be good for your learning to read past lessons over and over again. It will help you tie everything together and remember that everything works synergistically with everything else. That is the single most important thing to remember about level design. EVERYTHING NEEDS EVERYTHING ELSE! Ok... next lesson is on Tuesday. See you then.




      Have you ever taken the time to wonder why most maps are designed to have multiple paths? Most people just blindly build their maps to have multiple paths because it has become a simple standard base rule that everyone follows. I feel that it is important to completely understand why standard practices exist in the industry. Take the time to imagine a Halo map with only one path between two flag points. Everyone just ends up clashing over and over again in the center right? This is a phenomenon that I like to call Combat Congestion.


      What’s wrong with it?


      So what’s wrong with everyone running into each other and just shooting to try to kill someone? Nothing if that is what you want. It creates simplistic gameplay because it removes the skill of out-smarting your opponent based on path selection and cutting him off. Not only that, but there is no order to 8 people running at each other at once. It is hard for players to choose their target so it ends up being chance that you only get shot by one person or the whole other team at once. Dying to 4 people at once happens a lot faster than just 1 or 2 guys. You end up having no time at all to plan out your attack and if you don’t have any time at all to use skill or strategy then what fun is that?


      The concept of Traffic


      The basic concept of traffic is an observance of how players are spread out on your map. If you have too many players traversing one area then maybe you should spread them out a little more. The more players that go through an area the higher chance of combat congestion happening. And as discussed, this is something that we need to avoid as it is no fun to the player.


      Avoiding the chaos


      So having one path can cause combat congestion, that’s pretty simple to understand. Well having multiple paths around the map isn’t magically going to solve this problem. You have to use a variety of Path Manipulation techniques in order to get your players to spread out and to reduce the chance of combat congestion happening on your map. A ton of tricks exist for what I call controlling traffic, and you’ve already learned some of them. Incentives can be used to force players to take paths that players normally wouldn’t. Deterrents can be used to discourage players from taking commonly traversed paths. But Incentives and Deterrents can’t just exist on the map. They end up having no effects on a player if player is unaware of them being on the map. Remember that talk on Knowledge is Power? You have to use techniques like Eye Catching, Area Introduction, Color Contrast, and Screen Real Estate. But in order to understand those techniques and fully apply them you have to be able to think in Perspectives and observe Perspective Variance. So again why do all of these things? Because combat congestion is one of those things that will cause a bad First Impression for your map, and we already learned how bad that can be. It is one of those things that are just frustrating to experience because nobody enjoys just running in and dying. They enjoy using their skills. This was your first combination lesson where I tie everything that you’ve learned so far and everything that you will learn together to help you grasp the bigger picture. Hope you enjoyed it. 


      12 comments:

      mitona said...

      It is finally piecing more and more together so everyone can start getting the big picture. You can usually tell where the traffic areas are in a map which is good but no one can predict the paths people will take to get where they want to go. Keep them coming Godly Azn Perfection Ftw

      BadCompany Brik said...

      "...too many players traversing one area then maybe use should spread them out a little more." Second sentence of The concept of Traffic, I believe you meant "then maybe you should spread...".

      Good lesson. Although througout the whole thing I was going "What about Conquest you hypocrite?" :D

      GodlyPerfection said...

      "So what’s wrong with everyone running into each other and just shooting to try to kill someone? Nothing if that is what you want. It creates simplistic gameplay because it removes the skill of out-smarting your opponent based on path selection and cutting him off. Not only that, but there is no order to 8 people running at each other at once. It is hard for players to choose their target so it ends up being chance that you only get shot by one person or the whole other team at once. Dying to 4 people at once happens a lot faster than just 1 or 2 guys. You end up having no time at all to plan out your attack and if you don’t have any time at all to use skill or strategy then what fun is that?"

      I wanted the simplistic gameplay that comes with Conquest. Also Conquest has lessened weapon damage in order to get past the whole not having time to use skill or strategy bit. I wanted to remove the whole out smart players and setup a full brute force style of gameplay. And good catch... ;)

      Prod said...

      Another great lesson Godly, i was going to post about you being hypocritical. I guess that one was already called.

      Anyway, this nicely ties in with other lessons, can't wait for tomorrows post.

      IxFlashPointxI said...

      A shorter lesson but good none the less. Well, honestly it isn't that short because if you clicked the links you'd have at least 4-6 pages open... So making different areas stand can help the flow of gameplay as long as it doesn't distract the players from their goal? Another Great Lesson.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      This was more just to introduce the concept of traffic and start linking things together. It is important that all of you remember that everything in level design must be considered together and as one. Glad you guys liked the lesson. I appreciate all of you for being such loyal readers. Just make sure to read my post today about me going underground. Because these lessons will only get out if YOU feel like they are worth getting out.

      Paulie walnuttz said...

      another great article!

      Vimtoholic said...

      Combat Conjestion Example.
      The Pit- Sword room.

      And I think your wrong on this...conjestion is okay aslong as its not MASSIVE for example on The level with the Bridge (with the man cannon eitherside rockets in the middle...I forgot the name) you often get combat conjestion on the top of the bridge and thats highly fun to control or oppose yes you die lots sometimes but when you lay down enough fire and take it for yourselves and push them back is highly satisfying.
      when I say i think your wrong its more of a partially wrong, because when it starts getting really bad like sword room on the pit it gets annoying and you start to dislike it....You always get conjestion there really bad but on the before mentioned level on the bridge that doesn't always happen and doesnt usually get ridicoulos (spelling mistakes sorry)

      GodlyPerfection said...

      This is actually one of the articles I have been thinking about re-writing a little. Using traffic control is more than just removing combat congestion... it is also about dispersing players around your map and encouraging them to utilize all the areas equally instead of just the combat congested area. While sometimes the combat congestion is a decent feeling in a general sense it is bad and you need to use traffic control to spread your players out make them explore and reduce the frustration in that area. Have you ever found areas of a map that never get used? It is because there is too much traffic elsewhere and it is not being spread out properly.

      Joachim said...

      I'm thinking this is good information, but sometimes players need to know the map in order to traffic them around.

      I mean, on The Pit I feel like everyone is trying to get the Rocket Launcher by taking the Needler and kill the guys who picked up the up the Needler on the other side in order to get said Rocket Launcher.

      This is only because they know the Rocket Launcher is inside that alley, otherwise... Actually I forgot where I was going with this.

      Good lesson though ^^

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      Captainpineapple44 said...

      This is one that I still have trouble with. I like my central point of combat, so I tend to make the middle the focus that everything else takes a back seat to.