1. Ex-Lesson 17: The Golden Ratio

      written by Ray Benefield
      RP is coming together very strong my friends. We are now receiving traffic from high schools and colleges, game and level design sites, forging sites, and stumble. Speaking of stumble if you use stumble or have a stumble account please feel free to take your time and thumbs up and review the site. Stumble users typically have ADD and rarely review sites if they see too much writing lol. Anyways we are about to get into some fresh territory for all of you. Some of you may actually find today's lesson very crazy and maybe a little far fetched, but I haven't really let you down in the past have I? Lol... today we introduce the usage of art theories with perspectives. Hope you guys enjoy. Next lesson is out Saturday. Share with your fellow level designers in order to improve the quality of all maps in Halo: Reach. Laterz peepz and enjoy.

      EDIT: This is no longer an official lesson and has been removed from the listing. The reason for this is because it is still an underdeveloped theory and I am going to break it down more and address it in the future with a better analysis and better lessons. Feel free to continue discussing this topic and helping improve it.

      Remember when I told you that perspectives can be viewed as pictures or art? Because of this fact we can apply various art theories to perspectives in order to give the player the experience that we have in mind. The first of these theories is actually found in more than just art. It is used in mathematics, architecture, music, and much more. I present to you The Golden Ratio.

      What you need to know

      I’m not going to go into a huge in-depth discussion talking about the golden ratio in order to help you make sense of it; I’m just going to give you what is important about it to us. What we end up taking from the golden ratio is that there is great power in splitting things into thirds and then taking two of those thirds together and comparing it to the remaining third. This can be applied to a lot of things in the world of game and level design. However let’s apply it to the concept of perspectives and art.

      The concept of thirds

      So take any perspective, piece of art, computer screen, or whatever and split it into thirds vertically and horizontally with lines. Now from a vertical point of view (only seeing the horizontal lines) imagine the bottom two thirds being together as a different section from the top third. The two thirds section will be known as the golden or main section and the remaining third is what we will call the accent or detail section. The main section is where all of the important things in the perspective happen while the accent section is just there to give some flavor to the scene. A great example of using the bottom two thirds as the main section is making that a field or park or buildings or something while the detail section (the top third) is the sky. Imagine reversing that and making the top two thirds the main section and the bottom third the accent section. This is typically seen in pictures that focus on the sky as the golden section and use the detail section as the ground or the tops of skyscrapers or something else to accent the scene. Now try looking from the horizontal point of view (only seeing the vertical lines). Imagine the two left or the two right thirds as the main section and the remaining third as the accent section. The accent section could be a nearby building or wall filling that section while the golden section is the hustle and bustle of a market place or street. The golden ratio can be seen everywhere in art.

      Tying to level design

      So now we have the base concept of the golden ratio in art. In order to tie things back to level design let’s take a look at spawn perspectives. Imagine spawning and remaining still. Now imagine your perspective as a painting and apply the golden ratio. If you are spawning next to a wall you only want that wall to cover a third of the perspective and use the main section as your canvas for using eye catching techniques to draw attention to incentives, deterrents, and paths. The accent section, in this case the wall, receives very little attention and eye catching techniques are much weaker in this area. Whatever you want to draw attention to will be much more powerful when applied to the golden section of your canvas. This is just the beginning of utilizing art theories to improve the experience of your players and to give you full control over their emotions and actions. Level design goes much deeper than you could ever imagine. 


      Cerberus Beast said...

      I assume that you are using approximations here, Ray. What you are describing is more the Rule of Thirds than the use of the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio is a ratio such that a:b::a+b:a. It is very specific. It may be constructed in a variety of ways, but it is not a ratio of thirds. Basically, in applications with a foreground and background, the screen is divided amongst the two with the ratio of foreground to background being the same as the ratio of the larger to the whole. Please clarify, I dun wanna du it rawng, gai!

      Cerberus Beast said...

      Sorry for the double post, but to explain myself:

      2:1 =/= 3:2

      which is the same as

      a:b =/= a+b:b.

      However, the Rule of Thirds is still an excellent aesthetic tool, so realize that your manipulation of an aesthetic piece or a certain perspective may still be someone managed with the Rule in mind.

      Phaazoid said...

      You mean like the rule of thirds? from photo 1? golden ratio was the Parthenon and stuff. It wasn't this. It was the ratio of different parts of your body to other parts of your body, and it came up alot.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      lol that is definitely the more technical aspect, but I did not want to bog people down with the specifics. The end result of studying the golden ratio around perspectives gets us to this. And I would agree that the rule of thirds would apply if we did not take into account the comparison of what is called the Golden Rectangle which is the "main/golden" section that I speak of. The ratio of 2/3 is the focus of the golden ratio which is derived from the Fibonacci sequence. As you go down the sequence when you divide one number by it's previous the resulting ratio gets closer to 1.618... further and further down the line. The philosophy of two thirds is just an approximation of the actual number because getting that exact is irrelevant in most situations.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      For those who are still a bit unclear the rule of thirds is derived from the Golden Ratio. The rule of thirds designates the "power points" of a photograph by utilizing the golden rectangle as its base structure. The power points of a photograph are the major spots that the golden ratio spirals into. The golden ratio is used to balance aesthetics across an image while the rule of thirds defines areas for focus and does not necessarily drop into the details of the balance. The Golden Ratio does and hence I use it as the source of the lesson. The rule of thirds is much too generic and you can get more accuracy out of utilizing the golden ratio for aesthetic balance over the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is just a decent guideline while the golden ratio is the main rule that created that guideline. Hope that makes sense to you guys.

      Phaazoid said...


      not mine, but it sums up my argument. plus my post from guardianz

      "nonono I don't mean Your theory is wrong, It's just that what you are describing is better described by the rule of thirds. I've learned about the golden ratio in latin class, and the rule of thirds in photography. While this may be a good ratio, titling it as The Golden Ratio is misleading when the concept your theory is actually based around is much closer to the concept of the rule of thirds, which is also universal. The golden ratio is bodily but also applies to any object, while the rule of thirds simply states that any picture with your main object in the center is boring, it is better to divide your picture into thirds with major leading lines doing the division "

      lol I don't actually care too much either, just seemed a bit off to me.

      Bartoge said...

      You know, I was fine after I read the post. It all made sense, but then everyone had to go into the Rule of Thirds, and the Golden rule and then there was some crazy ratios with a and b and now Im confused. Im just going to pretend that I havn't read any of the comments.

      On a side note. Godly, I think that when Reach comes out and people start making maps and you have homework and stuff, you should take it even further. You should have like real forge lessons where you get like 4 or 5 people and take them into forge and actually dive into all your theories and how they apply to the map. I think that would help people a lot.

      BadCompany Brik said...

      How do I find your site on StumbleUpon and rate it? I would, except I don't want to spend 5 hours clicking Stumble hoping to stumble into RP...

      Anonymous said...

      All of your articles are great, but I think they would really benefit from visual aids and images to help reinforce the ideas. This would make them easier to follow (they are already easy to follow, it would just make them crystal clear and help solidify some of the concepts).

      Keep up the good work. I'll continue reading them :)

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Glad you like them Anonymous. And I do plan on adding visual aids. The reason why they do not have visual aids right now is because requiring visual aids for them will make them take longer to finish and plan out meaning they may not be put together in time. I also planned on waiting for Reach to come out in order to give more recent pictures.

      As for you Brik there should be a button on the stumble upon toolbar that says "I like this" you can click that to show your support. There is also a pair of speech bubbles that you can use to submit a review for the site describing what it is and what categories it is under. We put Design, Video Games, and Architecture as some of the categories.

      Now back on topic. Phaazoid I think your source is a little off on the whole subject. Trying reading the following two sources to see what I am talking about. The rule of thirds is derived from The Golden Ratio. This is why I use the golden ratio as the source.

      This source discusses how the rule of thirds came to be through the golden ratio: http://www.thinctanc.co.uk/design/photography_tutorial_02.html

      And here is another source that discusses it as well: http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/2005/08/from_golden_mea.html

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Oh and guys I updated the stumble link in the post so that you can like the site and post a review:


      Phaazoid said...

      You see, I had never heard of the relationship, no, fundamental connection between the rule of thirds and the golden ratio before. That's actually very interesting, and makes a lot of sense. I didn't realize the connection, and my article was the result of a quick google search xD

      I just didn't realize that the golden ratio still had such piratical or aesthetic uses in modern times.

      Thanks for sorting that out for me, now I have something to tell my photo teacher xD

      IxFlashPointxI said...

      Confuse, Confuse comments are confuse.

      Anyways, good lesson. I got most of it but only because I am an artist otherwise I would have no idea what you were talking about.

      Neo Arkitect said...

      I would just like to add one note about spawns, perspectives, the rule of thirds, and how they all apply to symmetrical maps.

      In symmetrical maps, make sure you are aware that if you do have a certain wall or land mark cover a third of the screen off the spawn, the other two thirds must contain some sort of non-symmetrical eye catcher, like a colored piece or light to establish the location from which the player's perspective is being taken. That way when the player spawns and sees distinctive geometry or pieces that define one half of a map from the other, they aren't wasting time being confused for crucial seconds while they figure out where they are.

      In short, don't make a symmetrical map completely symmetrical for the sake of having coherent spawns. There has to be subtle differences, whether it is just color or not, in order to not confuse players off the spawn.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Very good point Neo... I will be sure to tie this into one of the main theory lessons so that way people who don't read comments can understand it as well. Thank you for your contribution.

      Neo Arkitect said...

      No prob ;)

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      AYE CEE said...

      here I am, 3 years later, to say this:
      The rule of thirds will offer the same solution as a golden ratio would, IF it is used within and in relationship to a golden rectangle.
      The short side, divided by the long must approximately equal 1.61803399. if not, the golden ratio does not, and cannot exist naturally in the design.

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