1. Lesson 21: Incentive Weighting

      written by Ray Benefield
      Word is spreading about the Reach gametype settings and the Forge Lessons that people are finding here at RP. I am seeing new traffic from a ton of places now. You know who you are ;). Welcome once again to new readers. Today I present another lesson about level design that will help you make your maps better and re-playable. The next lesson probably won't be until like Wednesday or Thursday. With reach out I am going to have a lot of new things to write about so I've got to spread the love. Speaking of spreading the love, head on over to the Forge Lessons BNet Index and share your testimonials and keep the thread alive to share this series with the world. Even if you have already posted you can go back and post about today's lesson. Hope you enjoy peepz... tomorrow I will be talking about things to help you prep for reach, RP style. See you guys there. ;)

      EDIT: Oh and btw Lesson 10 got featured this morning over at Gamasutra, a major game design/development site, making that 6/10 of the posted lessons over there getting featured. I'm transferring them one at a time every other day until it is caught up. Check it out... I'm on the front page on the right under featured blogs. ;)





      There’s a word that is always thrown around when talking about great maps. What is that word you say? My friend… that word is “balance”. Is your map “balanced”? How do you go about answering that? How do you weigh your map? Well typically you measure the map by comparing all of the advantages throughout it to ensure there is a balance of advantages no matter where you are. What do we call advantages again? OH YEAH! Incentives


      Weighing the un-weighable


      So here’s a quick overview of incentives. Incentives are areas, objects, course of actions, etc. that help you achieve your current goal easier. These incentives can be a height advantage, a good defensive position, a rocket launcher, a shortcut, a batch of grenades, etc. There are so many types of incentives and they are all completely incomparable to each other side by side. So how do we weigh them? We make up a weight for each based on the experience that we want to create. As a designer it is your job to set a weight or priority for all of the incentives in your map to meet your map’s essence. Did you plan to setup a huge long range combat focus for your map? The sniper probably has a higher priority/weight than the rocket launcher on that map. Does your second map essence focus on vehicle usage? Well now a rocket launcher is probably much heavier than that sniper. Think about how important each incentive is to your players based on the experience you are trying to create and the objectives you are setting for your audience.


      A balancing act


      So now you know how to find the weight of all of those advantages. It is time to start spinning plates on sticks. Imagine a massive overview of your map, something like a heatmap. Now imagine as many incentives across your map as you can. Create a radius of effect based on your map’s essence for each one. Mentally tally up the weight of each millimeter of your map and imagine darkening up the heavier areas. The heavier incentives and a lot of incentives will cause darker areas. Always keep in mind each incentive’s individual weight as well to help you move things around. Imagine having a pistol and assault rifle in one corner of a map and a sniper and a rocket on the other corner. Which corner do you think is heavier? Typically, it’s obvious. Now what if it was a pistol/rocket vs. an assault rifle/sniper? It depends on the map’s essence.


      Spreading the love


      So now you’ve got your “heatmap” of advantage. What do you do with it? Well typically you want to spread out the incentives to have the weighting be “balanced” around the map. Why? Because players are drawn to incentives like lions are drawn to meat. Do you have an armory on your map? It is probably a good place to chill if your map’s essence is about killing. However its weighting goes down if the goal is to capture the flag and the armory is out of the way. All situations are different and it is your job to create the situation that you want. Maybe an armory is fine for your map as long as you weigh the rest of your map to balance it out. An armory is a bit extreme, but you get the point. Learning to balance the advantages of your map is a delicate and essential skill. It will help you control the traffic of your map and ensure that every part of your map is worth traveling through. That is what path manipulation is really all about, right? 


      19 comments:

      BadCompany Brik said...

      "Which do you corner do you think is heavier?"

      The heatmap thing seems really interesting. I think I'm going to start using that a lot. I think balance seems like something that everyone understands, but you have a really interesting take on it.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Good catch Brik thanks. And yes I do have an interesting take. It will help players see the map as a whole to balance rather than just small sections or team versus team. Asymmetrical FFA maps aren't created often for a reason. They are extremely hard to properly balance. Hopefully this helps that fact and helps people understand balance as a whole in the greater sense of level design.

      IxFlashPointxI said...

      Another great lesson. I don't have any comments on this one...

      But again, Good lesson.

      SPARTAN 328 said...

      I love you. (no homo)

      -P.S. this is Riokus

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Why thank you flashpoint. You are all too kind... lol

      ParagonRenegade said...

      Hey dude, I was the one from Bnet?

      like the new walkthrough, help even more!

      GodlyPerfection said...

      lol right now you are the only one from BNet. Everyone should be showing up soon don't worry renegade. Welcome to the site bro. It's a sunday when everyone checks their inbox on BNet they will be heading this way. Time to start gathering everyone together to perfect our map design skills in Reach. Only less than 2 more days.

      Noklu said...

      I've never thought of certain items like grenades as incentives, and I still don't. I'll use a grenade but I have to consciously think about it to do so. This goes to show that incentives have different weightings towards different players. To someone who loves sniper rifles the corner with the sniper rifle will have a far heavier weighting than you might have thought. So a Forger has to take that into consideration as well.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      While I do agree to a point it is impossible to cater to every single specific player so I try to encourage people to not think about such specific situations. You should always build on what you know for sure first. And what you know for sure is that you want to create a certain experience which is why you have a map essence. While I do realize that every player is different, your goal is not to cater to every player just the masses. Sadly you cannot appease every player as developers have learned over the years. You can try but it is best to make what you want first and then cater to big groups of players.

      Noklu said...

      A point I kinda forgot to add was also that a forger shouldn't expect a player to do what he would do in that situation and he has must look at it from another perspective. And I agree, create what you want to do and then move on from there.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      That's actually something I cover in Lesson 4 at the very end. See the map from a player's perspective, not from your own.

      Dasachi said...

      sweet lesson bro, im learning alot, this is great

      Neo_Arkitect said...

      Just to let you know godly, your lessons have finally made it to forgehub. Thought you might be interested in that :P

      GodlyPerfection said...

      You should copy and paste a link so other's can go support it over there. Btw, how did they make it to FH? I thought there was a thing against advertising over there... lol. OH wait... did they link to the BNet version? Cuz that would definitely be legit at FH and not advertising.

      Neo_Arkitect said...

      Ya it was for the bnet lessons. http://www.forgehub.com/forum/halo-reach-forge-discussion/104845-halo-reach-forge-lessons-bnet.html

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Thanks Neo... and btw I read your post on the BTB group thing and I can easily get a group of 16 together... trust me. lol... I need to get you on my friends list so we can do some games together. I sent a msg to that frog on stilts guy and capt cant incase they were interested in chilling. I'm going to try to make space for you later, but I've got to clean the house right now and write the new post for today.

      Neo_Arkitect said...

      Sure that sounds awesome! Most of the maps I'm planning right now are for big team anyway so it would be great to actually have enough people to test them. Thank you :)

      Legolum said...

      That forgehub thing is great news. If you don't mind me asking what was it that you did wrong? I have yet to figure that out. why people hate you that is.
      Not that I want to judge you or anything, I'm just interested in how you could get a small/large percentage of a community to dislike you. I have never seen that happen without explanation... anywhere.

      Anyway, looks like the people who replied to it liked it. First reply was simply your name, prob aimed at you.... trying to be a jackass? warn people a evil witch has been linked to?

      GodlyPerfection said...

      I'll explain it in a blog post one day. I've had quite a few people ask me that recently. So don't worry I will tell you the whole story. I've actually been perma banned twice lol... and no rifte wasn't trying to be a douche. He was just pointing it out. Me and rifte are cool.