1. [Guest] Introductory Player Theory

      written by Ray Benefield
      It is a sad day everyone. I have grave news. First of all sorry about not posting Inception yesterday. The news I speak of took hold of me and bummed me out a bit. Anyways, the news is that my first matchmaking map Helix that I have been working on is going to be placed on the back burner. Several major flaws in the design have surfaced after last night's play through. These flaws would be very difficult to address without completely redoing the whole map from scratch. I've put a month's worth of work into it and it bums me out that I have to set it to the side. So now I am going to start work on a new design for the competitive scene. Helix is a very unique layout and innovative design and part of me expected something like this as it was very experimental. Hopefully in due time I will solve the issue. Until then I have to look hopeful to the future. Today's article is brought to you by Cerberus Beast. This is his third theory article and it brings him into the ranks of ReachingPerfection author. Everyone wish him congrats and give him feedback on his theory. I'm off to work on a new design.



      Introductory Player Theory

      By: Cerberus Beast



      Why do we as level designers and forgers make maps? Simple, for players to play on. It's a seemingly apparent answer, but it's in-depth implications are profound. I touched a little bit on player theory in the Perspective Induction article, and now I am going to give a basic overview and presentation of the integral of map design theory: player theory.


      What's Different?


      I liken map vs. player theory to nature vs. nurture in psychology. Player theory expounds on the general framework laid by map design theory. It's the flip side of the coin to map design theory's attempt to control or influence players, wherein it is the study of what player's do, how they do it, and why they do it. There are numerous degrees of detail and various facets of study in player theory, from game theory perspectives to psychological ones, but many things are consistent throughout. Players always make decisions, and they always make them for a reason. You are no longer trying to control players of predict their actions due to the map that they are playing on. You are predicting and measuring their actions in response to each other. Welcome to entropy.


      Players


      Invariably players vary. Given any X number of people in a game, at least one of them is likely to have a playstyle that is different from the rest. This can impact the net result of the game in any state heavily. If players are the driving force behind the results of a game (which they are...), then it becomes necessary to flesh out the concept of a 'player'. In simplest terms, a player is an individual in the game who acts and reacts. Go a step deeper, and a player becomes the catalyst for a pattern of behavior and events in a game. The key here is that players have a strong tendency to develop niche or generalist playstyles. This is evident in the vast disparity in the play (comes up a WHOLE lot as a prefix) of MLG players, traditional competitive players, and casual players. Studying these defined playstyles, as well as other spectra which include range preference and movement tendencies, will give you an evolving insight into how games on your maps and others will be played.


      Diving In


      When you have developed strong design skills and are seeing results and responses to your work which are generally positive and favorable, you may want to take your design to the next level. Time to do busy work. Player theory's core is one part knowledge to one part information, so you have to put in the time studying if you are to reap the rewards of the field. The best way to begin studying player theory is to examine the player with whom you are most affiliated, yourself. After playing some Team Slayer, objective, or 1v1 matches, go into Theater and watch the footage from start to finish. While watching, think about the whys, hows, and whats of your actions. Try to flesh out a general playstyle around which you make your decisions. If you are having trouble, break down your actions and decisions into scopes: strategic, tactical, and reflexive. There will be some overlapping between these, but they will help you develop analytical skills which are critical to player theory. Good luck, and get studying!

      24 comments:

      Coolface said...

      So much for perfecting Helix. These "theories" of yours are really paying off aren't they?

      Oh wait, those theories are all common sense stuff anyways! What a waste of time.

      anANGRYkangaroo said...

      Come on now, this blog is for positive feedback and constructive critisism... be nice

      SmartAlec13 said...

      Is that really necessary? He has been working hard on Helix. I guess things just didnt work out. The lessons do help a lot. Sure, some of them are things that are "common sense". But to some, they arent.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Hmmm... I wonder who that could be. You do realize that you are the only person who has said that the lessons are common sense material, right? Calling them common sense points out who you are. The lessons aren't there to help you design, they are mainly there to help you perfect. It is the designers job to playtest new innovative ideas. And I will be returning to Helix in the future. I'm just taking a break from it... so to speak.

      Thanks for the support you guys... you should really give your thoughts on Cerberus' theory though. :P

      Coolface said...

      Well if you want constructive criticism (good job on the spelling BTW), then allow me to share my thoughts about this blog and this tool of a person you're following.

      First of all, for those who played Helix, the map sucked in Halo 3 and I'm not surprised it's sucking in reach. There was nothing appealing about the layout and quite honestly it never played good. The bases were too large, the choke points made people wanted to pull their hair out, and the overall flow was terrible. If I had to pick between Epitaph or Helix, I'm taking Epitaph in a heart beat, and we all know Epitaph is a horrible map.

      Second, I'm loving this juicy little tidbit from your lord and savior:

      "Anyways, the news is that my first matchmaking map Helix that I have been working on is going to be placed on the back burner"

      I can pretty much tell you right now that this quote is wishful thinking, considering this map is not matchmaking material, and if I was a betting man, chances are bungie hasn't contacted him about this map being in matchmaking or ANY map for that matter. This guy has the same chances of getting his map in matchmaking than Mr. Joe Blow who put his map together in a day. I like how he's guaranteeing something when even he knows it's not guaranteed.

      Godlyperfection is an amateur forger at best. His strong point is asetheics, but if he wants people to take his competitive maps seriously, he needs to work on things that ironically he preaches (mainly gameplay and layout). There are better forgers out there who can make better quality maps then this guy, and I would rather take their advice over this guy anyday.

      SmartAlec13 said...

      Helix is a pretty fun map, so I do not know what you are talking about. I have played a few matches on the Reach version (never did the H3 version) and it has been pretty fun. There are a few things with the bases that could be edited, but other than that, I like it.

      And he is not amateur. From what I have seen, he is an amazing forger. Even better, he can do what many cant. He can teach. The skill to teach is as valuable as the skill to learn. So maybe one map didnt work out. Ive made tons of maps, and any single one of them are trash compared to his maps.

      Matthew Clauer said...

      Heres a tip; go away.

      If you dont enjoy his maps, fine; if you dont enjoy his blog, fine.

      This is the internet man; he's not preaching at your door. If you dont want anything to do with it then click the little red x. Grow up and start acting a little more mature.

      The Ardly374 said...

      It always saddens me to see someone flame so far away from their hovel...especially when they already know all the information that they've taken the time to search for, which always seems to be the case...*sigh* I miss everyone just making "Yo Mamma" jokes and getting angry for being called gay (P.S. That's not a nice word, they're homosexuals, which has sex in it, which is what it's about, not happiness, because most "gay" persons I've met are pretty mopey).

      Helix was a great concept, flawed yes, namely in the realm of closely resembling a very complex set of Conquest maps stacked upon each other, but solidly founded in that it had interesting play areas and appealing vistas along with solid movement paths; what it truly lacked was enough was to travel in between paths themselves, which in itself is difficult to explain.

      On top of this, GP's referring to the map as his "first matchmaking map" wasn't anything near to him expecting that it would end up in matchmaking the next day, but that it was his first submission choice and that he was simply not feeling that he needed to add that disclaimer as he thought that his readers might have...hmmm...common sense? Yeah, that one.

      If you were going to downplay his forging and lessons, you shouldn't have up-played one of his foremost points as you did so; you would have done much better by up-playing the fact that he is much better at designing experiences, via the combinations of game type and map configurations. You've done a very bad job of providing an argument that would pass the scrutiny of any mid-level high school english teacher.

      If you weren't able to understand that, I can make it even simpler: get off his d*** already, go back to RedTube and crank off the last three in your set so you can go kiss your sister goodnight.

      Noklu said...

      Well, this theory is similar to how I look at it, it just went further into depth and complexity. I liked the write-up itself, like invariable/always vary. lol.

      And coolface, sod off. These "common sense" theories contain some things I would never have thought or known about. Also, in this format they are synthesised to a easy to understand format and content, rather than being a gut notion.

      The Ardly374 said...

      I almost forgot, or rather did, in my haste: the theory is solid, a great start, I do hope that you are going to flesh it out.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Thank you for summing it up nicely Ardly. And thanks to the rest of you for backing me up.

      Put simply... yeah Helix on Halo 3 was fucking terrible. Mainly because of lack of budget and lack of objects. I was unable to fully test the design in Halo 3, and now I have finally be able to test it under the terms that I wanted in the first place.

      Strong point is aesthetics? Really now? I'm a terrible aesthetic forger. So I guess that makes me just a terrible forger then, huh? Better just stick to my gametypes then ;).

      I do find it funny when you say that this is common sense material, when hundreds of people on BNet have enjoyed this series. If it was common sense, it wouldn't be as helpful as it is. Just saying.

      Regardless good luck in whatever you forge CoolFace, it's a great tool for everyone.

      Bartoge said...

      Knowing why players do things is extremely important when designing maps because by knowing why a player would do something you can figure out how to get them to not do that, if them doing something is breaking your map, or if its something you want you can encourage it. It can really help when tweaking your map after playtests. So really nice article Cerberus. I really like the topic and hopefully you will continue on it for some time to fully explain everything.

      BadCompany Brik said...

      It seems like all of Godly's posts touch on this, it's all (obviously) about thinking about what the players will do.

      Cerberus Beast said...

      The argument from map theory, which is what Godly has covered, is that controlling players and their environment are hand-in-hand. Player theory takes it from the other direction, suggesting that only the interaction of players matters, and that the map is merely a locale for different playstyles to clash. Again, I bring up nature vs. nurture as an analogy.

      @Bartoge: I am definitely going to delve further into this with more articles. This is only 'introductory', after all.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Btw guys... the forge lessons just made front page of halo.bungie.org. I figured that you loyal readers would love to know that we are getting a ton of traffic right now. Btw, expect lesson 30 sometime tonight. You may not see it til tomorrow though since I know that a lot of you have school.

      BadCompany Brik said...

      Ah, I see. That sounds interesting, thanks for clarifying.

      IxFlashPointxI said...

      Great theory Cerberus. Congrats on getting to Author.
      Except I disagree on something mentioned at the very beginning. You said people design/forge maps for people to play on, but a lot of people only make maps so they can feel popular and get downloads.

      But anyways great theory and congrats on Author.

      @Coolface
      Try before you lie.

      anANGRYkangaroo said...

      New forge contest on bungie.net where you can win an autographed Reach 360 from the Bungie team. Available only for Americans unfortunately, so I cannot enter, but here is some linkage and the 7 categories you can submit to.

      http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=topnews&link=Forgetacular

      Each category represents a specific game-type and has specified requirements to be eligible:

      •INVASION (“INV” )– A custom map that is built specifically for the Spartan vs. Elite “Invasion” game-types. The map must be optimized for 12 players (6 vs. 6) and support both “Invasion Slayer” and a 3-tiered “Invasion (Objective)” variants.
      •RACE (“RACE”) – A map that is designed to support Race and/or Rocket Race game-types. The map must be designed to work with 8 to 12 total players.
      •INFECTION (“INFECT”) – Map specially designed to support Infection and Safe Havens game-types for 8 to 16 players.
      •BIG TEAM BATTLE (“BTB”) – A larger map designed to support 16 players. Must support Slayer/Team Slayer at a minimum.
      •TEAM SLAYER (“TS”) - A map that’s expertly designed for 4 vs. 4 Team Slayer competitive play.
      •SYMMETRICAL ARENA (“SYMM”) – A symmetrical arena designed primarily for Slayer and Team Slayer for up to 8 players (4 vs. 4 / 8-player FFA).
      •CAPTURE THE FLAG (“CTF”) – Designed to support 1-Flag or 2-Flag games, symmetrical or a-symmetrical layout. 4 vs. 4.


      For more infoz on how to submit, and how to win, check out the linkage :) Good Luck my American friends

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Yeah I just saw it not too long ago. It is time to show my skills. I will only be focusing on one category for this contest. Anyone care to guess which one? Btw, there may not be a Forge Lesson today. I may be too busy trying to get this new map done for the competition to get it into playtesting quickly and start perfecting it.

      SmartAlec13 said...

      Pretty sure you can only enter in one category. I read it somewhere in the fine print. I will probably go for BTB, seeing as TeamSlayer and Arena will be the most competative forging areas, and I am not the best forger. BTB does not require a huge amount of forging, more so good thought process.

      xthorgoldx said...

      Too bad on Helix hitting the dumpster.

      This theory is truly a summation of what Forgers should, and often, do. Feedback on a map is the basis of Player Theory, and it is put to paper (er, silicon?) here. In short, this is a good analysis of good analysis.

      anANGRYkangaroo said...

      Hey Godly, can i get a FR on XBL? Ill be online this weekend and might be able to bring my harddrive with me and access my maps. Id love to show you what i got and get some playtesting in on your stuff too... XBL: anANGRYkangaroo

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Yeah bro definitely. I gotta make room on my friendslist though. Send me a msg and when you are ready and I will make room for you and add you.

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