1. Lesson 31: Immersion

      written by Ray Benefield
      So I was going to write this yesterday, but I got distracted with my new competitive map Solitude. My bad! Anyways, today's lesson is an important one so read it, share it, and do it. Also, thanks to the request of many, I have setup a PDF that I will keep up to date for those that would like to print the lessons or have them all in one place. They are nicely formatted to fit one lesson per page and has a nice little cover page as well. You can find it on the Forge Lessons page. Aside from the lessons, I plan on posting me and Sotha's awesome new standard gametype sometime this weekend (codenamed Headhoarder). Also, remember that I am not the only designer out there. Kapura, one of the regulars over at HaloGAF, has posted his philosophies on spawn setup in Halo. Give the man some love and read/comment on it (also it comes with pictures in the ForgeGAF thread, but you can't comment there unless you are special). Think of it as a favor for me. ;) Anyways, I'm thinking about starting to post smaller quicker posts so that you guys have something to come back to everyday. Mainly for something like ReachingPerfection Faves, where I will do a paragraph or two on some of the best maps/gametypes that I have found out there. Would you guys be cool with that? Don't want to flood your RSS feed readers or anything like that. Til' my next post. Keep designing peepz.

      Have you ever done something that made time fly without you realizing it? Ever play a game where you felt you spent only an hour, but then realize that four has gone by? Ever play a map where you were so deep into having fun and fighting the opposition that you had no time to criticize the map fully because you were so focused on playing the game that the map was made for?

      What is immersion?

      I’m glad you asked Jimmy. By the books immersion is the state of being deeply engaged or involved. Immersion is all about giving your players such an enjoyable experience that they don’t pay attention to things that can ruin their day. Whether that experience is having to go to a doctor’s appointment or meeting up with an ex-wife to settle some differences. Immersion ensures that the only thing that matters is what you are doing, not what is going on around you. Arguably that isn’t always a good thing for the player, but it is a sign of success for the designer. It means he did his job. Now it is time to do yours.

      Creating a dream

      Let’s talk about dreams for a second. In a dream you get the feeling that everything is real. Everything in your dream works together to create a believable experience that gives the illusion of everything being real. Then all of a sudden you notice that something is amiss. Something doesn’t feel right and then you realize that you are dreaming and the whole experience is destroyed now that you have a full realization of what is going on. Typically at this point you wake up. Even if you want to re-immerse yourself into the dream, you can’t because the experience was broken for you. Making a map is very similar to a dream in that you seek to immerse your players into your map and to distract them from everything that shouldn’t matter to lock them into your experience. Once you lose that immersion then it is very difficult to regain it. If your player is busy saying that your map is ugly, then they are obviously not immersed. If your player is asking you where to find the sniper rifle then they are not immersed. And once they lose immersion they start looking for other things and finding more and more problems turning from a player to a critic. And trust me… we hate critics.

      Playing the game, not the map

      As a level designer, you have to realize one thing. Your map is only a tool for the game. It is a way to experience the gameplay in a different setting. When players play on a good map they don’t typically talk about how awesome the map was. They talk about how much fun they had destroying the tank across the map. They talk about how they jumped over the wall and snuck up on their friends. They talk about how they worked as a team to capture the flag in those final seconds. When your map is amazing, people don’t talk about your map… they talk about their experiences on the map. And that is what designers should look to achieve. You are not creating a map. You are creating something to give your players an experience to share with their co-workers the next day at work… as they talk about how they forgot their wife’s birthday because they were too busy destroying on said map. That is the power of a designer my friend. Enjoy it.


      Noklu said...

      I would have to say this would be one of the hardest things to achieve in a map. Those who do it are awesome.

      Oh and, I can't really tell if the Koth hills are now sequential or not...or maybe I'm doing something wrong. The spawn sequence should determine the koth order, yes?

      BadCompany Brik said...

      Sequential hills are broken right now.

      Anyway, I like this lesson because it doesn't teach you how to make a map, so much as why you're making the map, what the goal in design is. It's neat.

      Also, I've just finished an FFA map (which you tried once as a TS map, but I made a few modifications and labeled it "FFA"), so I hope to test it with you this weekend.

      Prod said...

      May i suggest an example?

      Minesweeper, I get so immersed in that game I could spend hours in it.

      I'd like to think that some of my maps do this, but i'm not sure any of them do.

      Noklu said...

      Thanks, Brik. I had thought it was coming out in the latest update; apparently not.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Sounds good brik .We will get to testing your map sometime this weekend hopefully. I can't guarantee it though because we have some old friends coming over for our anniversary this Halloween since they weren't there for our wedding.

      And Prod... blood bowl is awesome.

      ImI METAL ImI said...

      I just got done reading all of these forge lessons over the past couple days, and I think this lesson was the most eye-opening for me. It really culminated this understanding of map design. Finding that balance between all the strategic aspects of path manipulation and managing perspectives and topping it off with fitting aesthetics is what we started off trying to do. And if you achieve that, what you achieve is immersion. Immersion is why video games exist in the first place. So it follows that designers should strive to meet what this lesson describes.