1. Lesson 33: Continuity

      written by Ray Benefield
      So I haven't posted in like 3 days. :P My bad! With friends over things get pretty hectic and I kinda lose track of time. So I'm going to make up for it right now. Today I am bringing you THREE lessons. Not just the one. So when you are done reading this then go read lessons 34 and 35. You may have to wait like ten minutes 'til I post them. But they are all already written. I swear. This is also in celebration of Halloween tomorrow. For those that don't know it, tomorrow is ALSO me and Manda's first year anniversary of being married. So if I don't post tomorrow or the day after, you know why. ;) I will either be wasted or hungover. lol... time to get these things posted. More info in the commentary paragraphs for the next two lessons. Time to finish posting. See you in a second. ;)

      Ever run into a bump or a difficult jump to a key area while trying to naturally move around a map to achieve your goal? If you noticed it, then the designer did something wrong. That is where the immersion breaks, and where the player starts criticizing the map. We learned that it’s your job as a designer to avoid this disruption. A map’s continuity is one such topic that can help us avoid immersion disruption.


      So what do I mean by continuity? To me, continuity is the ability to traverse a map without making any conscious decisions. So what is a conscious decision? Anything that is not a normal means of movement. So in a game where you walk around all the time a conscious decision could be jumping or rolling. Based on the game that you are playing continuity can be measured differently. Say you are playing a game where it is natural to dash a couple yards every second. Breaking continuity can be caused simply by narrow hallways and sharp corners where you constantly bump into the walls because the hallways and corners did not take dashing into account as normal movement. This breaking of continuity is what we call discontinuity. Basically anything that breaks natural movement. You got that? Let’s move on.

      Waking up

      So continuity is important. Why? Because a lack of continuity equals a lack of cohesion and immersion. Your map does not flow as one, and because of that players wake up from their dream and start criticizing the reality that you have created for them. Waking up from a great dream is something that we don’t enjoy doing. So why wake them up, when you can suck them in even deeper. Players don’t need to be aware of your map, they need to be aware of their surroundings and the game. If a player is paying attention to the map then you can do better at sucking players in. Continuity can be a huge factor in keeping the dream or creating an extremely uncomfortable wake-up call.

      Bumpity Bump

      So what breaks continuity? Imagine being in an intense one on one match. And then all of the sudden you hit a slight bump, popping into the air and missing the final headshot. Or imagine running up to a ledge that looks like you can jump over it and you are in hot pursuit of your target. You attempt to jump the ledge to cut your target off and find yourself not being able to make it. That is where the player starts blaming the map for his performance. Once that happens, you have lost your player to a bad first impression. Discontinuity isn’t always a bad thing though. Discontinuity can act as a deterrent for a shortcut. However the main areas that contain a ton of traffic should not require a breaking of concentration. Discontinuity can be used for both good and evil. It is the designer’s job to learn where discontinuity breaks immersion. It is also our job to learn where discontinuity can be used to control how players move. Finding a balance between good and evil is something that can only be learned over time and with the application of the technique. Do you really want to force your players to jump up to the main central circular platform? Or would you rather have them focus on surviving the huge degree of focus?  


      The_Ardly374 said...

      That whole feedback thing would be greatly appreciated though. Still less work, but I don't do so well for personal quality control, at least not at 4 in the morning when I have time to write these things.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Well then I will let you continue doing what you are doing. Less work for me :P.

      The_Ardly374 said...

      I've actually already started on basically exactly what Alec mentioned, with the Invasion Experiences Guide. There will be others to follow for the other game types.

      Noklu said...

      Godly also wants to not back himself into a corner and be able to show that the understands level design, not just forging. His stated aim is to become a level designer, remember?

      My bad, I accidentally replied to "Hagagaga." And, Godly will continue as far as necessary.

      Hagagaga said...

      Whoa, these lessons rock. Really helped me with Halo Reach forgeworld. How mnay lessons you gonna make.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      I won't be on how to forge for certain variants it will be on examples of the lessons at work. But that won't be til later. If I do that now, the lessons will slow down again and I still have a lot to write about.

      SmartAlec13 said...

      Well I never knew you were going to create a sidething for how to forge for certain variants :P

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Alec I will convert the majority later. I told you guys that I was going to work on a series where you apply these lessons. I can only do so much at one time. These lessons are for ALL games and it will stay that way. They are named forge lessons because I learned these things in forge. That is all. More than just Halo forgers read this. A lot of level designers read this as well. If I refer to Halo specific things then the lessons lose their luster for level designers in general. This series is stuff that I am using for a resume and if everything I have is just Halo then I will never be able to make it in the world.

      Now what I can do is create a separate thing as a side thing that covers specific things just for Halo. But the reason that hasn't been done yet is the same reason that this series doesn't have screenshots yet. I don't have that kind of time. If I try to go back and do screenshots or do a side series just for Halo then I won't have time to continue providing these lessons.

      And you gave a good example for why the lessons are abstract. The reason I never come out and say "Don't face a wall, edge, or anything boring" is because that is not a always a true statement. In slayer, CTF, and other competitive gametypes that may be true. But puzzle maps are completely different from that, sometimes you want to face people towards a wall so that it helps create a disoriented feeling. Sometimes you want that spawn perspective to fall off the edge in order to show something greater from when players drop. Sometimes you want the player to only be half informed when they spawn. The reason these are abstract is so that they can be applied to ALL situations, not just the ones that you are used to Alec. If I were to be more specific I would have to do a series of tips PER game/gametype. For Slayer it may be a good idea to even disperse players across a map, but for CTF that is a terrible idea cuz you want your players around your flag. For Headhunter you want to place your drop points incentives in different places than you want to place your hill incentives for KOTH. The reason I don't give specific tips is because they don't always apply.

      Do you know why these lessons turn out to be better than most? Because they teach you how to fish instead of just buying you dinner. They teach you how to think like a designer because they are more abstract. If I just go out and tell you "Never face a spawn towards a wall" then you will NEVER face a spawn towards a wall. It creates a closed mind. There are some situations where you want to face a spawn towards a wall, but you will never look for those situations if I just straight up tell you it is a bad idea. However if I say instead "You need to face the spawn so that players see what they are going to be interested in when the game starts and so that their perspective is filled with useful information". That line covers situations where facing a wall could be good as long as the wall provides useful information. Who knows... maybe that wall is a teleporter and you want to face players towards it. The series is designed to teach you how to keep an open mind Alec. The more specific I make it the less situations that it applies to.

      SmartAlec13 said...

      I am just saying. Keep the abstractness, but maybe provide an example or tips on how it can apply to Halo. When people see the title "Forge Lessons" they usually expect something to do with forging in Halo3/Reach.

      The abstract is good, like you said. But providing some "how this can be applied" type thing, or with some tips on how it actually happens on your map, can be a good thing. Like spawn perspective. Your lesson(s) on it do not really just come out and say "Dont face a wall, edge, or anything boring" but whenever we are going through someones map that is one of the first things you say about their spawns.

      Make the minorty happy, convert the majority.

      SmartAlec13 said...

      Its not that I dont understand myself. I am just saying that it can be hard to apply abstract concepts to your map right away. Many map designers are (unfortunetly) impatient. They don't want to sit pondering the mysteries and concepts behind map design. All I am saying, is the abstract is good. But giving some concrete examples and tips that map makers can use right away is good. Like "You should be able to travel around a good portion (90%) of your map withought jumping". Thats a tip that people can actually go on their map and make changes.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Alec, common sense isn't common sense to everyone. And some of the lessons have to be abstract in order to open your mind. Some lessons you don't just apply, some you keep in mind and understand. Once you are told about it, then you start thinking about it more. Part of being a designer is teaching yourself as well. I keep some of them abstract so you can decide what it ties into and what you can learn from the lesson. Trust me... as you read them in the future a lot of stuff will just click. Try going back and reading over some of the lessons again and think about how they connect to some of the newer lessons. It definitely helps you learn as a designer.

      SmartAlec13 said...

      A good lesson that a lot of people needa learn. A map submitted in this one contest a while ago was a perfect example of why this lesson needs to be read.

      And the format is good. Just try to make things more concrete, like this lesson. The very abstract lessons are hard, because they are either common sense or difficult to apply.

      GodlyPerfection said...


      Ramps ARE extremely important, but like you said steepness is a huge factor. However having jumps can be just as important.


      A lot of people would have maps that played SOOO much smoother if they fixed some of the continuity issues on their maps. People that read these lessons are definitely a LARGE step ahead of the rest of the forging community. People need to catch up. ;)

      As for the way the lessons are written, I am getting a better handle of writing them. I think I've got a really good format going. I use an attention grabber introductory paragraph that relates the concept to your personal view, then I move on to a definition paragraph covering what the concept actually is, followed by a reasoning paragraph that talks about why the concept is important and how it affects maps, and then I finish up with a wrap up that ties together other concepts as well as provides one or two examples that help you visualize the concept better. So far I think it is working great. What do you guys think?

      BadCompany Brik said...

      I like how you're getting more literal with the lessons. It seems like you're making more progress when not only do you get a lesson that you can apply to anything, but you get a quick tip such as not having jumps into main areas. Those are the kind of things that a lot of people look for, and you can get them with those, and have them read the rest of it. I like it!

      I had a lot of discontinuity in my maps in H3 because of how hard it was to make ramps, what with all the merging necessary.

      Sotha said...

      Oh yes. This is a rather important concept. Especially for those people who like to put jumps in their maps. Weren't there a couple articles, perhaps by Bartoge, about ramps. Well, this is why they are so important!

      Ramps are part of making a map continuous. The vast majority, at least all of the important areas of a map should be traversable without the need to jump. To make different levels more continuous, the height change between them should be progressive and gradual.

      You may have a ramp, a progressive height change, but if it is too steep, it will not be gradual enough to ensure continuity. And while a steep ramp is more continuous than a drop, considering you can still traverse it by walking alone, the change in perspective is still too drastic for it to be really continuous.