1. Lesson 36: Simplicity

      written by Ray Benefield
      As I promised yesterday, here is today's lesson. I felt the need to start building off of the knowledge is power lesson. Simplicity is the first of the next few lessons that will help you teach your players your map so that way they can get to the actual experience. Sure this was briefly covered by Carney in his Map Design 101 guide, but this is my take on it. Also come back tomorrow for my social experiment. This is a place focused on design, so I want to do a little experiment with the community. Come back tomorrow to see what is in store and to read about and participate in tomorrow's social experiment. For you regular readers, you guys will enjoy this a lot. For you casual readers that stop by every once in a while I hope this encourages you to visit more often. ;) See you guys tomorrow, I'll be spending the rest of the day tweaking the experiment 'til I feel it is ready. Oh and those of you with a Forgehub account, take the time to lay down your testimony of the lessons on Dart3rocks' thread about Forge Resources. See yall tomorrow. ;) Oh and btw, remember you can get a printable PDF of all 36 lessons off of the Forge Lessons page. For those of you who want to print it out and read it later. Alright... NOW see you guys tomorrow. :P

      You are a designer. You have the ability to create MASSIVE worlds, confusing labyrinths, and complex structures of beauty. That kind of power is an amazing feeling, and the need to build massive, great, and complex things to show what you can do is tempting. Sometimes though… it is easier just to take a step back and build something small and simple. But why do this, when you can build cities?

      Simplify to amplify

      I must remind you that you are not here to build only for yourself. You are here to build an experience for everyone who plays on your map. They are on your map for the experience that it creates, not for the map itself. When looking at just a map, a complex, large, difficult-to-build structure is impressive. But the more complex the map is, the more difficult it can be to accomplish objectives on the map. If I place you in a box and tell you to kill the other person then all you have to do is focus on killing the other person. Now what if I throw a wall in between you? Now you have to work around the wall and adjust accordingly. Now add some ramps, a couple catwalks, some slick jumps, and maybe even a dense fog. Now you are starting to get to the point where you are fighting more against the map than you are the other person. Since the goal was to kill the other person, you can see how this just gets frustrating to a point. Build your map to meet the experience you are trying to create without over complicating the situation. Sometimes that means building in the simplest form in certain areas.

      Ease of learning

      Creating your map with the concept of simplicity can help in other ways as well. Remember that knowledge is power, and teaching your map quickly to your players can help them get to the meat of the experience. Through a simple layout one can quickly teach what the player needs to know and have them spend the majority of their time completing the task at hand. Learning the map is only a small and quick part of strategy. The real strategy is learning to use the map to give you an advantage in different situations. There is no harm in teaching players what they need to know right away. It can actually help players enjoy their experience more because now they have more options in which they can accomplish their goal. Simplicity can work as a good thing and as a bad thing. You want to have a simple enough layout to be able to teach your players quickly, but you also want a complex enough layout so that players have more options when dealing with situations. As with all design topics, you have to find that delicate balance for your maps.

      Less can be more

      So when designing your map, question yourself on how complex you are making it. Do you really need 5 paths into this one room? Is setting up 12 different main paths going to really improve the combat on your map by giving your players more options? Or is it just going to cause the player to get lost and make playing too difficult, causing a bad first impression? Is it really necessary to have 7 floors for your map when only 3 of them are getting used regularly? Maybe having too many floors is spreading out traffic too much, creating too sparse of an experience. Does your map really have to take an age and a half to traverse? Think about it…


      Niner7 said...

      Oops, it shows my email. I thought it would say Niner7 but I was wrong :(

      Nikobartash said...

      I'm using your lessons to build my first competitive map ever! Wouldn't mind if you could drop in and see how it's going some time :P

      Thanks GP! I promise I'll come to your custom game sometimes. I've been kind of busy lately so I haven't really been able to respond to your invites :(

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Shhhh you saw nothing... I got rid of those lines. Good catch bart. The others didn't catch it lol... when you gonna right me a new theory article? :P I kinda just want to post your Sensory article that is still in draft. Also jump on the forums fool :P

      Bartoge said...

      I like this article. I hate complex things, cause thy confuse me. When I make my maps, I try to keep things simple, which is why I tend to like smaller maps, because smaller is less complicated because there is less to remember, plus the more complex your map is, the more of a chance there is that people wont actually see everything on it, but that also deals with path manipulation and eye catching, but still.

      Also, Godly in the 1st section, you first line is like "Here you can type out your first section and what not" is that suppose to be there?

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Yes it would... that is clarified in the next paragraph that talks about finding a balance between simple and complex. That paragraph is to explain that with less complexity in a map there is more of a focus on the task at hand rather than the map. A great example of this is the batch of MLG maps compared to standard matchmaking maps. They are much simpler to allow more focus on the base gameplay over using the map. From the paragraph after that:

      "You want to have a simple enough layout to be able to teach your players quickly, but you also want a complex enough layout so that players have more options when dealing with situations. As with all design topics, you have to find that delicate balance for your maps."

      I just like to use extreme examples.

      Prod said...

      I'm confused by your example. Wouldn't a map with a few walkways, walls and ramps (with a nice layout of course) play better than an empty room?

      Surely a better example would be a mini-game where the objective is clearly displayed at the very start.

      Bartoge said...

      Godly you can post the Sensory theory. Also, I wrote another theory a while ago that is fine to be posted as well, in case you haven't seen it.

      Dj7291993 said...

      link to next lesson is missing. Great topic though.