1. [Guest] Points of Interest

      written by Ray Benefield
      Hello RP readers and a happy Sunday to the lot of you. Today's post is brought to you by a regular reader, Noklu. He talks about a theory of points of interest for level design. It is a very good theory and feel free to leave your feedback below. Keep in mind that anyone can submit their own theory articles to Reaching Perfection. As long as it is written in the same format that I write my posts :P. I'm OCD like that. If you haven't noticed yet, Reaching Perfection now has its very own forums, but I am going to try to run these forums a little different than most. For a full description of exactly what I'm talking about, you may want to read Social Experiment: The Beginning. If you just want to join us on the forums, then there is the link. ;) Enjoy peepz. I'm also posting a new RP favorite sometime today or tomorrow so stay tuned. See you guys on the forums.

      Points of Interest

      By: Noklu/IKIR

      A Point of Interest (POI) is something that draws attention. It can be a weapon spawn, a sniper tower or any other place that grants an advantage or looks cool. At its elemental level, everything is a POI, just most are so negligible that we don’t pay any mind to them. But do you know how long, on average, you have to capture a player’s attention with a POI? About five seconds. Not long is it? You’ll want to use eye catching colours and structures as well as incentives to get them in there, but the trick is to maximise the time a player can see it.

      A Balancing Act

      POIs all have a certain value depending on context and what they are. Overuse results in attention being divided and too few results in a focal point for your map, similar to the sniper tower on Reflection. Everyone goes there. And if that happens, the rest of your awesome map has just gone to waste. You have to strike the right balance between the two extremes to achieve your map’s aims. The distance a POI is away is important as well, although this differs depending on the size of the POI. A large object can affect a player from the other side of the map, but smaller things can only be seen at a closer range. Another balance to strike is between powerful POIs like large structures or rocket launchers and smaller POIs that help to direct players around. You can only have so many huge structures at a time, but the number of smaller POIs is practically unlimited so make clever use of them.


      So you’ve got five seconds to get attention. Less if your POI is just around a corner or off to the side. If a POI is straight ahead, you’ve already maximised the time available to catch a player. As a general rule, the further away a POI is, the more time you have to snare a player. However, you can’t have everything in front of you, so doors or structures to the sides of a given perspective have far less time to snare attention. For entrances in particular, they are far more enticing if they are closer to the path a player is likely to take and are best when they are flush up against the surrounding walls. Recesses are typically less enticing. That little tidbit comes from retail design, and ‘open’ doors generate 35% more money so that tip is well worth heeding. Try to keep in mind while designing a simple thought of, “Will any players notice this?” If you think they won’t, then add in little aesthetic touches to the POI and make it stand out.

      The Chain Rule

      Another tip that comes straight out of the design book for shopping malls is that the more you can see other stores from one store, the more money shoppers will spend. In this case, the stores are POIs and the shoppers are the players. From one POI, make sure you can see another. It doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s a tall structure, power weapon or even a little pillar with a striking hue. If players can see one or more POI from one perspective players are more likely to traverse a larger space in the map. Clever use of chains of POIs can be a brilliant tool for path manipulation. Speaking of paths, isn’t it terrible when you walk down a corridor, turn the corner and find a dead end staring in your face? Players like to walk in loops. Cul-de-sacs are bad because any attempt to use chains will end at the end and players will get bored walking though the same area. Even if you try to entice players in with incentives, their annoyance levels will rise and they’ll lose their immersion and start critiquing. And you never want that.


      BadCompany Brik said...

      "Players like to walk in loops?" Do they? This isn't meant to be sarcastic, I as a player don't actually enjoy walking in loops, and I've never actually seen this quesiton posed. I understand they don't like dead ends, but I would think less of a loop, and something more complicated with choices. People love racing games with nifty shortcuts, as an example. Anyway, do you mean a literal loop or just the lack of a dead end by this?

      Jonzorz_124 said...

      I think players do like to walk in loops, though they may not realize it. It may not be a "loop" as a simple circle, but think of it like this, all roads are connected right? Well as long as the paths offer a continuation into the rest of the map, it can be classified as a loop. Think of Midship, Lockout, Foundation, or Construct, Guardian and The Pit. Those are all maps that involve the player moving continually around a map. The map is a one level circle, but the pathes do make a loop; that is not to say that people won't hold a position on a map and stay static there. All maps have positions that may be tactically more advantageous than others, but none the less, on the whole, players will loop the map. I hope that made sense.

      BadCompany Brik said...

      I guess so, I just don't personally enjoy looping maps, and I had never really thought about whether other's might or might not. It was one of those base assumptions I had about the way I play, so I never really challenged it. Hopefully I'll be able to accomodate that in the future.

      Noklu said...

      Sorry, by loops I simply mean that they never have to stop and turn around. Choices are fine, but as long as it isn't a dead end, it counts as a loop.

      Thanks to Jonathan Scott for helping clarify.

      Noklu said...

      Yeah, that is what forge lessons are meant to do, right? Provoke thought?

      Basically what I am trying to say is that walking in loops is better than walking into dead ends all the time, although dead ends can sometimes be used effectively. And loops doesn't mean walking in a circle all the time, it means not having to stop and turn around because of the map. So what you are doing is quite right by putting choices in.

      Juke777 said...

      Hey GodlyPerfection, I'm been reading all of your lessons. I've learned a great deal form them and I appreciate all the work you've put into them. I've made a map and I've posted it both on ForgeHub and xForgery. Both sites are a great help, but I really wanted to know your input since you are so experienced and I learned so much from reading your posts. This is the only way I knew how to contact you, and I was wondering if you could help a commoner like me by checking out my map and giving me some of that wisdom! I understand if you can't, but it would mean a great deal to me. The map is called Taijitu. Here's the link:


      Noklu said...

      I just realised that you took out my little pun in my original title. :(

      Anonymous said...

      this post is very usefull thx!