1. [Guest] Sensation Manipulation

      written by Bartoge
      This is Bartoge's first post as an author of Reaching Perfection. Please give him some good feedback peepz. Sorry for no Forge Lesson guys... I'm not having a very good day.

      Sensation Manipulation

      By: Bartoge

      How do you perceive your surroundings? Your senses are the answer. Knowing how your senses perceive different aspects of your environment can help you understand how to manipulate them to achieve different things. Do you want to require people to be more alert in order to spot their enemies or do you want them to be able to see them from a mile away?

      The Senses' Perceptions

      All around you are your surroundings. How do you perceive your surroundings? With your five senses. You can see, hear, smell, feel, or taste what surrounds you. Of those five senses, only three of them allow you to perceive things beyond yourself. Tasting and feeling require your surroundings to be in contact with you, either directly touching your skin or your tongue. However seeing, hearing, and smelling allow you to perceive things in your area... for as far as you can see, hear, or smell. If you are not disabled, which one of those 3 do you use the most to gauge your environment? Your sight of course. What allows you to see? Light. Light reflects off objects and lets your eyes see their reflection. Obviously, when there is no light, there is no sight, as you are in the dark.

      Light Is Knowledge

      Since sight is the most used sense to perceive your surroundings (or in other words, gain knowledge about the area around you), and light allows your eyes to see; light is the basis for most knowledge. When there is light, you can see. When you can see, you can observe your environment. When you can observe your environment, you can convert that into knowledge that can help you decide what to do. I see a pole in front of me, therefore, I use that information and decide what to do. I can both walk straight and run into the pole, causing myself pain; or I can avoid the pole and be pain free. If I were in the dark, I couldn’t have gathered information on my surroundings and I wouldn’t have known that a pole was there. I couldn’t have taken steps to avoid it and avoid causing myself pain. Having light is the basis for making decisions as you are going throughout your day. But what about sound and smell? Well, in a Halo game, smell won’t matter, cause you watching a TV which doesn't emit any smells, while in real life, smelling can’t give you a whole lot of information about your surroundings. But sound can give you something that sight can’t, like when you hear gunshots off in the distance. You now know where some battles are taking place, but unless you have a bat’s supersonic hearing, sound won’t help you very much when traversing through a map, which leaves sight as the main sense for knowledge gathering.

      The Relation

      So you might be saying “blah blah blah Bartoge, how does this affect gaming?” Well, I will use an example that I love to use. I will also use a gametype created by Godly named “In the Shadows” which is very similar to how the game Splinter Cell is played. Understanding how your senses perceive the environment can help you understand how to manipulate your players' senses to work against them or for them. Spies are experts at making your senses useless, and In the Shadows uses gametype options to replicate how spies make your senses useless. Spies generally work at night, when its dark so their enemies can’t see them very well. They also crouch under things and hang from pipes and other places where their enemies don’t look often. That eliminates their enemies' sense of sight (in In the Shadows, the spy is invisible, which also almost eliminates the player’s sense of sight). Spies also crouch when they walk, to eliminate your sense of hearing (and in In the Shadows, the player can crouch to be quieter and avoid radar detection). There is also smell, and as I said, smell isn't very effective in life or in Halo. So sight, hearing, and smell are all eliminated, leaving only taste and touch which, as we discussed earlier, are direct... meaning you have to be right next to the person and actually physically touch them or lick them to use either of those feelings. For spies, if you are close enough to touch or lick them, you are probably dead anyway. So, essentially, spies make all of your senses useless and that is a very scary thing, because when you can’t use your senses, especially sight, you can’t obtain knowledge which means you are left not knowing. And when you can’t know, you can’t make rational decisions based on knowledge that you don't have.

      Wrap Up

      So you can use light on your maps to create a certain feel, or you can edit traits to affect your senses to create certain styles of play; like having a dark map create a creepy/scary feel, or using invisibility to create a spy gametype like In the Shadows. Use your imagination and see what you can make happen.

      Becoming an Author

      For those who are looking to become an author of Reaching Perfection, all you have to do is get three articles published through me following the same format that all of the blog posts follow. What should you write about? Anything that has to do with design in the video game culture. Game Design, Level Design, Community Design, etc. If it is interesting enough and has merit then I will throw it up for you and you will be one step closer to being an author here on RP. Just send your article to GodlyPerfection@ReachingPerfection.com. As an alternate submission process, you can post up your article in the forums. For examples of what has already been written follow this link: Guest Author Posts.


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      Noklu said...

      Very abstract guide, bartoge. Nice work.

      Jonzorz_124 said...

      “Light is Knowledge”, very catchy and an interesting design concept, I like it a lot. Though I would give a little more weight to sound; at least to some degree.

      There are a lot of sounds in Halo that can drastically effect how you navigate through an area of a map. Fusion coils, man cannons, vehicle's driving, vehicle weapons, handheld weapons, grenades (I'm sure I'm forgetting something else), all of these things have very distinct sounds; and the beauty of sound is that it can be perceived in places where your sight cannot.

      A player will use all the tools available to him in a game to better complete their goals. Correct? Well at least we hope they will. Think of Zanzibar/Last Resort when someone blew up the little box that let down the bridge by the huge turbine. When you heard that explosion and the creaking that followed, you knew that there was someone up there. Now of course that’s only half the battle because generally you would have to look to SEE if it was a friend or foe, but it was the perception of sound that brought you to look there. Another example would be the man cannons on Narrows, or the alarm that sounds when a player is capturing a territory in Invasion.

      In Halo Reach’s forge, we as forgers are highly limited in our ability to use sound. But it can play the role of both direct and indirect incentives and deterrents. But as this site is about level design as a whole, we should be aware of how a player will use the sounds of their environment to make path decisions, gain orientation or any number of other things that Godly has touched upon.

      I don’t want you to think that I’m harping on your article, I liked it a lot. It gave me some cool ideas for lighting future maps, but I don’t think you gave enough credit to hearing sounds as a valuable resource for gaining knowledge as well. I hope that all made sense.

      Bartoge said...

      Sound is important, however, I say light is knowledge because it is the major cause of you having knowledge. Light lets you see, and you can see your environment. A lot of times, your environment won't make many sounds. You may hear the wind blowing leaves and trees, which will let you know your outside, but those sounds won't really help you to avoid walking into the trees. And then, most sound is caused by movement, meaning living things, because non living things don't move as much. Therefore, sound is more important in the second tier of knowledge, other living things around you. The first tier is what are your surroundings, and how can you traverse, them. Light is the major player in that. The second tier, is living things, because they will cause you to traverse your surroundings in different ways. If you hear a wolf behind you behind a tree, you probably won't keep walking the same way you were.

      In relation to Halo, sound is limited, like you said, but there are some things you can do. Instead of using a man cannon, use one way shield doors. The shield doors dont make a sound when you use them, so maybe they are better for what you want to achieve. Drop fusion coils to signal when a player should do something, instead of making them look at a clock. So yes,sounds can be useful, but there are many more things you can do with light, than with sound, at least in forge.

      I hope that made sense. I know it can seem like I focused on light on lot in this, and well I did, because in my mind, light is more prominant as a tool for designers to use than sound.

      Jonzorz_124 said...

      I agree with you, I just wanted to make sure you were not cutting out sound out completely. :)

      Bartoge said...

      Yeah, I wouldn't do that. The post is called Sensation Manipulation, so hopefully I would talk about more than one sense. I think for game design at least, I can count out smell and taste. Now if this were more about real life and was about real architecture, smell would be something I could talk about, but for games, not so much. Light and sound are pretty much it for games. Maybe touch, but that isn't what we have access to at all.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Actually with the introduction of Kinect touch is going to start playing a role in games as well. Maybe not directly with the game objects but with other players. Sonic Free Riders actually has something where you have to touch each other to hold balance or something like that. It is quite interesting.

      Anyways, you guys are slightly looking at senses individually. While individual senses are powerful, the combination of them is what achieves amazing things. Sometimes you can't pinpoint the sound of a grenade but you can see the point at which the grenade landed. And sometimes you can't see the sniper, but you know he is out there because of the shots. A good example of that was with Jon's example of Last resort... it takes sight and sound to assess the situation. So keep that in mind as well. ;) Not saying you guys didn't realize it, but more to remind you that the combination is important as well.

      Richie Burke said...

      light, is knowledge, yes.
      these are good points in helping one understand how our senses are crucial to understanding everything that is going on around us, in life, and in Halo.
      i agree sight is the sense that imparts most knowledge on us, i also agree that the combination of these senses is vital. one thing i have noticed is, when one sense is limited, the others are heightened. you close your eyes and where does your focus go? your hearing. there is no sound nearby, where does your focus go? smell. there is nothing emitting a scent, where does your focus go? taste. there is only your saliva you taste, where is your focus? feeling. when you cant see, hear, smell, or taste, what is left? your feeling.
      i believe this is the most powerful sense, in that it makes all the other senses, work.
      you can touch things to feel, and you can also feel things, that are not touching you, physically.
      have you ever been walking through a map, and your coming around a corner, and you feel, an enemy is coming around that corner, so you toss a grenade in preparation and the enemy comes right on top of it leaving him one shot away.
      with no prior knowledge of this enemy coming; no sight of him or him on your radar, you did not hear him, you could not smell him, certainly were not tasting him, but you felt him coming, even though you were not touching physically, you felt the presence.
      the sense of feeling is very powerful, yet very obscure to grasp. you must take the other senses away, and focus, on what is to be felt.

      God bless All.