1. Lesson 40: Foreshadowing

      written by Ray Benefield
      HAPPY NEW YEAR FOLKS! January 1st means the return of the forge lessons. And I'm back from the holidays with a ton of new things to write about. Remember that I'll be writing a new one at least every weekend. I might get happy go lucky every once in a while and write two. Hope everyone had a good holiday break. Remember that today I am hosting a custom game room all day for those that read RP. If you are reading this after the first then don't despair, you can expect more of these customs days in the future if you keep checking up here at RP. Also take the time to join us on the forums and get to know the community. Also I want to give a special thanks to everyone who has helped me test and advertise Helix. It has reached over 100 likes and 3100+ downloads. Wish me luck in the forgetacular and if you haven't downloaded, liked, or tagged it then please do and support it's trip into matchmaking. Let's all cross our fingers. Good luck to other participants. Oh and remember you can download a PDF version with all of the lessons, so you can print it or whatever. ;) Also I changed the pageviews widget in the sidebar to show all time views just to show how popular RP has been. I'll change it back to the weekly pageviews in a bit. Thanks for all of your support. On to today's lesson... see yall tomorrow with more level design goodness.

      Ever experience traversing a map and just knowing that a certain something is around the corner? It could be anything from a ramp, to a platform, to a hidden room, or a large courtyard. But how did you know it was there? Whether you noticed anything or not, the designer of the map built in clues to hint at what’s to come to assist you in getting around. This is the hidden power of something that we call foreshadowing.

      Glimpse of the future

      By definition the act of foreshadowing is showing something or hinting at something before you come in contact with it. Designers do this naturally at times without even realizing it. Foreshadowing can exist in many forms. One of the most common forms of foreshadowing is showing the base of a ramp in a long hallway. When you enter that hallway when you see the base of the ramp you just know that it leads up to somewhere and that a path exists. Another common form of foreshadowing is seeing a place before actually getting there. A good example of this is the usage of windows. Players can see through and shoot through windows viewing areas they may have never been to. With this they can take in what’s in front of them without having to actually be there. When they walk around a few corners and enter the area for the first time, the area is already seemingly familiar. This gives them a sense of comfort and security and allows them to focus more on the game at hand rather than having to guess what is around them.

      Navigational Ease

      So what is the advantage of foreshadowing? Foreshadowing gives the player a sense of orientation… a feeling of knowing where they are going even if they have never played the map before. This kind of feeling allows the designer to quickly draw in their attention and create a sense of immersion early and quickly. Humans are naturally always trying to make sense of things on a subconscious level. We use foreshadowing in the physical to help learn new cities and orient ourselves. Have you ever had that sense of “Hey there’s the Wal-Mart that we saw passing Jim’s house the other day.” As soon as you see the Wal-Mart you magically connect the dots in your head to draw yourself a mental map. The virtual world is no different.

      Using a Crystal Ball

      It’s time to put foreshadowing to good use. When creating a static perspective for your players, think about using it to foreshadow an incentive or high traffic area. When building an outdoor map consider the power of having a high area that is accessed early that overlooks a large portion of the map to help build that mental map. When creating an enclosed map consider pulling your ramps out slightly from corners to foreshadow the additional path. If you know that an area is going to be dangerous when a player enters, consider foreshadowing that area from a safer area so the player has fair warning of the possible deterrents that exist in that area. Foreshadow incentives through a commonly used window at your base to encourage players to obtain it. Foreshadowing can be a very powerful path manipulation tool that can help players understand their own path map without having played the map before. It helps build a strong first impression and improve your design reputation. This is just another tool to help your maps reach perfection.


      Noklu said...

      nope, foreshadow: To presage, or suggest something in advance.

      Anyway, Asylum is actually a great example of this. I was running around on it during Swat, and all the staircases had foreshadowing on them. Funny how your mind really opens up to it once you know the theory.

      the_Jflood said...

      Noklu, finding it funny that your still doing more thesaurus/dictionary jobs after today. You know what I mean ;)

      Noklu said...

      I only wish I could voice record messages to put on here.

      Maybe I could do an audiobook for something and send it to Jonzorz...hmm. I'ma go see what free software is available.