1. Lesson 44: Aesthetic Noise

      written by Ray Benefield
      Happy Super Bowl Sunday folks! Today marks 6 months and 3 days since I started this series back on August 3rd last year. We've come a long way, and still have a long way to go folks. There are so many little details that go into map design that can help bring your works to perfection. Also the feedback from my new gametype Halo Tactics has been very good. For those who don't know what it is, it is basically Halo Chess... turn based and everything. Check it out. Also for those who have been curious on how to make a map for Halo Tactics, TheArdly has created a nice little visual aid to help you out, thanks again Ardly. Hit me up if you do make a Halo Tactics map. Oh and if you missed it, below is the new Affinity Map Trailer by the one and only Rifte Gifle. Enjoy folks! Thanks again Rifte. You rock! Subscribe to his channel peepz. ;) Btw, if you haven't noticed, I am SOOO abusing the popularity of these lessons as an advertising technique to spread the word about my creations. And it is working quite well, 3700+ downloads so far for Affinity and Halo Tactics is above 1500 downloads. Not bad. Today's lesson covers a very common problem with a lot of heavy aesthetic maps. See you guys next week. Also stay tuned tomorrow or Tuesday where I attempt to start a new series where I utilizing you guys in the design process of my next map... codenamed "Cancer".

      Before beginning I want to create a visual for you. Imagine a pile of junk. Shoes, papers, pens, soda cans, dishware, boxes, wires, cards, CDs, etc. In this pile of junk you will find it very difficult to find anything in that pile. Not only that, but this pile of junk is distracting from the beautiful clean room that contains it. Instead of enjoying the room that you are in, your mind is trying to sort through the pile of junk. This situation is extremely similar to what we call aesthetic noise.

      Too much in one place

      Aesthetic noise is a point at which there is so much going on in one place that it completely distracts from everything around it. Another term we use for aesthetic noise is busy aesthetics. Busy aesthetics is a good example of bad eye catching. You end up drawing attention to it when there is nothing important to draw attention to. Aesthetic noise is typically caused by a massive amount of differing textures or objects in one area. These objects or textures typically have a ton of high color contrast that brings more attention to it than needed. Some designers tend to accidentally create this when trying to detail their works of art. There is nothing wrong with adding details to your map, however if each object doesn’t flow into each other then it will only act as a visual distraction which will then dilute your map’s gameplay.

      Creating smooth beauty

      Avoiding aesthetic noise isn’t an easy task at first until you understand the concepts of flowing one texture into another and understanding color contrast and the color wheel. This can really only be achieved by research and experimentation. Eventually you start to get a sixth sense of what feels right and what doesn’t. A certain sense of polish can help reduce aesthetic noise as well by removing anything distracting like gaps, or textures that don’t line up well. Cohesion is pretty much the exact opposite of aesthetic noise. If you remember, cohesion is taking a multitude of objects and having them flow together to make one fluid object which then results in only one object to focus on rather than a collage of objects. Combining all of these techniques can help make your map feel whole and allow players to focus on the gameplay rather than what’s around them.

      Effects on gameplay

      Cohesion, aesthetic noise, polish, and various other techniques create that sense of immersion that we all try to create as designers. We want our players to get lost in the experience that we create and to lose track of time because they are having so much fun. Too much aesthetic noise can pull from any eye catching that you are using for important incentives around your map to help players move from place to place. Many designers split aesthetics and gameplay into two completely different categories in level design. The truth is that aesthetics and gameplay work hand in hand in the map as a whole. Having bad aesthetics can be bad for gameplay, while bad gameplay can render good aesthetics completely pointless. I’ve said it many times before, but it needs to be said again to have it engraved into your mind. You must find a balance in everything you do. Design isn’t a bunch of individual concepts, but how those concepts work in unison.


      Alimoha said...

      Mr. God, where is the forge lesson on vertical height advantages, wait, if you don't have one then I assign you to write one!
      include some stuff about sword base, and some stuff about sniper positions and stuff like that,
      in my map Exile there is one place you can climb (or jetpack) to that is a moderate height advantage, and second heightest place on the map besides the Falcons. However I didn't intend for the place to be there, but i did notice it, should i create a platform there or block it off?
      -Please help

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