1. Lesson 45: Pacing

      written by Ray Benefield
      Wow I looked at the date for the last forge lesson and it has been two months. I definitely slacked, but the good news is that I'm back and kicking folks. If you are just now returning to RP then you are probably unaware that I've started posting everyday for the past like 5 or so days. Everyday you come back to RP there will be something new to read, for a while atleast. But what if you don't want to check RP everyday? Well then try this... you can find links to the RSS Feed link, or you can subscribe to the site and receive an email whenever I post something new in the sidebar to the left, or you can even follow me on Twitter, or go to our brand new ReachingPerfection Facebook page which is now in the sidebar (it no longer links to my page :P). Enjoy today's lesson and I'll see you tomorrow folks. Btw, happy first day of spring folks. And I'll be playtesting my redesign of Highlands called Birthright all this week. Hit me up on XBL (GT: GodlyPerfection) if you want to partake in the fun of two neutral falcons. Oh and I hope you guys are enjoying Affinity in the Community Slayer playlist on Halo: Reach right now. It is still up if you haven't played it yet. Laterz folks.




      Have you ever considered how long it takes a player to get to a certain weapon? What about the timing behind how long it takes to get from one objective to the other? Or maybe the amount of time it takes for both teams to reach the closest “power position?” Time and speed is a big deal in many games and as a result both play a huge role in the world of level design. Not taking it into consideration can leave your map with imbalances that you never considered before.


      Time and Speed


      Pacing is defined as many things. It can be the rate at which you are moving, the number of “paces” away, or even just the general momentum of the situation at hand. As stated earlier, understanding the pacing of your map can bring to light a ton of information that can help you balance your level for all players to make a fair and enjoyable experience. In team based games the easiest way to understand pacing is to look at asymmetrical maps. A designer can roughly place the rockets in the center, but the only way he can know if it is placed fairly is if he times how long it takes to get to the rockets in the center from each team’s initial spawn or from every spawn area around it. This is just one obvious instance of using pacing as a tool for level design.


      The not so obvious


      Equal distances for both teams for symmetrical gameplay, even in asymmetrical environments, is the most obvious way to utilize the concept of pacing. What other ways can you use pacing to in your level design? Well have you considered anything that can change the speed at which players travel throughout your map? Vehicles, powerups, and equipment are just a few examples of things that a designer needs to consider in his maps. Sure it takes 10 seconds to get to the rockets, but if a player sprints he will make it in half the time. How do you balance that against players that can’t sprint to the rockets? Typically that isn’t a problem in balance because sprint is made to give players a pacing advantage over others, but it is always something to consider. Also consider that there are some paths that are faster for those in a vehicle, while there are other paths that are faster for those on foot.


      Tying it in


      Pacing has a huge role when considering a player’s path map at various locations. Remember that player’s have a tendency to take the shortest route possible to where they want to go as per path manipulation, that shortest route may be different based on their current means of travel. Also keep in mind that even if there are two incentives in view to a player, even if one has a greater incentive weighting than the other a player may go for the lower weighted one first if it takes less time to get to so that he may have an improved chance of survival. Pacing can play a huge role in a player’s decision making process when traversing around a map. As a designer it is important to take in every little piece of information possible, even if the information seems a bit superficial. Each little bit of information can help you make decisions on how you want your map to be perceived and it can help you craft the experience you want. I’m not saying that you have to know the timing to every single incentive on your map from every single spawn, but I am saying that it helps to know. And knowing is half the battle. ;)


      17 comments:

      Dj7291993 said...

      Nice Lesson Godly. Not to be naggy, buy your email subscription doesn't send out an email about the post till the next day (does work though). I think that something else that plays into the whole vehicle vs foot paths is how dangerous the area is, as drivers may be more... adventures if they are not threatened. It's amazing how many placed you can get the human vehicles. Also, covenant vehicles can fit in more placed damaged (like when you break the wings off of the ghost or banshee).

      Nikatorus said...

      ^This about the email.

      Also, I'll come and test whenever I can. What times were you thinking so I can know when to be online?

      GodlyPerfection said...

      For the email, it is set to always send out at a particular time so if I post after that time it get's sent out the next day. What I can do is wait til it sends out the email Monday at 11am-1pm Pacific and have the email be sent out at about 7-9pm Pacific instead so it always gets sent out the day of as long as I post before 7pm. What do you guys think about that?

      As far as testing Birthright it is basically whenever, no actual testing session.

      @DJ the whole "dangerous area" thing is covered by deterrents, however your mention of getting vehicles to certain places falls under a future lesson known as Accessibility... how easy it is to get to something difficulty wise. Sometimes an area gets a lot of traffic not because it is the shortest route, but it is the easiest to get to. It is very similar to Continuity in a way as discontinuity causes a path to be less accessible.

      Marc Hughley said...

      "-but if a player sprints he will make it in double the time"

      ಠ_ಠ

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Thank you marc. I can't believe I messed that up. lol... MY BAD!!! ;) It is fixed in the PDF and post now. Thanks again.

      Dj7291993 said...

      Think that email thing is a good idea.

      Also, I know you had covered the deterrents, just couldn't think of what it was called.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      The email thing should be good to go now. You should have received the "User Submitted Map Advertisements" At around 7pm Pacific last night. That is a little late for East coast, so I'm going to try to get into the habit of posting a little earlier so I can push that time to two hours before that. So it would be 5pm pacific and 8pm eastern.

      Dj7291993 said...

      yup, got it at 8:19 mtn time, which would be around 7 pacific.

      Josh Chamberlain said...

      Another good lesson. Sprinting messes up pacing on asymmetrical maps because one team can't always sprint to the objective even if sprint is their armor ability because of the terrain. I suppose it's up to the player to pick the correct armor ability?

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Sure it is up to the player to pick the armor ability, but it is the designers job to ensure that no matter what armor ability they get that it doesn't ruin the experience for that player or others. Each map is a different experience so for some maps it may be intended to stop players from sprinting directly to the objective.

      @DJ is that a good enough time for you bro?

      Dj7291993 said...

      ya, that's good. Usually on my computer till 10ish, although, sometimes till 3. Got to stop doing that though. ;)

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