1. Balancing Beams

      written by noklu
      So, stuff has been going down in the forge-scape. Think Twice got it's final release, you can grab yourself a copy of it here or on any number of forging sites that you may be plugged into. But none of that is really important, what IS important is that anybody here can be a guest author here. It's a very simple process. If you have any ideas about design, you can email me at xnoklu@gmail.com and I'll give it a read through and critique. Anyhow, on to today's topic: Balance.


      Design is one huge balancing beam. Actually, that’s not quite right. Design is a set of balancing beams. Now, balance doesn’t just mean ensuring that neither team has a territorial advantage over the other but refers to all aspects of your map. Let’s play a little mind game to demonstrate what level design is. At your fingertips is something that looks like one of those recording studio boards. It’s got knobs and levers. Each knob or lever represents a different aspect of design. Now, using this board you can create a map that suits your intention. Maybe you want cohesion. Push that lever. Maybe you want continuity. Turn that knob. When you forge a map, that’s what you are doing. Every object changes the balance on these levers in a particular direction.


      Don’t Fall!


      One balancing beam is Cohesion/Orientation. Now, both of those are things you want; they are good things. But if your map is very cohesive i.e. everything is similar; people won’t know where they are. On the other hand, if every single area is unique, people will feel like they are in a bunch of rooms or building slapped together, not a map. So, to get the best result, you have to aim for just the right balance between them. Although it tends to be a good idea to aim for a balance that’s right in the middle, if every map did that you would get bored fast. It’s the combination and interplay of all these different “levers” that creates a fun, interesting and unique map. How you alter those balances depends on what type of gameplay, atmosphere and reaction are aiming for.


      Getting Complicated


      The levers I mentioned are simple and easy to understand, but what must be understood is that every decision you make affects the end result. In truth, these “levers” are really a 2D plane or a 3D field with extremes in multiple directions. There is a butterfly effect in design where a small decision results in large changes. Some problems arise as a result of a patch, so the best choice then is the lesser evil. It’s difficult to fathom the number of factors involved in level design, but learning what these balances are and avoiding the extremes will go a long way to improvement. To be honest, it’s this that sets apart professionals and the Average Joe. Bungie has the experience and ability to recognise these balances and factors which the average person cannot. A general rule of thumb, though, is to simply avoid the extremes.


      Making it Easy


      Okay, you might be thinking, “But I don’t wanna think about everything! It makes my head go ka-ka.” Well, that’s alright, you don’t have to. All you need to do is stay away from extremes, and at the very least consider the general results of your decisions. Another way to make it easier on yourself is to avoid creating gargantuan, complex designs. With those, the butterfly effect becomes even more pronounced and complex. Avoid complexity unless you are willing to burn your brains out by considering the billions of ramifications of placing a camp stool in the corner. (Maybe that was a little exaggerated, but you get the point!) Simplicity is key!

      So yeah, aim for the center of balance, and avoid extremes and complexity. Oh, and Barry says, “Don’t fall off the balancing beam. I did that once, and broke my arm, a finger etc. etc.

      33 comments:

      Nikatorus said...

      We have to have some way of knowing who is who around here.

      ExternalMemory said...

      Do you mean to be able to tell who's the author of the blog entry? It's subtle, but if you check the labels on the previous article Noklu wrote, it was labeled Guest Author as well. That's one way to tell right away.

      True, Godly did follow with an entry labeled Noklu since the article mentioned him, but that one didn't have the Guest Author label. And seeing as Godly never put a sig at the bottom of previous entries (as he was always [?] the author up til then) this could just be the way it's done from now on since the precedent's been set.

      Otherwise, though a guest author signing off on their entry would be a more obvious way to point out that it's not Godly doing the posting.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      I suggested to Cobb to add an "Author" or "Written by:" spot under the title. Sorry guys.

      Noklu said...

      I tend to include some subtle pointers in the introduction that it is not Godly.

      Captainpineapple44 said...

      "ZOMG! A BLOG POST NOT BY GODLY!" real subtle noklu lol.

      UnexpectedBang said...

      I'll admit that I thought this was written by Godly :P

      Schnitzel said...

      I honestly could not grasp this one... You went a little far out with your analogy of "knobs and levers". Bit of a convoluted read where you appear to be beating around the bush of designing a balanced map.

      Few notes:
      Cohesion - Flowing together. Cohesion will not result in a confusing map where player orientation suffers, however cohession with an absence of variation (whether it be through color, light-mapping, or texture) will result in such issues. The aesthetics that aid player orientation should flow together, but its not necessary at the same time. Its a matter of utility really.
      At the end of the day, orientation is one of the key points to designing a map. No matter what, a player should be able to easily navigate their way in and around a map.

      Simple vs Complex designs. Simple maps will always be favored by players as they are easy to grasp... Players can quickly learn a simple design and find their way around with relative ease. Complex designs are not as appealing to the general population, and as a result are less likely to make their way into MM. There is, however, a strong demand for compelling and complex map designs in niche communities... There one such group of forgers over at MLG who LOVE complex designs, but demographics there favor Simple designs to an extreme.

      For future articles, please try to be a little more direct with your language. I understand flowery language is cool and all, but very little can actually be derived from an article like this. You should be direct and precise in stating your point.

      Nikatorus said...

      There were some clues that indicated it wasn't Godly.

      Captainpineapple44 said...

      Noklu makes a good point, If someone makes a huge map, its really easy to lose simplicity, lose cohesion, lose balance. It can just get confusing. Just thinking about all this confusion confuses me, lol, And I really liked the barry reference etc :P

      ExternalMemory said...

      On that note Cohesion literally means things uniting together to form a whole. I don't read every lesson, so I don't entirely know how cohesion or coherence has been (re)defined here, but that's what the word means.

      It does not mean explicitly mean everything's the same. That would be Homogeneity. A homogeneous map would be made of units or elements that are all the same or that at least all looks the same. Whether by units or elements we mean the pieces or just the rooms themselves.

      Homogeneity of a system implies no readily apparent variation among the units of measure. Think Inception (the map). It's coherent but it's also homogeneous, which, for that map, is the point. It's not typically the goal.

      I completely agree with Schnitzel on the last point. Verbosity =/= clarity or specificity.

      More often, it equals obfuscation. Intentional or otherwise.

      DavidJCobb said...

      Author display has been added.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Just a heads up, cobb has added "rammed by [Author]" to pay hommage to the "Author Rams ..." tagging that has been banned at BNet. lol... ;) totally my idea.

      ExternalMemory said...

      Also, inb4 "homo genius"

      ExternalMemory said...

      The opposite of homogeneity is heterogeneity. As you'd expect, it means a diverse mixture.

      While that doesn't necessarily mean nothing is the same, for our purposes we could say a map is too heterogeneous when it's unnecessarily varied and things don't really relate to one another. As in, a miscellaneous collection, a hodgepodge. Something that seems "random" (though everything that someone places on a map was by decision, regardless of the reasoning behind it).

      You could say heterogeneity and homogeneity are on opposite ends of a spectrum, with cohesion and coherence as a balance achieved between these two extremes.

      Noklu said...

      I am not going to change the way I write for anybody. If you have to think a little bit about it to understand it, then I've achieved one of my aims. If I just tell you in very clear precise language, you can hardly claim that you've learnt something, you've just memorised it. While yes, I may have labored the metaphor and laid it on a little thick, the truth is that using analogies is one of the more effective teaching techniques that is present today.

      Now, the thing is, 'homogeneity' is related to cohesion. It is an extreme form of cohesion. Everything flows so well together, because, well they are the same! I agree with you External on those points that heterogeneity and homogeneity are the real extremes, but I'm not about to use language that I don't use in everyday conversation. I know those words, I'm not illiterate, but when explaining, one must use words that are frequent in one's own life and suitable for the audience.

      The essence of the article is that design is a balance between many different concepts and techniques. That perfectly suits the metaphor of the studio. And then the strategy to avoid terrible maps is to create things that you understand, or are willing to struggle with.

      I don't intend to deal with literal, tangible concepts and ideas. That is what Godly has done, that is something Jon will be covering, but they are not things that I particularly feel I can offer to the blog. I deal in abstract notions and concepts. That is all.

      A Couple Of Off Topic Points:
      @Captainpineapple44: I was hoping somebody would get that joke.

      @Schnitzel: Why are you so...enthusiastic...in what seems like a crusade against RP?

      ExternalMemory said...

      Sure thing; do whatever works for you. I was expanding on the subject to contribute, not to try change the way you do things.

      People are going to take it and run with it so it's useful to them. If other words help to elaborate on what people have contributed to the post, then we ought to add them; as I've done with what Schnitzel pointed out about your last point, "getting complicated". As I wrote, I did you the courtesy of carefully considering what you had to say; you'll see I didn't actually suggest any of your entry was difficult to understand–for me, at least. I can't speak for everyone, just try to see their point of view.

      I'm being diplomatic; if you want to defend your points to anyone, I'd defend them from the one responder that's been the perpetual contrarian on the blog. He's the one that's not getting you here. And everyone needs to be a bit more thick-skinned here IMO.

      ExternalMemory said...

      Cobb, are the labels case-sensitive?

      When I click on NOKLU or GODLYPERFECTION in the rammed by [author] spot, it doesn't link to the posts.

      It would be cool if that function worked there as well.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Actually External I will be going through and changing up the labels on all of the posts so that functionality does work. Don't worry about it bro. It will be fixed in due time.

      Schnitzel said...

      I'm not enthusiastic in a "crusade" against RP, I'm enthusiastic in my stance against braggarts, elitists, egotists, and d-riders. These kinds of individuals are found in EVERY community, and I write against them every where.
      Does this mean I'm against RP? No. Does this discredit any feed back I have in regards to maps or articles? No. Are you or any party offended likely to argue it discredits me because I'm "jelly"? Yes.

      Captainpineapple44 said...

      Schnitzel I really enjoy this website and would appreciate it if you would stopped starting arguments and calling names, thank you.

      Noklu said...

      Yeah, thanks. I recognise that you were being diplomatic and actually understood the content. In future I shall take your advice and perhaps be a bit more clear and direct. Just as a clarification, although my response is marked "in reply to External Memory" it was directed at both you and Schnitzel.

      Noklu said...

      I never said that your feedback was discredited by your stance and I take umbrage at your last comment.

      But the issue I take with the widespread nature of your "crusade" (for lack of a better word...or dictionary :P) is that you could pick one place, make responses there and then approach whoever you take affront with directly, or perhaps through a thread here at RP. As it stands, this makes your position that much more difficult to grasp. I encourage you to present your views in a thread in the serious discussion forums here. Tell us why you think that certain members (or all of us) are " braggarts, elitists, egotists, and d-riders" and please include, as a moderating influence, a picture of a white bunny rabbit.

      Schnitzel said...

      A consolidated location would result in a thread that gets brushed off and dies off... It would also kill a lot less of my free time. That being said, I have wayyyy too much free time. :P
      My big beef here is the d-riding. Yes, it exists. When some one kisses up and praises a map that they don't like in hopes of receiving some sort of reciprocation, such as their map being pushed to a cartographer, they are d-riding. Essentially, talented forgers are selling themselves out to promote some one elses map that they may not actually like in hopes of getting their own maps praised. Its shallow and dilutes the community.
      I also don't agree with how some individuals here think they're some sort of authority on design or forging. The way I see it, your either good at it or bad at it... Once you reach the platue of being a good forger, you've established peerdom. The upper echelon of forgers don't accept this level of peerdom and act as if they're some how better or know more than anyone else.
      Furthermore, I don't agree with the overblown and complex take on designing maps in forge. Its really a lot more simple than y'all make it out to be. It can be summed up a lot more directly and easier than in these 30+ forge lessons available here. If you really want to get into something more complex and "academic", there are much better resources to turn to for learning design theory.
      When I started forging, this was one of the first places I went for learning to forge. I have since turned to other more insightful resources that I brush up on occasionally. Some of the best reading for map design actually comes from the Quake community... Real excellent stuff out there.

      Now don't get me wrong, this is a good site and I appreciate what godly is trying to do for the community, but its a bit over the top and immensely over hyped. However, not a single person here is some AMAZING forger like some of you make yourselves out to be. Simple as that.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      You know schnitzel. I don't appreciate the way you treat those that are part of this site... my friends. Take your "mad at the world" attitude elsewhere good sir. I think it is perfectly fine for me to take the time to ban you from this community because you are not only hypocritical, but also very degrading to those who don't do things your way. I will not allow those with that kind of attitude to stick around this community. I think the "corrupt" and "full of himself" comments will be worth banning you from the community to improve our sites atmosphere. I do know how you talk shit about everyone that isn't on your side as I was there when you bitched about Forgehub. So go on good sir. Spread trash talk about myself or the site. I've tried to be kind and accommodating, but you are just to proud of yourself to change your attitude and act civil towards others.

      You sir are no longer welcome here. Much of what you do is just flaming and trolling. This is not accepted in most other communities, and it will not be accepted here. I'm in many other communities and if I see your attitude has changed and/or you apologize I'll consider removing the ban. Until then, get your kicks elsewhere. This is not your standard forge community. We are a group of designers that follow a personal blog. You know what that means right? That means I do things my way. Now when I declare this as more than just a personal blog then I will have to be more fair and just. But until then I can do what I want with the site and not feel bad about it. After all, this is just a place where I share my thoughts. Why should you spend your time wasting away at a site for a guy that you don't like? Consider me doing you a favor and giving you more of that free time that you like so much. Maybe you can use it to become a better person.

      Richie Burke said...

      you all may not want to hear this, but,
      "one day every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord."

      that day is coming, remember this.

      DavidJCobb said...

      What the bloody devil is that even supposed to mean?

      UnexpectedBang said...

      as religious of a person as I am, I fail to see the relevance of that post.

      Richie Burke said...

      i posted that, because i was reminded that one day indeed that will happen.
      It was on my heart when i was reading the posts on this topic, so i let it out.

      It means;
      regardless of everything we humans do here on this earth,
      regardless of anything we accomplish by our own will,
      regardless of what we believe,

      a day is coming in which every person on this earth will bow before Jesus Christ and confess that He is Lord.

      Why wait until that day?

      ll TR1BAL ll said...

      I'm gonna go with the concept that you're not trolling.

      What about the people who believe in the arrival of Maitreya, Kalki, Saoshyant or Osiris/Horus etc.? How can you be so close-minded and exclusive as to suppose that your Messiah is everyone's Messiah? Jesus himself would abhor such narrow-mindedness.

      What... weren't we talking about Forging?

      Richie Burke said...

      Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

      The reason I believe this, is because Jesus Christ saved me from death, more than once.
      I know He saved me from death and none other than Him, because I called upon His name.

      The first time i called out His name, He really did save me from death.

      There is divine power in the name of Jesus;
      miracles happen by the name of Jesus, I and others can testify to this.

      You don't have to believe what I'm saying, I understand because these are only my words, but I am sharing this because I know in my heart Jesus is the way.

      I hope, you all see my intention with these posts.

      Noklu said...

      Richie, while I respect people who believe in Christ - indeed my best friend does, fervently, and you must understand I bear you no ill-will, it is a simple fact that talking of Jesus here does nothing to advance any discussion here and I very much doubt that spreading your word through text is an effective methodology. Speech has that much more power in convincing people. I ask you to remain relevant to any discussion and hold your (for want of a better word) preachings to either relevant discussions or to speech.

      But yeah, kudos to you.

      ExternalMemory said...

      Jesus is the way to what? Somebody please boot this guy.

      Richie Burke said...

      the way to life.

      all right.