1. Olmsted's Design Principles - Part 1

      written by noklu
      Fredrick Law Olmsted is a founder of modern landscape design and, with Calvert Vaux, is responsible for the design of Central Park. As with all fields of design, his principles are cross-discipline and this is my syntheses of his theories. This is the first part of a series, so look for more posts in the coming days based off Olmsted's ideas!

      Spatial Sensations

      Olmsted deliberately placed every single object in a fashion that maximised an enhanced spatial sense while maintaining minimal disclosure of other areas. He used staggered sight lines to create an expansive sense of space beyond what is normally expected from the acreage. These sight lines do not allow individuals to see far beyond the immediate surroundings but rather allow designers to foreshadow upcoming areas and reduce claustrophobia. This is especially evident in a classic room - four walls, one roof - which is typically constricted. Inventive styles utilising staggered pillars and windows can open up new exterior views as the player progresses through the room whilst ensuring security. Olmsted was a proponent of aesthetic cohesion but he tended to slightly vary the style of succeeding sections to add individual character and atmosphere.

      Stylistic Clashes

      A useful method to introduce stylistic clashes is through the common forge dilemma of texture clashing. Texture clashing is when two forge objects are immediately adjacent but not aesthetically appealing together. It also includes various aesthetic glitches like Z-Fighting. Texture clashing occurs on a far smaller scale than stylistic clashes.

      In order to create variety within a level, a designer can use multiple aesthetic styles. However, an issue with varying style is the risk of a stylistic clash. This is when conflicting styles are adjacent and this clash results in both styles being diluted. Players can lose immersion from this and other clashes; to avoid this, ensure that conflicting stylistic approaches are well away from each other. On the other side of the spectrum, using complementary styles in close proximity produces a fluid thematic design. An advanced use of stylistic clash can be used in transitions to produce a sense of awe. A drastic change from dark, claustrophobic hallways and rooms to a bright, expansive realm can be utilised to great effect. Similarly, more moderate style changes can provide an indication of important area changes.

      Subtle Directions

      Olmsted proposes that designers must take into account how individuals interact on paths and orchestrate this movement. This concept was covered by GodlyPerfection in the Forge Lesson on path manipulation and traffic control. However, Olmsted prefers to “direct movement through the landscape” by way of subtle, unconscious directions rather than distinct paths. The aim of this technique is to gently guide players towards locations that serve their needs and to orchestrate traffic trends towards places that have been optimised for competitive enjoyment.

      This style of design is best supported by free-form levels that eschew distinct paths and is managed through extensive use of incentives and points of interest. It creates a greater freedom of movement by way of fewer restrictions than those present in the loosely termed ‘corridor map.’ This provides a different play dynamic with lessened combat congestion as seen in Jackal Creek or Bungie maps like Last Resort as compared to more defined levels like Construct or Sword Base


      RICHIE BURKE said...


      ExternalMemory said...

      cool, needs pics with examples, but i'm taking that as further reading. Haven't been to central park, but University of Chicago's campus is outstanding. Don't often hear about landscape designers, especially in terms of map design for games.

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