1. Lesson 51: Audience

      written by Ray Benefield
      Alright so there wasn't one last week and this week's was a wee bit late. :P So sue me. ;) Anyways, we can all blame Skyrim and CEA for the lack of forge lesson last week. Some damn great games. I'm working on remaking Affinity on High Noon between my treasure hunting fun on Skyrim. Here is the next forge lesson which can be quite important... are you building for MLG players, general matchmaking, infection lovers, or your friends? Off for now and enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend if I don't post again before then folks. ;) And don't forget to subscribe via email, RSS feed, twitter, facebook, or youtube through the sidebar on the right.

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      Each person is a unique mixture of traits. Each person has individual likes, dislikes, needs, wants, etc. If this wasn’t the case we would be living in a very bland world. Learning this can be a huge step towards being a great designer.

      Can’t please everyone

      Part of everyone having their own unique likes and dislikes is that there is no way to meet everyone’s need. In someone’s eyes your map is going to be a failure of a creation. You have to accept that or taking criticism is going to be very hard. When you can accept that some people are not going to like your content then you can start focusing on the people that will enjoy it. Take a look at it from a player’s perspective. As a player I’m sure you have your favorite maps in levels in various games that you play. Have you ever talked to someone else about what they enjoy? Sometimes they can like maps that you despise for completely different reasons than you expect. And they can dislike your absolute favorite maps for reasons that you never saw as an issue.

      Custom tailored experience

      People not liking your content is not necessarily a bad thing. It can help you understand what people enjoy and what they don’t and allow you to custom tailor your map to particular audiences. If you try to please everyone you will also succeed in adding something for everyone to not enjoy resulting in a mediocre map for everyone instead of a decent map for everyone. Why? Because things that are bad often outweigh things that are great. However if you focus on the likes of a particular group of players you can remove things that that group of players do not enjoy; which can in turn step towards a perfect map in their eyes. And trust me having a perfect map for some people rather than a mediocre map for everyone can definitely be a morale booster encouraging you to continue your dedication in your projects.

      Casual vs Hardcore

      While there are many different groups of players out there I want to talk about two very broad groups to put things in perspective; casual players versus hardcore players. Well it is more like a bar with people being either more towards casual or more towards hardcore. The more casual a player is the less often they play. For casual players you want to focus on the first impression of your maps as it is very likely that they haven’t played the map very much and learning is extremely important for them to have the optimal experience on your map. As for things to emphasize you should focus on things like eye catching, perspectives, smooth spawning, Kleenex testing, and other first impression focused techniques. For more competitive style maps and a more hardcore audience there is a great chance that players have experienced the map more and studied the various facets of your map while trying to find exploits, power positions, and strategies to compete effectively. With this comes a focus on the lasting impression of the map; veteran testing, incentive weighting, traffic, and threat zones as well as other lasting impression techniques. Understanding your audience can make a huge difference in your map’s essence and how you tweak your design to meet your customers needs.

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