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Ued2 | Map Flow

The contents of this tutorial were written by those at http://www.birrabrothers.com/drac/dmain.html


Designing Maps:

What is the most important thing to focus on when you create maps?
It is hard to say becuase alot of factor counts towards the final
result of a map.

Personally I would say that flow but some would probably
argue on that.

Lets look at each of the factors and see what it “do” and how
much it counts.

Geometry, Map Design:

This is the basic part of the map and relate to the physical look
and layout of the map and relates alot to flow.

Even thought this is a basic part of the map it is still one of the
most important ones.

Some people plan their maps on paper, some even with details, while
others keep building as they go on.
No matter what method you use you still need the maps physical
design to be as nice and tidy as possible.
This goes for brushes that stick out, not aligned correct and
akward placed details.
Remember that it is no point in placing details on places where players
barely venture.
By putting too much focus in the wrong areas, the map will feel wrong
when you play it.
Like something isn’t entriely correct.

Another thing that is really important, which alot of maps suffer from,
is the “room - corridor - room” structure.
Single floored maps with large rooms and small hallways.
Usually the first maps turn out this way but if you plan on creating
great maps you should try to avoid this.

A hallway is just a “waiting-room” until you reach the next room.
By linking rooms with each other and use doorways, instead of
hallways, with multiple floors, if possible, will make the map feel
more open and friendly.
Each section will be more sewn together and not so much module based
or mass produced.

Flow - Focus:

Close related to Geometry as it will define if the flow is possible
or not.
When you play a map you probably want to go forward.
As long as you go forward you will get somewhere.

Here comes the critical part.
If you run down a hallway and it suddenly ends, you need to backtrack.
Next time you will never venture down that hallway again unless some
really desierable item is placed there.

By linking hallways and rooms to each other you get a constant flow.
People will most likely visit most parts of the map aswell.

Think of it as the figure eight.
No matter what direction you run, you can always keep running and you
always reach the center point at times.

This is also an important part as you need a central point in which
you put the maps focus on.
This is the “spot” which most confrontations will take place.

A map don’t need a “focus” point as an even distributed map can work
out well too.
If you do however, the fightings will be even spread around the map.

Flow - Choice:

If you connect all dead ends and make sure players are able to go
somewhere no matter where they go, you can still suffer from bad flow.

Think of the figure eight again.
You are able to run around the entire map no matter direction.
But, that is about it and it will become tiresome within short.
If you meet an opponent the only thing you can do is to backtrack
or fight, which really isn’t a good solution.

By “open” up the map, allowing players multiple choices on what
direction to take next, a more varied and unpredictable pattern can
be used.

Look at the figure eight but add another one placed side by side,
connected.
It will allow players to take two new routes over to the “other”
eight but still have the flow and two focus points.

Flow - Z axis:

Building the map using mutiple floors, which are open, will allow
for more interesting fire fights.
Players will be forced to be aware of the added dimension to avoid
getting fragged from above/below, but can ofcourse take advantage
of it themselfs.

If you are able to combine multiple floors, multiple choices of
routes and a good focus point you will end up having a map with
excellent flow.

Weapon Item Placement:

Considering the layout of the map you should get some kind of
feel on where, when and how all the fighting will be done.

Here comes one of the most critical part on how “good” a level
turns out.

Items and weapons should be placed evenly around the map to
attract players and bots to different areas.
It will also let players to have a goal other than being the
best.

Weapons should be placed with distance from each other and
preferabley as evenly as possible.
How each weapon is placed is up to the current design, theme
and how much work/time the player need to spend to get it.
A good (good is a relative term) weapon should be placed at
more difficult spots than small weapons.
(Beware on the word “difficult”. With it I don’t mean forcing
players to jump across lava, zero G and so on just to get the
rocket launcher).
You should also consider what area each weapon fit the best, then
place that/those weapons there.
Lets say a high tower. It is pretty self-evident that you should
place the sniper rifle in a close vicinity.
If you did place the sniper rifle on the other side of the map,
very few players will end up sniping.

It is important that you allow the weapon placement to balance the
level to prevent one or two players to become loaded.

Most of this also apply to items.
Place things like shield belt at areas that is “high-risk”, not
by itself maybe, but if they get “caught” by another player.
Zero G enviroment, traps and so on.

When it comes to items like health vials and med packs you should
avoid placing them at “difficult” areas and use them as “bait”
instead.
Not only will players that see a line of health vials most likely
walk that way, but it will make noise as the player picks them up
and maybe alert close opponents to their presence.

You should also avoid placing health itmes at hard to venture
places as most players with bad health will avoid activites that
might result in losing a frag.

All in all, complete the theme and/or map flow by placing weapons
and items evenly across the map and preferably the whole map.
Not neccesarry placing one or more of each kind but weapons and
items that is suited for the specific area.

Decorations, Eye candy:

A map can have a really good playability without all the decorations
and eye-candy, but…
First impression counts and decorations will keep the map alive for
a longer time.

The important part of decoration is that it should complement the map
and theme while not stealing too much attention.
This is a fine balance but very often you automaticlly create decorations
and eye-candy as part of the deisgn without focusing too much on it.

If you do focus too much on decorations your map will feel overdone.
Chaotic and bright to the eye.
Believe it or not, but this will also happen if you have too many
different textures in view at the same time.
You are simply not able to put your eyes on something in particular.

No matter how you decide to do your details, some basic things should
be avoided.
Focus the details in areas that players venture.
Put less details, at least the smaller ones, in places players barely
visit.
No details at all should be applied to areas that players are unable to
see at all (without cheating).
But you must also consider the poly and node count as the more detail
you add the lower framerate people will have.

Page last modified on October 03, 2005, at 11:04 PM