Gameplay and Map Design - Discussion

Keebler750Keebler750 Posts: 3,207Beta Tester
edited October 14 in Mission Editor
We have a lot of map makers now and players who've sampled User Made Maps. Is it enough to just be creative and make a beautiful map, or is there something about good map design and how it works that makes it fun?

I've seen some maps that are just plain fun, and some that are a pain to play. In your opinion what features of map design make things more fun, and what causes you grief? Things like:
  • Too much/Too little cover, hiding spots
  • Number of sightlines for a given area
  • Too many/too few routes
  • Imbalance in team advantage for objectives or battles
  • Distracting colours or textures, or difficult lighting - hard to see opponent, etc
  • Distracting world geometry - player stutters or gets caught on objects
  • Hidden, tricky or pixel peek sightlines give snipers an advantage
  • Lack of identifiable features make it easy to get lost
  • How easy is it to communicate locations to your team? Recognizable features, colours etc that you can say quickly to ID targets or strategies.
  • Other design issues - LIST THEM!

What things do you LIKE when you see them in a map? I'm still trying to learn what makes good and enjoyable gameplay. Let's have a discussion about what we've learned about map making Best Practices...
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Comments

  • Keebler750Keebler750 Posts: 3,207Beta Tester
    edited May 11
    Not a single interested party after 40 days. Hmm.

    No one designs for gameplay issues? Or, my questions are too 'out there?'

    I'm noticing creative, huge, intricate and beautifully artistic map designs but a pretty hodge podge nod towards gameplay, and since I suck at both aspects, I thought a little 'symposium of the experts' might be helpful.

    No?

    :shrug:
    ______

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  • -SD-DELTON-ACI--SD-DELTON-ACI- Posts: 1,314Player
    edited May 11
    I try to make a map with 3 attack routes from spawn I find that way there can be more team play and planning rather than just starting off on a open map running wild.
    Although I don't like playing hospital 24/7 I think this is one of the reasons its so successful.
    https://www.souldefenders.co.uk
    -SD-Souldefenders FunHouse-ACI-
    -SD-InnerHospital 24/7No Sniper-ACI-
    BC1NPiE.jpg
  • Keebler750Keebler750 Posts: 3,207Beta Tester
    edited May 13
    I want to learn and promote map design that's not only gorgeous, but also plays well, and want to understand the factors that make that happen. This is why I haven't properly finished a map yet! I'm always thinking about gameplay, and not getting it right.

    Here's another one I should add to the OP:

    - How easy is it to communicate locations to your team? Recognizable features, colours etc that you can say quickly to ID targets or strategies.

    Delton, I think that one above is a good reason Inner plays so well...everyone quickly understands how to communicate about the map. Everyone knows where "Dark" is, where "Main Choke" is.....etc. It really helps, IMO. It's also laid out simply with fairly little clutter and excess angles.

    THAT is the formula I want to understand!
    ______

    This has been a test of the emergency flame-fest system. Please do not adjust your set.
  • DrawnDrawn Posts: 157Player
    Have parts of the map in different hues or colors. Different trees and bushes, one birch tree can make a good callout! different vehicles not just multiple humvees. I don't mean to clutter with different textures, but a spread of different objects can really help reporting locations.
    For example i can't for the life of me report in rocky road properly, because of all the similarities between zones.

    Recognizable features, colours! :chuffed:

  • -SD-DELTON-ACI--SD-DELTON-ACI- Posts: 1,314Player
    I have seen some really bad maps that just don't work and when you give feedback on them they get upset because they think they know best so be carful on the feed back you do give map makers some cannot take it =)
    https://www.souldefenders.co.uk
    -SD-Souldefenders FunHouse-ACI-
    -SD-InnerHospital 24/7No Sniper-ACI-
    BC1NPiE.jpg
  • nL^Z0naGaming_nL^Z0naGaming_ Posts: 610Player
    The only thing i hate on maps is that to much crap is around it or under it that we don't use during play, for example on Intercept the dragon under bell tower. We don't see them during play, but it still eats frames for low end pc's. Instead of having all those hidden stuff, remove them and give performance, so when some one makes a map make sure you don't build unusable and unnecessary stuff around the map that compromises performance.
    Steam - YouTube - Twitch

    Prepare for change, we got aaHollywood back on the range.
  • -SD-DELTON-ACI--SD-DELTON-ACI- Posts: 1,314Player
    https://www.souldefenders.co.uk
    -SD-Souldefenders FunHouse-ACI-
    -SD-InnerHospital 24/7No Sniper-ACI-
    BC1NPiE.jpg
  • nL^Z0naGaming_nL^Z0naGaming_ Posts: 610Player

    Well done, you should make some comp maps :chuffed:
    Steam - YouTube - Twitch

    Prepare for change, we got aaHollywood back on the range.
  • Dct.F|LeventeDct.F|Levente Posts: 413Beta Tester
    edited May 12
    The only thing i hate on maps is that to much crap is around it or under it that we don't use during play, for example on Intercept the dragon under bell tower. We don't see them during play, but it still eats frames for low end pc's. Instead of having all those hidden stuff, remove them and give performance, so when some one makes a map make sure you don't build unusable and unnecessary stuff around the map that compromises performance.

    Those things on Intercept won't have a major effect IMO. Their cull distance is really low, I doubt they have a real impact even on low end machines - the dragon is simply not rendered when you are playing normally. (I know this thing relatively well, I play from an relatively bad laptop sometimes.) What hurts your framerate on that map is the vegetation because the opaque textures. But yes, performance is really important.

    Keebler, what do you mean under 'gameplay'? Gameplay focusing on gunfights? IMO for that you need relatively simple geometry, so you can 'clear' angles one-by-one. So as you move into an area, you won't get shot from 5 different places at once, rather you can take 1 step, check 1 spot, take the next step, check the next spot ect. Of course this is just 1 thing out of a lot, but this one was simple to put in words...

    Colors and simple unique objects (e.g. a car) are good for callouts is general. An added benefit is that most people know these simple English worlds, even when they barely speak English. So they might not report the enemy 'behind the pine tree next to the coffee shop' but the will report the enemy 'behind blue box'.
    Theory and reality are not that different. In theory.
  • -SD-DELTON-ACI--SD-DELTON-ACI- Posts: 1,314Player
    I made these for comp they was 6v6 but players liked them so much I had to change them to 12v12 https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=669893982
    https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=491197557
    https://www.souldefenders.co.uk
    -SD-Souldefenders FunHouse-ACI-
    -SD-InnerHospital 24/7No Sniper-ACI-
    BC1NPiE.jpg
  • Keebler750Keebler750 Posts: 3,207Beta Tester
    Levente - Good point. I guess I should define what I'm talking about (though inferences could be made from the OP)

    To me, "Gameplay" is how we use "Game Mechanics" (which is hard-coded) to interact with the "World" (in this case User Made Maps) to achieve our goals in-game, whether those be fun, kills, getting or defending the objective, being part of a team, socializing, etc.
    gameplay (from Wikipedia)
    A player's interaction with a video game, defined through game rules, player-game interface, challenges, plot, and the player's connection with the game.

    What I'm sure we've all noticed is that not all map designs are equal in terms of the above definitions. Some are more 'fun' than others, and I think an inspection of WHY could make us all better mappers.

    For example, have any of you noticed how 'un-fun' it is to get stuck on invisible mesh collision right in the middle of an important maneuver or fire fight? There are ways map makers can improve this experience so that a player can concentrate on the inter-player challenges instead of trying to imagine some distraction imaginary world issue. In my opinion, unnecessary decision-making takes away from the fun quotient. (Note here that some designed-in world interactions CAN be interesting and fun. I'm talking about the unintended stuff.)

    Each of the bullet points in the OP, and many others, can be analyzed and optimized with this type of thinking.

    ______

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  • Keebler750Keebler750 Posts: 3,207Beta Tester
    NOTE
    As an aside, let me reiterate that I don't think I'm very good at making maps. I'm trying to understand how to be better, and I'm an ...analytical type. That's all. I'm not saying I have the answers.
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  • [ENG]Uni-Sol[ENG]Uni-Sol Posts: 3,154Player
    I know one thing about map design, it's blummin hard. It's one thing throwing a map together and making it look pretty (which i guess is an artists job) but it's a completely different monster trying to make it fun and addictive game-play wise. I used to study successful multiplayer maps to try and get ideas and pointers to what made them so popular, the problem isn't knowing what makes them so good, it's getting in the editor and from scratch actually making anything near as good. It's hard doing it alone, I'd suggest getting a group together, thrash out ideas and playtest-tweak-change-repeat constantly, until you find a formula that works, that not only ends up looking good but plays even better.

    It's hard.. I've been there, put in the hours, been through the trials and errors.. made some OK maps for my abiltiy I'd say but I've also lost and scrapped many maps, ultimately I found that I sucked and I would make a far better artist than designer that's for sure haha!

    Good luck people!
    If my trollery drives you crazy, you'd better put on your seatbelt.






  • doogle!doogle! Posts: 502Player
    edited May 12
    sorry, wrong thread
  • Keebler750Keebler750 Posts: 3,207Beta Tester
    Sightlines and gameplay:
    Can you count the number of playable sightlines in a map? What is the limit before the gameplay becomes totally random and 'lucky he didn't look this way?'

    I think it's necessary to look at gameplay and map design based on angles you need to check or cover. Players will naturally move through the areas with the most cover and the least angles to watch, or be exposed to.

    If your map is made up of a playspace that has 100 angles to watch no matter where you stand in a map, it won't be fun to play. You'll get slaughtered, or people will complain about "Where did I get shot from????!" So, what's the limit or guideline for this?

    It seems to me there's two ways to do this. You can look at each area or intersection and evaluate how many maximum angles there are per area (where people can hide or cover from), or you can look at total sightlines per player or team.

    If there are 12 players on your team, and you fan out into the playspace, and there are 2000 unique sightlines in the map, how are the players going to cover that and have a successful round? So, what would happen if there were a maximum of (let's say..) 3 or so sightlines per player for a total of 12x3=36 maximum? What would that do to the gameplay, and how could we design for it?

    Have you noticed that Inner Hospital follows this type of guideline? It has limited and understandable sightlines. Is that one reason it's popular?

    In my opinion, finding this balance is another design issue for good gameplay, and I'm seeing way too many maps designed to look REALLY good but not consider gameplay. My AllTerrain and the official derivative "Rocky Road" is a perfect example of a poor 'infinite sightlines' design.

    What's the best way to deal with this as a map designer?
    ______

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  • Whiplash27Whiplash27 Posts: 1,822Player
    edited October 15
    I'm an old school gamer, who spent many years with the old Half-Life engine. Back then there were certain rules that maps had to follow otherwise they would run like crap (meaning performance was awful). It didn't matter how big or small the map was either. What's funny is if you take Counter-Strike (which started out as a HL mod) many of the most popular maps that still exist today were released during the beta (back in the 1999/2000 time frame).

    I only ever made one map in Source engine, it was for a mod called Firearms: Source (a remake of the Firearms mod for Half-Life) which had a whole assortment of problems and never took off despite being pretty fun in its earlier versions. It was a silly Christmas map that had a bridge in the middle (inspired by AA Bridge), complete with a Grinch's lair, pink houses that were supposed to mimic the houses from the Grinch, the house from A Christmas Story, and a church that played Gregorian Chant, among other things. Fun times. Anyway, it was the first map I had ever made and it's what made me try my hand in AA map making. I did learn a decent amount from that experience with the source engine, plus just generally reading up about what has made certain maps successful.

    A few of the rules that I try my best to apply are
    1) Sight lines should not be excessive. You should never be able to see across the map. In general really long ranges should be avoided unless your main intent is to have a long range map.
    2) Maps should have paths that lead to open areas. Doesn't necessarily need to be a small alley, but players should be pushed into smaller areas which then open up to a choke point. When a team wins the choke point it opens up control of the map.
    3) Choke points. Players need to be funneled into these areas where most of the action happens.
    4) Flanking. The ability to flank should be based on the ability to take a path that's undefended or one that tends to have less people take it, the path needs to be won by the player and then the player has the ability to flank.
    6) Objectives. Objectives should be close enough that defenders can make their way from one objective to the other within a reasonable amount of time, especially if they're the last one left. In a C4 map if the bomb is planted and the player has to run across the map to get to the other site and there's only 5 seconds left when he arrives, then you have a poor map design. Similar approaches can be applied to most maps. In maps that are attack vs. attack it's obviously different, but any attack vs. defend maps should follow a similar approach.
    7) Objectives #2. There should usually be three to four ways to get into an objective area. This occurs by taking your paths, through choke points, and into the objective.

    As a note, many people would say that the most successful type of map is a figure 8 style (e.g., Dust II). Of course this isn't the only way to success, but it's interesting either way.
    latest?cb=20150809214636


    I often see maps that don't follow these guidelines and it really hurts map flow. Guys can appear out of nowhere, there's nothing to specifically try to take on your way to the objective as guys move in and out across the map with no real rhyme or reason.
    You joined the world's greatest army to become a graphic artist? Outstanding!
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