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Showdown level design philosophy

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  • Showdown level design philosophy

    I’ve been considering making some TSD orientated levels recently and it got me thinking about the philosophy in general. SD and TSD rely on the level specifics a lot more than DM or TDM. I thought I’d write up my thoughts and see what you guys think. A lot of this is actually just good DM advice anyway, it’s just more crucial for SD.

    These are largely just unconnected notes I wrote down while thinking about it / playing. Would be great to get some other feedback on it and build up the body of knowledge.

    General layout – Issues here are largely generic. Keeping opponent movement readable is key; as is giving spawns and pickups room to breathe with movement options and extra exists.
    • Keep areas fairly open and clear.
    • Allow for lots of movement options, especially off spawn.
    • Avoid limiting entrances/exits (especially corridors), and dead ends.
    • Avoid tight / blind corners or doorways.
    • Avoid excessively long sightlines.
    • Limit Z axis stacking to keep overhead map clean (slightly less important, but it can be notable when things are stacked. See the two flak player starts on ASDF).


    Weapon placement – These are more about the design of pickup areas, and they on top of the usual placement concerns.
    • Keep weapons in flow; avoid alcoves, dead ends and corners.
    • Give lots of movement options to and from weapons.
    • Try not to stack weapons on z axis to avoid confusion on the overhead map.
    • As normal spread weapons roughly evenly across the map.
    • As normal try to avoid putting alike weapons near each other (being able to grab both shock and sniper from one spawn in SD for example, would be bad).


    Ammo placement – A lot of the weapon placement stuff applies here too, just on a smaller scale. Ammo is a lot more important in SD as you can’t just go grab another weapon.
    • Keep ammo more in flow than out of it. Unlike weapons where you’d choose to go to a particular area of the map you’re unlikely to do so for ammo alone; thus pickup up ammo should only require small diversions and be low risk.
    • Spread it evenly across the map, and in theory useful to particular weapon routes.
    • Keep ammo numbers equal to avoid biasing one weapon.


    Health, Armour, and other pickups – You can kind of treat all the armour and pickups in an similar fashion adjusting for how useful each pickup is. Nominally Belt and Udmg are the most important with helmet being the least.
    • Note the risk/ reward factor for each pickup, the more important a pickup is the more risk you should be at in getting it. This normally means making this exposed; or in the case of SD relatively equidistant from player spawns.
    • Important pickups should be more visible. Knowing if something has been picked up is crucial; especially in SD. Again this promotes exposing things.
    • Spread armour out and keep note of run times to and between them to make getting really stacked difficult.
    • Only major issue with health other than the normal distribution is that denying health vials becomes more important. They can be useful to encourage certain routes over others.


    Player starts – By far the most important thing in SD and TSD design; this can break maps.
    • Spread them out, try to avoid pointing them at each other.
    • Be very aware of run times from spawns to weapons and important pickups.
    • Make sure all spawns have a weapon nearby, even if it’s contested.
    • Some weapons suck (bio) but can be used to balance spawns near powerful pickups. Bio with Udmg is questionably useful but better than allowing shock/RL and Udmg easily.
    • Avoid stacking spawns on z axis to avoid confusion on the overhead map (ASDF flak again).


    That’s the basic list I came up with. As said a lot of it is very generic to DM anyway. Will likely edit more in later as they come up. Let me know what you think!
    Last edited by NATO_chrisjm; 01-06-2016, 12:55 PM.

  • #2
    IMO, showdown needs a few (maybe 3) designated overcharge spawn locations per map which are rotated through each round, that way mappers can have make interesting areas of the map specifically designed to accommodate late game attack/defense scenarios.
    :|

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    • #3
      Great writeup NATO! I have a couple comments, but do recognize that some of this is very subjective and the gametype is still undergoing a lot of change so it may/may not apply:

      Originally posted by NATO_chrisjm View Post

      Ammo placement – A lot of the weapon placement stuff applies here too, just on a smaller scale. Ammo is a lot more important in SD as you can’t just go grab another weapon.
      • Keep ammo more in flow than out of it. Unlike weapons where you’d choose to go to a particular area of the map you’re unlikely to do so for ammo alone; thus pickup up ammo should only require small diversions and be low risk.
      • Spread it evenly across the map, and in theory useful to particular weapon routes.
      • Keep ammo numbers equal to avoid biasing one weapon.
      One of the experiments Clawfist has been playing with is putting weapons directly adjacent to spawns (or even spawning you directly on top of a weapon in some cases); essentially this mimics a loadout-style system. This really impacts ammo placement IMO, and allows for some interesting changes. I've never been a fan of putting ammo directly next to a weapon, as it limits your options for breadcrumbing and often tends to box players into one small controllable area rather than push them to explore the map. Ammo is SO valuable in SD that it dramatically increases the draw to otherwise obscure areas and shifts the importance of objectives. A shock core can become as valuable as a UDamage.

      While you're not likely to put a shock rifle and a sniper rifle right next to one another, putting a shock ammo and a sniper ammo right next to one another creates a significant point of contention in SD that will draw two or more players into conflict. Interestingly (at least to me) if you grab both ammo and die, it could still mean an advantage for your team because you were able to deny the enemy a vital resource that affects their long game. Strategery!

      One other thing we've played with a bit is symmetrical vs asymmetrical layouts. It's worth exploring more, as it has a noticeably dramatic effect on SD gameplay.

      Lastly: Clawfist is a hater - he avoids Superhealth and Berserk. :/ I think they're really cool pickups that could add a ton of variety to gameplay, despite their quirks. Variety is a good thing, and I'm tired of playing maps where the pickup options are always the same. Leave a weapon out on purpose (PLEASE!) or design a map that makes the link gun All Powerful. Leverage Berserk and Invisibility. Don't be afraid to experiment.
      Jim Brown
      @EntropicDev
      Epic Games

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the response Jim, some great points there! Limiting ammo near weapons makes a lot of sense for showdown; doing so devalues ammo in general. Not sure how I feel about the loadout style; it impacts the usability for DM/TDM more than I like since you'd be effectively making a choice for the player in that version on random spawn. That said it does expatiate the early SD gameplay, which is the most interesting.

        Something That I forgot to mention is traps and gimmicks. Without respawns they become super tedious and/or map breaking so are best avoided, as are cliffs and death pits in the middle of playspace.

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        • #5
          Interesting ideas in this thread. Bumping.

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          • #6
            I always thought health in dead ends are a good thing. because that is where the guy is going to go if he needs health. leaving him vulnerable.

            As for death pits... man i hate them

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            • #7
              What about map/level size?

              If you recommend a reduction in Z-Axis in terms of stacking, how large should we be going preferably for X and Y ?
              Maps:

              DM-PSi ; DM-Genku ; DM-Untold Storage ; DM-Station (WIP) ; DM-HeatRay Physx (WIP)

              DM/TSD-Formidable (WIP)

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              • #8
                Even if you don't have much in terms of Z-axis areas the spawn selection map quickly becomes confusing due to overlapping areas, is it possible to make the spawn selection a 3d rotatable map? Or a way to show multiple levels of depth via multiple 2d views.

                Also should it probably not have gamemode specific pickups/ammo. Allowing you to change placement of ammo pickups depending on the game mode. Seems to make sense to place the ammo next to the weapon pickup for showdown as any other ammo becomes pointless if you don't have the weapon. Whereas in DM or TDM it seems to be a standard approach to make the ammo pickups more spread out to allow you to keep refreshing your ammo while moving around the map. Also perhaps showdown might want extra weapon pickups that DM doesn't have ie 2 minigun pickups in the map rather than just the standard single pickup.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Vilham View Post
                  Even if you don't have much in terms of Z-axis areas the spawn selection map quickly becomes confusing due to overlapping areas, is it possible to make the spawn selection a 3d rotatable map? Or a way to show multiple levels of depth via multiple 2d views.

                  Also should it probably not have gamemode specific pickups/ammo. Allowing you to change placement of ammo pickups depending on the game mode. Seems to make sense to place the ammo next to the weapon pickup for showdown as any other ammo becomes pointless if you don't have the weapon. Whereas in DM or TDM it seems to be a standard approach to make the ammo pickups more spread out to allow you to keep refreshing your ammo while moving around the map. Also perhaps showdown might want extra weapon pickups that DM doesn't have ie 2 minigun pickups in the map rather than just the standard single pickup.
                  Last point is interesting...I think it would depend on playtesting, and quantity of ammo versus game-time.
                  Maps:

                  DM-PSi ; DM-Genku ; DM-Untold Storage ; DM-Station (WIP) ; DM-HeatRay Physx (WIP)

                  DM/TSD-Formidable (WIP)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Player starts have an ignore in showdown setting, could do something similar for ammo etc.

                    The navmesh map is really a placeholder; not sure what the plan is in the long run but currently it does make things a little tricky. It's better now than when I initially wrote this list as they've added the spawn previews. Really I'd just take care not to have things literally on top if each other.

                    It may be possible to tweak whatever is rendering that map to take z into account, rendering lower layers darker than higher layers over say, 30m or something reasonable based on the average play space ... While this wouldn't directly solve overlapping it might make ledges and bridges a lot more readable. On top of this you might be able to apply that shading to pickup icons. This would all be reasonably subtle but would really help readability. That said I don't know how this is currently being rendered. [MENTION=493]Mysterial[/MENTION] might be able to answer that, I believe it's his code.
                    Last edited by NATO_chrisjm; 04-25-2016, 02:48 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Handling Z-axis is an open question. Most people cannot handle 3d maps, it needs to work while being static. Might be able to just split upper/lower and have a side-by-side, depends on how complex good showdown maps are.

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                      • #12
                        The NavMesh Map looks awful on terrain maps. I just found this out.
                        Win 10
                        iMac (27-inch, Late 2013)
                        3.5 GHz Intel Core i7
                        32 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
                        NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4096 MB

                        Maps:
                        DM-RadioActive (Work In progress) DM-Ethos (WIP) DM-QWERTY (WIP) DM-TwinFalls(WIP)
                        2k4 DM-MoonGames, DM-Abrenabba, DM-Aphelion, DM-Pyrimid-Of-Gold, DM-UPH-Hexed, Dm-Saint, DM-LethalAdixion, DM-C4-Ariza, Dm-C4-SleepyTomb,

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