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  • replied
    I think the answer to your problem lies somewhere in between. There is nothing wrong with having a distinct visual language that presents the gameplay opportunities in a clear way. I don't believe its necessary to try to be different for the sake of it. Perhaps rather than worrying about doorways being too similar you could focus on creating very distinct focal points in your map and designing around that. The boat in your dock map is a great example. Pick something that demands a creative approach to mapping and problem solve around it. Its never a bad idea to break out of your comfort zone, but make sure that your doing so for the right reasons, a door is a door if your map is fun then your geometry is doing the job.

    Your also going to have a lot of room for creativity during the meshing phase for fleshing out these details. Those overhangs could be pipes in one map, or wooden beams in another. I think the way your mapping is pretty damned slick, and lends well to the meshing phase. You will thank yourself for the simplicity when it comes time to start throwing in all the details. Maybe if you build a small gameplay space and just toss in some meshes for the sake of it you will find some of that creativity your looking for.

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  • replied
    interesting" geometry = better readability
    Yeah, this is the thing. I've been trying to simplify my geometry recently but I've fallen into this space where everything looks identical. I might try doing another castle map at some point, but focus on keeping things simple; everything recently has ended up being near future glossy cleanness with no individuality. Finding that sweet spot between noisy and stale is really tricky.

    Nothing will stop you faster than being afraid of failure. :P
    QFT

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  • replied
    The main thing is feeling that my newer stuff has better flow, but less interesting geometry.
    Well that's the trick now, isn't it.

    Mostly likely its because less "interesting" geometry = better readability. Generally, human brains can only process so much information at one time, so the less visual noise they have to work through to understand the space (and how to move around in it) the more we like the space. This presents a problem, because we want our maps to look super awesome, which gets people excited to play the map. But when you are actually in the game focused on killing other players, that stuff just gets in the way.

    To me this is the struggle of visual clarity. We want stuff to look cool enough to blow peoples mind, but not get in the way of the important stuff, like navigating a space or seeing opponents. Ut99 has noisy textures, was dark, and had crazy effects but I think it still worked because the bsp was so minimal that it was easy for our brains to tell what was the map and what was a player. Already in UT4, our bsp shells are more detailed geometry wise, and that's before we start meshing! Every bit of extra detail just makes it that much harder to for our brains to analyze the space we are in.

    I personally, am trying to come up with some themes to achieve both interesting and readable spaces. I haven't really seen it done much, but I think we can still push clarity and spacial simplicity much further than it is right now.

    So it's just up to you, to decide where along the line of complex/simple do you want your maps to be. Maybe try to go super crazy geo with one and super simple with the other, and see which you like best?

    edit: I think it's also partly not knowing what to focus on. I'd like to get Salt meshed up by the end of the year and I'm waiting on the Outside meshes to be finalised and available. I need to rebuild Dock and Generator but I'm sort of suck between knowing what I want achieve, just not how to do it exactly. Honestly a little intimidated to try in case I can't get it right. I've been making some new shells so I'm still working on something and to avoid fatigue from working on the same map endlessly.
    If thats the case, I would suggest taking a break to re-evaluate what your goals are. Are you trying to make a map that becomes community/official or just grow your skills? Are you trying to promote a new way of playing in your maps, or following strong traditions? If you had to describe the "best" map ever, how would you do that? (Then make that)

    If your not sure what you need to work on to improve, look at maps that you really admire and figure out what they are doing that you aren't. (Then do that stuff)

    Honestly a little intimidated to try in case I can't get it right.
    Nothing will stop you faster than being afraid of failure. :P

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  • replied
    Thanks for the response Gooba, I'll have a think about what you've said and post again if/when I have some conclusions. The main thing is feeling that my newer stuff has better flow, but less interesting geometry. For example Salt has some issues with how it flows, but the geometry is interesting and exciting. Dock and Angular are very dry and almost dull, but flow quite well. Not sure how to square that circle.

    edit: I think it's also partly not knowing what to focus on. I'd like to get Salt meshed up by the end of the year and I'm waiting on the Outside meshes to be finalised and available. I need to rebuild Dock and Generator but I'm sort of suck between knowing what I want achieve, just not how to do it exactly. Honestly a little intimidated to try in case I can't get it right. I've been making some new shells so I'm still working on something and to avoid fatigue from working on the same map endlessly.
    Last edited by NATO_chrisjm; 05-19-2015, 04:14 PM.

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  • replied
    I have thought about this subject quite a bit in relation to concept art and environment work, so I might have something useful for you, but it could also get pretty abstract and silly. Of course this is only my own perspective, so I would love to hear others take on this as well.

    I think the most effective way answer all your questions boil down to this one ... What do you want achieve? Or more specifically... What do you want to achieve with the forms of your map?

    Different shapes make people react in different ways (in a way that transcends map themes) . Spherical floors can make people feel uneasy and off balance, making them very cautious of how they move. Shapes resembling ancient architecture can give people the feeling of history or tradition, even if they aren't entirely accurate. Round stuff feels soft, square stuff feels hard, etc... The more you understand how these things affect people, the more you can use them to design effective spaces (almost unrelated to the actual gameplay layout). Do you want them to feel claustrophobic, driving them to escape to a different location? Or maybe make them feel comfortable in a space you want many players to fight in often. What shapes can you use to enforce those ideas? You may wonder how to judge how these things affect people?

    That discussion can go very off topic, so I will try to keep my answer simple.

    You can only judge yourself. And by that, I mean, you can only really use yourself as the test subject. How do you react to the shapes? How does the space affect you? What makes you enjoy the space? That's where the real juicy stuff is.

    You can dissect and analyze how other people move through your map, and how they interact, but it never goes past speculation really. And everyone thinks a little differently, so it can't be taken as a single solution for everyone( I think there are universal truths to design, but everyone may not understand them, therefore leaving them not entirely effective).

    This kind of moves into the concept of feedback, and what its supposed to achieve. I think the purpose of feedback is to convince, or communicate to, the creator that there is a better way to design the thing they are trying to create. And it's up to you as the creator to decide, "hey, I have decided that your idea works better." or "My original solution is still the most effective."

    So to me, the ability to achieve your vision rests solely on how well you can make decisions -- to asses the situation and get the proper feedback, helping you decide what the best course of action is at the time.

    I think you should really analyze yourself, find out why you started this thread in the first place, give yourself honest feedback and see what you think makes an awesome map. Because I have the feeling that you have learned something recently, and are now changing your mind on what you think about form and space, and it's making you question what you have made previously. Or even further, you may now want to achieve something greater than before and find that previous efforts fall short.

    So my conclusion... Look at yourself. Figure out what you really love, and what you don't. If you like big angular shapes, with beveled edges then own it! If you are just doing that because you are afraid of trying new stuff, then try new stuff!

    Cheers!

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  • started a topic Using the same forms.

    Using the same forms.

    I've realised that I always seem to use the same general forms and shapes in my shells, especially recently. I'm not sure how I feel about it, on one hand you could say it's just a stylistic thing, on the other it makes my maps feel too similar. I tend to use the same materials since I know they read relatively well, but that just adds to the issue.

    For example; looking at Dock and Angular you can quickly see the similarities. Namely undercutting platforms with a slanted top, and chamfered tunnels/doorways. Then looking at a new shell I'm doing the same things again.
    This Image Was Automatically Resized by using the Screenshot Tag.  Click to view the full version

    Should I be worried about this trend? Should I consider doing something very different to break this streak?

    Thanks!
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