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FireSworD

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Apr 5, 2005, 09:57 PM
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Gameplay Theories

I started this topic because I want to gather more information on what makes this game fun, and how we can make it more fun.

When most people start creating a CTF level, little thought is put into what the game-play will be like when the level is nearing completion. Some people plan layouts based solely on a good-looking design, instead of what the design will offer the level game-play wise. Some skilled level makers will make a CTF (or any type of level) with good game-play in mind, but only to innovate the level by adding gimmicks that haven't been tried before. I'm aware that most skilled level makers take into account the turn out of the level's game-play; the level is almost, if not exactly as it was intended to be made.

The question is, what makes good game-play for ctf levels? - We are, or at least most of us are familiar with flow, ease to learn, balance etc - Ironically, some of the most addictive levels like DW and BBlair have been those with rather quirky flow and balance, and don't say it's because they are old levels that people have simply learned to like. Take QQ for example, a relatively new level, it seems to be becoming rather popular because of R3ptile's Tournament: QQ is probably the most popular level on the JJ2WC map-pool list, yet it isn't the one of the highest quality (not meant as an insult to the author) due to flow, bugs, control issues and minor things like being sucked up in the tube at the middle of the level against one's will if he/she made a minor mistake, which happens often. The level isn't perfect, but it's addictive as heck, gets plenty of attention, and is played often, even more than levels that probably out-class it. Why? - Maybe frustration adds to fun somehow?

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Apr 5, 2005, 11:47 PM
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A good balance between friction/frustration and silky smooth flow is the formula for a bonafide hit - though not necessarily the best map for competition. Simply, levels that have "too good" of a flow are just boring. That is all there is to it. The map needs to present itself as a tool to the player, allowing the player to manipulate it to his opponent's disadvantage. With a more "frustrating" map, the onus is taken off the opponent. A weaker opponent, for example, may feel more comfortable if he feels he can exploit the map better than his opponent, rather than just being annihilated in a simple level which exposes all of his weaknesses. Most importantly, it adds variety to the match; excitement. For instance, is snowboarding down an extremely steep hill built for speed and speed only more fun than one with jumps, trees, bumps in the way, etc.? Some may say yes, but that would be the purist crowd speaking out. The general public likes the gimmicks (though I hesitate to call them gimmicks, it could just be an especially interesting piece of architecture).

However, a level that makes itself too difficult will also flop horribly. A perfect example of a level going overboard with the "frustrations" factor is, ironically, my own level PreSenT PaST. Part of this was a design decision, as it was simply meant to be a hardcore level, but I learned the hard way that without popularity all that hard work will go to waste. Now I'm putting on a bit of a self-pity cap here (ready the little violins) but nobody ever bothered to notice the myriads of routes in my map or the painstaking measures I took to such an assymetrical map. Probably about half of the secrets went undiscovered, too. Part of that was my fault, just a poor design decision. Never, I repeat, NEVER hide key powerups from the player, even if they are positioned perfectly for balance. That does not matter - if the player cannot find them, then your whole concept of balance is thrown down the window! In fact, you should really be taking that into consideration while mapping.

The point is that both levels like PreSenT PaST (overly complicated) and overly "simple levels" do one thing: accentuate the skill gap between players. While good for "hardcore" play, this does not serve itself well to a community as small as Jazz, where that audience does not exist. The map must then be used simultaneously as a mediator, evening the skill gap, while also being a tool for the player to use against their opponent. A paradox if there ever was one. See, mapping is a lot harder then you thought, huh? Proves why I haven't released a map in 3 years.

Hmm, this looks like good material for me to post on the ELM Tree. Wow, this turned out long.
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Apr 5, 2005, 11:55 PM
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I've come to several conclusions from the past so I'll just share them (assuming any of this makes sense--I should be sleeping now).

Players like levels they know they can win in. It's pretty obvious, but no one really thinks about this factor, nor do they really have to, while making a new level. To find out how well you can do in a level encompasses the process of becoming more familiar with it. And a player can often be hestitant to go through the hassle of learning a new level, especially when it has to be done in a short amount of time. To overcome that obstacle, a player has to be able to find some unique strategy in that level to his or her gain. If someone thinks he/she can get a certain advantage in a level, that person will want to play in that level more often--even if the event placement isn't that great, the eye candy is subpar, and the gameplay is lacking. This all happens without much thought in the process.

Another factor as to why a level might become popular is how organized it is. Good organization of events and passageways gives players a good sense of where to go and what to do right from the start. This can naturally be best seen in team games like JB and CTF. Each player has the objective to get ammo, get powerups, reach the enemy's base, take carrots, and move around as quickly as possible. A clear balanced layout with just the right amount of routes from base to base eases the pain of learning an entirely new level, plus it allows players to focus more on defeating the other team. Furthermore, organized layouts helps players to predict what others are trying to do and to possibly counteract them. This, as you probably already know, is often the key to victory. Also, if the events are spread out adequately across a level, it forces players to keep moving, making camping unwise. Movement means more action, tactics, and fun by all. And no one likes a camper anyway. Levels that accomplish all of this tend to be hosted frequently.

Personally, when I make a level, I try to place ammo and other events where they are particularly useful, and I usually avoid mixing two types of ammo together. This way players are forced to take certain routes to get what they need, allowing for more predictability and strategies and such.

With all that being said, let me now "try" to answer FS's last question. I wouldn't say frustration adds to the fun directly. I see obstacles in a level as something exploitable assuming you don't get entangled by it yourself. This is why people both hate and adore things like a powerup in a dead end. If you can get away with it, it's fine, but you'll want to take out anyone who falls prey to the trap. Anything potentially frustration could be the deciding point for whether something is overhosted or never hosted again (See Happy Semiconductor CTF). But if it's something small and fairly ignorable, it's not going to change the people's opinion on the level that much in the long run.

By the way, if you read all of this, I commend you.

Edit: So much for getting the first reply. This could be an especially interesting thread.
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Apr 6, 2005, 11:11 AM
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I'm better at creating battle lvls when it comes to experience and J2o ratings so I'll talk about battle lvls instead. ;P

Btw, I'm not quite sure how frustration, which basically means that you, more or less, get irritated, can make a lvl enjoyable. If it was enjoyable, it wouldn't be frustrating. It would be hard, challenging, difficult, etc but frustrating is a negative word so I think it'll be hard to find ppl who is happy when they are...not happy. Plz re-phrase question.

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Apr 6, 2005, 11:16 AM
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Well, people like levels or they don't. But to be really honest. Levels like DW and Semi, aren't particularily good. I mean, they haven't got good EC or flow, its just that people have played them so much and that is what makes it so overplayed. Also, now that r3p's tourney is launched, the levels contain levels that may not be SUPREME, as FS said, but they are only being played because they want to win the tourney. To be honest, I don't really think some people REALLY want all the levels to be in it.. And some of them they might not find particularily fun.. They win, then they say "IT ROCKS" or whatever.

I think the way to make a level fun, is to make it as open and as destructive as possible. What I mean is by making it opened up like BBlair, (and if you want me to write BAD comments on that later I will) and place the strongest weapons, or the most easy way of roasting. That is what I find fun. Like in Sacrifice, CelL said that the reason I like it, is because I love having a nice destructive weapon like the Seeker PU. And that is true. The fast fires are together, so you can get powerful with them and the Peppermint PU, even though it only does 1 damage, but anyway, its fun rampaging in with weapons and harming people.

Also, generally, I think the way to make levels really fun is to make it tactical, and in such a way that you can bombard those ANNOYING campers. So they GO AWAY. FOREVER. FWAHAHAHAHA.

The level doesn't need to be sophisticated, just well designed.
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Apr 6, 2005, 11:23 AM
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@Rag: Lvls like Distopia? It's so simple, medium-sized, easy to play and there are plenty of stuff/ppl to blow up. ;D

The thing is, almost all lvls can be tactical, depending on how many members a team has. The more ppl there are, the more tactics/strategies can be used, until a certain limit is reached and, in the end, ppl will start dying in droves everything turns into a roasting-fest (for CTF too).
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Ok maybe not dist. I mentioned the STUP camping there. Didn't I?
OMG. OMG. OMG. OMG. Its up there. ^
That is a cack level. Forget dicklucksuxia
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Apr 6, 2005, 11:27 AM
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But camping IS a tactic and it, provided it takes place in the right place, with the right weapons, can work really well. Someone who doesn't camps will miss good opportunities to kill their opponents when they're not ready for you.
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Apr 6, 2005, 11:31 AM
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That has a place in my sig.
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Actually, if the camper is skilled in dodging, there is no way you can counter him (/her)...
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Apr 6, 2005, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelTalon
The point is that both levels like PreSenT PaST (overly complicated) and overly "simple levels" do one thing: accentuate the skill gap between players. While good for "hardcore" play, this does not serve itself well to a community as small as Jazz, where that audience does not exist. The map must then be used simultaneously as a mediator, evening the skill gap, while also being a tool for the player to use against their opponent. A paradox if there ever was one. See, mapping is a lot harder then you thought, huh? Proves why I haven't released a map in 3 years.
It's obvious and I agree with your point on the jj2 community lacking the right audiences for competetive play, as well as the audience for the "hardcore" levels which skilled level makers try so hard to bulit so often by mistake. I'm glad this topic has shed light on that. Maybe now we will stop wasting our precious time creating high quality CTF levels on jj2 for nothing. One of the reasons I started this topic because is because I feel, if possible, there needs to be more dimensions added to gameplay for how we create levels, especialy CTF gameplay, then it may be possible to make high quality levels that appeal to a wider audience, maybe even thoose who claim to hate CTF will change their minds. Who knows?
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A great CTF level is balanced on both side of the level. If you were to cut it in half, one base to the other from the middle/carrot/ammo placement are all key. Of course the level has to create an even layout for both teams. But here's where some levelmakers go wrong. This does not mean you must create both sides of the level EXACTLY the same. The key to a truly great map is to make sure that each team has the same advantages/disadvantages, but at the same time put change up the eyecandy somewhat. Congruent levels are good, but can become boring after a while.
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Camping IS a tactic, a working one. In fact, it's probably the tactic I use most often =P.

As for levels, I find that with almost any level, if you pinpoint a gun to a person's head and make them play the level over and over countless of times, they'll grow to like it =P (Levels like Battle 1, DW, semi, bblair even, are examples of this).
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Apr 6, 2005, 09:39 PM
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Still, camping isn't much without ammo and powerups.

In other news, I virtually gave up on CTF. "So Blurred, your not making ctf levels anymore?" Not any time soon, that's for sure. Why? Because I'm still having trouble finding the right tilesets to use, and it's not because I think my work isn't appreciated enough.

Long live semi-symmetrical levels.
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Old Apr 7, 2005, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlurredD
Still, camping isn't much without ammo and powerups.
Unless you camp at base with blaster and you always come back from death at that place.
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Camping with a blaster is not really that succesful, I think.
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EvilMike's Guide to Making Levels!!!!!!!

To make a popular level, you just need to make one that looks good, is easy to learn but still allows for good strategy and tactics, and needs to have good flow. All of my most popular levels have those qualities. Generally looks are the most important when it comes to popularity. I can also say that all of the levels I've made which revovle almost entirely around gameplay are almost completely unknown to people besides me.

But this post is not about making a popular level; it is about making a good level. By good I mean one that has good gameplay. Eyecandy, music, and other aesthetic things like that are important, but secondary to gameplay.

Plan Ahead
When I am about to start a level, I plan things out. I decide what I want the level to become, how it will "feel", and general things like that. I don't go so far as to sketch things out, but I give myself a set of guidelines on what the level will be. Doing this usually takes a while, and once I am done accumulating ideas the level usually goes together in about 3 days. Planning helps. If you just design a level off the top of your head you will have to rely on luck for it to be good.

Routes are important
When making the level think of routes players can take between bases or between key points in the level. Make sure there are many routes. Also see if you can make the routes interact with each other. ALWAYS use items to reward players for taking those routes, and do not force them. If your level does not have specific routes then you cannot form strategies as easily, and that makes the level less fun.

Camping sucks
It's just not fun. In CTF it's a bit of a problem, but you can help that. Don't put the bases close together, and do NOT put key items (carrots, powerups) at safe distance from the bases because the campers will most likely use them more often than defenders. Place key items along the main routes of the level, but do not put too much along one route or else you will get campers that are fully loaded. Make flags easy to attack by placing them in "unsafe" places, but still allow them to be defendable. KEEP BASES AS DISTANT AS POSSIBLE FROM ENEMY START POSITIONS.

It's nice to have ammo near the start positions
Maybe a gun barrel, or even just a simple clump of events. This is useful because it allows players to have more than just a blaster at almost all times. It can also make camping a bit harder if players start with gun2 or any other long range weapon.

Gimmicks are fun but don't rely on them
I consider a gimmick to be anything you do not find in a normal CTF level. Sometimes they can make an otherwise normal level original, and many people have used them to good effect before. But many people have also made levels that revolve completely around gimmicks, and those levels are never good. Happy Canyon CTF is an example of a bad gimmick level. Note that these levels in general tend to be less popular, even if good.

Ammo placement
Place ammo in areas where you think it will be most useful. Try not to put every time of ammunition in one spot; spread it out a bit. Powerups should be easy to find, and I reccomend placing most of them along main routes. Putting some in out of the way places is OK though, and can make a level more interesting especially if those areas are unsafe. Don't put too much ammo in the level, but put enough so that a player won't usually run out. Don't overdo seekers, and be warned that RF missles cause 3 heart kills. Also note that pepper spray is a very useful weapon in some levels, despite what some people think.

Carrot placement
In battle, an even number of carrots isn't too great for duels because it can mean each player just goes between the two carrots, or worse, just camps at them. Because of this, try to use an odd number. Using 1 to 3 carrots will make a level focus largely on hit and run tactics. Using more than that will make a level more focused on fast paced chace and ambush tactics. Either is good. Although I find not many people are used to dueling in levels with a lot of carrots. It's good fun though. Despite what logic may dictate, using a lot of carrots can make a game faster paced in battle mode.

In CTF, Full NRG carrots are your best choice, although 1h carrots are fine too. I usually prefer an even number, but an odd number is ok as well. I'm not particularly fond of CTF levels with one carrot though, since it makes a level too focused on a single point.

Warps, tubes, and all that
Again, don't overrely on them. Tubes can make a level interesting by providing quick shortcuts between areas, but depending on the speed they can also make you an easy target. Good things, strategy wise. Warps are your best choice for "connecting" areas without making things too dangerous, and are VERY nice if you want to make a level more strategic. Overusing them is a bit tacky though, not to mention confusing.

Secret areas
A few secret areas are ok, but using a lot of them is a bad idea and makes a level unfair to new players. Try not to put all your important stuff in secret areas.

Flow
I'm somewhat obsessed with flow, and a lot of the things I did in some of my old levels have caught on and become commonplace in todays CTF levels. Some of those things are good, some of them are bad. PLEASE don't overuse float up events to make your level easy to move around in. It's annoying if you can notice them. With that said, try to keep a level fluid, but don't make it TOO easy. I suggest keeping the main routes with good flow, but make it so with a bit of work a player can also use all sorts of tricks to their advantage. Basically, keep a good balance. I've gone overboard with flow before, and it makes levels seem a bit bland. A level with bad flow will be annoying to play in, though.

Size
Some people seem to think there is an ideal size for a level. There isn't. If your level is open, then it's a good idea to make a level big. If the level is mostly cramped corridors, then you don't need so much real estate. With that said, any size is good, and we need more big CTF levels for things like JDC.

Have your own style
You know of have to "know" jj2 levels to notice this, but look at every well known level maker out there. Each one has a number of traits that they put into their levels. Even if they are hard to notice, each one of those people has their own style. This is because they know what they are doing. Do not make a level which you think other people will like. Make a level YOU will like. Know what you like. Know what you dislike. If you make something that tries to please everyone, it probably won't turn out as well and will probably feel generic.

Eyecandy is nice but can get annoying
Please don't feel like you need to use every layer. I hate it when eyecandy goes in front of the main level. Don't overuse layers 1 to 3 and do not clutter the background with tiles that belong in layer 4. Save all of that for single player. In multiplayer, people want to PLAY, not all the pretty scenery.

TEST
Here's a breakdown of the amount of time I spend making most levels. 1. Indefinate amount of time planning and getting ideas. 2. Roughly 3 days making the level. 3. WEEKS testing it and getting feedback. If you don't test the hell out of a level, it will feel unpolished and won't be nearly as good as if you obsessively go over each and every aspect. I'm talking about going down to a single TILE and asking yourself if the level would be better if you did something like move that tile one space to the left. It's tedious, it's obsessive, and it works.

So now that you've made a level...
You have to get people to like your level as well. You can't just plop it on j2o and expect people to play it. Host it or get people to host it. Try to get your level circulated in a tournament like JJWC or JDC. Tell people about your level. Be annoying. No one is going to like your level if they don't get a chance to even play it.

On frustration
It was mentioned in the first post, so I'll cover this. I think a level is ok if it has a few frustrating aspects, but overall a level still needs to be fun. Try to keep the frustration limited to things like places you can get easily ambushed. Don't make stupid things like freeze enemies, or tubes/warps which pull you away if you accidently bump into them. Make it so if a player can make a mistake, it is a strategic/tactical mistake and not a mistake like "Ugh I pressed jump when I shouldn't have."

Obstructions and stuff
ST covered this well, but I'll add my thoughts on it. Anything that detracts from the flow of the level can actually be used to good effect, but it has to be used well. Deleberately making a level flow poorly is NOT a good idea, since it forces players to think more about simply getting around, rather than killing the enemy. If you are going to make use of obstructions, do it in a way that slows players down but doesn't make it too hard to get around.




Ok, this post was long. I might add more later, I didn't covereverything.
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This is one of the best threads on level design I've ever read.

It's very inspiring, makes me want to bust out the JCS and cook something up.

Keep bringing the theories.

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My general strategy when making multiplayer designs (which I almost never do) is to try to mess it up somehow. I always want to have something which I'm not used to. Of course, I'm pretty sure I've never made a popular level, but the point is that I feel satisfied, right?
And the same applies to downloading levels. If you don't have anything interesting looking I won't care about your level in the least.
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Sometimes the interesting part is how it all goes together. A lot of levels don't have anything "new" in them, but still manage to have an original design. It's sort of hard to explain how that works, but it is pretty easy to tell if a level is original or just plain generic.
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I can see that you think testing is quite important, EM. But what about the fact that good betatesters, even the best ones, can make mistakes? You should advise ppl never to overestimate betatesters. Betatesters have failed me a lot of times and bugs kept plopping up months after the release (despite me having betatested a lvl for over 8 hours).
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For multiplayer - Screw betatesters! Just host the beta version of the level online and see how it plays. Ask people to comment on things. Make observations yourself. Tweak level appropriately, then host again. The best way to test a multiplayer level is WITH multiplayer. If you are afraid of letting people see your unreleased work, then get over it. All of my best levels were tested publicly like this.


For single player - Find people you know and send the level(s) to them. Have them play through the pack and give as much feedback as possible, good or bad. Finding bugs is also important, but a good level shouldn't have many to start with. The important thing here is feedback so you can make the level better. Make sure you set a deadline for the testers, and bug them occasionally. Once you extract as much feedback as possible from them, make your adjustments.

Good, now you can repeat the process. Find new testers who haven't played it yet, and send the updated level. You can go with less testers this time around since most of the major issues should be resolved. Again, set a deadline and again try to get as much out of them as possible.

By then your level should be nearly bug-proof and highly polished with all that feedback. If not, either your testers failed to give you good advice, or you failed to listen to them. Or a combination of both.
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Omg... great suggestions by EvilMike. Thanks alot!
I also think camping is very irritating, but it's also fun to kill people while camping. Ďt's irritating if it's used against you. I don't know what to add to the things EvilMike posted. I really like that long post because I think it will be useful for me. And yes, I will host my levels online when finished instead of letting them beta tested(unless someone can't join the server and really needs me to send the level on MSN.
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What is Distopia
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Apr 15, 2005, 06:21 PM
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EvilMike's Guide to Making Levels!!!!!!!
Sounds like article material to me.
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Apr 16, 2005, 01:57 AM
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Yeah, spontaneous stuff is always the most inspired and creative ones...even if the idea was triggered by someone else. ;P

EDIT: I've half-made a lvl within 8 hours acordin to Mike's "plan". Let's see how it turns out...

EDIT 2: It's finally finished. http://www.jazz2online.com/J2Ov2/do...hp?levelID=3674 It's kind of a 'try-out' lvl although it's far too late to change the stuff in it if I've made a mistake. DL and review, plz.

EDIT 3: Still waiting for more reviews, but so far it seems to work. The bases were too close to each other at the beginning, so I blocked off a central route and made a hole in the wall instead, which takes you to a red spring before you can go to the base. It's better than when you could just jump and copter between the two bases. There are obstacles beneath platforms so rather than to let ppl fall directly down, they actually have to go left, then right, in a sort of zig-zag way, while falling. The seeker PU's position only gives you one shot, so if you make a mistake, you'll have to go all the way back up again. The spider's web makes you stuck for about 0.5 seconds and it can be hard to escape from it if you willingly enter the web turret. Er... we'll see if these 'obstacles' and 'frustration areas' add to the fun or not.

Last edited by White Rabbit; Apr 17, 2005 at 07:51 AM.
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As you wish.
I don't think my message was that offtopic but... oh well.
I'm going to plan a layout for a level and I'm going to make that level after.
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What is Distopia
Old Apr 17, 2005, 07:26 AM
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I really need to plan out more levels before actually making them. So far, I've only planned the entire layout of two levels I've ever made before actually making them.
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Camping sucks
It's just not fun. In CTF it's a bit of a problem, but you can help that. Don't put the bases close together, and do NOT put key items (carrots, powerups) at safe distance from the bases because the campers will most likely use them more often than defenders. Place key items along the main routes of the level, but do not put too much along one route or else you will get campers that are fully loaded. Make flags easy to attack by placing them in "unsafe" places, but still allow them to be defendable. KEEP BASES AS DISTANT AS POSSIBLE FROM ENEMY START POSITIONS.
Isn't camping a cheap strategy that so many people love?

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Flow
I'm somewhat obsessed with flow, and a lot of the things I did in some of my old levels have caught on and become commonplace in todays CTF levels. Some of those things are good, some of them are bad. PLEASE don't overuse float up events to make your level easy to move around in. It's annoying if you can notice them. With that said, try to keep a level fluid, but don't make it TOO easy. I suggest keeping the main routes with good flow, but make it so with a bit of work a player can also use all sorts of tricks to their advantage. Basically, keep a good balance. I've gone overboard with flow before, and it makes levels seem a bit bland. A level with bad flow will be annoying to play in, though.
Any level flows well when practiced enough. So why not make people get used to obstacles? First impressions help a lot? A level that has orginal ideas implemented has to be learned to some extend; Most people don't take too well to original ideas at first but will eventually like them. So screw good first impressions.

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Size
Some people seem to think there is an ideal size for a level. There isn't. If your level is open, then it's a good idea to make a level big. If the level is mostly cramped corridors, then you don't need so much real estate. With that said, any size is good, and we need more big CTF levels for things like JDC.
Cramped corridors may make a small level slow the time for one to get to one point to another and give one more options and routes to take yet will make it a lot hader to avoid getting hit with so little room, dodging is difficult to impossible. Maybe that negates your point that a small level could work, maybe it's just better to make bigger levels.

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Eyecandy is nice but can get annoying
Please don't feel like you need to use every layer. I hate it when eyecandy goes in front of the main level. Don't overuse layers 1 to 3 and do not clutter the background with tiles that belong in layer 4. Save all of that for single player. In multiplayer, people want to PLAY, not all the pretty scenery.
I've noticed levels that use excessive eyecandy make the level confusing only for a period of time until the player adapts to it. I know, some people will bring up Carrottus to the Max by JmaN, but that level can be learned as well.
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Isn't camping a cheap strategy that so many people love?
Yeah, but that doesn't mean you can't make it a bit harder, just to balance things out. With camping I am bascially talking about players who spawn and immediately beeline for the enemy base, regardless of the status of their teamates. Not the best strategy in a lot of cases, although it has its uses, and in some levels it can be a little too useful.

No one should never make a level impossible to camp in. While I feel it is annoying, and maybe even "cheap", it's a valid tactic. I just see nothing wrong with making it difficult.

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Any level flows well when practiced enough. So why not make people get used to obstacles? First impressions help a lot? A level that has orginal ideas implemented has to be learned to some extend; Most people don't take too well to original ideas at first but will eventually like them. So screw good first impressions.
That is true, but if flow is bad enough then a level will just be annoying to play in. It's ok to make it so a player has to jump or change direction every once and a while if they want to get somewhere, but with too many obstacles I've found it just gets annoying, even after learning the level. Too many obstacles can make a level feel "cramped" and that is not something many people like. Most levels tend to strike a good balance really, even when the authour puts no thought into it.

Good flow is really just a nice added touch. A lot of it is first impressions, but I think it makes levels feel more polished in a way. The way I see it, unless there is a gameplay reason for obstacles (such as wanting to make it take longer to go along a certain route) then there is no real need for them. Also, good flow lets people more quickly, and I like "fast" levels for some reason.

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Cramped corridors may make a small level slow the time for one to get to one point to another and give one more options and routes to take yet will make it a lot hader to avoid getting hit with so little room, dodging is difficult to impossible. Maybe that negates your point that a small level could work, maybe it's just better to make bigger levels.
I don't really like cramped levels either. I just think a small level with a lot of open space will wind up being a bit TOO small, since you'd be able to get from base to base in like 3 seconds or less.

And by cramped I don't mean so cramped you can't even jump. I just mean levels without a lot of open space, like quasar quandary, to name a popular level.

Although I'm not a big fan of that level either. Like bob said, counter-intuitive.

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I've noticed levels that use excessive eyecandy make the level confusing only for a period of time until the player adapts to it. I know, some people will bring up Carrottus to the Max by JmaN, but that level can be learned as well.
Of course. You can adapt to everything. You can adapt to a level where every tile has a horrendous animation of flashing colours at 30 frames per second, if you had to. Adapting to something doesn't make it any less annoying though.

It doesn't matter if a level has bad flow, bad (or overly good) eyecandy, or whatever. If it's annoying, it stays annoying. Even after getting used to it, it is still more annoying than getting used to a level that doesn't have any of that crap. Annoying is basically the opposite of fun, and I think it's very important for levels to be fun.

With levels that have too much obstructive eyecandy I play on low detail. I find that even after learning to play in a level with lots of obstructive foreground (to the point where it no longer has any real effect), disabling it feels refreshing somehow. It's like cleaning my glasses or something.
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What I find amusing about EvilMike's guide is that several people seemed to think Mike meant eye candy isn't important. What he said was eye candy isn't as important as gameplay. In the long run, people replay a level over and over again for the gameplay, not the eye candy. But eye candy is a close second. You wouldn't want to play a level with a great layout but looks horrible, would you? Also, eye candy can greatly influence one's first impressions (naturally), making an easy way to get high ratings, even if no one ever hosts that level again. So basically what I'm trying to say is eye candy hooks people in, and gameplay keeps them interested.
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'Eyecandy is nice but can get annoying
Please don't feel like you need to use every layer. I hate it when eyecandy goes in front of the main level. Don't overuse layers 1 to 3 and do not clutter the background with tiles that belong in layer 4. Save all of that for single player. In multiplayer, people want to PLAY, not all the pretty scenery.'

Yeah, Mike didn't make it very clear did he? ;P Hmm, he hasn't mentioned anything about a comparison between the importance of eyecandy and gameplay. He did point out that 'all that' should be saved for singleplayer, so ppl think that they shouldn't bother with eyecandy, which is misleading.
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I completely agree with BlurredD. Gameplay is more important, but I like to see levels with alot of eye candy. Levels with lack of eye candy usually aren't too good(except BBLair for instance) but that's because the gameplay in it is so good. Good gameplay and eye candy are two things that fit to a great and popular level. So, I think the fact about eye candy is the only thing of EvilMike's guide I don't agree with.
One thing I might want to add is that you have to place alot of Multiplayer starts because people can learn the start if there is only one and directly hit a player that just spawned. This is very irritating if used against yourself.
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What is Distopia
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Look, I was talking about eyecandy that goes in front of stuff. I don't care if your level is pretty, just don't overuse layers 1-3. I like to be able to SEE things that are actually important.

Blur is right in that you people completely mininterpreted me. Why the hell would I want people to make ugly levels?
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Some levels don't need to be cluttered with eyecandy to look good anyway. I've seen levels with basic eyecandy that actually look better than some with all sorts of junk in them.
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Well, we have levels with eye candy where there is just put some stuff in layer 3 alot. This is not a good thing, because overusing can be confusing indeed. I'm not saying I am going to fill my levels with eye candy that it's hard to see anything. I'm just saying that eye candy is an important thing that's unmissable in my opinion.
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Do you think QQ could be popular because it offers a good balance between hammering on the keyboard in the small corridors and long-distance shooting in-between bases? Basically, the lvl is both fast and slow-paced, which suits everyone.
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QQ has speedy gameplay and lots of strategic options (the PU rooms, the totally different paths away from the base after having grabbed the flag)

This is sort of related to the gimmicks discussion, it's a thing I would like to see in a level: having some random factor in it. Using trigger zones (if you want it to be local) or trigger crates (if you want it to be global) it's possible to make it so that every time a level is played to a certain extent it's different from the last time (randomisation using animations, etc). A path changed here, a PU changed there. And posting this revives the thread. Yay.
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Almost made a level like that, but I lacked the inspiration to make another CTF level. Guess I can't claim that idea as my own anymore.
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Old Apr 22, 2005, 04:21 PM
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I'm actually planning to make a CTF lvl based on the Golden Heart (you know, from the Hitchhiker's series). Im planning to have a fully functioning Infinite Improbability drive available, so a lot of random things can happen during the course of the game. Some things I think it safe to give away: petunia bowls, fried eggs, ammo rain, platforms appearing/disappearing, PUs mysteriously falling through the floor.

EDIT: Oh, and Blur, check your inbox for any PMs from me. If there aren't any, plz remind me to remind myself to send you something.
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Originally Posted by White Rabbit
I'm actually planning to make a CTF lvl based on the Golden Heart (you know, from the Hitchhiker's series). Im planning to have a fully functioning Infinite Improbability drive available, so a lot of random things can happen during the course of the game. Some things I think it safe to give away: petunia bowls, fried eggs, ammo rain, platforms appearing/disappearing, PUs mysteriously falling through the floor.

EDIT: Oh, and Blur, check your inbox for any PMs from me. If there aren't any, plz remind me to remind myself to send you something.
That sound awesome.
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