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Map Design: Flow, Connections, Verticality, and Asymmetry This is my approach to map design, it is not the ultimate view of halo map design, there are many different approaches to take, and this is one of the many that has been shown to work. During the early days of forge I contributed many things to our development and understanding of asymmetrical map design. Some of this work dates back 6 years. All of my post and articles were recently lost when MLG deleted the Halo 3 forge forums post. I am posting a compilation of my work on asymmetrical map design that has been edited and expanded. This post is an accumulation of a large chunk of my knowledge of map design, to which I want to share with the rest of the community. Some of this information is now common knowledge, but I think it is important to have it set and well defined. This also helps newer designers and forgers understand and develop their concept of map design. I hope that this will be of help to new and old forgers alike. It is a long and extensive read, so be ready to set some time aside for this. All together it is 8 full pages on a Microsoft Word document. Thank you and Enjoy, John “Darkling Ninja” Section 1: Flow A. Defining Flow Flow is basically the way in which player(s) move through a map during the course of a game. As stated by Bungie flow is very hard to define and talk about being that it is an abstract concept. Here are two articles from professionals that talk about flow and explain it better then I can. Bungie: http://halo.bungie.n....aspx?cid=29601 Epic Games: http://udn.epicgames...rMapTheory.html B. Circular Flow A circular flow is a common and great way to create successful flow throughout a map. That does not mean that players should be running around in a circle the entire time they play your map. Instead of thinking about this idea geometrically think of it in terms of conceptual movement. Conceptually a circle is a consistent, easily repeated, and natural pattern of movement. A good analogy for this would be rocks moving around in circulating water. The rocks move around in a circular motion within the water, occasionally they will run into another rock or two. This run in will cause those rocks to be set off course with the circular flow of the water. The rocks might end up moving through the center of the circular flowing water or go outside of it. Even though those rocks where set off course they will eventually be drawn back into that circular movement, flowing around inside the water. This process would repeat itself over and over. Although this might sound odd, think of the rocks as players and the circulated water as the map they are playing on. Players are going to be set off course of your maps flow over and over, your job as the designer is to make sure the player can once again be easily drawn back into the flow of your map. As a designer creating this within your map takes time, thought and testing. When designing a map, you want to make sure that the flow of your map extends to all areas. A majority of the time, the reason why an area on a map is underused is because there is no flow into that area. Paying attention to flow of your map will help contribute to the overall game play of your design. Section 2: Connections A. Intro Connections are basically the way in which a player transitions from one part of the map to another. There are many ways to create connections in your map design. In the end these connections are what determine the flow of your map. There are many different ways to create and use connections. In the end the connections on your map will be its life line. How you use connections will determine whether or not your map plays well. B. Types of Connections and Transitions There are many different types of connections and transitions. So I will just list them in a simple way. Types of Connections Hard Connection Hard connections are basically routes from one place to another that do not involve the player to do anything but move through it. They do not involve jumping, or going out of the way in any fashion, it is just a straight walk from one point to another. Examples of this would be a bridge, floor, ramp ect… 2. Soft connections Soft connections are routes to a location that involves the player actively doing something in order to use. In most scenarios this type of connection involves jumping, thus the term “jump ups”. Lifts and drop downs are also forms of soft connections. 3. Direct Connections and Indirect Connections A direct connection is one that takes a player directly to where they want to go without having to go out of the way to get there. An indirect connection usually involves the player having to go out of their way in order to get to an area. An example of these types of connection would be bottom middle of guardian. If I am bottom middle on guardian and I want to approach Snipe tower I can either take the direction connection through S1 or take the indirect connect through Green and L. 4. Controlled and Uncontrolled Connections Most connections are controlled connections, meaning the player has full control of what they are doing. An uncontrolled connection is a connection that when used a player does not have control over their movement. In Halo there are really only three ways to create uncontrolled connections, and that is a Lift, Teleporters and drop down. In all three cases the player does not have control of what they are doing while they use the connection. C. Designing Connections Each type of connection has its own advantages and disadvantages. Balancing out these advantages and disadvantages is very important. Halo 3 Construct is a good example of connection usage. The lifts are direct, soft, uncontrolled connections. The speed of the lifts allows the player to quickly reach the top most powerful part of the map. In return the player cannot control themselves until after they have used this connection, making it a risky connection to use. Players also have the option of taking the gold ramps up to open street, this is an indirect, hard, controlled connection. The ramps allow a safer transition to the top then the lifts, but the amount of time it takes gives the enemy team a chance to set up. The ramps up to sword room give the player a third option of approach creating a direct, soft, controlled connection. A player must go out of there way, and do something just to use this, but it results in a direct path to the top of the map and a possible flank. Putting to much emphasis on one type of connection can make it over powered or useless. Making a route to indirect can make it take so long to use that its pointless to give the other that much time to set up, so by they time you get there you just get destroyed. Having a route be direct can result it the route being over powered and over used, restricted the flow of your map to that section. As one can see designing the connections on your map can be a real pain, and take a lot of thought, but it is a vital part of your design. Section 3: Verticality A. Intro to Verticality Verticality, one of the hardest things to pull off right, but important in every map design except for a griff ball court. Many terms and phrases are used to describe verticality, “height variation or changes”. “Different Levels”, we all have a term or way to describe this. The ubiquitous nature of verticality shows its importance to map design. Without verticality all you have is a flat map like most griff ball courts. For most forgers verticality is a wall that we all must climb over in our development as designers. This section on verticality explored the properties, and usage of verticality in map design. Many new forgers do not take proper consideration into the vertical space that their map occupies. A map can have the same width and depth of the original guardian, but the vertical height of the map can make it 5 times larger then guardian. Realizing this, the application and usage of verticality in your design has a huge impact on your map. B. Properties and Functions of Verticality This section is short and sweet, I am just going to list some of the main properties or functions that verticality can have. If I miss some, please comment and I will do my best to add them in. 1. Dynamic and Versatile Verticality creates dynamic and versatile game play in a map. The height variations prevent stale and repetitive game play. 2. Divisions Verticality creates divisions between the difference levels of your map. This can be for better or for worse. Divisions can be used to promote movement and create dynamic game play. They can also cause your map to be sectioned off and disconnected. You can prevent this from happening by proper use of connections. 3. Advantages Verticality can create advantages for players. Verticality can provide control over a fight, superior angles, height advantage, Cover and many other things. 4. Disadvantages Verticality can also create disadvantages for players. Being high up and out in the open can result in a player becoming an easy target or a swift death. 5. Flow Verticality has a clear impact on the flow of the map. Instinctively players will travel to the highest point of the map, thus verticality can make the lower part of your maps underused or even ignored. C. Usage and Application of Verticality The primary concern when using vertically is how you make the connections from one level to the other. Making sure there is adequate and balanced connections is what will make or break the verticality on your map. A player should be able to move from varies level changes smoothly. A good way to create this is using Drop Downs and Lifts. Lifts and drop downs allow for instantaneous vertical movement up and down. In the best map throughout the halo series lifts and drops downs are common place. Wizard, Pirate, Midship, Lockout, Foundation, Ivory Tower, Construct, Guardian, The Pit, Narrows all had lifts and drop downs. Making sure there is also a diversity of all the connections that balance out with one and other is key in creating successful vertically. In order to make sure the lower portions of your map are used, a good trick is to give them an ample supply of connections that are greater then their higher up adversaries. When designing the vertically make sure to take everything into account. Section 4: Asymmetrical Map Design A. An Intro to Pie Method Now after all that reading we finally get to the bread and butter, Asymmetrical Map Design. There are multiple ways to approach Asymmetrical Map Design. Asymmetrical Maps are maps that are inherently are not balanced. Thus when creating an asymmetrical map you are creating an unbalanced map. That does not mean the map will not work, that means that you have to find a way to create a form of balance or asymmetrical balance. This does not mean making the two uneven sides equal in power, that usually results in standoffish game play. Pie method is a layout that Bungie was very fond of using in their maps. I am sure they have a more technical name for it, but until they tell us what it is pie method will do. I posted pie method 6 years ago as a way to layout out a functioning asymmetrical map. This was during a time when forgers where struggling to find a way to create a proper asymmetrical design and find a way to make asymmetry work. Note that pie method is not the only way to layout an asymmetrical map, but for those who want to learn how to design asymmetrical maps or better their asymmetrical design it is a successful ad easy to use template. B. Terminology Control points: Control points are areas on the map that offer rewards for controlling. The rewards can range from controlling other areas of the map to shooting angles, power weapons and/or connections. Dominate control points: This refers to the parts of the map that have the most power or rewards Secondary Control points: These parts of the map are usually checked by one of the dominate control points on the map, and are controlled by the team in control of the dominate control point that checks it. Checks: Checks refer to areas on the map that counter another area of the map, or put them into check. C. Pie Method Pie method lays out 4 sections of the map, dividing it into two dominate areas, which both have control over a different secondary control point on the map. REFER TO PICTURE FOR EXPLANATION Pie Method Layout Red is the most dominate control point, the most powerful area of the map Blue is the sub-dominate control point, the second most powerful area on the map. The shooting angles on Red allow it to check Green, making it Green Red’s secondary control point. The shooting angles on Blue allow it to check Gold, making it Gold Blue’s secondary control point. Red checks both Green and Blue, and has a slight advantage on Gold but not enough to check or control Gold. Blue checks both Gold and Red, and has a slight advantage in Green but not enough to check or control Green Green and Gold check each other Example: A team’s objective is to control the Dominate Control Point, due to the fact that it offers the best rewards and advantages to control. Red team will be in control of The dominate point, while blue team is in control of the Sub-dominate control point. Blues teams objective is to take control of the dominate control point, While Red teams objective will be to keep control of the dominate point. By being in control of a dominate control point, a team also controls a secondary control point that is not as powerful as a primary control point, but allows players to move about the map more, and have more shooting angles. As players fight for control of the different areas of the map the flow around it shifting control of different areas, and flowing around the map like a circle. You can easily shift up where the control points are on the map, making Gold dominate and Blue a secondary, or do the same with Red and Green or both. D. Power weapons and Balance "Your map should not support your power weapons, Your power weapons should support your Map." -Darkling NInja Basically what this quote means is that an area of your map should not be designed around a power weapon. The power weapons that are placed on your map should reinforce the structure and flow of your map. No area on your map should rely on power weapon support to function properly. The best way to avoid doing this in a design is to not even think about power weapons on your map until after it has been completely forged. I personally do not even begin to place or think about power weapons until after I have placed the spawns and set up all game types. This is so that I can gear the spawns and game types in the way that will play best with the structure of my maps. The power weapons go last, because they allow me to place weapons that reinforce not just my maps geometry but also every game type and player spawn. When balancing out the many different areas on your map, you do not need to rely on power weapon spawns to create flow and movement. Instead use Flow, connections and verticality to strengthen the core of your map design. Flow, connections and verticality will give you more then enough ways to balance out your asymmetrical map. Instead of relying on gimmicks like power weapons use your knowledge and tools as a designer to create harmony within your map. That doesn't mean that a map is not good if it has an area that relies on a power weapon to function properly. My personal opinion is to avoid it though. E. Conclusion Pie method can be seen in multiple asymmetrical maps throughout the Halo series, including Chill out, Hang'em High, Lockout, Guardian, Prisoner, Headlong, Damnation, and Ivory Tower. Pie method is not the only way to approach and design an asymmetrical map, but it is a reliable and easy method that works. For those of you just starting off or veterans who are struggling with an asymmetrical map design, Pie Method can be a valuable asset. For those trying to learn asymmetrical map design, creating a map using pie method can teach you a lot about making an asymmetrical map. It can be a great tool that will help you understand and learn how to make successful asymmetrical maps. I hope You all enjoyed the read!