Small, Tight, and Narrow: A Critique of FPS Map Creation - blackheartwolf Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Small, Tight, and Narrow: A Critique of FPS Map Creation

 

I want everyone that is reading this blog to do me a favor before continuing.  It will only take a moment, promise.  I want everyone that is reading this to take their favorite multiplayer FPS game and boot up the online mode on it.  Now then when you do that just find a game, doesn't matter what mode, or what map.  Now then I want you to play, and as you play I want you to count the number of times that you see a multi-leveled structure.

You see my guess is that it's less than 5.  And if we're looking for 3 levels I'm guessing that drops to 0.  Especially you don't count the isolated buildings off to the edges of the map, instead only counting the ones that actually play a significant part in the map.

I'm not talking about the CoD style either where if you get the high ground then you're good and you can just sit there.  I'm talking maps that have multiple paths on the different levels that allow you to move around the map with ease so that you don't have to worry about camping at a bottleneck hoping for the enemy to come to you.

Anymore it seems like map designers have forgotten this, and in no case has it ever been more apparent than in the changes between Killzone 2 and Killzone 3.

 

Above: Picture of KZ2 map Salamun Market

Below: Picture of KZ3 map Pyrhuss Crater

 

For anyone that hasn't played either, let me say this.  Killzone 2 had probably the best map design of any game that is out now.  Every map that was in the game (even if there were only 8 to start out with) was thought out, and designed with purpose.  Every map offered many routes to get from one end of the map to the other, making it so that unless the enemy pushed you all the way back to your base it was impossible to get clogged up while traversing the map.  The maps felt small, but there was a lot to them because instead of funneling you on just the ground level nearly all of them made you traverse at least 2 floors to get anywhere.  Even their smallest maps had multiple levels which meant that gunfights could happen anywhere on any map, from the backmost corners, to the middle of the map, and you always had to be on your toes. 

And then they killed it.  They took the great design that they had in 2 and did away with it entirely.  Making all the maps feel like they were on the Great Plains rather than in cities and junkyards and other interesting environments.  It's as though they took a giant stamp to the wax that was their old maps. 

The unfortunate part is that they're not the only ones to do this.  Treyarch has always been good about mixing up the vertical gameplay of their maps in Call of Duty, but then you play Infinity Ward's maps and they feel like large open plains comparatively.  There is very little intricacy in IW's maps.  Most are as simple as you can get.  Thankfully Treyarch didn't follow suit, because that is the strongest part of the game.  Even playing games like domination you never feel trapped in an area.  There is always a way out.  And that shows good map design.

The thing is that developers need to realize that there really is no such thing as too intricate for maps.  In fact intricacy is the best part of any multiplayer experience.  Finding all the small nuances of each map that you play just makes the experiences feel better every time you play, and can really add replay value to the game as a whole. 

So this is my plea to developers and the people that make maps for multiplayer anymore.  Please don't simplify it for us.  Make it difficult, make it intricate, but most of all, make it fun.

Also as a reminder, if you liked this blog and would like to get updates on when new ones come out, as well as my thoughts about other things game related (or just want me to follow you back) you can follow me on twitter @loupinconnu

 

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