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# Do level designers benefit from studying geometry?

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Anybody have an opinion on this? How much does studying geometry have the potential to help you as a level design for video games?

I'm not sure about geometry but studying Architecture and Design probably helps a lot.

I have no opinions on geometry.

No

I had bad grades in geometry. Still, on our shoulders lies mainly the design and ideas, because all the calculations are done for us by the tools.

Recently I watched some photos of castles and palaces and this greatly inspired me for some of my maps, and I keep forward.

Mapping is mapping,it's not like a ceiling will break if you use an incorrect shape for it

4 minutes ago, riderr3 said:

because all the calculations are done for us by the tools.

One day, one may want smarter or faster tools. Or the tool which is able to do things that were not done before. A game level designer (or a game designer in general) who can make their own new tools, will be always one step above those who can't.

We're very lucky that GZDB has so many tools to do geometric calculations for us. Between the various drawing features and the grid, a lot of the complexity is removed. It doesn't mean a basic understanding of geometry can hurt, but it's not like we need to get the calculator out to work out a right angle triangle.

I do use the idea of slopes (rise over run) for diagonal lines. Like 1/1 for 45 degrees. I often use 1/2, and another good one is 3/7, which is pretty close to half the angle of a 45 degree slope, for when 1/2 is not close enough.

Here is a good example of why I believe thinking like an Architect/Designer helps a lot. Marty also mentioned Hugo has a background in industrial design.

Geometry is useful for better understanding @Albertoni's tutorial on precise pentagrams and other shapes. It's also useful for understanding what someone means if they say something like, "I think the room shaped like a hexagon would work better if you made it shaped like an octagon and you should make your exit room a scalene triangle instead of an isoceles triangle."

Otherwise, knowing geometry is useful, but I agree that a knowledge/understanding of design, architecture, and aesthetics is more useful to a mapper.

Quote

"I realized pretty quickly that architects are the people that know how to make environments," Stinnett says. "So I went to the University of Berkeley and connected with the architecture school over there and found a couple of guys who were also big gamers and convinced them to come work for LucasArts and join the Dark Forces team as architects and level designers."

Architecture is basically the marriage of maths and art. The first reason for that is fairly obvious. If you need to create parallel or perpendicular lines by hand, or construct circles, archs etc, then a basic grasp of geometry is going to be inherently useful.

The second reason is a little odd, and perhaps unexpected. Essentially, in the ancient and medieval world there was a blurred distinction between mathematics and mysticism. So for high status buildings and especially things like temples, architects would use geometric forms considered to have sacred significance. And even into the modern era, this obsession with geometry has never really gone away.

No.  As mentioned above, the tools do the heavy lifting for us.  Geometry just helps you make fancy geometry.

I think they'd be far better served by studying color theory, composition, and reading up on the various opinions and studies on what makes a game fun.  Too many levels out there that look gorgeous but aren't fun at all to play- and while I think there's value in creating a beautiful level in such a limited format, that's not really why we're here, is it?

Sorry kids, you do indeed need to know a few things about geometry to make nice maps.

Without it, your borders will look stupid, all your rooms will be square, and your attempts at complex detailing will be mired in uneditable off-the-grid bollocks. DB tools can only replace knowledge of geometry if you know what they're doing and how to achieve the same results in different ways.

1 hour ago, Grain of Salt said:

DB tools can only replace knowledge of geometry if you know what they're doing and how to achieve the same results in different ways.

Not to mention if you are using fully 3D tools for other games like Quake. Making maps isn't just drawing some straight lines to make some simple rooms.

3 hours ago, hardcore_gamer said:

Not to mention if you are using fully 3D tools for other games like Quake. Making maps isn't just drawing some straight lines to make some simple rooms.

I never used geometry for my Quake maps. Not even when making complicated modern 3D models with 4k textures. It's mostly just eyeballing.

Only tangentially related but man, Doom Builder telling you the length of lines as you draw them or move connected vertices or whatever is such an easy thing to not even notice yet it helps immensely. In many old editors, you had to highlight the line or even open its properties dialogue just to find out the length.

One geometric aspect of WadAuthor I miss is the ability to make sectors with any specified number of linedefs all at a uniform length. Perhaps it’s in new versions of GZDB / DBX, I’m pretty outta the mapping loop, but that feature was a treat.

8 hours ago, DooM_RO said:

I never used geometry for my Quake maps. Not even when making complicated modern 3D models with 4k textures. It's mostly just eyeballing.

There are some moments where you may want to make complex shapes that don't connect perfectly to the grid.

3 minutes ago, hardcore_gamer said:

There are some moments where you may want to make complex shapes that don't connect perfectly to the grid.

Real talk:  why does that matter?  If you've already made an intricate layout with fancy geometry, can you really say that it not aligning to the grid perfectly is going to show *at all* to the player in game?

What's it matter if it doesn't look flawless in the editor?

On 10/24/2018 at 9:47 AM, hardcore_gamer said:

Anybody have an opinion on this? How much does studying geometry have the potential to help you as a level design for video games?

I'd suggest the opposite conclusion: That having a mind for geometry would suggest that you may have the built-in artistic capacity for visual construction in general.

On 10/24/2018 at 8:00 PM, Grain of Salt said:

Without it, your borders will look stupid, all your rooms will be square, and your attempts at complex detailing will be mired in uneditable off-the-grid bollocks. DB tools can only replace knowledge of geometry if you know what they're doing and how to achieve the same results in different ways.

Have to disagree with both sentences here. We're talking about the actual branch of mathematics. You don't need to know any math to draw shapes other than squares. You don't need to make calculations other than "do I like it" when examining your borders. And similarly, if you want to use the stair builder, you don't need to know the math behind it that makes it work.

Knowledge of geometry might help you in some mapping tasks, so to the OP I would say yes. But you're making it sound like geometry is necessary for making good maps, which isn't true. That would be like saying you have to know how an engine works in order to be a good driver.

So I made a post promoting geometry, but there is another side of the coin.

Historically, not everything was built to a high precision with a underlying geometric structure. In fact, a lot of less important structures or buildings that had to confrom to existing terrain were build in a much more ad-hoc manner. It's quite fascinating looking at the plan views of very old buildings and seeing all the things that aren't quite right. Places where the builders obviously intended to use right angles, but one wall of a corridor will be out by a few degrees, and then all the rooms adjoining that wall will be equally out. And occassionally I've been tempted to sit down and take an orthgonal map and then very carefully go around and make everything slightly wrong, just to recreate that feel.

And yeah, there are probably more important things than geometry for a level designer to be aware of, for example readability of a scene, use of space, interconnectivity, etc. But having some geometric knowledge in your tool box is going to be useful for a designer, if only in broadening your understanding, but it may also help unlock your creativity to try things you might not otherwise have considered.

3 minutes ago, Urthar said:

But having some geometric knowledge in your tool box is going to be useful for a designer, if only in broadening your understanding, but it may also help unlock your creativity to try things you might not otherwise have considered. ﻿

Now this I agree with.

I'm not terrible at Geometry, but it really makes no difference. Mapping for me is more of a counting game than anything.

It's interesting hearing the different perspectives from people in regards to what kind of skills are the most useful for mapping. Yea I guess architecture is more useful overall, but that's not to say geometry is useless.

This has been said in one way or another by people on this post, but it bears repeating: The ability to visualize volumetric space (especially complex spaces) is probably a huge asset when creating maps. While geometry might be the science of defining and measuring the attributes of shapes, it certainly intersects with map-making when the mapper moves from visualization into actual mapping in an editor. This is particularly true when working with "true" 3D space (e.g., when building room-over-room constructs where the rooms are asymmetric with each other).

I just got done a circular room that has 5 contiguous "levels", with each level having its own floor & ceiling, but only 2 sets of levels overlapping each other. I was getting multiple instances of z-fighting until I measured & drew the sections on paper, and was able to identify why the problem was occurring.

I will also add, that a skill that has served me well in map-making is my course-work in engineering drawing (also called engineering graphics). Such course-work forms the rudimentary basis for architecture, but it also teaches the student to visualize in 3D space (orthographic projections). In my opinion, this is an extension of geometry.