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Marn

Loop-around level design

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It seems to be good practice to structure your levels to covertly dump your players at convenient locations without this being obvious to the player. However, I haven't been very successful at making this work through trial and error.

Can anyone provide some concrete steps or rules to go about achieving this?

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Typically I start at the beginning and end at the finish.

 

When you have a story behind the levels this becomes more obvious. This narrative informs where the level starts and where it ends.

 

For example:

If the story is that you're infiltrating a power plant, you'd typically start outside (or maybe even underground) and work your way in.

If the story is that you've been captured and held prisoner you'd start inside and work your way out.

If the story is that you're sweeping the streets for monsters you'd start in the streets, or maybe even as a sharpshooter on a rooftop who decides to leave their post.

 

The story is part of the level design. It informs the designer certain aesthetics and level layouts.

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If you mean by the loop around level design levels that after a while of progression you end up back where you were at the beggining then i suggest analyzing Super Metroid because it does that THE ENTIRE GODAMN TIME (My maps do that all the time too)

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I consider this wizardy and whoever can achieve it I have tons of respect for. 

 

The one thing I can say that I dont consider a proper "loop" is the way Skyrim did it, where at the end of every dungeon is a long noodly passage that dumps you at the beginning.

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I appreciate anotak's attention to detail with the TEKGREN's lines directing you where to go. I imagine that must be exhausting to design in your maps. That's definitely the right track though. I think I've mentioned this more than a few times but, I've been starting my maps from a large central area, and then building the map outward toward the start and the exit. I often have most of the map's areas connect to this central place, including all the key locked doors, so whenever you're feeling kinda lost, just go back to the central place and figure out where to go from there. I often reference MAP11: Circle of Death for a map that seems to capture this effect most perfectly and simply.

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I think a key part of this is having areas that you cannot reach initially but end up at later.   It's important to see the location before arriving there, that way once the player arrives at the location they know where they are.

 

 

Marnetstapler, did you have any specific levels in mind that did this?   

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@anotak Great post! Visual direction is an important aspect of mapping, but when it's done well you don't even realize it. Highlighted textures, lights and especially enemies are all very useful for guiding the player to where you want them to go. 

 

Classic example: if you have a switch that opens a door in a previous room, put an imp behind it. When the player begins backtracking to see what the switch did, they are infinitely less likely to miss the newly opened door if they see and hear an imp alert coming from it.

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On 1/20/2018 at 2:23 PM, 40oz said:

I often reference MAP11: Circle of Death for a map that seems to capture this effect most perfectly and simply.

Note that that level was designed for John Romero, who once said that he preferred to have players backtrack to the same areas and loop around so as to more fully appreciate the "3D" space in the game. Therefore, a reasonable place to start, and then branch out from, would be Romero's levels.

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I don't generally do the loop-around thing in my own maps (just due to personal style; I'm not against the concept), but if I were to approach this intentionally, I'd start by building the drop destination (e.g. a blue door) and the drop-off point (e.g. a blue key on a ledge in the same room) first, that way I have the start and end of the loop already set. From there it's just a matter of connecting the dots, really.

 

As for references, BTSX E1MAP01 is a great one, as is E1MAP04 and many early maps of D2TWID. Essel's maps in particular seem to exemplify this a lot, now that I'm noticing the pattern here. ;)

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I do have some input on this subject. 

 

My maps generally follow a figure of 8 layout with a 2 key/switch door area in the center of the 8 that leads of to the final area. This mentality comes from feedback from over a fair stretch of years that has come from multiple people (mainly @Khorus :-) ) that has shaped my mapping today.

 

Ill be happy to post some examples if your interested.

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The loop around concept is something I love in doom maps, I tend to find it thrilling when I traverse a map and somehow end up at the start and have progressed the map ie seeing the exit door at the start but can't access it for example.

 

You'll find all my maps in cereal killer do exactly this, I always try to make the exit visible early on in the map. I achieve this by putting in the exit first then creating a ledge, or window etc that doesn't allow you to reach it. This forces you to build your map around these two points and will give you that looped layout. In general putting a ledge of some sort in a room then building a creative way to reach it from a different access point will always work, and it also allows for multiple scenarios when it comes to monster placement and how you can kill them.

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