Gamer, Level Designer, Brony.
Hello and welcome my blog, this is going to be my comment/tip/trick/rant about mapping with Source Engine.
First allow me to introduce my self, I'm Thanapong "Tom" Prathumchat or you can call me "Tom" I've been mapped for almost every game I've owned (Mostly Source Engine game) and have about 2 and a half years experience. Right now I'm working on a Portal 2 mod called "Back-Stock" as a Level Designer. I came onto BS team around March '12.
Today I'm going to talk about Portal 2 level & puzzle design.
You want to challenge players, but not frustrate them. Your puzzles should be guiding, but not obvious.
Expectations are what the player thinks will happen in your level. You need to remember expectations when designing your map. Remember that players only know what information you tell them. They can't foretell what will happen later in the level unless you let them see it in action. If you are introducing a new concept or puzzle element, it is best to explain by example. Teaching works best by telling players why reactions happen as opposed to just that they happen.
Guide the player through the levels. The player should always have all of the information in front of them. A player will probably become frustrated when they can't solve a puzzle, and they realize the solution was one little switch hidden behind a wall that falls right into place.
Basic puzzle design may involve only one intermediate goal such as "put the box on the button, go out the door" so the final state of the puzzle is the only thing that needs to be considered. More advanced puzzles involve a series of state changes in order to complete. Consider the following steps:
The box, funnel, and button go through several intermediate states to complete the puzzle. Also worth noting is that the puzzle does not end up in a steady state as with the simple box-button combination.
Top Down Design is most level designers (including me) instinctively use. It's the de-facto method of building what's already in mind. The corollary of that is if there is no idea then there is no product. It is also well suited to mechanic central design, where a mechanic is introduced and everything else follows from it.
The most important thing in top down design is not losing sight of the mental picture, which is easy to do when there are several steps involved in putting the idea into practice. There are many, many steps in Portal level design.
The second most important thing is making sure that what seemed like a good idea at the time is actually a good idea. Bounce it off of a friend to see what they think of it and note down any criticisms. If they don't get it, explain. This will also help crystallize the idea.
1. Quickly sketch the idea out on a whiteboard, piece of paper, back of an envelope, whatever. Ignore the details and focus on the central idea.
2. Open up Hammer and put together a draft. Test the main theme out to see if it's worth pursuing.
3. Make adjustments and repeat.
4. Add the details and upload!
Well, that's it for my first blog, I Hope you enjoy reading this and sorry for my bad English skill :)
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