User:Blue04/Single Player Design

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Single Player (SP) maps provide a linear sequence of content. The player starts at the beginning, and they travel to the goal at the end. SP maps are about designing the journey – where you are, where you're going, and how you get there.

All of my thoughts are loose guidelines. You can design anything you want, as long as you can draw it.

(If an editor wants to incorporate any of this into other wiki articles, feel free.)

Articles by Other Mappers


Ideation

  • Where are you?
    • What does it look like?
    • What is it made out of?
  • To get ideas, do something that lets your mind wander.
  • Use a sketchbook as an intermediary space between mental images and Zone Builder
    • Sketches should be rough -- intent is to work through spatial relationships
    • Working in Zone Builder is an exercise in technical execution, which is a different mode of thinking than the creative mind
    • (Add a few photos of my own sketches)
  • Use todo lists
    • When you have a mental image of a stage segment, summarize that mental vignette as a bullet point on a list
    • When a stray thought comes across your mind while working, put it on a todo list
    • Todo lists separate "deciding what to do" from "doing"
    • When you finish one item on your list, you can go to the next item on your list without switching into a reorientation mode
    • More on todo lists here (apologies for the drug references)

Macro-Scale

Closed Stages

  • Indoor stages tend to be closed stages.
    • Inside a building, or underground.
  • Closed stages have completely separate paths
    • The player commits to a single path.
    • Players can't change paths until the paths merge again.
  • Exploration is about finding nooks and crannies
    • Exploration doesn't take the player far from the main path.
  • Examples:
    • Techno Hill 2
    • Deep Sea Zone 1+2
    • Castle Eggman 2
    • Egg Rock Zone 1+2

Open Stages

  • Outdoor stages tend to be open stages.
    • Grasslands, beaches, cliffs...
  • Path boundaries are softer and permeable
  • Extra areas of the stage are hidden behind exploration.
    • Extra areas are higher-up but part of the same open-air environment as the main route.
    • Extra areas fill in the negative space around the main route.
    • Tails and Knuckles get to extra areas easily
    • Sonic requires a specific connection to the upper areas
  • Examples:
    • Greenflower 1+2
    • Techno Hill 1

Path Splits

Left/Right Split

  • Usually forks into completely separate paths (closed stage)
  • Doesn't have to be a literal hallway that forks
  • Can clearly telegraph to players that the stage has multiple paths

Upper/Lower Split

  • Upper and lower paths coexist within the same space (open stage)
  • Usually, players start on the higher path and fall to the lower path
  • Moving from lower path to upper path is usually harder and requires exploration
  • Doesn't always telegraph to players that the stage has multiple paths

Path split best practices

  • Should have some idea of what you're getting into from each path
    • The beginning of Egg Rock 1 hides the content of the right path before you commit
  • Path splits should be relatively obvious
    • Players should be able to discover all content in a stage
    • Understanding and locating path splits is critical to map navigation

Mid-Scale

Exploration

  • Reward exploration with items.
    • Items are a visceral "pop" at the end of an optional path.
    • An item signifies to the player that they have finished exploring this area and can look for other areas to explore.
    • Collecting rings and destroying item boxes marks explored areas.

Gimmicks

What interactive elements make sense in your location? What material systems are already in your stage?

Gimmicks should reward mastery. Especially, gimmicks should interact with a player's momentum somehow.

Introduce the gimmick in a safe space where players can experiment with it.

Micro-Scale

Texture Test Maps

  • Use a small texture test map to make texture palette decisions.
    • Do the work of discovering the texture set before you make your stage.
    • Leave some of your mistakes in the texture test map. The point of the map is the show you your options.
  • If your texture set is missing a few items (like a background texture), make or import those into SRB2 before you start building your geometry.
    • If you're missing a texture, use a placeholder texture so that you can find-and-replace later.

Designing for Every Character

See also: Level Design 102 - Designing for Every Character

Skills and Playstyles

  • Sonic
    • Jumps far but low.
    • Likes to have room to run.
    • Thokking provides instant acceleration and tight cornering.
    • Thokking is faster than running.
  • Tails - Makes long flights.
    • Avoids most platforming challenges.
    • Not sure how to design for him.
  • Knuckles - Can go anywhere, as long as he has a continuous climbable surface to follow.
    • Breaks Sonic's connection between height and chronology.
    • Can see the big picture of the landscape. Wants a bunch of stuff to find while exploring.
    • A little bit blind to the intended level route.
  • Amy - The highjump character.
    • Jumps up 128 high blocks (Sonic jumps 96).
    • Hammer boost makes yellow springs climb 512 instead of 384.
    • Likes to have stuff to whack.
  • Fang - A troll.
    • Jumps 256 from a bounce.
    • Bouncing can skip a lot of platforming challenges.
    • Bounces safely off lava.
    • Likes to have stuff to shoot at.
    • Doesn't travel to ring boxes.
  • Metal Sonic
    • Retains Sonic's height/chronology relationship
    • Hover makes him a troll for long horizontal platforming.
    • Likes long stretches to run
    • Boost Mode gets faster over time. Building up to full speed is satisfying.
    • Boost Mode creates waterrun

Filtering characters to different paths

Keeping Knuckles Out

Knuckles has a very low jump. He can jump 88 high but not 104. (96 is tight but possible.)

Filter out Knuckles by requiring a high jump in a room with noclimb walls. A protruding lip around the room's perimeter will also keep Knuckles from climbing upward.

Use a consistent texture for noclimb walls.

Keeping Amy and Fang Out

Amy and Fang can't spindash, so use a spin-only gap (32 high) to filter them out.

A spin-to-charge wheel (like in DSZ2) will also filter out these two.

After either of these, you'll likely use a strong-character-only breakable floor for these two to give them an alternate route.

Character-limited doors

  • Spikes - Removed by Amy's hammer and Metal Sonic's boost mode.
  • Strong-only Walls - Breakable by Knuckles and Amy
  • Strong-only Floors - Breakable by Fang and Amy (the characters who can't spindash)

Color Theory Summary

(needs graphic of color wheel)

Red, Green, and Blue (RGB) are primary colors when working with additive mediums (light).

Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow (CMY) are primary colors when working with subtractive mediums (pigment).

  • Adjacent - 60 degrees away on the color wheel
  • Triad - 120 degrees away on the color wheel
  • Complimentary - 180 degrees away on the color wheel.

When in doubt, the Sonic Advance textures have a pretty good handle on color.