I last left off being at odds with my map’s ebb and flow. While I’m still learning constantly, I have been through enough design issues to know when to nip something in the butt. Self-sincerity is such an important thing to have when you assess your own work. When you can no longer divorce yourself from what sits in front of you, while not being able to look away like its some terrible car accident, that’s a really good sign you should approach it from a new perspective. There are a couple avenues I’ve learned to take, and highly suggest:
1. Get away from it: Being fatigued is going to show in your work if you’re not careful. This could be personal/health fatigue, or just burning out on an idea while its still premature in realization. I found that If I’m aimlessly observing something for a couple hours straight those weren’t hours well spent anyways. Might as well cut my losses and get out of the caldasac before I’m circling myself for the next day. This forces you to take a break and let your attention gather inspiration from other sources that you may not have considered up until now – and it also clears studio-eye/studio-ear. When you observe something for an extended period without breaks, it distorts your ability to pick out the needle in the haystack. Things blur together, “bad” ideas seem like impenetrable fortresses, and decision making is thinned out. It’s the quickest and healthiest way to brainstorm without pouring over a blank sheet of paper. Take a shower – get some food – watch TV – play a videogame from a different genre – get some sleep (I should know this better than anyone else, haha). Anything in excess can become unwieldy in time, so if you can afford the time, sleep on it and you might come up with a faster solution. Ideas are instant – production is never as measurable.
2. Approach it from a radically different angle: Sometimes the solution is way too obvious to see because we’ve committed so much to one we’ve subconciously taken on. That sounds really abstract, I know, but I’ll use my own project in context and tie it in to wrapping up my major Gameplay decision.
So the goal of my semester project was narrative through our respective medium, my personal goal being passive narrative through the environment. I took a good look at my map visually in its state and asked myself what I saw very literally. What was there did not at all dictate my original synopsis – all of which would’ve had to been done through posters and custom textures. It’s cynical in a way, but I seriously asked myself, “Then why the hell am I making all THIS for some posters? Why didn’t I just make them and call it a day? Just so I had something to keep busy with??”. It’s not to discourage but you just list your goals with your tangible work and see where things are perpendicular to the cause.
Recently I had added a train depot for a landmark and central obstable for cover, as well as reworking a couple of the adjacent towers. I also noticed that the two spawn bases were in these basin-like dips. I wanted the central area with the train tower to act as an island in this delivery yard, but that on its own didnt scream CTF to me. I realized if one of the towers on the corner was a water tower teetering to its demise, it’d give the map a reason for the train – using it as an escape route to fight over considering its passanger-capacity. So the story is now a story, and not lore: Take control of the transportation first, or die! It integrated the gameplay more, the fact that the outcome was unpredictable and interchangable, and didnt require reading text as much if at all. Fighting for a middle point spurred an idea, so from there I removed the flags, and took the whole thing for what it was – an Arena map.
Spending an hour coming to this decision eventually showed its flowers in the architecture, providing reasonable solutions to replace those that would’ve taken days of my sanity. Onto building buildings, next.