Game Development Reference
so many little details, such as posters on the walls, rubbish bins, seating
areas, and clocks on the wall that make the location feel like a hospital.
One of the most difficult game environments for newbies to create is an
outdoor landscape. At first trees can look clumped together and awkwardly
positioned, mountains impossibly steep and oddly shaped, and a lack of
correct shading and shadows.
This chapter is primarily about observing how things are and applying the
rules of nature and architecture to develop game environments. It begins
by examining fundamental map design, followed by terrain design, using
camera effects for professional-looking scene rendering, and finishes up
with the creation of some simplistic but highly effective weather systems.
7.2 Map Design Fundamentals
Map design for game levels is a sizable area of discussion and rules, and
opinions on the best approach differ between genre and game developers.
In this section, numerous ideas have been gathered from single-player and
multiplayer 3D environments. Many of these suggestions have been taken
from online discussions of designers at Valve, Ubisoft, Bungie, and a variety
of other blogs and postings.
7.2.1 Provide a Focal Point
In a vast map it is a good idea to provide a focal point. This will act as
the player's goal location. If the terrain is rather desolate, like that shown
in Figure 7.1 , the player's eye will be drawn to the dominating tower.
In addition, because there are no other structures or objects in the area,
the player will have no choice but to go toward the tower.
In a rather busy map, a large focal object that can be seen from most places
in the level will assist the player with orientation. In Crysis , the player is
placed in a thick jungle environment with many ridges. A crumbling and
trembling massive mountain is shown in the distance as the obvious goal
destination. Although at times the player can become disorientated among
the trees, the mountain is visible from many positions, guiding and beckoning
the player toward it.
7.2.2 Guide and Restrict the Player's Movement
Although many game maps, whether they be outdoor terrains or inner city
streetscapes, may seem endless, they are not. They are designed cleverly
to draw a player along a certain path and restrict them access to parts of
the map that aren't actually there. For example, racing games such as Split
Second blatantly guide the player along a path—the racing circuit! The
player cannot jump the barriers along the sides of the road and drive off into
the distance because there is no distance. What can be seen in the distance