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D. U. I.
Designing User Interfaces. Well, ok, not quite.

I had some free time on my hands, and so decided to play Yoshi s Island because of some of the praise it s been getting here. And while cruising through it, I realized just how many visual clues it has. Arrows and various signs are in abundance, so you re never lost or confused, and most secret areas arent tucked away under some obscure texture, but are in plain view, just waiting for you to figure out how to reach them.

So Im curious, how much importantance do you place on making your level easy to navigate and understand? Do you do anything special, if so what? Or should the player have to figure everything out by themselves? Does having these hints make it too easy?
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Hmm... 
clich� 
Weird... 
i typed clich� both times... i wonder if my change did anything. I can't see how, as all i did was add calls to PHP's addslashes function. 
Hmmm 
Well the little bit above the E looks a bit like an apostrophe. Maybe the board has fuzzy logic, like those new washing machines. 
 
Fuzzy logic: like wooly thinking, only less so 
WTF? 
now the two that were broken (posts 9 and 10) are fixed, and the "fixed" ones (posts 11 and 12) are broken in a different way. 
 
they can become cliché. But the principles behind them are universal, i think.

yeah, but the issue I kind of want to bring up is the communicating to the player those underlying principles.

ex: let's say I thought that using the gold key to open a door was cliche. So instead, I make it so you have to kill a certain monster to open the door. So now how do you know you must kill the monster to open the door?

So, I guess, I'm wondering if there are any kind of, I don't know, universal concepts or important ideas to know while trying to convey to the player what he can, or needs to do.

For instance, I like kell's comment on making sure the important exits are well lit.

The are two things I find I say to myself which signify a bad map design. The first is: "so what the hell do I do now?" And the second is: "why the hell did that happen?"

yeah, personally I agree. But now I'm interested in taking it one step further and asking: what helps make maps understandable, or not?

I don't know, maybe this is an intuitive issue, which can't readily be discussed and analyzed. Players either understand your map, or they don't. Anyway, I just thought I'd bring it up. 
C . . . . O . . . . . 
"ex: let's say I thought that using the gold key to open a door was cliche. So instead, I make it so you have to kill a certain monster to open the door. So now how do you know you must kill the monster to open the door?"

Get the map going early on with a grunt almost right in front of a door. Every one kills the grunt, and everyone will be watching when the door opens. They'll easily make the mental model you want and now they know that it's in your bag of tricks. And now you won't have to resort to printing "X more to go" messages on the screen, which is a terrible kuldge.

It's like in Zelda: everyone knows the defeating all enemies, pulling switches, lighting torches, etc are possible tricks. Thus puzzles which might be too hard in other games are more reasonable in a Zelda game. It's all about helping the gamer form the correct mental model. 
Pushplay Said It: 
set a precedent.

A good example is in rubicon, where i have ladders which are really just really steep staircases. At the time (1997,) those sorts of ladders were not common, so i made it so you couldn't even leave the first room of the level until you figured out how to climb. That way, later on, when you see a ladder in a combat situation, you won't get killed trying to figure it out. 
Metslime... 
...you DA MAN.

P.S. I spent an hour and a half trying to get out of that first room, shooting and pressing everything in sight, I even no-clipped to see if there was a secret exit I was missing. Eventually I resort to imp 9 and rocket jumped out....although the weapons did make the rest of the map rather easy... 
Wow... 
i really AM da man. 
Really? 
I walked towards the ladder..and shot up through the hole.
"Oh", I thought, "that'll be a really steep staircase then" and carrried on into the water.

:P 
Good Stuff 
any more tips? any "tasteful/subtle" solutions to not even being able to understand the precedent? have an Monster/NPC run up the ladder?


and just to add to the mix...
http://celephais.net/board/view_thread.php?id=3226&start=15

One of the best things about this map: instantly understandable layout.

my obvious question: Why? 
Really? 
Of course bloody not!! 
Really! 
but somehow, Shamb, I can't imagine you completed Rubicon without impulse 9

:P 
Lun3dm4 
"One of the best things about this map: instantly understandable layout.

my obvious question: Why?"


It would be interesting to see a study done on what makes map layouts effective but here are some general reasons why lun3dm4's layout is so easily understandable:

1. Open Space. It's much easier to pick up on a layout when the player has plenty of space and subsequently a clear field of vision. Extremely tight maze-like maps hinder this and are harder to learn.

2. Structure Variance. Every single area in lun3dm4 is uniquely built, whether it's the main atrium with the jump pad, the pit-like megahealth area, or the carved out cliff area by the red armor. The player can tell exactly where he or she is at all times because of this.

3. Well-lit. It always helps when a map is nice and bright.

Perhaps this helps. 
Oh.. 
i thought what he meant was "why is that good?" 
Clich� Indeed! 
Once I`ve been thinking about, what was the tritest clich� in both SP and DM maps, and it was unequivocal that that is making the end of the map or a later/better part or a secret item visible. Every map consists this clich�, in different levels, but mostly on a very high level. I`m not talking about that showing later map parts is stupid, a good map should even consist such things, (as they do too). But the whole effect and idea and wittiness of the map should make it a background feature. When this teasing-feature is too flagrant, then it makes the whole effekt of the map duller. If one has been already playing on lots of sp maps, then it`s very annyoing even.

And there should be less shoot-button secret areas too, because that's also hackneyed and not really creative too. 
 
No, I think he meant 'why is it easy to understand' and Tombstone pretty much nailed it. 
 
And there should be less shoot-button secret areas too, because that's also hackneyed and not really creative too.

Yes, though it gets difficult to invent new ways of hinting/revealing secrets after a while. 
But 
I don't think the whole shooting a wall secret is nearly as clich� as the lock and key method. 
"difficult To Invent New Ways" 
Most secret places come during making the map without the thought of putting a secret there. And there are countless possibilities for that. (It doesn`t mean that a mapper who creates most of the secrets this way, is not creative, but it's because the fantasy of a man is not infinite.) 
Oops 
I guess I could have made that easier to comprehend. Anyway, I did mean 'why is it easy to understand', as I assumed that it being understandable is, in fact, a good thing. though any reasons to why it's a bad thing would be welcome.

It would be interesting to see a study done on what makes map layouts effective

I think so too, so how about we do it right now? it's the perfect time and place, I think. 
What Makes Map Layouts Effective 
That's too broad. First you need to define effective. Then you need to define what kind of map. Finally you need to define what kind of user. 
Pah 
but somehow, Shamb, I can't imagine you completed Rubicon without impulse 9

Dude I had to use Impulse 0 in Libris Improbis demo level to remove all weapons to make it just slightly challenging... 
Go, Shambler! 
/me gives Shambler the Amulet of +9 Dick Waving 
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