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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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*cough* *cough* A Bit Of My Own Medicine 
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.

effective in terms of understandability.
any kind of map, or part of.
user == newb.

Basically, let's just make a list (or Top Ten!!!, you guys like Top Tens, don't you?) of maps that people learned almost instantly, or very quickly, and afterwards try to find any more common traits or methods that the authors used. 
and of course no box maps. the map should be in actuality somewhat complex (ie: > a box map), but seemingly quite simple. 
perhaps we could take it the other way. We could make a list of maps where you got so lost and confused, that you had to take drastic measures (like propelling oneself at high speeds through small holes) or just gave up. Then we can find the what-not-to-dos, and extrapolate to find the to-dos.

This would probably the easier of the two lists, since the beauty of understanding something really well, is that you don't realize just how well you understand it. 
Dude I had to use Impulse 0 in Libris Improbis

Haven't heard of that map - is it on your site?

you guys like Top Tens, don't you?

No. Fuck off. 
Impulse 0 
Libris Vertiginis 
...ya ya, okay I forgot.

Gilt interesting idea....might have a think about it....custom maps right?? Ones that really made sense as far as navigation and stuff goes.... 
That's a better idea. Unfortunatly my memory isn't so good. 
I see no reason to limit this to custom maps, or even quake. this is a universal issue. As long as it is 3D FP it will benifit us.

I mean, real life Casinos are notorious for creating buildings that are hard to leave. The principles should be the exact same. 
don't put clocks in your level. 
so that's why there are no responses. oh well, better luck next time. 
I dont think that simple and easy-to-figure layouts make a great DM map. Such maps are shallow 
Not necessarily, Speedy. 
this stuff doesn't work in quake. this is part of the "nintendo school of game design", which is best exemplified in the zelda games. You can make secrets obvious because these games constantly extend your possibilities through items and skills, so getting there becomes a puzzle. In quake, once you see that is a place you can go to, getting there actually isn't a problem, since your skills are always the same (bar fps physics differences :) You have almost no way to create a path that is obviously there yet hard to imagine how to pass. 
but you're talking I think about a cerebral approach to puzzles - "I know the things my character can do, I can see the path I need to follow, so how do I match them up?" In Quake, as you say, the player jumps the same height/runs the same speed/fits through the same hole from the beginning of a map to the end. That doesn't mean those abilities cannot be tested, it just means the tests are based on the player's own skill. Not puzzles, but obstacles. Which maybe is where it ceases to be what Gilt is talking about because a test of skill is not about 'communicating to the player'.
Sorry, I don't really seem to have a point to make atm :/ 
Quake Obstacles 
well, there are a few things that can prevent you from getting somewhere even though you know how to do it, in quake.

- not having enough firepower to get past a bunch of monsters. (this is underused, i need to start doing this in my levels.) The only problem is that a player might be skilled/lucky enough to get past the 10 shamblers without the extra weapons.

- an obstacle that is easy to get past with the lights on, but the lights are off to begin with. E1M6 does this, but the problem is that it's muddied up by the closed door and locked door immediately behind it. So it's not a pure example of this.

- You know you need a key, but you don't have it yet. This is not underused. 
And Don't Forget... 
...jumping puzzles! Don't we all just love jumping puzzles?
Don't we?
i was sort of limiting it to things which i think wouldn't suck. 
Yeah I Love Jumping Puzzles 
No seriously. I do.
I suppose I'm the only one though... 
u can use items like penta, suit etc aswell
too bad they are instant 
I Like 
the jumping thing where there is a ramp and a superhealth suspended in air. zed is the map (or zed 2 i forget). ok, not a puzzle, just a nice touch added to vanilla dm.

i'm like the majority (or perhaps minority): i suck at space dm and i HATE lava. :-0 
123, Abc 
I dont think that simple and easy-to-figure layouts make a great DM map. Such maps are shallow

You know, it's viewpoints that really interest me, when it comes to this type of discussion. Rules and standards are all nice and good, but I think the thing that most influences how well things are designed are the attitudes and philosophies of the designers.

this is a classic line of thought:
easy-to-figure-out ==> simple ==> shallow

it's no wonder that obfuscation is praised, and that any attempt to make something more understandable is considered dumbing-down. the designer snob is the worst type of snob, imo, because he actively hurts his audience, and almost seems to relish in doing so.

In another thread I was reading here, the mentality of "idiot gamer" bounced around quite easily and unthreatend. Ultimately, if a desginer, esp. with games, can't see that the player is the most important part of the game, then we're in for a bumpy ride... 
Designing your anything for the lowest denominator might force you to degrade your originlal concept or idea.
Though retaining good complexity and yet making production (anything interractive, be it game or a gadget; not book or movie!) understandable by some brain-dead individual or careless kid is probably possible for the high skill experienced professionals.

But in the statement mentioned above I was spaking from the players pov. You replay deathmatch maps numerous times, and there is not much to master in easy maps and they get boring pretty soon. This coming from q2dm1 junkie hence its just imHo. 
Btw Gilt 
Less talk, more action ! 
I wasn't trying to single you or that specific statement out or anything, but I've read similar points of view before and I just don't see the jump from easy-to-figure-out, to shallow.

Though retaining good complexity and yet making production understandable by some brain-dead individual or careless kid is probably possible for the high skill experienced professionals.

Why black box what an "experienced professinal" can do? surely, if they can do it, we can learn how to do it too. 
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