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That Architecture Article

Article by Harry Allen about how FPS game mapping fits into the role of architectural designing. Pretty interesting and a good representation of mapping to the non-gaming world. Go read. Go comment.
Slight correction:

<Maj_> shamb, are you sure unitool wrote that architecture article?
<RPG> Shambler: what Maj said.
<sock> maj, it was suppose to a person called Harry Allen not unitool
<Maj_> yah, see q3w thread
<Shambler> rpg & maj: no fucking clue, don't blame me blame metslime for not posting it as news himself the lazy fuck 
It's Good 
I wish it was a little longer though and talked about more than just Quake3. It got the basics right though because you know it's coming from someone who has been playing Quake(s) for a while, rather than some journalist who landed the assignment because he got caught browsing goatse at work.

Also, I'm still gonna try and find the mag so I can see the pretty pictures. 
rather than some journalist who landed the assignment because he got caught browsing goatse at work.

Good Article 
what blitz said in post #2.

Also, nunuk's space maps are beautiful works of art. 
I Dug It 
well written article, covered alot of well focused ground.

Sadly the magazine itself is still sitting on our shelf at work in the MAY variety... we need to catch up. 
Nice, But... 
i wish it had done more than skim the surface. On the other hand, it was a good article to give to non-gamers to get them to understand what a level designer is, and i'm glad the article focussed on the more artsy endeavors of hobbyist designers rather than the soul-crushing "let's add another turret scene" publisher-driven design that often happens professionally.

Also, I have a PDF of color scans of the article, which makes it more fun to read. If i see people on irc, i'd be happy to DCC it around. It's about 6 megs.

Now for the discussion: is mapping architecture? Architecture and mapping both concern themselves with designing spaces for humans to travel in and around, but architects have a whole host of engineering constraints, while level designers have techical constraints based on their target hardware and software. So i think it's silly to call them the same discipline, when they are both distinct (but related) artforms requiring different skillsets and enjoyed in different ways. 
Colonel Sanders In A Room Full Of Televisions 
Firstly, I usually use the word 'craft' instead of 'art' because art is something more subjective in nature and open to endless debate anyway ( unless you're using 'art' in the archaic sense ). I also percieve art as anything made with the intention of communicating abstract ideas or feelings to an audience as directly as possible.
Craft on the other hand begins with a practical motivation. By craft, I mean a discipline requiring some specific skills and knowledge on the part of the craftsman to use certain tools and techniques to achieve a useable result, but also allowing a broad degree of creative expression. Craftsmen of old would make things that had a specific purpose: earthernware, boats, swords etc. Though over time, sometimes generations or indeed centuries, these could develop to awe inspiring levels of ornamentation and beauty, their purpose still shows through in their design: a pot is still something that can store your pulses, a boat can carry you across a river without getting wet, a sword is still a sharp piece of metal for killing people.
Maps are, at their basic level, environments for playing a game. That doesn't neccessitate that gameplay be the only or even primary goal of any map project, but it is still there in the fundamentals of the medium.
Now that's out of the way...

The only unequivocal connection that 'real world' architecture and map design share is their creation of 3D space and the insertion of people ( or at least their perceptions ) into it. So while the priorities and forms of interaction may be different for a shopping mall ( access the consumer goods ) and a deathmatch level ( kill the bastards ), both involve concerns of space, volume, interconnection, route, the location of items and the ease with which they can be reached. At that level of design, they are ( as far as I am concerned ) the same.
Once you look at those priorites and forms, however, things differ very qucikly. As well as dealing with obvious things like gravity and material strength, architects have to consider human complexity of all sorts like physiology ( people don't have bboxes or identical movement ), social interaction and safety. Those are not just unavoidable issues for architects, they are usually the main issues; architects design places where people live, in all sorts of different ways.
The behaviour that level designers are concerned with are much more specific and defined by the game for which they are mapping - in a Q3A deathmatch, age, stature and gender are utterly irrelevant. So too are things like weather, geology and language.
If this argument is extended to other game genres like MMORPGs, then it's fair to point out that much more of the everyday is incorporated into level design. Players of those games can vary in size, speed etc. They do spend time interacting socially as well as fighting. But the possibilities, vast as they may be compared to Quakeworld, are still defined by what the game is about.
Mappers only have to facilitate people as they are designed to be in a given game. Architects have to facilitate people as they are.
I think a closer comparison can be made between game level designers and theater or movie set designers ( and notice they are designated 'designers' not 'architects' ) because fabricating a representation of Elsinore for a performance of Hamlet or the deck of a spaceship for Star Wars precludes many of the issues previosuly described for architects. It doesn't matter if the walls of the castle are simply spray-painted hardboard or that the flight computers are hollow boxes with lights on the front. All that matters are the specifics of the story being told, the scene being portrayed. Likewise, a wall in Q1SP only needs to crumble if that is part of the gameplay; most of the time, falling masonry simply does not occurr.

I think a lot of this discussion ( like so many ) boils down to semantics. What precisely is 'architecture' and therefore what precisely is an 'architect'? I suppose some crude linguistic hokum could conjure a term like 'virtual architect' or 'digital engineer' or somesuch. But I don't feel any great need to define the differences or similarites at this stage. For the time being, I have no intention of refering to myself as an architect. I'd be satisfied if my endeavours in GtkRadiant were associated with the likes of Syd Mead or Ron Cobb, as much as Calatrava or Frank Lloyd Wright.
I'm quite happy being a mapper.

Addendum: in a documentary I saw many years ago, some academic suggested that the best way to resolve the difficulty of defining Santiago Calatrava was not to think of him as an architect or an engineer, but rather as "an artist whose medium is engineering".
I rather liked that.
that would have been one of this board's best ever posts if you had split it into more paragraphs 
I know. I suck. If you have any further comments I'll be in the basement flogging myself. 
Post #7 
Was more substantive than the article it was a commentary on. I found little of value in that article beyond an emotive response to an almost random splash of key words. Kell defines the matter and refines the terms of usage. 
Get Rid Of The Submit Button 
All I found out was Nunuk or whatever his name is is Sparth from conceptart, which I had no clue Sparth even mapped. Browsing his site I saw some neat screenies though, so it wasn't a complete waste of time. 
...quality stuff as always, ta.

Serious question though that I wouldn't mind taking up in another forum (email perhaps), as it is close to a topic that is beginning to really interest me.

I also percieve art as anything made with the intention of communicating abstract ideas or feelings to an audience as directly as possible.


Craft on the other hand begins with a practical motivation.

Is the chef a craftsperson or an artist? 
from Kell's definition, i'd say a craftperson, because the dude is making food for the practical purpose of eating. not to look at or whatever. 
Just to throw a spanner in the works... maybe it depends on the chef? :D 
you have mail 
I partially agree with your argument.

Just because the map maker doesn't create spaces for actual people doesn't mean that he ignores the social aspect of creating the space.

If an architect designs a warehouse only used for storage, does that mean he isn't an architect?

The mapper still needs to follow rules to create a healthy and cohesive space for the player. For example, if the architecture of the level doesn't make sense, it could possibly break the illusion of meaningful space for the more aware player. If the level is designed in such a manner that the routes and paths are extraneous, this too could become a factor of frustration for the player.

Unlike architecture though, if the map is poorly designed, and generally unappealing to the player in many ways, the map will still exist, because virtual space has unlimited real estate for failed designs to stand.

Perhaps simply because the ability to create structures in a virtual world holds virtually no consequences, it cheapens the legitimacy of mapping as a type of actual architecture. That still doesn't mean that mappers don't take similar factors into consideration when building. 
When I started studying architecture at uni I found out that it requires a different mindset to my mapping, although there are a lot of similarities in the process.

On small scale constructions at least, one of the main things which makes an architectural design seem good or bad is how true it is to its materiality. Different materials require totally different methods of construction and are used in different ways, whereas in level design there seems to be a heavier emphasis on deciding on geometry then texturing it, rather than letting the texturing dictate the geometry of the level.

There are mappers who do work that way round however, which is evident when their levels "feel" right. Sometimes it is merely subtle clues that you can't put into words which make an environment feel like a real place.

As games are progressing in complexity I do think that the skills used in level design are coming closer and closer to those used in the field of architecture.

Inevitably, as more and more real world physics is incorporated into games I can see a point where you would need to have at least a basic understanding of engineering or architectural principles.

For now however we are not at that stage. I would disagree firmly with anyone from an engineering/architectural background who looked down on modern level design. While structural engineering principles do not need to be observed, the trend towards heavy scripting and interlinking of entities in my mind makes up for that.

Whereas a real world architect will try to economise a design in materials as much as possible, a good level designer on a level which uses lots of scripting will also become efficent in that area.

Basically, if you are an amateur looking to make a quick level, you will find it a lot easier than real world architecture, however once you start progressing into the realm of the professional level designers the lines become a lot more blurred.

As a last note, I doubt anyone remembers this, but a couple of years ago in #tf I talked about how that day we had a lecture in which the lecturer displayed some images from Quake 3. His point was how the virtual world offers new design possibilities. Now, this guy was a good architect in the real world, but the images of the quake 3 level he showed (which he had build himself) were quite bad.

I just found it amusing at the time, and a good example that there are different approaches to both disciplines. 
no pics. boring 
no pics. boring

That was nice, thanks. Now if you keep at it, soon you'll be able to move from 'words' to 'sentences'. 
Color PDF 
Nice One Metl 
Some good looking screenies they've chosen there even if they are mostly in FOV 140 or something =). Lun's and the one just near it look sweet.

Good to see quality stuff getting represented even if it is all Q3A orientated... 
nice pdf.
thanks metslime.

hopefully in the future more decent articles like this will appear in "serious" media. 
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