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Chapter 2: Art

There is a prevailing perspective amongst the forging community that Art is optional and must be sacrificed to achieve optimal game play. This perspective is based upon the limitations of the combinations of skins and Geometry within the Canvas’ palette. If a block with the necessary Geometry has a conflicting skin (e.g., it breaks cohesion with surrounding skins), then Art is sacrificed while the necessary Geometry is accomplished. As a result, most maps lack Art and look like nothing more than a pile of blocks. This perspective runs contrary to those of us in the minority who view Art as essential to any map.

At the core of this debate is the question, What is a map? To say that a map is defined by Game Play alone is like saying Aesthetics is defined by Art alone, and I find that perspective extremely short sighted. A map is far deeper than Game Play, just as Aesthetics is far deeper than Art. In fact, I will go a step further and say, A map requires both Art and Game Play, or it isn’t a map at all.

Instead of looking through the palette for pieces with the necessary Geometry while relegating skins as optional just to accomplish the Geometry of the map, look for pieces with both the necessary Geometry and the necessary skins. If the palette lacks the pieces you need, then recognize that the map is an impossibility and move on. I know that this raises the bar and you may feel you are disadvantaging yourself from the other forgers who couldn’t care less about Art. But I wouldn’t tell you to do something that I do not do myself.

I am sure that all of us want to make a great playing map that also looks outstanding. But what is important is the total quality of the map – at least that is important to me. So it becomes essential that we recognize and accept when a design becomes an impossibility and start over. Ultimately this discipline – or lack thereof – may indicate the forger’s priorities.

Don’t be so desperate to make a map with great Geometry that you forge nothing more than a pile of blocks. Rather, be desperate to discover what is possible in its fullness and bring those possibilities to fruition. Don’t become so desperate to get a map into the playlists that you would sacrifice its Art. Be desperate to find playlist worthy maps that can be fully forged.

In this chapter I will show how Art, Architecture, and Theme can make your map more interesting and more fun to play on; and I hope to demonstrate the value of maintaining the discipline necessary to add each of these to your map. But my greatest hope is that you both see how important it is to have both Game Play and Art, strive to achieve both equally as much as you know to do, and develop the willingness to walk away from impossibilities in your quest to forge a wonderful map.