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Segmentation

If you take a flat open Canvas without any obstacles and call it a map, you can essentially shoot anyone on the map – there isn’t any cover. If you break the same Canvas up with large walls into many little Spaces, you can only shoot those in the same Space that you are in, while spending most of the game chasing each other from Space to Space in a boring hide and seek. The balance you need to find as a forger is in how much segmentation you should forge into your map to make it fun to play on by creating both meaningful and timely engagements.

Regulating The Frequency Of Engagements

When a map has just one large Space and no cover, the frequency of engagement is by definition continuous – without any LOS blocker between players, there is no reason to not shoot immediately and continuously. Then with the introduction of each LOS blocker, that frequency is slightly reduced, depending upon the required time to pass around it. The more LOS blockers you add, the less frequent those engagements occur.

Now take this concept to an extreme, and simply build a wall down the center of the map. The wall breaks all LOS between the two halves, allowing a player to freely move about one side of the wall so long as the other player is on the other side of the wall. Since a player must now traverse the segment he is in to get to the other segment, the time between engagements is significantly increased.

This additional delay is an important aspect of level design for FPS games. It allows players to catch their breath, to recharge their shields, to reassess their strategy, and to take new courses of action that will lead to the next engagement that is more on their terms and more at a time of their choosing. This forms a cyclic experience of engagement-recharge, whose frequency when tuned makes the overall Game Play enjoyable rather than frustrating (too fast) or boring (too slow). And to tune this cyclic frequency, one needs to balance the number, size, and relative positions of the map’s segmented Spaces.

Faster Than Sprint Movement

For maps designed for 8v8, vehicular movement is an important feature and can increase the frequency of engagement by making movement from one section to another much faster. Other means of moving faster than sprint speed include man cannons, grav lifts, and teleporters. (These will all be discussed in later lessons as they have important issues to consider beyond this topic. I raise them here only to note that there are means of traversing the map beyond foot and jetpack that are much faster and can impact the frequency of engagement.)

Other Applications

Spawn locations will always be a factor in your forging a map. Depending upon how the spawn engine for the given title functions, you may be able to leverage your map’s segmentation to help create safe spawning.

For titles that favor spawning away from an opponent (e.g., Halo 4), this is particularly true, because spawn locations in a Space can be typically positioned to be used when it is known that an opponent is not within the segment.

For titles that favor spawning away from death (e.g., Reach), this is not necessarily true. But keep in mind that you can still use segmentation to influence spawning to some degree.

Leveraging Elevation

Elevation is a key means of segmenting the play area, not just in the two dimensional plane but in creating multiple sections above and below each other, and at odd angles as well. Elevation should be a primary driver to segmenting your map. But the topic of elevation is vast enough to warrant a lesson of its own.

Summary

By erecting structures, you segment your map into distinct play areas that are typically isolated from each other.

As the forger, you tune the frequency of engagement by how many segments you have and how they are laid out relative to each other.

Depending upon the title’s Spawn engine, you can leverage segmentation to ensure safe Spawning.
Elevation is a key level design concept that you should be using to segment your map.

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