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Forging An Illusion

Creating a theme for your map may require creating an illusion from the blocks available in the Forge World palette - an illusion created by bending perception by the way you use those blocks to hide the blocks behind a well known structure.

See my article, Forging the Forerunner, a complimentary article to this one.

Note: The links to the maps I show case in this article all point to, which at the time that I moved these articles to my new site, was offline. I do not know if ForgeHub will come back or if it is gone for good, but I preserve the links in the event that it does come back with its full database in tact.


When you look at Boardwalk, Countdown, Reflection, Breakpoint, or Anchor 9, you see places and structures that are so well known to you that you can immediately tell someone what you are looking at. When you play on these maps, you become immersed into those places – you see yourself running around in those places and around those structures. Your imagination places you squarely inside those themes to where your entire game play experience has its foundation rooted in those themes.

The sensation of being somewhere is created by the map's canvas and palette (wall, ramps, fountains, fog, deep space backdrop, flags, etc.). Each canvas and their respective palette is customized to make it easy to present a theme of being somewhere. And without exception, every non Forge World map presents a very strong theme of a place to play.

Now switch over to Forge World. Without exception, every map forged on Forge World uses the same palette of blocks and other objects that are generic. While the forger has a large palette and budget, these account for the total that the forger has to work with. If the forger wishes to create a theme of a well known place or structure for people to play amongst, they have only the palette and the landscape of the canvas to work with.

Why A Theme?

A theme of a place or structure is used to give the player a context of being somewhere during the game play other than a generic Forge World map. This in turn keeps the player’s imagination focused on the place or structure and off the blocks themselves. And getting the imagination to not see the blocks is the most important reason for creating a theme in any map.

What Theme?

To create a sense of being somewhere on Forge World, the forger must take the blocks and objects from the forgers’ palette and create something that is so obvious when a player first looks at it that immediately the player’s perception overrides the fact that they are looking at blocks and sees the intended structure instead. And since immediately identifying a place or structure is key to success, the forger is constrained to forging only those places or structures that are familiar to the masses.

Illusion Is Real Art

It requires real artistic talent to create a strong illusion out of the palette of generic blocks afforded on Forge World. The forger must look beyond accurate dimensions, aspect ratios, angles, and such, and look at how to make a structure that gives all the necessary visual cues that can influence a player’s perception effectively and properly when they look at it – even glance at it.

An example is
Exalted. It is clearly a church with its exaggerated cross and façade. But inside there is no church pews or alter. The former provides such strong visual cues that the latter impacts the overall illusion only a little.

Another example is Twin Fields. Its air traffic control towers are too narrow to be realistic, but they have exaggerated aspects to properly manipulate the player’s perception into seeing a control tower rather than blocks – even at a mere glance.

There is also
Flight Deck. It is not nearly as accurate of a Nimitz class carrier as other carrier maps one can find today. But by exaggerating specific features of the ship, no one has any problems “seeing” an aircraft carrier when they look at it. And the flight deck tower, the problematic part of the map, could not be anything like a real tower, lest it be unusable by players in the game play; yet had to have exaggerated features to give the proper visual cues to manipulate a player’s perception into seeing an air traffic control tower.

Another example is the
Pirates of Paradiso, whose visual cues are so well done that there is no question that you are on board a pirate's ship.

Again, there is
Exodus, a dam structure. Like Flight Deck, you need to be outside to really see what it is. But once you see it, you no longer see blocks, but a dam, even from the inside. Why? The illusion that the forger has created is so strong that it has permanently taken captive your sense of where you are for the rest of the game.


Another example is
Sub System. While the subway cars may be clunky, they possess specific visual cues that make clear what you are looking at. And the rest of the map supports the theme by constantly reinforcing where you are at – in a subway station. 


Illusion is the strongest trick in the forger’s bag and yields the most artistic form of expression. The stronger the illusion, the less the player sees blocks and the more they see what the forger wanted them to see. It is accomplished by manipulating a player’s perception of what they are looking at, regardless of how accurately designed the structures might be, by using and exaggerating visual cues. And it is used to bring the map alive to hide the fact that the map is made of nothing more than blocks.