Hello, and Welcome to GDBD!
Today we're going to be discussing the level design in the FPS genre. This is something that many gamers really notice, without actually saying much, and it's a bit dissapointing. The maps in a shooter often make or break the experience, as they're kind of the mold that the game mechanics are poured into. Simple mechanics doesn't mean you have to have simple molds though, and games like COD: WW2 are not made to be stronger experience because everything is made to be much more basic than previous iterations. I'm hoping that game designers will see what I mean.
Also, in the next topic, I'm going to be discussing art direction. Art direction, oddly enough, doesn't really seem to even exist in the FPS genre, which is somewhat dissapointing. You'd think that, with games like Persona 5 becoming grand hits for almost only it's visual and audible flair, other developers would take some cues from them, but I guess other's just don't like to listen.
(BTW, I'm not saying Persona 5 isn't a fantastic game without it's visual and audible flare, but I am saying, it doesn't stand out much from it's predecessors without it, it's success VS. the others is telling of how important this aspect really is.)
Anyways, without further ado, let's begin.
Confined Space Level Design
Considering Doom's level design, there are many things to take into account. The two main details of the design being the two most memorable pieces of the game: Your weapon and the enemies you encounter.
As noted before, these two elements are mixed and matched to create a variety of experiences for the player. The weapons are also something to consider when constructing multiplayer experiences, but the great thing is that, with enemies that are relatively similar to the funtionality of the player, accounting for enemy placement also somewhat determines how a level might feel when playing head-to-head with other players.
To expand on this discussion, I want to bring up a classic that is also one of my all time favorites, Time Splitters.
Time Splitters uses a similar to Map Editor to Doom, but it actually uses it a bit more effectively than the classic Doom games. The thing about Time Splitters: Future Perfect's level design that is really strong is when the Z axis is used heavily, making heavy use of the different layers. This, sadly, makes the AI shit out even more than normal, but we're more worried about PVP, not bots.
This map is actually a really good example of what I'm talking about. Just watch the video to really understand the strength that this kind of level design really has. The guns are relatively simple, with some tricks, as well as the gameplay. This lends to having a variety of different experiences available for gameplay, such as peeking out of windows, battling across bridges hanging in the air, etc. This map is so well designed, it's actually kind of incredible.
The stronger the limitations in the design of the game, the more there is to experiment with. This fact might sound like I'm saying that making a game slow and clunky allows for more creative gameplay, but it's more that the games mechanics and movements have to be hard-fit to the level creation. The levels in Doom and Timesplitters might not be as fun if the games played more like Warframe, allowing you to sprint around and run on walls.
Open Ended Level Design
These maps allow for the placement of vehicles and tanks, and they often feel like the chopping off of an actual world, rather than playing around inside of a building.
almost symmetrical, with two gaurded high points and an uncovered mid point with two covered corridors on the side.
Players can't sit on the high points for long, as grenades are fantastic tools for pulling camping players out of otherwise very strong points. Players open in the mid have almost complete control over the gameplay.
Big Battle Level Design
DICE saw that, considering the design of their maps being smaller sections leading up to the biggest central point, they could create a mechanic that handed that scale into the hands of the players. Levelution did this by allowing players to destroy massive structures that were also the central point of the map.
Three Lane... *Cough* Three Lane Level...
My notes here are mostly that I hope that more developers follow the level design approach present in games like UT, Timesplitters, Halo, etc. I personally love a good mix of confined space and open ended level design, but it seems like, outside of Halo, we haven't had many games that have actually made maps like this. Hell, even Halo's taking steps away from this kind of level design, almost as if to appeal to COD's audience.
Let's be real here though, Halo's maps are enjoyable because they're not like newer COD maps. Hell, I say newer, because even COD's maps used to be open ended too. Newer games from these franchises often contain limited maps, but not to the benefit of the game. Referring to COD, WW2 actually had some of the most limited maps I've ever seen, and almost all the guns are functionally the same. Almost every multiplayer engagement is the same in that game, and it's just incredibly dull.
Please, let's make fun shooters again!