Learning – SP vs MP Level Design

This talk shows the difference between the single-player level and the multiplayer level. It shares both high-level principles and detailed methodologies.

https://youtu.be/PxpjRuATxKE

Design Layout

Level Size

SP Level Size Considerations

  • Number of combats + length/size
  • Big narrative sets
  • Traversal conversations
  • Side quests/content

MP Level Size Considerations

  • Number of players in a game + team sizes
  • Intended time until engagement

Framing/Composition

Main Focus in SP – Narrative

  • Identify or create situations that really frame narratives moments
  • Lead the player to look at a certain location and when players interact with that location, narrative moments start

Tell Narrative – Highlight

  • The door in this scene is highlighted. It is one most the most bright parts of this scene. Players will notice it immediately when entering this scene.
  • And when players come close to the door or exit the door, the narrative moment begins.

Tell Narrative – T-Junction

  • Put the narrative moment at the base of a T-junction. So that players will read this no matter which way they choose.
  • Players won’t miss this narrative moment based on their choice.

Main Focus in SP – Weenies

Use of “Weenies”

  • Players see that statue when entering the scene. They know where they need to go at the end of the game, though they don’t even know the path right now.
  • Guide players to that space.
  • Create these kinds of narrative moments when players exit rooms or other methods to display it.

Main Focus in MP – Player Paths

  • Show the paths(Options) clearly
  • Players can anticipate where those paths lead to
    • The sand path leads to the second floor of this building
  • Players can anticipate where opponents will come by those paths.
    • Opponents may come through that bridge

Main Focus in MP – Sightlines

Planning Optional/Advanced Routes

Advanced Routes in SP – Additional Content

  • Additional Story and Elements to the player
  • Additional Feel of the level
    • The guitar is on the chair. When players interact with it, Elizabeth starts singing a melancholy song about the hidden clue in the game story
    • A really poignant little teeny side moment
  • Consider what if players miss this.
    • Do players have resources to afford the missing?
    • Players usually play single-player levels only once
    • (In multiplayer level, players play those levels constantly)

Advanced Routes in SP – Will the AI play nice?

  • When designing multiple spaces to support multiple play styles (Ways of Interacting), set different AI decision trees for different play styles
    • Stealth
    • Sniping
    • Run and gun
  • The example on the left: What if players shoot the enemy outside the vent but the enemy cannot get the player
    • Need more mechanics to solve this problem
  • The example on the right: Enemies appear from hill paths. They only know to run close to the player and shoot. When players get a sniper, they can deal with the AI easily. AI becomes silly now and the game is boring.
  • Some Possible Good Examples
    • Sniper Elite: It contains sniping, run and gun, and stealth elements. See how AI interacts against players in different play styles.

Advanced Routes in MP

  • One routes players engaging constantly is really boring
  • Multiple routes for different skill levels player.
    • Harder routes: A little advantage on an angle or something else over other players

Pickup Considerations

Pickup in SP

  • Able to add the pickups after the level layout design
  • After or Before big combat
    • Weapons
    • Power-up
    • Ammo
  • Use pickups to tell the story
    • Newspaper
    • Message records in Cyberpunk 2077
  • Think about the connection and story between pickups and the environment
    • Why it appears here?
    • Who put it here?
    • Where will it go later?

Pickup in MP

  • Design the pickup as designing the level layout
  • It becomes a choke point when putting a powerful pickup
    • Example: Airdrop in PUBG
    • Use the design methodology for choke points to design the location of pickups
      • Need multiple routes for different players access to it

Exploit Considerations

Example: Olofmeister Overpass Boost in CSGO

https://youtu.be/Fp46wmLLNEw

There was an exploit in the map Overpass before 2014. It could be used to kill opponents from a nearly unpredictable angle. A pro team find this exploit and used it in a tournament match. It was a huge accident in the multiplayer map. The score of this match was abandoned just after the match ended. This exploit was also fixed by Valve immediately.

Fixed Exploit https://twitter.com/HLTVorg/status/1452705003177660419

Playtesting

Playtesting for SP

  • Playtesters may only get one first impression of a narrative linear level
    • Need to find more people to play it
  • Polish the level before testing
    • Normal gamers don’t have the skill set to extrapolate the earlier levels into a more polished state
    • They will get distracted by little elements
    • Whether the subtle nuance (level design structure, lighting, framing) will lead to them understanding what they are doing and the narrative
  • Find a level designer in dev teams who have the extrapolate skill to take a look at the grey box

Playtesting for MP

  • Playtesting often and Iterating often
    • Better daily
  • Don’t need to spend much time on polish
    • Because the layout in MP levels is a top priority
  • First impressions aren’t a big deal
    • Because players will play again and again, they will finally know where to go

Conclusion

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