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My thoughts on map design

I look at a lot of architecture and play a lot of pc games, there seems to be an interesting contrast of purpose between the two areas.
The purpose of architecture, in it's more creative projects, like say: the Bilbao Guggenheim:
[Image: guggenheim%20bilbao.jpg]
The guy making it was thinking: I'll make some crazy melting building, people will be amazed that I can actually build this mess.
Conversely, if you make a building like this in Blender and put it in your quake 1 derived game map, it just looks like you abused a load of cubes and chucked it in.
for example:
[Image: wfgn2y00yzniam959lp_thumb.jpg]
It's like an architect is constrained by money and space and what can be built.
A game designer is free of all these considerations, but has to 'sell' the reality of his buildings/environment, I find this very interesting.
I'm still trying to frame this idea in words, so I thought I would do it here.
I've been mulling this for some time and a conversation I had with cortez today about abstract maps got me thinking.
There are a lot of 'abstract' maps for Nexuiz and also a lot of 'realistic' maps.
I guess this is kind of related to the discussion we've been having here about artistic direction in Xonotic.
I hope that there is room for all the mad old maps from Nexuiz in the new Xonotic aesthetic, and not just grimey technological corridors, love them as I do.
The map you see above is Nexldmc2 which I am currently retexturing/modifying.
"the best trolls are indistinguishable from idiots"

Unfortunately, maps are not usually something one has enough time to examine for their deeper qualities and meaning. With the Guggenheim, you can simply stand at a distance and enjoy it as a whole, whilst it's not usually possible to do this with compact Xonotic maps. I'm sure that if you put that second image in a modern art gallery, people would actually stop and look into it, trying to find the message hidden within it.

The truth is, in the digital world things don't always need a deeper meaning, and they don't even need to make a statement to be wildly successful. Look at electronic music, particularly the hardcore, underground varieties. Usually it has no lyrics (or ones that can be translated into English), tells no story and is oft thought of as artificial or generic; but did that stop anyone from enjoying it? Electronic music is an experiment in sound, working within audible constraints to try and create an enjoyable, energetic experience.

And here's where I kind of get back to the point Rad Ished was making, where mappers need to mould the material that is Xonotic into something enjoyable. It doesn't have to make sense, and it doesn't have to have over nine trillion polys. It just needs to be fun.

I'd be happy to play on a totally abstract, purely purple map made of tiny cubes, as long as I enjoyed it. Ultrarealistic maps are fun, but I often find myself feeling like I have to follow a certain story, like I have to use it like what it's supposed to represent. With plain, generic maps, I feel that I just focus on the game, and that I don't find myself wondering how a jumpad works, or why the character can pogostick without falling over. With a generic map, there are no distractions. It's just you, the game, and your enemies Big Grin
[Image: vN3NkMA]
(Idea stolen from Mr. Bougo. Hehehehe)

Interesting discussion. IMO, as a mapper you really are not constrained at all and shouldn't be. But it all comes down to what you intend for the map, if you want the map to have a chance to be included officially of if you don't care. Mapping can be your art medium as much as anything else in life, it just happens that the majority of people that will see it won't consider it the way you might have intended, as they'll judge it on it's entertainment value first.

Personally in real life my main (pretty much only) interests are art related, but with nexuiz/xonotic being pretty much the only thing I do not usually see as art. I don't mean that it's not art, I mean that as whole, as a player, it's mainly about entertaining myself and not really about emotions I might get from playing it or looking at the content, in the sense that I certainly do not expect to see something that'll make me question the universe or make me look for "meaning". In fact, I play this game for the inverse, I play half for entertainment value, other half for strategy, which is the complete opposite of what art should be judged on.

To me, art doesn't really have a part in it other than when I look at the design of the content made by artists, which I stop caring about once I'm actually playing. For all I care, everything could be very ugly with stick-men and cubes and I'd still play the game if it's fun. The "art" part is only for the "discovery" of the game, in the pure form of aesthetically being attracted to it. Once I've discovered it, it's not important anymore.

It's kinda similar to how you could look at Chess. You could make a super artsy looking chess board and pieces that people might admire and look in awe, that might even be shown in an art gallery, but once you're playing it makes no difference for the players.

There is nothing stopping you, as an individual and as an artist, to do whatever you want as long as you do it for yourself first and do not worry about what other people think. That works for any art, and is in fact a big part of my definition of what "art" is. You do it for yourself first based on your own obsessions, stopping to think about what other people might think of it is what creates constraints. If you map because you want a map to be included in the game, you then create something to please other people, that is what is constraining you as an artist. It's funny because I've had discussions about that before, many people feel and will argue that "design" is not art of that reason. For the record, I disagree with that, just mentioning that because no matter how you see it, there is definitely a distinction between "art" and "design" for most people weither they realize it or not. Art is made for the sake of art and expression of oneself, and design can also be that in the moment of creation, but in the end it's main goal is for a purpose of utility (sorry my english is bad, hope that sentence makes sense). The design of a chair can be super artsy looking, but it's still something something somebody made for you use to sit on.

Anyway, back on subject. As for realistic vs abstract or whatever type of maps, Xonotic is no different than Nexuiz in that respect, people are free to do any kind of maps they want. There's been a lot of talk about making the game having less of a "dumpster" effect, but in the end it's pretty much the same thing, the only difference is the content that will be included officially with the game will follow a certain "style". In my opinion that is how it should be, because anything officially in the game is then part of an entity itself, if simply for consistency's sake. After that, it's up to server admins to decide what's to be played on their servers, just like Nexuiz was/is.

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