Tuesday, 26 July 2011


The mapping method known as looping is the practice of having the player move through the same environment multiple times.

This serves several purposes...

1. You get more gameplay out of a small map space.

2. The player gets to see the area you've created from several different perspectives

3. The player has the nice surprise of discovering that they have returned to a familiar location after a section of gameplay

As a mapper, whenever I create a playing space I'm looking to get the most amount of gameplay out of that space as possible. It can take weeks of work to create a convincing environment so to have the player blast through it in less than a minute is a huge waste of great work.

Consider a map set on a city street.

A single pass at this area may be set at street level. A firefight amongst cars etc..

Now consider how much other playing space has not been used.

The sewers under the street, the floors of the buildings on either side, the rooftops, you could add balconies or scaffolding.

By having the player pass through the area several times, winding back forth through it, an area that once offered a two minute firefight can now incorporate around fifteen minutes of gameplay if done correctly.

Looping isn't just to make the mappers life easy. I think players don't like to have too many environments thrown at them too quickly. If bombarded with too many areas too quickly the player can often feel overwhelmed and disorientated.

Finally there's the loading times issue to consider. Lots of gameplay within one area means the game engine only has to worry about rendering one location for much of the map. It can improve performance within map and also shorten loading times as well which is always welcome from a players perspective.

Loop Creatively

Did you ever play a map where you seem to be heading backwards as much as you were forwards? I've played maps like this and walked way with the feeling that I'd just completed a slightly enjoyable Disneyland ride queue.

Loops are good but the player must feel like their making progress or they're gonna get very frustrated very quickly. Try and make each loop move through a areas that have different looks and feels to them.

Differ the gameplay on each loop to keep the player involved.

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