[Guide] Tips and tricks with vertical space.

Discussion in 'Tutorials & Resources' started by absurdistof, Sep 2, 2010.

  1. absurdistof

    aa absurdistof

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    Preface/disclaimer: Over the past few months I've tried to create one or two helpful tutorials for the community, but more often then not the topic has already been covered. If that happens to be the case here (I did some searching and didn't turn up much, I also figured Grazr's guide to scale doesn't infringe on this and vice/versa.) then I offer my honest apologies, and will probably replace this tutorial with a single tear :p.
    Note of clarification: when I say tunnel vision, I am referring to the state in which very focused players get, in which they pay less attention to their surrounding area(s) and much more attention to the areas ahead of them, or the areas that they would like to go to. This effectively reduced their field of view and makes them much more vulnerable to flanks from classes like spies, pyros, snipers, scouts, soldiers, or other heavies.

    Introduction
    Vertical space is a tricky thing, a two edged sword, two one-way mirrors facing each other, a source of endless metaphors. In essence one must use it carefully. Since our birth as a human species, most homosapiens have come to an amazing conclusion. Our eyes are next to, not above or below each other. This leads me to my next stunning conclusion in which I unleash the truth about FOV(field of view) and TV(tunnel vision :p). I have created a picture to demonstrate.

    [​IMG]
    Fig. 1.1: Fred looking out

    Here is Fred. Fred is adventurous. Fred is looking out into a snowstorm, but Fred doesn't see much. What is important about Fred though, isn't what he sees, but where he sees. It's important to note that this picture isn't exactly accurate, but generally speaking I'll say it is.

    Now the important thing about Fred's field of view is that it's namely horizontal. Because his eyes are next to each other, he analyzes the world horizontally more then vertically. So, if there is a soldier running 256 units above Fred's head, he wont notice it for a much longer time then if it was running next to him. In fact, if the soldier was running even higher then 256 units above Fred's head, Fred would have to crane his neck to see the soldier, therefore taking his eyes off the battlefieldsnowstorm in front of him, and making himself more vulnerable to threats on his plane (the ground he's standing on).

    Furthermore, if Fred really wants to win, or get a good kill/death ratio, he's going to probably have a good case of TV, and possibly an advanced Simpsons complex. (futurama is better)

    What to take from all this? Humans, thus players examine the world much more horizontally then vertically, so they will see what's ahead and to the side of them much more then what's above or below them. That's why monitors and TV's (noun, this time) extend out much more horizontally then vertically.

    Common Vertical Space Ailments (and Cures)
    TF2 is very receptive to vertical space in maps; it's very easy for several player classes to navigate up and down as they would on flat ground. Sometimes though, many maps make simple mistakes that make navigating up or down in a map very cumbersome, difficult, and generally aggravating for the player.
    Here are some examples:
    • Not enough routes between levels (there aren't enough ways to get up to level 3, and down to level 2)
    • The distance between levels is too big.
    One of these has an easy fix, and one of them also has an easy fix. For the first of the two (the most common I see by far in a map) mappers often get excited about using vertical space in a map. Often they get so excited that they decide to make a map that is more vertical then horizontal. This presents two challenges. First, players will have to look up and down a lot to assess the battlefield, courtesy of the aforementioned eye placement in humans, and second that the mapper in question may forget to add several routes between levels. To solve the second one, add an intermediate level between the two, or shorten the high level in question to better fit the lower.

    Dealing with Height Levels: Routes

    [​IMG]
    Fig. 1.2: A significantly lower level (192u in this example)

    When a player is on a level significantly lower (128u+) then another, they are at a large disadvantage when fighting anyone above them. There is a way to null this disadvantage, and even use it to good effect, but it takes one major thing: routes. A map with a lot of vertical space needs a lot of routes between that vertical space. Treat a pit with several routes (3-4) in and out of it. One way routes don't really count. It's important to do this so that players in the pit don't feel scared to go into it, as they know there are multiple ways out. Having a lack of routes (2-) makes any lower area much more disadvantageous, and a higher area much more advantageous and easy to camp.

    To take a Valve example, look at the lower route into Cap 2 of Stage 3 of Dustbowl. This lower level features only two routes all classes can take (all classes must be able to take a route for it to be a route). Thus, it's significantly more dangerous to navigate then if it had another exit leading up to perhaps the long hallway connecting CP 1 to CP 2. Players realize this, thus the lower section of CP 2 Stage 3 of Dustbowl rarely sees much player traffic.

    [​IMG]
    Fig. 1.3: The Valve example

    It is also important to provide routes to most playable areas around a lower/upper area. I have a screenshot to use as an example:

    [​IMG]
    Fig. 1.4: Four routes out, two sides covered

    This lower level arena/bowl section has several routes out (4), but doesn't cater to the platform to the right of each ramp up, shown here:

    [​IMG]
    Fig. 1.5: The deadly platform

    Thus, while the player can leave using any of the four routes provided, they may find that any players standing on the upper level that doesn't have platforms are in a good position to kill them as they run up, acting as a disincentive for the players to enter the pit, and possibly creating dead, or at least negative space in the map.

    Specific Cases
    There are a few setups for vertical space that are quite popular among maps, so here is a list of those I know of, problems they often encounter, and possible solutions.

    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5
    Setup Attributes Problems Solutions Classic example
    Bridge Certain classes can jump up onto the bridge, but can only run across it (2 ways), and yet be shot at from any number of directions (often determined by what's on the bridge, and how high it is relative to the rest of the map) Smaller bridges passing over lower routes give players walking above a massive advantage over players walking below Remove the bridge, fill in the space where players above can shoot those below, add health below, make bridge open with a wall on one side (explosive splash damage), etc.. Badlands bridge
    High path next to a lower alley This allows for two map routes, next to each other, at two different heights Players from above rain down fire on those below, the advantage those above have on those below is determined by the width of the lower alley (thinner = more vulnerable for those below) Giving players below ample space to maneuver, as well as cover to hide behind can null most of the negative effects of this setup Capture point of Stage 1 of Pipeline
    Gradual slope upward This allows for a general 'hill' shape to form, or perhaps a slight slope upwards, giving a team or player an advantage over those below These slopes give bullet classes a minor buff over non-bullet classes as the slope tends to be long and gradual, outranging demoman, soldiers, spies running up, and pyros. Giving players running up ample cover against those at the top lets classes that normally couldn't reach those above a fighting chance at doing so Viaduct
    Valley between high ground This can serve as a stealth route for players to use in order to get deeper into enemy territory; at the cost of their fighting potential Players using the lower route are at a massive disadvantage as they are surrounded on both sides by higher ground allowing the players to run slightly under the upper route (curving a cliff wall in, or having a path under) makes the players running below much harder to see, and allows them to concentrate on the opposite side (in terms of where they may be attacked from) Dustbowl CP 1 Stage 1
    Building or structure amidst flat(ish) ground This plays a bit like a gradual slope upward, and a higher path/alleyway example. Players on the higher ground can see almost all that is below them, allowing them power over those below their height level Engineers can take great advantage of this with sentries and dominate players on lower flat ground, pinned behind cover, or without cover at all. Adding cover for players on the lower ground that additionally allows demomen to lob stickies over, or for the players on the lower ground to get a shot at those on higher ground without risking significant splash damage Containers in the spawn sides of Ravine


    [​IMG]
    Fig. 1.6: Ravines version of the final setup, a building or structure amidst mostly flat ground

    Finding the equilibrium: mappers can combine these cases, or just use a few to achieve what I might consider an equilibrium of/with height variation. A Valve example of this would be spawn sides of Sawmill, where players can run under, though, and on top of building simultaneously, having battles of their own, and not being forced together in an advantage/disadvantage fight.

    [​IMG]
    Fig. 1.7: An equilibrium struck between upper levels (in red), open areas (in yellow), and paths going under upper areas or through buildings (in blue)


    Conclusions
    There are several other aspects of a map that can water down the strength of vertical space in a map (having a large flat area spanning in front of the higher area, with cover to shelter players, blocking sightlines from the upper area, etc..)
    But I only wanted to go over the most effective (in my mind) of these options, which is to add routes that traverse levels, allowing for easy player access to all (or almost all) levels.
     
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    Last edited: Sep 2, 2010
  2. grazr

    aa grazr Old Man Mutant Ninja Turtle

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    I find that "TV" works in vertical and horizontal directions. A computer game dictates FOV so we don't have a realistic 150 degree of horizontal FOV, but 70-90. The fact that we naturally have 150-180 degree field of horizontal view is an evolutionary trait of a predator who observes their prey/the horizon. Wide screen televisions rarely increase a games FOV beyond the settings allowed in the options. maxing out your FOV is possible even on a small screen, it just means the world will be slightly squashed and less visually pleasing.

    In a computer game environment "TV" works in two ways and they differ per single player/multiplayer scenarios. In single player TV is controlled through details that draw attention to important/significant objects. In multiplayer it works in a similar manner but is affected by a players memory of the environment. IE they know instinctively where threats appear and coordinate their attention manually. Single player games tend not to have as much replay value, so this is not always possible unless repeating from a checkpoint (and learning from ones mistakes).

    This means that "TV" is only really relavent when a map is unknown, but still, players understand the threats of a multiplayer environment and compensate their alertness to areas of likely threat. Doorways, battlements, objectives. IE TF2 mechanics imply a threat will not come rolling over the horizon from the side of a map and shoot at you from the sky, out of bound areas are safe to ignore, whilst doorways, depending on player traffic, dictate threat levels. A high traffic choke point or usually defended position is more important to be alert of.

    Threats:

    [​IMG]

    Pattern of attention:

    [​IMG]

    Periferal vision actually works to our favour in that it is designed to detect movement. Unexpected movement off your "TV" will send alerts to your brain to look towards it in an almost reflex like manner. This way if we observe 3 positions of threat on a screen at once, like 2fort's ramp room (courtyard) we are not limited to only watching the 1 choke point. On top of the fact that our vision is not static. (In this respect "TV" only ever applies to a scoped sniper).

    What does this mean?

    We understand where threats come from, and learning a map allows us to level that threat against other local threats. I am less likely to watch my back defending from that position as i know the chances of a spy or other enemy attacking from behind (from their objective) without attacking the objective is lower than the chances of an assault from the lower levels. I also know that the chances of players coming from the battlements is moderate, but also that the chances of enemies getting intercepted is also much greater due to the position of my teams spawn.

    In affect, a good player has no "TV", especially when you include in sounds. Such as combat, footsteps and objective alerts. Ones awareness of the battlefield occurs on more than just a visual level. They include the ability to hear, and predict enemy movement in response to objectives, enemy movement in response to their enemy movement (you and your team), which in turn is affected by class perks.

    I can deduce my threats like this:
    [​IMG]

    In a single split second 90 degree movement, with my 90 degree FOV, i can analyse all but 1 area of potential threat (directly behind me). The likelyhood of threat determines the route my eye takes and my movement on the ground to avoid kill zones.

    In conclusion, i'm not really sure vertical space is such an issue. But instead comes under the notion of some areas can have too many position of threats.
     
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    Last edited: Sep 2, 2010
  3. strangemodule

    strangemodule L5: Dapper Member

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    Very useful tutorial, thanks for making it.
     
  4. absurdistof

    aa absurdistof

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    Grazr I think you make an interesting point, but I'm not sure it means that vertical space isn't the source for lack of player traffic into areas. While I think you make a valid point about players analyzing threat levels ahead of them, I don't necessarily think these threat levels are the only thing that play a part in their decision. I think in this situation, it's important to separate action from detection. For example, while a player may see an enemy on the 2fort battlements, there is little they can do against them if they are on a lower level (unless they happen to be a class well suiting to the occasion).

    So basically even though a certain area may have many threat areas, it can balance those threats with easy routes in and out of that area. I think you make a good point about analyzing the threat levels of a given area, but I don't think it's the only thing that plays a part in a players decision to go or not to go into a certain area.

    Finally, I would like to provide a quick clarification of what I meant by tunnel vision (TV was a lame joke at the fact that it's such a horrible acronym). When I mention or mentioned tunnel vision, I was referring to the state players get in when they are very focused in the game. A player with tunnel vision has the same field of view to look at on their screen, but their brain is only actively searching a small section of that field of view, effectively reducing it. Heavies are a classic example of this, but almost any class and player can 'develop' tunnel vision. How this relates to vertical space is that the more focused a player is on what they're shooting, and the more intense their tunnel vision, the less likely they are to notice threats that would be on the borders of their field of view. A good example to cite would be the high path crossing over the entrance to the cart tunnel by spawn in Pipeline Stage 2.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2010
  5. Grim Tuesday

    aa Grim Tuesday

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    Fantastic tutorial, both of you.
     
  6. grazr

    aa grazr Old Man Mutant Ninja Turtle

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    Those cases i think really only apply to direct combat. This is certainly true of snipers and heavies, even pyros. But when moving through the environment, it is poor gaming/fighting (skill) to not watch your flanks. This is why Spy's are so effective against heavies, snipers and interrupting occuring combat.

    Thus having less to do with vertical space and more the 3D world around oneself in general. A threat from above's only difference is that ones tactic is more likely to be retreat to a more favourable position before engaging. Basic combat tactics: Consolidate>check threats>move up>consolidate>check threats>move up.

    I just think this isn't true. Novice TF2 players understand the importance of vertical combat, so when assessing threats threats from above are considered equally as much as any from ones sides (the only real difference being how we respond to the threat more than how and when we initially discover that threat). Watching a threatening position from ones left is just as likely to make one vulnerable infront as the act of watching for threats above. We can't have eyes in the back of our head, but we do have eyes in the past and future. Hind sight and anticipation allow us to take counter measures to common tactics employed in any environment, whether the environment be horizontally or vertically dominant.

    Some areas of high ground are troublesome, especially the courtyard in 2fort, most players are too scared to come out under the defenders who are not only above, but behind them. But this disadvantage has more to do with proximity to the enemy spawn and available space as it does vertical combat. Plenty of other areas in 2fort, and other maps even, implement vertical combat without it being particularly troublesome.

    You've acknowledged an interesting relation, i just think there's a bigger picture than what this tutorial explains.
     
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    Last edited: Sep 3, 2010
  7. Freyja

    aa Freyja ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    An intesting fact, that is related.

    TV and computer screens (widescreens) will either have a ratio of 16:10 or 16:9. In both cases, it's close to 1.62:1 which is known as the golden ratio.
    It's known as this for many reasons in mathematics, such as it being the ratio of numbers in the famous Fibbonaci sequence, and it also appears many times in nature, such as conical shells and sunflowers.
    How it relates to humans, however, is that the human eyes can look or dart side-to-side about 1.6 faster than they can do so up and down, which is another primary reason why we prefer to look side-to-side rather than up-down.
     
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  8. StickZer0

    aa StickZer0 💙💙💃💙💙

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    It feels good to know that even though I taught that to Aly almost a year ago, she still remembers :p Also it doesn't appear in conical shells, that's a myth that can very easily be disproven by simply overlaying a Fibonacci spiral over a picture of a conical shell / nautilus / what have you.

    But great work guys, even if the thread was hijacked by grazr :3
     
  9. Freyja

    aa Freyja ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    Not all conical shells. Some do follow it though.
     
  10. theharribokid

    aa theharribokid

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    I once went to a lecture in Cambridge or it might have been Oxford that talked about this, they talked about conical shells spirls fitting the Fibbonaci sequence. Also apparently some artists used to keep objects / main features of their painting in the golden ratio aswell
     
  11. Dain

    Dain L3: Member

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    Hell, you even find the Golden Ratio on buildings.
     
  12. StickZer0

    aa StickZer0 💙💙💃💙💙

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    Enter the Parthenon:
    [​IMG]

    The greatest example of the golden ratio and Fibonacci swirl there is.
     
  13. absurdistof

    aa absurdistof

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    Again I must return to the example of stage 2 pipeline. I only do this because it's a) 256 units up, and b) a place right above battling players heads. And while I think you make a good point that good players often check, I still stick to the wall that says even if they do, they're removing their focus from a valuable area.

    Returning to the pipeline example, I'll say why. If I'm a soldier, running above, and there is a heavy, medic, pyro, sniper and engie all fighting at the tunnel entrance (assuming sentry is inside the tunnel), there is a low chance they will see me as I walk above them. I speak from experience because pipeline is one of my favorite maps on tf2, and I've probably played 1/5-1/6 of my time there, the remaining divided between the other numerous maps, and as a spy, demo, soldier, or sometimes pyro I like to take that route specifically because players are often fighting right there, and it's often a lot more easy for me to get into their base via that route. I do need to note something though: this is mostly possible because of tunnel vision. I think I under emphasized this again, but tunnel vision is kind of a multiplier for this sort of thing. If the players weren't so focused on the fight ahead of them (side note, if they did look up at me they would make themselves quite vulnerable to any surprise pushes or grenades, especially if the sentry wasn't there) they would probably spot me much more quickly, and have.

    So, in conclusion to this I think I'll add into the tut a brief note that tunnel vision often stops players from there typical sweep and clear behavior.
     
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  14. grazr

    aa grazr Old Man Mutant Ninja Turtle

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    You might wanna make the images in the OP smaller, they take a while to load and jiggle the page about.

    As for the discussion: Any player that doesn't watch access points, whether they be above or to their side is simply silly.

    One of the greatest things a person can do is learn from their mistakes. A tactic is only as effective as it's surprise on the enemy. Once you use it once or twice on any player they evolve counter measures (or are just too stupid to take initiative). This is why playing against people is more entertaining than playing AI; as AI just repeats the same things over and over. When you learn their pattern and apply necassery counter measures there's no evolution of combat.

    The tactic you are employing is one of ambush. This is just as effective from a side flank as it is from above (though a counter attack is less likely if they cannot directly access your position). The simple fact of your position being of less significance than other locations of threat makes it effective. It has nothing to do with vertical or horizontal space. TV applies in all directions. That ledge may be powerful in Pipeline but so is the corridor to the front of the base in 2fort, attackers turn right to the courtyard and immediately expose their back to defenders spawning from the secondary spawn area. A player can either look back and forth, momentarily exposing his forward movement or ignore his backside altogether. The same way in pipeline the player can either look up and down, momentarily not watching his forward movement or ignore above altogether.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2010
  15. Ritz

    Ritz L2: Junior Member

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    Look deep into the parka!
    [​IMG]