Designing an Advanced FPS Level on ROBLOX

September

22, 2012

by JacksSmirkingRevenge


Archive

FPS GameLast week we released our first ROBLOX Game Template, which gives you the starting tools you need to create a Capture the Flag FPS. While the simplicity with which ROBLOX users can create FPS games using templates opens the doors to just about anyone, it also means it’s going to take extra effort to transcend the competition and get noticed.

With that in mind, we’ll explain some useful ways you can take your ROBLOX FPS to the next level.

1. Think about your game

That’s step one. When you sit down with a blank slate in ROBLOX Studio, it’s tempting to just start creating, but you should first step back and think about what it actually is you want to create. Surely, most of your favorite level designers are working off goals and deep concepts – okay, maybe some natural ability, too – rather than luck.

ROBLOX Studio - Blank Slate

You can stick with the tried-and-true FPS genres — capture the flag, capture points, deathmatch — but you’re also free to put a spin on the standard formulas.

For instance, you can try to create four teams of five, playable character races, or Aliens vs. Predator-type gameplay. Deception Infection is a great example of this notion. One player starts as the “infected” and attempts to transfer the infection to other players — the survivors — without them knowing (thus, the deception). The only way to win is to be the last class standing.

2. Treat level design as a process

It takes time to go from a concept to finished level. Here are some things to consider as you design your game.

Symmetry (or lack thereof)

One of the most well-known and oft-played multi-player FPS maps is 2fort – introduced in Team Fortress, recreated in Team Fortress Classic, and revived years later in Team Fortress 2. It’s simple and timeless, thanks to its pathing, combat arenas and flexibility to many defenses. But it’s also perfectly symmetrical, with each fort a mirror image of the other.

2Fort

While symmetry can and does work, multiplayer FPS maps can take any shape. For instance, the ROBLOX Content team released Base Wars FPS earlier this year and, while each of its two teams has unique territory, both sides are balanced out by distinct advantages. The asymmetry adds replay value, as players may want to experiment with playing from both sides. You can read more about its level design here.

Sketch your ideas

Once you have some ideas of how you’d like your map to look, you should put something on paper. It doesn’t have to be pretty, or accurate, or even good; it should simply be a starting point that lets you visualize your thoughts. Mark places that you’d like to have elevated. Draw some cover spots. Consider the paths you’d like players to take from place to place. Don’t be afraid to throw away an idea that’s not quite right.

ROBLOX Base Wars FPS - Start to Finish

Scale

The size of your level determines, in part, its tension and pace. If you compact 30 players into a small box, it’s going to become a frantic deathmatch, in spite of any hopes you may have had for strategic play. If you use every bit of space available but don’t help players cover ground quickly, they won’t experience enough action to keep them interested.

When you consider the scale of your level, make sure it matches the gameplay you desire. Here’s a good tip: monitor the pace of your character while building a level. If, for example, a character moves 16 studs a second, that means a player can move across a 160 x 160 level in ten seconds. When you build a new level, create what we call a “Whitebox” model first–it’s a base plate with fill-in boxes where the buildings and terrain would be. Walk through it. See if it feels right.

3. Create with a theme or unique style

Most popular FPS games have a well-defined theme or style. Team Fortress 2 is unmistakable, what with its almost cartoony animations and workin’-man world. BioShock separates itself from the pack with a ‘50s art-deco look that you won’t find anywhere else. Don’t underestimate the power of a unique visual appeal.

WWII - Battle For Carentan

Even something as simple as a decent, well defined color palette will help your level look professional and seem more memorable to players. You can take color a step further and pit your game in a genre – from fantasy to sci-fi – by building structures, incorporating weapons, creating textures and using colors that fit the universe. One thing is certain: mish-mashes of genres might be funny, but they probably won’t net you much success.

4. Be persistent

It’s not easy to venture into “advanced” territory, but many of our users have done it. Here are a few keys to getting ahead of the competition:

Start with simple ideas.

Create a lot of content. See what your friends like and dislike about your games, and keep experimenting until something gains traction among a larger swath of players.

Spend time learning scripting languages; if you’re building in ROBLOX, you should learn how to code in Lua. This will make it easier for you to be creative and bring your unique ideas to fruition.

Remember that designing fun is hard. Not every first attempt is going to be successful.