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Making good tests.

Hi, I'm quite new with making maps, and I was wondering, how dose one make a good test chamber? What I mean by that is, how hard should it be, and how complex. If you can give me any tips that would be greatly appreciated =3

-This question may seem stupid, but I'm stupid so...

Well, I could go on for hours about my design process, but I'll just be brief:

Less is more: The best tests all have one thing in common: simplicity. Let the player see everything clearly, and drive them nuts by having the solution right in front of them. This doesn't mean have a button, cube and a door, it just means 'don't clog up the map with elements'. Keep it simple, but challenging. On that note:

There's a fine line between challenging and too hard: If a player gets fed up with the map because it's too hard, then you haven't achieved what you set out to do (entertain). Maps with insane difficulty or tricky maneuvers will rarely get up voted. Sometimes, you need to "tone down" the map slightly to make sure people don't get fed up, especially on the Workshop. Ideally, 80% of people at least should complete the map.

Hard to figure out, easy to do: There's nothing worse than knowing what to do and not being able to do it. Once the player knows what needs to be done, make sure it's a nice easy process for them to complete - i.e. no ninja timing or exploits in the solution.

For examples of these types of maps, I raise Gig and Mevious, two of my inspirations for puzzle design. They're not the only ones, of course. There are plenty of others.


I could also point out this guide that I wrote about this very topic:

Map Design Guidelines

Alright, thank guys, I'l try to remember all this when I make custom maps :)

Keep consistent with the visual language:
White = portalable;
black = not portalable.

Don't hide elements of puzzles; have them visible for the players!
It's most frustrating if you're playing a puzzle, being stuck for 10 minutes only to find out that something was far out of sight.

Don't make a giant cube room filled with random elements.
Don't make a giant cube room filled with random elements.
Don't make a giant cube room filled with random elements.
D?o?'t? m?ake a? g??nt? ?ub? r?o?om ?fi?ll?ed? w?i?t?? r?a?nd?om ele?m?nts.

When life gives you lemons, make apple juice and have everyone wonder how you did it.
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To add to that, cube shaped rooms are really boring to look at (even if you do make a neat puzzle in it). At *least* use two different ceiling heights. Breaking up the cube shape is really important - I think "The Second Exodus" is a great example of a boxy room done right (see level 3). There's a hole with a view of the skybox, things in the corners, and a really big module in the center that draws your attention away from the sides.

Shorter = better when it comes to verticality in tests that don't use momentum. Don't make it too cramped, though. Tests should never be 1 or 2 tiles tall because it looks boring.

LIGHT YOUR MAPS. Use observation rooms and light strips liberally, and feel free to play with alternative light sources if you're a Hammer fan. Light strips are especially fun because you can frame things with them to give little hints :)

Get rid of some "extra space". It shouldn't be frustrating to walk from element to element in your test (Chander I'm looking at you :P).

Give elements some "breathing room" too. It shouldn't feel tight (RectorRocks plz)

Other things to consider: color, symmetry, asymmetry, structure, appeal, openness, closeness, order, chaos, etc.

(This turned out really rambly but ok)

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