08 October, 2010

Critical path and Beat chart

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while, distracted with other stuff. I’m actually partly done greyboxing, but today was sidetracked by setting up an SVN server (VisualSVN + DynDNS.com for the win!) on my computer anyway so the blog gets some time, too.

Computers are fantastic tools for creation, but they aren’t everything. This list was born on a humble yellow legal pad (any debate nerds in the house know what I’m talking about?)

Below is the critical path of the level with notes tracking the beats (action) associated with each event (see the end of this post for some neat graphs.) Formatting is: “Brief description of what player does. Action Result.” Steps in (parentheses) are outside the critical path. Steps in [brackets] are permutations that could be swapped to add or remove tension to the moment, as informed by playtest feedback.

“Action Result” is what I imagine is happening to the action curve, and is described in simple terms like “down” for a falling curve or “neutral-up” for a curve that may increase for some players but remain flat for others. It will obviously need playtesting and iteration to verify.

Level flow:

  1. Establish bearings in alleyway. up
  2. Emerge from alley onto city street. up
  3. (Try to cross the street, get shot at by traffic bot for jaywalking. UP)
  4. Walk up street toward police barricade. neutral-up
  5. Crosswalk to north impassable, wait for walk signal to west. down
  6. Cross street to flashing news kiosk on opposite sidewalk. up
  7. Receive instructions to head to nearest evac point. netural-up
  8. Follow signs to evac. down-neutral
  9. Find Police IFF at evac point. up
  10. (For Explorer-types: news kiosk in front of collapsed skyrail is now accessible. Refers to biological outbreak, evacuation, and quarantine zone. up)
  11. Walk up street toward skyrail terminal visible above car crash. neutral-up
  12. (For Exporer-types: keep walking to the police barricade at the end of the street. Barricade responds to IFF instructing police bot to maintain their patrol of the quarantine zone. up)
  13. Enter rail terminal, use IFF to call stopped elevator to ground level. up
  14. Wait for elevator to arrive. down-neutral
  15. Ride elevator up to Track 1 platform. [glass elevator. up]/[enclosed elevator. down-neutral
  16. Jump from platform down to rail and walk along Track 1. [covered track with walls. neutral-up]/[uncovered track with no walls. up]/[uncovered track swaying in wind, creaking. UP]
  17. Enter covered track section, stop at damaged window before collapsed section. neutral-up
  18. Push out window pane to access Track 2. neutral-up
  19. Fall and land on top of covered section of Track 2. up
  20. Follow Track 2 to office building. neutral-up
  21. Jump down to track and then onto rail platform in office building rail station. neutral-up
  22. Use IFF to access utility stairs next to non-functional elevator. neutral-up
  23. (For Explorer-types: go down the stairs for an easter egg. The cake is a lie? neutral-up)
  24. Climb stairs to roof. down-neutral
  25. Cross roof to pedestrian skybridge leading to central tower. neutral
  26. Cross skybridge, which creaks and groans under weight. up
  27. Skybridge is collapsing! Run! UP
  28. Reach the tower as skybridge collapses and falls to street below. up-UP
  29. Enter the tower. neutral-up
  30. Door slams, lights go out. up


I assigned numeric value to each beat in Excel and graphed it (UP +2, up +1, neutral 0, down -1.) This graph isn’t scientific; It’s a first draft visualization of this level’s beat chart, to make sure that I’m starting in the right direction. Since most of the events shown above have multiple possible values, I graphed a few ranges.

(Halloween themed beat chart – Click image to enlarge)

  • HI Max running (hollow orange line), running total of highest possible value for that beat.
  • HI Avg running (solid orange line), running average of high values.
  • LO Avg running (solid black line), running average of low values.
  • LO Min running (hollow black line), running total of lowest possible value for that beat.

In simpler terms: solid lines represent projected low and high ranges of excitement, with an attempt to factor in deterioration from boredom, uncertainty about objective, environmental distraction, etc. Hollow lines are the outliers and mostly there for fun. (The hollow orange player is an excitable person, hollow black is asleep or distracted.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to comment. I'd love to hear from you, whether you are a player or creator of games!