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Terrain Board Reforged

Discussion in 'Latest Updates and News' started by Keiji, Nov 8, 2019.

  1. Keiji

    Keiji

    Terrain Moderator

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    Terrain Board Reforged


    “Level design, or environment design,[1] is a discipline of game development involving creation of video game levels—locales, stages, or missions.” - Wikipedia, article on Level Design.


    As you probably don’t know, the Terrain Board (which you probably didn’t know existed) is gathering dust. There is the occasional visitor, spurring up a whirl of dust to place a painting among the fading gallery or to visit some of the ancient bearded hunched-over men sitting by their solitary desks, introspectively flipping through their gallery albums, dreaming of better days. The golden days when there were roughly 20 active terrainers in the terrain board. All too eager to make their meaningless existence gain some meaning by helping some young, impressionable, modder in need of terraining advice. Indeed most have left, and some lie dead by their desks, and those few that remain are now so maddened that they will try to claw their long, terrain-addled, fingernails into your skin and make you stay forever, make you love a dying art. A meaningless, useless, dying art. The art of Scenic Terraining.

    Airplanev2.png arthas2.jpg Ion Storm.png waterfall castle.PNG

    Yeah, this is a pretty bleak picture, but it’s a pretty accurate one as well. And I am not going to be coy: I am one of the few that has been an active part of making this happen. Because the Terrain Board has always been the home of scenic terraining, and most of the most active users that frequented this place were always more into scenic terraining than actual useful terraining, the kind of terraining that is professionally known as “Level Design”, and hively known as “Playable Terrains”. And while scenic terraining is very fun to do, and provides a pretty picture to look at, it doesn’t in any way serve our modding community in the bigger picture: To educate our users about the importance of level design and to encourage aspiring level designers to hone their skills in order to serve a modding team properly by providing a beautiful location for the mod to take place. But what is actually the importance of level design? Why should you care?

    Well, of course it’s a matter of opinion, but seeing as this is my post, I’m going to try to convince you that my conviction is the right opinion. The level designer's job is both an artistic and a technical one, on the one hand they create the largest visual representation of the game, and on the other hand they have to make a gameplay environment where said gameplay can happen unhindered, or in accordance with the virtual space they have created. So tell me, when you play games like Skyrim, Horizon Zero Dawn or The Last of Us, do you take the world that you move around in for granted? Or do you sometimes just stop playing altogether, just to admire the scenery? If you've ever done that last thing, then know that in a way, that is exactly what the level designer wants you to do. And yes I know that gameplay, story and overall conceptions are important too, and more important to some of you, but the true mark of a great game is a game that scores on all counts. And the same goes for modding, something that can really lift a mod from good to great is the addition of a good level designer to your modding team.

    [​IMG]
    Image above is from Horizon Zero Dawn

    This, you could say, is at the very heart of the new vision for the Terrain Board. Seeing as things moved a little faster than I antisipated, a few observant people among you might have noticed a couple sneaky changes that has already happened. For one, I have now officially stepped back into the role of Terrain Moderator and plan on dedicating all my time on the hive to reviving, and to a certain degree, repurposing the Terrain Board. Which in turn has also gotten a new name, "Terrain and Level Design", as well as a new home, it has been moved up from the Artist's Discussion category and is now the closest neighbour to the Map Development sub-forum. No longer will the Terrain Board be under the yoke of artists trying to enforce their artisitc tendencies onto level designers! But what do these changes actually mean?

    Good question! Of course we will not kill scenic terraining, neither will we take the art out of the terrain board, I plan on doing scenic terraining myself in the future. So put down your torches and pitch-forks, you three, we won't kill your dreams. However, we will be shifting the focus and purpose of the terrain board to better suit a modding community that needs level designers. To that end, I will be making some changes to the terrain board, so it aligns better with the changes that have already been made. That is why the terrain board was moved, because the new vision for it fits better along-side the map development and world editor sub-forums, rather than next to the Sound and Music Art forum. Additionally, when Reforged rolls around, we'll start hosting a new type of contests in the arena, called "Level Design Contests".


    [​IMG][​IMG]

    As opposed to our traditional terraining contests, where the unwritten formal agreement was that every fifth contest would be a playable terraining contest, these new contests will focus exclusively on the creation of physical space, to cater better to our level designing vision. And calm down my ghosting terraining old-timers, we will still be hosting scenic terraining contests from time to time. They will just be separate concepts from now on, and scenic terraining contests will probably be a bit rarer. But seeing as they are separate concepts, it’s mostly up to whoever wants to host them how often they get hosted.

    There are other, more subtle, changes at work or in the plans that will influence the terrain board in the future, and maybe even some of the other arts and modding forums, but these ideas are in early conception and we’ll talk more about that at a later point. For now I want you all to know that my love for the terrain board, and my will to elevate the terrain board to new and exciting heights is what drives me to commit to these changes and to forge this new path. I do this with the terrain board’s, and the modding community at large, best interests in mind. I do sincerely hope that there are some among you out there willing to support this idea and to help me realize it, but also know that I am open for suggestions, ideas and constructive criticism. In the end: What I do I do for you, so make sure you let me know if I do it right or not.

    [​IMG]
    Image above is from Skyrim SE

    Finally, I’d like to add that any and all opinions and suggestions should be kept civil and that I work to cater to the community as a collective group, and not to satisfy individual desires or feelings. I will listen to rational voices and the voice of the community.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  2. FeelsGoodMan

    FeelsGoodMan

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    Sounds interesting. I know I can't compare to certain people when it comes to beautiful playable terrains (like Approject etc), but I am constantly learning and developing my skills. I enjoy making something that really immerses you in the world you play in so I will definitely be participating in future level design contests.
     
  3. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

    Map Reviewer

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    As I mentioned before and @Strydhaizer the Terrain Board has been moved out of the Arts forum category and put in Warcraft III. Not sure if that is proper since Models and Skins are in Arts. Also, wasn't there an Icons thread there too?
     
  4. Trill

    Trill

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    Hm, you chose weird time for that, if you ask me.
    With Reforged coming out, more and more maps will experiment with third- or even first-person view (since things will look less 2001 up close), so actual scenic terrain will have actual place in playable maps, as scenery.
     
  5. knight26

    knight26

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    The good old days never get back my friend, I take that close to heart with everything in life. While it's beautiful to remember them, and just like the wind, let them hit you from time to time as a reminder of good and happier times, alas it's not a place you'd like to linger for too long. Because the future is always there, and perhaps it won't be as good as the good old days, or maybe not even the same, but if you look at it with a different view, it might even be better! As some have mentioned maybe a lot of people will like to pick up different type of scenery art and implement that into a gameplay, too!

    That's the human nature, we go back to what was familiar, forgetting about the struggle, the bad, the ugliness of that time and just remembering the pure unadulterated happiness we've felt at that certain point in time. Have an open heart and mind for the future of Terraining, and maybe if we're lucky we'll have a time similar but ultimately different, when we scoured the forum for the newest art! I myself was in love with this forum as well, I even made a very low quality terrain at one point.

    Your post brought a lot of memories back, and it's funny how we all come from different backgrounds, yet for me THW is always haven, a familiar place by the hearth where I can spend a few seconds feeling like home. I don't even play games anymore for the majority of time, but it's nice being around, you know, if only to creep on other people.
     
  6. Keiji

    Keiji

    Terrain Moderator

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    Yeah, I know. And well put, my friend.

    I don't seek to revive the old days of hive terraining, however much I'd love to, I know those days are gone. But with reforged around the corner, and a couple new ideas that I am currently working on, I think we can forge a new path for the terrain board, one that aims to help the community at large, instead of only catering to the tiny community that once was the terrain board family.

    I don't feel like you fully understand what scenic terraining is, the type of scenic terraining techniques used in the example screenshots above could never work in an actually playable map. A lot of the techniques are interchangeable, true, but what truly makes scenic terraining what it is - is all about one shot, one angle, which would get completely ruined by the merest change of the camera angle. Of course many of the scenic terraining techniques can be adapted to suit playable terrains, and they should be, especially for first person experiences, but at it's core scenic terraining is all about creating one single picture.
    Furthermore, as I've mentioned above, I don't aim for this shift to be the death of scenic terraining, merely that scenic terraining will take a back-seat in terms of how involved it will be in our new vision. I will personally make more scenic terrains and help anyone that wish to pick up this odd art, but from an "official" standpoint, level designing will take first priority.

    I think I detailed pretty well above what the motivation for this change was, also, I don't really see how models and skins are at all relevant to what we do to the terrain board. With the shift in direction for the terrain board, do you not think it sits better next to Map Development and World Editor forums rather than with the art forums? Obviously, if enough users disagree with the choice to move the forum, I will consider moving it back, but as it stands I see no reason to do so.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  7. Keiji

    Keiji

    Terrain Moderator

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    I didn't delete it, your post was posted in the Guidelines thread, and is still there as far as I can see.

    There are no restrictions on who is allowed to post, everyone is welcome ^^
     
  8. Trakya

    Trakya

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    okay my bad. I thought I saw it on the main news page. Sorry for the confusion... I've deleted it. Sadly such amazing craft didn't see the light in most maps
     
  9. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

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    Nope. Map Development includes everything, terrain, triggers etc. The sole parts also have their own forums: Word Editor Help Zone, Terrain Board etc. The Terrain Board was always used as an art forum. That is its purpose to create art. We have the Template forum under Maps for playable terrains.
     
  10. EredarArbeiterYU

    EredarArbeiterYU

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    The last picture is from Skyrim. Right? It's not a perfect remake of a part of Skyrim in Wc3 World Editor?? :O
     
  11. Keiji

    Keiji

    Terrain Moderator

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    It's Skyrim ^^

    Though I think I could've created a pretty believable replica of it, maybe I will >.>

    Is that so? I honestly didn't know that, and I'm not certain I like that type of segregation.

    I'm sorry you feel this way about it, deepstrasz, but unless many others feel the same: I won't change it.
     
  12. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

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    Ah, no biggie. I just put my arguments forth. It's not like it disappeared or something. It's still there when I scroll the Forums header tab.

    But if you decide to include other games for such picture crafting, then it really won't fit under the Warcraft III header :p
     
  13. Rui

    Rui

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    This is a great initiative! Glad to see people putting up effort in individual forums, and individual parts of the Hive's focus in the process.

    Terraining is a bit at a crossroads, but I'd definitely place it under Artist's Discussion if the point is to do scenic landscaping. Nevertheless, we may be looking at a broader problem here. It isn't a problem with (just) the Terrain Board. Hive's forum organization direly needs an overhaul. Off-topic, for example, is extremely cluttered with subforums right now. Also, it may be just me, but there's this feeling of slippery slope from root forum towards Something Else and Medivh's Tower. This is unlikely solveable with just toying around with the forum list. True innovation is desirable to address this problem.

    The lighting is too good to be wc3 ^^
     
  14. Heinvers

    Heinvers

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    D:

    Bleak future for us.

    It's good to see that you're still kicking the dust around. Make it so capn'
     
  15. Strydhaizer

    Strydhaizer

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    That me.
     
  16. JC Helas

    JC Helas

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    This is epic :eek:
    -Golden Buzzer
     
  17. Strydhaizer

    Strydhaizer

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    I wish reforged threads will be separate from the classic ones, maybe 2 subforums under the Terrain Board. There are lots of buried treasure in the Terrain Board already, stacking the reforged thread on top makes classic ones buries even more. By the way I am not really against the idea of moving the Terrain Board below Map Development and departing it from Artist Board, it just feels weird (maybe because I'm used to scrolling down to the bottom and not searching it at the sandwich patty location).

    Also I'm curious, is level design contests exclusive to reforged users or stucked-classic users can join too?

    Like I said in my 'Unforgotten' thread, I blame the Media section for attracting the audiences there and not inside the forums (since Hive 2 I feel like Media section is an unexpected competitor not just by the Terrain Board but the Artists section as a whole - models and skins showcase etc.), obviously because Media section is right there in the navigation bar. Also I said that maybe Terrain Board should have thumbnails in every threads, if that's possible, maybe fetch the first attachment in the thread and make it a thumbnail by default.
     
  18. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

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    How could Classic even compete? :D
     
  19. Strydhaizer

    Strydhaizer

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    Oh you don't know what's possible strasz, Talavaj and tobyfat already made Reforged even before Reforged became a thing :p
     
  20. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

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    I know but if Reforged comes with better native lightening and stuff...