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Feature: 'Multiplayer Level Design - Balancing'

In today's main Gamasutra feature, lead multiplayer level designer Pascal Luban (Splinter Cell series) completes his series on multiplayer level design, this time ...
In today's main Gamasutra feature, lead multiplayer level designer Pascal Luban (Splinter Cell series) completes his series on multiplayer level design, this time focusing on the importance of playtesting, technical constraints, and making maps accessible for all players. In the introduction to the feature, which is fully named 'Multiplayer Level Design In-Depth, Part 3: Technical Constraints and Accessibility', and continues on from the already-published Part 1 and Part 2 of the series, Luban discusses the problem of game balancing: "Balancing consists of ensuring that no player or group of players can keep the advantage systematically throughout the game, by making the most of a game parameters (the power of a weapon for example) or of a weakness in the map. This problem is particularly seen in multiplayer games, because their users have plenty of time to discover the faults of the game and exploit them to their full effect. As maps are played for tens of thousands of sessions and players easily swap tricks among themselves. A fault in a map could potentially kill the entire map by enabling a player or a group of players to reach a highly destabilizing advantage. That very problem was raised in one of the multiplayer maps we developed for Splinter Cell - Pandora Tomorrow's Warehouse. In this map, divided into three areas, the killed defenders spawn in a small room next to the first play area. This room is obviously reserved to the defenders and the attackers are not supposed to have access to it. After a few weeks of use, we realized that attacking players had found a technique to enter this room by taking advantage of the moment when one of the defenders walked out of it. As soon as they were inside, they could easily kill the defenders as soon as they respawned! Such a fault could have made the map unplayable. Fortunately, this was not the case, thanks to the fact that the map was divided into areas, because as soon as the mission objective of the first area was reached, the players move on to the next area." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, including more on the specifics of great level design for multiplayer games (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).

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