Goodbye BoZ, Goodbye PB2

I’m quitting BoZ and PB2.

I figured writing in depth about this, as PB2 has been sort of a big thing in my life.

When I went on to XgenStudios to claim my daily cash in Stick Arena, I saw PB2 for the first time. And I would have never the slightest clue that it would impact my life as it did.

I’ve always wanted to make games, and PB2 became a creative outlet for me.

I became quickly engaged in the community, I got known for the first map making tutorail, and also my maps. At one point I was in ranked #1 in the leaderboards, and I was a moderator as well. I also created BoZ to bring people together. BoZ has earned the reputation of the most well known clan in PB2, as it’s still alive today.

That was 2011. From then, up till 2018, I’ve been on and off with my activity. But I’ve always come back.

But I realized that It’s time to cut the ties, as the time spent in PB2 was not contributing to the life I strive for.

PB2 has done amazing things for me. It has given me the confidence and skills of a game devoper. It has taught me to think creativeally to solve logical puzzles in a early age of 14. Trigger work is a lot like real programming.

Leading BoZ has taught me alot of about leading an organization.

As a recent example, PB2 got me engaged in making a web API for the new URL-trigger type. After having experience with a web-api, I had the confidence and basic knowledge to take responsibility for the Back-end for my Bachelor’s project. From there I mastered ASP.NET and various frameworks which I built MMO ARENA with. And I can get a decent job!

PB2 has also taught me how to think in terms of online games. In digging deep and finding out what’s client/server sided, I learned a lot.

I have just finished my bachelor in Game programming. I will strive to live the dream of a game developer.

This is my newgrounds profile: Here I post all my games and updates. I recently made a game called “Woodlings” go check it out!

Anyways, I can’t be grateful enough for all the love and support the community has given me. It’s cliché, but without it, I wouldn’t have continued, and I would have suffered from that. Thanks guys.

It’s time for me to move on, adult life is approaching, and I feel PB2 has given me all that it could. And now It’s time let it aside and focus on my interests.

I’d would be rude if I left while keeping myself a mystery.

A little about me:

Up to I was 17 year olds, I was your typical shy nerdy guy. I started weightlifting in that age, and developed my dicipline and self confidence. I later having an interest for Kickboxing, which lasted for a year. I started studying game programming is Oslo at the age of 19, when I moved out for myself. And since then, I’ve been indulged in the pickup-community (look that up if you don’t know xD … or not) and I’ve later developed a interest for shit like yoga, philosophy, psychology,developing myhself and stuff like that, basically trying to figure out how to do this “to be a human” thingy. I gained a passion for wrestling/brazillian jiu jitsu, which I’ve been doing for almost two years, and now I’m taking a break from that, doing bodybuilding. (I’m a total meathead). I’ve always kept the interest for game development and programming, as It’s been my study.

Favorite TV shows: Vikings, How I met your mother and Modern family.

Favorite books: Atlas Shrugged, 12 Rules for Life, The Power of Now and Models

Favorite youtube channels: PowerfulJRE and Ellliott Hulse

Favorite movies: Catch me if you can and Good will hunting

Favorite music: Metal, hip-hop, pop, reggae, anything, really

Phew! That’s it.

Anyways. Thanks guys, for the good memories, for everything.

Much love.

 

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5 Golden Rules of Making a Popular Map

In this post, I want to share my personal philosophy of map-making, and some practical tips I’ve learned along the way, which has served me very well.

I was compelled to make this post after I felt I had to give a map-makers some direct criticisms. I don’t like to do that, I’d rather have map-makers read an article meant for everyone.

I have five simple rules which I will explain in detail:

  1.  It’s you against yourself
  2.  Complex map or simple map?
  3. Don’t force it
  4. Who are you making this for?
  5. Get the ball rolling

 

#1 It’s you against yourself

This is my most dear, precious and helpful guiding principle which I’ve applied from day1 of my PB2-mapmaking career. Whenever I followed this principle, my maps would succeed. Whenever I discarded it, my maps would fail.

For each map, you make, make something uniquely different with each one.

Don’t be pressured to come up with something completely unique to the PB2 world. Just compete against yourself. For each map you make, think, how can I add some kind of twist to my new map?

For instance, my very first map was a 4v4 where players were equipped with rifles, and there were guns in the middle. My second map was different, in that each player had different sets of equipment, like squads in a battlefield game. My third map was a 2v2v2v2 instead of a classical 4v4. I continued doing small types of twists when I eventually made a map with a teleporter, which was my first map with a trigger. Gradually I became better with triggers, and after a couple of updates, and now my recent maps have been a chatbot AI, a parkour race with a leaderboard and my own system of a progression system, with exp and money, in multiplayer.

Don’t compare yourself to other people. Focus on making something unique to your own arsenal of maps. And eventually, you might end up making actually something completely unique which nobody has seen before, just out of the habit of making unique maps compared to your own.

Don’t have high standards for these twists, just take one small step at the time.

Eventually, after 20, or 30 maps, you will notice that finding a unique twist is becoming increasingly difficult. That’s a good sign! Map making is supposed to be hard. This is where you might expect a “hit” map at any time. Your creativity is working full-time, combined with an ever so growing experience with making-maps. You’re basically increasing the standard of uniqueness for every map, gradually and slowly.

“What about updates, with new guns, for instance?”

Updates with new guns are like holidays for map-makers, where we all get to cheat and get a simple go at making a unique map in our own list, but also in the community. It’s all part of nature, enjoy.

 

#2 Complex or a simple map?

A good question is, why should I even bother making maps with unique, complex mechanics when it seems like all the popular maps are so simple?

It doesn’t matter if a map is complex in its mechanics and trigger work & hard work.

What matters is if a map is complex to understand and use. If it is when it will never be popular. Period.

The holy “Will the map be popular?” diagram

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Take Max teabag-dodge for instance. The map has 300 ratings with a 4.88 average. It was very complicated and took a lot of effort to make, but the complicated mechanics seemed simple for the user.

It seems as if only simple/dumb maps get popular, but that’s because It’s just so much easier to make a simple map that’s easy to understand. It’s hard to make a map with complex mechanics easy and intuitive for the user, that’s why it’s such a common trap to fall into the “nope” section of the holy diagram.

 

#2.5 A little philosophical rant:

You might have spotted a slight contradiction in how I described you should make your map unique in its mechanics, yet easy to understand. Generic, not-unique maps are naturally easy to understand because people have played maps like these before. You risk the player being comfortable and bored. Unique maps is naturally going to harder to understand since the concept is new. You risk the player being overwhelmed and confused.

You need to mix the two aspects to find the right balance.

Think of it like dancing to music. Nobody wants to dance to a song where the beat is constantly the same, 100% predictable all the time, but you can’t dance to a song where everything is too chaotic, everything is unpredictable.

Same thing with humor. If the joke is predictable, It’s not funny. If it’s too unrelatable, It’s not funny either. The sweet spot of humor is something relatable and familiar, with an unexpected twist.

In my MMO maps series, I have decided to deliberately make the “Feel” of the maps familiar, keep most of the gun’s behavior standard, so that players will not be overwhelmed, but appreciate the twist, and so that it feels like the same old game.

 

#3 Don’t force it

A common problem is that when map-makers isn’t interested challenging themselves in creating a new twist, and they’re failing to make a complex/unique map with simple usage, some will attempt to “force” their maps for popularity.

People often confuse map depth and complexity with the number of objects. They try to force their map quality by spending more time than anyone else, making the map more detailed, more walls, more decorations, more features, etc etc..

There’s a misconception that Quantity of objects = Quality of map

It’s directly misleading. Whenever you increase the number of objects in your map, you will increase loading time, and make the map slower for players, increasing lag, which is a big turn off.

The best maps are those which has the best content to objects ratio. Details certainly have its place, but finding an elegant solution to combine content with detail is the way to go.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” -Leonardo Da Vinci

PS: I’m not saying you shouldn’t decorate your map. Beautiful maps are awesome, pure-art-maps too, but attempting to compensate the lack of originality by lot’s of details won’t do anything. However, decorations may be original in themselves. Oh shit, Max is contradicting himself!

#4 Who are you making this for?

Is it yourself, or is it the players?

No seriously. It’s a legit question.

I have a couple maps where I made them purely for myself. My own pleasure. I don’t care what people think, I enjoyed making it. Screw the uniqueness, I’m just going to let loose. Big surprise, these maps have barely any ratings. Since this is a post on how to make your map popular, I will say it, make your map for the players!

It’s fine to make a map for your own pleasure, but don’t expect it to be popular.

The best way to get legit information whether or not people like and understand your map, just play it with other people, and witness. It’s easy to be quick to blame the stupid players for not understanding or reading your very eloquent texts displayed. However, who are you really trying to please, the majority of the audience or your ego?

 

 

#5 Getting the ball rolling

After you’ve mastered your creativity, complexity, elegance, uniqueness and It’s perfectly suited for the mass bulk of players, you have the perfect map. You’re holding it your hands, like your own baby, It’s beautiful.

So… what now? Should I just wait or…?

Even the best map can be forgotten about. Remember how I said, “Don’t force it?” Well, this is the exception. If your map is truly great, it WILL catch on, but it needs a “gentle” push. Think of it as putting training-wheels when the kid is trying to learn to ride the bike.

So… go in multiplayer, host the map, exit, re-host, exit, re-host, exit. Your map will eventually be filled in the servers. This might be really annoying if you map sucks, and your reputation will suffer. However, this behavior will serve the good people of PB2, not annoy them, if you have followed rule #1 #2 #3 and #4.

 


Other than this, I’d recommend my post I made a year ago called “Inside Max’s heart” which describes in detail how you should listen to players, and general tips for designing MP/SP maps.

Inside Max’s heart

“Inside Max’s head” introduced the seldom discussed idea that any map are just as good as any other. A lot of people have taken inspiration from this, yet a lot of people seem to raise objections, which I completely agree on. Every truth is a half-truth. This post will be contradicting Inside Max’s head and will be presenting the flip side of the coin to balance things out. This post will be about how to make a better map, with focus on Singleplayer maps first, then dive down the rabbit hole on fundementals.

I’ve always been reluctant to make this post, because I’ve been afraid to choke creativity by saying “Hey, this is how you should go about making maps.”I think that stuff stifles creativity (especially my own) and the map-maker because too concerned about fitting some sort of standard. Having said that, I think I now know how to say the things I want to say in the least damaging way.

This will not be a read that will discuss technicalities in the editor, such as colliding walls. Nor a read to make more artistic maps, I’m not nearly qualified to do so. This will provide signpost that will assist in making excellent maps in terms of general game design/level design guidelines, but I will be using PB2 as examples.

Interest

Maps should start off with something that increases a player’s interest in the map. For example a promising storyline or something that invokes curiosity, or a high-action scene that immediately gets the players hooked and engaged. Then the map should slow down so the excitement builds, and then builds towards a final climax. Non-stop action gets tiring and worst off all, the blood becomes kind of meaningless. If the map doesn’t invoke interest right off the map, most players quickly play another map.

Purpose

What Eric fails on the single-player campaign is give us a reason to kill all of these enemies. If we spawn in a prison, our purpose is obvious, to escape. If we witnessed someone stealing our princess, it’s obvious that we ought to save her. Even though I’ve been in the PB2 community for ~5 years, I still don’t understand the time machine thing, and the campaign was just a drag.

Of course, a lot of player’s criterea for an enjoyable map is something to shoot at, but if you want to aim at excellence, give the player a clear goal, give the player a purpose. Remember, deep down everyone just want to help.

Make the map enjoyable to mess around in

Directed at MP maps: One very basic criteria for a good map is just play it for yourself for an hour just navigating it. You know you’ve hit the jackpot if just jumping around is enjoyable. That’s the core enjoyablity, anything else (enemies) is just an extra. And you should not rely entirely on the extra.

Surprise the player

It’s something about unpredictability that we humans just love. If you have surprised your player in some way in your map, they will be constantly on their toes expecting another surprise, this is a great way to keep them playing. In MP maps, give players the opportunity to surprise each other, and perhaps take use of randomness to spice things up. See Max teabag-opensource for the randomizer.

HOW TO NOT SUPRISE:

  1. Don’t mix unpredictability of uncertainty. Don’t make enemies with different health/different properties look the same. It will ruin the credibility of the map and this is this type of uncertainty drives players nuts in a bad way.
  2. Don’t punish the player for not have played the map before. It’s unfair and a serious buzzkill and just plain annoying to get killed for unenviable stepping on an invisible chainsaw activator from hell.

Keep the player in a flow state

Gradually increase the feel of power while increasing the opposition slightly faster. This is probably the most nuanced point, but hear me out. If the difficulty on the map is the same throughout the map, it will give the potential problems. #1: It’s too easy and the player gets bored. #2: It’s too hard and the player gets frustrated. #3: The difficulty is fine but it gets repetitive. What you want to do is let the player feel powerful doing easy work, then face a stressful challenge, then after hard work they can feel powerful and do easy work again, and so it repeats. A crappy figure:

screenshot_2

This creates a satisfactory and exciting cycle for the player. It helps to think of the two reasons why people, well, do stuff! To seek pleasure and to avoid pain. If the player only experiences pleasure in your map, say, killing a bunch of zombies, it quickly loses it’s satisfaction.  If you only punishes the player, in the forms of death, setbacks or hell, even verbal abuse! #trigger42. Then the player hates you, rates 1 and goes back to excl-school. You need to balance pleasuring and punishing, they give each-other meaning.

How to pleasure:

  1. Visual affirmations. New skin, new location.
  2. More power, cooler guns, abilities.
  3. Sweet talk.
  4. Killing, gore, destroying your enemy

Replayability

You’ve done a good job it if you have managed to give the players a reason to re-play the map several times. This is a rare case(lol), but it’s because it’s been such an enjoyable experience they want to re-play it. A huge motivator to gain replayability is if you implement a score system. Say at the end of the map you reveal how the player could’ve done better, in the sense of how many players they’ve killed, how fast they completed the map, how many golden stars they have collected(see Max teabag2-economy), etc, or a combination. To motivate the player to actually do these things, you should rewards players with a key they can send you, then so you can put them on some sort of hall of fame.

It is a bummer Eric did not implement this into the game, as it would have made SP-maps actually competitive and far more interesting, let’s hope for PB2.5 though.

Choices

Another way to make the player replay the map is give them choices. Which door to open? Whom to ally? Kill the CS-troop or spare him. If you let the player know their choice had something to say, their interest in the map skyrockets, as they are playing their own story in their heads, and they might want to replay to give the most of the map. A brilliant way to present choice is to use the “High-risk, high reward” and “Low-risk, low reward” system. Does the player want to do some platforming to get that minigun upgrade, but risk falling down into acid, or does he have more faith in his shooting skills than jumping skills? Presenting choices isn’t hard and makes for a world-class map.

To spark the inner explorer in a player. reveal some alternative(secret) routes that players can find better weapons, shortcuts, etc. This will drive most players madly in love with you as you’ve transformed your map from a dull ride to the end to a mystery of undefined discoveries. By giving the player freedom to choose between entering the battle or smell the roses makes the player feel in control, of course, you need to constrain the player sometimes too. If the player is free all the time, the freedom doesn’t mean anything. Closed areas provide the free areas and vice versa. In a MP map where you can go anywhere any time, players will hardly find eachother and their “freedom” becomes a constraint.

Simplicity

To keep your map elegant, look at every section of your map and explain to yourself what is the purpose of that being there? This is a nuanced point. I’m not suggesting that remove that room that has nothing in it, but be aware that because it has nothing in it, it might serve some sort of purpose after all.

Story

While it’s not inherently bad to have a lot of dialog in your map, most map-makers can’t figure out why nobody reads their dialog. Hmm! Maybe it’s because you always display text in the middle of an alien invasion? 10 lines of dark colored text and bng’s coming at my way…. it’s just overwhelming, dude. Be very selective of what text to show and especially when. Be wary of creating special moments in your map where something dramatic/awesome happens, and don’t distract the player by having the hero’s character talk about how much he loves toast.

If you love dialog, and want to write more interesting ones, write down all the characters of your map down on a paper. Write down their status(high/low) and their relationship and how they feel about each-other, write down some obscure or not oscure thing that has recently happened between them that might’ve altered their behavior towards one another. Write down personal traits and quirks of each character, what do they like to do on saturdays? What iconic line do they have? By writing these things down it becomes surprisingly easier to make much better and novel dialog rather than the generic “There’s an alien, shoot him!” type of stuff.

An old famous movie story making tool is the twelve points of the hero’s journey. Now, there is absolutely no need to take in account all the points, but it’s a great tool for some inspiration and gives you a place to start when creating a story.

graphictwo

Have people play your map

I’m baffled over how people publish their map without getting any options about it. If you find a friend that’s brutally honest, for god’s sake make him play every map of yours and never let him go. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend IRL that can play your map, you will then witness when they get frustrated, or when the rage quit, or even punch you in the face. Regardless, you need to be open to suggestions, and if you want to master map-making, you need to master the subtle art of knowing that people really mean when they give suggestions. Don’t be a developer without a spine changing everything that people suggest. Find out why they suggested that in the first place and make changes accordingly. People don’t really know what they want.

Fundementals

What makes really for a good atmosphere in a map. We all know that inexplicable feeling that some maps just feel ‘right’, they have something special to them and that might give us that warm feeling of homebelonging.

Scaling

Different scaled elements bring life to the map. If the objects scale down or up in a recognizable pattern, the map be naturally pleasing to the player. The trick is to find the amount of level of scale of each jump.Screenshot_3.png

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Centers

A strong center is a strong map. It seems like we players crave a place of heat of the map, if the center of the map is clearly defined, we feel in a weird way compelled to arrive there, it gives us a good inner feeling to know where to go if we don’t have any other specific plans. The living room of the map, the place where we always seek to return.screenshot_4

You can strengthen the center by making other centers that lead the players toward to the final center. Centers are in some way made out of all the other centers.screenshot_11

Constraints

Constraints is what gives the center, well context. constraints strengthens the role of the center. When I suggest adding constraints, most people are (understandably) naturally not compelled to do so, it is after all a negative word! The paradox about constraints is that because it separates, it also unites.

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Shapes/Area harmony

Shapes should not only define themselves, but define and engage the area around itself and vice versa. screenshot_6

This example was very clear-cut obvious, but the real magic happens when every single object on the map is on some indirect, subtle way engaging the other and so that no object is a meaningless leftover. Think of it like the butterfly effect.

Transitions and seperateness

You can further define an area by creating a complimentary transition from the area to another. Have you ever seen a map where there’s a random building that seems like it’s missing a purpose, or rather a proper shape? By making an interlock that compliments both areas, it makes the map feel more alive as the areas are kind of “aware” of each other and creates a sort of non-seperateness.

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Roughess

There’s something about roughness that just… works. The property of an artist’s brush is it’s inaccuracy, it paints in a way that the artist have no control over. If art was up to human perfection (using a sharp pen) the art would lose it’s beauty. Sometimes you just have to let go and let the chaos have it’s way. Sometime the things without meaning is the things that have the most meaning.

screenshot_8

The echo

Consistency is important. Websites with a different font on every page would drive us mad. It’s nice to see some of the same elements to what we’ve seen earlier in the map. It generates a sort of general wholeness in the map. When I say elements, I am very vague. This can range from a type of shape to a general similarity of areas, where the same type of structure echoes throughout the map, not necessarily in a repetitive form, but in a way where the player feels that the entire map is one.

Screenshot_9.png

The void

As in music, it is the silence that gives the sound depth. In a speech, it’s the pause that give the thing that comes next extraordinary meaning. Create spaces of emptiness, to give more meaning to the content around it.

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five years of boz

I’ts been 5 years since we began this clan.

5 years is an ass long time.

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This was our clan picture when we were fresh.

We all could’ve give up BoZ not too long after that.

But we’re still here, wait what?

Who are “we”?

From the day that picture was taken to today, members have come and gone, 99% of our current members wasn’t in the clan when that picture was taken.

Does that mean “we” have been alive for 5 years?

Yes and no. I believe that every single BoZ member has contributed in their unique way to the general atmosphere, image and reputation in BoZ. As I’ve discussed in the “Thought of clans post”, the member adapts to the expectations of the clan’s general attitude.

So, in a funny way, all of the five people in the image above are still alive in the clan; traces of their attitude and personality are reflected in every BoZ member that has come after them, because the clans reflects it’s members, and the member reflects it’s clan.

This is what I mean with the clan has been alive for 5 years. It’s the clan spirit that lives on and is going through changes, phases of troubles, but always make it through.

I’m lucky enough to have witnessed BoZ’s evolution since the start, It’s incredible to see how much it changes every year, and it’s been a blast to see how much our fellow clanmates have grown up with us, in terms of personal growth, a lot can happen with a young person over the course of 5 years. Moreover a lot of it can be witnessed even though it’s only through a chat box.

 

So, to every BoZ member reading this, you are important ❤ and thanks for keeping our legacy of BoZ alive.

 

 

On the thought of clans

I like to discuss abstract ideas that are systematized by people. Previous post “Inside Max’s head” discussed the definition of a good PB2 killing-map. This time I will discuss the definition of a clan. And some problems PB2 have with this.

First of all. Why is the definition of a clan even relevant?
Well, for example, in Plazma Burst 2, being in a clan is not allowed when applying to be a member of staff. This is a really unprofessional solution, and makes for unfair ways in the PB2 community.
I think posting this could give new ideas for the “No-multiclanning” rule a lot of clans have these days.

Let’s start off what the Wikipedia page about “Clan (video games)” says:
“In computer and video gaming, a clan, guild or faction is an organized group of players that regularly play together in particular (or various) multiplayer games. These games range from groups of a few friends to 4000-person organizations, with a broad range of structures, goals and members.”

Now we already encounter problems with the definition. When it says “You can’t be in a clan” on PB2 staff or a clan site, would that mean any clan at all? Like a small Starcraft clan with your friends or maybe a 2000-man clan that plays various games on steam?

Naturally, the answer would be no. Because we define multi-clanning only when you’re in another clan that is specifically for the same game/community. That makes sense, because your attention/loyalty goes only to ONE clan when your focus is on e.g PB2. We don’t care what clans you are in call of duty, that doesn’t affect us.

So far so good. But how about when a clan is not specifically a PB2-clan, but plays PB2 as a clan once in a while, among with a lot of other flash games.
Now things start to get a little complicated. Where goes the line between a CLAN THAT PLAYS PB2 and a PB2 CLAN?

Well, the most clear way to settle it is the amount of involvement/representation that clan has in the game. If the clan represents it’s tag/logo/name in the game and involves actively in the community, that means It’s a PB2 clan. If it’s just a bunch of clan-mates that happens to be playing PB2 together, it’s a clan that plays PB2.

Although the exact amount of involvement in the community for the clan to be recognized as a PB2 clan is unclear, I think it’s fine to hop on to the next problem for now.

Something to think about. What is the minimum effort for BoZ to do to be considered “not-a-clan” by the PB2 community, therefore its members be able to join staff?
Remove clan tags? Well, we’re still an organized group, we would still represent our clan in other ways.
Remove logo, clan tag, and website? Now we’re just an organized group with a private forum and chat. There are plenty of groups within PB2 that have forums and chats, that isn’t considered a clan. The problem is that we don’t allow multi-clanning, so that makes us easy to be categorized as a clan, so I would suppose we would have to remove that as well.

Before I go any further I’d like to reflect on what the purpose of clans is in PB2. For those who think clans are the cancer of the community, It’s actually the cornerstone of the total activity. Firstly, It’s human to want somewhere to belong. Actually, let me rephrase that, we don’t want it, we need somewhere to belong. Maybe totally not “need” when it comes to a flash game community, but there are connections. Without clans there would be less reasons to behave. You have a reputation in every community, there’s no real reason to care about it in a flash-game community. When there are clans around, you build a reputation to be able to join the clans you want, and once you are in the clan, you will want to represent the clan in a positive manner, and encourage your next clan mates to do the same. This is why a clan name, tag and a logo is important. Without it, there would be no way for the public to determine who’s connected to whom, and therefore people wouldn’t care to represent themselves according to the clan behavior.
If you join a highly-respected clan, and wear their tag/color, you will be treated with respect and behave respectfully in that community.
Clans also encourage more activity in the game among members and makes the game more competitive. Clan leaders can encourage members to be even more respectful,active and contributing to the game itself and the clan by handing out ranks that grants the member more power and respect. So a clan is a nice place to have somewhere to belong, make friends, play more together, gain reputation and respect within that group.

The next thing to demonstrate would be having clan traits without labeling itself a clan. I will be using the “Revivalists project” as a dummy as this example. (Sorry!)
First off, “Revivalists project”(R) is a project that have people sign up and wear a tag to increase activity in Plazma Burst 2. Now let’s see how close R is an actual clan, it has:
A name: Revivalists
A tag that members use on their profile (Represents the revivalists)
A Youtube channel
A member’s list
A logo
A leader(s)
IS A Organized group of people that shares a common interest to frequently play toghether
A forum post
A private chat(?)

To be fair, R is more of a clan than a lot of so called PB2-clans that label themselves as clans. These guys are actually playing together! The only difference is that they don’t label themselves as a clan.
Remember I talked about what the minimum BoZ had to do to be not labeled as a clan? Let’s do the opposite, what would the maximum R can do and still not be labeled as a clan? Honestly, by looking at it, It’s far beyond that point, but I guess the power of labeling is strong in the PB2 community. If the R-leader would just mention the word “clan” once in the thread, everyone would say “Ah, of course, a clan”.
Could the revivalists group make a WordPress site, even application forms, ranks, a forum? Where does the line go?

In a lot of ways, they are a PB2 clan. Just think about it. I talked earlier about the effects of wearing a tag and a color. EVEN if the revivalists doesn’t label themselves as a clan, there will still be an effect when people wear the tag. This is important. Yes, when you are on the same members-list as someone, wear the same tag and share a skype chat, something happens. There is a psychological effect of seeing someone with the same tag, that makes your brain think you are on the same team as him. Maybe you should treat this person like one of your own. These thoughts are very subtle, perhaps non-existent for certain individuals, but it’s there. It doesn’t matter what your leader has decided to define you as, you are now a part of something bigger, something that brings people together, a place where people have common goals. When you are already in a clan, and start participating in this, this *can* quickly become your second home, and then eventually you pay more attention spreading the R-name more than your clan’s name. This is why BoZ is skeptical for our members to join. This is why I think it’s unprofessional by the PB2 staff to allow R members but not other clan-members, it’s just because of the label.

Just a final note, ever since staff has made the “no clan” rule, the staff has become more and more like a clan itself, translating the rule to “no multiclanning”. This is one of the issues with the current staff.

Inside Max’s head

(in the post, I’ll be writing my thought process when hearing about the monthly map contest, which will draft on to realizations of map making, and further. Maps can be a parallel example to a lot of other work. In the chance of this interesting anyone, I’ll share.

BTW: When I refer to “map” I mean a simple “killing map”, whereas the objective is to kill one another, and the map’s feature is the layout itself

BTW2: Click on the post title name to properly read this lol

)

http://www.plazmaburstforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=607//url

Seeing the best map of the month challenge, I initially felt disinterested.

I figured it would turn out like some sort of “Maxs’ ego thing”.
“He hasn’t made a map in ages, now he just wants to grab a quick prize.” they would say.
I could foresee the heat. If I actually won, or get a lot of votes,
That would be because of my reputation and influence. Not the map itself.
I could fuck up the challenge.

That wouldn’t be so clear if the challenge was to create something complex,
A map that was obvious it was superior to the others.
A map with trigger-systems nobody thought of before.

But the challenge was to create a simplistic warfare map. “Be a simple map”.
How am I supposed to create a so obviously superior map… Yet simple?
And how can I make it so superior there wouldn’t be a doubt I won because of the map;
And not because people would vote for me, because of my name…?

I felt attracted to the challenge.

First, I cannot just start creating a map like I’ve always had.
It cannot be just another “well-rounded”, “balanced”, “good looking” map.
That wouldn’t cut it.

I have to figure out a such genius, simplistic design, that would be superior
To the other maps, because it’s so simple. Yet so good.
How do I come up with something so simple, that’s never been done before?

I accepted the challenge.

I quickly realized I had to unlearn 4 years of map making.
I had to unlearn what made a good map.
After 4 years of PB2, killing maps were fundamentally the same.

You have your layers, layer meeting points, layer combination points,
potential hotzones, travel zones that end up to hotzones, restzones, etc.
(Only weirdos like myself, named these, and systemized them)
Seasoned map makers have a subconscious restriction to their map making.
They have an “inner idea” of what a successful DM/Coop map is.
They follow unconsciously or consciously other map layouts, with their own twists.

Take Eric gurt-railwars1 for example. The layout is so simple,
Yet it worked so well. It defined what 5,000 other maps look like.

After writing that. I went on to study Eric gurt-railwars1. I want to make the new type of maps people will look up to and replica, Max teabag-[???] will be the next simple, with such design
That is so original, and will be remade over, and over again.
That map, I will enter the contest with.

But I realized one thing.

It’s not the map itself that is so brilliant.
It’s the amount of hours people have put into it, perfecting the play of the map,
That has defined what it is.
What can be argued is that any map that has ever been created,
Can be seen as an absolute piece of genius,

If, for example,
PB2 players were restricted to playing that map
And that map only for a year.
People would find the strategies, counter-strategies, specifically for that map,
And regardless of its design, people would master navigating the map, memorize and discover nade spots,
Making it seem like the map maker planned everything…
The map would turn into gold.

Of course, saying ANY map could be turned into gold, would be false.
But I’d say the bare-minimum quality of the map for it to happen, isn’t very high.
The map wouldn’t need an intense amount of planning, or map-maker experience.
Just enough space and complexity for a year of people continually making strategies.

Typically, you’d say a map is finished once the map maker pressed “save” and “publish”. I’d argue that’s far from the truth.
The map is FAR from finished after the map-maker is done with it.

After the map maker is done with the map, It’s a SHALLOW, EMPTY, map. It’s just a layout.
Meaning:
“A combination of walls, entities and logic”.

The map is actually being made when the map is being played.
What the map-maker has made, is merely a blueprint, asking the community if it wants
To build it, to make it alive.
It sounds weird, I know, but bear with me…

The more a map is played,
The more unique strategies, unique maneuvers, tactics are born.
The more popular the map is, the more valuable these unique skills for the map become.
The more skills the people have in one map, the more they appreciate the map’s layout.
The more they appreciate the map, the more they play it…
It’s a circle, creating the genius of the map.

To conclude, the power to create a memorable, genius map,
Doesn’t lie in the hands of the map maker, but the players.
The layout isn’t really important at all.

That’s why I think this contest is partly bullshit. How are you supposed to judge
Which “shallow”, “empty” map is the best? All you can judge by being the Layout. I guess mainly the contest will be judged on visuals and who made it then.

(“A combination of walls, entities and logic”)
When map makers play-test their map, we tend to fix minor things over and over again,
Me included. I haven’t realized before that it doesn’t matter actually.
It’s what the players make of the map that matters.

Despite all of what I said. I DO think some maps are better than others.
As in better I mean they provide more space to develop
(“Unique strategies, unique maneuvers, tactics”)
And that they’re fair. And that they are original.
By original, I’d say the map provides spaces that haven’t been seen before
And that the player develops unique skills for that map particularly.
If a player can dominate in a map because they are an expert in a similar map,
I’d say the map isn’t “original”.

So, after all, am I going to enter the contest? With the idea presented here,
I cannot make a map that dominates in layout.
All my cards would have to be on:
“Creating the most with as little as possible”.
A whole new type of layout presented. A fundamentally different map from what we’ve seen
From 2011 up to this point. Actually, not only PB2 maps, but 2D-sidescroller maps in general.

Before I go any further to figure out how to unlearn everything,
I feel like I have to reflect on what makes a map enter that sweet,
sweet circle that I described earlier. How does one map become
played, popular and loved. While others are left in the dust,
untouched, ignored, but still offers the same?

I decided to study Max teabag-sniperwars, and Stryde-sniper.
When the new sniper-rifle was added the game, I hurried to make
a map that featured this new gun. As expected, the map turned
popular, only to last a few days. The map was essentially
Eric gurt-railwars1, with twists to fit the penetrating bullet factor of the sniper.
Stryde made a map a few days later, also similar to
Eric gurt-railwars1 and borrowed parts of my sniperwars. But this map
over-shadowed my sniperwars, and all the other sniper maps.
It became intensely popular. How? Why this map, and not any other?
Was in the background tile choice? The extra walls in the middle?
Was it the ID of the map?

It’s hard not to think that
Randomness plays a big part in deciding what maps fire off,
And what maps doesn’t.
Maybe Stryde understood something I didn’t, or maybe
He just got “lucky”.

With the popularity of Stryde-sniper, players committed to mastering
the sniper rifle, sword and grenade combination.
Seeing people play this map today, it’s incredible what level of skill
these people have with that weapon dynamic, on the map.

Why did people commit to learning the new gun?
Maybe they were bored of the same old railgun…?
Maybe they saw the potential skill-limit?

How can I make a map that people will commit to learning?
There are already 1,000s of “simple” RvB maps out there.
I’d imagine people are bored of the current layout regularly
in the maps that we all play today.
How do I make a map that’s refreshing? That’s so original?
That people want to commit to learning… Like the layout
itself, is like a map with a new gun…
But instead of a new gun, it’s the layout that’s new.
I have to unlearn 4 years of map making.
I have to forget all the 1000s maps I’ve played.
I have to forget all the principles of map design.
I have to think outside the box.

I need to find inspiration.

I began looking at things in my living room (that was convenient for me)
Inspecting shapes and the symmetry on the carpet.
How the relation between the furniture is to each other.
I started imagining little Plazma burst 2 characters
running around the room. Seeing them climb these shapes.
In my head, I modified the size and shapes of things
around me. Until it looked like something that would
be possible on a 2D-platformer.
After piecing everything together
I went on PB2, and I made it in the editor.
Naming the map: “room”

After finishing. The map looked whacky. The layout wasn’t
nearly anything that’s out there. But still, I couldn’t help
myself, but to add some traditional PB2-flavor into the mix.
I couldn’t help myself but to give an extra opening here
and there. Just because it makes so much more sense.
I realized I already lost. But I’m not redoing anything.
I decided to go nuts.
I copied the maps several times, all copies had
different rotation horizontally and vertically,
and different scales and positions.
Now I started to delete certain pieces of the map.
The end result was kind of a playable map.
But it was far from simplistic.
There were LOTS of random pieces of walls, scattered across the map.
So I overlapped the map with bigger pieces of walls, that would define a more
solid map, per say.

As I playtested the map, I forced myself not to fix spots that would “help” gameplay.
Except for one wall. Lol.

The map turned out to be hard to navigate, which a lot of people would view as a weakness. Look. In my opinion, if EGRW would be published today,
people would complain about how easy it is to fall down and die at the bottom,
today…experts at EGRW have developed the skill to avoid this.
The only reason EGRW gets away with it is because of it’s dedicated players.

It doesn’t really matter if the map is hard to navigate, if the map comes in the
circle, whatever you wanna call it, people will learn how to skillfully
navigate, and use their specialized skills on this particular map to dominate others.
The map offers a high skill-ceiling especially with the grenades and port nades added.
Train enough on the map and you’ll be exploiting the gaps like a pro.

There it is, here’s the design. Here’s the empty map, waiting for the opportunity to become something.
It didn’t turn out to be a genius-simplistic design… because really, there’s nothing that defines what’s
good design and what’s bad. This is me providing an opportunity to the PB2 people… to master
‘something’. I don’t really know why you’d pick this instead of any 100,000 maps floating out there.

This is my submission: Gujhuj-jub

-Max.

4 years blog entry

Max here.

I haven’t been active on PB2 or BoZ lately, because life goes on. Regardless, I’m going to traditionally make an annual post about BoZ, as It’s now 4 years since BoZ was created. Most likely I won’t be here to make the 5th annual post about BoZ, as my focus and interests will be in an entirely different place in a year(Unless a trigger-like update comes out! Haha) . So since this will be my last one, I guess this one is a little extra special.

So, where do I start…?

First, I’d like to express how surprised I am. Back when I was 14 years old, when PB2 clans lasted normally a week or two. (Most still does), I had absolutely no expectations. I’d never guess BoZ would still live after 4 years, nobody would. Likewise, nobody would guess PB2’s community would still live over 4 years.

Second, I’d like to reflect what BoZ has done for me, which is difficult. Have PB2 and BoZ just been a big waste of time?

For me personally, leading BoZ has taught me a lot. Having built a clan, a website, keeping care of its name, while holding a group together, recruiting, advertising, dealing with reputation, building and discussing clan politics and ideals, and much more, all through online, It’s pretty much a simulation of what you do in the real world with products, companies, PR, online marketing, etc. It’s like playing fighting with sticks as children, yeah, It’s fun, but also gives a good foundation of becoming good with swords when you grow up.

Leave a comment…. What does BoZ (or any clan that you’re in) mean for you?

As I stated earlier, I won’t around for the 5th anniversary, but I really hope BoZ is still alive by then. Why do I hope that? I don’t really know. BoZ is no longer mine. It’s yours. An amazingly structured clan, with the best website and the most incredible logo, is absolutely nothing without its members. It’s what the members sacrifice of their time into the clan, that keeps the fire going.

Lastly, I’d like to say I’m proud to say I got to start the clan that has permanently burned its name into PB2. The name “BoZ” will forever blow in the wind as long as PB2 is alive.