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Logical Obstructions


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There don't seem to be many posts here discussing much in the way of mapping theory, and it is something I enjoy discussing. In anycase, I figured I'd post something I'd been thinking about lately.

I've been working on a design for a urban map. This doesn't only apply to my map of course, but it's how I came across the quandry. If you're map takes place in a city, a modern western city not in a state of war, how do you logically obstruct players from going down every road? Take for example one city block.


If you look above you'll see the block itself in black. The surrounding square of road in white, and all of the continuances of roads in green. Now the map I'm working on is larger than one block of course, but just as an example. There are, for this one block 8 different roads that I'd need to obstruct in some way that doesn't make the player go, "That's rediculous. I wanna go down there."

Within the construct of a fictional realm there are many ways to do this. In a situation where war is present, you can have all kinds of debris, from abandoned vehicles, destroyed building parts, etc. You can also have roads and paths destroyed by the "enemy." In scifi you can have bizzare corridors and really create a path that works for you with disreguard for the realities of designing for that enviorment. A game based, at least in look, on reality has more constraints. Expecially in the manmade realm where we've imposed order, and an order that is somewhat predictable. Nature has the same benefits as scifi in that you can build paths and chaoticly meander about without anyone really noticing as it actually the reality of nature.

I've been strugling coming up with ways to control my players movments. A few things I've thought of.

Roadwork/Construction - One, two, maybe three roads could have this done to them if you really wanted to push it.

Emergency Blockades - Fire trucks, police blockades, what have you. This isn't really appropriate for my situation, but works in the modern realm conceptually.

Unusually Shaped Blocks - In a situation where you have multiple blocks you can cut a few out by extending a blocks length and or adjusting it's shape.

Natural Obstructions - Certain elements in nature define the way we plan cities in general such as rivers and seas. If the block is located next to one of these then it eliminates those sides. But this only works for a specific area. In a related note, sudden elevation changes can concivably be used to wall in certain areas.

Subterranean Road System - You can have roads go down into dark tunnels the player can't really enter. It's kinda cheap, but most people will accept it.

The problem is even with all of the things above... in a multiple block situation you will clearly run into some issues. You could have a REALLY busy one block situation and use all of those and probably cover blocking all 8 roads... after all there can't be alot of reasons you'd logically be confined to one block anyways unless there was something fairly important on that block. Anyways. I'm rambling and I realize it.

I don't want this thread just to be about my own concerns, though I apprecaite any thoughts you have that might assist me. Please feel free to post any thoughts you have on the subject of controling where players are allowed to go. Thanks for your time.


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Fast moving Traffic - Having a stream of fast moving traffic that will kill the player is a fairly reasonable block. Even though in reality you would get breaks in the traffic caused by quiet momets/traffic lights, I think most players would be happy to accept this as a logical boundry.

Delivery Vans etc - Depending on the width of your street, you could probably block it using a bus/delivery van/dumpster truck. Just something large you could expect to see stopped. While it's not something you'd want to over use, it is an option.

That's all I can think of at the moment. To be honest the diagram represents a bit of a nightmare. I think you could perhaps cull off two of those junctions without compromising your theming one bit.

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how about . .

- a car accident scene with cops and tape

- traffic stopped at a stoplight that never turns green

- onramps that lead to a freeway that you cannot go up

- traffic that is stopped going through a tunnel, but you cant pass all the cars

- big rig truck stuck in traffic crossways across the intersection with lots of honking that never moves

- stopped up traffic at a toll booth

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Great topic, well written too :D

As for the answer, making an urban enviroment like this, and blocking off all the exit routes is a bit of a nightmare if you want to take a realistic approach. As others have said, parked cars or construction work is the only stuff that fits in, unless your map backstory opens up for other solutions, such as police barricades or damage from an accident.

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Hmm... interesting replies.

One thing I should also note is that the nature of my mod creates vertical as well as horizontal problems. I'm ignoring that for the sake of this discussion. There are ways to deal with that in certain respects, but anyways...

I created a similar image to the one above of the actual situation I'm trying to comprehend. Allow me to rock your world.


Wow. Flooring. I know. I'm with you. hehe...

Anyways... you'll notice some new colors joining the party. Green/Black/White will reprise their roles as Intersections that need blocking/Blocks/Roads respectively. Light grey will be joining the cast as sidewalks(!!!) and Dark grey will be the afore mentioned extended block that covers some of the possible green with buildingness. Understand that this layout is still preliminary as I have decided exactly what I'm looking to do yet with the whole map. I've been working on it in chuncks so things will change. But disclaimers aside...

Yeah. Sidewalks. With streets come sidewalks. :\ It's an unfortunate reality... fortunate in reality though. hehe... My problem is that I really want the city to at least give the illusion of being feasible city blocks without having to box them in extremely obviously. I COULD remove some of the greens and just turn them into a corner. That's not an huge deal, the problem is that I don't want to do to all 4 corners of the maps. I could also do the building extensions over the greens in the central areas in the top and bottom. Doing those two things would eliminate all problems..... kinda. But then the player is in a big Box... and it looks like a big box... :\ I thought about cornering one or two of the main corners but I haven't decided yet. I will also DEFINITELY be using the "going underground tactic at least once.

Lemme respond to some of your ideas... you have some pretty good ones.


Natural disasters would work alot like the warzone scenario. Doesn't work in my situation, but it should definitely go on the list of posibilities.


Fast Moving Traffic - A good idea, except that we may have scripted cars driving around anyways. Even if not... I'd like to keep the whole road itself open without having a giant stream of fast moving cars to mow down any overly explorative player. Would work well on a highway situation. That could work on an edge like a river... again. Not in my situation but a good thought none the less.

Service Vehicles (Delivery Vans, garbage trucks, etc.) - Interesting idea. This could work well in the situation of the road. Doesn't really work for sidewalks.

The one block situation is definitely a nightmare... I can think of situations where it could work... say a building hostage situation where you have police cordon off all the streets around the building. But that's why I posted my actual situation. It's more practical and in other ways worse. hehe...


Car Accidents - Good idea. This could get the sidewalk too.

Broken Stoplight - heheh... it'd be funny, but the sidewalk situation would remain.

Freeway Onramps - This is sorta the go underground idea in reverse. The road system in my map is subterranean primarily, but the idea is still a good one.

Tunnel Traffic - I'm using this gimick for another part of the map.

Stalled Big Rig - hehe... another funny idea. This might could work, the only reason it might not is that big rigs usually aren't allowed in dense urban areas. However, as a one time gimik it could work... again... in my situation I don't really think so.

Toll Booth - I'm using this one too in conjunction with the tunnel thing. Those two are used on that central strip of white.


Heheh... I'm in agreement with ya to a certain extent. But that's why I posted here. hehe... There is a backstory of course. But it's nothing of that nature. In fact it's suppose to be a somewhat covert operation... so if crazyness was already going on, then it wouldn't be a very good time to undertake the operation.

It for some reason strikes me as strange that creating a realistic map should be so difficult without needing some rediculous scenario to create boundries. I guess that's the nature of reality. We aren't really prevented from going in any direction when navigating in real life... so unless there's a parade or marathon (LAME) going on that circumscribes the map... it's tough to do. Clearly many of today's engines can support rather large city envioronments, but for the sake of gameplay one needs to control their actions to keep players from wandering endlessly as if playing Stalker. ;) No offense intended of course. hehe... Just in most multiplayer environments, to keep the pace up clearly there must be some control involved.

I'm trying to recall urban games of days past. Deus Ex and Max Payne come to mind the most quickly. Deus Ex had fairly overtly controled enviornments in genereal... The Hanger, Liberty Island, UNATCO headquarters, Shipyard, there is a couple city blocks as I recal and I think they had alot of dead ends and the afforementioned cornering. Max Payne takes place primarily in interiors making you go outside for only short periods... but nature was motivating that one as it was "the worst snow storm in recorded history." Oh gimicks. hehehe...

Anyways. I'm rambling again. I appreciate everyone's thoughts. If you have anything else to add, I'd love to hear it.


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You are my favourite poster (I love to read :) )

What game are you creating this map for? The setting could give you an excuse to use a particular cliche to explain why the player can't go anywhere he wants.

One way to solve it is to not block the road off at all, but instead have the street continue in a realistic fashion. Allow the player to travel a few meters down the road, then pop a game_text up on his screen with "get back into the gameplay area" (in more fitting words of course), and a trigger_push keeping the player from moving too far down the street.

(To be on the safe side, put a clipbrush behind the trigger_push)

This solves the problem, gives the player a small sense of freedom (as long as he doesnt try to escape!!) and looks pretty good/realistic.

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Hmm... honestly... it's not a bad idea.

The map will be my map for the first release of my mod. The mod will be developed for Source. We're starting with multiplayer, and depending on how things go, then create a single player experience. I could write an entire post about it, hehehe... but that's not really what this post is for. I just realized I didn't have a link to it in my profile. So I added one if you're interested in reading about it. It's a sequel to a mod for HL called Existence. Anyways back to subject...

Within the construct of the game... It *could* be possible to have a message display with a voice over radioing in saying something like... "What are you doing!? Get back to the target area!" Or something... It's still kinda evil... but I in certain ways it's no less evil than making some stupid obstruction that doesn't make any real sense. Then as you mention, you can really have the map go on as far as the eye can see theoretically. It's something kind of obvious that I seem to have overlooked. Again though, what do others think about that kind of warning? I guess it kind of depends on the context of the usage and how it's presented. In the worst case scenario it feels out of place, breaks the reality of the game, and basicly says, "Bad player! No!" If it works within the style of the game and doesn't look like a Fatal Error message I could see it being a feasible solution... even in combination with the 'logical obstructions' mentioned. In that way even if the player does circumvent the conceptual barrier you still have the message telling them to go back with the push barrier. That way you don't have any silly clip brushes keeping the player from jumping over obsticals and solves the verticle and horizontal dilema. Again though, so far it sounds like the best solution but I think you could make a solid arguement against it for the "Bad Player!" reasons. People could find that much more rediculous than simply preventing them from doing so. I guess it depends on the attitude of the player... which is one of those varaibles that's pretty unpredicatable in a lot of cases. Particularly with FPS titles as they have alot of applications and broad appeal for people who might enjoy completely different titles in other reguards.


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i dont know if this conforms to your map layout...but why not have the streets end with sewers or ladders or alleyway's...that way the player doesnt care much about the "why cant i go down there" and more about the "where does this ladder go"....i think if you trick the player into thinking there is an option not just a "NO, DEAD SPACE!" he wont feel like hes being cheated

when i think of what you're talking about i think of that NS map with the big buildings....i cant remember how they pulled it off though

bf1942 has a pretty elegant solution to it....you go out of battle area you die

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Hmm, never been a fan of that. Just killing the player seems harsh and a bit thematically dodgy. However, as pointed out, it's probably no worse than using invisible walls or finding reasons to block off an entire block.

FarCry's system for doing this was quite good (send a helicopter gunship after you if you strayed too far out, after warnings of course) - at least you saw why you were been killed. However, it was a rare occurance, FC never really needed to limit your movements on its islands, so it only came into play when the player decided to swim for it into the wide blue yonder.

I'm not sure what context you could find to kill a player for wandering in the city. The only one which really appealed to me is - and this makes a few assumptions about your theming - snipers. If you 'marked' no-go areas by having red lasers sweeping across them, the player would have a natural and non-reality breaking reason to stay in the gameplay area. You could make the lasers converge on the player, giving him/her a time limit for being out of bounds, perhaps fire a few warning shots and have the mission controller (if there is one, like I said, assuptions are been made ;) ) scream at the player to get back.

You could reprise the helicopter I suppose, but you'd have to have a reason why it couldn't chase the player once he/she'd crossed back into the boundries, tough to explain.

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It's hard to movitate the helicopter/sniper thing... at least from the get go... again the idea is that the events occuring are somewhat unexpected. Also, in terms of Farcry... just having an island theme period gives you alot of luxury in this reguard. The whole map can be the island, and no one will have a problem with that... they swim too far... they drown or get eaten by hungry sharks. hehe... Also, there isn't a formal mission controller... more like a guy who shouts over the PA when something important happens. I can think of one or two ways to set up a way to kill the player off... but it depends greatly on what Source lets us do vesus what I've got in mind conceptually. ;)

Again... something I forgot... the deterent system. Beyond Good & Evil does it when you're in the ship with giant snake alien heads that shoot lasers at you knocking you back into the play area. Bastards. I showed them... I figured a way to bunny hop over a mountaing and get out of the game area and I was free to roam the seas.... to bad there's not a damn thing out there... it was tricky getting back inside. hehehe... Anywho... back to subject... the problem with deterent systems that wound or kill the player for disobeying is that that it can have the same "No! Bad player!" effect depending on how it's treated. If it's done well I can see it adding depth to the gameplay, but it depends on how it's done because if it's clearly just happening because your wandering out of the desired gameplay area that's alienating. If the theme of the map is again, the hostage or really any serious law enforcement situation... it would make sense for the area to be teeming with sipers... so then you can keep the player from going places that way. Yay. A productive thread. Thanks for the new ideas guys. Add what you can. :)


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