Real-life level design

Level design is not just a virtual thing. It utilizes many skills of the real world. This covers some basic correlations in order to prepare for future level design discussion.

[This was originally posted on my personal blog]

So I'm a wee bit bored of general game speak and what-nots, so let's take some time to delve into level design and understanding that. For those casual gamers and non-gamers, you can learn from these theories as well. This particular post will cover the similarities between real life and video games so that when I start talking hardcore level design you can utilize those design theories in games as well as the real world. This is useful for you designers out there as well since it will allow you to observe and practice level design when you aren't playing games or using a level editor.



Floor Plan Design

A direct comparison from the virtual world to the real world for level designers is a floor plan designer (or any building designer, city plan designers, etc.). Our job as level designers is to create a map that allows for intuitive travel, ease of access, control of obstructions, and various other aspects. Floor plan designers design in the same way. Here is a comparison of thoughts from a floor plan designer and a level designer:


Floor Plan: "How accessible is the living room in respect to the rest of the house?"

Level: "Can the flag room be accessed from different areas of the map?"


Floor Plan: "When this closet door is open will it obstruct movement in the hallway?"

Level: "If I put a pile of boxes here will it obstruct the flow of combat in this hallway?"


Floor Plan: "When a guest enters the house, will they be able to find the important parts of the house easily (bathroom, living room, etc.)?"

Level: "When a player spawns here will they be able to figure out where they need to go for their objective?"


Quite the comparison, eh? Have you level designers thought about how useful your skills are in the real world? Have you floor plan designers seen yourself designing maps in Farcry 2? Take the time to explore your house, grocery store, or workplace, and apply the design theories that you know. Are they well designed?



Art Theory

Of course placement of objects is only part of the work of a level designer. Your map isn't just a bunch of white now is it? Art theory becomes quite important when you start utilizing colors, lighting, and perspective. Ever thought about using Color Theory in your levels? How 'bout Scene Composition? Levels are just as much works of art as Da Vincis. Why not using similar techinques between the two?


Music Theory

Sounds are just as abundant in games as visuals are. Different sounds can give you different feelings and really set the tone for levels as they do in movies and music. The use of sounds on your maps is just as important as everything else when trying to reach perfection.


Stay Tuned

Those are just a couple of comparisons. Similarities between the real world and games exist all over the place. Just because what you do is all virtual doesn't mean that it can't be done in the real sense of things, and vice versa. Hopefully this opened your eyes that much more. In the coming posts I'll cover some of the level design theories that I utilize and mention some correlations to the real world as well, so that you can apply those theories everywhere. Adios amigos.

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