informa
/
2 MIN READ
Blogs

Basic Level Design: The Unseen Job

In this article I'll be telling you about my process in creating a level.

People forget about the level designer: most people can imagine someone programing the controls, an artist drawing a character, or a writer weaving a story, but his job mostly gets ignored. The level designer is kind of like a janitor: he only gets noticed if he does a bad job. If a level designer makes a bad level you'll be screaming at your iPod about how you can't find the exit, or how that one area keeps killing you. Now if he does it right, you'll see the awesome art, you'll experience amazing mechanics, or you'll be immersed in the gripping narrative. Basically I get to create the frame and make sure I don't cover up the painting. In this article I'll be telling you about that job or essentially my process in creating a level.

First, I need to know what my limitations are - basically, where in the story I am. I also need to slowly introduce gameplay elements so as not to overwhelm the player. So, I start off by getting the list of story elements Dan made me for the level (person A meets the player, person B dies, and event C happens), and my own list of which gameplay elements are present (new gameplay element D, reiterate gameplay element E).

Next I decide how much of this level is going to be tunnels or open exploring. I use tunnels to guide the player towards an objective and I use open exploring when I want them to find it themselves. Most of our levels fall somewhere in between.

Then I sketch a quick outline to get me started. This isn't a blind sketch - I know where I left the player at the end of the last level - and I know where I want to take him. I take this sketch and take each room and ask questions like "what would make this hard", "what would make this not confusing", "how does this tell the story", but most importantly "what would make this fun". I flush out each room and move onto the next one.

Then I hand it to Todd for QA. He does some playtesting with my level and lets me know what he thinks then I go back and make alterations, asking the same questions as before. We do the QA loop a couple more times and then we have a level. That level, if I did my job right, should be fun, tell the story, showcase the art, and introduce the mechanics - all with out anybody knowing I've been there.

I'm Zak, and I'm the janitor. ;)

Reposted from Fixbot Blog: http://demergostudios.com/fixbot/

Latest Jobs

Treyarch

Playa Vista, Los Angeles, CA, USA
2.03.23
Senior Physics Gameplay Engineer - Treyarch

High Moon Studios

Carlsbad, CA, USA
2.03.23
VFX Artist - High Moon Studios

Anne Arundel Community College

Arnold, MD, USA
1.30.23
Instructor/Assistant Professor, Game Art

Treyarch Vancouver

Vancouver, BC, Canada
2.02.23
Producer - Treyarch Vancouver
More Jobs   

CONNECT WITH US

Explore the
Subscribe to
Follow us

Game Developer Job Board

Game Developer Newsletter

@gamedevdotcom

Explore the

Game Developer Job Board

Browse open positions across the game industry or recruit new talent for your studio

Browse
Subscribe to

Game Developer Newsletter

Get daily Game Developer top stories every morning straight into your inbox

Subscribe
Follow us

@gamedevdotcom

Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more