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The latest installment in our Game Design Tips & Tricks series helps you step up your level design!
Level up your level design with the latest in our Game Design Tips & Tricks series. Today, we have invaluable advice from Matthias Otto, Principal Level Designer for Hunt: Showdown, who has also worked on numerous Crytek IP, including The Climb franchise.
Three Tips for Level Design in Games
Start at the beginning!
"When it comes to level design, you should first think about the game and its overall purpose, themes, and aims. What are the core pillars of the game? And from there, what elements can you put in the level to serve them? Ask yourself where this particular level fits in the game. Is it a tutorial level where you need to teach the player certain things? How skilled should they be at the point of the game they are playing through this level? And, of course, is there a story and theme to the game? What are the story beats that need to be included, and what should the atmosphere be? This will help guide you when you begin the process and will assist you when you think about the pacing of the level."
Block out your level
"When you have decided what you want to achieve, I recommend reference gathering. Whatever your location is, search for imagery on the web for inspiration. If you're working as part of a wider team, speak to your concept artists, who should also be able to provide you with concepts, and then talk through those concepts with them. When you have devoured and discussed the imagery, get your pens out. Begin with 2D sketches of your level spaces, a quick way to visualize your concept. Then when you have a good outline, start blocking the level out in-engine to get a 3D feel for your level. When you have your level blocked out, review it to check that all your game mechanics are, or can be, implemented. You also need to ensure that it aligns with the principles established at the start of the process, like the game's core pillars and how it serves the players."
Once your level is blocked out and you have completed your own review, show and play through your level with as many people as possible. Of course, if you're in a team, you'll get important feedback from artists, fellow level designers, and other colleagues. But don't be afraid to show your workings to non-developers, too. Some of the most important feedback you can get is from potential players. You'll gain valuable insights about your concept and how players actually play the level from people with little or no knowledge of your project. Collect feedback from all players afterwards, but also watch them play in real time if you can, and take notes. Do players find their way through the level successfully? Do they get lost? Are there choke points, and is the pacing right? Collate all of the feedback and implement solutions that align with the game's core pillars, the concept of the level, and what you want to achieve. Then rinse and repeat to take your level to final!"
Thanks to Matthias for providing advice drawn from years of experience working on award-winning games. You can get yet more expert-level insight by checking out our CRYENGINE Breeze Academy series on YouTube, where Matthias joins Junior Evangelist Roman Perezogin to discuss level design in general and for the platforming game that is the subject of the show.
Want more game dev tips? ICYMI, you can check out the previous installments in our Game Design Tips & Tricks series below:
Narrative Design Tips & Tricks
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