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I'm writing about level design


Zero Khan
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https://sites.google.com/view/leveldesigner/english-version?authuser=0

 

I have zero professional experience. My experience is limited to making some unreal and quake maps. The idea came after playing shadow warrior and prey (old) and noticing how bad they are at level design. Prey is just a mess. Shadow warrior has good visuals but they made the lights missleading, guiding the player to the wrong direction.

 

I'm pretty sure that I made a ton of mistakes, be it writing itself or thinking that something is wrong or right when it isn't. Because I started it as a random assortment of tricks and tips I didn't follow an order with chapters and sections. All it has is some catgories and then subpages.

Edited by Zero Khan
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Posted (edited)

I should criticise my own maps.

 

Mark Rosewater said in GDC 2016 that players can easily notice failures and spot bugs. But players more often know little about the design process. That's true. I'm in the process of taking his lessons and write the same lessons with a focus on level design.

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10 hours ago, Zero Khan said:

I should criticise my own maps.

 

Mark Rosewater said in GDC 2016 that players can easily notice failures and spot bugs. But players more often know little about the design process. That's true.

I think the best designers in the world all have the ability to pick apart their own work, so this is a great idea.

And he is right about player feedback according to my experience as well.  And there's nothing wrong with that at all, but it's helpful to know as we weigh the feedback that's offered by them.

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On 10/12/2021 at 10:20 PM, Zero Khan said:

In some parts I couldn't resist to disagree with parts of what Mark said.

I'd say this is a great indicator that you are capable of thinking about these things at something deeper than the surface level.  This is a good thing.  😉 

 

I was watching a weight training video the other day and they made an analogy that I think is appropriate here.  And hopefully it will make sense to those that don't do resistance training...

They essentially said that if someone asks how many reps or sets they should do on a particular exercise, someone that's been coaching for a few years will most likely say 8-12 reps (or something very specific).  Whereas, if you ask someone that's been coaching for 10-20 years, they'll always say 'it depends'.  The more experienced person has a more nuanced understanding of all the factors that must be considered, so they know that it's not as simple as prescribing a specific number (or range) of sets and reps.  

 

The same is true of level design.  There are guidelines that can be used.  However, being able to discern why you should or shouldn't follow a specific guideline is a sign of understanding and critical thinking.

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I'm going to add another category "Beginning and planning" before going back to making maps.

 

In Magic they design cards in what they call Top-Down or Bottom-Up. When they do Top-Down the theme comes first. You take priority on flavour, theme, emotions, such as catastrophes, fear or vampires. When they do Bottom-Up they take priority on mechanics, what the card does first. For ex: I want to deal 4 damage to any target. The spell can represent a lightning, a fireball, a bomb, this is decided on a later stage in this case.

 

The same thing can be done in level design. Theme first or mechanics first? It depends. In the first case you think on the atmosphere first. In the second case you think on player's actions or challenges first. So, I can think on a level that is going to be a castle. What type of castle? Some japanese architecture for example. Or the other way around, I want the player to swim underwater. Let's say to explore an underwater temple and the player has to come up for air every 30 seconds. But it doesn't have to be an underwater temple, it could be a sunken ship too. In this case the atmosphere comes later on.

 

In both cases you need a pretty good and clear description of what the goals of the level are. That's even before any art is done. This is where I tend to overlook. I have an idea such as a castle in the mountains and then try to build it right away. In Magic's case they always put more effort on mechanics than on flavour, because they can't afford to have cards that play bad. I think that level design is more or less in the same path, you have to compromise on art first if you want the player to go in some direction or really need some event to happen in a very specific way.

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