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About Me

Found 218 results

  1. WAYWO has landed. This is one giant leap for Level Design, one giant leap for Video Games. Or anything else you all deem appropriate to discuss in here, since it is traditional to go way, way, WAY(wo) off topic.... 😉
  2. My level design Case Study 04: Recreating «Shoot House» map from call of duty: Modern warfare Tool used: - Blocking out: Rhino v6 - Walk-through and playtest: Unreal 4.25 (Note: some probs are taken from «POLYGON- BattleRoyalePack» asset) More images: Reference:
  3. Special thanks to Ivan Buchta from Bohemia Interactive for his help. Introduction According to Cambridge Dictionary: “Landforms are natural shapes on the earth’s surface”. It’s logical to see how important landforms can be for any outdoor video game map. The way those landforms are incorporated can, as we will see, result in interesting situations depending on how and how much they are used in the game. During this presentation, we will use war games of different genres: battle royals, war simulations, and traditional fps such as Battlefield. During this analysis, we will ask ourselves a simple, but important, question: “What is the relationship to the reality of war games with landforms?”. With this question, we will look into games such as Arma 3, Apex Legends or Battlefield 4, 1 and 5. We will analyze what their links are with realism, their vision of realism, and how they adapt that vision of game design according to their vision of realism and what is the legacy of their predecessors: the Wargames. We will conclude by reviewing the impacts of this vision on our modern vision of war with microtopography and the lack of humans. Analysis of the topography in shooters games Mountains and terrain morphology The hills and mountains constitute the most significant type of topography in reality and in video games. Furthermore, they constitute, as we will see, an elegant way to balance levels and put more challenge into games. This is accomplished thanks to the natural obstacle and challenge that hills and mountains present. What do we mean? We'll explain. With this really interesting landform, we'll see how a mountain can create interesting situations in different types of shooter games. First, let’s focus on war simulations such as the Arma series. This series, well known for its commitment to realism and its realistic environments, used mountains as a way to balance play, just as they balance real battles. In real battles, mountains create a really good way to defend an area, or just to keep an eye on it. Also, they give a good advantage to artillery that has a higher range thanks to the altitude. Moreover, it will make it difficult for tanks and other land-based vehicles to access the top of the mountain. Finally, perhaps the most important bonus provided by this landform is the increase to a sniper’s range. This means they can detect and eliminate enemies much easiler than would be possible on flat ground. These bonuses, which are common for all war simulations because they try to mimic reality, are important to balance a battlefield, and these landforms can completely change a game. For example, a poorly placed mountain could create a mismatch between teams. One team could always have an advantage over the other thanks to a mountain that becomes their stronghold. But a well placed hill or mountain can create a true challenge for teams. For example in Red Orchestra 2 Rising Storm, in the map “Hanto”, the attacking team will have to face off a hill as a first obstacle. This hill, protected by machine-guns and flame-throwers, is difficult to take. However, the map is quite easy to go through as an attacker. This means that, during very first seconds of the battle, the attackers and the defenders go through a tense moment because the faster the enemies take that hill the easier they will win. We can see that, in shooter games, hills and mountains are a symbol of dominance and of difficulty. But the Arma series succeeded in putting drawbacks to that landform for the defenders. First of all, the mountains in Arma are sometimes surrounded by dense forests, and so a good commando can sneak into the camp and create a mess, providing an opportunity of attack. In Arma 3, the gameplays and modes are made to encourage good teamwork. And so it motivates players to work together efficiently, rewarding them with a higher probability of breaking through defences. Additionally, if defenders depend too much on the hill, an imbalance in their defences can result in chaos. Errors such as that, which are inherent to the strategic flaws of hills, are also linked to the way that Arma designs war. As we mentioned earlier, Arma tries to be the closest to reality, which means every flaw or bonus of a landform is translated in the game as the same flaw or bonus, meaning that the level design of Arma, as we will see later, is actually inspired by real battles. However, terrain morphologies could be used in ways other than just a military way; they can be used to do proper level design. In smaller maps, edges can be used to set the map’s borders. It can be also used to restrict access to specific areas to allow some levels to load and not others (such as in Firewatch). Mountains can also be used as Landmarks; they're something symbolic that catches the eye of any human. So a mountain can be used as a landmark to give a geographical point of orientation for the player. One example of this can bee seen in Fortnite, where the player can use the mountain as a way to see where the player is. Terrain morphology is a really interesting way to create symbols in level design. It can also be used to enhance the environmental design or narrative design (such as the mountain of Journey which is a narrative symbol and an important landmark). These uses, in addition to the strategic uses, help a lot in creating a coherent and interesting topography for game design. But also the use of terrain morphology can be used for more abstract level design, or for game’s production. Plains Plains look like the most simplistic landform that exists on Earth. They are just plain, flat, as simple as a line. But, correctly used, it can be a good way to design landscapes and include elegant level design into maps. Moreover, going through a simple plain can create thrills or strike fear into the hearts of players. To continue with our thought process, let’s first focus on the flaws and keys strengths of the plain. The first, and most obvious, key strength of the plain is the ease with which vehicles/squads can be transported, which means the players won’t have difficulty transporting vehicles such as trucks or tanks. It’s also provides a space to easily land a helicopter or airplane, for example. This key strength makes a plain a good way to gather units, even to build camps. And of course, it’s quite easy to go through a plain in comparison to rough terrain. There’s another key strength, which is also a flaw: it’s easy to aim with artillery on a plain. Despite the fact that targets are more mobile, the lack of natural protection (trees, landforms) makes aiming at them easier. This means if someone has to mount an attack on a plain, the attackers can pound the area to exsanguinate the besieged. This also means that anyone who is in a plain is an easy target, and this doesn’t only apply for artillery, but also for snipers or anti-vehicle/infantry weapons. This flaw has a major influence in the UX of the Arma series. Going down to the plains isn’t just walking straight like nothing will happen to the player. It’s clearly the opposite: Arma’s players are afraid of the plains. Because the danger can be everywhere for them. It can be from the sides by rivals trying to ambush them. It can be from in front of them in the form of a sniper. Or worse, it can be from above them by the artillery or aviation pounding them. This creates real stress for players. Each minute in a plain creates tension in the group because they become paranoid at every noise. They need to be extremely vigilant to survive. A single moment of inattention can lead to the death of the whole group. Also, as stated earlier, plains are a good place to create an ambush because it’s easy to flank and contain a squad with motorized infantry. The plains lend some freedom to the player to choose a path to complete an objective, the cover and the vegetation have their specifics and allow the player to choose which path is the better in his situation. So putting a plain in a map is useful if we want to create a meeting point of players or to create tension into a game by making plains the only way to reach the enemy. That makes the plain a good element to create an elegant and dynamic level design. The Forest Forests are often seen in video games, but their use can be very different from one game to another. Some games don’t have huge forests because of performance issues. They can, for example, create a specific atmosphere to a game, create hiding places, be a focal point etc... In an FPS, the forest can serve as a hiding place and/or be used as a tool to change the gameplay. In Arma 3, the jungle is ever present in the Tanoa map, especially in the middle of isles. It forces players to play as infantry (it’s too hard to control vehicles in the jungle) and challenges them on that particular fight situation (close combat). The jungle also limits visual information, which can be stressful if danger was teased before. This technique can be very useful for solo or coop levels. The camouflage has high importance in the forest, the player can hardly see enemies so the environment becomes very stressful for him. In Battle royal games, the forests are used to hide and collect information, which gives players a feeling of security and control of the situation. It’s also a place where the gameplay combat changes, and players are forced into close quarters combat like in FPS. In Fortnite, another use of the forest is to hold resources. Players are pushed to play in forests to take advantage of and use resources during the game. This kind of area becomes attractive to players, providing an area for them to prepare for an upcoming fight. The resulting decrease to the pacing gives players a break before the inevitable rush of adrenaline that will happen in the upcoming battle. In real life, a forest is a place where it’s difficult to walk because of mud, brambles, roots etc.. Like some real forests, in video games the player often has to zig-zag between rocks and trees. It has different atmospheres, depending on the hour of the day, the season, and various other parameters. Contrary to the forests in video games, where the gameplay is the primary atmospheric influence, a real forest’s atmosphere is influenced by the weather. However, the weather is used a lot in video games as well, to provoke a more realistic setting. Watercourses In video games, watercourses are mostly used as obstacles or as communication routes. In Fortnite, the watercourses have two goals. The first is to give a pleasant way to move across the map, watercourses provide a fast and easy way to reach the next “safe zone”. This goal is linked to the second goal, have a place to fight and break the monotony of some games. People are attracted by the advantages of having boats, and the level design encourages boats to go to the middle of the map, so some fights happen to take advantage of other players. In Heroes and Generals, the players can swim to cross watercourses, but can’t use their weapons. So it’s a dangerous move which can be rewarding if the player succeeds, allowing them to access a new situation. This kind of moment is highlighted when the objective is on a bridge, or on the opposite shore. When attempting to cross the watercourse, the player feels mainly stress because of the danger, but if he succeeds and kills other players the feeling of satisfaction and pride will be very high, which helps to balance out frustration resulting from previous deaths. Real watercourses are a way to exchange, to move or to communicate. But in wartime, they becomes an obstacle, and bridges become strategic points. The watercourse’s goals in video games are very close to the uses of rivers in real life. Origins, context and construction Large water areas Large water areas are in the majority of the open world games (The Witcher, GTA V, Just Cause etc…). Often, they are used as a border, but sometimes they serve the gameplay. Like in Metro Exodus, where the goal is to put pressure on the player, and to do that they include some water areas with aggressive monsters inhabiting them. You can see when they go underwater, but you don’t know when and where they will attack you. These monsters produce a sensation of insecurity and pressure. Combined with the poor maneuverability of the boat, the player feels like he can’t control the situation and must adapt to complete his objectives. In Arma the large water areas and watercourses allow players an alternate method of completing objectives. It links to the game design of the game, which aims to give some freedom to players with vehicles and other ways to move. One example of this is the Tanoa map, where islands are separated by the sea and players must use ships, planes... or swim. Seas and oceans are empty, occasionally used to transport goods. We can see a parallel between the games which use the sea as borders and the empty area in the ocean, the two have no interest for the majority of people but can also serve as communication roads. Life and topography We noted previously that games try to be very realistic with their topography and use it to improve their gameplay, but it often lacks something important to make it feel very realistic: life. Some animals are in Arma, such as rabbits and lambs, but there aren’t any civilians living in the cities, mountains, or other landforms. Those games are dedicated to wars, and so the battlefields are just a place to fight, and not to live. Arma and Apex Legends provide a clear vision of “realism” for these games. War isn’t something dirty, with lives or cities destroyed. It’s just a sandbox where you can “play war” with your friends, like when you were a child. And this gives a biased view of war. They tend to make players see “realistic” war games as games that tend to have ballistics, wind, and a huge FOV. Even more, it doesn’t include the uncertainties of war created by civilians: road nails, makeshift roadblocks or sabotage of team sites. This tends to make the players think that a war simulation doesn’t need civilians to be realistic. Nevertheless, the games with the most realistic part about humans are the military simulations. VBS is a good example of this type of game. To train military's, some civilians are in cities. They are autonomous and react to the environment, but their impact on the environment is non-existent. The DLC “Laws of War” from Arma 3 is an exception, Bohemia Interactive tried to put the human in the centre of the game. Despite the last part being very difficult to develop (because it’s requires very complex AI) it could be interesting to add this into games. But to make the environment credible, impacts of life could be visible. For example, in Battlefield 1 blast craters are the result of the actions of humans. Little paths or mines in Arma are created by the action of animals or humans. This produces environmental storytelling which is important to create stories and make the environment credible. As we saw previously, the human (except players and militaries NPCs) is not often represented in shooters and has a limited impact on topography. (Nevertheless, initiatives to represent the human factor exist, like “Spec Ops the Line”...) In Spec Ops: The Line it’s pretty clear to see all the influence of war in the area, building exploded, traces of previous human life which was here to show how terrible the event is. Despite the sand being mostly symbolical in this game, it shows a really good overview of how a cataclysm and war can affect humans in terms of psychology and topology. It could be a bad example because in this game everything is scripted, contrary to Arma 3 (despite the campaigns are scripted it’s still more free than Spec Ops: The Line). Context and history of the topography in-games Video game landscapes are inspired by natural landscapes, but their utility in game-design can come from literature, movies, series etc… For example, in movies like Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back, the swamps represent something dangerous and scary, where we can barely walk. and it’s hard to move around. The landing of Luke Skywalker, the creature who eats R2-D2, and the sinking of the vessel enhance this sensation. We can find the same feelings in Metro Exodus, where the boats are hard to handle and there are enemies both in and outside of the dirty water. These reactions can be explained by the dangerous animals we can find in swamps (Snakes, Leopards, Crocodiles etc…), the lack of visibility, and the difficulty for humans to live here. So the natural landscapes and the corresponding reactions are inspirerd by stories created by traditional media, and these stories were converted into gameplay by designers. History is also a great inspiration for topography in games. As said before, battles were mainly influenced by the topography (Waterloo might be a very good example of this, because the French partially lost because of the topology). This explains why the Topology has been a key factor in many strategy games. Many great battles (mainly in the Total War’s series) are represented in games. The point of view is different from one game to another, but the goal is the same: let the player experience the battle as if they were part of the history. And the exactitude of the topology helps a lot in immersing the player into the experience (and also rewarding them if they play the role of the loser, such as for Waterloo’s battle in Total War Napoleon). Making the topology a key factor of immersion also influences the way to maps are designed. Level design is, for sure, heavily impacted by this. The level designers have to make a historically precise battle, meaning that the battle will be unbalanced. This way to design could sound really strange but it’s actually made in a way that players have to use their game’s knowledge. But also, and it makes that kind of games pretty unique: their historical knowledge. Thanks to historically accurate AI behaviour/units. But the relation between topography and Game-Design is not exclusive to video-games. Warhammer games are precursors in the use of the topography, the magic zones, the covers, the dangerous zones etc.. add different elements to play, so each game is unique. The rules help represent what could happen in reality. For example, the more a unit is hidden behind cover, the higher the penalty for shooting at it. Nevertheless, the use of environments is limited by very precise rules which make it difficult to have different ways to play with it. Pipeline creation of realistic map Example of the production pipeline of Bohemia Interactive to create maps. (“Terrain Processor” and “Terrain Builder” are internal tools) To create a huge map inspired by real locations, developers can use the geographic data. The geo data is data of the topography. To obtain it, developers can buy, download or create it. They can buy NASA’s data. They can also ask private companies to get it for them, etc. They then analyse the data with a GIS (Geographic Information System) (which shows where there are mountains, their height, width...where the rivers are...). Data points are adapted to the game, reducing the size of the map, the height of the mountains, etc. as needed. Terrain must also sometimes be adapted to facilitate the job of AI, and the gameplay of players. Finally, the map is implemented in the game and playable content can be made with it. Conclusion During our presentation, we saw that games have two main ways to represent landforms. The first is a non-realistic one, where the gameplay is more important than landforms. In this approach, landforms are adapted depending on the game design, and those landforms are used to enhance the game design. The second way is to use the landforms in a realistic way, which means those games try to represent as close as possible the influences of the landform on the soldiers. This way sounds the closest one to reality, and those games also try to be the closest to reality, as the game design is adapted to the landforms and not the reverse. It could be a quick, logical, and quite a simple answer to say that the scientific approach of war simulations is more realistic than Apex Legends or Fortnite. As mentioned earlier, although there is a huge lack of humans in games, there is more and more of an awareness to develop games so that civilians are included. We can even cite the humanitarian aspect in, for example, the ARMA series. But this awareness is clearly a niche compared to the vast majority of shooters. And many ARMA players won’t play the add-on despite the great sales (more than 300k sales). Even though It's a wonderful initiative and well done (half of the revenues were given to the charity and it respects Geneva laws), it’s very little compared to the very large sales of Red Orchestra, Fortnite, or even Arma 3 itself, which don’t talk of civilians normally. And VBS isn’t accessible to civilians. This tends to make us think that if we want realistic landforms maybe those war simulations need to rethink their vision of war in general despite some of them (and the most famous) trying to get rid of this lifeless vision of war. 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  4. Introduction The number of quality books on Level Design has grown by one with the release of Let’s Design: Combat – A Level Design Series by Max Pears. The book is comprised of 25 subjects organized into 3 different sections (Planning, Blockout, Iteration) over the course of 80 pages. It brings us through concepts such as Metrics, Enemies, Decision Points, Combat Fronts, Verticality, and Local Landmarks. These subjects are presented in bite sized nuggets of insight from Mr. Pears, and supported with fabulously unique graphic depictions. We recently met up with Max to pick his brain about level design, and more specifically about his book on designing for combat. Interview Hey Max. Good to talk to you again. You’ve definitely been one of the most active level design content creators in recent years, putting out numerous articles and videos, along with mentoring others in the community. When and why did you decide to do a level design book? Hey mate, thank you very much for having me and great to be talking with you again. Aha cheers mate, yeah I had not stopped to think about being one of the most active. I guess it’s because more and more people are getting involved in our great Level Design community. It’s a funny one, as honestly I did not think I would write a book. I’m sure some of you who have read my articles on Next Level Design will know I am not the best writer, but I’ve gotten better, haha. My bad writing and jokes aside, it is because people kept asking me to write a book. After the combat article series I wrote and you published here, the demand increased. I thought well let’s give it a go and see what I can do. Another reason I think people were asking was/is because I’m so active. We have many great Design Books, but a lot of them are written by those who are outside of the industry, which does not take away from their value, I just think students and Jr designers want to hear from those who are in the industry. Plus I feel that level design is still not fully understood. So if I can help to reach students or Jr Designers to help them get a clearer picture in a more tangible form, I think a book may be the best way to do it. Yeah, for sure. It's awesome having a full collection of tips and tricks all in one, rather than taking bits and pieces from different places. Speaking of your experience within the industry, that reminds me that there may very well be people reading this that are just getting into level design, and may not be super familiar with you. How long have you been working as a level designer, and can you share some of the projects you've worked on? I have been making games for just about Seven Years now, crazy to think how fast time has flown by. I originally started in mobile games at a studio called FOG (Free Online Games) Media, where I made around 7 games in total, a couple made it to the app charts (Very proud of that). After I left went to Ubisoft Reflections, in which I worked on Tom Clancy's The Division, and the DLC Underground. Once that wrapped up I headed to where I currently am which is CD PROJEKT RED, where I am currently working on Cyberpunk 2077. Sadly right now I can not talk much about CP, but I am sure we will talk again after the game launches. But yeah that is my career so far, I am very happy with the projects I have been able to work on and the other developers I have had the pleasure to work with. Great. Thank you for that. Now let’s talk about this book of yours. Let’s Design: Combat – A Level Design Series is organized into 3 chapters – Planning, Blockout, and Iteration, in that order. I can’t help but point out that this exactly mimics the typical design process order. I assume that was intentional? Do you feel It’s important for level designers to follow a strict process? Should they always (or nearly always) be addressing the subjects covered in the Planning section of the book before moving on to the ‘Blockout’ phase of the process, or should a process be more fluid than that? Also, you’ve worked on games that differ greatly in style, and I’m curious about how process and priorities might change to align with the type of project you’re working on? Glad you noticed mate, yeah I made sure to break it up to make it feel as close to the overall game development process as possible. I think it is important for students to understand how games are made as well as levels, at some parts of your career you might jump into a project at a different stage, so I feel this is a way to help those understand how the overall process looks. Yes, these are the stages everyone should learn, now someone's planning may differ from the next, but the overall experience in terms of big milestone structures are roughly the same. The process of how we design our levels should be roughly the same, but games and plans change throughout development so you might be at a point where an area is already art-ified so you can not block it out with your LD blocks. Yet you can still use the art assets for that area to use as cover instead. There are some adaptations that may be tweaked or less time invested into due to the stage of the project, however, if this book can help up and coming LDs understand how important these stages are to making great levels, then I will be happy as well. I am really glad you pick up on that, as I did think about how to best represent the overall process when coming up with this book, as there are some subtle details and others less subtle in the presentation & structure of this book. I hope other readers notice this as well. Your comment on understanding the importance of the various stages of designing levels brings to mind a semi-related question that I'm really eager to hear your thoughts on. I've noticed that as designers are in the learning stages of understanding level design (and we're basically all always at the learning stage), we tend to focus really heavily on particular concepts as we learn about them, perhaps to an extent that isn't really justified by their actually usefulness. One obvious example in the level design community would be 'leading lines'. Now while this is a cool concept, in the grand scheme of things it's probably not amongst the most important concepts to understand and incorporate. I won't ask you to call out the most over-hyped concepts in level design (but feel free to do so if you really want to, haha), but what are one or two of the concepts covered in your book that you think are undervalued, and really important in the level design process? Aha, yeah leading lines. I won’t lie, I have highlighted these before in my tweets and use them as an example in a few talks I have done. Now is this part of level design over exaggerated? Yes, by a country mile, haha. The element of why to consider is because it is easy to highlight over social media. It’s harder to break down more detailed topics over 280 characters or in a picture. Now that does not mean that we should ignore leading lines, as they are a useful tool, but think of it more as an additional tool. On its own it’s not the best, but when combined with negative space or lighting it really helps. As for a topic of level design that is not spoken about enough, I believe that has to be metrics. When I graduated and started working at Ubisoft, when they started showing me the metrics graph and making sure I stuck to metrics (I was a renegade haha) I was so confused as to how some created them. Why? Because it was not taught to me. Metrics is so crucial for your LD process, we need to be much more aware of how metrics work, how to use it communicate with the player, and when to bend the metrics to craft an emotional response from the player in our spaces. To any up and coming LD, do try to find out more about metrics. Metrics for sure are important and overlooked. I suppose that's part of the reason why it's the very first subject covered in your book. Moving on to a different subject, one of the first things that jumped out at me as I was reading through the book is the graphics in the example depictions. I personally really like the style you went with. It's very unique. There must be a story behind how this graphic style came to be? Yeah exactly mate, hopefully when people read and see it as point 1, they will take notice and prepare as best they can to understand more on metrics. I am glad you liked the graphics, I think it is for sure one of the coolest elements we nailed down for the book. Haha yeah, there was a lot of thought which went behind it. What you might notice with the grey grid and ui in the top right hand corner, is that we wanted it to look like it was taking place inside a game editor. Really ground it to the fact that you as a reader can feel that what you see on the pages can be instantly transferred into say Unity, UE4 Or whatever editor you are using. Which is why the text is window shaped boxes. It is making it not only give information you can apply but feel like it is already applied for you. The process of the pictures was super cool as I would actually block the Out layout, to then give to my artist J. She would then translate it to the beautiful images you see on the pages. She also brought those characters to life, as we wanted to make it super clear what everything was as well as throw in our sense of humor. As learning can always be fun. But I think one of the biggest inspiration for the art style was my Twitter (not in an egotistical way). I found that a lot of people would like to see my early blockouts or 2d layouts for my layout. With that in mind I wanted it to feel like that. I am really glad you liked it, as I feel anyone who reads this book will be delighted with not only the information written but also with the presentation. It's been really nice talking to you again Max, and getting some insight into your book, Let’s Design: Combat – A Level Design Series. Can you share some logistics with us? When and where will the book be available for purchase? What can we expect the price to be? And also, one final question... I can't help but notice that the books subtitle says "A Level Design Series". This would seem to suggest that it's part of a series of level design books. Do you have plans for a follow up book/s? Always a pleasure talk with you buddy, thank you so much again for us sitting down giving me a chance to be on your site. Yes, so the book releases 21/07/2020 so not long, of us doing our interview. Very excited and nervous haha, I hope everyone who purchases it will enjoy it. In terms of picking it up, you can buy either a physical or ebook copy of the book, which can be found here: Ebook £15 ($18.84 USD) - Physical Book £25 ($31.38 USD) - The book will be available on other stores like Amazon, but the best way to support me is to buy it from the links in the article (Gumroad and Lulu bookstore) as most of the money goes to me so I can reinvest into.....your second part of the question. Yes I intend to aim for three right now, the next one will be about Traversal/Exploration and I will start work on this around November and try to release it around Q1 of 2021. I want to make ‘Let’s Design:’ the best possible series I can so aspiring LDs can be better prepared for when they arrive into the industry as well as help those who are already on their great design path. It is an exciting time, I hope those who do pick up ‘Let’s Design: Combat’ truly enjoy it and find it helpful. Resources Looking for more content from Max? Here are links to all of his articles shared on Next Level Design: - Level Design for Combat Part 1 - Level Design for Combat Part 2 - Level Design for Combat Part 3 - Shape Theory in Level Design - The Illusion of Space - Do Your Research: Where’s the Toilet - Game Design: Introducing Mechanics Follow Max/Level Design Lobby Twitter: iTunes: Spotify: YouTube: SoundCloud: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
  5. About Reaching Perfection Missed Chapter 27? Read it here: Reputation Intro Are you still having problems getting players to find the incentives that you have placed around the map? Do players just walk past weapons laying around the map despite the eye catching techniques you used to draw attention to them? There’s more to getting people to notice things than just using color contrast. Have you ever thought about their attention being drawn elsewhere in that situation? Point of Focus When in a combat situation players are constantly maneuvering their focus to things that they feel require their attention at the time. If someone is shooting at them then their attention is drawn to that deterrent, not the weapon lying on the ground beside them. If the capture the flag waypoint is straight across the map then their attention is going to be towards the shortest path to get to it, not the sniper rifle that is sitting comfortably in a cupboard behind them. If there is a rocket launcher sitting high up on a pedestal with lights shining all over it they aren’t going to notice the hidden shortcut that is off to the side out of their view. Standing in their shoes When trying to draw attention to something think about the most likely places that a player is going to be; whether it is coming in through a doorway, hiding behind cover, or sitting at a control point. Now imagine the player’s current priorities and where their point of focus is; this could be any possible threats, any obvious incentives, the next objective, etc. Now in your mind draw a sample of their possible perspective based on their focus point and position. Use that as a guideline as to what the player is looking at. Place what you are trying to draw attention to in that perspective keeping in mind the rule of thirds, color contrast, and other eye catching techniques. If you know a player is moving around a lot, keep in mind the possible perspective variance and plan accordingly. This technique can be used in a variety of ways. You can use it for area introduction, deterrent warnings, incentive presentation, and other such instances. This is similar to the way that you setup spawn perspectives except that a spawn perspectives direction is always known. Perspective direction is about making an educated guess and imagining yourself as a player, not as the designer. A third dimension When considering a player’s perspective direction it is easy to keep in mind that they can be focused anywhere in front of them, behind them, or to either side of them. Most designers forget that there is a third dimension in most games. Imagine a ramp. If a player is sitting at the bottom of the ramp and their path map reads that they are likely to be going forward over that ramp where is the player’s focus point? It isn’t straight ahead because then their perspective is filled with the ramp. Their perspective direction is towards the area of highest possible threat. When sitting at the base of a ramp that area is typically the very top of the ramp. So placing an incentive at the very bottom of the ramp is probably not a good idea as it is out of the player’s perspective. Always put yourself in your player’s shoes. Remember that they don’t know your map like you do. So show them. See your creation from their eyes, not from yours. Read Chapter 29: (to be updated) Follow Ray Twitter: Mixer: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
  6. Small 2v2 map called «Alsaleh Factory» (My fourth try! for «Asymmetric» multiplayer level design) Modes: TDM, Skirmish (Note: Some 3D models in the level are premade Unity assets from «POLYGON») CS:GO Workshop link: See more images here:
  7. Small 3v3 map called «Double House» (My third try for «Asymmetric» multiplayer level design) Modes: TDM, Skirmish (Note: Some 3D models in the level are premade Unity assets from «POLYGON») UPDATE: Playtest video added. See more images here:
  8. My second try for «Asymmetric» multiplayer level design Small 2v2 map called «Ammo Storage 2» Mode: Skirmish (Note: All 3D models in the level are premade Unity assets from «POLYGON») See more images here:
  9. Here's my first try for «Asymmetric» multiplayer level design Small duel [1v1] map called «Ammo Storage» Mode: Skirmish (Note: All 3D models in the level are premade Unity assets from «POLYGON») See more images here:
  10. About Reaching Perfection Missed Chapter 26? Read it here: Nurturing Intro Some of you have heard of my works. Some of you have heard of my past. Some of you recognize my name from somewhere. You judge me and my works based on the reputation that I have created. Good or bad. Remember that as a designer, you too are building your reputation for others to judge you by even if they have never met you and you have never met them. Always consider what the future will bring based on your actions, your content, and what you say. An image of you Consider yourself an artist of a painting that all will see when they hear your name. You decide whether it leaves a good first impression or not. Consider how you carry yourself when you speak with others and take the time to nurture your fans. Always keep in mind that you are being judged every minute of every day. Your works speak just as much about you as you do. Some will know you from only the creations that you have built. Some will know you from seeing your feedback that you give to other designers. Some will know you from the help that you have offered others. And yes... some will know you and remember how you acted in a heated argument. Always tread lightly when doing anything. Remember what rewards and what consequences will follow. They will affect the future in a huge way. I have made some mistakes myself in the past, but I am learning. Despite that, the bad in my past will continue to come back to haunt me as it will to you if you don’t learn quickly. It matters This doesn’t really seem like a level design lesson, now does it? Well it is. As you advertise your content people will judge you based on what they have seen from you. Some will make the decision on whether or not they will try out your content based solely on your reputation. So you must always make sure you understand the image you are creating when you do anything. Bad decisions and a bad reputation will cause people to not listen to your advertisement attempts despite any nurturing you may do. While this may not seem as apparent when you first start out it will definitely start to show itself as you continue on in your pursuit to build your credibility as a designer. Making a name Now that you are warned, it is time to go out and start painting that picture for all to see. People that recognize your name are definitely more likely to try out your content. The best way to build that image is to find a community and start painting. Offer to help out. Give your feedback to those who request it. Build memories and make friends. Do this in the most selfless manner. In the future it will repay you as a designer. You will be rewarded for your selfless acts. Remember that bad actions, content, and words will follow you forever. You don’t want to be known as the guy who spams advertisements or the guy who always starts arguments. You want to be known as the guy who has helped everyone else out and deserves to be helped out back. Forget about advertising when you are making your name. It will only lead to bad decisions. Be a loyal member of the community and then advertise to those who know you. Then create, nurture, expand, and profit. What are you waiting for? Use these lessons to invest in your future. Read Chapter 28: (to be updated) Follow Ray Twitter: Mixer: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
  11. Max Pears, host of Level Design Lobby, discusses the Illusion of Space in games. What is it, and how can this tool be used give players the sense that they are in a real life place? Follow Max/Level Design Lobby Twitter: iTunes: Spotify: YouTube: SoundCloud: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
  12. Always be creating...New content! It is easy to stop or pause after finishing a project and not move on to something else. If the last project was too stressful or demanding, then try something with less detail or scope, start experimenting with new brushwork building methods or different gameplay setups. Stop the dust from settling and dive right back into your next masterpiece! There are many ways to keep momentum going between projects. Experiment with new themes or texture styles, try to build some architecture at an odd angle like at 30, 45 or 60 degrees or find some concept art you like and recreate it to scale! Set yourself deadlines It's easy to get distracted adding details and being absorbed with tangent ideas when you should be focusing on the end goal, finishing and releasing your map! Setting yourself goals will focus your time on what is really needed and make you think twice about adding stuff that is not really necessary for the final outcome. A series of short deadlines are especially good if you are working with a limited time frame project because you can see progress much quicker and be more motivated to finish. Deadlines help to break a map down into smaller steps and more manageable tasks which can create a much better focused and rewarding map making experience. Never stop iterating I was once asked to create three different versions of the same encounter and at the time I could not understand why. It is impossible to know if your first version is going to be the best iteration if there is nothing for comparison. What may seem like a waste of time with duplication of work can be a useful validation of what design you have finally picked. Always consider the iteration process if what you are creating is nothing special or remarkable. Some might say the downside to the iteration process is that you can create more work than is required, but that does not mean the process is worthless. Don't be afraid to iterate because of the extra work involved, just save the different versions as prefabs. A real world example of iteration is city architecture, which often changes as people adapt places to suit their current needs. Expansions, extensions, extra routes and different styles of details can all work towards creating a better visual tapestry. Be inspired by others Hardly anyone can be creative in isolation without being influenced by something else around them. There are countless images, films and books that swim around our subconscious allowing us to come up with fresh ideas. If you are suffering from a creative block or not sure what to do next then search for concept art, go to the library or buy a coffee in a bookshop and browse some architecture books. The Internet has a vast collection of concept images, architectural photos and plenty of other types of artwork (sculptures, videos etc.) that can be used as sources of inspiration. Even if you take a concept image literally and create something similar, it will still be your interpretation and be a useful exercise for building new content with the editor. Try to avoid symmetry It is so tempting to create symmetry in architecture or gameplay setups because we see mirrored structures around us all the time and think it is the right thing to do. You can easily find a church or modern day building with identical sides and matching facade features. Symmetry is something you should be aware of at all times and actively trying to break. Try to use 90 degree rotation steps instead of mirroring functions when copying and pasting architecture (especially floor layouts) Move various facade elements vertically up or down to create an imbalance. Look for obvious vertical or horizontal lines and move elements around to break the pattern. Change the size of matching (size of flames) objects and change the style of identical pairs by removing/adding (boarding up windows with wood) something. *Note: This article is published in accordance with Creative Commons Guidelines Source: Follow Simon Twitter: Website: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
  13. About Reaching Perfection Missed Chapter 25? Read it here: Investment Intro Have you ever taken the time to tell someone that you love their work and that you can’t wait to see more? Well if you have, how many times has that person gotten back to you personally? How much more excited are you for their product when you get that personal message back saying that they thank you for your support? How much more willing are you to share that person’s work with your friends? That person just scored themselves’ more credibility. What it means to nurture Nurturing is the act or process of developing a person. It is bringing them up and developing them into something else. As a designer your goal is to nurture your fans from being casual fans to hardcore fans that will likely spread your creation. Casual fans just like your product and when they see it they will likely download it. Hardcore fans on the other hand, will take the time to spread the word because they feel that your work is worthy of others to experience. While casual fans are important, they are not what make the difference in advertising. Hardcore fans will get the word out that you have something new out and the casual fans will hear the word and download it. Hardcore fans will advertise for you. The more you have, the less you have to advertise, and the more time you can spend on working on new amazing content for your fans to enjoy. The way of nurturing Nurturing fans can be done in various ways. If I receive a comment on one of my creations, I take the time to personally message that user and let them know that their opinion does matter to me. If someone asks for my help I do my best to take the time out of my day to try to work with them. Because I am giving back to them my credibility is raised in their eyes and they are more likely to come back and ask for more help and more likely to help advertise my works. As you get more popular though it becomes harder and harder to nurture all of your fans. At that point you have to take the time to decide who to help and for how long. If you spend too much time nurturing you won’t have any time to finish any of your works and you will start losing fans that are waiting for content. However if you spend too much time making content then you lose that strong advertisement base and the time you spend trying to get your future works out doubles. It is a difficult balance to find and one that you can only find through years of experience. Always respond If you do not have time to nurture every person that comes to you or every person that enjoys your work at least take a little bit of time to acknowledge them. Something is better than nothing and most people will understand that you are busy and will still take the time to look out for your work or wait until you are less busy to ask you for help. Never leave a person hanging because the same way that one person can make you popular, one person can bring you down. You never know who will do what for or to you so never let something just slide by. Nurturing has been one of the best advertisement strategies that I have used to get my content out there, including these lessons. Don’t under estimate the power of personal and direct interaction. Remember that your time is money and giving it to others means a lot to them. Invest in your fans and future. Read Chapter 27: Reputation Follow Ray Twitter: Mixer: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
  14. I limited myself with «Inside Circle» theme For releasing my creativity and starting level design, Here's my result: (It looks like a Sci-Fi map for Halo or Destiny, isn't it?🤔) 2D Drawing, 3D Modeling and Rendering: Rhino v6 (Note: probs are taken from «POLYGON- Battle Royale Pack») See more images here:
  15. About Reaching Perfection Missed Chapter 24? Read it here: Advertising Intro Do you have a great map that you designed that got very little attention way back in the day? How about that crazy little prototype layout that you threw together a couple months ago? Do you have goals of being an iconic figure in the level design world and having everyone enjoy your content? Then everything that you worked on will not go to waste. Quite the opposite, everything you make is crucial to your success in the future. Every little thing you do is an investment towards your goals of being a great level designer. Every little thing matters So what exactly is it you are investing? Well any content you make is an investment. Every person that you talk to is an investment. Every minute of every day is an investment in your future. One step leads to another and you are who you are today because of what you have done in your past. Do you want to make that “you” of today famous? Then you have to start thinking in terms of what you did to get to where you are and what you need to do to get to where you want to be. You remember that kid you helped back on Halo 3, Farcry, Unreal, etc? He could be the key to your success. He could be the person that tells Bungie’s Halo: Reach executive producer that your material is worth looking at. You remember that map you made 3 years ago that you thought didn’t get enough attention? Well that may be the map that tells that executive producer that you need to be working on their next game or future downloadable content. Everything is important... including those 10 minutes you spent helping a new level designer with their first map. That new designer may become your next big follower that gets you that lucky break. Time efficiency So now you know that everything you do matters. But now you need to start figuring out and deciding what your best courses of action are. Is building your map more important than helping your new friend with his map? Is responding to a private message for help worth more than trolling the forums? Is taking the time to respond to someone’s thread about their map a better investment than posting your own map in a thread? You want my opinion? Take the least selfish route. Remember the mention of learning to be selfless for advertising purposes and how you are only good to people for what you can provide for them? Well mix that with the concept of investment. That person you just sacrificed your time for just so happens to be best friends with some big shot... who knew? Sometimes you can only do so much for yourself and you need the help of others which is why investing in being helpful and selfless to others will benefit you the most. Trust me on the sunscreen. Time is money Time is money. Giving your time to others is just as or more valuable than giving those people your money. And some will see it as that and be very grateful. Giving that hour of your time to teach them to fish instead of paying $10 for a meal at Applebee’s will definitely be worth more to them in the long run. Use that never ending cash flow that we call time to your advantage. You never know when one of your selfless investments will pay off and win you the lottery. Read Chapter 26: Nurturing Follow Ray Twitter: Mixer: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
  16. So how do we handle cover placement? What’s the thought process that we should apply? How combat spaces are composed You can’t have cover without thinking about what it’s good for, and depending on what game your are making it can stand for a lot: In a stealth game it serves as a path tracer. So the player can actually maneuver around the NPC’s placed in the map. Stealth Game — Cover Placement Illustration The way cover is placed in this example is based on a few simple principles: Player will move from cover to cover to avoid NPC detection This implies that exposure to NPC line of sight acts like a window of opportunity moment. The player waits for the NPC to look away before moving to the other cover spot. Based on the turning patterns of the AI you can break down parameters that can affect how hard this scenario ca be. Examples of parameters: Traveling Distance and NPC Look Duration Window of Opportunity Chart — Traveling Distance vs NPC Look Duration This could lead towards interesting combination that juggle with the distance between covers and the NPC looking/turning direction. Of course other parameters could be applied as well. In cover shooters it serves as a way for the player to avoiding the enemy, survey the battlefield and move from cover to cover to circumvent crossfires. Cover Shooter — Cover shooter simplified In this kind of situation we can apply the same chart as before but we need to replace Look Duration with Shooting duration. Window of Opportunity Chart — Traveling Distance vs Shooting Duration Some hybrids use a blend of Stealth and Combat cover to facilitate both play-styles. Games like GTA, WatchDogs, Mafia 3 blend stealth and combat spaces into one unified space that serves both purposes. However since these games area also open world games, for the sake of immersion have to also reflect the world where they exist. This means they have to justified from a narrative standpoint. In order to do that in a way that doesn’t raise any eyebrows, one method of actually placing cover in a realistic space is to actually consider the concept of: Implied Spaces An implied space is a subdivision of space that is implied by it being delimited by other bits of geometry or functions. Example of Implied Space This concept from architecture and can be used to solve cover placement in level design. For example: Implied Space integration — Example By creating a niche inside a space we can actually imply the idea of an auxiliary space that can serve both as cover placement and decorum, all without sacrificing the leading lines needed to establish direction within a layout section. Direct application withing an actual layout Here are some other examples for a more combat oriented space: Halo Reach — Level Exploration Example Realistic Layout — Example Another example of implied space are shadow/shade spaces. These kinds of spaces exist simply because they are shaded and provide a different type of visual cover for the player. Example of shadow space For this sort of cover placement there is a need for us to have some sort of control over the sources of light inside the environment. *Note: This article is shared in full on Next Level Design with permission from the author Source: Follow Iuliu Twitter: Blog: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
  17. My level design Case Study 03: Recreating «KING» map From COD:MW "King is a multiplayer map featured in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare that is exclusive to the Gunfight mode." (Source images are taken from 2D Drawing, 3D Modeling and Rendering: Rhino v6 (Note: probs are taken from «POLYGON- Battle Royale Pack») See more images here: Any feedback would be appreciated.
  18. Create layers over time A classic mistake to make when setting up game encounters is to allow all of the AI to attack at once without any spawn delays. The player will end up just being overrun by AI from all directions and the encounter will quickly descends into chaos. There is a good chance that most players discovering this 'surprise' will not enjoy it. The trick to any encounters is pacing, to stagger the spawning over time and create different waves that are triggered via an event. As the different waves are spawned in, the encounter can eventually build up to a crescendo event and a distinct pause. The break in the flow might seem counter intuitive, but this is the moment to look around, investigate and explore the environment. Limit attack direction Most players approaching an encounter will expect the enemies to be attacking them from one direction and will not expect attacks from multiple angles (side or flank) all at once. This does not mean multiple attack directions should never be used, but wide angle (135+ degrees) attacks should either be linked to a skill level or that the player has plenty of good equipment to cope with the situation. Often players will claim they want enemies to be smart and more intelligent/aggressive with their attacks, but there is a point at which enemy attacks from too many different angles at once can be regarded as cheating or a cheap trick by the level designer. If you are planning to attack the player from multiple angles be aware that this kind of tactic can become tiresome if used too often. Compliment attack types Most game enemies have a couple (1-2) of different types (range, melee, AoE or debuff) of attacks and the level designer is responsible for creating different combinations of the enemies with complimentary attacks to challenge the player in different environments. Each enemy individually should not be much of a threat, but once they are grouped together they should become part of a complex puzzle of different threats which the player has to learn how to prioritize in order to survive. Some group encounters are more difficult than others and that is mainly to do with how many of their abilities overlap and how diverse they are with attack types. A group of enemies which has a single attack (1 melee or 1 range) will be far easier to deal with than a group with a large variety of different attacks because of priority concerns. This is how difficult can be scaled up or down when creating encounters for the beginning or the end of a map. Roller coaster pacing Many games are built with a pacing, a distinct ebb and flow to how events unfold and an intensity to the encounters. Some games vary the rate of pacing by using different activities like using reflexes for encounters and lateral thinking for puzzles. When designing a map try to break it down into zones or bubbles of player activity. Consider each zone being a mixture of different types of encounters and try to vary the pace by having sections where there are puzzles. Remember to keep the combat away from the boundaries to each zone and don't be afraid to create empty spaces to allow players time to breath before the next climb upwards on the roller coaster. Always iterate As encounters become more complex with larger groups, multiple waves, and special events, the testing of the pacing can quickly get time consuming because the order of each new encounter will affect the overall flow. I highly recommend to start the testing at the beginning each time to make sure the encounters are balanced in sequence, otherwise there is a good chance a gameplay difficulty spike will appear due to lack of resources. *Note: This article is published in accordance with Creative Commons Guidelines Source: Follow Simon Twitter: Website: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
  19. About Reaching Perfection Missed Chapter 23? Read it here: Static Perspectives Intro So you’ve been reading all of the previous lessons and now you are prepped and ready to go. You feel you’ve got a great map that follows many of the principles of level design that you have learned. You go to play your map and realize that you have no one to playtest it with you. You post your map on the forums and receive little to no replies on your map. Remember the whole deal about if a player can’t find something on your map then it might as well not exist? Well if players can’t find your map then... well, it might as well not exist right? For those demented ones out there do not relate this to suicide. Grrr... Spreading the word You’ve got your beautiful creation... now you have to spread the word. You have got to share it to the world. Just like anything else that you can possibly make you have to advertise what you have created. Whether it is a new map, a new game mode, a new game, a new community, a new shower head, etc. you need to show what you have created to people who will enjoy it. Everyone has their own way of advertising, some better than others. Some spam every person they possibly can on the internet. Some pay hundreds to get some popular hangout to advertise them. Advertising is a big part of becoming successful and I’m going to share my secrets of success to you, my faithful reader. And my tricks work. Don’t believe me? You are reading these lessons aren’t you? Advertising is everything Think about how you found these lessons. I will be honest with you my friends. You fell for my advertisement tricks. There was something that I did successfully to get you to read this right here and now. You are one of hundreds and maybe even thousands of people reading what I have to say. But why are you reading this? What did I do to draw you in? Who was it that introduced these to you? How did I bring you here to But it isn’t just me who has fooled you. Do you have a favorite news channel? There is a reason that you watch it over other news channels. How about a favorite restaurant? How did you find that restaurant? Why do you like it over all of the other ones? Now how do you get people to play your map? How do you get people to enjoy your map better than Joe over there? Advertising is a skill that is used in everything. It’s time somebody let you in on the tricks of the trade. It’s not about you The most important thing to remember is that in order to get people to experience your content you have to forget that it is all about getting your content popular. Nobody truly cares about what is in it for you. They care about what is in it for them. The trick to successful advertising is giving, not receiving. Learn to give and eventually you will receive. People want to know what you have to offer them. Before people will give your map a chance you have to give them something they want. If you are only focused on getting your map popular then you will fail. However if you are focused on offering your help, time, services, and whatever else you have to offer they will give back to you. So the first rule about advertising is learning to not be selfish and learn to give rather than receive. If you do this, then you will receive advertising naturally. Read Chapter 25: Investment Follow Ray Twitter: Mixer: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
  20. My level design Case Study 02: Recreating DOCKS map From COD:MW "Docks is a multiplayer map featured in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019 that is exclusive to the Gunfight mode." (Source images are taken from See more images here: 2D Drawing, 3D Modeling and Rendering: Rhino v6 (Note: probs are taken from «POLYGON- Battle Royale Pack»)
  21. Below is the only available YouTube link to this presentation which we've been able to locate. It focuses primarily on the presenter, rather than on the slides. Scott has hosted the slide show on his website, so you can follow along by having this open also: Alternatively, the presentation is hosted by the GDC Vault. This cannot be embedded here on the Next Level Design forums, but it provides a good view of both the presenter and the slides. Watch the GDC Vault presentation here: Follow Scott Twitter: Website: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
  22. About Reaching Perfection Missed Chapter 22? Read it here: Rule of Thirds Intro Sometimes when a player experiences a map for the first time they don’t start with a spawn perspective. Sometimes they get an overview of the map that allows them to make decisions and gain a first impression before they start playing or have any sort of control of what they are seeing. Sometimes a player doesn’t have control over what they see during cinematic sequences and where they look next. These perspectives that players do not have control over are what we call static perspectives. Your terms Static perspectives are a powerful tool in a designer’s toolbox for creating the experience the designer envisions. The designer has full control over static perspectives. They are something that are fully owned by a designer and are very predictable experience-wise when compared to other design theories that rely on hypothesizing what players will see and do. However, with great power comes great responsibility. When things don’t go a player’s way while traversing a map they have the chance to blame themselves because they control their own perspective. However they have no control over static perspectives like map overviews so if they have a bad map overview or see a bad screenshot the fault falls on you as the designer. Don’t ever give your player’s a reason to doubt your credibility as a designer. Remember how important those first impressions are. Painting a picture When preparing a static perspective, always remember that you are painting a picture or film that your players are witnessing. Remember that you are an artist trying to sell your work to your audience. Use whatever techniques you can think of to make your static perspectives as pleasing as possible. Take note of the color contrast that exists in your picture. Remember your eye catching techniques to draw attention to things. Remember the rule of thirds and place important landmarks, incentives, and deterrents on the focus points of the static perspective. Remember the importance of teaching your players your map to provide them the knowledge they need to have a full and enjoyable experience. Static perspectives are also a great tool for area introduction. Remember that level design is a smooth cohesive process, not just a bunch of individual parts. Everything works together as one and learning to combine and mix and match techniques is a delicate but powerful skill. Examples Static perspectives can be many things. Screenshots of your map in a thread on a level design forum are a great example of static perspectives. Sometimes a camera exists that is used to give an overview of a map while players select their weapons. Maybe there is a security camera that players have access to but can’t control and can see the map in the camera’s perspective. Perhaps you created a film to show off your map. In the case of batches of perspectives, remember the perspective variance concept when using various techniques. Games have used many static perspectives throughout the ages and learning to see them as pieces of art will allow you to adjust them and plant a particular opinion or impression on your customers. That. Is. Power. Read Chapter 24: Advertising Follow Ray Twitter: Mixer: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
  23. Follow Game Design with Michael YouTube: Twitter: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
  24. Light is a path Often the primary route through a map is highlighted with arrow signs, architectural shapes and item/encounter placement. Another possible type of pathing is the placement of lights, because most players will automatically be drawn to light and avoid darkness. To create a path of light place strong light source next to all architectural exits, highlight the most obvious route through an area and try using light styles (flashing or blinking) to focus the player's attention. The lit path does not need to be the most direct route, much like road signs in cities are not always the fastest route the same can be said for paths of light! Keep creating contrast A map with uniform light levels is a badly lit map! Just like architectural details create better location visuals, the same can be said for contrasting light. The intensity of light is a way of drawing attention, moving the player towards a point of interest. A map full of flat uniform lighting has no sense of direction; it might as well be a maze! To create contrasting lights start with darkness and gradually add light sources with a high intensity value and a long attenuation to reduce the harsh light boundaries. Once the light sources have been setup then add ambient fill lights either to smooth the shadow gradients or if darkness is a prominent game mechanic keep the ambient fill lights near the light sources instead. Shadows are dramatic When films were black and white cinematographer understood the value of shadows and realized that architecture was a canvas, a surface to splash silhouettes upon to suit the mood of the film. Shadows are more than just blobs of grey thrown in the corners. Shadows can accent architecture, create tension and enhance the atmosphere. When placing light sources always consider nearby architecture and look for the possibility of a dramatic shadow. A way to distort a row of bars across a wall, project a silhouette of a cage upon a ceiling or frame the outline of building across the sky. Dramatic shadows are impressive, memorable and bring an ordinary flat surface to life. Colour is emotional The colours we see around us in nature often invoke emotional responses and coloured light is no different. From a blue cloudless (cold) night sky to a yellow bright (hot) midday sun, the colour of a scene can help to build an emotional narrative. Coloured lighting come with player preconceptions and strong reactions to certain colours that often create an emotional response like blue/grey for coldness and yellow/red for warmth. For example a giant two storey wood/stone banquet hall could have warm fires (yellow) at ground level and be cold (blue) lights close to the ceilings and around the first floor balconies. Always break symmetry Lights are probably the worst offenders for symmetrical placement because the lighting is often the final phase to the level design process. Easily copied and pasted around, many designers will ignore what should be highlighted and simply duplicate the lights around and sometimes even match symmetrical architecture at the same time. The problem with symmetrical light placement is it creates a uniform light level which is visually dull and to make matters worse the layout of the shadows are mirrored as well! A quick and easy solution to this problem is to switch off some of the light sources and vary some of the light intensities. This will break the uniformity of light/shadow and create the illusion of a location which has aged over time because of missing light sources. *Note: This article is published in accordance with Creative Commons Guidelines Source: Follow Simon Twitter: Website: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
  25. About Reaching Perfection Missed Chapter 21? Read it here: Incentive Weighting Intro Have you ever taken a picture of yourself or family and friends centered in the picture? Have you noticed that the picture just doesn’t feel right and doesn’t feel pleasing? Have you ever placed an object directly in front of someone for it just to go unnoticed? That’s because a person’s focus is typically not on the center of their current perspective. Learning to place objects at a player’s focus point is key to ensuring that they notice what you are trying to show them. Rule of thumb Remember when we talked about how perspectives are like pictures or photographs? Well applying common techniques used in art and photography can be used to truly help enhance a player’s experience on your map. Photography is all about object placement, depth, scene composition, as well as various other techniques. I’m not an expert so don’t judge me when I talk about their techniques. However I do know that one common rule of thumb that photographers use is known as the “rule of thirds”. The rule of thirds states that if you divide a picture,photograph, screenshot, or whatever into thirds both vertically and horizontally, the perspectives main points of focus lie at the intersections. Not the center So taking the basic definition of the rule of thirds we can take any good screenshot and divide it with two lines going vertically in thirds and two lines going horizontally in thirds and find the main focus points of the screenshot. What you end up getting is a little square in the center with its corners being used as focus points. This is why you see many pictures and self portraits with the subject slightly to the right or left and not directly in the center of the picture. If a painting is being drawn with the sun as a main focus it is normally placed at one of the top two corners of that center square. This rule is one of the simplest rules of photography and will help assist you in your quest towards becoming a great map designer. Application So now you’ve got the gist of the rule of thirds so let’s take some time to re-tie it back in with level design. You should be very well versed in the definition of a perspective. Let’s run through a scenario to help you get a bit more acquainted to working with the rule of thirds. Imagine setting up a spawn perspective for your map. You want a player to first spawn and pickup the sniper rifle that is in front of them. First of all you want to place the spawn facing towards the general direction of the sniper rifle. Second, you want to set the sniper rifle a good distance away from a player in order to follow the smooth spawning concept. Now keep in mind the spawning default eye level of the player. Tweak the spawn perspective so that the sniper rifle is placed near one of the four points of interest. Apply whatever eye catching techniques you would like and viola you have encouraged your player to take the role of the sniper. Well done. This technique doesn’t just have to be used on spawns. It can be used for when a player first walks through a doorway. Take the time to imagine the general direction that the player is facing and setup your objects based on the rule of thirds in order to maximize their attention. Make your map fun to play by making what they need to have fun easier to find. Don’t you hide that good ol’ rifle. Read Chapter 23: Static Perspectives Follow Ray Twitter: Mixer: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord: