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  1. What is Mythic? Mythic is a new Halo 5 playlist which features Battle Rifle starts, with no radar and limited abilities. The Mythic playlist has been a long time in the making. It’s journey to matchmaking was ultimately a collaborative effort between members of the Halo 5 Forge community and members of the 343 Industries sustain team, as they sought to create a fresh, classic style Halo experience. In addition to the new settings, the Mythic playlist features all new maps, built and refined by the community, with support from 343. These brand new arenas have been tailored for the settings, with layouts and aesthetics inspired by Bungie's legacy. Mythic is, in essence, a love letter to the older Halo games. Many, many people have contributed to the making and refining of Mythic Maps and Settings, and ultimately to its implementation into Matchmaking, beginning today. The primary driving forces behind the scenes have been Hex Reapers (the brains behind the settings), Sgt x Slaphead (map design and development lead), and Whos Blaze (343 sustain team advocate). We’re eager to share their thoughts and stories about the Mythic Journey to Matchmaking, so let’s dive right in. Slayer on Frontier Mythic Settings Mythic settings differ greatly from default Halo 5 to the extent that it can almost be considered a different game. Aside from the already mentioned Battle Rifle starts and no radar, there are numerous changes that have been made from what you may expect when loading up a Halo 5 playlist. To learn more about the Mythic settings, we touched base with the man behind them - Hex Reapers. Hex, we know that there have been multiple variants of ‘classic’ settings during Halo 5’s lifetime. Were the Mythic Settings based off of some pre-existing settings? Mythic is the amalgamation of everything that we have learned over the three years of making classic settings inside of Halo 5. After about four separate attempts seen throughout the game’s lifespan (Gold Pro, Old School, Evolved, and Halo 3 Throwback), I think it’s safe to say the biggest challenge is finding the best way to deal with the sandbox. Gold Pro and Evolved buffed the Magnum and reduced the sandbox to a limited number of pick-ups. Old School tuned player movement to reflect the speed of Sprint and the reach of Clamber. Halo 3 Throwback disregarded everything and simply focused on recreating the feel of Halo 3. Unfortunately, each of these methods came with significant drawbacks. Gold Pro and Evolved plant themselves in a niche area where combat is almost always utility versus utility. Forgers have very little to work with when placing pick-ups on their maps. Along with this, the Magnum is the biggest victim to Halo 5’s shot registration and aiming mechanics. Prolonged use of the Magnum in a classic environment made these issues extremely noticeable and caused a lot of frustration among players. Old School seemingly nailed the balance between player empowerment and sandbox variety. However, the weapon tuning Title Update nerfed its starting weapons, the standard Battle Rifle and the Gunfighter Magnum, to a degree that rendered them unusable. Another major downside was how its movement was modified to only work on maps that were designed with Sprint and Clamber in mind. Halo 3 Throwback ignored addressing the sandbox and opted to label itself as a more casual offering. Because of this, obvious issues played out accordingly. The movement was too slow to deal with weapons that were designed around Sprint and Thruster Pack. Taking all of this into account, Slap (Sgt x Slaphead) and I were unsatisfied with what we had available to us. We really wanted to craft a new classic-style experience that addressed a lot of these issues while taking full advantage of Forge. Was your intent to duplicate a type of play from a previous game? Yes and no. Slap and I definitely sought to replicate the feeling of the older titles, but also wanted to include new features that would make Mythic stand out on its own. We initially did not utilize any Spartan Abilities, so I would say it used to play like something along the lines of Halo 2 Anniversary. When taking our settings and sandbox usage into consideration, Mythic is an entirely original experience that will still resonate with many classic fans. Not having to rely on Sprint and Clamber to move around maps is an integral part of the mode’s identity. Our modified Thruster Pack and Stabilizer are not nearly as potent as their vanilla counterparts, but instead become little multipurpose tools in the player’s back pocket. Slayer on Vengeance As has already been mentioned, Mythic settings weren’t made overnight. What kinds of changes were made to the settings over time, and why were those changes implemented? Our base trait adjustments were tuned as testing progressed for a variety of reasons. Most of the stuff we tweaked was small, but added up towards making a noticeable difference. These changes range from vitality recharge speeds to grenade effectiveness. How quickly should a player enter or disengage from fights? How fast should a player be able to use their grenades? Does the explosion radius pair well with our increased movement speeds? While we are on that topic, is the strafe speed fast enough to deal with certain weapons? Is it slow enough to keep close quarters engagements from getting too messy? These are just a few of the questions we constantly had to keep in mind when creating the settings. Two big goals we aimed to accomplish with the settings involved settling on a starting weapon and prioritizing sandbox variety. We opted to design the settings (and maps) around the Halo 2 Battle Rifle. When the standard Battle Rifle received its nerfs, Slap and I were devastated. It held the perfect balance of skill and effectiveness best seen during the days of Old School. The Magnum was our next option, but after using it for so long we had grown to hate it with a passion. The weapon’s inconsistencies drove us to look for something more straightforward. The Halo 2 Battle Rifle became the most logical solution. Despite its infamous ease of use, It proved to be both consistent and strong enough to fight against the rest of the sandbox. Our increased strafe acceleration coupled with the modified Thruster Pack ended up making fights with the Halo 2 Battle Rifle way more interesting than we first thought. With the introduction of Mythic into matchmaking, a lot of new players are going to be introduced to it. What are some of the differences these players should be aware of? Thruster Pack and Stabilizer in Mythic are very different from vanilla Halo 5. The speed and distance of Thruster Pack closely matches that of normal strafing. Rather than acting as the be-all-end-all in the majority of gunfights, players will see themselves using their Thruster Pack more often as a means of mid-air redirection. Stabilizer only lasts about as long as it takes to perfectly four-shot someone with their Battle Rifle. This means players must time their activation more consciously to engage at unconventional angles. Chaining these abilities can help players gain advantages when moving and fighting, though they’re not detrimental to previously established mechanics. It was extremely important for us to return major emphasis to things like strafing and crouch jumping. Thruster Pack and Stabilizer were included as a means of counteracting aspects of the sandbox and adding a little extra depth to traditional gameplay. One of the other differences is the 3-hit melee, which was implemented to address the absurdly high melee lunge and magnetism seen in Halo 5. We felt it was way too easy to double-melee and two-shot-melee players in Mythic. As such, we decided to create a melee system that combines aspects of Halo 2 and 3. It will take three melees or three full bursts followed by a melee to kill a player. King of the Hill on Cryptic Recapping some of the Key differences Mythic, compared to Vanilla Halo 5: Faster Base Movement - Movement speed, strafe acceleration, and jump height are all increased. This increase in base movement speed, combined with traditional map scaling, makes player movement feel fast and responsive. Limited Spartan Abilities - Limited spartan abilities include only thruster pack and stabilize, both re-balanced for the maps and settings. Thruster pack speed and distance is balanced more closely to standard strafing with it's recharge time increased. Stabilize duration is slightly decreased. Sprint and clamber are disabled. 3-Hit Melee System - During the course of testing Mythic settings, it became apparent that Halo 5's melee lunge range is too powerful on classic-scaled maps. A 3-Hit Melee system has been found to work best, preventing cheap panic melees, and bringing more depth to close range engagements. Melee is still an effective too, as combos such as 3 shot beatdown or 1 melee followed by 1 headshot will still end a close quarters fight very quickly. GAME MODES The Mythic Playlist consists of a variety of traditional 4v4 modes, including the returning ‘King of the Hill’. The following modes are compatible with all official Mythic maps: Mythic Ball (Oddball) Mythic Bomb (Assault) Mythic Flag (Capture the Flag) Mythic King (King of the Hill) Mythic Slayer (Slayer) The Mythic Maps A good gameplay experience always requires that the gameplay mechanics, gametypes, and levels all work together in harmony. The map development for Mythic was very much a community effort, with multiple designers contributing to the design and art of the maps, and even more supporting through playtesting and feedback. The Mythic Map pool is the result of repeated iteration and fine tuning. Map List Abyss Cryptic Vengeance Goliath Oracle Frontier All Mythic Arena maps are shown here, in the order of the bulleted list above Slap, designing an entire pack of maps for custom settings sounds like quite an undertaking. What was your general thought process on how to approach this? The initial conversations about Mythic took place over a year ago at this point so It’s certainly been a lengthy process! Each map was built as part of a cohesive vision and I want to talk briefly about the vision guiding Mythic. Our focus had always been about capturing the ‘Halo feels’. What that means exactly will vary from person to person but knowing we also wanted a 4v4 arena experience specifically helped narrow down what Mythic would be. It’s not possible to capture the entirety of Halo multiplayer in just 6 maps but using competitive 4v4 as the focus, we prioritised some of the most beloved arenas from the past as inspiration. Maps like Lockout, Midship, and Warlock immediately stood out and the idea came about that each Mythic map could serve as a call back to several classic maps at once, combining their best elements while having its own unique spin on them. Every map had to serve a specific role as part of a larger map pack which would overall satisfy a range of game modes including the returning King of the Hill. Making the maps distinct yet work as a set meant a cohesive art style. Though Halo 5 Forge is a powerful tool, it’s not always possible to create highly detailed maps without running into performance issues. The Mythic maps therefore take Halo CE and 2 as inspiration with a clean old school art style. I’m curious about how you took this general vision and used it to create specific experiences. Can you give us a short breakdown of each level, and how share how you saw it fitting into Mythic as a whole? Abyss Because of Abyss’ linear nature and deadly middle hallway intended for fast paced action, it provided the perfect conditions for Neutral Bomb Assault, as both the map and mode work well with tug of war style gameplay. Almost every match on this map in testing has been incredibly intense because Abyss leaves little room for flanking and avoiding fights, placing emphasis on team pushes. Cryptic The original version was first released in late 2013 for Halo 4, making the design around 6 years old now. I wanted to remake it since it always proved to be a strong King of the Hill map as each room offers a unique hill location and setup. With KotH returning as our ‘new’ standout gamemode for Mythic, I felt this map would highlight the mode well. Frontier Anyone who has played Lockout will know that matches on it often result in a standoff between the two main towers. I wanted a map of a similar style except with far less camping by adding more danger to the higher levels to keep players moving. The big difference from Lockout is that Frontier uses a third main tower as a neutral power position which encourages movement away from the other two towers. Two teleporters also allow players to quickly cross from one side of the map to the other. All these factors combined make for a free-flowing map where recreating the sometimes stagnant situations found on Lockout become near impossible. Goliath An appropriate name for a map revolving around its large interior atrium. Players familiar with Prisoner from Halo CE will see the inspiration here with Goliath as well as thematic influence from Halo 2’s Colossus. Originally designed by Whos Blaze, my challenge with this latest iteration was to have it ‘slapified’ to fit within the Mythic style. Taking on such a complex map and making the space feel intuitive and readable was the main challenge. Cutting away areas which felt unnecessary and using coloured lighting to highlight key areas helped massively in the end. Oracle 4-way symmetrical arenas filled a special role in Halo CE/2 and have not reappeared much since. With 4v4 arena being the focus for Mythic, it was important to include staple symmetrical arena archetypes from the past to compliment some of the more complex asymmetrical layouts. Halo CE’s Wizard and later Halo 2’s Warlock were fundamental to the competitive experience in each respective game. Derelict/Desolation while not technically a ‘4-way sym’, had a similar arena layout. The goal of Oracle was ultimately to combine elements of both Warlock and Desolation into a new design. Vengeance As mentioned with Oracle, fulfilling staple arena archetypes was important to Mythic and there is perhaps no map more fundamental to the competitive Halo experience than Halo 2’s Midship. It’s seen countless adaptations as well as inspiring Zealot from Halo Reach. Vengeance was the first map made for Mythic as we needed a solid reliable design with which we could test game mode settings and resolve scaling standards. The maps and settings were co-developed and most of that development took place on Vengeance. Mythic Matchmaking The story of Mythic could have ended there...but it didn’t. Of the hundreds or thousands of community made game types, Mythic is one of the very few that has found itself in the rarefied air we call ‘Matchmaking’. How and why did this happen? Whos Blaze from the 343 Sustain Team is here to tell us all about it. Blaze, as you know there are many, many community built custom gametypes. What is it about Mythic that made it stand out from other similar endeavors? The community had been testing iterations of similar gametypes for some time, even before I had joined the 343 Sustain Team and I have enjoyed just about every version. Though, it wasn’t until maybe October of last year that I really started seeing magic spark in the community which showed me that this isn’t just my ideal Halo experience but truly something special. Going back a little bit; for a couple months, I dedicated my Monday mornings to hosting lobbies where we could test community maps and modes in an attempt to bring people together and discover some new awesome content. I would test just about whatever we could find players to support. This included some of the gametypes that eventually became Mythic. As Mythic came together, it was becoming less and less of a struggle to fill lobbies, people were pre-emptively building their own maps to hopefully play with the Mythic settings, and overall, people were excited to jump on and play for hours. Soon after Mondays were renamed to be “Mythic Mondays”. I can’t say for sure when exactly we began pursuing it as an official sustain beat but I’ve been involved on a personal level for a bit over a year now. It’s a pretty blurred line, if I think about it because I’ve pretty much wanted to do a playlist, if I had the opportunity, since the moment it started to come together. Oddball on Goliath Was there an interest internally within 343 to have a more 'classic' playlist? Or was this driven more from the community? There is always a demand for classic style Halo content within the community but that isn’t exactly what drove us to these settings. Luckily, we get a lot of trust as designers; while the appeal of classic may not be as large as the appeal for something like super fiesta within H5’s audience, that trust allows us to explore a lot of different playlist opportunities. And in my opinion, I think it’s good to have a balance of experiences to explore, especially with the game being 4 years in now. With the endless possibilities of H5’s forge, it would be a shame not to try to get a wide range of playlists for returning players to try out. The variety in just the last of 2019 is a great example of that. Since July we’ve added new content to Actionsack and Big Team Super Fiesta, brought 2v2 competitive in to align with our tournaments, a new off-core slayer experience called ODST Slayer, the long awaited return of Ranked Snipers, Husky raid! And now Mythic Arena. I may even be missing some but my point is that it’s neither directly influencing it, but both at the same time. We only want to provide new and exciting content for everyone. I'm curious, were any major changes required to get the playlist into matchmaking? No major changes were made that didn’t involve many in-depth discussions amongst the community developers and us on the sustain team. We ultimately came to an agreement on what we think is best for the scenario for every major change considered. Even when either side felt passionate about their stance, we all recognise that there are pros and cons, and further implications on the goals each person wanted to achieve. One example that I can give which may seem like a very simple task was the name for the settings. We were initially concerned that Mythic may be confusing to some players because of the association with pre-existing playlists like, Mythic Shotty Snipers and Mythic Warzone Firefight, both of which have Mythic in a different context. Early on, before it was being officially considered for an upcoming playlist, we talked about this and what other names might be appropriate for them, if the situation would arise. As you can see, we eventually ended up sticking with Mythic despite these concerns due to the increasing awareness and popularity of the settings within the custom and forging community, among other things. The Mythic Journey Continues The Mythic Playlist is LIVE and waiting for you, so load it up and give it a shot. Interested in creating your own maps for Mythic Settings, or downloading the Maps and Settings to play in Custom Games? Add or look up the gamertag "H5 Mythic" and you’ll find what you’re looking for in the Bookmarks. Or you can use these links to download them directly: Download Maps Download Settings
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    NLD Update: Week 48

    The weeks are flying by, and here we've arrived at the end of November. Join us as we give thanks for all that was shared during the previous week on NLD. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. Articles: In the 3rd chapter of Reaching Perfection - Path Manipulation, Ray Benefield looks at determining where you want players to go, and how you encourage them to do so. In the 4th part of his Trinity series, Mike Stout addresses 'Spectra' (a plurality of spectrums). He walks us through an example, demonstrating how various 'Spectra' relate within a 'Choice Field', tying together concepts of earlier articles. The Competitive Design Guide from Joel 'wviper' McDonald is a must read. It covers basics like connectivity, scale, and verticality. Also gets into layout types, items placement, and more. Miriam Bellard shares her insight into creating cinematic experiences when you don't have control of the camera. She suggests using 3 tools: 2D screens, Movement, and Time. This GDC presentation goes into each of these in detail. Forums: We have had several teasers from @S0UL FLAME in recent months. This week he shared download links for the 3 of his 2v2 maps Resulting from a discussion on the World Building for a book versus a game, and the amount of time required for each, a video was shared: "No Time, No Budget, No Problem: Finishing The First Tree" Lots and lots of great Twitter content this week. Check it out in our Twitter Thread Contests: The conclusion of our November Challenge is near. Get your last second submissions in! New Members: To our newest members, we say - Welcome! We're glad you found us. @CANADIAN ECHO @Feornic Interested in joining Next Level Design? Use the links below. Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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    NLD Update: Week 47

    We had a lot of juicy content for you to sink your teeth into this week. Momma always said 'say it, don't spray it', so let's get right to the review of the week that was. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. Contests: Our November Challenge remains open right through the end of the month. We're eager to see what you fantastically creative people have in store for us. Check out the announcement thread: Articles: Where are the key locations on this map? Where do I find my favorite weapon? The subject of this chapter is teaching players how to play your levels, and why this is important. Mike Stout considers a game mechanic "the meeting point of two design ideas: a Question the designer asks the player, and the Tools the player has for answering that question." This article explores how they interrelate with Choice Fields. Kenneth Hullet aims to scientifically present a set of level design patterns for FPS games, and be "a resource for designers to help them understand how they are creating gameplay through their art." Christopher Dionne, veteran designer of the Call of Duty series and Apex Legends, explains how 'Action Blocks' were used to create the single player experience of Titanfall 2. Learn how you can use them to improve your design process. Forums: @Ii sega usa ii shares a 2 part series on the making of GoldenEye 007 in his Vault @JeremDem is doing 2 hour exercises to improve BSP & composition skill. He shared this recent one in WAYWO. Also in WAYWO, @Westin lets us see an old sketch of 'With Love', one of his current WIP's. Continuing to roll out content from The Architectural Imagination, this week we've posted the video materials from Module 3: Hegel and Architectural History Catch up on level design tweets from the last week in our Twitter Thread New Members: Greetings to our fellow designers, and newest members! @drigax @yy83126 Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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    NLD Update: Week 46

    Another week has flown by. Now's your chance to check out the Next Level Design content you may have missed. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. Articles: Reaching Perfection is a series of short articles on Level Design, written by Ray Benefield over the course of several years, covering everything from Threat Zones, to Peer Review, to Cohesion. Chapter 1 digs into the subject of First Impressions. Part 2 of this series on Playtesting from Pascal Luban has him diving deeper into the subject. The final part of the series gets into the logistics and organization of them, along with how to collect and communicate the resulting feedback. Super Mario Bros is widely recognized for its levels, masterfully designed to teach players about the rules of the universe they've jumped into. In today's featured article, Abhishek Iyer effectively uses level 1-1 to demonstrate how this is done. Choice Fields - "a collection of spectrums, all of which describe a single game mechanic." Mike Stout lays out multiple types of choice fields, providing examples of each, along with thoughts on how to implement them into your game. Backtracking in a game is boring - there's just no denying this fact. In this video, Extra Credits addresses this issue, pointing out pitfalls to avoid, and providing numerous methods of designing levels so that backtracking isn't a necessity. Forums: @S0UL FLAME dropped a couple of teaser images in WAYWO We've shared Module 2 of The Architectural Imagination. Much to be learned from this series for level designers, so we strongly recommend checking it out. Take a look at the Twitter Thread to see some of the level design and game design content share in the last week Contests: Our November Challenge is where card lovers and game designers collide. Your mission is to design a card game. Read more in the announcement article. New Members: Hello, Hello, and welcome to our newest Next Level Design members: @Brad @tigerssj @Will Le Beouf For those of you who are reading this that haven't yet joined Next Level Design, now is a great time to become a member. Follow the link below to get signed up. We've also recently updated the Next Level Design Discord Server. It's now more fully integrated with the website, and when new content is shared on the website, you'll have visibility to it from Discord. It's definitely worth joining if you spend any time on Discord. Check out the links below to join the website and Discord. Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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    Epic MegaJam 2019

    For the 5th consecutive year, Epic is hosting their annual MegaJam. Your Goal is simple - Create Games! Just one more day until the MegaJam kicks off. Register on - Here's the list of prizes for the winner: A GDC package experience, including a GDC Expo Pass, flights, accommodations, a $100 per diem, and a digital showcase with your game from Intel Software a custom, gaming PC from Falcon Northwest Talon 20th Anniversary Edition case with custom MegaJam-themed graphics Intel Core-i9 9900K 5.0 GHz processor Asetek 280mm sealed liquid cooler 32 GB DDR4 memory CableMod custom cable package Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super graphics card 1TB Samsung EVO NVMe storage drive 750 Watt EVGA power supply a 1 Year subscription and all of their asset packs on the Marketplace from a 1-year Houdini Indie license from SideFx an Unreal Engine-branded gaming chair from DXRacer 1 year of Soundly PRO from Soundly 6 months of Visual Assist from WholeTomato temperate Vegetation: Foliage Collection, temperate Vegetation: Spruce Forest, Temperate Vegetation: Fern Collection, Temperate Vegetation: Wild Berries, and Temperate Vegetation: conifer Bushes & Saplings I from Project Nature Procedural Landscape Ecosystem and Photorealistic Landscape Bundle from Gökhan Karadayi any three packs from SilverTM an Unreal Engine swag pack, including a 2019 Epic MegaJam t-shirt a "Game Jam Finalist" forum badge a featured playthrough on the December 12th livestream a highlight on the Unreal Engine blog Follow the link provided above for the full list of prizes and guidelines for this event. Source:
  6. Christmas has come early this year. Quixel and Epic Games have teamed up. What does this mean for you? It means access to Quixel's entire library of Megascans (over 10,000) completely free for use with Unreal Engine. In addition, the 2020 versions of Bridge (Watch Video Demo) and Mixer (Watch Video Demo), Quixel's companion applications will also be completely free and will be released within the next few weeks. Read the full announcements from Quixel and Epic Games for the full details. And here's a video walkthrough of how to access and use Megascans if you're completely new to them:
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    NLD Update: Week 45

    Some things change. Others stay the same. As we move into a new month, Next Level Design content continues to roll on. Let's take a look at what was shared during the last week. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. Articles: The importance of playtesting cannot be overstated. Pascal Luban, veteran designer of games such as Splinter Cell and Alone in the Dark, shares his insights into how to select playtesters, and how to employ protocols to get the most out of them. Josh Ge, designer of Cogmind, details each stage of his level design process from conception to implementation. It covers everything from high level layout, to items, NPC's, and more. Mike Stout believes that “a game is fundamentally a conversation between a game’s designer and the game’s players.” He sets out to share his design methodology, which he calls 'Trinity' through a series of articles, of which this is the first. DOOM helped define what the FPS genre would become. John Romero was one of the driving forces behind the game, and the genre. The man that first used the term 'deathmatch' shares his 8 rules for making his levels both look and play well. Forums: El Bronco is a design from @Box_Hoes, which is being given an art pass by @Buddy Jumps. An early Teaser image was shared in WAYWO. The Unreal Free Marketplace Content for November was released earlier this week and is now available for download. Also in WAYWO, some discussion on a Next Level Design logo started last week, and have continued into this week. With Blocktober coming to an end, The Twitter Thread is open for business again. Check out Twitter's latest level design and game design content. Contests: Quasimodo is a WIP from @icyhotspartin. Built for the ForgeHub 2v2 contest, this project is currently in the polishing stage - undergoing optimization and art refinement. Many more images can be seen in the thread. New Members: Hello to our newest members! @JamesStringer @Callum Aldric V @TanAF05 @kszulewa @Towser We're happy to have you, and look forward to engaging in discussion on level design and game design with you in the years to come. For those of you who are reading this that haven't yet joined Next Level Design, now is a great time to become a member. Follow the link below to get signed up. Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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    NLD Update: Week 44

    The month of October has ended, which also means the end of #Blocktober, our chilling October Challenge, and the Quake Halloween Map Jam. We take a look at this, and much more. So without further adieu... *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content Projects: Quasidmodo is a WIP from @icyhotspartin, being built for the Halo 5 2v2 contest (contest link). Articles: In the second part of his series on Beginning Level Design, Tim Ryan proposes a 20 rules for level design. Among them are 'Maintain the vision' and 'A level will only ever be as good as you imagine it'. Our second article of the week is part of "The Dos and Don'ts of CS:GO Level Design", a massive guide written by Exodus. The full guide includes 23 sections. Some of the topics covered here are: Cover, Flow, Sightlines, Routing, and Optimization. Next up, Josh Bycer illustrates the differences between Environmental Design and Level Design, contending that one is about aesthetics, architecture, and sometime lore, while the other involves creating content to test players. Forums: In WAYWO, some interesting discussion on cinematic intro's and their impact on immersion was initiated by @Buddy Jumps Also in WAYWO, a look at the progression of a level from @purely fat Don't forget to keep an eye on our Galleries. @JamesStringer recently started one up to show his Unreal Tournament Maps. We've reached the end of #Blocktober. Check out our Blocktober thread for a look at the blockouts from designers around the world. Contests: Our October Challenge, The Thrills of Horror, concluded on October 28th with a submission from @Asperche. He has players fleeing terrorist through an Opera and a Church after a murder occurs during a concert. Gongji is the work of 3 fine lads for the Exotic Places CS:GO Competition. Set in "a Chinese night market and its immediate surrounding areas (obviously taking place during night)", the team working on it has been quick to improve the level based upon feedback from testers. The Quake Halloween Jam, hosted by @yoder reached it's conclusion. Take a look at the end result. Finally, we've announce our Next Level Design Challenge for November - Building a Gathering. Your Objective is to design a card game: tabletop or digital, simple or complex, you decide. Full details can be found in the announcement. New Members: The staff here at Next Level Design wish to extend our thanks to our newest members. We're here to make your experience enjoyable, so please don't hesitate to Contact Us should you need assistance with anything at all. @Rokirito @ProfChops @XabierAdrados @O-Ren @Fremulon @zatoran If you're reading this but haven't joined Next Level Design yet, now is a great time to do so. Follow the link below to get signed up (it's quick and easy). Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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    NLD Update: Week 43

    Roses are red. Violets are blue. Sorry, I have no idea where I was going with that. Let's forego the poetry and just take a look at what has happened in the last week on NLD. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. Projects: the bloodsoaked releases his first official level, built for Far Cry 5. In Prison Escape, 'The Cult' has taken over a decommissioned prison on an island off mainland USA and you have managed to break out of the prison complex unaware. Can you make it out alive? Articles: In the first of a 2-part series called 'Beginning Level Design', Tim Ryan offers pointers for those who are beginning a journey towards becoming a level designer. He reviews a wide range of subjects including: simplicity, challenging players, entertainment, and Verisimilitude. Inspired by a question about a specific element of the original Halo (Quick Camo), Hardy LeBel wrote a series of articles which demonstrate in detail his approach to game design and balance - Universal Truth Number Three. NLD Flashback: Max Pears asks a really important question... “Where is the Toilet?” Now you may be thinking “What the F*** does this have to with Level Design?" The answers are in the article, so read it and find out! Chris, of Purposeless Rabbitholes, swears a Fu**ing lot. You've been warned. Listen in, if your ears aren't too tender, as he breaks down the fantastic level design of Dishonored 2, and what he believes makes it special. Forums: The last week has brought an abundance of activity in WAYWO. First, another preview from @icyhotspartin Next up, we get a teaser video from @Westin @JeremDem offers up some floor plans for his Splinter Cell based level & a mission document. A hotly debated discussion on 'rewarding players proportionate to the amount of skill it takes to perform an action'. The Architectural Imagination class on edX began this week. If you missed the registration, all is not lost. Follow the thread in the Design Discussion Forum to access some of the content from the course. We will be updating it with new content weekly. The stream of #Blocktober content on Twitter continues to flow. Check our Blocktober thread for a curated look at some of the shared blockouts from the past week. Contests: Get your NLD October Challenge submissions in! Monday, October 28th is the deadline. Also wrapping up is the Quake Halloween Jam, hosted by @yoder. Today is the deadline, with submissions being due by 11PM Easter Time. New Members: Greetings and salutations new members! We're happy to have you, and here to help if you need us - NLD Staff @Mr.Yeah! @no god anywhere @WyvernZu @Scott_Hamilton For those of you reading this that haven't joined yet, we would love to have you on board. Use the links below to become part of the Next Level Design Community. Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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    NLD Update: Week 42

    The month of October rolls on, and so does the content on Next Level Design. Let's take a look at some of what what shared during the last week. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. Projects: @franktha debuted his linear Dying Light project. Check the thread for pictures and a video of the current state, and to follow the progress. Sacral is a level from and , built in Halo 5. As you may be able to tell from the screenshots, it's heavily inspired by Dark Souls. Articles: The first article of the week captures Jon Michael Hickenbottom's experience of the Level Design for Games course offered by CG Master Academy. Some of the topics reviewed include 'Painting with Shapes', and 'Crafting Districts & Nodes'. Our next article comes from David Eliasson's Thesis on 'What design elements determine flow?" It's a detailed breakdown of how Overwatch uses elements such as color, lighting, and architecture to guide players. In an NLD Flashback, Benjamin Bauer explores the use of color and contrast, sharing his thoughts on how these tools can be used to create an emotional response. We wrapped up the week with a 2015 GDC Presentation from Shawn Snelling (FMPONE) & Salvatore Garozzo (Volcano). Focusing primarily on their level Cache for their examples, they share their insights into the fundamental aspects of designing levels for CS:GO. Contests: We're on the stretch run of the Halloween Jam being hosted by @yoder, with final submissions being due by October 26th. Our October Challenge is still underway. Don't be scared to jump in and give it a shot. Forums: One of our newest members, @JeremDem, is polishing his framing skills on a Splinter Cell based map. An early look at it was posted in WAYWO (What Are You Working On?). Also in WAYWO, @icyhotspartin shares some concept art. Blocktober shows no signs of slowing down, as level designers from around the world share the beginnings of their projects. New Members: Greetings to our newest members! @JeremDem @Behemoth Interested in joining Next Level Design? There's a link directly below. Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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    NLD Update: Week 41

    We have a plethora of content for you this week, my friends, so let's get right to it. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. Articles: Simon Lund Larsen introduces 6 primary "Level Design Patterns" - Tools to create a more intuitive experience: Multiple paths, Local Fights, Collision Points, Reference Points, Defense Areas, and Risk Incentive. This interview with Gabe Betancourt reveals some of tricks of the trade that lighting artists use. Learn about lighting game environments, Lightmaps, Indoor and Outdoor Lighting, making light work with gameplay, and get Gabe's advice. Game Maker's Toolkit, along with designers Jakob Mikkelsen & Eskil Mohl, breaks down 'The Finish Line' from Hitman 2. Learn about their overall approach to developing levels, along with discussion on the idiosyncrasies of this specific level. Contests: Our October Challenge "The Thrills of October" continues. Check out the Announcement Thread for all the details, and the Submission Thread when you're ready to share your work with the world. The Quake Halloween Jam, hosted by @yoder is still underway, with a submission deadline of October 26th. Mapcore's Exotic Places CS:GO Contest continues. Check out our thread, which includes links to all of the relevant information, along with showcasing some of the projects that are being worked on for it. Forums: @DrOctavia completed 2 more Blocktober Challenges and posted them in the dedicated thread. @Z_SweLL is also celebrating Blocktober on Next Level Design, starting up a Gallery that will house all of his submissions. @Box_Hoes is working on a project for the Forgehub 2v2 Contest, and has given us a look at how it's coming along. We get another look at the current WIP from @icyhotspartin. #Blocktober rages on on Twitter. Our dedicated thread is full to the brim with blockouts to get your creative juices flowing. New Members: Greeting to our newest members. Thank you very much for joining Next Level Design. Our staff is here to support you, so feel free to message if we can be of assistance. @Box_Hoes @PeCHe @Vadim @vertexpolyfort @Hollabaloo @Z_SweLL @Zaorisz Interested in joining Next Level Design? There's a link to do so below. Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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    NLD Update: 40

    Hello friends, and welcome once again to our weekly site recap. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. News NLD October Challenge: We celebrate the month of Halloween with a Horror themed Challenge - design a scenario and level that enforces any chosen feeling of horror. Be creative with how you torture your player! The Architectural Imagination: The Architectural Imagination is available from edX as a FREE online course. Level Design and architecture are inseparable. This course offers tremendous value to anyone who's looking to upgrade their design skills. Articles: The Fundamentals of Game Design: Raph Koster of Ultima Online & Star Wars Galaxies provides what he considers to be the Fundamentals of Game Design. Using Tetris as an example, he walks through fundamentals such as 'Design One Game at a Time' and 'watch others play your game'. Architecture in Video Games - Designing for Impact: Architect Deanna Van Buren (The Witness) covers 9 essential areas. Amongst them are 'Developing architectural narratives', 'Scaling, proportion, and style', and 'Transitions'. NLD Review - Modern Warfare Open Beta: Cornelius Robbins (@icyhotspartin) offers "An in-depth review of the recent Modern Warfare Open Beta. It's a long one, with some screenshots and graphics, so sit down with a nice cup of coffee and enjoy!" NLD Flashback: Practical Guide on First-Person Level Design: Looking for a comprehensive guide to level design for first person games? You're in the right place! This article encompasses planning, focal points, cover, coherence, flow, contrast, color theory, and mental mapping, oh my! And that's not all... Forums: In celebration of Blocktober, @DrOctavia has started up a challenge of his own - create a rough version of a level within 1 day, based upon a guideline for that day. Check the descriptive words for each day HERE, and then share your interpretation in the form of a blockout. Also in honor of Blocktober, we've put the Twitter thread on hold and will be dedicating our Twitter coverage for the month to Blocktober content. Check the thread for a curated offering. In WAYWO (What Are You Working On?), lot's of discussion on 'Flow', and other level design terms, Dark Souls, and Seinfeld. Sprinkled among the wide ranging discussion was a teaser from @Westin. And a birds-eye view from @purely fat. New Members: Hello! Hello! And a hearty 'Thank You' to our newest members for joining Next Level Design. @omnijxs @Nathan_LD @Xzamplez @Ambulaar @JacquiW @Manoloon For those of you reading this that haven't joined up yet, use the link below and join the team. Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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    The Architectural Imagination

    edX is once again offering "The Architectural Imagination" What is it? The Architectural Imagination is a free online course that aims to help you "learn fundamental principles of architecture — as an academic subject or a professional career — by studying some of history’s most important buildings." What will you learn? How to read, analyze, and understand different forms of architectural representation Social and historical contexts behind major works of architecture Basic principles to produce your own architectural drawings and models Pertinent content for academic study or a professional career as an architect Why should I care? Architecture is inextricably tied to level design and environmental design. In this course, you'll learn foundational concepts that will allow you to build visually pleasing and believable game environments. Click on the link below for a full description of this fantastic FREE course on architecture from Harvard Professors, a full course syllabus, and of course to Enroll in the class. Read More and Enroll: Check the thread in our Design Discussion Forum to access some of the content from the course:
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    NLD Update: Week 39

    Well looky here...another week has passed, and if you haven't been paying attention you've missed a lot. Never fear though, there's still time to catch up, and here's your chance. We take a look back at the week that was on NLD... *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. NLD September Challenge - The Duel: @Cameron posted his submission to the September Challenge, which is a city set far in the future, after humans have left Earth. Cameron says "The map was made for Call of Duty style gameplay, particularly leaning towards long ranged/sniping thanks to some long sightlines." Check out his submission for a full descriptions, and several more pictures of his level. Also participating in the September Challenge was @Ree, who designed a parkour race duel. "It is build around four parts; the first part is inside an abandoned house at the bottom of the mountain (blue part), then an ascension on the flank of the mountain (purple part), on an ancient destroyed pathway, the players then arrives inside a cave (brown part) where it was an acient temple, and at the end, the player does a final rush to the top, using all mechanics of the level. It is here he sees the other player for the first time (the green part)." Once again, a more in depth description and more images can be seen in Ree's submission post. Thank You to both for participating! Stay tuned for the announcement of our next NLD Challenge. 😉 Articles: Legend has it that it's possible to build a level for the Source Engine within 3ds Max. We've had no concrete evidence of this alleged possibility...until now! Shawn Olson provides video proof, along with a fantastic demonstration. Seeing is believing, my friends. I am now a believer, and this video will turn you into believer as well. 😉 In Part 2 of his series on Level Design for Combat, Max Pears aims his sights at pre-production - research and planning for your levels. He lays out an approach that any level designer can use to assure their projects get off to a solid start. 'Map Design Theory' by Mick Raider and @Insane54 comes from the heyday of Halo 3's Forge Mode. This one holds a special place in my heart because it's one of the first articles that got me thinking seriously about level design. It covers all of the essentials of level design, and use examples to support the discussion points. This article was written exclusively with Halo 3 in mind, but is most definitely applicable to Level Design in other FPS games as well. Forums: @franktha previews a dying light map @Chronmeister posted up a first look at his current 2v2 project. @icyhotspartin teases us with a plethora of pictures, along with a map sketch in 'What Are You Working On?', over the course of several posts. Also in 'What Are You Working On?', @Soldat Du Christ shares a small portion of a script he's working on, which initiates some interesting discussion on pace, balance, and various other level design terms. As always, the Twitter thread showcases tweets about game design and level design from the last week. New Members: We're very happy to welcome our newest members. Thank you for joining, and we look forward to seeing you around the forums! @jakeburton00 @Mishail @Mell0w_ @LucidJay Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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    NLD Update: Week 38

    Weekly roundup time! I know you didn't come here to hear me babble on incessantly, so let's just get right to the content. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. Projects: We would love to have you stop in and check out the recently upgraded 'Projects' section of our site. We've added a thumbnail option, which allows members to attach their favorite image from their project, and have it be visible from the main forum page. Posting projects is easy and intuitive. We're eager to see what you're working on - anything from WIP's to Completed Projects, to Concepts can be freely shared here. We've also added 2 sub-forums - Competitions (for ongoing competitions, obviously), and Portfolio's (where you can share yours, and view others). Drop in, take a gander around, and share your work with us. Link: Articles: Mike Stout offers an overview of his design process which was developed while designing for Ratchet & Clank, Skylanders, and Resistance. He covers Constraints, Brainstorming and Structure, Bubble Diagrams, Rough Map, and Finishing Maps. JIm Brown espouses the benefits of utilizing Heat Maps as a tool for improving levels. He also touches on level design psychology through visual cues, field of view, scale, and more. The Interactive Evolution of Levels for a Competitive Multiplayer FPS explores Procedural Content Generation as a method of providing new content that is simultaneously fresh and familiar. You can also view the full thesis this piece is based upon. Forums: @Max Extra shared what he's working on - testing out a natural enclosure for his current project. In the 'Feedback' thread, we're talkin' 'bout Feedback - Giving feedback, receiving feedback - anything else related to the subject. Come on by and share your thoughts, experiences, suggestions. @Ii sega usa ii posted a preview walkthrough of a project he's working on for the Forgehub 2v2 contest. Check out the level design and game design updates from the Twitter world over the last week. New Members: Welcome to our highly valued new members this week. Thank you for joining. We're happy to have you. @Jake Stegmeier | MartianMallCop @Chronmeister Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord: .galleria, .galleria-container { height:480px !important }
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    NLD Update: Week 37

    Welcome once again to our weekly recap of the goings on at Next Level Design. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. September Challenge: The Duel Our September Challenge continues. The goal of this challenge is to construct a space for a head to head duel. Read the details in the Announcement Thread: Share your submission here: The Deadline is September 23rd, so you have 9 days remaining to complete this challenge! Articles: 'Level Design to Keep Players Engaged' proposes methods for level designers to keep players engaged by preplanning levels, leading and rewarding players, and varying your scenery. Andrew Price of Blender Guru guides us from the basics of lighting, into more advanced concepts, covering direction, size, color, readability, and emphasis. Jenova Chen, designer of Journey, shares his insight into getting players into a 'Flow State'. Read about how to gauge and expand a players flow zone, create dynamic flow, and adjusting gameplay over time to maintain a state of flow. This 2018 GDC talk from Jesse Schell demonstrates how gaming can benefit from the knowledge of other disciplines. Inspired by the work of Christopher Alexander, Schell suggests that the wisest way to look at space is with our hearts. Forums: @Soldat Du Christ dumped a slew of images in the Inspiration! thread In 'What Are You Working On?', we get our first glimpse of a 2v2 WIP from @Sethiroth And also a sketch of something new from @Fatkid Forger As usual, we have plenty of level design and game design tweets from the just completed week in The Twitter Thread. A huge Thank You! to all of our members and followers. Stay tuned to Next Level Design to see all of this content as it gets released. Use the links below to stay connected. Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord: .galleria, .galleria-container { height:480px !important }
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    NLD Update: Week 36

    The last week at Next Level Design featured the announcement of our September Challenge, multiple Articles, and plenty of forum content. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content September Challenge: Next Level Design Challenges are back! The goal this time around is simple: Design a level around a head-to-head duel. Any on-on-one conflict is fair game, whether it's Old West outlaws, a hot pursuit, or a civilized game of chess! Articles: "In a very real way, a game is a series of questions that the game’s designer is asking you (as the player)." In this article, Mike Stout addressed the issue of enemy encounter design from this perspective. This video by 3kliksphilip efficiently demonstrates the process of publishing your project to the Steam Workshop. Where am I? What am I? What can I do? Philosophy and Level Design: Rebooted, from Cornelius Robbins (@icyhotspartin) discusses how a level designer can approach providing answers to these questions. In this video from Craig Perko the focus is on level design, as he provides examples of how to design for varying gameplay approaches and player preferences. @yoder hosts another Quake Map Jam. The theme this time - Halloween Forums: @icyhotspartin teases a detailed breakdown of the Halo Outpost event he attended recently In WAYWO (What Are You Working On?) @purely fat promised us a terrible birds eye view of the WIP he shared last week. He lived up to his word and posted this beauty of a screenshot. Brief gameplay previews of 2 projects were shared by @Westin A great video on Subtractive Design shared by @Ii sega usa ii in his Vault In accordance with tradition, Free Unreal Marketplace Content was released to usher in the beginning of a new month. Do you like Twitter? Do you like level design? Do you like game design? If you answered 'Yes!' to any of this, you'll probably enjoy the Twitter Thread New Members: @Asperche @the_Bloodsoaked @Hanqing @Vicentamen @aru1310 Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord: .galleria, .galleria-container { height:480px !important }
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    NLD Update: Week 35

    As August comes to end, so does week 35. Let's take a gander at the activity on the site over the last week. *Note: Clicking any of the images below will bring you directly to the content. Articles: MAPS: Episode 1 Westin Koessel (@Westin) introduces a new level design series by delving into the subject of predeterministic vs passive design - how much creativity should a designer allow a player? Multiplayer Level Design: A Visual Guide This work of art from Bobby Ross is one of the definitive guides to Level Design, exemplifying the goal of the level designer through the successful synthesis of content and visuals. Multiplayer Level Design Guide Patrick Williams breaks down some of the core concepts (flow and item placement), while also touching on less common subjects (gameplay habits and camera angle). Overcoming the Digital Blank Page In this 2014 talk, Seth Marinello presents a framework for designing levels or games from square one, from idea generation to blockout. Projects: @MultiLockOn has posted up 3 of his completed projects, which are all top notch. Follow the links to check them out. Legion: Oblivion: Arcanum: Minor progress has been made on my potential submission to the Forgehub 2v2 Contest Forums: In WAYWO, @purely fat showed off one of his WIP's shares one of his sources of inspiration in his Vault The Twitter world continues to be a source of a ton of level design and game design content. Take a look at some of what what shared over the last week. New Members: Greetings and Salutations to our newest members! @Alexhunter @Mr High Hopes Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord: .galleria, .galleria-container { height:480px !important }
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    NLD Update: Week 34

    Let's take a look back at some of what was shared on Next Level Design in the last week. *Note: Clicking on any of the images below will bring you to the content. Articles: In this final article on Color theory, we learn all about how to create our own color schemes. This article is an invaluable tool, packed with example color schemes. Andrew Yoder uses 2 multiplayer Halo matches as a case study to demonstrate some of the problems with player versus player games. Alex Galuzin provides an in-depth look at 6 principles of choke point level design, covering placement, timing, and play styles. Tim Ruswick talks about his level design lessons learned from designing over 100 levels in a month during the making of Philophobia. Forums: Sega's Vault (@Ii sega usa ii) featured a video from Polygon Academy on Environment Art and Level Design @Max Extra continues refining one of his projects. Next step - Add Gameplay Objects and Final Boundaries in preparation for playtesting. We've created a Color Theory Thread with links to all of our related articles, sites with numerous color scheme examples, and many tools to help you create your own color schemes. Tweet, Tweet! Catch up on level design and game design content from Twitter from the last week New Members: Greetings and Salutations to our newest members! @Linxi @GabrielaAraujo @HotPaper Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord: .galleria, .galleria-container { height:480px !important }
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    NLD Update: Week 33

    Week 33 on NLD has brought us the following content. *Note: Clicking on any of the images below will bring you directly to the content. Articles: In the second part of her series on Color Theory for Designers, Cameron Chapman teaches us about Hue, Chroma, Saturation, Value, Tones, Shades, and Tints. Steve Gaynor breaks down the use of Hubs and Spokes in BioShock as a method of help players understand the spaces they're in and orient themselves within the world. Michael Barclay of Naughty Dog offers a deep dive into his Level Design Guidelines, covering themes, Pacing, Signposting, Vistas, Visual Language, Compulsion Loops, and more. Jim Brown discusses techniques for increasing the likelihood of players developing emotional ties to the games they play. He believes that these ties are beneficial to both players and developers. Competitions: Forgehub, the home of Halo's Forge mode, announced a 2v2 Mapping Contest.  Read some of the details in the thread. Anubis is a work in progress for Mapcore's Exotic Places Contest.  It's set in ancient Egypt, and made by Roald and Momoderator. Forums @Ii sega usa ii has started a thread where he can share interesting design related content.  His first selection is an excellent video of part of the Unreal Tournament 4 team talking about Scaling, and best practices in level design. I, (@a Chunk) started up a Project Thread for a 2v2 map that's in the planning stages for the Forgehub Contest. And the Tweets roll on... We look at more level/game design twitter content from the last week. New Members: Welcome to the following new Next Level Design members! @Hosein @Preacher001 @Zenith @mega-gomorrah @Asuro @ch3p3 @Rza884 Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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    Forgehub 2v2 Contest

    Forgehub has just announced a 2v2 Map Contest. Here are a few of the details: The 4 main attributes judges will be looking at for this contest are: Layout Gameplay Aesthetics Polish Here's a breakdown of the prizing that's up for grabs: Follow this link to discuss on the forums: Source:
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    NLD Update: Week 32

    Let's take a look at the goings' on at Next Level Design over the last week. *Note: Clicking on any of the images below will bring you directly to the content Articles: The first of this 3-part series on Color Theory from Cameron Chapman is on of the best references we've seen on the subject for level/game designers. This installment consists of an analysis of each color. Michael Barclay walks us through his level design process step by step - from concept to final detailing. Follow the link to read the full article. Alex Galuzin of World of Level Design shows how to transfer a top-down layout into a BSP Block-In, providing a detailed explanation of his process for making this transition when creating CS:GO levels. In this 10-part series addresses the essential aspects of making video games: Concept Art, Sound Design, Game Design, and more. Forums: We have another update from @Max Extra, sharing more background information and screenshots of his current project We launched a site upgrade, with many small improvements, and some larger improvements as well. Among them are a Preview Button to more easily preview posts, Discord Login integration, and a Topic Thumbnail option that has allowed us to make a major improvement in how topics are displayed in the Projects forum. Read the entire breakdown of changes by clicking this text, or the image below. Our move to the new site meant we had to delay some other projects that were in the works. Now that things are somewhat settled, we're looking to kick-off new Challenges, akin to the 1-Hour Challenge of a few months ago. We're really eager to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Feel free to share them in the thread Check out some level design Tweets you may have missed over the past week New Members: Greetings to our new members this week! @Gale @JeremyO @Falconeyi @purely fat @SaltyKoalaBear @BananaXY Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
  23. Hello, and welcome to the site! With the advent of Next Level Design, it seems appropriate to provide a bit of an introduction. I'm going to talk about why Next Level Design came into existence. But before I get to that, I need to offer some background information about myself. My name is Jeff. My online moniker is a Chunk, because I always liked the movie The Goonies, and I had a laugh at the thought of people seeing "you were killed by a chunk" when I killed them. Most people just refer to me as Chunk. I'm no longer young (just turned 44), but still a kid at heart. I grew up on console gaming, logging endless hours on Atari, Intellivision, Nintendo Entertainment System, and many others. My love of First Person Shooters was born with the release of Goldeneye. From there, I became increasingly obsessed with the genre. A natural part of this obsession, for me, was a great curiosity about why I loved some maps, and hated others. I began to study them, trying to understand the attributes that made a great map. My first foray into actually building a map took place within the game Timesplitters. I had no idea at all what I was doing. I made sure I used every color available, with no rhyme or reason, and made a secret hiding spot that only I knew about. When Halo: Combat Evolved was released as a launch title for the new Microsoft Console called the XBOX, it was a no-brainer for me to get it. I was hooked instantly. If I was obsessed with First Person Shooters prior to this, afterward it became all-consuming. From 2001 through 2007 I played virtually nothing but Halo. During this time, I continued in my search to understand level design, but didn't apply what I was learning, because I spent so much of my time playing that there was none left for designing. Like nearly every franchise, Halo has evolved over time. It's evolved into something that I don't particularly enjoy playing anymore. Yet, somehow my love for the game rages on. When Halo: Reach released in 2010, I played it extensively for about 6 months, and then realized I wasn't having much fun. At this point, I turned to Forge, Halo's level design tool. This is when my level design education really began. Nearly all of my 'video game time' from that point forward has been spent designing levels. I began devouring everything I could find on level design, and info at that time was relatively scarce. I also became involved in the Forge community, participating on forums, sharing my thoughts, and learning from others. I became part of the staff at Forgehub, which to this day is still the primary home of the Forge community, spending several years as an Admin. I eventually stepped away from my position on staff as my life priorities changed, but have remained an active member, and continue to have great interest in level design. Now that I've shared who I am and where I've come from, I want to talk a bit about why Next Level Design exists, and what the vision for it is. During my years of learning about level design, one of the things that bothered me most was the lack of information from people that were educated on the subject. I wanted to learn, but struggled to find sources that could educate me. Frustrated at what I saw as a lack of level design content, I set out to share what I had learned, hoping to be of assistance to those who were new to it. I offered detailed feedback on maps regularly, and generally just tried to be helpful. As I realized that most designers didn't fully understand even basic concepts, I set out to write a series of guides on the fundamentals. I eventually released a series of articles called Forge Fundamentals, covering the basics of Preplanning, Spawning, Cover, Flow, Weapons, and Aesthetics, along with a final article about how to put it all together in a functioning package. As I was writing and then releasing these articles, I realized that they were simultaneously important and insignificant. They were useful in helping very new designers, or those that simply hadn't thought about the art of level design in much depth, but mostly useless in helping designers get to the next level, beyond a beginners stage. I felt that what was needed was a more holistic approach. The fundamentals are important, but advanced material is equally important. I also began to recognized the value of learning from people with different perspectives. I began reading and watching videos of levels built in other games. This alone helped to evolve my thinking. It opened my mind to new ideas about design, which ranged from how to build unique structures to how to approach the developmental process of designing a level. As I kept going back to the small community I was part of, I became more and more cognizant of just how isolated we were. We were in an echo chamber, and I felt like some outside influence could help us make a quantum leap forward. Next Level Design is meant to be a vehicle which sends level designers leaping forward to advanced levels of ability and understanding. It's meant to be a home for the entire level design community, a place where we can share and learn from each others experience and point of view. It's my intent to regularly post content which discusses various aspects of level design. I plan to cover it in more breadth and depth than has been done before by anyone anywhere. We'll cover the fundamentals. We'll cover the advanced. We'll cover everything in between. There will be tutorials to help designers learn to utilize new tools. Next Level Design will be a place where designers come to share their work, and receive feedback that helps them get better. Collectively, we'll push each other forward. We'll feature articles from anyone who offers valuable information, whether it be from Next Level Design members, or professionals in the industry. We'll feature interesting maps from anywhere on the World Wide Web. We'll listen to your feedback. Wherever there's a gap of knowledge recognized, we will try to fill it. Distilled down to it's most basic purpose, Next Level Design is here to facilitate every designers growth to the next level. We look forward to learning and growing together with you. Welcome to Next Level Design!
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    Introduction Oh happy day! We have a new home, and we're overjoyed to be able to share it with you. The first thing of note is that we've secured our own domain ( The new site is powered by Invision Community, which offers us excellent forum software, and is used by many other gaming communities. It comes with a lot of bells and whistles, and we can't wait to show you some of them. This is quite a lengthy read, so before we get too far into things, we'd like to offer a basic overview of what's covered, and then you can decide if you want to read all the detail, or skip the detail and jump right in and start investigating the site on your own. We're going to start off by giving an explanation of why we've moved. From there, the bulk of this article is going to introduce you to the features of our new home, and some basic 'how to' instructions for some of those features. We're going to then wrap up by talking about the Future of Next Level Design. So if you're interested to read more, let's get to it! We'll begin by talking about why we've moved... The Beginnings of Next Level Design Since Next Level Design started, we've been located on Proboards. Proboards was a fantastic starting point for a community without an established membership. It's a reliable and relatively customizable and flexible forum software. As someone with zero experience in website development, I was able to make some pretty major improvements to the base theme, both visually and functionally, largely because of the support system in the form of other intelligent and skilled users who have developed useful plugins and modification guides. The other main benefit of Proboards was the cost (it's free). This was undoubtedly important, as I felt it wouldn't have been wise to invest heavily into anything until we had become more established. Winds of Change We were quite happy with the state of the site. Until, about 2 weeks ago we were doing some investigation into upgrading the site, and in the process of that investigation we realized that there are no opportunities to upgrade (in the way we wanted to). More importantly, we realized that there is no longer any possibility of transferring the sites content over to another site. This was possible at one point, but has since been discontinued. Having realized this, we knew immediately that a new home had to be found for Next Level Design. And time was of the essence. We have plans in place that couldn't have been put into action had we maintained the status quo. The Invision Community Forums give us the opportunity to create a legitimate home for NLD, where we can learn, share, and grow together for many years to come. We Want YOU! So first things first. It's now YOUR chance to act. You can click HERE to register (there's also a link at the end of this article if you want to continue reading). I promise you it's quick and painless, and you'll want to be registered because it gives you much more control over what you see and how you see it. Along with the obvious benefit of being able to share and interact with other people that have your same interests, registering grants you the ability to more easily follow content and content providers, makes it simple to see the newest content, and gives you the ability to customize how information is presented to you with the option to customize your views in the forums. That New Car Smell Not only does our new home come with a sleek and simple presentation, it has a bunch of neat bells and whistles under the hood. We want to introduce you to a few of these, and then let you peruse the site on your own and see what else you can discover. 😉 Slider One of the first things you may notice upon loading up the main forum page is the slider above the forum. This fancy piece of machinery allows us to share site and community news with you easily. Keep an eye on it for special announcements or other important information. Featured Content Speaking of important information. We pride ourselves on being a constant source of knowledge about level design and game design, posting multiple educational articles and video's each week. If learning and growing as a designer is something that interests you, and it should if you want to improve the quality of your work, then you'll want to keep an eye on that content. The primary way you can do that on the site is by visiting the 'Featured Content' page, which can be accessed via the Navigation Bar. This page will keep you up to speed on the latest articles, featured projects, and community news. The Gallery The next thing we want to bring to your attention is the Gallery. This can be a very valuable part of the Next Level Design experience in a couple of different ways. You can create your own image albums, showing off your own personal photo's, random funny stuff you come across online, and anything in between. You have the capability of setting up the parameters and permissions to your liking. You can make it a personal album, or allow anyone to add to it. There are a lot of nuances to be discovered, so we encourage you to check it out. It can be accessed through the 'Browse' dropdown menu on the Navigation Bar, or through the 'Create' dropdown menu in the top right corner. We also have the forum view setup so that the most recently shared images will be visible in the sidebar. Gallery in Post There's a second aspect of Galleries that we think you'll find VERY valuable when it comes time to share images of your personal design projects. When starting up a new topic, or making a post within an existing topic, you can insert a gallery into your post through the 'Insert Other Media' dropdown menu. This will allow you to select multiple images, and have them be inserted into your post like a slide show. Here's an example:
    Taiwan Waterfall Ancient Temple The Wall Necromancers Pokemon Temple
    Room to Grow One of the other things we love about our new home is its' enormous flexibility. There are truly innumerable ways in which the site can be customized both visually and functionally. Our intent is to take advantage of that, and evolve over time, and in alignment with the wants and needs of the community where it makes sense. Though we're extremely happy with the state of the site on launch, we felt that because of the issues mentioned in the 'Winds of Change' section above, time was of the essence in making the transition to this new home. With that in mind, please understand that the site is still a work in progress. We would love your assistance in identifying any bugs that may come up. And even if your experience is free of those pesky little insects, we would very much appreciate your suggestions for improvement on anything and everything. We've started up threads for Bugs and Suggestions. Please use them freely. Also feel obliged to start your own threads in the Support Forum if you require assistance with anything. Speaking of assistance, if you need to contact us for any reason, we have a variety of methods you can use. First and foremost, we have staff that will be happy to help you out in any way possible. These fine, trustworthy people are: @icyhotspartin, @Sethiroth, @Westin, @Kantalope, and myself (@a Chunk). If you forget who we are, you can always refresh your memory by using the 'Browse' dropdown menu on your Navigation Bar and access the Staff page. Additionally, for any guests that may be encountering difficulty in joining the site, please utilize one or both of the 'Contact Us' options at the bottom of the site. One of them will send us an email, while the other sends a private message. Either one will get word to us so that we can lend a hand. The Future This has turned into a monster of a post at this point, but we have one more subject that we feel we can't leave out. We want to talk about what the future of Next Level Design will bring. First and foremost, the regularly published articles and video's will absolutely continue. In addition, we look forward to hosting Community Challenges, like the 1 Hour Mapping Challenge we recently wrapped up. Also on our wish list are good, old fashioned competitions, complete with Winners and Prizes. We may or may not have more information on this forthcoming soon. 😉 Finally, we intend to continue to grow our offering of Tutorials, to assist you in your learning process. We're looking forward to sharing a series on creating levels in Trenchbroom (for Quake) sometime in the near future, and will continue to build the Tutorials Library over time. If there's something in particular that you'd like to see, please make use of the Suggestions thread which was linked further up in this article. Alas, we've reached the end of this announcement, and simultaneously arrived at a new beginning for Next Level Design. On behalf of the entire Next Level Design Staff, Thank You so much for being a part of this community. We look forward to Learning, Sharing, and Growing with you. ❤️ Next Level Design Links Register on NLD: Follow us on Twitter: Join the Discussion on Discord:
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    Quake Sewer Map Jam

    Quake Sewer Map Jam Andrew Yoder (Twitter, Website) is hosting a Quake Map Jam that focuses on Sewers. "Your map should draw on the ideas of sewer levels, but there is flexibility. You can make a canal, a cistern, or water treatment plant." As Andrew points out in his Announcement Article, sewer levels can be REALLY difficult to design well. "At their worst, a sewer level drags with no end in sight and stretches a game thin." On the other hand, a sewer level where everything comes together can be really rewarding. "A good sewer level is raw design. This isn’t the place for the one-off scripted sequence or the expensive art setpiece. Instead, a good sewer level is subtle in its mastery of the craft: geometry, lighting, and textures working in unison." This event begins on July 28th, and concludes at 1:00PM Est on August 31st, so you'll have plenty of time to build, test, and polish. It's also a perfect opportunity to build your first Quake level. Check out our Trenchbroom Tutorials thread (which features articles from Andrew) to learn the basics, and some more advanced stuff too. Are you ready to take on the challenge? Read the full Announcement Thread (which includes far more detail than this article) here - We'd also love to see what you're working on. Feel free to share your progress in the 'What Are You Working On?' thread, in the discussion thread for this Jam, or to post your own thread in the Projects Forum. Happy Mapping! Follow Andrew Website: Twitter: Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord: