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  1. a Chunk

    NLD Update: February 22, 2020

    Join us as we look back at the articles, news, contests, and forums content shared on Next Level Design during the past week. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. Projects: Speedbuild of a Snowboard Freestyle Game @LotusCracker shares images and a timelapse video of the creation of this snowboarding track, built within Fortnite's Creative Mode. Articles: Reaching Perfection, Chapter 13: Area Introduction - Ray Benefield It's important that players are able to quickly acclimate themselves within a space. How can you help them understand their surroundings and potential options in as little time as possible? This chapter focuses on some of the tools that are at your disposal. The Brilliant Design of Left 4 Dead - Core Ideas This video looks at how the designers of Left 4 Dead created a co-op shooter that encouraged cooperation without being overbearing - an approach which helped them capture and maintain the attention of gamers. UT Level Design - m0zidesigner In this 6-Part Youtube series, m0zidesigner shares his level design process, step by step. Watch how he develops the map from the early blockout stage, breathes life into it through detail work and lighting, and then releases a polished map. How the Uncharted Games Implement Player Navigation - Abhishek Iyer We take a look at the player navigation techniques used in the Uncharted games. He shares his findings here, which include Weenies, Color, Lighting, and various other tools Naughty Dog has employed. Forums: What Are You Working On? As usual, a very active week in WAYWO. @Soldat Du Christ posted a 'Level Design Documentary' - a look at the thought process behind his level 'Tribunal'. @Xzamplez adds his own video - an hour long deep dive into the design of his current Murder Miners project. @JB_ shared a peak at the progress of his project in Unreal. @S0UL FLAME posted up an overview and download link for his level 'Bloodbath'. Also, a look at a cabinetry project from @Westin and some new music created by @icyhotspartin. Finally, videos shared from @Buddy Jumps on Super Smash Bros Melee (The Pursuit for Perfection), and from @SaltyKoalaBear showing off the newest Modern Warfare Map. @Ii sega usa ii updated Sega's Vault with a fantastic series on Game Design from Riot Games. One that's also been Featured in our Articles Section The Twitter Thread sees another batch of level design and game design content.  Check out the latest here. Contests: February Challenge: A New Love - There's still plenty of time to share your submissions with us Use an engine, tool, process, etc. that you're unfamiliar with. Create a level, model, sketch, texture, etc. and then share the fruits of your new love. New Members: To our newest members, we say - Welcome! We're glad you found us, and we look forward to learning together with you. @LotusCracker @shasta1988 Interested in joining Next Level Design? Use the links below to Learn, Grow, Share, and Connect with like-minded lovers of game design and level design. Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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    NLD Update: February 15, 2020

    This week on NLD, we unleashed our very first official 'Community Feature' article, showcasing the Level Design Lobby Patreon. Also check out a thoughtful video on Player Autonomy, and the first submission to our February Challenge. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. News: Community Feature: Level Design Lobby Patreon Max Pears offers an opportunity to upgrade your level design skills, with his guidance. Learn more about Max, Level Design Lobby, and what Patreon has to offer you on your journey towards becoming a Level Design Guru. *Hint: There is a special offer included in this article for NLD Followers Articles: Reaching Perfection, Chapter 12: Path Maps - @RayBenefield A path map is a map of all the possible paths that can be taken on a designated level based on a given position of the player. There are two different types of paths that exist in a path map. Learn what they are, and what outside influences can cause them to change. Understanding player autonomy in game design - Scott Rigby Autonomy is often misunderstood to mean "giving players freedom," This video outlines what autonomy actually means, shares best practices, and pitfalls that should be avoided. Ten Principles for Good Level Design - Dan Taylor Dan Taylor proposes a list of Ten Principals for Good level design. Among the 10 are: fun to navigate, driven by mechanics, and tells what but not how. Watch, and see if you agree with his list. What would you change? Design principles: Master compositional flow and rhythm - Janie Kliever The fundamentals of design can be applied to many disciplines. This article, written as a guide for graphic designers, functions very well as a guide to game design and level design, introducing the topics in the title along with others, such as Balance and Lines. Forums: In WAYWO, @JB_ continues his exploration of asset creation, modeling, and texturing over a series of posts, @Soldat Du Christ is learning more about world building, and sharing some examples, @Chronmeister and @Kantalope discuss a variety of co-op shooters, and @icyhotspartin shares some thoughts on coloring and texturing. Twitter waits for nobody. Check out some relevant Tweets from the last week that you may have missed. The Architectural Imagination Module 8: Drawing Utopia: Visionary Architecture of the 18th Century is now available for your viewing pleasure.  Take what you learn here as another tool to improve your level designs. Contests: February Challenge: A New Love It's the month of love. It's perfectly fitting that our first submission to our monthly Challenge came on Valentine's Day. Our newest forum member @Zanieon shares a level built in the Hammer World Editor for Left 4 Dead 2. That wraps up our weekly wrap up for this week. 😉 Interested in joining Next Level Design? Use the links below to Learn, Grow, Share, and Connect with like-minded lovers of game design and level design. Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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    NLD Update: January 25, 2020

    And the beat goes on... Take a gander below as we look at projects, articles, contests, and forums content from the last week on NLD. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. Projects: Odyssey - @MultiLockOn This map features a unique gameplay element called Star Walking - "Track 3 Star Doors that dynamically activate as they cycle through the map. Control the doors to deny enemies their turn to walk among stars." Alternate Link: Articles: Reaching Perfection, Chapter 9: Perspective Variance - @RayBenefield What good are eye catching techniques if a player only sees them for a split second in time? In order to draw attention to something you must give the player the chance and time to notice it. This Chapter offers some hints as to how to accomplish this. About Tutorials, Press A to Skip - Nicolae Berbece This talk is about how to make a good tutorial without the player even realizing that he is going through one. Connectivity Systems - Pat Howard Pat analyzes connectivity systems using top-down diagrams, classifies them into a few groups, and explains how the different systems affect flow and map control. How Mega Man 11's Levels Do More With Less - Game Maker's Toolkit Mega Man 11 has a surprisingly small number of unique elements in each level. And yet, the levels never feel boring or repetitive. This video looks at how Mega Man does more with less. Forums: WAYWO continues to be the place to be, with talk about works in progress, experiments, and other random subjects. @Foge put his work on 'Upward' on hold, and threw together this quickie - sharing a sketch, blockout, and this partially arted version. In this test project, @Soldat Du Christ set out to build a level where all objects had normal/natural physics, so that they can and will move during gameplay, reacting to player movement, grenade explosions, etc. Follow the link for a gameplay video and download link. The iterations continue for @JB_ as he continues development on his level. Also, continuing work on a single player project is @Xelily who shared a preview of another section. @JB_ also posted up some of his modeling work. After a brief break, the Twitter thread is back, featuring over 200 level design and game design tweets from the last couple of weeks. The Architectural Imagination We've rolled out the seventh module of this fantastic course. Check the thread for all 44 of the videos which we've shared so far, and watch out for the remaining 3 modules which we'll be sharing in the coming weeks. Contests: NLD Challenge: January - Resolutions There's still time to join the discussion, share your resolutions for 2020, and share evidence of action. Announcement Thread Link Discussion Thread Link Quake January Jump Jam With the extended deadline, tomorrow (Jan 26) is the final day for submissions to this Jam. Be sure to get yours in! New Members: To our newest members, we say - Welcome! We're glad you found us. @ArturBloodshot @Tepec Fett (Halo Création) @CPR_LevelDesign Interested in joining Next Level Design? Use the links below to Learn, Grow, Share, and Connect with like-minded lovers of game design and level design. Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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    NLD Update: January 19, 2020

    We look back at the articles, news, contests, and forums content shared on Next Level Design during the past week. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. Articles: Reaching Perfection, Chapter 8: Eye Catching - @RayBenefield We take a deeper look at the subject of Path Manipulation, with one of the main tools at our disposal - Eye Catching Leave Enough Room: Design that Supports Player Expression - Randy Smith In this 2011 GDC session, Randy Smith, veteran of the Thief series along with several other games, examines the idea of player expression and how and why players project themselves into your game. Fundamentals of Gameplay: Part II - Pat Howard In the second part of his series on the Fundamentals of Gameplay, Pat Howard looks at the relationship between Height and Continuity, with LOT'S of examples. Level Design in Battlefield 1 - Peter Vesti Frendrup Peter Vesti Frendrup, the lead level designer for Battlefield 1's single player experience, gave this 50 minute talk at DICE. He gives a great overview of the level design approach for single player and multiplayer in the game, sharing some of the challenges they faced, and the ways in which they approached them. Forums: In WAYWO, teasers of the newest project from @icyhotspartin @S0UL FLAME is living on the edge, going off grid. Inspired by MAAR DUN, @Box_Hoes shares some of the architecture of one of his WIP's. @MultiLockOn gives us a glimpse of his recently completed project with a Map Trailer. Our newest member, @Xelily, gives a first look at a single player level that's still in early stages. @JB_ continues work on the art for his level. Contests: NLD January Challenge: Resolutions Follow along as participants share their resolutions for the new year, and give updates on their progress. The Quake January Jump Jam The deadline has been extended to January 26th to allow participants to do final polishing, or attempt another level. (Updated Countdown Timer Link) Interested in joining Next Level Design? Use the links below to Learn, Grow, Share, and Connect with like-minded lovers of game design and level design. Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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    NLD Update: January 11, 2020

    Once again, it's time for our review of the articles, news, contests, and forums content shared on Next Level Design during the past week. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. News: Task Force : Level Design Opportunity - Tracer Interactive Tracer Interactive is searching for level designers from the community to help build upon the existing map pool of their upcoming 3rd person shooter game, Task Force. Read for details. Free Unreal Marketplace Content - January [SCANS] Abandoned Factory Buildings: Day/Night Scene, Action RPG Inventory System, Dark Forest, Pick Up Plus Inspect, Smooth Sync, Vehicle Variety Pack Articles: Reaching Perfection, Chapter 7: Combat Congestion and Traffic - @RayBenefield This week ties together many of the previous articles, and sets the stage for what's to come. We learn more about why combat congestion can be a bad thing, and what to do about it. Trinity, Part 9: Why I Call it Trinity - Mike Stout In this final article of the series, the meaning behind the series title -Trinity- is revealed. Mike believes that everything in a game can be broken down into 3 categories: Context, Theatrics, and Questions. Getting Lost (by Design) in Hollow Knight - Abhishek Iyer According the makers of Hollow Knight, much of the game is built around a sense of exploration and discovery. This Featured Article looks at how they crafted a navigation system that stays true to these themes. Designing Celeste - Matt Thorson In this 2017 GDC talk, Matt shares his approach to designing levels for Celeste, demonstrating and explaining how and why levels changed during development. Forums: In What Are You Working On? @JB_ continues to share progress on his level regularly. This week he continues on the art, learning to use Unreal as he goes. @Soldat Du Christ has been working on defining, refining, and explaining his design philosophy for some time. He's shared a recent iteration of it. Catch up with what's happening on Twitter, where level and game design content continues to be shared in staggering amounts. We've reached the sixth part of the Architectural Imagination series, which continues discussing the impact of technology upon architecture. Contests: January Challenge: Resolutions Multiple Resolutions have already been shared in this month's Challenge Discussion Thread. Follow along with those who have committed, and share your own resolutions with us, to help hold yourself accountable. New Members: To our newest members, we say - Welcome! We're glad you found us. @DiRtY @RayBenefield @antoniodian699 Interested in joining Next Level Design? Use the links below to Learn, Grow, Share, and Connect with like-minded lovers of game design and level design. Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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    NLD Update: Week 50

    As we inch closer to the end of 2019, designers keep on keepin' on. More to share this week from our Projects section, multiple article (including a Map Feature), a new NLD Challenge announcement, and plenty more from the forums. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. Projects: Coordinate - Anvil Prime 52 Coordinate is a 2v2 level from @Anvil Prime 52. "Communication between the rings and the ark is essential for successful activation of the array. 4-6 Players. All 343 modes compatible." Articles: How Level Flow Works In Uncharted 4 And The Last Of Us - Trinh Nguyen How do you get players to go where you want them to go? Trinh Nguyen assesses recent Naughty Dog games and shares his observations as he attempts to hone in on their approach. NLD Flashback: Carney's Crash Course: Map Design 101 - Chris Carney 15 year Bungie veteran level designer Chris Carney shares his process. The article largely revolves around what Chris calls "the seven essential multiplayer design elements." How to Tell Stories and Guide Players Through Level Design - Brendon Chung This video looks at what happens when you remove objective indicators, minimap, and other user interfaces that tell players where they are and where they need to go. Map Feature: MAAR DÚN - MartianMallCop (Jake Stegmeier) Set in the Wraith city MAAR DÚN, this 2v2 Halo 5 level from MartianMallCop displays stellar gameplay and visuals. We talk with @Jake Stegmeier | MartianMallCop about the making of the level. Forums: @Westin dropped a barrage of updated images from his WIP 'Uncomfortable Silence' HERE and HERE, and a Trailer Video. DevBlog: December 10, 2019: We've expanding our reputation system (not included the ability to downvote posts), added a ranking system, and upgraded the sidebar on our forums home page. Some of these improvements are covered in the DevBlog linked below. *Note: We strongly encourage everyone to utilize the Blogs and Gallery sections. We fully intend on featuring member content shared in these sections, along with the Projects section. In addition, to the improvements covered in the Blog Post, we've implemented an experimental 'NLD Points' system, which allows members to earn points for things on the forums, and then use those points to purchase things like the ability to pin a topic of their choosing, or upgrade their usergroup. You can read some more about this in the forums over the course of a few posts, starting HERE. On the Twitter thread, we've capture many of the weeks game design and level design related tweets Contests: NLD December Challenge: Thinking Ahead Over this winter break, while most are looking back on holidays of yesteryear, we're asking you to look forward. Read the announcement article from @Kantalope New Members: To our newest members, we say - Welcome! We're glad you found us. @Gabriel Sanchez Valdes @Anvil Prime 52 Interested in joining Next Level Design? Use the links below to get involved. Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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    NLD Update: Week 49

    Kicking off the final month of the year. We've kicked things into another gear. Keep reading to see all that was shared. *Note: Clicking an image below will bring you directly to the content. Projects: @franktha posted a blockout for The Division 2 After over 2 years, @Jake Stegmeier | MartianMallCop released MAAR DÚN as his submission for the Forgehub 2v2 Contest It's Teaser time, as @icyhotspartin shares a preview video of Quasimodo @Soldat Du Christ unleashed a quartet of his previously released projects. Pictured below is Tribunal. Check the spoiler for the others. @Sgt Slaphead posted the 6 maps designed for the Halo 5 Mythic Arena playlist. Frontier pictured below. Check the spoiler for the others. Articles: Mike Stout's Trinity Game Design Series continues with Part 5: Setups. In his own words, Mike says of this article: "We’re going to talk about how I use the combat Archetypes we made in the previous article to create a series of enemy 'Setups'.” How Have Level Designers Adopted the Spatial Considerations of Architecture Theory? This article looks at how the spatial lessons of architecture have been embraced by designers, and how level design can transcend these rules. The Mythic Arena Playlist has launched in Halo 5. Mythic arena consists of community created settings and maps, designed to create a 'classic' Halo experience. Read about it from the creators. 5 TIPS for Designing Better Maps & Levels by BenderWaffles. Looking to develop your skills as a level designer? Step 1, according to Mr Waffles, is to simply Go Outside... But maybe wait until after you've watched this video. Next Level Design Review: Modern Warfare - Revised and Revisited (@icyhotspartin). A look back on the beta, the launch, and the nascent first season of Modern Warfare's life-cycle. Map Feature: Mythic Map Pack - These 6 community made maps designed specifically for the Mythic Arena settings were each built for 4v4 play, with aesthetics inspired by Bungie's legacy. Forums: In What Are You Working On? (WAYWO), @Soldat Du Christ displays his latest WIP @Westin is updating his project 'Uncomfortable Silence'. He's offered up multiple teasers, including a comparison picture, and a video showing a new route. Our sharing of the video portions of The Architectural Imagination continues with Module 4: Aldo Rossi and Typology Another batch of updates from the Twitter world can be found in our Twitter Thread. New Members: To our newest members, we say - Welcome! We're glad you found us. @ChargedUp @ncee5811 @matricaria @Brusky Interested in joining Next Level Design? Use the links below to get involved in the NLD Community. Follow Next Level Design Join the Forum: Follow us on Twitter: Discuss on Discord:
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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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    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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    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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    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:
  25. 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!