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Intro This tutorial will cover where to look for ideas/inspiration and how to put them on paper for current or future reference. Please note that this is not the right way of doing things. This is simply my methods of producing and documenting level design ideas.Looking for Ideas There are lots of ways how you can find ideas. Sources of inspiration are practically endless, but the problem is that some are harder to spot than others. Little things such as a shape of a flower can give an idea for an organic level. It's just a matter of how you look at things. Here's a brief list of where you can find ideas: - Digital and printed photos - Movies - Real life architecture - Concept art - Video games - Nature patterns For me one of the most important parts of the level design is atmosphere. I play games to escape reality, to feel like I am in a different place. The way a level designer can create (visual) atmosphere is by paying attention to shape, space and lighting. What kind of shape is it? How does a space define it? How much does a light reveal of that space? All those questions are important to achieve atmosphere. Sound plays a big role in atmosphere as well, as showed in Doom 3 and Condemned games. If you choose to look at architecture for ideas, then my suggestion would be to take a look at contemporary architecture. The reason it can spark a lot of ideas is because it has interesting looking shapes that are wisely defined in space. Most of the structures don't have a lot of textures or small details on them, therefore you are free to use your imagination. *TIP: German publisher Taschen produces some of the most affordable contemporary architecture books of great printing quality.Sketching Ideas Once you found inspiration or got an idea, it's wise to put it on the paper, so you won't forget it. Plus planning a level on the paper before building it in the level editor, guarantees to save you time and prevent most mistakes that could be encountered later in the design process. I suggest using printer and grid paper. Printer paper is great for rough sketches of shapes. Grid paper is more precise and let's you plan the space more wisely.*TIP: Fine point Sharpie marker is great for putting ideas on paper, because you can apply pressure for rough and solid lines. When I find an interesting shape, I draw several variations of it on the printer paper. Some are top view and some are side view. It's wise to put a little note of that next to the sketch, so in the future you won't be confused. Once I'm happy with the shape, I define the space by cross-hatching with pen outside the shape. Making a small solid rectangle for the player size to show the proportions can be useful. Next step would be to use grid paper or continue on the printer paper and add more notes for the sketch. Here's a list of things you can add notes for: - Item placement - Height level - Direction of stairs/slope surface - Entrance/exit points*TIP: Try not to be too specific when putting ideas on the paper, so you can add and improve them later in the design process. At this point you should have enough information to open up the editor and start blocking the level out. Outro I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have any comments or questions you can contact me at the links below. *Note - This article does not represent Yan's current approach, which has evolved during the 10+ years since this article was first published. Source: web.archive.org/web/20090412012908/http:/www.methodonline.com:80/ld_ideas.htmFollow Yan Website: methodonline.com/ Twitter: twitter.com/idMethod