GameDev

Level design for the game

Game development

Game development

Game development Game development

The production of modern games is a complex and multifaceted process that involves specialists from dozens of different areas, including programmers, animators, artists and many others.

Depending on the characteristics of each individual project the development team can vary, but there are basic areas without which the creation of high-quality game content is simply impossible. One of them is the level design.

Each level is an integral part of the game. It provides one with space to complete quests, interesting places to explore, and reveals part of the main story. In good design, every element is carefully considered, including difficulty, geography, scenery, landscape elements, and even NPC locations.

In this article, let’s talk about how level design is created and how it differs in games of different genres.

Designing gameplay

Designing a virtual space

Designing gameplay Designing a virtual space

In the process of creating levels, level designers can use various existing patterns, their combinations or modifications. Let’s consider the main ones.

Complexity

Increased interest in the game

Complexity Increased interest in the game

Game difficulty is one of the main tools for designing in-game progression.

Experts have a range of options in this regard:

  • No Challenges

The player is relieved of the obligation to perform any additional tasks, instead allowing them to focus entirely on exploring their surroundings and better immerse themselves in the story.

  • Challenges-Fillers

They only mimic the difficulty, and give the player a chance to feel strong.

  • Help in completing quests

Can be implemented by temporarily granting additional skills, as in Doom Eternal, or by joining allies, as in Nioh 2 or Elden Ring.

  • Increasing the number of Challenges

As your character gets stronger, the number of extra quests and their complexity increase.

  • Super Challenges

A prime example is Soulslide games and Sekiro in particular, where some players spend weeks to complete certain parts of the game.

Level design for the game

Color scheme

Game palette: the role of color in games

Color scheme Game palette: the role of color in games

The simplest and most accessible solution, which takes relatively little time to implement. In practice, this looks like changing the color of the lighting depending on the complexity of the location or danger.

For example, white light should dominate in relatively calm areas, red light in more dangerous areas, and more green light in locations where there are poisonous lizards. It is ideal when the color palette not only reflects the progression, but also combines with the gameplay and the main storyline.

Indoor-Outdoor

You can be inside or outside

Indoor-Outdoor You can be inside or outside

Some of the gameplay can take place indoors and others outdoors, which also effectively conveys changes in game progress. Although from a technical point of view it is not always Indoor and Outdoor.

For example, in the game Doom, the outdoor areas are essentially the same rooms, only with a different ceiling display rule. That is, in fact, the entire game is indoors, but it is felt differently by the players.

Setting the emphasis on gameplay

Buttons, indicators, icons

Setting the emphasis on gameplay Buttons, indicators, icons

When passing locations, the player can combine many skills, but in some areas it is possible to focus on a particular ability. For example, if the character knows how to jump – you need to give him space to jump, knows how to swim – you can make a flooded location, where he will have to overcome underwater obstacles.

Meanwhile, the importance of other skills in such segments can be markedly reduced.

For example, in Witcher 3 the hero has only one skill for underwater combat.

Level design for the game

Distribution of design objects

Saturation of locations

Distribution of design objects Saturation of locations

In cases when a level is not made from scratch, and a set of assets is used to form its setting, objects can be distributed unevenly across locations. The player can be given the opportunity to find more visual objects as he moves around the location, rewarding him with a variety of content for advancing through the game.

The same goes for new enemies. For example, if there are four types of enemies in a level, you don’t need to place them all at the beginning. Let some of them appear a little later. This will diversify the gameplay and make it more attractive.

Direction of movement

Tile, vector, mixed

Direction of movement Tile, vector, mixed

An important point, however, that is often not given enough attention. If the hero can not only go forward, you can use obstacles to show him the right way or to accentuate a particular area.

For example, such obstacles can be insurmountable objects, forcing you to find a way around by climbing a hill, or complex NPCs guarding valuable loot.

Levelling design for different genres

GameDev

Levelling design for different genres GameDev

The structure of in-game levels in RPG and online shooter will be very different, because the level designers have different tasks in the field of what emotions the passage should cause the player.

Let’s consider what principles the specialists are guided by when creating games of different genres.

Stels

The more information you have, the more interesting a plan you can make."

Stels The more information you have, the more interesting a plan you can make."

Here the main task of the level designer is to make the player feel like a real strong hero and a good tactician, so that all his ideas are implemented exactly as he calculated. In such projects should be implemented:

  • Advantageous Positions

These are certain points for observing the enemy, using which the player can build his own strategies for overcoming obstacles. For example, in Assassin’s Creed the character can use parkour to bypass patrols and, being on the roof of the building, assess what is happening from a safe place.

  • Open Information

To form his own tactics, the player must clearly understand how he will interact with the different elements of the environment. This will avoid unforeseen accidents that were not in his initial plan.

  • Stealthy Detour Locations

Locations should have non-obvious places that the player can use to stealthily enter buildings, bypass guards, and more.

Level design for the game

Online shooter

The player must see all available options by simply moving around the level

Online shooter The player must see all available options by simply moving around the level

This is a competitive type of game, where one of the main tasks of the level designer is to create equal starting conditions for all players. In addition, gamers need to be motivated to move actively, so that the gameplay does not turn into a solid camping experience.

In such projects, important things are:

  • simple layout – to prevent ambush spots;
  • camera angle – determines the difficulty and what the player sees in front of him;
  • speed – the faster the characters move around the map, the smoother the turns should be, so that the player has time to make a decision;
  • readability of the environment – it is important that the enemies on the location can be quickly spotted and acted upon.
  • bandwidth – the combat locations must have enough space so that the players do not interfere with each other;
  • advantageous positions – places, the seizure of which gives players an advantage.

Horror

"Is that Alien's head or just a pipe bend?" - Alistair Hope

Horror "Is that Alien's head or just a pipe bend?" - Alistair Hope

In horror games, the player should feel quite vulnerable, of course, if we are not talking about Doom Eternal. Therefore the task of a game designer is to create the most uncomfortable environment for the player, which distinguishes such projects from the majority of other genres.

Here are some of the principles that are used by specialists in designing the levels in horror:

  • Confusing locations

A complex and confusing environment gives a sense of insecurity, which makes the player nervous, and the unexpected appearance of the enemy makes a real nightmare.

  • Reduced Visibility

The dim light, fog, and winding corridors that prevent you from fully tracking the movement of monsters give you a sense of unease and make you give an unpleasant surprise at any moment.

  • Playing with phobias

Some are afraid of heights, others are afraid of confined spaces. These are all taken up by professional leveller-designers of horror games. If you successfully combine it with the storyline, like in Resident Evil: Village, the game acquires, in its own way, fascinating, though hostile atmosphere.

Level design for the game

Where to order the development of a level design

GameDev

Where to order the development of a level design GameDev

Quality level design completely immerses a person in the gameplay, and motivates him to return to the virtual world again and again. This makes the project popular among users and commercially profitable.

If you want to create a really fascinating game – contact AVADA MEDIA. Our specialists have wide experience in game industry and will help you to develop a marketable product.

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