Penultimate Level Design











{July 11, 2008}   Self Improvement in Level Design

So, I’m in the industry – have been for just over seven years now(!) – and I keep learning new things every day. It’s not enough! I want to improve at what I do, and while there’s definitely something to be said by learning by doing, and I do learn by making more levels, I think that there’s more I can be doing:

Current learning avenues:

  • Life Drawing – Always good to get a bit better at drawing, what with images being worth a thousand words and all. A simple sketch of a bit of level layout, or a stick figure in a storyboard, can save a hell of a lot of explaining and misunderstanding. I’ve not done much drawing since school (A ‘B’ grade in my Scottish Higher) so this is flexing long rusty muscles!
  • C# – Knowing a coding language helps a hell of a lot, despite the old adage “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” and C# is the cool kid on the block. I’m a bit of a whiz with DarkBasic, but there are some things it just doesn’t like doing. Also, C# opens the doors for XNA fun too (and has Wiimote libraries).
  • Board Games – Playing a lot more of these now, and learning a lot of the different kinds of play mechanics you can have. What makes a non-computerised game slow or interesting, and it’s pretty amazing (really) that with some card, dice and some pencils, you can make a multiplayer game! Yeah, not quite the same, I realise, but paper prototyping has its place, I’m sure.

So, I’m not sure what else to do – I admit that my C# knowledge could do with a lot more work, and well, making levels for other genres is something on my list (to keep my skills flexible), but what else would be useful?

Some random ideas: make my own boardgames, write a comic, learn Flash, make an XNA game, write more (short fiction), run some RPGs, paper prototype some game ideas… What others?

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channie says:

C#…screw this…you’ll often get some kind of tech level design director that’ll ease up things for you.

Drawing, Board & card games… digg them, I mean, analyse how they translated the game rules into a physical board which is just about level design.

write a comic ? No
learn flash ? Fuck yes
XNA game ? too ambitious imo
write fictions ? Waste of time
run RPGs ? No
prototype some game ideas ? Hell yeah…use flash.

What else ?

Architecture. Learn about what does attract a human into a room and what does not. Spaces, Volumes, Navigation, Legibility, Purpose, those concepts will help you i guarantee. 30-day money back :p

Pacing/Rythm/Difficulty curve. Learn how your gameplay elements can be modified to increase or decrease difficulty. Learn when you can manage to hold the player’s breath, and when you can relieve him.

Cheer up Amanda Djay. this just gonna be fine 🙂 !



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