Penultimate Level Design

Slide from Scott Roger's talk on Level Design and Disneyland

Slide from Scott Roger's talk on Level Design and Disneyland

As I mentioned in my other GDC envy post, there’s been a bit more about Level Design this year – at least it seems that way.  Another of the exceptionally popular talks was by Mr (Boss’) Scott Rogers and how he learned a great deal from the tactics that Walt Disney and his Imagineers used in creating Disneyland.

You can find the complete slides on his blog here (and they’re a good read – curse my non-GDC’ness!), but what I find interesting is that this is not the first time that I’ve read of people taking level design inspiration from Disneyland.  A few years ago, a Mr Don Carson did a 2 (and eventually 3) part Gamasutra feature on level design and environmental storytelling (subjects very close to my heart).  You can find parts 12 and 3 linked.

Both of these people looked to Disneyland to teach them about using environment to draw the eye, tempt the senses, tell stories and reward the curious – for all that’s not so peachy about the Disney monster, these are lessons that many level designers either still haven’t learned, or know only on a vague instinctive level.  So many of us still see a corridor as a corridor instead of an opportunity to guide the players eye, tease them with anticipation, delight them with newly discovered secrets or even to give them a breather between visually intense nodes.

These are old lessons, taught by a man long dead who grasped these long before others even realised what he was doing – we should have these things down to a fine art by this time!

et cetera