Penultimate 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?

et cetera