Monday, 23 April 2012

Task 16: Elements of game design, part seven: Level Design

In this blog I am going to be looking over and discussing about level design and how it’s not always about the visual aspects but how the level plays and interacts with the player.

When we started to discuss our ideas for our level the group talked about things that we could have the player interact with the main ideas where doors switches and jumping from a couple of platforms . Our Story was that the character has driven to this lab and he has to search the lab to find out what had happened there. We kept the level very ambiguous which probably didn’t really help us with the players interactivity.

When we were creating our Initial floor plans we would change and manipulate the floor plan to create a more immersive level but still we wanted to keep the character to the queens building so we had to make certain compromises.

In the level we wanted from the start and elevator system this was chosen due to the fact that our level was set in a subterranean lab and we needed the player to get to a down to the bottom of our lab quickly. The kismet for the elevator was drafted in the first week as we knew we needed it too work as it is a key component in our level.

After we created our level I realised that we had a very simplistic level of interactivity. We had only had to turn on switches to open doors. We could have had some more interactivity with some of the objects in our level. The robot arm could have moved when you went up to it and pressed the buttons. We only took advantage of verticality twice and both times we used stairs we could have used other means to scale or environment.

Here is an image from a game called Damnation. The image is a piece of concept art which was then given to the level designers to decide a rough plan of a level it shows that there are multiple routes through certain sections and I love the fact that you can see where you have come from throughout the level, it makes the level feel immersive.

A great way to mix up your bog standard paths is to add some verticality this can add some new gameplay mechanics and more player interactivity. Say for example if a player was walking down a path to a door and instead of it being open it was locked, you can see the switch  for the door but it’s up on a ledge to the right of the player. Then you have to climb up either using rocks, ladders or even create steps using barrels. Finally you get to pull the switch to open the door this could then let some enemies into the path or lead to a cut scene of what’s behind the door.

Level design in fps multiplayer is different to that of single player. In multiplayer levels designers need to take into account a lot of factors. Choke points are key in multiplayer levels this is where most of the action happens as the two teams head down a certain corridor or enter and large room. You cannot have one team turning up late because they had to navigate a longer route. In multiplayer maps things have to be balanced but this does not mean all the maps have to symmetrical. You can balance an asymmetrical level by giving certain weapon drops or even giving elevated terrain to the side of the map that might have more of a disadvantage in the overall layout.

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