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Level Design Best Practices Examples


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Hey all,

I was just curious if anyone knew of any best practice examples of level design for a mechanic, genre of game or a particular game series that are used internally at studios they work, have worked at in the past or you have seen stated by another studio (could be from one of your studio's games or from a competitor's)? So what I mean is a level or part of a level  (could also be a mission or quest) that the team looks at as a guideline for best practices when designing other levels or more specifically, combat encounters - shooting/melee, puzzles, traversal challenges etc. I'm interested in finding other widely considered examples that can be learnt from. Here are some I know of:

  • "Knock Knock" in Gears Of War - Cited as one of the levels that Epic Games used as a great example of a combat encounter for Gears.
  • Corinth River in Killzone 2 - At this year's GDC, Blake Rebouche did a presentation called "Level Design Workshop: Balancing Action and RPG in Horizon Zero Dawn Quests" where he mentions a part of Killzone 2 Corinth River as an example used by Guerilla Games for good FPS level design for combat (which is what he used as his basis to improve his moment to moment design for one of the combat spaces in Horizon: Zero Dawn).
  • Dr. Galvani's Apartment in Dishonored (Fullbright whilst working on Tacoma) - "Such a perfect distillation of everything you can do in this game at this point", "A textbook example of a designer taking every available tool in the toolkit and making it into this very focused single interconnected section of the game." - Steve Gaynor Tone Control Episode 18 (Approx 1:30:10).
  • Dust 2 for Counterstrike - Created by Dave Johnston, and widely considered one of the best examples of multiplayer shooter level design. (Making of Dust 2)

Anyone else got any others that they know of? I'll add them to the list.


Edited by Ziklops
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Not sure if any of this is what you looking for but…

In Half-Life 

  • Inbound (train ride)
  • Blast Pit (tentacle monster sensitive to sound)
  • Surface Tension
  • Crossfire (mp, where the players have to take cover from an air strike)

are probably the most notable/memorable levels. Not sure if they have been referred to in “literature” but they keep coming up in discussions to this date. 

In Day Of Defeat Avalanche is a milestone map, whom many consider among the best multiplayer map ever created.

In terms of a broader naming, I think to understand that “2Fort” has transcended the name of a single map, to be a whole category and template for symmetric CTF layouts. Also Facing Worlds from UT has the same status although I don’t recall it being used to define the category.

One that is definitely a category is “Rats” map, where the environment is scaled up to make the player feel very tiny.

Edited by blackdog
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8 hours ago, Ziklops said:

Hey thanks, although I have seen this before. What I was referring to is actual production levels in released games that convey a set of level design principles well.

Dust 2


I think one of the most famous levels ever created in 3d multiplayer might be of service to your goal...

Edited by Mitch Mitchell
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On 10/8/2018 at 10:10 PM, Mitch Mitchell said:

Dust 2


I think one of the most famous levels ever created in 3d multiplayer might be of service to your goal...

Yeah, I think Dust 2 fits the bill. I've not worked on any multiplayer shooters professionally, but I guess it must have been referenced at some point.

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