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Level Design Help Files


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I decided to start writing about leveldesign. The idea came after so many maps that I made for unreal and being frustrated by how bad the levels in Prey 2006 were. Shadow Warrior also has some confusing levels. F.E.A.R. in contrast has great leveldesign.


In Prey 2006 they placed a slot machine with a pipe next to a door. I spent almost a minute trying to open that door. They placed the machine in a way that you are tempted to use it because it really feels as if the machine would unlock the door.

Edited by 0kelvin
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After reading the comments @Minos made about Resident Evil 2's lighting in his blog I decided to write about that too.

Prey 2006 was such a bad experience in terms of leveldesign that I'm taking it as a lesson. They clearly made this game with no sense of direction at all. They place lights on doors that are so small and so weak that you can barely notice them. Even worse, they place strong lights on things that serve no purpose at all. They just thought that it looks cool and that's it. You are constantly driven in the wrong direction because the strong lights are leading to nowhere.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So I wrote 10 pages and plan to translate to english later. Now I have to do some cleaning up and choose a better structure for the text. I didn't wrote much, it's mostly screenshots and commentary. Currently it is as follows:

- Readability and contrast. I choose FEAR 2, Diablo 2, Path of Exile, Prey 2006, a map of mine and Unreal Tournament's Outpost 23 to talk about how having too much / little contrast is a bad thing.

- Poorly highlighted paths. I choose Shadow Warrior, Unreal Tournament 1, Jedi Knight 1, Prey 2006, as examples of paths that the player have a hard time finding.

- Well highlighted paths. Max Payne 1, Alan Wake, Jedi Knight 2, Shadow Warrior, as examples of paths are are clearly visible nad the player can easly follow.

- Bad puzzles. Prey 2006 is a lesson on how to make puzzles that are both too easy and too confuse because the player have no idea of what to do.

- Good puzzles. Prey 2006 and Jedi Knight 2. Interestnly, the ideas in Prey 2006 are creative. It's the execution of the puzzles that is poor.

- Exploration. Doom SIGIL, Bioshock Infinite and Alan Wake as examples of what you can do to engage the player to explore. In the case of Bioshock I criticized how they place a locked chest in one place and the key very far away in a way that forces you to backtrack a long journey for little gain.

- Landmarks. Discovery Channel, doom 1993, Alan Wake and Jedi Knight 2 as examples of how landmarks are a good thing.

- Lack of landmarks. UT1 and GoldenEye, as examples of how a map with no landmarks at all, assymetric design and the same lights and textures reused everywhere create a map that is very hard to navigate.

- Coherence and cohesion. I use Shadow Warrior and Prey 2006 as examples of how things in the game world are out of place or lack any logic behind it.

- Form and function. I use Prey 2006 as an example of objects that you just can't tell what they are and levels that you can't tell where you are. It's just nonsense. That and how you have to make good use of the mechanics that you have. For ex: in the same space you have a regular bridge to cross and an anti-grav bridge that makes you corss the same chasm walking upside down.

Edited by 0kelvin
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  • 2 weeks later...

Reordered the site now as follows:

Readability and contrast

Good examples
Excess / Lack

Pointing out paths

Absence of landmarks
Paths that are properly highlighted
Paths that aren't properly highlighted

Challanges and obstacles

Randomness (this page contains no screenshots, it's a rant about how excessive randomness as in Path of Exile leads to frustration)
Good challenges
Challenges that are badly presented

Architecture and design

Form and functions that are non recognizable
Lack of coherence
Examples of nonsensical design choices
Exploring the environment
Good examples of coherence
Problems with collision


Good examples
Bad examples

Long essays on main category page. Screenshots and comments on subpages.


Edited by 0kelvin
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  • 2 weeks later...


English version. I still have to finish translating everything.

I'm pretty sure that I have made many many grammar mistakes and the like.

Most of the examples are FPS games because that is were it all began for me. I didn't write anything specific to RPGs, 2D games, platformers or RTS.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm going to apply all those 20 lessons to level design. I already read it on wizards site years ago. But now I was looking at it and realized that it very much applies to level design.

For ex:

Lessons 17 is about adding too much which is more or less the same concept of Negative space of another talk, from Epic Games, about level design.

Lesson 16 is about boring the player and how many games out there are too repetitive? I played a few in the last months that were just that, excessively repetitive.

Lesson 2 is about asthetics and how a card generates complains because it has a lot of number 7s with a number 8 standing out. This very much relates to level design because a lot of times the design can be symmetrical / assymetrical and sometimes, assymmetry hurts.

Edited by 0kelvin
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