Well, the level design assignment is officially underway. Ironically (and unfortunately) I haven't really been able to make much headway with this particular task outside of our lectures, as I've been focusing on my Honours Project (still behind from Christmas...)
With that being said, we've all been neck-deep in lectures courtesy of Ben, who has been giving a ton of information to help us. This post will contain some of the stuff covered in his lectures.
The first stage of level design is Preproduction, which is essentially the planning step. It is divided into 8 individual steps:-
1. Idea - the initial spark, the core idea of the level
2. Purpose and Features - deciding WHY you are going to create the level and what its key elements will be
3. Location and Setting - decided WHERE and WHEN the level takes place
4. Photo Reference - reference images/ mood boards for the inspiration, environment, props, art style, lighting etc of the level
5. Story - deciding the story of the level and how the player got there
6. Objectives and Obstacles - deciding what the player will have to do and what they will have to overcome in order to achieve that goal
7. Top Down Layout - a 2D blueprint of the level's layout
8. Focal Points - deciding the major set pieces that will appear in the level
Of course, this is just the main gist of how preproduction works. For more information, please refer to this article (http://www.worldofleveldesign.com/categories/level_design_tutorials/how-to-plan-level-designs-game-environments-workflow.php) from World of Level Design, which was the basis for Ben's lecture.
We also had a lecture on the Pacing and Tempo of a Level, but as it was a fairly long one and I already have a lot of things to get through in this blog, I'm just going to post a link to the article the lecture was based on.
The article is called 'Examining Game Pace: How Single Player levels Tick' and it can be found on Gamesutra.com. You can find it here (http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/4024/examining_game_pace_how_.php) if you fancy reading it.
Finally, we have a workflow for actually building the levels themselves. Apparently, this is the method Ben and his team use at their game company (do not quote me on that, as I may be wrong), and although it isn't the only way of doing this, it's certainly quick and efficient.
1. Top Down Map - basic layout/ blueprint
2. Spatial Block - Blocking out the level and geometry with BSP brushes
3. Gameplay Block - Placing Gameplay elements, play testing
4. Basic Art Pass - Adding/ testing basic art assets to establish the 'look' of the level
5. Lighting Pass - Adding/ testing basic lighting
Bear in mind, play testing will be used throughout this process, particularly during the Spatial block and Gameplay block segments.
Aaaand, that about covers it all. Wow, this post is much shorter than I thought it would be. Anyways, next post, I'll start noting down the preproduction or my own level