Friday, 14 January 2011

Level design

So computers are pretty fast these days. Game look like they're having more and more detail as each new one is released. Real world environments are becoming ever more believable as the line between reality and virtual reality is blurred.
So for level designer this is a big part of their jobs to make levels as realistic and believable as possible. But is it the most important aspect. Some would agorae yes, but I believe there is a more important stage that needs to be addressed before art and style are taken into consideration. Is the level fun to play to begin with!?
I don't think there is anything more depressing than to have a game that looks so realistic that you can't wait to dive in a have a look around, but by the 4th level you have become so board with the dreadful linier unimaginative layout of the levels that it doesn't matter how interesting it looks it's just not fun to play. There has been many articles and books written on the subject because it's such a big deal. And perhaps not something that it so easy to achieve as one may first think. Game developers go through many iterations on a level with hours and hours of play testing with nothing more than one texture for the floor, ceiling and walls. But if it's fun to play then do you really need to have all the eye candy. I use to play CSS and some clever guys made a game type mod called gun game. All you had to do was kill people to advance to the next weapon. Starting with pistols, getting onto the bigger guns. Then you would need a grenade kill, finishing with a knife kill to win the round followed by a map change. I became a admin for a clan I was in and I created (alongside another member) loads of really small very simple maps to put on the server. They would be nothing more than symmetrical box shaped rooms with multiple levels. We had one that was a main room just full of spawn entities and is was so much fun. My point is we understood that for this game type these were the ideal layouts to maximise the fun. Small fast paced. Not vast open worlds of vast forest and rolling hills etc.

With that being said. Eye candy is still important These simple ,maps were adopted as they were fast to download from the server if you hadn't already played on the server. So maps can be played with lots of detail just as long as they come with the game. TF2 release community maps with their updated. Only the best of the best layout get chosen and are voted by the community by their popularity. How cool is that. Just before Halloween this year they had a map that had nothing in it except for it layout. Mappers had to give it an art style with custom models etc to win. The winner made a haunted mansion because he was clever enough to realise Halloween was coming up and valve love making a big deal about Halloween every year with tf2. This year saw the first boss being included into a map that would randomly spawn out of the ground, and if you killed him you would get his hat. What more do you want on Halloween when you have enough sweets to choke a fully grown elephant. Threes a pun in there, think of Charley and the chocolate factory.)

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