Saturday, 8 December 2012

Level Design

When playing a game, it would get very annoying and confusing if your character kept bumping into invisible barriers and there wasn't an obvious path to take. The level designer places visible obstacles in the way; such as environmental objects like trees and mountains, or man made objects like locked doors, rubbish piles, and buildings.
Level designers create obstacles in the level to prevent the player from entering a door or just to slow them down. In a lot of Lego games (developed by TT games) the levels are very linear as in you cannot move outside of the set path. However the Lord of the Rings Lego game is more free roaming than the previous Lego games released. 
Like all Lego games the Lord of the Rings game is split up into the levels that follow the actual storyline, (although it cuts out more of the story than the films do) and the free roaming level where the player can walk around all of the different towns and locations in their own time to unlock extra collectables and playable characters.

 I chose to talk about the Lord of the Rings Lego game because it is the most recent and also on a much larger scale than the other Lego games. Lego Batman 2 was reasonably big, but Lego Lord of the Rings is bigger. I enjoy playing Lego console games because they tend to break up the serious fighting parts with puzzles and simple humour to calm the players. The levels are unpredictable and have to be played through again with different characters that can be unlocked in later levels.

A good example of bad level design is Beautiful Katamari, the aim of this game is to roll your Katamari (ball) around a room sticking objects to it, the bigger the ball gets, the bigger things you can stick to it. The downside to this is that a lot of the time the katamari gets stuck in between something or just stuck glitching through a wall and you spend most of the time trying to rotate around the katamari to get it unstuck. The game gets very repetitive and quite annoying especially as if your katamari isn’t big enough by the time limit the king will shout at you and say how pathetic you are. :(

(Or maybe I'm just not good at this game)
Either way, this GIF describes what a game would be like without good level design:


Level design is a precise and technical job concerning the players movement through the level. The layout and placement of moveable and unmoveable objects and the over all duration of the level are some of the main things a level designer is concerned about. 

Other key factors in level designing are:
The genre of game.
The number of people the game is intended for.
Are both teams equally matched?
The difficulty of the level compared to previous and future levels.
The time it takes to complete the level.
The skills that might be required to complete the level.

Once a level designer has been given a brief they can map out the level using basic shapes. Most game engines will easily let level designers great a blueprint of the level without having to start up 3D software. This is so that they can get a rough idea of what works within a level and what doesn't, this is called white-boxing in UDK.

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