I know. The main question here is: what does that Google Maps’s image above have to do with Level Design? I’ll admit, absolutely nothing. With the exception of when you make a game based on a real city and open world. But it is also an excellent way to avoid confusion by using an image of any other game.
So, this month’s Give Me Lessons is for level designers, or the ones aspiring the role and for those who have not the faintest idea what it is. But the term is clear. This is the person (or team of developers) aimed at creating levels in a game, actively participating in the discussions on mechanics, types of enemies and also working with the art team.
But the level designers are also some of the first to work effectively after the period of defining the game’s genre and how the gameplay will work. After all, you can not make a good level for strategy games when your project functions as a platformer, right? So, when that part is discussed, pen and paper are used to start drawing a level and also going directly to your engine, using placeholder art. As we said before, the sooner you can test, the better.
We are in an excellent time of technologically, where technical limitations do not require more than any training you need to give the player so that he understands the level is done through a text box. Now, everything can be done in a more subtle way and various situations using creativity that has a good learning curve. Gradually introducing elements of fun and not letting the player get bored is a great way to start your game. Your audience is extremely intelligent and is in search of a challenge and not to be guided so aggressively that you take away the difficulty they seek.
Because of that, the enemies are part of the level design. Making the player understand progressively and not putting everything all at once helps them to understand that a challenge will be fun and not frustrating. Moreover, great vistas and graphics are important, but it doesn’t always need to be realistic. When you find something new and unexpected, the public is more likely to remain committed to your title.
Therefore, practice often your level design. I advise to use pen and paper before going for your engine, since that gives you a better dimension of what needs to be fixed at the beginning. And do not worry about criticism. After all, evolution comes through practice!