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TIGSource ForumsCommunityTownhallForum IssuesArchived subforums (read only)CreativeContent creation, the value of level designers
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Jonathan Whiting
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« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2010, 02:55:59 PM »

I've made a thread for the aforementioned possible Level Design Workshop thing: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=13717.0
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GregWS
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« Reply #21 on: July 06, 2010, 03:17:19 PM »

Hmm, neat topic.

Level design is definitely an under appreciated aspect of games, but if you think about all of the best games you've played, the odds are very good that all of them had exceptional level design.

I personally take the stance that [with a few exceptions] all game design is level design, as mechanics mean absolutely nothing without a "world" to exist in.  Now, it's standard practice to create those mechanics before creating the world, and in games that are about their mechanics, I suppose that makes sense.  But if all your game really is is some abstract mechanics, then yeah, creating levels is going to be a real pain, as the game isn't really about its levels.

And an entirely different way of looking at it is exploration games.  I would say most good explorations games exist solely because of their levels, and the mechanics are only there to allow you to explore the world.  Generally I prefer them over games like Braid, because the levels in Braid clearly exist to take advantage of the game mechanics, whereas the levels in knytt stories just exist as their own places and don't feel contrived to match some mechanic.
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G-Factor
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« Reply #22 on: July 06, 2010, 03:55:39 PM »

Well I do consider mechanics and level design to be different things, although you need do consider both when designing either one. The problem is that being the 'ideas' guy is always fun and everyone wishes they could simply say 'This is my big idea, now you guys go away and make it'. But 'making it' is the hard part. How many people have an idea for an epic story? How many of those same people have the motivation OR skill to turn it into a novel?

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LemonScented
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« Reply #23 on: July 06, 2010, 04:53:31 PM »

I'm desperately trying to get my engine tech, game mechanics and level editing tools to a state when I can start on level design. Just running the engine and tools with test levels makes it feel like I haven't even properly started on the game yet, despite all the time I've already put in.

My first "big" game took a year: 1 month to do all of the graphics and gameplay programming and to work out all the mechanics, and then 11 months building the levels. Going back and playing that game again (I won't share it with you, it's no longer fit for public consumption), I did a lot of stuff right, and a lot of stuff wrong. Off the top of my head, here's some of what I've learnt about level design:

- Game mechanics have to be extensible, and adaptable. You need to design the gameplay to be able to support the levels you're going to throw at it. Lemmings is a great example - they picked the right mix of skills, and programmed just enough subtlety and potential for surprising (mis)uses of the skills to be able to crank out hundreds of levels.

- Prototype. Sketch the ideas out on paper first. Have someone who understands the game mechanics look at the sketches and point out things which might be broken or not-fun. Block out the level really roughly and get it playing well before you add the visually pretty eye-candy bits.

- Don't duplicate. Braid does this extraordinarily well, it makes a point of never re-using puzzles. Everything is unique. Never outstay your welcome.

- If you've run out of uses for the game mechanics, you can either consider the game content-complete (e.g. Portal, short but sweet), extend or adapt the game mechanics (e.g. Portal 2 - looks set to be a much longer game, but they've had to add a bunch of new stuff to make it happen), or jump the shark by suddenly adding in new stuff and mechanics the player hasn't seen before. Hint: DON'T JUMP THE SHARK.

- Don't skimp on quality. When you're generating a lot of levels, it can be tempting to get each one up and running, get it to some baseline ideal of visual quality, and then call it quits on that level and move onto the next one without ever looking back. The result is that even if the levels get more and more fun to play, they can get more and more dull to look at.
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« Reply #24 on: July 06, 2010, 05:36:06 PM »

That is a great post LemonScented. I'm working on my first game and that's exactly what i'm going through at the moment. I've spent about 3-4 weeks working on the engine (just to be able to run around, scrolling background, loading levels...etc). Then I had to build the game mechanics which is going to take about 3 weeks. THEN after that...I start building the game proper.

The thing about Braid though is that they add submechanics. The core mechanic is time. In world 2 they introduce the sparkly green 'not affected by time' objects. In world 3 the rules change a bit, whenever you move forward, everything else in the world moves backwards, in world 4 they add the mechanic where you can press a button to drop an object and slow down time. I may be off with which mechanics are introduced in which world it's been a while since I played it.
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Toeofdoom
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« Reply #25 on: July 13, 2010, 06:34:04 AM »

My games haven't really had many levels because I didn't have the tools or assets to work with (mostly 1 week games etc.) but when I made a level for UT3, it was really enjoyable to work on. Starting with a concept (a vertical warfare level with no stalemates allowed) it ended up with some really cool stuff. Once I have a game with a decent collection of tools, I think I'll enjoy it even more.
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LemonScented
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« Reply #26 on: July 13, 2010, 04:10:18 PM »

The thing about Braid though is that they add submechanics. The core mechanic is time. In world 2 they introduce the sparkly green 'not affected by time' objects. In world 3 the rules change a bit, whenever you move forward, everything else in the world moves backwards, in world 4 they add the mechanic where you can press a button to drop an object and slow down time. I may be off with which mechanics are introduced in which world it's been a while since I played it.

Braid changes up the mechanics in every world, but I think it does it right. The basic time manipulation mechanic was clearly designed so that the additional mechanics for each world would sit nicely on top of it. The fact that you get precisely one new mechanic to play with in each world doesn't feel like jumping the shark to me, because there are consistent rules about when the new mechanics are introduced, and there isn't a world that's like "forget manipulating time - in this world you manipulate GRAVITY!".
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forumirule
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« Reply #27 on: July 14, 2010, 11:08:19 AM »

I really love games with many levels!

I have created only one with many levels, but just because I still don't have such skill. But that's why I am learning and practicing and hope you will all help me as well!  Hand Joystick
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