New, updated and expanded version Preproduction Blueprint. This is a full What happened to PDF and video version of this product? Original version of. Preproduction Blueprint How To Plan Game Environments And Level To Plan Game Environments And Level Designs [PDF] [EPUB] There. di, 26 mrt GMT preproduction blueprint pdf - ALEX. PRODUCTS,. INC. SUPPLIER. QUALITY. MANUAL Revision I. 09/22/ Paulding Office.
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"Preproduction Blueprint" is a complete system for planning your game environments and level designs. Planning process is called pre-production and what you end up with is a "Preproduction Blueprint". "Preproduction Blueprint" is the planning system and workbook. Preproduction Blueprint Pdf - caite.info ebook description " preproduction blueprint" is a complete system for planning your game environments and. Read [PDF] Preproduction Blueprint: How to Plan Game Environments and Level Designs by Alex Galuzin Full ePub^$ Harry Surden - Artificial Intelligence and Law Overview. Pinot: Realtime Distributed OLAP datastore.
This time I will push through and finish. Of course nothing different happened, because I didn't change my process. This continued for couple of years. I often would get so angry with myself that every map and every game environment project I started did not get finished. It came to a point where I stopped creating maps for a while.
Something had to change. I reached a point where I walked away from level design and game environments. I just told myself that I would pursue other things, that level designing and game environment art wasn't for me. I went to college to study filmmaking, drawing, painting, architecture, programming, web design, photography, business and management. I ended up getting a B. A in Computer Animation. The thing was, my love for level design and game environments never left. Throughout my entire college career I wanted to design game environments.
I would always get more ideas that I would want to create. Environments I wanted to see come to life. I was obsessed about level design and game environments. I just suppressed it and pushed it away. During my junior year in college for computer animation, everything began to click.
For my senior thesis I had to create a 2-minute animation short.
But before anything could be modeled, textured or animated, I had to spend an entire semester during junior year in prepro. This is where I had to create a story, design characters, props, visual style and environments not in a 3d app, but on paper. I had to have a plan and know exactly what I wanted before Maya was ever opened.
I would have to present the story and all the design ideas to faculty for feedback and criticism. This continued for an entire semester. No modeling, no lighting, no animation. Just preproduction for a 2-minute story. A full semester! If this is what I had to do for a 2 minute short, I realized I needed to do the same for my level designs and game environments.
Perhaps not a full semester. After a semester of prepro and before I had to return to work on my senior thesis I took a trip to Switzerland for 19 days. Something happened during the trip made me realize that level design and game environments was something I want to do.
I couldn't ignore it anymore. You see, I never wanted to animate. I thought I did when I first got into learning computer animation during first two years. But more I animated, the less I ever wanted to animate anything ever again. Going through the computer animation program made me realize how much I love level designs and game environments.
After I came back from Switzerland I started and finished a playable map in only 3 weeks. For me this was huge revelation. I began to take a closer look at what exactly I would need to do in order to plan out the process workflow for my environments.
Next big breakthrough was day level design where I started and finished a map in 11 days. I believe that a proper plan; a strategy for a game environment or a level design is the foundation of a completed project. It is the blueprint that everything else can be built on. It is like a house foundation, if it's faulty eventually it will crumble.
Game environment that is planned out has a better chance of seeing the light of day then a vague idea where you jump into the editor without figuring out all the details about the environment.
A lot of questions need to be answered before you begin creating any game environment or level design. There are many more questions and figuring all these out has to be done before opening up the editor. No matter how large or small the idea is, always spend time in planning. Slowly I began to develop a planning workflow. It gave me a sense of purpose and a clear goal to aim for when I would begin creating game environments. It has taken me couple of years to put it in a step-by-step process, and it took me even longer to figure it all out.
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This has been now updated to paperback or Kindle versions only and does not include videos. If you purchased original "Preproduction Blueprint" PDF and video version then you can still request your download links renewed by contacting me at alex worldofleveldesign. There is no difference between paperback or kindle versions of the book.
Both are exactly the same. Kindle version cost less and available to read right away. Paperback will be shipped to you as a physical copy. I like having physical copies of my books, so I recommend paperback. It is easier to scan the book and get to a specific section as you work on your projects. Preproduction Blueprint deals with the planning and pre-production stages of a project. There is no software that is required in order to follow this product.
If you have spent some time visiting World of Level Design website, read and watched video tutorials then you know that each video and each tutorial I create is focused on giving you a lot of value and information in each one. When I release a product, I make sure that you get your money's worth and walk away learning more than what you paid for.
What is the unifying idea of your level design or game environment? STEP 3: You must know the purpose of why you want to create this stand-alone game environment or level design. You always want to strive to become better and purpose gives you that aim.
Without purpose, you are stumbling in the dark, hoping that an idea will be enough to carry the project forward. During production you will encounter technical glitches, crashes and constant problems. It is just part of the process. Being able to center yourself on the purpose of your environment helps you keep the bigger picture in mind and to keep working. The core question to ask is:. It could be a combination of the above. It makes no difference if your project purpose is internal to become better or external get a job, recognition, make money ; the important part is that you have one.
Project purpose will set you on a path, it will give you a reason to fulfill the idea and see it to completion. It will help you keep the bigger picture in mind.
Step 3. Write a single sentence or few bulleted points describing your project purpose of why you want to pursue and create this game environment or level design. What are you after? What is your desired outcome? STEP 4: USP or Unique Selling Proposition is a term that is used in business to identify what makes your product or service stand out from everyone else.
For you, it will be to identify what makes your level design or stand-alone game environment stand out from everyone else, what makes it different and what your project will feature. Features become milestones or goals that you incorporate into your environment. They help to define how your environment will be different and unique. Features lists tend to be focused on visuals, story, gameplay and technical.
Features become the primary focus of your environment. Unreal Tournament has always been known for brutal weaponry, and now the arsenal is even bigger and badder. Detonate your opponent from a distance with the ever popular Shock Rifle or blast away at close range with the Flak Cannon. Unreal Tournament like you've never seen it before! The Necris invasion has begun, and your clan was one of the first to be slaughtered. Join this Epic battle to defend humanity while taking your revenge.
Fight side-by-side with or compete against new and returning characters from the Unreal universe, all with enhanced abilities, extremely detailed designs, and distinct personalities. Build your own levels, game types, and more, or download the latest mods from the massive Unreal community.
The examples above are from full games. But, these can be directly applied to stand-alone game environment and level design project. Instead of focusing on the entire game, you are focusing on one game environment. Features list should make the player want to buy your game, download your map or experience your environment. It should describe in a phrase or a sentence how different and unique your environment is and what you want the player to experience. How does it improve upon an existing genre, location or theme?
The more features you include in your project, the longer the production stage may take. Here is an example of a custom stand-alone game environment features. The idea is set in New Orleans, French Quarter:. Feature list help to set goals for you to achieve for your project before you get started. It defines a larger picture for you to achieve. It also gives the player a reason why they should download your map or buy your game. With hundreds of maps, game environments and games being created - this will give you a unique position to stand out from the rest.
Create features that will be the defining elements of your stand-alone game environment or playable level. Focus on the following categories:. STEP 5: Once you picked a setting, location, theme and features — the idea is set. Begin collecting photo reference for your level design or stand-alone game environment. Every step from here only strengthens the idea and narrows it down to what you are going to create. It becomes more difficult to change ideas and switch themes without having to start over with the first 4 steps.
Collecting visual reference is one of the most important parts of preproduction. Reference helps you to create more believable and authentic environments — from object placement, to architecture, to style, and texture detail.
If you were to create a building as a game environment right now, your mind would form various images from memory of what a building may look like. It would be a general representation or a symbol of that building. Perhaps you would try to remember a building from your life or a building you recently saw.
Maybe you would incorporate an architectural style you know. But when it comes to creating game environments, this is not practical. There are hundreds of various details you would miss, from weathered surfaces, to human contact to natural decay of the materials. Creating authentic and realistic interpretation of environments comes from intense research and observation from life, photo and video reference.
Collecting and using visual reference for your level designs and stand-alone game environments is the key to creating believable worlds. Photo reference is the most common type of reference. It is easily accessible and simple to collect. Most of your photo reference research will be done online. There are many websites you will find for photo reference research, but the one you should start with is: Type in the location or environment setting you are after into search and begin going through hundreds of images available.
Video references are video footage of your ideas on location. It provides you with a better sense of space and layout of the environment. You can often find a movie or a TV show that took place in a similar location. In addition to video reference, you can use Google Maps with street view. This will provide you with more specific reference of environment space and layout. Environment references are visual images of the environment setting. It is an overall idea for your environment.
Think of environment reference as wide-angle shots of the entire environment — locations and atmosphere. Lighting is probably the most important element to creating mood and atmosphere for a game environment.
With lighting reference you will need to collect images that are similar to the type of lighting scenario your environment takes place in. You may have already collected some lighting images during architecture and environment reference, but now you are focusing on collecting specific images of how your level will be lit.
Example of Lighting Reference. This type of reference includes color palette, visual style, and visual quality of your environment. In studio setting, there will be a concept artist who creates inspirational and style environment reference. But if you are working on the project by yourself and digital painting is not your strength, then you will have to collect those references yourself.
Collect concept art you find online, look through traditional paintings, and watch movies with a specific art style. As you collect inspirational and style reference, focus on the visual and the emotional impact. Whatever the idea you decided to pursue, collect reference for that idea only. Begin collecting images from the five visual reference categories. You will need to organize them in one place and keep them accessible.
Write down these questions as they come up. Then, spend some time researching and answering them. The more you know about your environment, more believable the game world will be.
One of the props I had to design was a wooden barrel. The type of barrel they store wine in. Some of the questions that came up from research were:. Curve in the barrels was created to make them easier to transport by rolling them on the ground. Wooden Barrel Research. These questions and answers helped me to create the scene. I had a deeper understanding about the props and environment there were in. Often, I rename those images to organize them better. Organizing Reference and Research.
But for right now use this for collecting environment research notes.
If available to you, go on location that is similar to the environment you are creating and take on location photo reference. Step 5. Research your environment.
Answer the questions you wrote down when you were collecting reference images.
Record answers from researched questions into this document. STEP 6: It is what holds the game world together. Story is a universal way to communicate between people. We tell stories to our family; to friends and to people we just met.
Best way to connect with someone is to share stories. Stories create connection. As a level designer and game environment artist you are telling a story of an environment. Broken door to a building, blood splatter in the bedroom apartment or a crashed vehicle that blocks the way to a location — all communicate a story.
You would not need to follow a pre-existing storyline of the game world. You will experience an existing storyline to follow that has already been written if you are working on a game or a mod for which you are creating level designs and game environments for.
Main storyline for a game will probably be the first thing created for a game. Just as a screenplay written for a movie would be completed before locations picked out and set design built.
For example if you are working in a game studio as a level designer and game environment artist. You are working on a game that already has a story. Your job is to create levels and environment assets that fit that narrative. Another example is if you are creating a custom level campaign for an existing game such as Left4Dead2 for example. You have to survive zombie apocalypse by fighting through a horde of infected with 3 other survivors. Your job here is to create level designs and game environments that are within the narrative of Left4Dead2 story.
So, when working on a level design or a game environment for an already established game, a lot of questions have been answered by writer, designers and programmers.
Such as gameplay mechanics, storyline and character arcs. It provides an existing context within which you will create environments and level designs. You will experience a non-existing storyline to follow for stand-alone game environments you are creating that are not a part of any game or pre-existing game worlds. Your purpose here is to create your own context within which you design game worlds in. You would not attempt to create a main storyline as you would for a game but only focus on creating a visual story of the environment for the player or viewer to experience.
Explicit storytelling is told to you, leaving no room for confusion or doubt. Half-Life 2: Lost Coast is an additional level for the first-person shooter video game Half-Life 2. Right from spawn, you encounter an older man that you cannot avoid. Explicit Storytelling from Half Life 2: Blood smudge on the walls, dead body next to an electric fence or specific prop placement — all communicate story. In Counter-Strike: Great implicit storytelling.
Implicit Storytelling from Counter-Strike: Explicit environment storytelling would be if a character in-game tells you that the building you are about to explore was destroyed by fire. Implicit environment storytelling would be to show you the damage of the building, allow you to explore it and piece it together yourself.
Explicitly through cinematic, game events, game objectives and character participation through dialogue; and implicitly through environment, prop placement and atmosphere of the world. Explicit and implicit environment storytelling is how you would tell the story of your game world. They are:. The following is a set of questions that will help to guide you defining your environment story.
You should be able to answer all these questions by the end of this chapter:. How will you tell the story of the environment to the player? Environments and locations exist whether the player is there or not. Streets, building, cars, closed down shops and prop placement all tell a story. Everything in the environment gives you clues to what type of environment it is and what happened there prior to the player arriving there.
Write a short story paragraphs or a list explaining what this location is like. It helps to imagine that you met someone who lives in this location and they are telling you their experience of it. How it was created, what happened to it, which places to visit and which to avoid, etc. There tends to be a linear progression that you experience throughout the day.
If you had to explain to a friend what you did all day yesterday, you would probably tell them how you woke up, went to the bathroom, had breakfast, got dressed, got in your car, drove through traffic, arrived at work and so on in a step-by-step linear process.
There may have been things that happened along the way. Perhaps there was an accident that was caused by an alien invasion and you had to fight to survive. These things happen; at least they do in games.
These questions and your answers create a set of actions and consequences that influence your environment, how that location may look and obstacles the player will need to overcome based on where they came from.
If yes, what is he or she there for? What crime did they commit? What was the player doing right before they arrived at the prison environment? Why are they near the prison to begin with? Prison Story Setting Photo by Bedazelive. The reason they are in this environment and what do they have to do in it. Is it to fulfill an objective? Collect something? Every prop placement in the environment is telling a story to the player.
The more thought you spend on creating background story of the environment, more believable the environment will become. Every prop will have a reason to exist. Make a list of how you will show what happened in the environment through design, prop placement, texture creation, lighting, mood, enemy placement, or friendly AI.
The background story will tell you if it is fitting for this environment or not. If a player arrives to a location and sees a car parked outside, it tells them you one story; same car with a hood opened and a flat tire tells another. If a player continues through a location and sees a building that is freshly painted, grass mowed and foliage landscaped, it tells them one story; but the same building with few broken windows, trash outside and graffiti on the wall tells them another.
To do this you can choose one of two options:. You can write out few paragraphs describing as the player navigates through your environment. Use the questions you have already answered in the What, How and Why sections to create a story of a player character navigating through your level from beginning to end.
If you are creating a stand-alone game environment then you do not have to create a story of the player navigating through the environment. Write out few paragraphs describing as the player navigates through your environment. The following example is how I approached a single-player fan based custom campaign for Left4Dead2. But I created a story of the environment and what the player will experience in the level from start to finish. It used to be a safe place to rest and wait to be rescued, but since then it has become another abandoned location.
Upon spawning in the car garage, survivors find out the location of the meet up has been changed to a nearby mountain hotel called Hotel Swiss. Previous survivors left signs to let anyone who arrives in the car garage to head for Hotel Swiss. These signs are shown with graffiti on the wall, spray paint text and Hotel Swiss poster.
Survivors have to start moving due to night closing in. Hotel Swiss is a popular tourist location. Hotel contains a pool and a gorgeous view of the surrounding mountains. As the survivors travel through the town in order to arrive at the cable car ride, they will continuously see Hotel Swiss advertising posters to reinforce the end location. Before survivors can make to Hotel Swiss, they will have to navigate through shops, restaurants and coffee shops of the downtown area.
Downtown location used to be busy with tourist, now it is full of infected. The downtown is straightforward from start to finish. There are various horde panic events that take place such coffee shop massacre, bridge collapse and last dash to the finish line rescue room which takes the survivors through a highway tunnel into the second map. Second map is set in suburban area which changes the scenery into residential and rural landscape. This location is full of houses and few apartment buildings.
The setting is more open than the tight closed spaces of the downtown area. Due to night time coming up, the visibility is now low. The area is full of infected which are former residents whom used to live in the area. The supermarket is the center location of this small town. It is currently empty and dangerous to enter. The survivors must reach the supermarket in order to make through to the cable car controls.
There will be a supermarket panic event to make the survivors fight through a horde of infected in order to get through the store. Once the survivors make it through the supermarket, they arrive at the cable car station. Unfortunately the cable car is at the top due to previous survivors never sending it down.
If activated, the cable car controls light up producing loud noise, which attracts hordes of infected. There will be at least minutes of waiting for cable car to arrive down on the ground and the survivors will have to fight off a horde after horde of infected until they make it to into the car to leave. Once the cable car arrives, the survivors can make the short safe trip up the mountain and arrive at Hotel Swiss. Third and final map is at Hotel Swiss. Upon arrival, the players discover that previous survivors died in attempt to start up the generator that lets the rescue helicopter know where to land.
After getting ready by loading up on ammo, health and supplies - the survivors must activate the generator. Once done, they have to maintain the generator running and wait for the helicopter rescue, while fighting off hordes of infected. The following example is using the same story but instead of writing out a narrative paragraph structure, I opted out to make a list.
It does not matter which option you choose. Written out paragraph description allows for more detailed and descriptive information. As if you were writing a story.
If you are a good writer then long- descriptive story format option 1 might be better for you. List option allows you to focus on the facts in chronological order. Sometimes I use a list to quickly outline what the player will experience. Other times I spend a bit more time on describing in detail, painting a visual picture with words. This depends if you are creating a stand-alone game environment no gameplay, no player participation or if you are creating a level design playable map for a game.
Answer the questions that apply to your project type. Write a description of this environment from point of view of a character that lives there or someone who has already been through it. What were the events that brought them there? How will you show what happened to the environment? You are to create a brief story, a description of your environment as the player participates and travels through it.
Choose one of two options:. Use the questions you have already answered in the What, How and Why sections and create a story of a player character navigating through your level from beginning to end. STEP 7: Objective could be to reach a castle on top of a mountain. Obstacle to complete this objective could be to fight 10 AI enemies.
Enemy AI is an obstacle that stands in the way of completing the objective. Most objectives in games have obstacles for the player to collect, overcome or defeat. These could be puzzles or enemy AI battles. They are also known as scripted events.
Set pieces help to immerse the player into the game by providing an interactive game environment.
Set pieces or scripted events may happen from direct action of the player such as placing an explosive next to a closed gate which would open a path to a new location.
The explosion and destruction would be a set piece. Player completes an objective and that causes a scripted event to happen. Set pieces can also be indirect which cause an obstacle for the player to overcome such as an alien drop ship arriving into a location where the player is traveling through.
The player did not cause the indirect event to happen, other than just exploring a location. Set pieces can also be a non-player participating environmental events. These scripted events help the environment to be more believable such as traffic, people living out their own lives, day and night cycles, or random events such as weather and natural disasters.
These set pieces do not create an obstacle or an objective. Half Life 2 is full of set pieces or scripted events that happen to progress the story forward. Call of Duty series is full of epic set pieces, and a good study of scripted events. These are just a couple of games with heavily scripted set pieces, but of course there are many games out there you could look at and study.
For gameplay level design: You will be designing various scripted events that support the story and provide objectives for the player to complete. For stand-alone game environment without any gameplay: Basically, the player has an objective to complete. There are obstacles in the way.
The player must complete an objective by overcoming these obstacles which trigger a scripted event set piece. Feel free to reverse the order of this sequence.
Such as an obstacle that creates an objective or a scripted event. Indirect scripted event within the environment creates an obstacle to overcome. Most if not all games contain a set of objectives that you need to accomplish to beat the game. Objectives are usually created from the story of the game being told. Elder Scrolls series. Half-Life 2 is a good study for indirect events that cause objectives for the player as well as AI character dialogue based objectives.
Alan Wake is a good study of for inner dialogue based objectives. Obstacles can be as easy or as difficult as you need to make them for a given skillset of the player and how far they are in the game. These set pieces should either create a new obstacle or be a result of a completed objective. Player does something then a scripted event happens. Indirect scripted events create an obstacle and an objective for the player, without the player doing anything directly to make it happen.
These by themselves do not create an obstacle or an objective. Environmental scripted events are there to create a more believable world and help to immerse the player in it. Both direct and indirect closely tie themselves to an existing obstacle or objective by creating one or accomplishing one.
Objectives, obstacles and set pieces you create will depend on the story of your environment and the story of the game. How will the player navigate through the environment?
What do they need to do in order to achieve their goal of the map? Focus on designing objectives and set pieces that immerse the player and add to the atmosphere of the world. Simplest way to begin is on a piece of paper. Start by drawing objectives progression chart. Define where the player will start and where they will end up. Then in the free empty space write what do they have to do in order to complete the map. Visually design the objectives.
First define a set of objectives, a set of actions the player needs to do to complete the map. There are no obstacles or scripted events planned just yet. Set of objectives can be reaching a certain locations, finding an item or meeting up with friendly AI.
During this step you may also begin designing decision trees red text. These are different responses depending on the choices a player makes. Next, create a set of obstacles for each of the objectives. What are the obstacles the player will encounter for each objective? The obstacles are written in blue text, below the objectives.
Once you write out objectives and obstacles — begin to define set pieces that you want the player to experience. An AI boss fight, helicopter crash or vehicle chase. It defines important aspects to focus on within your playable environment. Create objectives that fit within the world and progress the story forward. There is a difference between setting objectives for single-player maps and multiplayer maps. Single-player maps tend to be linear and story driven. Multiplayer maps usually have one simple objective that is clearly defined.
Such as capture the flag, rescue the hostages, get the most kills or plant a bomb. Setting up objectives for single-player will take a bit longer than for multiplayer. Here is an example of Objective Progression Chart for multiplayer map.
It is more straightforward than it is for single player maps and everything flows into each other. These environments tend to be created for exploration, portfolio or beauty scene to learn the game engine. Since stand-alone game environments will not have a player spawning into your map, you do not need to create objectives and obstacles.
What emotional response do you want the viewer to have? Step 7. Then in-between, come up with objectives for what the player has to do in order to complete the map.
You may want to open reference images you collected. Seeing photo reference will help you to define various set pieces and objectives for your environment that will be unique to your level. Check to make sure that all objectives push the story of the game and its environment forward. For each of the objectives, define obstacles the player has to overcome.
Also begin to define indirect set pieces scripted events if any. These will happen due to the player being in the environment but did not do anything directly to cause an event. Indirect scripted events could create an obstacle and an objective for the player to complete. Remember these happen without the player doing anything directly to make them happen.
Define environmental set pieces scripted events if any, to add atmosphere and interactivity along the way in the environment. Create Objective Progression Chart for your playable level. Following the environments story, begin to define a set of environmental set pieces scripted events that happen by themselves in the environment.
Browse through collected photo reference. Seeing them will help you to come up with environmental scripted events unique to your world. STEP 8: It is something that a player can identify an individual locations or the entire game environment by.
Focal points can be anything that draws attention of the viewer or the player to a certain section of the environment, a contrasting element within your level such as a dominating piece of architecture, landscape or pathway. If you could only show one screenshot of your environment, you would want to show off your focal point.
Windmill Focal Point by Willem Roelofs — Your approach for creating focal points in playable level or in stand-alone game environment without any gameplay will be different. In playable level you will use focal points for visual aesthetics and for gameplay.
To help the player orient themselves within a location and as aesthetic beauty to make your location stand-out. In stand-alone game environments, you will only need visual focal point for compositional aesthetic. With a location already chosen for your environment, begin to identify a specific landmark to use as a focal point.
Questions to help choosing the focal point: Come up with one or multiple focal points for your environment. Use photo reference you collected in Step 5 to help choosing the focal point of your environment. The size of each focal point may also vary. You can have large, grand focal points bridge, skyscraper that dominate an area or small focal point within a location such as a lit up doorway, or a vehicle on fire at night. Single focal point is often used in smaller level designs and especially in stand-alone game environments.
In stand-alone game environments you are creating a non-playable environment to showcase a specific area for portfolio, to learn the game engine or to prototype a location. So for stand-alone game environments focus on one single dominating landmark as a traditional artist would for a painting. Single focal point creates contrast, visual interest and player orientation in the map.
It also helps to guide the player towards this location. You would then reinforce everything around the environment to help the player towards this location. Single Focal Point from Half-Life 2: Lost Coast. Black Ops contains single dominating focal point of a space shuttle that can be seen anywhere in the map. It is a very powerful and dominating focal point that is referenced and seen almost anywhere within the map. Player always knows where they are upon spawning in relation to this focal point.
Focal point also helps to set up a visual theme and landmark to make the map stand out. Single Focal Point from Call of Duty: Multiple focal points are mostly used in single player, multiplayer and in some cases for stand-alone game environments. Single player levels or worlds will often contain multiple focal points guiding the player from one location to another.
For example, you could have a village, cave and castle focal points all within one map. Mountainous landscape could be the setting, which makes these structures stand out. The castle could be the final place the player would need to get to and it would be far off in the distance guiding the player, while the village and the cave would be along the way.
Most open-world games contain multiple focal points that help the player orient themselves and to identify sections within the world. Left4Dead2 is a great game to study multiple focal points within its levels and campaign.
For example, Dark Carnival campaign contains distant roller coaster silhouette and sky spotlights at the start of the campaign. Then within each map you progress from one focal point highway, hotel, woods, parking lot to another to reach roller coaster landmark. Multiplayer maps can have single or multiple focal points. This helps each player reference themselves in the environment after they spawn.
If you want to include multiple focal points in a multiplayer map, make sure they are different enough so the player knows within the first second of spawning where they are in the level.
As the player spawns in various positions within the map, these focal points help orient the player within the level. Some of these multiple focal points include watch tower, search light with guillotine, water well and gallows.
Multiple Focal Points from Call of Duty: For stand-alone game environments it is best to stick with one focal point. In some cases you may have multiple focal points, in which you would have one focal point for each location. For example an environment that contains an interior and exterior location. This depends on how large and involved your environment is. One dominating focal point within the level then smaller several focal points within each important location.
Several main focal points but each should be given enough space to dominate its own area, then smaller focal points within each important location good for open world levels.
You have one large dominating landmark in your level. It is the main focal point. The player sees that and they are drawn to it. It is contrasting the entire landscape, provides a theme to your level and it helps the player orient themselves within your environment. When the player arrives to the building and enters inside, they are now in the lobby. What is the focal point inside the lobby? Is there anything inside the interior of the lobby you want to highlight and let the player know that this is an important location or area within this lobby that player needs to go to?
Within each location and section of your level, you can provide additional smaller focal points that guide the player to their next location, objective or obstacle. Look at your environments story created earlier and visualize how the player would navigate. Think of how you want the player travel through your level and how will you highlight important locations? As you play games, pay attention to focal points throughout the level and how they are used to guide you to the next section, location, objective or obstacle within a map.
Left4Dead2 is a great study for level design focal points. Most campaigns contain a large overall focal point, and then each level guides you from one location to the next with variety of focal points.
Then each location within a campaign contains their own focal points to guide the player to their next section of the level. It helps to treat stand-alone environments as a traditional artist would treat his painting.
It is all about composition, visual impact and telling a story through an image. Compositionally, every painting has a focus. When you see it, your eye jumps to it. It could be the castle in the distance, a bridge across a 2 mountain peaks or contrast of a camp fire at night.
It is the subject matter of the painting. As you play videogames, look at screenshots and concept art — pay attention to what the focal point is in these environments. Extract a specific landmark in your map that could be your focal point. Step 8. Here are some questions to help decide on the focal point of your map. Some may not apply depending on if you are creating a playable level or a stand-alone environment.
Look at your reference and all the previous steps that you have done. Aesthetically, visually and architecturally? What will help them know where they are?
Choose what the focal point or focal points are going to be within your environment. Have an image reference for each one.
STEP 9: Top down layouts help you to figure out how a player is going to play the map or walk-through the stand-alone environment. It is important to create a top-down layout before you jump inside the game engine. You will decide on many aspects such as:. Top-down layout is the thought process behind what you are going to do and why. You will use this as a starting point template for BSP block-in. Although a single chapter cannot describe the depth of creating playable game environments.
Most of this chapter is focused on gameplay principles for playable level designs, but we will still cover how to create top-down layouts for stand-alone game environments.
Stand-Alone Game Environment: These may also include focal points for detail, screenshots or camera pathways for a fly-through video. Playable Level Design: Playable levels require more thought process and ability to think of all possible ways the player may play your level.
There are issues of balance, skill, strategy, flow and pacing that will need many iterations and gameplay testing. We will cover these topics in Gameplay Overview section.
Whether you are creating a playable level or a stand-alone game environment, you want to create a top down layout. Single-player map experience is focused on story and objectives for the player to complete. What does the player need to do in order to move on to the next location or mission and progress the story forward? For single-player games, story is very important and often drives gameplay of each level. It also tends to be very linear in progression and its design. Player will go from point A to point B within the environment.
There are some variations within the level by using alternative routes, but overall it is a very straightforward progression to the finish line.
Even in open-ended world games, you still have a goal and a location to reach for the story to progress; you are just given the freedom to approach the location on your terms.
For single player maps you will not be choosing a game mode or gametype to design for. Single player maps are focused on moving the story forward. You will use already defined storyline, objectives, obstacles and set pieces from an earlier chapter to create your top-down layout. Multiplayer map experience is focused on online gameplay.
You are participating against other real- life players in a single or multiple objective map. Multiplayer maps are usually self-contained and closed off maps.
Like a figure eight, never ending loops. Gametypes or game modes are used for multiplayer maps to define an objective the player or the team has to complete. You will have to choose a gametype for a multiplayer map. Unreal Tournament is primarily focused on deathmatch and capture the flag gametypes often with vehicles. Specific gametype will dictate the experience, flow and pacing of the map. Focus designing your maps for one specific gametype.
If you are going to convert a map to another game mode then make sure to spend time on constructing a layout for that specific gametype. Strategy, skill and challenge are very hard to define gameplay concepts. The idea is to create a playable level that gives a player power to:. The player arrives at an enemy base. Strategy would be a choice the player has to make on how they want to approach this section of the map.
They might have only a single option or multiple options depending on the design of the level. Do they want to confront or to avoid? The player has some freedom to choose which strategy they want to use. If the player decided to engage the enemy, then the environment needs to support that with proper cover, interesting AI placement, weapons, ammo, power ups.
If the player decided to hide in the shadows, use cover and sneak around then the level should also support that option. Of course what the player can do or cannot is determined by the game mechanics; but the outcome is the same. The player is presented with a challenge to overcome. Skill comes from execution of the choice made by the player. Skill often comes from experience playing the game and learning the game mechanics.
This can be a skill with a certain weapon, aim or they know the best hiding and sneaking spots in the map. It is the ability that player uses to overcome the obstacle.
Challenge is how difficult the obstacle is. For each encounter, for each obstacle, for each section and for each choke point of the map you have to consider and balance these three elements. As the player arrives at a location within your map where an obstacle or a choke point is, spend time designing these three aspects into your layout:. In order to understand and incorporate these three elements into your map, you have to intimately know the game you are designing for.
You should have a lot experience playing the game or a game with similar game mechanics. Constant testing and iteration of gameplay layout will be a common theme during production to achieve a proper balance and integration of strategy, skill and challenge; especially at the beginning stages of your map development. In single-player maps you want to progressively increase difficulty of each objective.
This may include environment obstacles, enemy AI battles or puzzles. By increasing the complexity and introducing certain player abilities, new weapons and power ups while focusing on the storyline is not easy to do but achievable with proper planning. Strategy, skill and challenge in multiplayer are about creating a map that is easy to learn but difficult to master. Longer you play a map the better you become at it, but at the same time a new player can also play this map and learn it within just a couple of rounds.
Multiplayer maps require deliberate thought for each section so that one play style does not dominate the level. If you play Counter-Strike, maps such as Dust 2 and Inferno are two maps that come to mind that have routes that could be dominated by long-range weapons but alternate routes provide assault with medium to short-range weapons and are a disadvantage to long-range.
That kind of balance is achieved through planning, play testing and iteration during production. No single player class should dominate the map. All maps have some form of strategy, skill and challenge.
Well-designed maps are planned with all three in mind. Think through each section of the map and how can you integrate all three -strategy, skill and challenge. Balance is a very important element for single player and multiplayer player maps.
To achieve balance in your level designs you have to plan for and integrate all three aspects mentioned before: In level design, balance is not equality.
It is about offsetting one section of the map against another. If you have a map that only contains long open areas, this map is unbalanced towards one type of playing style — long-range weapon sniping. All other classes or playing styles are at a disadvantage.
But if you introduce one or two additional routes that are tight, close-quarter interiors that allows the player to come behind sniping positions then you just balanced your layout. Certain areas of your map should offer a disadvantage to specific playing type or playable class type, while another section should encourage it. Focus on balancing your maps where gameplay does not cater to one specific type of player sniper, close-quarters, run-n-gun, explorer etc.
Balance must be achieved.
This can only be done through proper planning, continuous play-testing and iteration of the layout; tweaking and changing layout geometry during production. Balance also needs to be achieved with weapon and item placement. For example too many weapons and too much ammo can make it easy for the player to win, while running out of the ammo will increase their frustration.
Good map flow helps the player navigate your environment without explicitly telling them where to go next. But in reality, you are guiding the player through the environment using focal points, lighting, geometry, props, objectives, landmarks and other navigational design tools. The goal is to have the player move from one area to another without becoming lost, knowing where to go and what to do next. Your job is to fine tune entire layout to keep the player on main paths by eliminating dead ends and areas that confuse the player and guide them off main path for no reason.
It is important to provide illusion of freedom within your level to allow the players to explore and to provide strategic options for the player to use within each section of the level — at the same time player needs to know where they should be going next. The process of achieving a good flow starts with a top down layout.
Designing pathway direction from start to finish will give you an idea how you want the player to travel through your world. Next is to design ways of helping the player navigating from one location to another without being lost. Sometimes it is in a form of distance meter Call of Duty Series other times it is shown through in-game map, highlighting the location.
Notice how you are being guided from one area to another. Keep notes on what you find and how you are being guided through the game environment. Pacing is the rhythm or tempo of the level. A repeated pattern of intensity, tension and difficulty for how each level or campaign plays out. The level starts off with a few minutes of exploration and walking to a location to reach an objective. Upon reaching the location few bad guys pop up. This obstacle introduces the player to combat and to gets them familiar using a weapon.
In the process the player may pick up a better weapon from the enemies after killing them. Following the first battle you allow the player to regroup, collect more items, gather health and explore a bit further without any conflict. Then another obstacle comes their way. This time it is little bit more challenging with more enemies.
Once the player defeats this set of enemies, it is another calm moment. In-between obstacles the character can explore, talk to other characters, collect items, weapons, solve puzzles etc. In the following diagram is an example of rising tension and pacing.
This formula is often used in movies and games. As the player progresses through the level — difficulty, tension and pacing increases until a final boss battle and resolution. This creates a rising action of events, building up slowly until a steep fall off boss battle. Think of a roller coaster, slowly rising until the first drop. You can find examples of this in many games. The example I like to use is Half-Life 2: