Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Level Design

I think I may have touched on this before, but it's a topic that I think is quite a interesting one. I find myself constantly annoyed when playing games as I try and explore all the environments I can and see how stuff is made or where I can go and find I usually get
stabbed or shot in the process by the annoying NPC's about the place!
I love to play 3rd person action games so the level design I find is something that should be thought through carefully and have some time spent on it. Now I know visuals are important to make the worlds look great like these, but how the character interacts and moves in that environment is as equally as important in making the level design interesting and most of all playable and fun. One of (if not) my favourite games is Uncharted 2 because it hits all the right points in making well constructed levels where I never felt
trapped or frustrated. One thing I loved the most is the fact I
could interact with almost anything in the world which gave me a lot of freedom in which to explore in my own way.

I managed to find a little example of art done for Uncharted 3's level design which shows some of the ways they wanted their characters to interact with it. I think it's great to see the basic clean sketches that do away with the window dressing as it really gives a proper feeling of wether the level design is going to work or not as no amount of nice art over the top of a crappy level is ever going to hide the fact it doesn't work!

Now I know the interesting sort of
cell shaded prince of persia had
some game play flaws but I really felt that the levels had a nice flow and look to them; I even spent a few hours just racing through them all for fun and panning the camera round dramatically saying ahhhh and ohhhh like some zombified moron.

Actually coming to think of it I quite like the idea of working as a level designer it's actually really fascinating, I mean as I gaze
up at my shelf looking for something to tell me what to right (oh there's Mirrors Edge obviously should mention that briefly)I think what's the one thing games encourage us to do... well it's go back through it and find all the extra nick knacks and doo dads that give a well done picture with a thumbs up you could be arsed to walk around our very large level and see how good it is achievement. Which is really an achievement in itself for a development team to encourage people to play through it again as its that addictive. Unless of course you are one of those vacuous people who play games to show everyone how big your gamer score is which in that case what I have just written won't really concern you!?

Actually if you get a chance play LIMBO the simple little side scroller that isn't that simple, I mean it has the best level design of any game I've played in while. Basically I don't want to spoil the game for any of you who haven't played it. Well your a boy who wakes up in a forest for no apparent reason with no idea why your there or who you are or what you want so you set off to find this out for yourself . Now this is where the level design comes in each level has distinct theme and it's all completely black and white and err well grey. Everything is a puzzle and is one of those games where it's really focussed on trial and error and many of the traps and other nasty things will often surprise you in cruel but interesting way! I don't want too give too much away, but the only thing that will upset you is it's kinda short and will leave you wanting more, which I think is a good thing as a little bit of pure genius is better than 14hrs of samey grass walking menu selecting garbage. Well heres a a video to wet your appetite.