• Josh Hardy

The Art Of Level Design - Online Course Progress

Since my Final Major project has now been handed in and I have more free time. I have decided to take some online courses to learn more about Level design and to help push me to become better at prototyping levels and greyboxing. I have always found Level Design interesting in terms of how to pyschologically make the experience better for the player.

In my first year of University, I read a book called "Gameplay and Design" by Kevin Oxland (2004). I found that book to be perfect for starting out and getting introduced to game design, however, it is a little outdated and I wanted to hone in on the more intricate craft of levels. It just so happens that the Author of said book - Kevin Oxland - also has an online course called "Learn the ART of level design". It is made for beginners and those who have not necessarilly touched on level design properly. I do have experience creating levels but I knew that a 20+ year industry veteran would be able to teach me new things nevertheless (boy was I right).

I had used visual language, player feedback, pacing and foreshadowing previously in my works, but there are some principles that I had never heard of prior, such as 'exposure/ priming'. Also, since I have never made a level for an existing game and essentially make a whole game for the level, I have never been able to think about scaling rewards and progression which I am now trying to incorporate in my current level design - even though it is a hypothetical level.

I am currently halfway through the course and I am designing a level for a linear, action-adventure survival horror, akin to The Last of Us whilst pulling elements from Days Gone.

The level has many windows and holes in the buildings to give the player a view of the final goal (exposure/foreshadowing/situational awareness). I am also trying to ease the player into the level using layering and mixing up room sizes/shapes with some extra hidden rooms etc to keep the level fun and exciting but not giving the player a cognitive overload. My top down 2D plans can be seen below. I will start blockmeshing the level next, to prototype and get the scale of the level.

The level is inspired by Speicherstadt of Hamburg and a boat repair/ warehouse district.

*Each number represents a beat in the level.


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