Posted by : Jameson Durall Monday, July 05, 2010
In a previous post, I was talking about how a level designer needs to be a salesman and use whatever tools he can find to help get the vision of his level across to everyone on the team. One of the tools I suggest any Game Designer learn to help them with this is Photoshop.
I think pretty much everyone knows what Photoshop is used for by now, luckily in the last few years they've released the Adobe Photoshop Elements line that provides a lot of the functionality at an affordable price, even for students.
Our design group at work has been talking a lot about how to get ideas across better in the pre-production process and establish the vision of the game as early as possible. Photoshop can be used to create maps and diagrams to help get individual ideas across. It can also be used for it's "intended function" and do things like take screenshots from other games and alter them to convey the message you'd like to get across for your own game. You can also use it to create images to use in Flash and create a working gameplay prototype pretty easily.
During production, we use Photoshop to take screenshots of level layouts from an overview and then place spawn locations, special events and checkpoint locations. We end up with a very detailed map that anyone can look at to get an idea of the flow of the level and where the important pieces take place. Then as things change, it's easy to go into the psd file and make the updates to keep things current.
My skills using Photoshop are still basic and to this day I find myself asking an artist to mock something up for me because they can do it very quickly. So, from experience, I say learning to use Photoshop better is a great idea...so I'm doing that with Adobe Photoshop CS4 How-Tos: 100 Essential Techniques which also has a Kindle version The book is really good at teaching 100 individual concepts and tools in a way that's great for a beginner or intermediate user.