Posted by : Jameson Durall Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I've been noticing lately how important it is for a Level Designer to properly play his level during review sessions.  It's important to demonstrate the level as an average player would experience it so everyone in the room gets a feel for what kinds of adjustments need to be made for the highest percentage of our users.

One of the things I commonly see a Level Designer do is play through the level quickly and efficiently because they know where every trigger is and where every enemy will be spawned.  Doing this doesn't convey the experience that the vast majority of players will have. This kind of play also makes it easier for the development team to fall into the age old issue of making changes based on how we perceive a level to be boring or too easy.

As always, it's extremely important to be continually aware of the player's experience during a play through of a level.  Try to play with the pacing and emotion you are shooting for and how you ultimately think the average player will play.  This allows the people reviewing your level work to form more accurate impressions of the state of the level and be able to give the appropriate feedback.

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5 Responses so far.

  1. I completely agree with this. I have been following your blog for like a month now. I am an aspiring level designer that uses the Halo Forge editor as my medium. While it is a simplified editor it allows us to focus on gameplay over aesthetics. This is something that I have always been true to is never viewing the level from your own perspective, but playing as if you were new to the map. Another helpful source of analysis for Halo level designers is the ability to have players play your map and then watch the film and observe where they move and try to understand why they move in that way.

    I love the posts that you do that focus around game design. It is great to see a professional level designer's thoughts on things. I write a series of level design theory lessons that I have learned over the past 3 years of working with the forge editor and having the Halo community as a strong tester base. Due to the systems simplicity it allows me to focus on what makes maps play well and allows me to prototype layouts fairly easily.

    If you ever find the time. I would love your input on some of my lessons to see what you think. I am working towards being a game/level designer in the future. I just recently separated from the military as a programmer, and I figure written out may help for my resume. Any feedback you could give would be greatly appreciated.

    Forge Lessons

  2. Jameson says:

    Hey, thanks for reading. I'll definitely take a look at your stuff when I get a few free minutes.

  3. Sounds good. I look forward to future game design posts, keep them coming.

  4. Matt says:

    I don't see the point in playing my own level for a review. I want to see others play it so I can better understand the experience they have. We did this on RFG (just the level designers) and it worked out well for us.

  5. Jameson says:

    In general, I totally agree with what you're saying. For most reviews it's great to see other people play and essentially get some focus test info.

    But, for these level reviews, the focus is on showing what work has been done. So, playing their own is crucial to seeing what work has been updated and what we need to keep looking for.

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