Who Does Level Design?

Throughout this chapter, I have spoken as if you are responsible for all aspects of your level. Many development studios do still operate on the one designer, one level method of level design. This has many advantages, of course, since it helps to keep the levels focused. That one designer is constantly aware of what her level requires in terms of gameplay, art, and programming, and can keep that level on track. When it comes time to set up the level s lighting, for instance, the designer will remember that she thought that gameplay in one part of the level would play best in the dark with disorienting flashing light. Having one person working on one level from start to finish helps to ensure the level has a consistency of vision that can lead to great gameplay.

But the one designer, one level technique is not the only method that may work, and many developers have adopted more of a team approach to level design. If your team has one designer who is particularly good at making pretty architecture but is less skilled at getting the AI agents to work, it may make sense to have a different designer set up the gameplay on that designer s levels. Artists may be better trained and suited to making a level look especially pretty. One designer or an artist may be particularly good at lighting effects, while another may be adept at the scripted sequences. You may want the sound designer to set up your sound effects, since she will be better at correctly placing the audio effects she created. The price of having a level that is of high quality will almost inevitably involve a greater degree of specialization of your team members . Of course, as with any task that is divided among several people, you need to make sure that they are all on the same page in terms of what that level is trying to accomplish. For instance, the architecture designer may have built a canyon that she thought would be ideal for an ambush , but when the designer who sets up the gameplay comes along, she may not notice that particular canyon and might set up encounters in less optimal locations. Communication between the different people working on a particular level is essential, just as it is between the programming, art, and design teams .

As I stated previously, as games become more complex, it becomes necessary to divide tasks that used to be accomplished by one person between multiple people. As games continue to become more complicated, designers will specialize more and more, and having multiple people working on a single level will become increasingly common. Keeping the game focused on such a project will be quite a challenge, which emphasizes the importance of project leaders and lead level designers. However, as people specialize in a particular area of level design, the possibility exists that they can become better at their specific area of expertise as a result, raising the bar in terms of final quality. Furthermore, if one person sets up the AI and gameplay for all of the levels in the game, those levels as a whole may achieve a greater gameplay consistency than if each level designer was setting up her own gameplay. If managed correctly, these highly specialized level designers and artists can lead to better levels in the final game.

Game Design Theory and Practice
Game Design: Theory and Practice (2nd Edition) (Wordware Game Developers Library)
ISBN: 1556229127
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 189

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