Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Level Design 1

It seems my creative block has been lifted while getting down and dirty in Battlefield Bad Company 2. I have no idea as to why, but the Frostbite Engine always inspired my creativity for some reason.

I have kind of have a weird mentality lately too; every game I play, it seems I find the flaws in Level Design. I love to look at other peoples' work and say "wow this is beautiful" or "hey, maybe I should attempt this". I used to play a game for the fun of it; now I seem to picking up on things such as structure, design, and everything.

Today I sat here and started playing The First Templar (for review), but I could not help but look at some of the flaws in the design and more specifically the level design.

For instance: barriers are meant to keep a player from going where they should not... not to keep them from running over a pile of rocks. I seem to have encountered these "barrier rocks" a ton in the game. Also, another thing that kind of irritates me is when a rock has Collision set to "NONE". If an arrow being shot at me can pass through a rock, wouldn't it be able to crush my tiny shield with ease? Now I understand the time-frame issue, along with workflow ect, but these types of things are what turn me off. It appeared that this is where an intersection is (2 Level Designers working on a massive world), while it is understandable, it shows me to really double check my own work. Because of this instance, I have found multiple issues in my own designs that could possibly be the death of my (hopefully) soon-to-be Level Design career.

When I spoke to some of the LD's at Treyarch about their designs, the one thing they all said to me was "for the love of God, double/triple/1,000 time check your work before sending it in a demo-reel." I noticed the one thing that happens with people designing in UDK, is that they do not thoroughly go through their entire layout to look for flaws.

In my re-build of "Assault On the Control Room", I found over 75 issues just in a small area; some of my BSP Brushes where not cleaned, or something was off center. If you play a game and look at a wall, and you see the same materials but they look distorted, this is what I had an issue with. After a ton of waiting, and figuring out how to fix it, I did eventually fix it.

The moral of that story is that it seems more and more that the LD community is not putting forth the effort to correct the issues that are presented to them.

A good example would be Bungie. You see when I played Halo 3 I was apart of this group called the HLG or Hidden League Gamers. My objective was to use the maps to my advantage. It took Bungie a long time to fix those exploits, which is why I wanted to become a Level Designer. Bungie made me realize that I want people to try to break my work so I can shatter their worlds. Now that may sound horrible, but it is the truth.

Back on track though, I would seriously work for free for any company so that I may be able to point some into a right direction. I am in no way knocking any Level Designers work, but it seems that some are forgetting a pivotal thing in their world: Player Experience. If the player does not like your world, then you are screwed. A poorly designed level or map has a chance to crush a game where it stands.

I will also say that I am in no shape to say what is right in the industry as I am not apart of it... yet. This is of course just my views.

Monday, May 16, 2011


So it has been a VERY long time since I last posted ANYTHING on Blogger, so I figured I should more than likely get on that.

Things have been going pretty meh as of late, I seem to be in this deep creative funk when it comes to what seems to be everything. Seriously I have been trying to sit here and design new levels, but damnit I cannot for the life of me think of anything. I used to be able to sit there and say to myself: this is what a player wants, this is what I (as a player) would like to see. Since I had no way of having someone demo my levels, or critique them, I left them be. I did occasionally go back and adjust them on a regular basis with new ideas.

Lately though, it seems things have been getting worse. I sat there for roughly 2 weeks trying to re-design Halo's best single-player level "Assault on the Control Room". Well I did get pretty far into it, then I hit a huge brick wall. I admit that I am not as advanced as my counterparts when it comes to this, but I just could not get the proportion that Bungie had established. Everything was off, maybe I am being way too picky when it came down to it I am not sure. My objective was to ONLY USE what was within Unreal Development Kit including: lighting, materials, textures, static meshes and the like. I know how to use 3Ds Max and Maya for meshes, but I wanted to stay true to the beauty that is the Unreal Engine. I am not saying that Bungie did not create a beautiful game, but let's face it; UDK is a beast.

On a side note, I recently have had the chance to get to know (on a personal level) some of the great personalities in the gaming industry. I got the chance to game with some of the Designers of Treyarch, and in the process met up with some guys from Volition Inc in the same game. Which was odd, since I was not expecting to see any more industry professionals while playing with other professionals. It was great though, I got to pick the brain of some really....really... um... fascinating people.

I have been trying to Network as well, but sometimes it is rather difficult to strike up a conversation with those that you do not know very well. Although, with some it is easier as they are actually interested in you lol.

I will post again in a couple days. See ya