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.