Thursday, 20 December 2012

Elements of game design part 7: Level Design

Whereas environment design that I have previously looked at is concerned with the aesthetic side of how the surroundings are created, level design is done purely for games: it differentiates a piece of work that may be done purely to look at, and what has to actually be manipulated and function by use by a player. What iv e talked about previously about a concept and design having to be based on fundamental knowledge so that we know it works and looks right to the viewer is taken further, as the surroundings not only are there to look at any more with in-game levels, but are there to be interacted with in a variety of different ways.

Early examples of 3d games had the opportunity to make navigation seamless into the environment without obvious signposting: Here in tomb raider 2, this is done via ledges and platforms you have to find and navigate as part of the (at the time) quite expansive levels. Though clunky by today's standards, it was a way to make navigation and interactivity seamless, and make the player think of how to use their surrounding game world. 

I think its incredibly important to differentiate from the visual aspect of level design and the level itself.... Majority of levels are made purely with the process of making sure they are navigate able and able to be traversed clearly before any artwork or design is done to the levels contents, the meshes being left blank or covered in rough place holder art to distinguish one part from the other. At the end of the day a game is there to be played, and if it is difficult or unclear on how to do so it is failing at the most fundamental level. Numerous games use various methods to bring their in-game worlds to life by making them dynamic and react to the decisions made by the players to give the impression that your not only within something but also affecting it based on your own choices and decisions. And now, with more realistic games that closely mirror are own world as real as possible, elements that used to help us interact with a game that used to be merely part of the aesthetic side (a flat signpost telling us which direction to go) are now built into the game's level (Activating a switch that moves platforms allowing the player to navigate to a certain area). With the increase of exploration and freedom in games, the world isn't necessarily made up of blocks that are cleverly disguised as buildings any more, but fully implemented digital pieces of architecture with doors that can be opened, windows that can be smashed, and lights that can be switched on.

The basic layout to the start to any level design is the functionality aspect, and how the player can interact within it.  
While the game production work I have done on the course so far has largely involved the aesthetic side of making things in 3d, we are slowly being pushed towards thinking about the interactivity involved in our creations. The creation of characters introduced us to rigging, showing us how not only to make the human anatomy look true to life, but also make it work like it would in the real world. This was a start into looking at the functionality aspect of our work, and with recent projects with bringing our renders into the Unreal Engine, we've seen how important it is to make things work (albeit on a basic level) while in a game's level. Though I learnt the start with basic things like collision detection, it was interesting to see how my building that I had made could be explored in first person. 

No comments:

Post a Comment