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					Interactive Multimedia
  Games Development
              COM631

Week 7 Level Design Process
Learning Outcomes
   Understand the game development process
   Understand steps from initial idea/proposal to
    working prototype to full game development
   Extension to week 2 lecture, early game
    development
   Understand what makes a good game level
   Understand how game elements interact to
    create immersive environments
Level Design Process
Level design process combines number of elements
in the creation of game worlds

   Environment/architectural design
   Modeling, lighting, artwork and animation
   Music/sound effects
   Enemy and problems/obstacles

Essential to combine elements together effectively to
create compelling environment for game play
Level Types
   Number of different level types
   Each type suitable for different scenarios
   Context dependant based on role within the
    game
Level type: Standard Level
   90% of game levels are standard levels
   Contains typical game play elements and
    storyline
Level type: Hubs
   Usually appear in RPG/adventure/action games
   Hubs are used to connect other levels together
   Typically do not have same gameplay model as
    standard levels
   Tend to have multiple entry and exit points
    (Temporal/dynamic)
   Used frequently
   Hubs serve multiple purposes e.g. provide access
    to game play elements for player maintenance i.e.
    training, health, equipment, safe zones, quests
Level type: Boss Levels
   Climax point in games
   Contain bosses/sub bosses
   Level designed around boss features
   Provide a change from standard levels in a
    game
   Typically smaller in size with different game
    play mechanics
   Level must be completed to progress
Level type: Tutorials
   Tutorials level typically appear early in the game
   Main purpose is to train players and provide basic
    skills to allow progression
   Usually short with simple obstacles/challenges
   Difficult to design properly
   Used to teach new skills in short amount of time
    without overly delaying access to the rest of the
    game
   Essential to get balance right (information overload)
   Must be appropriate in the context of the rest of the
    game
Level type: Bonus Levels
   Typically optional and shorter than standard
   Not required for game completion
   Used as rewards e.g. new weapon
   Provide a break from standard game play
   Optional nature means can be dropped if
    required
Level Design Process
Each level must be designed in the context of the
game and game objectives

   Why is it here
   What type of level is it
   Where does it appear
   What functions does it fulfil
   How does it relate to other levels
   What does it introduce e.g. new character, weapon,
    monster or skill
   Does it advance the storyline
   Is it single player or multiplayer game
Level Design Process
Each level usually has a single focus

   Activity to be completed
   Game play element to introduce
   Visual attraction
   Novel concept

Each level should not have multiple objectives
Level Design Process
   Essential to ensure variety in each level
   Achieved by changing level elements e.g.
    objectives, obstacles, setting, enemies
   Ensures game maintains user interest
Level Design Process
   Plan level in advance
   Use high level of detail
   Use storyboards to allow multiple iterations and
    refinements
   Include sketches, maps, models and
    photographs
   Last step in process should be implementation
    on computer
Design Considerations
Level design involves 3 main considerations

   Physical/spatial characteristics
   Temporal characteristics
   Relationship between level design and game
    play
Design Considerations
   Physical/spatial characteristics focus on
    physical elements of the game environment
   Ensure these are planned and implemented
    effectively
Design Considerations
   Frostbite engine
   Mercenary 2
   Fracture
   95% destructible environments
   Impacts on gameplay
Angry birds
   One screenshot to understand core gameplay
    Perspective
   Need to consider user perspective/view in
    design of level
   Impacts on level construction e.g. attention to
    detail
   First person perspective, view from perspective
    of the player character
Perspective
   Third person perspective
   Player character is visible on screen
   Game world viewed through camera
    observing the scene
   Fixed or over the shoulder view
Perspective
Types of third person perspectives include

   Omnipresent gives view of all game world
    with flexible camera

   Isometric view 30 to 45 degree angle on
    game action
Third person perspective




  Black & White omnipresent   Star Craft isometric view
Perspective
Types of third person perspectives include;

   Top-down where the game is viewed usually
    with scrolling

   Side-view where the game is viewed from
    the side usually with some form of scrolling
Third person perspective




     1942 Top down   Super Mario side view
Mixing perspective
Physical Layout Considerations
Physical layout determined by game play type

   Single player levels lead a player from goal
    to goal either in a linear/non-linear fashion
   Multi-player levels are typically less complex
    and more open
Internal and External Design
   Different approach in design of internal
    spaces and external spaces
   Typically internal spaces are smaller, more
    detailed and constrained by walls and
    ceilings
   External spaces are more open with ability
    to see far into the distance and require less
    detail
Terrain and Materials
   Levels typically contain 2 types of elements
   Man made e.g. buildings made of wood,
    concrete etc..
   Organic e.g. trees, grass, terrain, sky, clouds
Level Scale
Level scale includes the size of physical space
and the relative size of objects in the game

   To ensure high level of realism try to ensure
    object scale accurately reflect their size
   Some exaggeration necessary to ensure
    elements are easy to spot or manipulate
   Scale distortion maybe necessary to allow
    player to cross world easily
Level Boundaries
   Practicalities limit game world size
   Levels require boundaries
   Boundaries must be appropriate to ensure player
    immersion e.g. blown up vehicles, thick vegetation
Level Style
Level style influences its structure and
appearance

   Architecture of man-made structures
   Terrain element layout
   Placement and types of objects
   Coloring/texturing/shading
Level Style: Landmarks
   Distinctive landmarks help orient player
   Aid in level navigation
   Provide focal point
Level Consistency
   Level look should be consistent
   Each element must sit in the context of
    overall theme and game objectives
   Aids player immersion
Temporal Considerations
   Time considerations
   Real world versus wall clock time
   Real time, faster/slower than real world
   Can be player action dependant
   Different game play elements for night time
    and day time
   Darkness, shops open, monsters
Authentic Time
   Use passage of time as a gameplay
    mechanic
   Can be synchronized with real world time
Variable Time
   Typically if time is used as a mechanic in a
    game it usually runs faster than reality
   Time jumps removing boring periods where
    nothing is happening
   Usual approach is to speed up time to
    accelerate through boring or non relevant
    time periods
Player Controlled Time
Players can usually modify game time inside
levels E.g.
 Sports games, adjust the length of full/half
  time
 Fighting games, round length

 Flight simulators, journey time



Some occasions where this is not feasible
Time as a Game Mechanic
   Games can incorporate variable time as a
    mechanic
   Time can be slowed, frozen, reversed or
    repeated
   Can facilitate interesting interactions with
    game elements




                                       Blinx, The time sweeper
Level Design & Game play
   Possible to underestimate impact of level
    design on game play
   Needs to be carefully planned to maximise
    player enjoyment
   Reinforces game objectives when correctly
    done
Level Design & Player Goals
   Ensure player knows objectives and goals of
    each level
   Use mission screens, cut scenes or scripted
    action
   Ensure players can measure level progress
   Level design should complement objectives
Level Design & Obstacles
Obstacles prevent the player from completing
their goals E.g. simple roadblocks

   Opposite of objectives in most software
   Basic obstacles to slow player down progress
   Increase interaction
   Complements other obstacles
   Doors, walls & pits etc..
Level Design & Enemies
   Games involving combat typically have
    enemies that need to be defeated to achieve
    player goal
   Enemies can have different attack styles or
    be bigger or smaller
   Enemies must be appropriate in the context
    of the game/level
   Enemies should be gradually introduced with
    graduated levels of difficulty.
Level Design & Enemies




Imps   Cacodemons   Barons of hell   Cyberdemons   Spider masterminds
Level Design & Traps
   Traps are obstacles to ensnare or inflict
    damage on players inside the game world
   These include closing walls, falling objects
    and pits
   Used appropriately they can heighten
    tension/apprehension or fear in a level
Level Design & Puzzles
   Puzzles are obstacles to player progress that
    require some thought to solve
   Can change game play
   Needs to be appropriate to game




Puzzle Quest, Nintendo DS genre bending game
Puzzle Design

   Good puzzles contribute to character, plot
    and story development and increase
    immersion
   Poor puzzles are intrusive and obstructionist
    and can break immersion
Puzzle Types
   Challenge is to design puzzles that are
    unique but appropriate to the game world
   Numerous classifications of puzzles types
   Best games mix and match puzzle types
Ordinary Puzzle
   Ordinary use of an object is a simple puzzle
   The player uses object intuitively e.g. key
   Challenge is finding the object
   Usually the item is protected by another
    puzzle or boss
Unusual use of an object
   Unusual use takes advantage of secondary
    characteristics of a game object
   Relies on player determining alternative use
   Puzzle is the appropriate combined use of
    an object
   E.g. Discworld Frog in sleeping characters
    mouth
Building Puzzle
   Player creates new object from raw
    materials in the game
   Involves combining or converting object
   Usually requires player guidance
Information Puzzle
   Player supply a missing piece of information
    e.g. password or key code
   Discovery process involves talking to other
    players, reading documents/emails
People, Timing & Sequence Puzzles
   People puzzles involve interacting with game
    characters to remove them as obstacles
   Usually talk/trade with character
   Timing puzzles require the player to do something
    which effects something in the future
   Sequence puzzle rely on a series of actions
    performed in the right order
   Usually starts with a simple action with additional
    obstacles e.g. open door with key where the key is
    inside a monster
Logic and Classical Puzzles
   Logic puzzles are where player must
    examine information and infer answer
   Classic puzzles e.g. magic square
Riddles & Dialogue puzzle
   Riddles involve clues and hints
   Must balance difficulty, makes player
    assumptions
   Dialogue puzzle require a player to follow a
    conversation along the correct path of a
    dialogue tree until the player says or does
    the right thing
Machinery and Maze Puzzle
   Player must use a piece of machinery in
    correct fashion
   Follows trial and error/ logic approach
   Maze requires player to find way out
Good Puzzle Design
   Good puzzle design is based on the
    effective use of game elements
   Bad puzzles will break immersion
   Player should have all the tools required
    needed to solve a puzzle
   Effects should be linked to cause
   Requires testing to ensure its intuitive
   Avoid binary puzzle approaches leads to
    frustration
Good Puzzle Design
   In the interests of fairness all answers
    should be contained within the game
   Puzzle should be theoretically solvable at
    first attempt
   Puzzle should be appropriate to game and
    setting
   Puzzle should reinforce the game\level
    theme
Puzzle Difficulty
   Fine tune puzzle difficulty
   Vary amount/presentation of information
    provided to the player
   Design alternate solutions to puzzle
   Distract player with erroneous information
Puzzle Design
   Puzzles should be based around villains
    objectives/skills
   Villains objective is to stop player
   How can this be achieved in the context of
    the game?
   Remember game fairness, puzzle must not
    be based on information a villain or boss
    should have not
   Player empathy is essential
Level Design & Obstacles
Levels must be designed to accommodate
obstacles

   Obstacles must match level setting/style
   Should be clearly identified from background
   Should include visual clues
Level Structure & Progression
   Ease player into each level and gradually
    increase level difficulty
   Increase conflict gradually in line with skills
   Vary level pace
   Allow time for exploring, intense game play
    and down time
Curved Difficulty Progression




                        Curved difficulty progression
Game Flow Control
   Key to good level design is to control the
    flow of action in the game
   Carefully manage/guide player
   Difficult to achieve good control in non-linear
    model
   Different solutions e.g. physical barrier or
    boss that is only removed when goals are
    achieved
Game Flow Control
Close off area/s where necessary to allow
for better resource management E.g.

   Create one way barriers to prevent users going
    back once crossed
   Test extensively to ensure no unexpected game
    play e.g. Doom health and rocket launchers
Level Duration & Availability
   Game levels should be suitability timed
   Rule of thumb is to complete a level in a
    single game play session
   Could range from a few minutes to hours
    depending on genre
   Long levels need to include plenty of
    milestones/save points
Level Difficulty
   Balance game level difficulty
   Some frustration but avoid multiple deaths for no
    good reason
   Cater for different skill levels
   Use multiple challenges at different levels of
    difficulty in each level
   Allow different ways to complete level depending
    on skill levels e.g. experts = high risk/reward
   Include secret passages or rewards
Level Balance
Level inventory balance requires
careful planning

   Includes supply of weapons/health
   Number and positioning of enemies
   Balance of risk and reward e.g. difficult task
    =bonus
Testing & Evaluation
   Design of level is an iterative process
   Involves high level of fine tuning
   Requires constant testing and evaluation
   Pay attention to feedback
Game Design Trade-Offs
   Typically game design involves conflicts
    between different design goals
   Sometimes only possible to achieved one
    goal by sacrificing another
   Conflicts often obvious but can be subtle
   Careful consideration needed to balance
    which goals/objectives are included or
    sacrificed
Balance versus Enjoyment
   Hard to balance game for all player types or
    capabilities e.g. novices versus experts
   Ensure you know your market
   Understand skills and preferences of target
    audience
   Balance the game to provide challenges for all
    players
Game Simplification
In some instances it is hard to achieve a balance
between level of accuracy/abstraction

   Over realistic game play may cause clutter/boredom
   Under realistic may disappoint expectations
   Appropriate level of realism needed but not at the cost
    of player experience
   Make sure level of controls is manageable
Serious Games
   Serious games require attention to detail
    and realistic game play
   Fun element must not interfere or lessen
    game objective
   May have real world consequences
Structure versus Freedom
   Linear versus non-linear games
   Player freedom/creativity versus
    frustration
   Genre dependant e.g. God games versus
    rail shooters
Mood Setting
   Dark, poorly lit games invoke fear but hide
    essential game detail
   Design for ambience is important but should
    not be at the cost of playability
Innovation versus Game Norms
   Unique selling point essential for a game
   Highlight game innovation
   Need to keep an element of familiarity
   Particularly important across genres
Maintaining Game Focus
   Increasingly games have elaborate sprawling
    worlds
   Full of different activities
   Excessive scope leads to lack of focus and risks
    losing player
   Needs to keep goals in sight
   Again careful balance needed
AI Interaction
   Game AI still poor
   Interaction with NPC typically limited
   Actions usually scripted and pre-
    determined
   End result is usually combat
Balancing Game Elements
Game qualities include breadth, depth & pace

   Breadth involves different actions that a player can
    perform
   Depth involves level of activity detail
   Pace describes rate at which action unfolds
   Hard to get a correct balance between all three

Typically can achieve 2 at any time without overwhelming
player. E.g. Call of Duty 3.
Level Design Summary
   Harder the challenges = bigger the rewards
   Design for functionality/limitations of AI
   Remember level place in the context of the
    entire game
   If you remove a player skill or weapon make
    the rationale clear and understandable
   Design for different playing styles
   Make good use of audio and visuals
   Gradual experience
Assignment 3 Overview
Assignment 3: Creation of an abbreviated game
design document (Preproduction)

Total available marks 25
Individual assignment

Assignment 3
Due 09/11/10 (Week 8)

Example document here
Assignment 3 (Preproduction)
   Create an abbreviated game design document for
    the game level you will create in Gamebryo
    LightSpeed for Assignment 4
   Structure is based on template/examples supplied
   Report generated should follow the format given as
    closely as possible, example document here
   Be realistic on time constraints
   You must pitch your game to the class in a formal
    presentation
Assignment 3 Guidelines
The document should follow the game design document
structure provided and also include accompanying
support material

   Description of level theme
   Level design concept development material (including
    rough sketches/photographs)
   Level layout design diagram (Level blueprint) and game
    board
   Back of the box description
 Assignment 3 Output
Report, supporting material and class presentation

Submission Guidelines for report
 As required following format/template given



Submission Guidelines for presentation
 Powerpoint presentation of appropriate length



Submission Details
 Assignments should be submitted on day of presentation
Assignment 3 Deliverables
   Hard copy of game design document
   Print out of back of box design
   CDROM containing digital copy of all
    report/presentation and supporting material
   Presentation/pitch to class in week 8
Level blueprint & game board




 Level blueprint and game board from Level Design for Games, Phil Co
Back of the box description




   Cover Dark Messiah, Ubisoft
Assignment 3 Mark Allocation
Assignment 3 Schedule
Interactive Multimedia
  Games Development
              COM631

Week 7 Level Design Process

				
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