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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Keene

Final Major Project - Level Design

Updated: Mar 18, 2021

I began the level design production process by using cylinders to rough out the shape and size that the main areas of the level would take up. This proved invaluable as I could very easily change the size and then run across the diameter with the player character to see if it took too long or seemed too small.

The time it takes a player to traverse an area affects the pacing (Ryan, 1999) which is why I felt it was important to get the size of areas right. Longer traversal time increases tension, it would be a poor decision to have it take a long time to traverse through the town that acts as hub. However, I was sure to make the path up to the mountain summit a long distance to build tension for the encounter that occurs there.

The main geological feature of the island is the mountain, I decided to sculpt it first as that way the other features of the island could be built around it, adding more believability to their layout and placement. To create a convincing mountain, I researched for tips and advice and used the technique from Sketch of adding veins to give the jagged look of a mountain.

As I built the level I also added in more areas and points of interest that made sense for the story and environment, logical additions like this make the island more interesting to explore and experience. This density of detail and variety of surroundings is especially important in a top-down game as the player cannot see into the distance, they are limited to the area around them, which can quickly become boring.

Several changes were made during development to the original design. The forest area was changed to a plains and swamp, this was because the area infront of the fort had already become a forest and I felt the level would feel very samey if the large area in the north was also a forest. The swamp not only also fit nicely with the horrors the player will find there but also made sense for the shortcut that was added down the mountain, it looks as if it used to be a waterfall that has since stopped flowing and the foot of where the waterfall used to end is still damp, creating the swamp.

The short cut was included so that the player would not have to backtrack a long distance down the mountain. The shortcut also ends at a landmark in the swamp that the player will have visited before, ensuring they do not become disoriented.

Overall, I am very pleased with how the level turned out, I think I have managed to create a very pleasing and interesting environment to explore and while more polish will be needed it is in a strong position and I am very pleased that I did not go over the allotted time I allocated to level production.

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