Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Happy New year, hope you all had a good Christmas

To be honest i'm inundated with blogs to post from over christmas so why not just pile all 3 of them all on in the same day? ok!

Game level design
In its fairly short history, computer games have explored only a few genres. If you were to compare just main characters from various game franchises you wouldn’t look to silly to say what’s the difference. For example you could forgive an average Joe of the street with no game knowledge for thinking Solid Snake and Commander Shepard are in the same game as they both wear armour.
So how do we define these characters from each other? Through level design is the answer if you haven’t guessed what this blog is about. If you were to show the same average Joe the characters in their own environment they should be able to see the difference between earth and space, if not there is no hope for us all.
I think level design can be split into two main areas; practicality and aesthetics. What do I mean by practicality? Well if you design a level like Wasteland from Cod 2 and modern warfare 2 for Gears of War 3 you are going to experience a massive poo storm of complaints and here’s why. With GOW being a third person shooter relying on cover systems to win the game, if you were to design a level that had vast open spaces and little option for cover you are effectively putting cyanide in your own tea. To create a level that will work well with (Alliteration win) the principle in GOW which is the cover system you need to obvious create lots of pointless crates and broken walls for the player to glide to like a magnet.
Aesthetics: I think we can all agree that looking at the main character in game is very cool, but the level takes up 85% of the screen so it can’t just be a blank screen if you’re portraying a 1940’s bingo hall. The aesthetics define the atmosphere of a game. This doesn’t mean every level has to be made up of concrete buildings and pipework. Aslong as the art direction is stagnant you can get away with it, for example streets of rage 2 you went from the streets to a cave with a massive spider to a pirate ship to a baseball arena. The art style was consistent so people overlooked it and saw it for the game it was, a beautiful game. This also applies to colours used in the levels, as of recent a lot of games have gone for predominantly greeny blue environments that obvious don’t make for the most interesting views.
Level design isn’t the bee’s knees the whole time though. It can of course be a game wrecker. I’m sure we have all fallen through a wall or experienced people killing us from under a map. My personal favourite is calling and airstrike in on Battlefield: bad company 2 when slightly in a bush and the game references the alpha that is clear on the screen as the point you wish to bomb, therefore killing yourself when you expect to see all hell break loose infront of you.
Hope that was worth your time reading, cheerio.

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