Archive for the ‘ Level Design ’ Category

The Making of Tragedia: Dungeon Design

This post is part of “the Making of Tragedia” series. Tragedia is a classic-style role-playing game I am currently developing in RPG Maker VX. You can learn more about the game and download the demo at the Tragedia website.



As I began to create new dungeons for Tragedia, I realized that there is a surprising lack of information online about 2D dungeon design. For any 2D game that features dungeons, these levels have extremely important puzzle and combat elements, so why are we not talking about them? In this post, I’m going to take you through my design process for the dungeons in Tragedia, as well as provide tips for creating your own dungeons.


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My Level Creation Process

I’ve talked a bit about the creation process I use when building levels before, but this time, I thought I’d do a complete walkthrough of the process. This is the same process I use for all of my level designs, and I’ve iterated on it with each new level I work on. I developed this process by studying current industry standards for workflow; talking with industry professionals, university instructors, and fellow level designers; and what I personally feel comfortable with. I have broken everything down into steps, and each step has an estimated time associated with it, which simply represents the amount of time I typically spend on that particular portion of the level. Below is the quick list of steps I follow, but to better understand my workflow and creation process, read on!


Step 1: Conceptualization

Step 2: Research & Pre-Production

Step 3: Asset List & (Possible) Creation

Step 4: Blocking In & Game Play Testing

Step 5: Asset Implementation & Scripting

Step 6: Populating & Polishing

Step 7: Final Product & Retrospective


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Level Retrospective: Inkblots

The following is a retrospective I wrote after the completion of the level, Inkblots. This singleplayer level was created in UDK in roughly sixty hours, and included custom textures, key bindings, and voice-overs. You can learn more about this level on my portfolio, which includes documentation, screenshots, and a walkthrough video.


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Tips & Tricks: Performance Optimization in UDK

The Unreal Development Kit is a wonderful editor for building both games and levels, but sometimes, things don’t always work as anticipated. I’ve heard numerous complaints of people who claim UDK is a terrible editor simply because it was running slow, but don’t forget that there are ways to fix this problem, so don’t just give up on the editor, especially if it could be caused by something you did! If UDK is running impossibly slow, check out these tips for optimizing the editor’s performance.


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Visual Scripting in Kismet Video

Now that finals are out of the way, I was finally able to finish the Visual Scripting in Kismet video! Click on the image below to watch it on vimeo. Topics covered include: turning off the HUD, toggling lights using switches, implementing sound and animation, and setting up bots with basic AI. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Visual Scripting in Kismet Video

I’m starting to get the hang of making these videos, and I managed to get my hands on a better mic, so hopefully the quality is much better this time. I think next time I’ll be adding in some extras to go along with points where I’m just talking and not actually showing anything. Also, I’ve been receiving some comments that the July beta has some changes that make the first video confusing, so I’ll be working on some notes after I get back from PAX Dev to go along with the video for those using newer versions. Remember that UDK is updated every month, so little things may change from time to time.

Enjoy the video, and let me know if you have any suggestions for improving them or for the next one I make!

Learn UDK in a Day Workshop Video

It’s finally here! After a long delay due to crunch time at work, the video for my Learn UDK in a Day Workshop is finally available for viewing! Just click the image below to head over to vimeo to watch it. If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to contact me.

Learn UDK in a Day Workshop

Continue reading to see the list of helpful resources and tutorials for UDK that were provided at the actual workshop!

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First Workshop Postmortem

I held my first workshop today, and I think it went pretty well. A big thanks to all those that attended, and for those that missed, the video tutorial will be up on Saturday afternoon! Check back here for the post with the documentation and video, which will be titled “Learn UDK in a Day Workshop.” Since the workshop went rather well, I think I will be doing a few more over this semester, but, just like with any game project, I figured it would be helpful to write up a short postmortem on the workshop to help understand what went right and wrong. Since this was my first time hosting a workshop, there were, of course, a few things I feel I could have done better, and if you attended and had any feedback, please let me know! I’m taking the feedback from this workshop and applying it to the video, as well as future workshops.

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My First Workshop for UDK

I just got the final details confirmed for the first workshop I will be hosting, and I have to say, I’m pretty excited. Wednesday, June 1st, I will be hosting a beginner’s workshop called “Learn UDK in a Day.” It will be held at the University of Advancing Technology, so if you’re a student here, come check it out! Otherwise, for the rest of you who are unable to attend, I will be creating a video version of the workshop, which will be posted here the following weekend.

Some Topics We Will Cover:

  • Basics of the Interface, Viewport, and Content Browser
  • Overview of Brushes
  • Terrain Basics
  • Simple Lighting
  • Swimmable Water
  • Basics of Materials and Textures
  • Overview of Static Meshes
  • Overview of Kismet
  • Overview of Matinee
  • Basic Sounds
  • Polishing

By the end of the workshop, the attendee should have a simple, working level that has varying terrain, swimmable water, a basic door that opens and closes, and more. The workshop also has accompanying documentation, which will be posted along with the completed video tutorial soon.

I’m really looking forward to this workshop, and it certainly shouldn’t be the last! If you have any suggestions for future workshops, please let me know and I can see what I can do! Future workshops will cover more details in UDK, as well as level design specific workshops. Summer is a great time to learn something new, so why not try your hand at UDK?

Update and an E-book

Between doing some contract design work, schoolwork, student projects, and my own projects, I’ve been too busy to finish up some new posts. Just wanted to give a quick update to inform everybody that I will be back on track with a new post tomorrow, and I hope to get into the habit of posting at least weekly, if not every other day. If you have any suggestions for new posts you’d like to see, feel free to leave me a comment, send me an e-mail, or even message me on Twitter (@kaocleyra)! I’ve already received several good suggestions from other students and friends, so those will be going up shortly.

While you’re waiting on me to post, why not check out this awesome resource from the World of Level Design. Now you can download the e-book of the “Ultimate Level Design Guide” for free! This fantastic deal comes with the free e-book, along with the e-book of “How to Create a Map in 11 Days,” which details the process author Alex Galuzin follows while working in UDK. Both of these are great reads, and since they’re free, there’s really no excuse not to download them. All you have to do to receive your free e-books is sign up for the World of Level Design’s newsletter and in no time, you too can be learning great tips for level design and environment art. Check out their post below for more details:

Tips & Tricks: Building Atmosphere

Building an effective atmosphere in your levels is critical in immersing the player in your world. The atmosphere should fit the given context of the world, while still maintaining believability, which can be a little tricky to pull off. In my own approach to level design, I put a huge amount of effort into building the atmosphere of the level I’m creating, and have had a few fellow students approach me recently about how I go about doing this. It certainly isn’t always an easy task to get right, but when atmosphere is done correctly, it can add depth, reality, and engagement for the player, further drawing them into your game or level.

Keep reading to learn more on how to build an appropriate atmosphere!

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