Archive for the ‘ Level Design ’ Category

Tips & Tricks: Making UDK Textures

The Unreal Development Kit is a fantastic editor that comes preloaded with static meshes, textures, materials, sounds, and more, making it that much easier to build levels. But sometimes, all of that preloaded stuff just doesn’t work for the level you want to make, which leaves you with two options: make your own stuff or download free-to-use assets. Even with the slew of awesome free assets available to you online, you still might not be able to find exactly what you want, and making your own from scratch might be a bit out of your league. When it comes to making textures and materials for UDK, however, you can use a combination of these two methods to get just the look you’re going for, saving time that can be spent further polishing the actual level.

Keep reading to learn more about making your own textures, and materials, in UDK!

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Tips & Tricks: Blocking In Levels

I’m currently working on a level in UDK, which should be of no surprise, but this time around I decided to do things a little different. All too often I find myself writing pre-production, then jumping straight into building the level, often focusing more on the aesthetic design and implementing gameplay at the end. What’s bad is that I even know that I’m going about this process all wrong, and yet, time and time again, I find myself doing the same thing. So this time, I decided to stick to a rigid process of writing the pre-production, blocking in, implementing gameplay elements, adding aesthetics and meshes, and polishing, while tweaking every step of the way. This is the typical process most level designers follow, so it’s good to get in the habit early. I’ve already discussed parts of this process in previous posts, but today I’d like to focus on the one that always seems to elude me: blocking in.

Keep reading to learn a few tips and tricks on how to block in levels!

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Level Design Qualifications

Seeing as how I only have a year left before I graduate, I decided to take a look at where I stand in terms of level design qualifications. The responsibilities and skills of a level designer vary depending on the company, so it can be hard to gauge if you have all the necessary skills to get the job. I browsed the internet for job openings for entry-level level design positions, and decided to share my findings, as well as how you can use job postings to become better at what you do. While this post will focus on level designers in particular, this can apply for any career in game development. I recommend taking a look early on, i.e. before you graduate, so that you can discover which skills you need to work on to help you land the job.

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What I Learned at GDC: The Role of a Level Designer

On the Monday of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, there was an excellent session called “Level Design in a Day,” which I was lucky enough to attend all of. The session lasted from 10am to 6pm, and featured individual talks by Ed Byrne of Uber Entertainment, Forrest Dowling of Irrational Games, Joel Burgess of Bethesda, Neil Alphonso of Splash Damage, Jim Brown of Epic Games, and Coray Seifert of Arkadium. While each talk focused on a particular aspect of level design, the majority of them took the time to define what exactly the role of a level designer is. For this post, I’d like to focus on what that role is, as described by the aforementioned individuals.


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Tips & Tricks: Let’s Build a Level!

I have an assignment for my advanced level design class where we have to create a level with only three or four lights. I found this assignment to be rather enjoyable, and thought I would share exactly how I built the level. So if you’re interested in my level design process, or just curious how limited lighting can be implemented, keep reading!

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MacGyver It!

If you’ve been working with the provided assets in any game editor, you’re probably getting tired of using the same old assets over and over. Maybe you can’t import anything new, so you’re just stuck with what you have. What do you do then? MacGyver it!

When it comes to working with what you have, it seems like a dead end, but this isn’t necessarily true. There are ways of creating things you don’t have out of what you do. You just have to get a bit creative, and remember that the following three methods are going to be your best friends.

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Tips & Tricks: Terrain Is Your Friend

When it comes to creating outdoor levels, the terrain editor should be one of your closest friends. It’s a great way to give your level depth while making it appear more realistic visually. Most game editors have some sort of terrain editor built in, although they may seem a bit daunting with all the different preferences and settings. However, after only a few times playing around with terrain, you’ll find it be both helpful and even a bit fun.

The following will guide you through the basics of the terrain editor in UDK and Unity. Most game editors use a similar form of the terrain editor, but since these are both free programs with easy access, I thought it would be best to start with them. Keep reading to learn more about terrain tips and tricks!

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CTF Map – Strife in the Sky

The latest assignment I had for my level design class was to build either a solo or multiplayer map, and seeing as how I’ve never actually made a multiplayer level, I decided to try it out. We had about three weeks to build our levels, and we had to include at least two teams and bases for each, distinguishable landmarks for the different bases, at least two scripted events, and some sort of back story. I completed my level in about two days, give or take, but had a whole lot of fun making it. Keep reading to see screenshots and learn more about the making of the level!

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Tips & Tricks: Pre-Production

Pre-Production is possibly one of the most overlooked or misunderstood aspects of game and level design, and yet one of the most helpful. It is the brainstorming step of level design, in which you evaluate the level’s intended goals, rewards, progression, and more, all before even opening up the editor. My level design professor mentioned to our class the other day that one of the biggest complaints regarding level designers fresh out of college is that they don’t do their pre-production, something my fellow classmates and I can definitely relate to. It seems like such a waste of time, and if you’re really excited about making a level, you want to jump head first into the editor and start building. I’ve done this many times, always skimping on my pre-production, but from here on out, I say no more! I’ve come to realize how significant pre-production truly is, and it is most certainly a step you don’t want to skip.

Keep reading to learn more about the importance of pre-production, as well as tips and tricks on getting it done, and done right!

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Tips & Tricks: Making CTF Maps

Making levels for multiplayer maps is like a completely different world than single player maps, which is what I learned this past week when designing a CTF (capture the flag) map for my level design class. The level, which will be featured in a later post, was the the first multiplayer map I have done, and since I am new to making multiplayer levels, I decided to start with something fairly simple: a CTF game. I have had the concept for the level in my head for a while, but multiplayer levels aren’t exactly my forte, considering I like to focus on environmental details. However, I believe I found the right match between aesthetics and making the game fun for more than one person. Keep reading to read some of my tips and tricks on making CTF maps!

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