sexta-feira, 13 de agosto de 2021

A basic exercise to take the first steps in the level design field

If you are studying the gaming area, you've probably heard about “level design”. In a synthetic way, as Adams and Rollings (2009, pp.399-400) point out, level design is the process of building the experience that will be offered directly to the player, using components provided by the game designer. Level designers create the space in which the game takes place, the initial conditions of the level, the set of challenges the player will face within the level, the termination conditions of it, the interplay between the gameplay and the game’s story and the aesthetics of the level.

We can also say that level design is how we can make the game cohesive and establish a sense of progression to the audience, stage by stage.

Therefore, in this post, I’ll present a basic exercise to practice the idea of level design. It’s a very simple formula that I have used in the last five years, in my game designing classes. Let’s imagine a game where the player must conduct the character through each level to escape by a door. Let’s also imagine that the space where the action takes place is a 10x10 imaginary grid. In the image below, there’s a sketch of the game with the main idea for the initial level and conditions to the play.

The character is on the left side; it has a magic wand pointing to the right and is looking in the direction of the door (on the right side). This hint is the basic structure of the game: you must walk to reach the exit to the next level.

On the second level, we have the same situation, but now, the door is located on a platform. On this second stage, we’ll teach the player that it is possible to jump one square up to reach the exit.

On the third stage, the door is located on an unreachable platform (because the character's jump can reach only one square up). But we have a new element: a block. So, the player can try to push the block near the platform and jump two times to reach the exit.

These are very initial ideas to discuss in this case. What I propose to my students is to create ten more levels for this game. Try to think about this challenge: find a new way to reach the door in every level. Think of adding trampolines, teleport cabins, traps, enemies, whatever you can imagine.



ADAMS, Ernest; ROLLINGS, Andrew. Fundamentals of Game Design. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009.

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