Good Level Design lets the player intuively find their way around in a scene or delivers important information to the player. I learned in previous projects how the world a story takes place in can be much more than just a container for certain experiences but rather an active part of narrative and experience.
I am currently working on a larger leveldesign project which focuses on racism in the 1960’s in the U.S.A. But as that project is still largely work-in-progress I will share some examples of smaller assignments I did as part of my studies or parts of other projects.
I created guidelines for the “Nachtmahr” project as how to design the rooms for the game since I was working on these rooms and their templates together with other designers. These are some excerpts from the GDD I wrote:
The different zones specified in the example were used to mark where items or code spawners should be placed. For each room we created a quick schematic overview before deciding where to put item and code locations. Zones marked with good visibility were good areas to place codes or items because they were likely to be found by players. Low visibility zones were used to give the survivors enough options to hide from the hunter. Loop areas and escape routes were used to get an understanding for where players would walk around the room and informed the details of which props were placed where.
For the multiplayer project “Nachtmahr” I also created a concept for an in game tutorial. Since the game is designed as a party game which can be played together with friends with different experiences. Since forcing players to go through a mandatory tutorial can create very negative experiences when a group of friends tries to play the game we created a lobby room which also serves as a tutorial. Since when playing with friends online it happens a lot that the rest of the group has to wait for one or more people to start the game we decided to utilise that time to teach the players some of the core mechanics. In the lobby room players walk around as survivor characters and explore the basic gameplay mechanics. There are two code fragments in the room and a padlock that requires two numbers to solve. Behind it and also hidden in the room are items the players can experiment with. There are also some doors which are locked so the players can practice the lockpicking mini-game on them.
It was a lot of fun seeing how in our playtests players who had never seen the game before curiously experimented with the objects we had placed in that room while waiting for the last player to join. That way players already learned how to use the most important objects for survivors in the game and most importantly which objects can be used to hide from the fourth player who takes on the role as the hunter. Since this diegetic approach did’nt work well for the player who takes on the role of the hunter we created some short text prompts that aid the hunter player for the first few playthroughs.