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Level design is a game development discipline that involves the creation of video game levels, locales, missions or stages. This is done using some sort of level editor - software used in game development to construct digital environments. Level editors may also be included in released games to allow players to get creative and make their own levels and scenarios. Level design is both a technical and artistic process.
Level design is also known as environment design or game mapping.
During the early years of video games, a single programmer was responsible for every aspect of the game - there was no dedicated profession or discipline that catered to level design. Early games featured levels or stages with ascending difficulty rather than changing levels through story or plot progression.
Level design starts with the conceptual design of the level, which includes sketches, renderings, and even physical models. Once the design is finalized, this transforms into extensive documentation and environment modeling, leading to the creation of the level itself. Level design aims to create life-like, interactive game environments.
Level design incorporates the following steps, but need not implement them all: