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Level Design

Definition - What does Level Design mean?

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.

Techopedia explains Level Design

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:

  • Lay out of large map features, buildings, hills, cities, rooms and tunnels for game entities to move around in
  • Determine the environmental conditions such as day, night and weather
  • Set up ground rules such as the scoring system, allowable weapons, gameplay types, time limits, or resources
  • Specify certain map regions where specific gameplay features occur, such as resource creation or harvesting, structure building and even interactive cut scenes.
  • Specify nonnstatic parts, such as doorways, buttons and levers associated with mechanisms, teleporters and hidden passageways and areas
  • Specify the locations of various entities such as player, enemy and monster spawn points, as well as ladders, coins, resource nodes and weapons, and save points
  • Add detail such as level-specific styling and textures, sounds, animation and lighting and music
  • Introduce scripted events in specific locations triggered by certain player actions
  • Create the paths that nonplayer characters follow, their responses to specific trigger actions and any dialog they might have with the player.
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