CGMA LEVEL DESIGN

Here is a collection of the work I completed for the CGMA Level Design course in 2020, led/mentored by Emilia Schatz (Lead Level Designer at Naughty Dog) & Shane Canning (Level Designer at Square Enix).

 

See course link here: www.cgmasteracademy.com/courses/46-level-design-for-games
 

During this course I would focus on different design elements inside of my level blockouts:

  • "Lectures explore theory of games, shape composition, architecture, and player psychology. Designing and iterating on level setups from the initial planning phases to playable prototypes using Unreal Engine 4. The course will focus on crafting immersion and modeling shapes that intrigue, surprise, and inspire players. We'll explore how to design for game mechanics and narrative, creating level progressions that support character development and player experience."

Cowboy Canyon Encounter

An exercise in spatial composition.

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Having studied composition over the years to create good photographic illustrations, here I explored creating a dynamic composed gameplay space using the same methodology to create a satisfying combat space.

 

The level takes inspiration from gameplay designed for games such as Red Dead Redemption, bottled into a smaller encounter, where a group of bandits have stormed the local coal mines, blowing up whatever they could and taking prisoners for ransom; the player is here to stop them! I managed to get this all fleshed out from start-to-finish in about 4.5 hours.

A demonstration of a non-linear level layout for a first person stealth game.

Museum Mission 

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In this level I experiment in using simple shapes to create a maze-like space, while still maintaining readability as the player navigates the museum.

I developed the layout for a museum, with a non-traditional layout based on modern Scandinavian architecture. Exhibitions are divided across the museum with pathways linking them together, where guards can be seen on patrol.
The player must navigate the museum, avoiding the guards and stealing the loot! To demonstrate visual affordance, I communicate to the player the availability of open routes for the practical optimal player path however tempting the player with deviations away from it.

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Shape Articulation

A layout that demonstrates the different elements of shape.

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While given a series of constraints, in this level blockout I focus on the connection between shapes and how they articulate a space, as well as effect the flow and movement between them. For example, showing from the player view how the layout appears more three dimensional with the shapes composed around the ruins entrance; how the horizon line and the invisible lines drawn between the columns form a nice perspective grid, visually luring the player into the lane created by the columns. The rocks on the right side of the level form a visual barrier solely from their arrangement.

A layout that demonstrates narrative storytelling mixed with combat.

Besieged Castle Encounter

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This level layout demonstrates use of emotive design, as the player moves from the large wide open space of the mountain-side, into the narrower closed spaces of the mountain-hold. Set in the mountains, in a walled town under siege by a goblin-menace, the player navigates through a series of districts in order to get to the castle entrance, to stop the goblins from stealing the treasure.

Creation of this level took around 8 hours from start to finish. This is certainly a level I intend to take forward, opening up the space and creating a fully bespoke level layout fit for a game such as Vermintide 2 or Hunt: Showdown, to further develop the more bespoke spaces across the districts such as the church and town entrance, that emphasise the scale and the drama of the narrative in this level.

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This weeks level, was designed based on the map layouts of Vermintide 2. Set in the mountains, in a walled town that had been under siege, you have to work your way through a series of districts in order to get to the castle entrance, to stop the goblins from stealing the treasure from the manor.

A layout demonstrating cover interaction and encouraging player movement.

Stealth/Shooter Encounter

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In this level, based on stealth/shooter mechanics such as The Division, the layout is designed so as to encourage player movement through a space. Allowing multiple angles and sight-lines for the player to utilize, planning cover movements to more advantageous positions across the encounter. Encouraging the player to sneak into the more shadowy flanks to catch the enemy AI by surprise, as an alternative to typically castling in good cover from the player front.

These flanking routes give the player a different perspective over the battlefield and make for enriching combat.

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