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Level Design Resources: Carson’s Paper http://www.gamasutra.com/features/ 20000301/carson_01.htm Papers : online What is Level Design ? Blue print of the environment: walls, dimensions, halls, pillars, etc. Props: brooms, cups, etc. furniture

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level design

Level Design


Carson’s Paper



Papers: online


What is Level Design ?

  • Blue print of the environment: walls, dimensions, halls, pillars, etc.
  • Props: brooms, cups, etc.
  • furniture
  • Practical: sources of light (windows, torches, etc.)
  • lighting
  • Some designers also include: triggers, behavior elements, etc.

Artistic Direction

  • Where am I?
  • Who am I?
  • “cause and effect" vignettes. These are staged areas that lead the game player to come to their own conclusions about a previous event or to suggest a potential danger just up ahead

Guidelines to Level Design

  • Scale
  • Layout

Images from article by Maata on Realistic Level design


Guidelines to Level Design

  • Balance Scale of Character & level
  • Lines & balance
  • Depth & angles

Guidelines to Level Design

  • When choosing textures, take into account:
    • character textures
    • Color balance
    • Harmony and consistency
  • Worst mistake is to put different resolution textures next to each other

Guidelines to Level Design

  • Colors and lighting can affect emotions and set pace

Guidelines to Level Design

  • Closed space of possibilities: linear design or simple non-linear design

Guidelines to Level Design

  • Pacing & emotional modulation:

lighting, colors, number of enemies, etc.


Devil May Cry


Guidelines to Level Design

  • Risk Incentive & choice:give players different choices, e.g. a way of avoiding enemy

Guidelines to Level Design

  • Familiar levels and revisiting:reuse the level, make player work to unlock part of the level


Legacy of Kain Defiance was based on this principle.


Guidelines to Level Design

  • Balance difficulty & challenge:placement of health packs in FPS, money and chests to loot in RPGs



Guidelines to Level Design

  • Focus and guidance:present cues in the environment to tell the player where to go


shadow for pillars in Prince of Persia


Guidelines to Level Design

  • See Video Assassin’s Creed:http://www.gamevideos.com/video/id/15238
  • Puzzle Design
puzzle design

Puzzle Design


Chapter 6 Game Design

by Bob Bates


What is a Puzzle?

  • a baffling problem that is said to have a correct solution
  • Types of Puzzles:
    • Chemical Puzzles
    • Cause and Effect Puzzles (logical)
    • People Puzzles
    • Code Puzzles
    • Configuration Puzzles
    • Spatial Puzzles

Item (‘chemical’) Puzzle

Mixing items in a game for an intended purpose

  • Combining object with another from inventory
    • Example: Light bulb and light socket to light a room (intuitive use)
    • Other Examples???

Walkthrough example

Notice the person up ahead.

Walk toward the figure and...

it's a plastic model.

Check the room over for items and be sure to collect the [STAFF MEMO] on the desk near the typewriter and the **PLASTIC INTESTINE** and **PLASTIC STOMACH** from the two sinks.

The plastic figure to the side is actually a puzzle, but we first need to get the final piece of this puzzle since it requires five organs and we only have four. Walk over to the X-ray near the sinks and turn the light box on then examine it to see "Sarah 19" wrote on the X-ray. Go back to the Women's Restroom and return to

Otherworld then reenter Room 204 on the second floor.

Room 204 (OW) == If you have been looking around then you will have all the information needed to solve this puzzle now.


Item (‘Chemical Puzzle’)

Mixing items in a game for an intended purpose

  • Example: soak bread with water to soften it for edibility (unintuitive use – using secondary property of the object)

Cause and Effect Puzzle

Transitive Relationships. Action a causes reaction b, reaction b causes reaction c, and thus gets you to the goal

  • Example: BioShock unlock the door using the guy who throws bombs at you

Walkthrough: When you get back here where Steinman blocked your progress with the neon sign, wait for a Nitro Splicer to show himself on the balcony above you. Catch one of his grenades with Telekinesis and fire it at the sign, clearing the way. Take care of him next and move through the cleared doorway, picking up the tape recorder entitled, “Symmetry” on your way by.


People Puzzle

A person is holding a key to your goal

  • Example: Oblivion

People Puzzle

Walkthrough: When you click the persuade button it brings up a weird wheel, with the options "Start" and "Bribe." We'll leave bribe for now. When you click start you'll see four different sized cones over top of four different options: coerce, boast, admire and joke. When you click on each of these you will perform that action, it will then be blocked and the cones will rotate once to the left. You must click all four of these in any order to finish the session. Clicking them will have either a positive effect or negative effect on the person's disposition. There are a total of four options as I mentioned, two of them will always decrease disposition and two will always decrease.


People Puzzle

<a place in the game>

Go through the wooden door to find the guy your looking for, Ajum I think his name is. Talk to him, and take him back to Modryn Oreyns house, and tell the guy to sit down. The easy way to do it is to bribe him, or just sweet talk him until his disposition, or whatever it is, is over 90, then get all the information you can get. If he doesn't tell you anything, exit the conversation, and go back in. Eventually, he will kill himself, so talk to Modryn again to finish the quest, well done!


Configuration Puzzle

You have to push buttons in a certain configuration

  • Example: Prince of Persia
  • How would you design these puzzles?

Code Puzzles

You have to guess a code

  • Example: Biosock

Walkthrough: Take note of the slip of paper near the coffin with “0451” written on it (inside joke for the gamers who actually read books). Anyway, turn around and use that very code on the door lock and collect the goodies inside.

  • How would you design these puzzles?
spatial puzzle
Spatial Puzzle

Spatial Puzzles


  • Example: Bioshock, Theif, Prince of Persia
  • How would you design these puzzles?

Timing Puzzle

Have to time the action correctly

  • Example: Prince of Persia
  • How would you design these puzzles?
Information for the puzzle is not obvious

One solution is extremely hidden

Order problem

Pixel finding

What else?


Bad Puzzle



Design Techniques:

Spatial proximity

Educate the player or lead the player

Dynamic Difficulty


Good Puzzles

Tomb Raider Puzzles in the Level Design


See Video Prince of Persia III


Puzzle Design Examples