A History And Analysis Of Level Design In 3d Computer Games pdf

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A History and Analysis of Level Design in 3D Computer Games Sam Shahrani

  One person could, much like an auteur, create an entire game alone, but as time went on and games grew more complex the division of labor required led to thecreation of a new position; that of the “level designer.” Level designers, or map designers, are the individuals responsible for constructing the game spaces in which the player competes. The term “level designer,” then, is an inaccurate description of the job; a In the context of this paper, “level design” refers to the creation of levels, missions, maps, game environments, stages and any other space wherein the player ortheir avatar interacts with the game world.

Defining Level Design & Level Designers

  The term “level designer,” then, is an inaccurate description of the job; a In the context of this paper, “level design” refers to the creation of levels, missions, maps, game environments, stages and any other space wherein the player ortheir avatar interacts with the game world. Additionally, other titles such as Lucasarts’ X-Wing and Tie Fighter, Parallax’s Descent and Origin’s Wing Commander could also be considered to be first person shooters, since they place the player in a first person perspective, albeit inside the cockpit of a vehicle.

The Beginning – 1974 to 1991

  While the ships in Spasim were wire framepolygons that one could see through, the walls of the labyrinth in Maze War used a set of algorithms to eliminate any polygons that would not be visible to the player, lending animpression that the walls were solid (Thompson, slide 10). Essentially, the level design was that of a digital Roman arena, wherein the player could do battle, and it was a designthat worked well for the limitations of the graphics engine, and provided enjoyable and novel gameplay for the arcade and home computer markets.

Evolution of the Engines

  Romero also observes that “Back then, it didn't take much to do a Wolf3D level since it was all abstractly represented by tiles - what you sawon the screen in the editor is not what you saw on the screen in the game.” In terms of pre-production, the designers would start by laying out the episodes, general themes andenemies first, then start designing levels that the level designer themselves found to be fun. Duke 3D and BUILD allowed level designers to add in, for lack of a better term, special effects that gave the player the illusion that they were dramatically effecting or altering In addition to the influence players could have on the geometry of the level, Duke 3D also added in the ability to destroy or interact with a large number of in-game objects.

Engine Refinements, Storytelling and Interactivity

  Level designers would have to take into account the various augmentations and skills that a player might have and provide a sufficientvariety of tools for a player never to become completely stuck in a dead-end merely because they didn’t have the requisite skill level to hack a computer or pick a lock. The characters featured a form of lip syncing, similar to the appearance of a puppet, that caused their mouths to move in approximations of the proper The player would then have to move through the facility, frequently relying onNon-Player characters to open doors and provide medical attention, as well as supply advice and hints as to the next course of action that the player should take.

The Future

  The release of mapping tools to the general public has allowed the creation of hundreds of thousands of maps and collections of missions for a variety of FPS’s,beginning with Doom and continuing on with titles like Doom 3, Half-Life 2, Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Halo 2. First Person Shooter titles have branched out from personal computers and onto popular consoles, with games such as Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64 and the Halo series for Xbox, but the gameplay model has, by and large, While the availability of the tools has given rise to new ranks of level designers, the job is constantly increasing in complexity.

Works Cited

  Postmortems from Game Developer: Insights from the developers ofUnreal Tournament, Black & White, Age of Empires, and other top-selling games. “RE: Questions about your career in level and game design.” E-mail to the author.

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