Get the latest Education e-news
 
  • Level Design: Tips and Tricks

    [12.20.18]
    - Tom Pugh

  • Tip 6: Give players a good starting point

    How players arrive in an area will influence their first move. Start players facing the right direction and be sure their start position gives them visual cues and options on how to proceed.


    ​​The image above from Uncharted 4 demonstrates how you can craft the players starting position by giving them a clear view of the path ahead, leading lines and framing from the surrounding environment give a clear view of the objective location and the player can see openings and other options. This example uses multiple techniques but it is key to understand how all of these methods combine with the start location to give players a clear understanding of what they have to do.


    ​​Sometimes this tip can be twisted, but in a cool way. For example the players path or exit could be positioned behind or above them. As long as the player has clear messaging of this it can encourage map exploration and discovery which can create a very rewarding experience. Games like Uncharted have instances of this.

    This can become a problem when you can't control the players start position. In linear games it is easy to determine where the player is when a level starts and making sure they have clear cues can be done. But in an open world it's much harder to be sure of where the players is.

    One way this can be done is to create areas of linearity within an open world. A recent example of this is Horizon: Zero Dawn. Guerrilla have done a great job of funneling players towards mission areas and creating linear experiences during story missions. In some cases this has been done by creating two or three different entrances to a location. Horizon: Zero Dawn is an excellent study on open worlds for more on this I recommend watching the GDC talk Level Design Workshop: Balancing Action and RPG in Horizon Zero Dawn Quests where Blake Rebouche goes into more detail on their process.

    Tip 7: Set up some boundaries

    Boundaries are a way of showing players when they are transitioning between areas. There are two types of boundary - soft boundaries and solid boundaries.

    Solid boundaries can be used to mark an area of surprise or enemy activity. You don't want players to know what's inside and you want them to clearly understand they are changing location.


    ​​​​Soft boundaries should be used to entice the player into an area. You want the player to be able to see what's inside and this should draw them into the area.


    ​​

Comments

comments powered by Disqus