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What is “Level Design”?

Level designers are what you could call “the sharp end of the content delivery spear”. Bringing together all the assets of graphics artists and programmers and combining them to create a cohesive exprerience.

Level design, Environment Design or game mapping is a discipline of game development involving creation of video game levels—locales, stages, or missions. This is commonly done using a level editor, a game development software designed for building levels; however, some games feature built-in level editing tools. Level design is both an artistic and technical process.

As a level designer your job consists of designing levels on paper or whatnot, then later in a game engine bring that idea to life. There are many game engines out there, and many studios even have their own custom in-house engine, but the most popular publicly available ones are:

ue4Unreal Engine: Newest iteration being UE4, this engine specializes in 3D games with high graphical fidelity. The Unreal franchise hosts a long list of games and a large community. Standard language is Blueprint (visual scripting) and C++.

Difficulty curve:  Average

Cost: Free + 5% of profit

 


 

Unity_LogoUnity: Unreal’s biggest contender, Unity is very flexible and used for both 3D and 2D, and hosts a large and friendly developer community. Standard language is C#

Difficulty curve:  Hard

Cost: Free or Pro 1500$ / 75$ monthly.

 


 

ce3Cryengine: Much like Unreal this one focuses on heavy 3D games. Famous engine from crysis series.

Difficulty curve:  Hard

Cost: 9.99$ Monthly subscribtion


 

icon-gamemakerstudioGamemaker: For a complete beginner this will most likely be your best bet. A popular 2D engine that is easy to wrap your head around. Standard language is GML.

Difficulty curve:  Easy

Cost: Studio = Free – Proffesional = 99.99$ – Master Collection = 799.99$

 


 

As a level designer, you will often find yourself having to script events aswell, and to that end it would be useful to learn a language. There are many types of scripting languages, for example, UE4 is using blueprint and C++. Then there’s Unity using C# and Gamemaker GML. Whatever you choose is up to you, but most share the the same logic so transitioning isn’t too hard once you get the hang of one of them.

 

Here is a list of resources useful for any kind of level designer:

–General goodies–

http://www.pixelprospector.com

http://www.worldofleveldesign.com/

–Engine specific–

https://www.unrealengine.com/

https://unity3d.com/

http://www.crytek.com/cryengine

http://www.yoyogames.com/studio

–Art resources–

http://opengameart.org/

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