Stuff worth reading: Game and Level Design

One Page Designs by Stone Librande, Creative Director EA/Maxis

We already had this problem in RMQ – how does project lead communicate design elements to everybody in the team? A 100 page text document may be really helpful for the designers (because we all tend to forget stuff unless it’s written down somewhere), but nobody else will read all of it. A Trac ticket system with 200 tickets provides an easy way for the team to get involved, but information is buried all over the place in endless threads and you just lose trac(k). The link above has a powerpoint presentation about a method that uses illustrated single page documents to communicate core design elements.

Effective FPS encounter design by Steve Gaynor, Bioshock 2 LD

This link has great info about designing level layouts with encounters in mind. Especially the part about circular navigations vs corridors is pretty important. This prompted me to replay Bioshock and a number of other games and specifically look out for circular layout elements – in other words, loops or donut shaped areas. Bioshock has a lot of these; many of its areas are either simple loops or a combination of loops with stairs or of loops with other loops. There is always room for the player to move around, which makes this approach better than simple corridors.

How to write a game script by Caleb Schulte

I didn’t expect to find great information at ehow.com, but this piece is pretty inspiring. Things to include when writing for a game. This inspired me to try out flowcharts in game design.

Making a game isn’t just about creating environments, creatures and assets. It can be pretty hard to come by information about the actual design process and its importance. Design, pretty much, means that you go and come up with a plan before you blindly start churning out polygons. Some of my friends are wondering why I don’t start programming my game already.  Well, this is why. You better make sure your design is good before you implement your core gameplay. And Scout’s Journey is a relatively complex game despite only having five levels. For instance, it plays out in nine chapters (they’re not really marked chapters, but there are nine definite stages to the game anyway). There is a lot more to it than just programming.

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