Level Design – My Bugbear

Level Design is something I don’t like. I’ve no noble or justified reasons for this dislike. I could try and point out how I have a preference for making procedurally generated score-maximation games, however that is really a result of my dislike of designing levels rather than the cause. A second idea is that I’m jumping on the bandwagon of procedurally generated levels. I think that has a sort of truth to it.

When one idea is at its apex then people don’t talk about the other ideas. They certainly don’t give advice for these other ideas. This means that when it comes to level design one is reliant on instinct and good advice. As opposed to – in the current environment – random algorithmic level design which is a thriving discussion of the sharing of tips and fertile food for thinking. This makes being part of that simply more fun. This is even without drawing explicitly on a feeling of being part of a zeitgeist, or community.

Of course, one of the main communities not infected by the procedural bug are your classic fighting games. Although, ring design is of great import when it comes to the Smash Bros series the more classical cases such as Street Fighter are based on playing featureless courses. This means that even they have no advice to offer on this subject, including at very good resources such as Sirlin.net.

I do think that I can rule out, at least in my case, the idea that level design is an intrinsically dull part of computer games. Although, character description was my main obsession when I was much younger, level design was also a key part of what I did. Certainly, above such things as UI which are now some of my key things of interest.

Although, one seperate justification for the lack of focus on level design is my interest and liking of RPGs. In RPGs the level design is far less important than in most genres, particularly the weird world of platformers, since very limit in the area of challenge is a result of the level design – I do not include the random encounter possibilities as part of the level design, although something like with Chrono Trigger would count – and they are almost purely cosmetic. Although, the general advice of level design such as: Be Vertical, apply to RPGs indeed, I can’t think of any other genre that takes as much interest in the utterly gigantic towers.

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