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Games and Interaction design

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Book Review : Level Design for Games

Continuing my subconcious attempts to purchase every book in the entire "New Riders Games" series (glad they've not moved into trashy romance novels), I picked up Level Design for Games a few weeks ago and finished it over the weekend.

The book is written to be very inclusive, covering even the most basic aspects of videogame creation, and dedicates a reasonable amount of itself to detailing game team structure and interactions, reasons why creating games is t3h b35t etc, but when it gets down to business its not a bad read. While he does primarily focus on 3D action titles (well pretty much exclusively FPSs) Phil Co does cover a much broader outlook on the process, from initial brainstorming for likely content in a level and methods of how to make an environment more coherent and believable - right the way through to actual implementation in UnrealEd. Some of the discussion of his personal views and reasons why he is drawn to level design (he has a background in architecture) are definitely of interest. I've not spent much time in bespoke editors like UnrealEd - all level creation for 3D games I've done before has been in Maya, so the BSP mapping process seems quite exotic. Since then I've dug out the Source SDK to have a play with Hammer (watch out for a follow-on post soon).

So in general I'd say it covers a lot of ground, and while focussed primarily on the FPS genre there is enough generalisation to be of use to anyone designing levels for Action Adventure titles, maybe even platformers or any title that has any element of spacial movement in a 3D environment, and it would certainly be of use for someone with little or no experience that was curious to find out what level design is all about.

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