5 Тhings about Game/Level Design we learned from Yasen Stoynev

  • What are the cultural characteristics of working in foreign game studios?
  • What is it like to work at game development companies like CD Project Red?
  • What is the difference between mechanic, level, and quest design?

We also held the last lecture from the Webinar: Development in the game dev industry, during which Yasen Stoynev opened the door to the vast matter of game design and level creation in video games. The lecture took the form of a discussion and presentation, in which Yasen talked about some of the most important elements in Game/Level Design and answered some interesting questions. Here are some of the highlights of his lecture:

  1. Level and Game Design are two quite different disciplines. Game designers are responsible for inventing game mechanics by defining the three “C’s” from the very beginning – Character, Control and Camera.
  2. Game designers first lay the foundations of game mechanics—whether the character will shoot, jump, or run; wheter will there be opponents and what will their behavior be.
  3. Narrative design is a very interesting area in video game creation. It’s like a bridge between writers and level designers, connecting story ideas into the gameplay and giving game mechanics story value. This is due to the legacy of the recent past when games mainly consisted of gameplay, and the story was developed most often in the form of cutscenes.
  4. In smaller teams, communication and work flows more easily. In indie studios, which consist of between 4 and 40 people, it is much more required that each of the developers are able to step into different roles and possess a rich set of skills. For example, there are no divisions such as quest and mission design. It’s all just a level design.
  5. Indie studios are a very good opportunity to master additional skills alongside the core ones for any developer role. In many of them, game and level design are done by one or two people at most, and concept artists also model, rig, and animate the characters.

At the end of the lecture, Yasen shared with us valuable tips from his game and level designer friends, which he had collected especially for the webinar guests. Some of them included names like Piot Tilos, Max Peirce (a famous level designer who worked on Cyberpunk 2077 and The Division), and Peter Churks.

Here are their tips:

“Seek for Level and Game design knowledge. There is a lot of free material on the internet. To me, being a designer means expanding the number of tools and techniques you have. Listening to such lectures and videos is a great way to achieve these goals.” – Piot Tilos

“Take the time to plan your levels, understand what the level’s theme is, the mechanics, the objectives, and the plot. All of this information is key to shaping a level.” – Max Peirce 

“The main thing is learning to work with professional 3D software and start building gray box layouts in it. These softwares are not only extremely popular in the industry, but through them, level designers are born who are self-sufficient—they can make their own objects without relying solely on artists. Such skills are invaluable.” – Peter Churks

Here are the materials that Yasen mentioned during his lecture and which we promised to share with the participants.

Level Design Books:

An Architectural Approach to Level Design
Level Design: Concept, Theory, and Practice
The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses
The Hows and Whys of Level Design
Preproduction Blueprint: How to Plan Game Environments and Level Designs
Navigation Experience in Video Game Environments: Effects on Spatial Ability and Map Use Skills
Let’s Design: Exploration
Let’s Design: Combat
Level Design for Games: Creating Compelling Game Experiences

Books on Game Design and other interesting reads:

The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses
Creativity Inc.
The Design of Everyday Things
Level Up!: The Guide to Great Video Game Design
7 Must-read Books for Game Designers

Други източници на информация за Level & Game Design:

World of Level Design
Game Maker’s Toolkit
GDC Vault
Gamasutra или Game Developer
Level Design Lobby
Lessons from the Screenplay
Discord – Level Design

You can watch the entire lecture here: