Architectural Approach to Level Design: Processes and Experiences, 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Architectural Approach to Level Design

Processes and Experiences, 2nd Edition

By Christopher W. Totten

A K Peters/CRC Press

592 pages

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Paperback: 9780815361367
pub: 2019-05-09
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Description

Written by a game developer and professor trained in architecture, An Architectural Approach to Level Design is one of the first books to integrate architectural and spatial design theory with the field of level design. It explores the principles of level design through the context and history of architecture.

Now in its second edition, An Architectural Approach to Level Design presents architectural techniques and theories for you to use in your own work. The author connects architecture and level design in different ways that address the practical elements of how designers construct space and the experiential elements of how and why humans interact with that space. It also addresses industry issues like how to build interesting tutorial levels and how to use computer-generated level design systems without losing the player-focused design of handmade levels. Throughout the text, you will learn skills for spatial layout, evoking emotion through gamespaces, and creating better levels through architectural theory.

FEATURES

  • Presents case studies that offer insight on modern level design practices, methods, and tools
  • Presents perspectives from industry designers, independent game developers, scientists, psychologists, and academics
  • Explores how historical structures can teach us about good level design
  • Shows how to use space to guide or elicit emotion from players
  • Includes chapter exercises that encourage you to use principles from the chapter in digital prototypes, playtesting sessions, paper mock-ups, and design journals

Bringing together topics in game design and architecture, this book helps you create better spaces for your games. Software independent, the book discusses tools and techniques that you can use in crafting your interactive worlds.

Table of Contents

Foreword

Brian Upton

1. A Brief History of Architecture and Level Design

BREAKING THE RULES OF LEVEL DESIGN

AN EXPERIENTIAL HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE

Elements of Architecture and Level Design

Functional Requirements

Usability

Delight

The Beginnings of Architectural Sight Lines

Architecture as Representation in Ancient Mesopotamia

Architecture as Statement in Ancient Egypt

Spatial and Symbolic Relationships in Greek Architecture

Indian, Southeast Asian, and Asian Representational Architecture

Linear Experiences in Roman Architecture

Medieval Christian and Islamic Symbolic Architecture

The Renaissance Return to Human-Centered Architecture

Ornamental Reformations and Material Revolutions

THE HISTORY OF GAMESPACES

Board Design for Early Games

Physical Gamespaces and Architecture

Digital Gamespaces

WAYS OF SEEING FOR LEVEL DESIGN

SUMMARY

CHAPTER EXERCISES

ENDNOTES

Industry Perspectives

Reflections on Game Landscapes – Dr. Umran Ali

2. Drawing for Level Designers

LEVEL DESIGN GOALS

Adjustment Player Behavior

Transmitting Meaning

Augmentation of Space

NON-DIGITAL LEVEL DESIGN TECHNIQUES

Basic Drawing Techniques

How to Draw a Line

Contours and Line Weights

Drawing with References

Shading

Hierarchical Drawing

Types of Architectural Drawings

Plan

Section

Elevation

Axonometric

Perspective

Sketching and Journal Writing

Designing on Paper

Notation Methods for Level Design

Proximity Diagrams

Concept Diagrams

Game Mapping

Flow Charts

Mark Brown’s Boss Key Diagrams

DIGITAL LEVEL DESIGN TOOLS

CAD Programs

Digital Art Programs

Engine Primitives and Placeholder Art

D Modeling Programs

SUMMARY

CHAPTER EXERCISES

ENDNOTES

Industry Perspectives

Tools and Design – Robin-Yann Storm

3. Level Design Workflows

FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION

Form Follows Core Mechanics

Level Progression with Scaffolding Mechanisms

LEVEL DESIGN WORKFLOWS

Level Design Parti

“Scenes” and Readability

Non-Digtal Prototypes

Digital Prototypes with Grayboxing

Pacing Your Levels with the Nintendo Power Method

Iterative Design with Playtesting

Modular Level Design

LEVEL DESIGN SCHEDULING

The Toy Box

Building from the Middle

Building in Order

SUMMARY

CHAPTER EXERCISES

ENDNOTES

4. Basic Gamespaces

ARCHITECTURAL SPATIAL ARRANGEMENTS

Figure-Ground

Form-Void

Arrivals

Genius Loci

HISTORIC GAMESPACE STRUCTURES

Labyrinth

Maze

Rhizome

SPATIAL SIZE TYPES

Narrow Space

Intimate Space

Prospect Space

MOLECULE LEVEL SPACES

The Basics of Molecule Design

Spatial Types as Molecule Nodes and Edges

HUB SPACES

SANDBOX GAMESPACES

Pathfinding with Architectural Weenies

Organizing the Sandbox: Kevin Lynch’s Image of the City

Landmarks

Paths

Nodes

Edges

Districts

WORKING WITH CAMERA VIEWS

D Views

First Person

Third Person

D Views

Side-Scrolling Space

Top-Down Space

Axonometric/Isometric Views

ENEMIES AS ALTERNATIVE ARCHITECTURE

SUMMARY

CHAPTER EXERCISES

ENDNOTES

Industry Perspectives

alt ctrl level design – Jerry Belich

5. Communicating through Environment Art

TEACHING THEORIES FOR GAME LEVELS

Behavior Theory and Operant Conditioning

Montessori Method

Constructivism

SYMBOLS AND VISUAL DESIGN IN GAMES

Implementing Symbols in Games

Teaching with Symbols in Games

Introducing Symbols

Symbols as Guides

Designing and Placing Symbols for Effective Communication

Basic Color Theory

Contrast

Framing

Rule of Thirds

ARCHITECTURAL FORMS AND TYPES

CONTROLLING INFORMATION IN MEMORY PALACES

Certainty

Uncertainty

Risk

Putting it All Together in a Memory Palace

SUMMARY

CHAPTER EXERCISES

ENDNOTES

Interview: Greg Grimsby

6. Building Exciting Levels with Dangerous Architecture

SURVIVAL INSTINCTS AND GAME COMPLEXITY

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

“Bad Spaces”: Vulnerability as a Game Mechanic

Vulnerability as a Game Structure

Vulnerability in Individual Game Challenges

PROSPECT AND REFUGE SPATIAL DESIGN

Creating Paths with Refuges, Prospects, and Secondary Refuges

Prospects and Refuges in Architecture

Prospects and Refuges in Video Games

SHADE, SHADOW, AND SURVIVAL

Shade

Shadow

Negative Space

LOVING AND HATING HEIGHT

SUMMARY

CHAPTER EXERCISES

ENDNOTES

A Common Language for Level Design – Camden Bayer

7. Rewards in Gamespaces

THE PURPOSE OF REWARDS

Incentivizing In-Game Behaviors

Enticing Exploration

Creating a Sense of Curiosity

THE TYPES OF REWARDS IN GAMESPACES

Reward Vaults

Rewarding Vistas

Meditative Space

Narrative Stages

MAKING REWARDS EXCITING THROUGH DENIAL

Zen Views

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hanna House

Religious Structures and Eastern Garden Design

Layered Walls

Oku

GOALS AND REWARD SCHEDULES

Long- and Short-Term Goals

The Rod of Many Parts

Reward Schedules

SUMMARY

CHAPTER EXERCISES

ENDNOTES

8. Level -: The Tutorial Level

THE MANY FUNCTIONS OF FIRST LEVELS

Architectural Arrivals

Interactive Arrivals

BUILDING BLOCKS FOR TUTORIAL DESIGN

Spatial Building Blocks

Scenes

Portals and Thresholds

Controlled Approaches

Meeting Spaces

Behavioral Building Blocks

Rewards in Tutorials

Access as a First Level Reward

Montessori Building Blocks

Constructivist Building Blocks

Proximity of Checkpoints

DETERMINING PLAYER NEEDS

PLAYTESTING IN-GAME TEACHING

A Literature Game for those who Have Not Read the Book

Teaching Molecular Immunology in Only Four Levels

Developing Concepts into Challenges in a Math Game

Puzzles as Problems, Levels as Lessons

step tutorial design

TUTORIAL ASSETS AND MEDIA

Effective Visual Elements

Audio Elements

TEACHING GAMEPLAY THROUGH ADVERTISING METHOD

Demonstrative Advertising with Scripted Events and Triggers

Illustrative Advertising through Environmental Narrative

Associative Advertising as Deconstruction

SUMMARY

CHAPTER EXERCISES

ENDNOTES

Case Study: Immune Defense – Melanie Stegman

9. Storytelling in Gamespaces

EXPRESSIVE DESIGN

Narrative Design and Worldbuilding

Narrative Worldbuilding in Games

MECHANICS VS. MOTIF

Narrative as a Generator of Design

Mechanics vs. Story Narrative

Mechanics vs. Gameplay Narrative

NARRATIVE SPACES

Evocative Spaces

Staging Spaces

Embedded Spaces

Resource-Providing Spaces

ENVIRONMENT ART STORYTELLING

Storytelling with Modular Assets

Environment Art and Cinematography

MATERIALITY AND THE HERO’S JOURNEY

PACING AND NARRATIVE REWARDS

The Dramatic Arc as a Pacing Tool

Rewarding Exploration with Embedded Narrative

Rewarding Exploration with Optional Narrative and Easter Eggs

SUMMARY

CHAPTER EXERCISES

ENDNOTES

Psychological Character Development in Halo Levels – Kelli Dunlap, PsyD.

10. Possibility Spaces and Worldbuilding

UNDERSTANDING IMMERSION AND PLAYER INDIVIDUALITY

The Immersive Fallacy

Player Personalities

ARCHITECTURAL PHENOMENOLOGY AND PLAY

EMERGENT SPACES

Emergence

Possibility Spaces

MINIATURE GARDEN AESTHETIC

Overviews

Overviews in Historic Games

Overviews in D

Tours

Possibility Space and Procedural Literacy

JAPANESE GARDEN DESIGN AND WORLDBUILDING

Points of View in Japanese Gardens

Scenic Effects

Sensory Effects

OFFERING EXPERIENTIAL CHOICE

Introducing Choice

Intelligible Choice

Shaping Choice, Risk, and Reward

“Metroidvania”: worlds of rewards and possibility

DEGENERATIVE DESIGN

SUMMARY

CHAPTER EXERCISES

ENDNOTES

11. Working with Procedurally Generated Levels

HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE PCG

PATTERN LANGUAGES

Patterns in Game Design

Working with Patterns in Level Design

BLENDING HANDMADE DESIGN WITH PROCEDURAL GENERATION

Scenes as Patterns

Combining Handmade Design and PCG

Night of the Living Handmade/PCG Case Studies

PCG Alternative Architecture in Left Dead

Mixing Methodologies in Dead Man’s Trail

SUMMARY

CHAPTER EXERCISES

ENDNOTES

Interview: Chris Pruett

12. Influencing Social Interaction with Level Design

EMERGENCE AND SOCIAL INTERACTION

LEARNING FROM URBAN EMERGENCE

Modernism and Non-Emergent Cities

Jane Jacobs and Mixed-Use Emergent Neighborhoods

Integrating Urban Design into Multiplayer Gamespace

THE IMPORTANCE OF SPAWN POINTS AND QUEST HUBS

Shaping with Spawn Points

Shaping Player Interaction with Quest Hubs

Enticing Exploration with Side Quests

HOUSES, HOMES, AND HOMETOWNS IN GAMES

SUMMARY

CHAPTER

ENDNOTES

13. Sound, Music, and Rhythm in Level Design

THE ROLE OF RHYTHM IN GAMES AND BUILDINGS

Mood and Music

Rhythm and Interactive Sound

Rhythmic Entrainment in Games and Spaces

Varying Structural Rhythms

COMPLEMENTING LEVEL DESIGN WITH AMBIENT SOUND

D Sound

D Sound

ENHANCING GAMEPLAY EXPERIENCES WITH SOUND DESIGN

Sound as Gameplay Feedback

Sound as Reward

Sound as Narrative Indicators

SUMMARY

CHAPTER EXERCISES

ENDNOTES

CONCLUSION

About the Author

Chris Totten is Game Artist in Residence at American University. He has contributed to several independent game productions as an artist, animator, level designer, game designer, and project manager. Totten is also an active writer in the game industry, with articles featured on VideoGameWriters.com, GameCareerGuide, and Gamasutra. He has also published a book entitled Game Character Creation with Blender and Unity. Totten's writings on interdisciplinary approaches to game design have earned him guest speaking appearances at GDC China, Dakota State University's Workshop on Integrated Design in Games, and East Coast Game Conference.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
COM012040
COMPUTERS / Programming / Games