Architectural Approach to Level Design : Second edition book cover
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2nd Edition

Architectural Approach to Level Design
Second edition





ISBN 9780815361367
Published May 10, 2019 by A K Peters/CRC Press
625 Pages

 
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Book 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 
 

 

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Author(s)

Biography

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.