The gyri of the thinker’s brain as a maze of choices in biomedical ethics – Scraperboard drawing by Bill Sanderson, 1997.
Level design is a fascinating field within game design. But level design is more than simply a craft of how to fit things together. My favourite spaces within games are places that create a story, an atmosphere, a mood – an emotion. It is worth considering then an approach of level design that considers both form and content. Moreover, in this series I want to explore level design through a psychological, emotional and end-user-centric analysis for a few of my favourite games.
Some of the techniques and methods I wish to include:
- Introduce – Provide a summary of the medium-specific, socio-historic context/history for each game. Including the game’s feature itself – it’s gameplay/plot/UI etc.
- Play – ‘Let’s Plays’ videos with textual analysis. Draw out critical points within the way the game’s levels are structured and conceived.
- Spatial Mappings – Drawing out level maps. Examining the spatial relationship of the levels and what this implies, when looked at when the game’s environments are reverse-engineered at critiqued from a design POV, utilising a variety of methods.
- Cognitive Mappings – Create emotional progression trees of a a simulated end-user experience and add this as an overlay to the spatial level maps.
- Aesthetic – How does the look/sound and overall mise en scène of the environments serve to create the enviromental experience.
- Setting & World Design – What does the level design teach us about the world? What does the setting tell us about the game itself?
- Critique – Write articles that employ a mixture of cognitive game design frameworks as well as other level design specific models to determine from a design perspective what works/doesn’t work or is otherwise curious, notable and interesting.
Some of the conceptual/theoretical research for this project can be found here:
Cognitive Game Design
- Designing Games – Tynan Sylvester
- Emotion Engineering: A Scientific Approach For Understanding Game Appeal
- Journey and the art of emotional game design
- Emotional Design for Games: The Roles of Emotion and Perception in Game Design Process
- How Games Move Us Emotion by Design By Katherine Isbister
- Emotion, manipulation and the future of game design
- Emotional Game Design
- EMOTIONAL DESIGN FOR GAMES : THE ROLES OF EMOTION AND PERCEPTION IN GAME DESIGN PROCESS
- Player’s Emotions
- An Architectural Approach to Level Design
- Preproduction Blueprint: How to Plan Game Environments and Level Designs
- Level Design Concept, Theory, and Practice
- Boss Keys
- Level Design Lobby
- Level With Me
Some of the games I wish to analyse are:
- Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey/Abe’s Exodus
- Deus Ex
- Vampire the Masquerade
- Majora’s Mask
- Kings Quest VII
- Banjo Kazooie
- Conkers Bad Fur Day
- Fabled Lands
- The Bizarre Adventures of Woodruff and the Schnibble
- Fable – Anniversary
- Shadow of the Colossus
- LISA – The painful RPG
- Planescape Torment
- Final Fantasy IX
- The Last Express
- Legend of Mana
- Chrono Trigger
- Chrono Cross