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Maps – Level Design: Concept, Theory, and Practice

28 Jun

Taking on new projects often comes with picking up new books. Research becomes a key ingredient to approaching game design for the long-term, and when you’re just starting to get a grasp of how to develop games its value is reassuring.

Considering we’re often on the lookout for good reads about design, I chose to go ahead and introduce a new category, Maps, which is essentially a less formal annotated group-bibliography. Maps list the reading material we come across and why they’re helpful to a particular train of game-making thought, to better find our way around the medium. -Andrew

Rudolf Kremers, co-creator of the ambient real-time strategy game Eufloria, had his book Level Design: Concept, Theory, and Practice released in November last year. Considering the name The Escape Route itself is a reference to level design in the Source engine, picking this book as the first “Map” felt appropriate, even if I haven’t fully read it myself. While we’ve spent a lot of time with a number of world editors and level designs, each game needs a different genre of levels, and Kremers’ overview appears to be incredibly thorough from  the descriptions, reviews, and excerpts I’ve read.

In the meantime Gamasutra has an excerpt from the book that’s worth sampling if you’re interested in the full read.

Here’s the description that Amazon provides:

Level design is the creation of levels, locales, stages, or missions in a video game. Level design is as much an art as it is a science; it requires artistic skills and know-how as well as an extensive technical knowledge and is an extremely important part of computer game design. Good or bad level design can make or break any game, so it is surprising how little reference material exists for level designers. Beginning level designers have a limited understanding of the tools and techniques they can use to achieve their goals, or even define them.
This book is the first to use a conceptual and theoretical foundation to build such a set of practical tools and techniques. It is tied to no particular technology or genre, so it will be a useful reference for many years to come. Kremers covers many concepts universal to level design, such as interactivity, world building, immersion, sensory perception, pace, and more, and he shows how to apply these concepts in practical ways, with many examples from real games.

Size: 408 pages | 23.4 x 18.8 x 2.5 cm
Best Deal: Barnes & Nobles ($47.20, 20% off)
“Look Inside!” Preview: Amazon