80 Level Digest: Great Sources on Level Design

Today, we've gathered some videos, interviews, blogs, and other sources that can help you take a look at what level design is and start crafting the worlds that players would explore and roam in.

If you know that you have great visual design skills as well as analytical thinking and feel that you'd like to be the one who architects the gameplay experience defining the rules of the game world, you may try yourself in level design. To help you with this interesting but tricky journey, we've gathered 10 useful sources that will help you start crafting the worlds that players would explore and roam in.

To start with, you can check this video which was made by the YouTube channel Extra Credits in collaboration with Max Pears, Senior Level Designer on Cyberpunk and The Division. In a very simple and clear way, the video explains what a Level Designer does and what skills you need to be a Level Designer. The authors of the channel take a short but informative dive into level designers' responsibilities and the software level designers usually use. The video also features a few fundamental tips from Max Pears that can help Level Designers rise above the rest and make sure that their levels feel right.

If you watched the video that we've mentioned above, you'll probably want to learn more tips and tricks on how to be a level designer and how to become a better specialist in this field. Luckily, we have our own interview with Max Pears where he explains what it means to be a Level Designer and shares how to become a perfect Level Designer. In the interview, Pears also discusses in which way Level Designers have to collaborate with other departments, speaks about the challenges that a Level Designer may face, and explains how level design differs from game design. You can find the article here. And if you want to learn more tips from Max Pears, you can also check out his podcast, Level Design Lobby.

A vast majority of Level Designers note that planning is one of the crucial steps in creating a game level. If you don't know where to start here, this video might give you some useful tips on how to approach the early stages of level design. The authors of the channel are sharing a cool technique, Bubble Diagrams, that will help you establish a sense of spacial relationships and flow of your levels from the very beginning of your work. And if you'd like to learn more about planning and pre-production for level design, you might also check out this video by timdoesleveldesign.

If you're new to level design, this video may be of good use to you. The author of the channel thoroughly explains what level design is, tells you about 2 different kinds of game levels – static and dynamic – and highlights the objectives of game level design. A part of this video is also devoted to some instructions on how to make a game level from scratch.

When you already know something about level design, you may take a look at some examples of how level design in various games is made. For instance, in this interview with the Naughty Dog team, you can find how the studio approaches level design in its games. In the article, Naughty Dog's Reuben Shah and Anthony Vaccaro told us how iterative the process of level design is, shared how other departments work with Level Designers, and revealed some tricks that help them butt heads less. You can read the interview here.

This article on level design might also be helpful in your way of mastering level design. In this interview, 3D artist KKamjang discusses the process of designing a simple level entirely in Unity using UModeler. Here the artist shares what the first steps of level design are and provides spet-by-step instructions on how to create a simple level in Unity – from the concept stage and blockout to detailing and creating animation for a demo video. They also share the challenges you might face on your way to creating a level and speaks about the advantages of doing modeling within the game engine.

You also might check out some blogs by experienced Level Designers who share various tips and tricks on how to create game levels, what tools you may need to use, and what techniques can be useful in your workflow. One such source that we recommend taking a look at is the blog of Level Designer and LD Mentor Tommy Norberg. Norberg releases some great reads that will definitely be helpful for aspiring and experienced Level Designers where he discusses a number of cool and original ideas illustrating them with comprehensible schemes. 

In his blog, Sukhraj Johal breaks down the level design of various well-known games analyzing them and sharing his thoughts. Here you can find several case studies including on God of War, Ghost of Tsushima, and more. Johal talks about composition and framing, level design during combat scenes, and talks about various interesting level design insights.

Ketul Majmudar, currently a Level Designer at Meta and Sanzaru Games who also previously worked on God of War Ragnarök, has a number of articles on level design where he examines various titles across different genres analyzing them and explaining why certain elements exist in level design. Among others, you will find an awesome study of combat spaces with verticality from Marvel's Spider-Man, an explanation of traversal actions' function in level design, a look at shrine design in Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a design analysis of Ghost of Tsushima, and more.

Level Designers' Portfolios

And here are some great level designers' portfolios you may want to check out and use as an example for your future works:

What other sources helped you with level design? Share your favorites and don't forget to join our Reddit page and our Telegram channel, follow us on Instagram and Twitter, where we share breakdowns, the latest news, awesome artworks, and more. 

Preview image by Bobby Ross

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