Garden is a quick instance I’m creating based off of an image, I’ve based a lot of my designs in the past on a real place or interesting pieces of concept art and have had mixed results of how they turn out. That doesn’t mean that using concept art or real places is a bad thing! It can be really good to start out using some reference images or concept ideas to get your level going, but these images rarely have perfect layouts or accommodate good game play and flow.
(Image I based Garden on:)
I stumbled on this while going through random images on Imgur (Sadly I can’t find the link at the moment) and it really just kinda popped out to me as a Gears level. This happens to me all the time… I want to say this most likely happens to not only level designers but pretty much all of us who play games or goes paint-balling, or even laser-tag.
We walk through an area and see the perfect point for combat; where we would take cover, how we would advance, where we could flank and in the end just how fun it would be to run around in playing our friends. The problem is that these images and ideas always have to change if they are going to work for a complete level.
When we see a cool area or piece of concept art, we don’t always realize that they have layout issues. The area might work from that specific angle or the cover might line up nicely for you, but what about players from the other side? Or what if the player doesn’t do what you would do? What if they don’t want to go the way you want? All the sudden that area might be broken, and really not at all fun.
In my case, the Gears characters forced me to make the area a bit larger than the image. Next I found that not having any cover in the long side lanes made some really nice kill-zones and cover fronts but was pretty boring. There really is only once choice, which is to sit back where the camera is and pick off enemies past the stairs. Even as I decided to add in more cover I found that the player needed a way to change his mind if he wants to go to the opposing side. If he is out numbered on one side, there is no way to get to a better position except retreating all the way back to the start, so I added in a bridge to connect the area in the middle. There are still plenty of issues that need to be ironed out but I like how its progressed so far.
Below are just a few images of how it’s changed over the few days of development. I always begin by creating the layout and game-play and add layers on top of that. Slowly moving into the final meshing and detail work later on.
The last things needed are game play tweaks to get everything perfect and a few extra details like emitters and sounds.