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From what I understand being a level designer and a character/environment/object/etc Modeler are two different jobs, yet sometimes it feels like a Modeler can also do the job of the level designer. I know this also depends on the scale of the game. For small games maybe they are one and the same, but for bigger games they become two different jobs.

I understand a background in some modeling could not hurt when it comes to level design, but the question I have is: Do jobs prefer people who can model for level designing? This way they can kill two birds with one stone and have someone to create the assets and design the level.

What is your opinion of the training? Does level design contain skill sets that make them completely different from what a modeler can do, or is this an easy transition for a modeler to become a level designer? Can you be a bad level designer but a good modeler and vice versa?

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Is this a duplicate of this question? gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/9810/… –  jhocking Apr 21 '11 at 3:34
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It depends on how the levels are created. Sometimes level designers wont even touch a single vert during the entire level creation process. Usually they have tools that allow the level designer to make the level without having to deal with polygons (Hammer for Source engine games, Unreal Editor for unreal). But as far as your question goes, I'm sure being able to also create 3d assets as well as design levels would increase your chances of getting a job but it doesn't necessarily make you a better level designer.

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Level design is not really about visual design, although in many studios level designers do end up doing a lot of visual design work (eg. applying textures to the level.) Level design is really about planning the flow of the level, making decisions about gameplay, and laying out challenges for the player to overcome. Level design as a discipline starts with written plans and drawn schematics before firing up a level editing tool.

"Pure" level design is embodied by a workflow called "white-boxing" where the level designer places blank (not necessarily white, anymore than blueprints have to be blue) geometry in the scene to establish scale and structure, places all the dynamic items and enemies around the scene, and then environment artists go through and replace all the stand-in geometry with polished assets.

Here are a few links about game design and level design collected on my webpage: http://www.newarteest.com/game_dev.html

Especially take note of the link "evaluating game mechanics for depth" because that is a really informative article about level designers.

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Level designers also do some scripting (triggers, spawning, etc)

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