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What advice, methods, practices, etc. can be given to help me design levels for any odd game, and also know if that game should have levels?

Update: For 3d Games I found this: Level Design Tips

But it doesn't really get into 2D games.

I am having trouble designing levels. I do want to keep this general since I could design any 2D game and be face with this problem of designing levels. It breaks down to two things, how do you know a particular game should have levels when it isn't obvious ( like platform games )? And, how do you go about designing levels?

Just to give you an example, and it is an example, I built a classic Breakout clone and I feel I can build levels for it, since others have done so. But I can't get my head round to design a good level.

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A bit too vague question (or several). –  Jari Komppa Sep 27 '11 at 11:32
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I'm going to narrow it down –  NebulaFox Sep 27 '11 at 11:33
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-1. It's a fair question, but a bad one for this place. The answer (as you can see below) is basically "it depends", which is almost never good for StackExchange sites. –  TravisG Sep 27 '11 at 12:52

2 Answers 2

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Level design boils down to setting up decisions for the player to make. Thus, your first step when designing a level is planning out what decisions you want the player to make. Once you've planned out what decisions the player will make in your level, then you can more deliberately lay out elements in order to support those decisions.

Note that the decisions aren't always complicated, and in simpler games it may even be the same decisions in a bunch of levels, in which case all those levels are just different permutations of the same set of decisions. Breakout is an example of the latter: in every level you want the player to make decisions about whether to chase after the falling power-up or stay under the ball.

In a more complex game you'll be setting up decisions about which path to take, decisions about how to engage each enemy, decisions about when you use various resources, etc.


This is of course a very broad overview of how to design levels (level designers tend to just have this in the back of their subconscious rather than think about it deliberately) but then this is a very broad overview question.

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I built a classic Breakout clone and I feel I can build levels for it, since others have done so. But I can't get my head round to design a good level.

Making levels is an artform into itself. What makes a good level? That completely depends on the game in question. Play the game. What's fun? Make more of it. What's not fun? Remove it. Can't remove it? How to make it less bad? And so on, and so forth.

I made a simple game for mobile devices over a decade ago, and it had certain number of features. In the hands of great level designers (from AAA game world), they managed to use the set of features in ways I would never have imagined, and the game was much better for it.

(This was a demo game for mobile game tech, and I don't think we ever released it to the public. Which is a pity).

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