I am wondering what is the best / most common practice in 3D games (mostly shooters) like Quake or Doom. How are the levels built?

With larger, open spaces the answer is probably some kind of terrain editor, that is what I understand. But what about things like houses or closed areas?

I see two main solutions. One is to make a whole house, factory, dungeon (or generally a level) in other tool, like Blender, and then put it in the game. Other is to make the most simple elements like walls, floor, doorways and make the level from them (like Lego blocks).

Is one of the ways more common? More "industry standard"? Are there some obvious advantages or disadvantages?


1 Answer 1


Both options are used. Both have advantages. However, big games tend towards a moduler design.

Creating in an external tool will give you more control. However, it will not scale well. So, for large games, it is better idea to make pieces in an external tool and let the designer place them.

A big advantage of of making pieces is that the level designer can focus on the structure of the level (where is cover, etc.) instead of having to worry about dealing with meshes, et. al. This means that 3D designers can improve the look of the pieces at the same time as the level designer is working.

The drawback, of course, is that elements can appear repetitive. Because they are. Creating everything as a custom model will make sure everything is unique. On the other hand, it will make the game heavier because it has less re-utilization, as I said, does not scale well.

There are ways to mitigate the drawback of repetitive elements, the more common is to be able to layer things on top of each other. Besides, after the level is done, you will need testing, and if something looks wrong, it should be flagged for review and change.

See GDC talk Fallout 4's Modular Level Design.


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