Why is level design SO HARD?!

Seriously. Its not that I don’t like it (all the time :P). Its just that it seems SO DIFFICULT AT TIMES.

I think part of the problem is easy. Depending on the size of your game, its perhaps easy to get creative burnout? I’m trying to flex and manipulate my game elements so much that I start running out of ideas and get… dare I say it… lazy.

Am I being too simplistic? Too complicated? Is the player going to find this enjoyable? Repetitive? Is this anything they haven’t seen before? What about difficulty? Layout? Will they get confused and not know what to do or where to go? Is that fair? BAAAAH.

Well, I’m working on it. I’m trying to do something like 2-3 levels a day on my current project (they’re small levels). These are my thoughts so far:

  1. Make the player think. If they can hold down the run button the entire time in their SLEEP I’m probably doing something wrong. You don’t need to warp the very tissue of their brains (all the time :P); just make them pause and consider what they’re up against for five seconds. That goes a lot farther than one might think.
  2. This sort of depends from game to game, but try to build levels or sections of levels around a particular use of a game mechanic. Don’t try to do too much. At the very least if my game is a little more complex, use a single “complex” mechanic or method meshed with some simpler, basic ones. Maybe utilizing a particular game object, getting chased by a particular enemy, a SIMPLE gimmick unique to that stage…
  3. Don’t insult the player’s intelligence. I’m not saying throw them in a pit with no jump button and an obscure-looking five pixel elevator (all the time :P), but let them figure things out. Make something not obvious, or maybe give a very subtle clue. Throw in a couple head scratchers; its those moments of discovery that can make it worth it for the player.
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Posted in Design

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