My name is Marcy and I'm an assistant level designer here at Stingbot Games. I want to share with you my thought process on the level design work I do. I try to manipulate the props and the level itself to make them both pleasing and interesting to the player. I start out with what we call a blue print of the level and I connect 3D Tile Meshes together one section at a time. The levels are designed in sections that "connect" to each other like a giant lego structure. This way we can optimize with culling techniques and limit the amount of objects being rendered on screen at any given time, offering greater performance on lower-end machines.
When I go in to start placing props I often deviate from the basic blueprint as I see things I can change to make the landscape more aesthetically pleasing, or I mold the landscape to fit different props I have. So far, my favorite scene I have worked on is the Swamp of Green Mist. In one section of the scene, I completely changed everything I had built. I ended up taking off the back wall and opening up the whole area into a large pool of water with trees and roots building a murky forest in the background. Below is a screenshot of my favorite area of the swamp.
In level design you need to strike the perfect balance of props in any given area. You don’t want too many or too little props in the scene. You also don’t want the same rock or plant showing up right next to a duplicate of itself. I constantly need to rotate objects, change the size of them, all while keeping best practices in mind such as mesh combining and texture sharing. I also take into consideration the color of the props as I want the environment to flow as smoothly as possible. This means I may not want to place a bright yellow fern next to a dark green fern without integrating both of them into the environment so they seem cohesive. You want some items to pop, but not in a way that it’s going to leave the player wondering why something looks odd. Stay posted for more in next week's blog!