Making a level.
by, 09-16-2009 at 02:30 AM (569 Views)
Not sure if anyone really cares, but a few posts i've seen have prompted me to discuss this topic. What topic you ask? The topic of how I go about making levels of course! (Or did you say something about Timmy falling down a well, i wasn't really paying all that much attention)
I imagine that how everyone goes about this is a little different, feel free to add, or tell me i'm doing useless steps, i'm interested in your opinions I'm adding a little commentary in red, because it amuses me.
For those who want to TL;DR this, heres a brief synopsis: Ponies are pretty. For those of you who actually believed that was the synopsis... you might want to keep reading.
So, anyway, any level i make typically starts off with an idea. Where this idea comes from... beats the heck out of me. But anyway i come up with a concept, and maybe write it down.
EX: While sitting in my ISDS class (the agony!) my mind was able to escape the pressing forces of boredom and send out a little SOS message about a bunch of minigames in a single level.
The second step involves fleshing out said idea. But not in LBP, still on paper. I add some, i subtract some, i try and draw out as much as i can, till i have at least what seems like a decent level, and some plans for expansion (ie: things i'd like to add, but haven't fully fleshed out yet). These plans help me later on in the process if something doesn't work as well as i'd like it.
EX: While coming up with this concept i thought of a bunch of gameplay blurbs. The full list was about 20 long, i picked 9 to flesh out and kept the others on a backburner in case i needed new ones
Now, i'll go play levels for inspiration. I'll see 1) If its already been done before (no point if you can't top whats already out there IMO) and If its done before what did the creator(s) do and 2) I'll try to get inspiration. If i'm looking to add a horse in the level at some point, i'll go to a level that has horses. They don't need to be related to my overall subject, just small set pieces.
EX: While making my KH level, i played just about all the ones out there (even the one with the dissolve wall that didn't work >.>) After finding none with the story i wanted to tell, I started working, using inspiration on some designs for the characters and keyblades
Finally, i'm in the actual level creation process. I tend to build something that will be a cornerstone, or at least an important part of my level. I'll build a boss, or a logic system, or detailed items, or something like that. Basically, i put enough time and effort in at the beginning that i'll know 1) If i can't make the level given constraints, or i can't make it because i cant get it right and 2) If the worst happens and the level gets abandoned somewhere, i'll still have a really cool item to use
EX: I built a multi location teleportation system as the start of my first level. I know i'm going to finish the level, but if i hadn't, thats a sweet system, and i spent long enough on it there should be a level to go with it
Now i start to flesh out the level, little by little. I'll make a section here, i'll tweak something there, but i'll always finish a section to a certain point before i stop creating. If i leave making something halfway in between... no way i'll ever remember to come back to it lol Eventually, i'll have fleshed it out enough where its a basic version of the level i want.
No example, i think the idea of "building a level" is self explanatory enough in this case
So now i'm left with a level... but i'm not done yet, oh no! I'll tweak the heck out of everything, namely my logic (i use largely emitter based logic, and so sometimes need to fine tune things a little better), but i'll also do sprucing up, remove corners, add stickers and decorations, etc. Sometimes i'll redo things i'm not entirely happy with. Point bubbles are added, they're important as a final part of the level, but don't affect my personal testing I pick a title, and add a description and custom logo if i haven't already.
I add pretty to the level, remove as much thermo sucking as i can, possibly redo some parts, points are added en masse, title it, add a logo and a description, etc.
Now i've got a level, it plays fine, i can finish (if not ace) it without any real bugs... or so i think. Now i try and unleash playtesters on the level, the more the merrier. My brother has an uncanny knack for beating up my various creations. I don't think i've ever built a system he can't break, actually.
All hell breaks loose on my level. I cry myself to sleep at all the stuff i have to fix
After rebuilding the level from scratch (what do you think happens after you let testers loose? ) I give it a few run throughs, and let it rip! Its been quite a process, but Its finally over... time to play some levels for F4F
Some random facts about my creation process:
1) I pretty much solely create, or solely play. So if i'm making something, i don't touch the showcase for a while (except for the occational friend, or guaranteed good level )
2) As mentioned previously, i use largely emitter based logic. I don't carry ANY gates in my popit, build them all from scratch for each level. Latest one is a bit of an exception because RTM was kind enough to lend me some very thermo light piston logic pieces.
3) I tend to only use a few different materials. Dissolve, dark matter, basic stone, and thats about it. I will use other materials if i want texture, but otherwise, i'll just take a picture of what i want and apply it to a material i'm using.
4) I create quite a few custom stickers for my level. Wording and imagery are the main ones. Other than these custom stickers, i mainly only use the color squares, and the black gradient sticker for shading.
Phew. So... yeah. Sorry for the awfully long blog, i guess its an awfully long process for me Any comments, questions, concerns, slogans, etc?