Level design

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Introduction:

Level design is a mixture of art and science. Level design requires artistic skills and as well as extensive technical knowledge. Any level designer with professional skills will no succeed by grasping current generation of gaming, game flow and pacing. A level designer who understands this structure has no architectural or Art experience will fail as well.

Level designing is creations of levels in which the player interacts with the game environment to play in the game universe. A level is created by using the level design tools in an existing engine or even a new engine can be created to create your own level design according to your user interface and shortcuts. Many famous company usually develop there own level editor. This way they can keep up with the current generation of gaming and save a lot a time.

Creating a level design might be easy for any level designer but the main question will the level sell or liked by the gamers? At least more than 100 of levels are posted online for different games out of which only very few get chosen and liked by gamers. The whole point of level design is How addictive and competitive is your level? Will it be played again and again? Will it sell in the market?

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In this dissertation you will get to see a complete guide on how to create a game level based on gamer's feedback. And give you a complete solution on developing a working level which will sell in the market easily. The methods described in this dissertation can be analyzed and used at time of the gaming generation. The whole process revolves in an around gamers of current gaming generations.

This dissertation is specially designed for wide range of people. Actually, the first priority group for this dissertation is game level designers. And this dissertation also explains how a level can be created by using the feedbacks of current generation of gaming. This dissertation is should be read from start to finish because you come to know that each chapter has it own meaning and importance.

Describing what is a game level

Level designing is the creations of levels in a level editor by a level designer. To create a proper level design by a level designer needs artistic as well as architectural skills. Level is one who is never afraid to step back and re-correcting their content. A great designer needs to throw content out or work on concepts that needs attention

A level designer creates a level try to sell it and make it famous it doesn't work why because the level? Have mention the reason below

  • concept is boring and repetitive
  • Themes are repetitive and not new
  • Is not built properly
  • Doesn't understand the current gaming generation
  • Proper obstacles are not used

It is extremely important for a level designer to recognize a proper level. Instead of making a same level which concept is already used? They should try to come out with something really new when his work is not coming together. In one instance a games become tired of playing the same level with the same and boring content over and over. A great level might gets scrapped or reworked because a designing cycle is dragging on and a gamers who plays it feels the work is not as fresh and new. A designer must recognize that their view is tainted.

One good possibilities of creating a good level is by understanding the gamers of the current gaming generations

History:

In the earlier days there was no such thing has level designer. Everything was done by the programmer. So basically the game programmer does the programming part and the level designing part.

The Beginning 1975-1980

In the beginning people never really cared about the levels in the games are played because. The first games where were developed didn't need that much of attention for levels.

MUDs was one of the firsts games that actually required a lots of attention and time to the level designs .This Game was developed by "Ralph Koster, Brad McQuaid, Mark Jacobs, Brian Green and J.Todd Coleman. A MUD (multi-user dungeon), is a multi-user real-time virtual world which is described entirely in text. Basically the game is a text based game. It has different features of elements like RPG (role-playing-games), Interactive fictions and online chatting. Users actually got to see a lot in this game because of the details of the description such as rooms, object, other players, non-players characters, and actions performed in the virtual world.

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A player interacts with each other by typing in commands.

The designers where assigned to create new paths, design and tools for this game. The game interface used in this was ZZT, which was a early notable interface for mapping and event scripting, and it is still gentlest way to introduce a person to a level layout.

Then later on game in 1978 the game Space invaders was created by "Tomohiro Nishikado" Space invaders was a two-dimensional game were you have to control a spaceship shooting at alien moving forward towards you. The whole was created and designed by "Tomohiro Nishikado" Himself.

There was not much of details for the level of this game. But later on when it was popular in the market Different version was released in 2D and 3D

In 1978 the famous game "Adventure was created in Atari. This game was created based on the text based game called as "Colossal Cave Adventure"

This game was developed by Atari and the designer of this game was "Warrenn Robinnett" the level designed in this game are simple maze where the players has to find the key get to the door by dodging all the obstacles and enemies on his way

In 1980 The great game which is still played now was created. The game "Pac Man" It was the most best played in the earlier 80's. The creator of the game was "Toru Iwantani" He developed and as well as designed the game fully. If you see level of the game is a maze which makes the game more interesting. This game was so popular that later on it manufacture again with more difficulty and designs

In 1985, the famous side scroller 2D game was created "Super Mario Bros" was created by "Shingeru Miramato". He was a designer for Nintendo. The 2D level were very simple but yet realistic and nice at that time of gaming generation people played this game over and over and were still not bored of it. There were totally 4 types of different stages in this. The stages of this game had many obstacles and enemies which made the game more interesting

In 1993, the first fps (first person shooter) game was released. "Wolfenstein 3D" this game was created by using a Software called ID software by john carmack. The levels in this game are like mazes. Your main goal is to escape out of the maze like prison. The level designed in this are not that much detailed. Most of the walls and the ceiling have the same color. It was pretty difficult but the game was fun and really enjoyed by the users

The Change 1998-2009

In 1998, the game Unreal released and was a massive hit. The game unreal was created by epic games and was really famous for its graphics and sound effects which mad the game so realistic. The unreal released there unreal engine which was so much advanced and better compared to id software which created games like "Wolfenstein 3d, Doom" etc

If you play the game unreal you see that the levels are really scaring and the effects of the game are really incredible. Unreal boosted the expectations of 3D graphics considerably. Unreal was one of the first games which used detailed textures. When player stand next to an object or wall the textures detail will fade in and make look more realistic instead of showing it blurry like other games.

The lighting effects took time to develop but the result of it was incredible because the course of the development occurred during the emergence and rapid progression of hardware 3D accelerators. So , with the advanced software 3D render.

In 2004, the unreal 2004 is release. This game marks yet another leap in the gaming experience that unreal players have to come to expect with the new onslaught game type and the introduction of vehicles, players are no longer limited to the simple levels. The levels in this wear massively huge compared to the other games. The unreal engine was very well known among people this year

In 2007, the unreal tournament 3 was released and was a massive hit on the first day itself because of its high 3D graphics and content in the game. The unreal engine was really famous and people played it more and more. So what is unreal engine? The unreal engine is a system that sorts through level maps, textures static meshes and other artistic aspects of the game and combines them fluidly into a seamless, interactive masterpiece. The reason this game was so famous was because of the unreal engine itself. The unreal engine has these various aspects.

  • The graphics engine
  • The physics engine
  • The sound engine
  • The input manager
  • Network infrastructure
  • The Unreal Script interpreter

Preparing for Research Survey

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In this Chapter you will learn

  • Knowing about current gaming Generation
  • Planning your Survey Research
  • Research about games played and the market viability
  • Preparing your Survey question
  • Preparing your Survey Form

Knowing about current gaming generation:

Gaming generations are defined as the video games released from the day of existence till now. The generations are...

In 1970, the first generation also known as golden age of video games was the phase when people came to know the existence of gaming. This was the time when the first generations of consoles were released. For example the "Brown Box" these consoles got famous among the people because of the release of revolutionary technology. Then in the first generation the main frame computers were released. Later on the Home computers were introduced to programmers were they get to program simple games.

In 1977, the Second generation of gaming started was the earliest consoles were made. In this generation the video games were found on cartridges, with the release of the Fairchild Video Entertainment System (VES). The games were programmed and burned onto a ROM chip which was mounted on a cartridge which will be plugged into slots on the console

Three machines which dominated Second generation consoles are.

  • Video Computer System ( VCS)
  • Intellivision
  • ColecoVision

In 1983, the third generation was the innovation of genre, in this period the different types of genres were introduced to the Market. Such as Adventure, Fighting, Maze games, Platform Etc. The gaming computers were introduced with basic programming environment and advanced graphics. The famous consoles of this generation were the Nintendo 8 bit console and sega masters console.

In 1990, the fourth generation was a change from transition from pixels to full 3D graphics and the rise of several new genres such as FPS ( first-person shooter) and RPG (Role playing games) . Mobile Phone gaming was introduced in this generation. Some of the famous console of this generation is the Sega mega drive and the super nes. The CD-ROM drives were first introduced in this generation. For the Pc games and Basic 3D graphics entered the main stream with flat shaded polygons which made the gaming more famous in this generation.

In 1993, the fifth generation gaming was full on with CDs and not with Cartridges. In this period lot of companies released console with 3DO Interactive Multiplayer. The fifth generation was famous because of fully 3D games. Transitions to 3D and CDs happened in this generation. Most of the Designer moved from 2D to full 3D genre games. Some of the famous consoles of this generation are Sony playstation, Sega jaguar

In 1998, the sixth generation gaming the gaming level was way beyond compared to the past were all the people switched to full 3D gaming and the rise of alternate controllers and also online gaming rises to prominence like online MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) were introduced. The rise of pc causal games such as Bejeweled, Dinner Dash which really addictive among the adults. Some of the consoles of this Generation are Playstation2, Microsoft XBOX Game boy Advanced Etc.

Since 2004, the current (Seventh) generation of gamers has taken effect. In the starting some of the handheld consoles were introduced with 3D graphics. (PSP, Nintendo DS) which was really famous among people. The Seventh generation of consoles was released by the well known companies (Sony playstaion3, Microsoft Xbox360 and Nintendo Wii) which is still famous among people and most played currently. Apple inc. enters the realm of gaming by bringing iPhone and iTouch. The computer gaming was way beyond imagination with high end 3D graphics. Famous company Nvidia Introduced the new 3D goggles for the feel of realistic 3D effect sitting at home.

Planning your survey Research

Planning your Research is the most important step overall. Researching can be done in three different steps.

  • Research from books

Books researches is the basic step were you can research current gamers and the games the played. You can find a lot of books online or any near by libraries.

  • Internet Research

Online Research is the easiest research. There are like more than 1000 sites you research from. We can research about the current games played and also look out for which levels are most played and why?

  • First Hand Research

First hand research is the most important of all. For this first we have to find out where do gamers play the most at home or at café? Find out hardcore gamers in your city and getting a review from them face 2 face for your research

Preparing your Survey question

Preparing your Survey question for the interview is really important before the interview. We should ask the right questions to the gamers for our research. And make sure the Survey question are in favorable of your project. Some example questions are...

  • What types of games do you play?
  • Which your favorite game?
  • How many years have you been playing that game?
  • Which your favorite level or map in that game?
  • In future games, which types of theme will you prefer to play a level?
  • If that level is created, in which game will you prefer to play in on?
  • Comments about current gaming generation

Preparing your Survey Form

We can't ask questions to each and individual gamer. For this we can simply create a survey form with all the questions that you want them to answer and make sure you have open options for all the questions. The questions we fill in should be legible and clear. For example

Interviewing Gamers Individually

In this Chapter you will learn

  • Getting the Survey form filled
  • Interviewing them individually

Getting the Survey form filled:

To get the Survey form filled you have proper research planning for example my planning was

        I started of with Basic Research work. I got the Reviews from the Gamers. I came to know what they like and what they Don't and what kind of a game play do they Expect .Well first of I wanted to know where do the Gamers play games in Chennai? Which cafés they visit the Most? And what types of games do they play? So many questions I had to ask the gamers. So for my Research I had planned a one week trip to the Best cafes of Chennai. And ask them the Questions Personally

Famous Cafés of Chennai I Visited

  • The Den
  • BLUR
  • Yuri Yard
  • Zapak Gameplex
  • Sri Balaji Café

After the survey forms are ready we should select the best cafes near by to get our forms filled by the gamers. We should go to them and explain about the research we are working on and get the form filled

Interviewing them individually

We can also get the interviews of professional and well known gamers by asking those questions face to face. By doing this we get a clear idea about what gamers think about current gaming generation and what types of levels do they like to play.

Analyzing the Researched Data

In this Chapter you will learn

  • Analyzing Data
  • Preparing a analysis Document

Analyzing the Researched data

Once we have finished collecting all the data in the survey form and the individual interview. We have to analyze each and every form individually to get the final analysis of the gamers and the current games played by them

Preparing a Analysis Document

Preparing an analysis document is really important for our own analysis to get the final vote of all gamers what they want and what not. The document should contain this necessary content

  • Sample research
  • Gamers analysis on a chart
  • My analysis
  • Final Conclusion

Sample Research:

Sample research is some Sample levels that are tested by Some Gamers and Got there Reviews. By doing this you will know what types of Gameplay do Gamers prefer in a level For example (Stealth Tactics, Sniper Targets, Aggressive shooting, Death match, CTF)

Gamers Analysis on a chart

After analyzing all the survey forms we create a proper table according to it. Show the percentage of it so that people can understand. Which one of is the top at its category.

My analysis:

My analysis is your own analysis of all the researched data you have collected and came to a final result here is "My Analysis" for my Project

"I collected all the data and analyzed it properly and came up with a table chart showing Percentage of games played by gamers at present. I really taught that people play a lot of fps games and most of the custom Maps they play are for practicing their skills in shooting. Fps games are all about shooting and how good and accurate you are in shooting. So the games which reached the top were Cod4 and Cs 1.6. Unreal Tournament was a close second. People expect a lot of Maps for this game and about the UT3 people don't play it much but still is an option for Creating a good 16 v 16 map. By analyzing the chart u can see COD4 and Cs 1.6 at present are really good. Unreal 3 is Just rising up"

Final Conclusion

After all the analysis you come to a final conclusion of all the results so that you can start creating your level. Here is my conclusion

"Final results of my research after a lot of Analyzing the data I got I came up with good Result well the most played Genre type of a Game was Strategy Rpg and Fps. And the most played game by gamers in cafes was Cs 1.6, Cod 4, Ut3 and War craft 3. Lot of people didn't care about the theme they want more fun, game play and action in a map. Most of them wanted something new for a theme probably"

Pre-Production

In this Chapter you will learn

  • Idea
  • References
  • Visualization
  • Planning and Concepts
  • Prototype
  • inalization

Idea

Ideation stage is the first stage for any level designing were we come up with your own idea of creating. Here is my Idea has Example

The idea for my level came from the famous cartoon "SUPERMAN". Who doesn't know the famous Comic Hero Superman so basically for my level I taught I will make a level with the concept of superman birth planet "Planet Krypton" Super man was born on a planet called kryptonite. And in that planet you find these kryptonite crystals. This is a negative energy for Superman Himself. So I taught I will make a City from a planet krypton

References:

We can find infinite number of references for any kind a level. It depends on what kind level you want to create. Well I am a very big fan of superman so I had this map for a long time in my mind. So I collected as much as references possible over the internet. After looking at the references I visualized how my map is going to look and had draw a lot of concepts. You need references as many as possible there no way you can complete a map without proper references. Collect as many as references possible from any where. You get references from books, magazines, internet, newspaper, or if you need first hand reference you visit the particular spot your going to make the map from (if it is possible that is).

Visualization:

Visualization is very important for any game designer because being able to see your level before it is done is the key methods of any level designer

Visualizing is the key to any game designer because every game designer has to visualize the map before creating it at the first place. Just take different references and visualize your map if different methods. Think in what way it will be possible for you to achieve in finishing the map within the given timeline. If don't visualize your map you will eventually fail at the final out thinking I could have done like this and in the end you will be wasting a lot of time.

Planning and Concepts:

Planning for your level is the starting stage you're planning should be perfect or you might have trouble creating the level. For example my level was a kryptonite city. So I planed out that my city is going to be in and around of building and green crystals. For that I created different types of map layouts and rough sketches.

Finalization:

Finalization is one of the most important steps for your preproduction because you have to decide what you are going to create will be an addictive level. You should finalize you theme, engine, concept and Designs. If not planned properly according to mentioned step you will be failing to follow through which will lead to more problems and frustration

STORY

What's the Story behind the map?

Super Man's Krypton a very well known planet and a comic character. The players are there to invade a Main city of planet krypton and take away the costly crystals from the planet. The whole planet is already destroyed and people are fighting with each until the last man handing to take away all the crystals from the planet. So basically this planet krypton is invaded by these humans. And the map is created according to that

What is this map about?

The map is about the Super man's planet krypton where human invaded that planet to steal the rare crystals.

GAMEPLAY

What is the main objective of your map?

To kill the opponents while trying not to get killed by others in those deadly crystals and other obstacles.

Do I have a map layout play sketch?

Yes

How will your map play out? Player's Gameplay wise.

My level is Huge and takes plays in the planet krypton and it is in the center of the city. In my map the play area is surrounded with building. The level is mostly fast paced level with more jump pads all over the map. So I think my level will turn out well

How do you want the player to imagine the map?

When the player finish playing this map he should first visualize how planet krypton would be and he should walk away with the experience of a fast pace jumping map. We the player plays this map he should get addicted to it by the Difficulty of the level since it's a deathmatch you have to me really good to prove yourself

How big is the map?

Very Big

Maximum Number players Up to 16, Minimum number of players 8. Since the map is Huge you a need enough no of players to get the actually feed and Action of the level

Who are my audience for my map?

This map is specially made for Hardcore Fps gamers especially UT3 players

How will I make the map memorable?

Very Simple I will make the lighting effects so perfect that the player will keep looking at map and get the feel of the map. And even the atmosphere of the map I will get the cloudy experience for map. The looks and the feel of the level is enough for any player to remember this map

Do you have a proper map layout for your map?

Yes (pic)

VISUALS

Is the map original? How will I achieve this?

I researched a lot for this map. And came up with the comic concept of planet krypton and the city in it "Kryptonite city" Attempting to do all this I feel that this map is original and different from other maps. So the idea used in this map is originally mine and it specially made for unreal tournament 3 editor.

What is the time of your map? Day, Night Midnight, Any specific time?

When you look at the map it is played in the evening at sunset. The color palette is sunny color with green crystals going at the center of the city. The City is glowing with sunny effect and the time of the map will be around 4 to 6 pm in the evening. There is no particular season for this but I will the season in this map is summer and the Main Color chosen is yellow with complimentary orange.

Describe the Atmosphere of your map?

Little Foggy and very hot atmosphere with fumes coming out of all drains, the map is completely open and hot in the evening with very high visibility. Atmosphere will play a important role in my map. Sound will really help set the mood for player and the crystals will be the center of attraction for my map. Lighting is the one of the key aspects for the feel and looks of my map

How will your direct the player? Will you have any specific spots that the player will remember?

The Crystals will be the center of attraction I will have crystals all over the map. By seeing the crystals player will come to know which directions he is facing. The center building will be the focus point. Finding the guns will be difficult but the methods used the map to show directions are pretty much useful for the player. The map is quiet open ground so the player will have more area run around, jump and shoot. Balancing the map with visual elements and gameplay elements will be the key role for me.

Which part of the map are you going to concentrate? What will you learn after you have finished your map?

Lighting and atmosphere will be my most concentrated work. Terrain and models will be the custom unreal packages. So it will not be a problem for me because am going to only place them at perfect spots.

What is the visual center of attraction of your map? How will gamers remember your map?

Kryptonite Crystals, lighting and the gameplay of the level

Describe your map in Brief?

It is a Huge City map with a lot of areas to explore. This map is mostly a fast pace level with more and more jump pad all over the map. The map is surrounded with building and skyscrapers. This map has both indoor and outdoor buildings. The play area is at the center. With a center building and this center building is attached to the side building with one bride were the player can go through. All the north, east and south are blocked with building a player can't go out of the map. And the West you can find these huge crystals which is coming out of the ground and popping out to the sky. The Skybox used for this map is a Sunny textures which pre stored in engine.

Finalized Concepts

Preparing for Research Survey

In this Chapter you will learn

Prototype

  1. what is a Prototype
  2. Preparing the Proper Materials
  3. Creating the Prototype
  4. Finalization

Creation of level in Steps

  • Terrain
  • What is a terrain?
  • Creating a terrain
  • exturing a terrain
  • Modeling Buildings
  • Working with Builder Brush
  • Creating own Building with Custom Meshes
  • Adding objects
  • Skybox
  • What are skyboxes?
  • How does skybox works?
  • Texturing

Prototype

What is a Prototype?

Prototype is a Model of a project which is created by hand before modeling the level in 3D. Basically a prototype helps the Designer to get a basic idea of how his level is gone look. Many Designer go through a lot of prototypes before creating the final Level in 3D. Well this helps the designer to correct his mistake before even creating the level. He can add and subtract building. He can decide about the gameplay. Developing a prototype starts of with proper concepts of map layouts

Preparing proper Materials

To create a proper prototype of your level you will need proper materials for it. Usually you can create a prototype using the junk at your home. The basic materials needed for a prototype are

  • A Wooden board for the base
  • Scissors
  • Glue ( Lots of it)
  • Cutter
  • Box Board ( for the Buildings)
  • Board pins
  • Color pencils
  • Paint box

Creating your prototype:

We can start creating the Prototype by simply creating the map layout in the wooden board. This will give a basic idea of which building will come where. After creating the Map layout we create base. For the base texture we can use mud for a muddy terrain. And of hills and mountains clay can be used. If your level is above the water then we can cover the base with a plastic cover so that the water doesn't spill out. For mine I used mud has my base texture. The later on I drew the border using sketch pens.

Building are the difficult part for creating the prototype because before cutting or creating any building we should make sure the building proportions are right according to the concept. Different buildings have different length and breath. We should create carefully according to it. After creating the building we can paint the building using the paint because it will be hard to paint building after sticking it.

Once the buildings are finished we can start sticking according to the concept. Make sure the length and breath of the building are proper by doing this you will get a proper proportions of the map.

Finalization:

This is the final step where everything is over only thing which is left the tiny parts such has cleaning your prototype drawing the lines and borders. Now you can add different props to your prototype it doesn't have to match exactly to the static in game. But just to get the feel of how the map will look you can keep something which looks like the prop. For Example (Players, Water tanks Etc)

This is the procedure I have done. You can change the procedure according to your satisfaction and methods of creating a prototype. The procedure I have mention is the basic and easy one.

Creating the Level in 3D

What is Unreal tournament editor ?

I created my Level using Unreal engine. Unreal engine is nothing but a application used to create and edit unreal levels. Unreal was the first game to give the users real time feedbacks. The positive point of UT 3 is that it was directly integrated in to unreal engine itself so level designers can actually look at the level gameplay without starting the game. The level made before were only 2 dimensional level. Now 3 dimensional editors are offered and the level editor converted into a playable which was also called as compilation of level. Compilation of levels made creation of levels easier the process was easier and not time consuming

Terrain

What is a Terrain?

By Definition, Terrain is an area of land or a particular geographic area. Within UnrealED, there are several components put together to generate the landscape we see in-game. Terrain is the tessellated piece of geometry, means a terrain is made of thousands of polygons put together. The geometry shape is driven by a height map. More specifically, the z-axis location of each of the geometry's vertices is by either and 8 or 16-bit grayscale image.

Creating a Terrain

Most of the game engine tools have several ways to create a terrain. Each method has its own positive and negative points that can make your task as easy as a piece of cake or as hard as untying a tightened rope. Nothing is time consuming as making a square mile of a terrain. Making a handheld terrain is best but time consuming. You get the most beautiful and customized terrain in handheld 3D softwares.

I created the terrain for my level in ut3 by using the Basic terrain editing Tool. This tool helps you to create the terrain and then adjust it however you wanted it. After creating the terrain I edited my terrain using the terrain generator option in ut3 engine.

Texturing the Terrain

Terrains can me nicely improved by adding different textures to it. Which are placed on the surface of the 3D object it depends on what type of textures you want it can be simple has a color or as complex as a human body. In the professional gaming scene, professional game artists are assigned to only work on the textures.

After creating the terrain we need to texture it after it is done, each engine has its own 3D texture tool and own ways of applying texture to the terrain or 3D surface

  • Always choose the correct texture according to your map. For mine I chose hard mud ground texture
  • Make sure the textures are applied properly when we copy paste texture it doesn't match so we have to align it according to proper setting. Repeat this method until the edges of the terrain match perfectly

After applying the textures we can add the appropriate meshes to the terrain such has titles, fences, trees. Grass, bushes, rocks whatever we feel like. We have to carefully plan out everything according to the setting in order to maximize the feel for the player

Building

Working on Builder Brush

We can create building using different method. If the engine has the tools to create the building then using that we can create in the editor itself or you can model the building in 3D Modeling software and bring it into the editor has a static mesh

The building I created in unreal editor was using subtractive method of building using builder brush. Unreal reversed the method of creating level by brining the subtractive method. The creation method is easier than the usually addititive method used before. Unreal levels begin by subtracting volume from the game world's solid mass. Means like carving a box shaped room out of the center of a mountain. In subtractive you can create cube shaped rooms in a single step by subtracting a single cube from the game without worrying about the sides are aligned or not.

The subtractive method is easy and simple you can subtract matter and add it back in later if needed. So I started creating my level by subtracting the basic shapes and areas of my level from the world's infinite mass, and then adding various types of details. Then I began creating by subtracting an enormous box or cylinder, and then adding the rest details.

As an important note, during the level creating in unreal editor, we often need to update changes of what we are making in the level base geometry. By rebuilding all the shapes we have added and subtracted form a playable level

Creating your own building using Static meshes

If you don't want to create a building using the builder brushes. You simply browse the editors for static meshes and you can create your own building. If you have your own concepts of building you can create your own building using different props such has blocks, windows, Doors etc you can come up with your own ideas.

Adding Objects:

The most important part of your level is adding static meshes to your level. Adding objects to the level is like giving to a person. At the moment, your level still looks really boring. To make it more attractive we add objects to it such as bridges, meshes and other objects, you can create your own meshes in 3D using 3D software's such as Maya and then bring it into your level.

For my level I used the pre-stored meshes which are available in the unreal editor itself. I started with the applying titles first then went with adding meshes here and there to get the perfect feel of the map. Since my map was from the planet kryptonite. I had to add a lot of crystals just too make the player feel how the planet krypton will look like.

Skybox

The ability to create vast outdoor areas with terrain, we must naturally able to compliment them with realistic-looking skies. Without a sky, we would simply have an outdoor area that was enclosed in a box which would obviously look out of place. Unfortunately, the subtractive nature of unreal engine prevents us from making infinitely open skies. We can, however. Fake the effect of a open sky which is called skybox.

What is a skybox?

A skybox is nothing more than subtracted space that is separated from the rest of the level. The objective of the skybox is to create the illusion of the objects, such as clouds, suns, moons and so on, off in the far distance. The illusion that these objects are so far away becomes apparent as you navigate around the level. The objects viewd in the skybox looks stationary, similar to the way stars seem to stay still as you drive around in a car skyboxes are great for creating cloudy skies, night scenes, or even futuristic space scenes

How does a Skybox work?

As mentioned earlier, a skybox is an Area subtracted from the level that is isolated from the rest of the map. So, this is done through the use of a sky-zoneinfo actor, which must be added near the center of skybox. This actor is responsible for causing the skybox to render around the entire level. Of course by default the players would not the see walls of the skybox. Skyboxes can be textured with a any image you see fit, in order to give the visual effect according to your map.

Texturing

A texture is technically nothing more than an image placed on a surface in your level. Textures are the material component that provides color and a tactile look. Keep I mind that textures are static they don't animate on their own. To achieve motion or animated effects, you need to incorporate other components that are engineered to drive such effects. For my map I used the unreal editor pre-stored textures in it

Textures are created in external applications or you can use the pre-stored textured in the editors itself. You can import images created in these applications in to the unreal Editor simply by saving them to the proper file format. Unreal editor supports five file formats: BMP, PCX, TGA, UPT and DDS. You use any of these texturing your map

Post Production

In this Chapter you will learn

  • Lighting
  • Types of lights
  • Effects
  • Testing and acquiring feed back
  • Internal testing : Alpha
  • External Testing : Beta
  • Finalization

Lighting

That's it your level is almost over; the part is the last and the most important for any level we are creating that is lighting. Establishing mood is an important part of immersing the player into your game. Lighting is one of the greatest designer's tools to establish the perfect mood for player. Adding lights to your map is like adding life to a person. Placing intensity, color and movement of light and shadows make the player actually feel the level. Lighting is an easy tool which can be misused easily. You need a lot of experience for lighting to get the perfect feel and looks for the map.

Types of lights

Several different types of light sources you can use in your games. These lights can fall into two groups

  • Static lights: these lights are rendered before the game start. These lights are a part of the environment. Static light is very easy to use in game.
  • Dynamic lights: dynamic lights exist within the game, generating light and shadows. Dynamic lights are much more natural lookin than static lights

The 3D modeling packages usually allow light to come from three different sources that are: point lights, spotlights, and directional lights

Effects:

Effects are something which makes your make come alive. Well a lot of game designer spend there time working on the effects to bring the nature's natural effects such has smoke, wind, fire, waterfalls, rain and many other effects. We try to replicate the real-world effect into the virtual world.

Since my map is Hot I have used the smoke effects a lot. The steam effects shown in my map are some what exactly like the real world effects. Most of the designing software's have this tool called has Emitters Use these emitter we can any kind of effect we want inside our map These emitter are pre-stored in most of the software's or if needed you can create your own according to concept for the map

Testing and acquiring feed back

After we have integrated enough of the level that it's playable, its time to begin testing. In all the professional projects, testing begins long before the project is completer. The process is fairly simple. Have someone play the game, knowing which parts have been completed and which haven't, and make sure those completed element are working correctly. Testing typically comes in two phases: alpha testing and beta testing.

Internal testing: ALPHA

Alpha testing is usually done in house, by yourself or by team member if there is one. Testers should be aware of how the project development process is progressing and precisely which elements have and have not been fully implemented. So alpha testing is really important before going to the next step. Never show your incomplete map to the public. Alpha testing is a good way to collect data, make changes to your project, tweak functionality, and streamline the various aspects of your level. Now you're ready to move on to the next level, Beta testing

External Testing: BETA

Beta testing essentially works the same as alpha testing. But it's performed on a almost complete project. In most cases, you do not want to release your beta version to the public either. Your beta version will eventually become the finalized project, so you don't want it to be a freely downloaded before the official release. Make sure to take the reviews from the beta tester and make the changes in your level