Games Level Design: Part Two

Games Level Design: Part Two

In the second blog of this three part series we take a look at student projects from Games Level Design, a course held at Queensland University of Technology in Australia. This course uses the StarCraft II map editor as its chosen platform for the final examination. Groups of 3-4 students work in different game design roles to create a game level that is published in the Arcade for review.

The teams have a limited to time design and create their game levels and we loved what they can achieve in a just a few weeks. In this blog we catch up with the team that had the most Unique Game Concept their game level: Lord of War  

Before we go into the level your team created, tell us a little about the game level design course and what it focuses on.

Game level design at Queensland University of Technology focuses primarily on the practical experience of level creation from hands-on design perspective, including interactive theory lectures combined with the use of Blizzards StarCraft II map editor. It is the third design course in the games design major at QUT.

The last assessment is creating a game level as a team, what was your game level?

Our game level is called Lord of War. It is set on a world of rivalling political factions. The player arrives as an alien arms smuggler seeking to make some serious cash. To do so the player must supplement the warring forces with units created at the player base, in return the player will receive money in the form of crystals which can be used to produce more superior expensive units. Then these units can be transported to the warring factions for even more profit! However the player must be cautious, as when one side's base is destroyed the game is over and the player cannot make any more money. Furthermore, while trying to balance the two enemy forces the player must take note to defend the units in transit from waves of Zerg. This is most important as the factions will pay less for damaged goods based on the remaining health of units delivered.

Tell us about the roles there were in designing the level.

The roles were broken up among the group at the beginning of the design phase. We had Gameplay/ Innovation which focused on the core gameplay and balancing the units. The Map and Level Flow role mainly pertains to level layout, item placement and interaction choices including camera, audio and map aesthetics. One of our team had the role of Play Testing and Training which revolved around controlling the pace and action of the level and continually testing changes to make sure the game was balanced, clear, and most of all, fun. Finally we had Narrative and Goals which set formal objective elements and level components but also developed the back story for the map including rivalling political ideologies to match the age old Blue vs. Red color rivalry.

Tell us about how the idea behind this game level came about.

At the very first meet up between everyone in the team we all presented core ideas that we had prepared prior. One person put forward the core idea of two warring factions fighting while the player tried to make profit off both of them. Immediately it was clear that everyone both liked the idea and could envision where it could lead. Further on in the design cycle we used the practical knowledge we had obtained from the first part of the course to add more features such as profit based on health per unit and Zerg waves to exert extra pressure on the player.

What was your experience of using the StarCraft II map editor/engine?

It was our first time using the editor, and we were all feeling dwarfed by what was a lot of functionality and depth. However, as we became familiar with the GUI everything began falling into place. One of the best features is the search functionality for specific functions. Placement in map assets, terrain, units and doodads was very easy and comprehensive. Overall we were all quite impressed with the map editor which allowed us plenty of changes from the base game, while not having to develop our own game from scratch.

What hurdles did you experience while creating your level?

The major hurdles mainly involved specific functionality that we either didn't know about or was hard to find. Two major examples come to mind the first being no-fly zones which we attempted to make work with no results and using the trigger editor to allow cut scene skips. Other minor hurdles were solved as we learned more about the editor.

How long did the team have to put together the map?

Overall we had about 5-6 weeks from inception through documentation to testing and completion.

Where to from here? What would you like to do with your Bachelor of Business in Game Design?

In an idyllic world, we'd get a job with one of our dream developers and work on some of the games we love. Looking at you Blizzard! However, more realistically we're trying to work our way into the industry by taking part in competitions and other games design events, or attempt to startup an indie team.

Thank you for your time and all the best in the future!

Thank you!

You can try ‘Lord of War’ by clicking here.   

Loading Comments…

An error has occurred loading comments.