Process of Level Design

I’ve been thinking a lot of building a level once my book on Virtual Natural Landscapes is complete. if you take a look at the traditional design process, i.e during pre-production, the process starts with a quick sketch, which is refined into a 2D map used for the construction of the 3D level.

I need a process of design that is flexible and quick, reactive and that supports emegent iteration, for 3D natural environment design I don’t like 2D tools as they are restrictive, yes a top down, side view or a pesudeo 3D sketch can be drawn but this isn’t intuitive enough, it requires a level of skill to be gained in using for instance a pencil ,quite well first before you can express what your what to create.

I’m not a fan of the 3D tools available as they are geared towards production, and are too restrictive for quick development, I need a real pre-production tool, beyond greyboxing….I’m fond of the idea of landscape maquettes, but the danger is they can quickly become a production tool(i.e actual landscape scaled) rather a pre-prod tool for a longer process.

I love the idea, of actually crafting the level with polystyrene/foam board. Landscape Maquette’s are fascinating artefacts often built by D&D / board RPG fans as a scaled focal point for playing out campaigns, the intricacy in which the designers detail, grass, tree’s, rock formations (going to such levels as understanding different rock types and finding an appropriate tool to carve their foam boards with) is truly amazing, there is a real sense that being able to craft the terrain and the land instantly and without any real level of skill(yes it may require a little bit of work with specific toolsets), of course the ‘undo’ command in real life doesn’t exist(for shame…) which does make one a little more careful with any action.

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I’m very close to building one( you need a workshop ideally and tools cost can be slightly off putting as it’s not something I could imagine being done in a house with kids!), but again I’m fearful that this will be, although a useful tangent to explore, a slipperly slope into JUST building landscape maquette’s, and forgetting it’s just a part of the design process

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