Expanding upon the previous post on narrative design, this entry attempts to provide a systematic approach for developing a gameworld. Specifically, through five major components: floors, walls, clickables, soft props, monsters (MOBs), and heroes.
Floors represent the ground the player is walking on and comprise a large part of the environment design. Floors can also have a major impact on gameplay if there are gaps that allow heroes to fall to other sections or to their deaths. When designing floors, it is extremely important to consider how the heroes and MOBs will read visually and if their layout will allow for reasonable navigation.
Walls define the level’s boundaries and can often be high or low (allows projectiles to pass over). Like floors, walls can have a major impact on gameplay - particularly based on the sizes of heroes and MOBs. If a series of walls defines a narrow entrance to another room, it will diminish a group of enemy’s ability to swarm the player.
Clickables define any object that a player can interact with and that adds immersion to the level. Examples include barrels, chests, and crates that drop items upon interaction. Clickables can also have negative effects such as exploding and dealing damage to nearby parties.
Like Clickables only non-interactable, soft props represent any object that is placed on the map for decorative purposes. Examples of soft props include rocks, trees, and buildings. While they aren’t directly related to gameplay, they can sometimes be substituted as Walls and can often drive narrative.
Monsters or mobile and immobile objects serve as the main enemies of the heroes. MOBs can be anything or anywhere and constantly pose a threat to the player. Determining MOB locations and frequency is often the trickiest part of well balanced level design. The asset revelation schedule for these objects will also greatly determine how stale gameplay becomes.
Unlike the other elements which remain relatively fixed on the level, heroes can change throughout the course of the game. Heroes explore a given level with the goal to destroy all the clickables and monsters to unlock everything.
Crafting a level design can be a daunting task from scratch. In fact, many large studios hire full-time level designers to focus specifically on meeting overarching design goals for a given level. Breaking down a level into five major components will aid the designer in expedited production and iteration.