It's kinda like…

People always ask, but, What does a level designer do?

I would respond, I build the World. And get these wonderful blank stares.

When dealing with people who don’t play video games, or equate video games with Tetris they seem to have a mental block as to understanding what it is a level designer does when they make video games. So I try to equate things. I am an architect, interior designer, and a landscaper. Not to mention lighting specialist, painter, carpenter, and feng shui guru.

The funniest thing is when I am working on something and I am trying to get the scale of something right. I will tell the person, “This doorway just isn’t right, I need to tweak it.” They usually boggle at me and say something to the effect of “But doorways are 3 foot standard. Some wide ones are 4 ft. How much is 4 feet in your game?” I always want to snidely remark, “If it were as simple as just making it the same size it would be in real life, do you honestly think they would pay me as much as they do to make levels when they could just hire someone who can read a plan?” Then I follow up by creating a doorway that is the equivalent of a “normal” doorway. Everyone can immediately tell it appears too small or too claustrophobic. Game cameras and characters are not like real life, and as such, the world cannot be.

I picked up the Unreal 3 book this week and got down to building a project I have been thinking about for a long time. I am barely into the blockout phase and I have already wildly altered the sizes and spaces of the the first few areas. It feels better to me from a game point of view and really captures the essence of the place as opposed to the truth of the place.

Essence and truth, such an odd comparison.

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