While Designing levels for Snow Angel, we do so as one large group instead of assigning one person to design each level. We do this for a number of reasons, the biggest being that it allows us to quickly bounce ideas back and forth with each other (including iterations and additions) and gives each team member a voice when making the game. Furthermore, it helps each member of the team stay on the same track and know exactly what they should be working in. We typically go through the following process when creating levels:
- Brainstorm potential additions/interesting ideas for a level. We brainstorm as a team, using a whiteboard, paper, and generally a computer to bring up examples of games or ideas that inspire us. Furthermore, we then breakdown how we think the level will play out (creating a rough draft on a white board).
- After creating a rough draft of our level idea, we go ahead and discuss any changes we want to make (in terms of how easy or difficult the level will be and in terms of what is realistic in terms of production). This process takes the most time, as we want to make sure the level is balanced and is fun to play.
- After deciding on a basic level composition that we will use, we then highlight the various obstacles in the level as well as what the player will do to proceed through the level. For example, I would draw a dotted box to indicate I would place a platform in that location to proceed. We use various symbols to help us reference later when we go about implementation levels.
- With the level composition completed, we then go ahead and break down new assets that are needed for that level. For each level, we only add a list of new scripts, art, and sounds needed. The list pertains only for that level, which helps breakdown workflow for each level. We also use the highlighted object we created in the previous step to help demote where that new asset would be located.
- After creating a list of assets, we (or at least I know I do) “wizard of oz” the level. Basically, I act out the level with my team until everyone understands exactly how the level will work. This is helpful for a number of reasons. First of all, it helps get everyone on the same page, as we only stop acting the level out once everyone understands how the level works. Acting it out also helps everyone remember the intended behavior of character and player.