I decided to do a level design challenge last month in which I had to modify a level in an existing game and here’s what I came up with. The attached image is how I would present my work to a team! I wanted the bulk of it to be easy to comprehend and be effective enough that they want to hang it up on their wall. (Okay I stole that last bit from Stone Librande’s GDC talk on One-Page Designs, but it’s made me think about how to effectively present my designs.)
I have proposed some changes to the Sanctuary location during the quest Enemies Among Us. The original level is quite empty and does not give the player enough time to prepare for some difficult combat against Tarohne and her following. Additionally, the intent of this quest is to dig into Dragon Age’s lore about blood magic to show how sinister and powerful the blood mages are; there’s not enough of that in this location.
I have spec’d out the following to accomplish these goals:
- Pacing: The trigger zones have been moved so that enemy spawn zones are directly in front of the player or just around the corner (audio will clue the player in that something is there). No more enemies appearing yards behind the player, forcing the player to backtrack significantly through a sparse environment.
- More candy: I added another codex entry loot item to the East hallway between encounters 4 and 5, an unlockable cache with 2 gold and 1 randomized accessory item in the Northeast corner next to encounter 4, and an unlocked chest with a number of health potions based on our probability formula and one injury kit before encounter 5.
- More purpose and variety in enemies early on: To emphasize blood mages, I have added one Blood Mage to encounter 1 and two Blood Mages to encounter 3. To balance this out, I removed some of the generic demon types completely or moved them to other encounters.
These changes fit within our 10-minute play time goal, including cut-scenes.