[game_edu] Teaching Level Design
wessmaniac at gmail.com
Sun Feb 22 14:40:43 EST 2009
For those of you teaching level design courses, I'd like to share
information and see if there's much agreement on methods and course
materials. I've taught with and without a textbook, though I prefer using a
well-organized textbook. I usually start with paper exercises, and then move
on to increasingly sophisticated editors.
The most recent book I've used is Beginning Game Level Design by John Feil
and Marc Scattergood (2005). It's an adequate text that comes with Sandbox
(the level editor for Far Cry.) The lessons are therefore slanted toward FPS
games, despite its attempt to be somewhat editor and genre agnostic.
Unfortunately, it's feeling out of date now, and I haven't found a good
replacement yet. I'd be grateful for any suggestions.
The last level design class I taught required students to learn three
different editors and create a basic level in each. I allowed students to
choose the editors they wanted to learn, since they were going to be
teaching themselves the hands on use of the tools. I only stipulated that
one of the editors had to be for FPS games (most students chose UE3 or
Sandbox 2), one had to be for an RTS or RPG (most students chose Warcraft
III for the RTS, and either Neverwinter Nights 1 or 2 or TES: Oblivion for
the RPG), and the third could be anything they wished (many chose the
opposite of what they chose for the 2nd, and several chose Trackmania or
Little Big Planet.)
I guided them through the theory and practice, but they had to figure out
the tools on their own. Part of this involved finding whatever help they
could from community and publisher websites, and sharing that with their
classmates. This led to the creation of a school Wiki page devoted to design
tools in the hopes of creating an institutional body of knowledge that will
help ease the learning curve on future students. One of the things the class
struggled with was the paucity of beginner-level tutorials. There's a fair
amount of friendly advice and tutorials out there on how to do many of the
trickier things, but hardly any handholding for the students who've never
touched a game editor before.
The best part of the class was the student presentations of their levels and
their reports on the strengths and weaknesses of the various tools. This
afforded the class an opportunity to compare and contrast the tools in terms
of features and functionality, but more importantly in terms of ease of use
and reliability. Perhaps the most valuable lessons they learned are the
importance of good work habits and good tools.
So, here are a few questions for you:
Do any of you use a similar approach?
Do any of you teach level design using a single editor for an entire course?
What are your favorite editors for teaching level design?
Thanks for reading,
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the game_edu