Eric Biessman, Raven Software
As project coordinator, lead designer, and level designer at Raven Software, Eric Biessman has received many e-mail messages from those who want to know how to create breathtaking levels, as seen in Heretic II. Here he sets the record straight:
- The level must be fun. This is a game, after all.
- Make sure that you have the level planned out before you start designing. To design in a vacuum usually means that you'll have a large amount of wasted time.
- Pay attention to the world around you. Find ideas in everything you do. Make sure that you aren't just making a level that plagiarizes another game. Detail is the key, but it has to be from your own imagination, not someone else's.
- I definitely sketch out ideas on paper first, but not the entire level. Usually, I will design smaller areas that are very important to the game and then go from there. I also like to flowchart the entire level before I even think about sitting down to the editor.
|Key areas such as the Silverspring Docks in Heretic II should be sketched out on paper first, says Biessman. (Used with permission by Activision, Inc.)
- Be persistent. The more you practice, create, and build, the better your levels are going to be. Make contacts in the industry and touch base with them regularly. Play as many games, in as many different styles, as you can, and learn from them. Turn your hobby into a passion. If you can't do this, then you probably should think of another way to release your creativity. Dedication pays off 90% of the time but you still need to have creativity. Otherwise, there's really nothing that can be done.