Eufloria's Rudolf Kremers believes that "less is more" is the perfect approach for indie developers on a budget when it comes to level design, and his GDC Europe talk today described the various ways this approach can be achieved.
Procedural generation in particular, as seen in such indie titles as Spelunky, Minecraft and Kremers' own Eufloria, can help free up development time for other areas of your game, and is "a great way to create enormous amounts of content" in a short space of time, he argued.
The 250,000-selling Eufloria, for example, only uses nine very simple textures throughout the entire game, with visuals procedurally generated from these simple patterns.
User-generated content is another area in which developers can look to build up a huge library of levels with little input themselves. The provided level design and scripting tools that come with Eufloria have seen players making not only their own levels for the game, but also entirely different experiences from the main game, such as art applications and side-scrolling shooters.
"Empower your fans and they will reward you 1,000 times over," noted Kremers. "Players can create more content than you can ever imagine -- or compete with!"
Kremers also urged designers to consider the concept of negative space when creating game worlds -- the idea of focusing on the area around the main focus, and using what is not there to help define what is there. Utilizing negative space means using less resources and less design time.
Titles such as Limbo, Journey and Nightsky are great examples of games that have used the concept of negative space to the fullest degree, said Kremers.
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