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May 25, 2019
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Travis Hoffstetter's Blog   Expert Blogs


I am a former lead gameplay designer of Visceral Games.  With the recent Visceral shut down, I am now trying out something new at EA Maxis.  I have shipped "Battlefield: Hardline", "Tomb Raider", “Transformers: War for Cybertron”, “The Bourne Conspiracy” and "Sims 4: Jungle Adventure Pack".

I graduated from my home town school, Saint Louis University, with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a hunger to make big, fun, AAA games.  To feed that hunger, I enrolled in the level design track at the Guildhall at Southern Methodist University where I received a Masters in Level Design. After devouring different level editors and game design philosophy, I left Texas to move to California.  I've been here for 12 years and am currently working at my fourth video game studio.

I love all kinds of games, surfing, the outdoors and any activity with my wife, two sons and daughter.  I am honest, passionate and genuinely thrilled to make games that millions of people buy and play. 


Expert Blogs

Posted by Travis Hoffstetter on Thu, 19 Jul 2018 11:17:00 EDT in Design
Creating a fun stealth encounter is difficult, with bad execution resulting in players giving up on stealth. The following breakdowns lessons learned from working on 3 stealth games to encourage stealth gameplay and keep it feeling fresh and exciting.

Posted by Travis Hoffstetter on Thu, 07 Jan 2016 02:32:00 EST in Design, Console/PC
Traversal level design can be a tricky layout style to wrap your head around. These are the layout and gameplay principals I have learned to make a fun traversal level.

Posted by Travis Hoffstetter on Mon, 27 May 2013 05:51:00 EDT in Design
Hallways are a necessary evil in video games and more specifically level design. However, if done correctly, hallways can go from being a bland part of your level to one of the highlights.

Posted by Travis Hoffstetter on Sun, 10 Feb 2013 08:55:00 EST in Design
Pacing and sequencing is an art, based on science. The following explores how artistic decisions based on scientific process pave the way to making awesome combat encounters.

Posted by Travis Hoffstetter on Wed, 09 Jan 2013 02:50:00 EST in Design
As a level designer I can feel when spawn animations in a combat encounter are an afterthought or have been rushed. Here is a process for creating a set of quality AI spawns that make the AI look smart before they interact with the player.

Travis Hoffstetter's Comments

Comment In: [Blog - 07/19/2018 - 11:17]

Hi, thanks for the thoughtful ...

Hi, thanks for the thoughtful comment. The system designer in me does not like hide or die encounters. It breaks a lot of work we do to create consistency. Sometimes it can take so long to get a stealth system consistent and predictable, you run out of time to make ...

Comment In: [Blog - 01/07/2016 - 02:32]

Good question. I do not ...

Good question. I do not mean open format, i mean don 't leave sections of your level where the ai cannot attack you unless for an explicit narrative purpose. Like in my screenshot, its just a small raised section. If the player got up there with only shield guys alive, ...

Comment In: [Blog - 02/20/2015 - 01:01]

I like the gamasutra blogs ...

I like the gamasutra blogs because it s such a great place for ideas to get our here. I think this piece has a polarizing effect on all us game school peeps because it such an investment both time and money wise. As the author states, you get out of ...

Comment In: [Blog - 05/27/2013 - 05:51]

Very true. Planning ahead and ...

Very true. Planning ahead and looking out for streaming limitations when cleaning up hallways are two great tips.

Comment In: [Blog - 05/17/2013 - 12:06]

Great article David ...

Great article David

Comment In: [Blog - 04/30/2013 - 05:01]

Great read I can 't ...

Great read I can 't count the number of times I 've heard people talking about going indie, especially during crunch.