Having spent the past several years entirely dedicated to the study and practice of game design, I have developed a deep love for creating games. As a levels, systems and content designer, I'm passionate about developing levels that highlight gameplay mechanics and balancing those mechanics in a way that keeps players invested in the experience I'm creating.
LEVEL DESIGN PROCESS
Identify Purpose and Goals - In order to design levels effectively it is essential to determine what the level is trying to achieve. Should it be reinforcing a player skill? Offering a new mechanic for players to engage with? Building challenge before a big encounter? these are the sorts of things that need to be identified early. Asking clarifying questions here is crucial. What does the art team need to achieve in this space? should there be an environmental reveal? Are there assets that need to be shown off? the more clarity you can get on the goals of the level, the more effectively you can address those goals. It is also important to identify your personal goals for the space at this stage.
Constraints - Once you have a purpose and goals for the space, identifying constraints will further indicate the direction of the space. What mechanics are highlighted and which are off-limits? Where are we trying to guide the player? asking these questions will further focus your space.
Sketching - With a clear idea of what I am trying to create I can begin sketching out concepts of the space. For 2D spaces I find that sketching from game camera perspective is usually best. When working on 3D spaces, I typically begin with top-down perspectives (these help guide me best) and then add some perspective views so that verticality of the space can be identified. Depending on gameplay it can be helpful to sketch individual level sections and then work on ideas for how to connect them together in interesting ways.
Block Out - Once I have enough sketches to give me an idea of what I want to create, I begin to block out the level. This is an agile process focused on developing the space with basic shapes at first so that the player experience can be effectively communicated.
Feedback & Iteration - Once the level is blocked out and approved, it is time to start populating it with assets and props. Even once this is complete the level is not "finished". Like any aspect of game design, levels need to be tested and iterated on. Sometimes you'll find the needs of the team have changed or that players are getting lost at this stage. So, being able to quickly iterate and accommodate feedback is a must.