For my semester 2 project i have been working on a commissioned Unreal level as mentioned in a previous blog, but I am also doing a placement designing levels. My original thought was 'great, i can do this, this is what I'm good at'. But with any real world experience you soon realise your not as skilled as you thought and you do have to start at the very beginning in order to work your way up. I went in with all these great ideas and at first had a problem condensing them down to fit a DS/PSP title. I had never had a problem with this before as i make the majority of my level designs in the Unreal engine. My work flow for this is 'if my computers still running I'll keep adding things'. Looking back this was not necessarily the best approach to take, although this was not a conscious work flow, because in the industry they have all the extra things like frame rates and budgets to take into consideration.
Because of the platform i was designing for (DS/PSP) i didn't think it would be too hard. Instead i thought 'great that's easy, i just wont add as many things and I'll be fine'. But my first few level designs, although consciously keeping in mind the platform i was designing for, were overly complicated. I started running away with the ideas rather than laying out a plan before hand and keeping it condensed. One idea lead to another and before i knew it my lead designer was telling me 'these are great ideas, but they are more suited in an Unreal or Halo environment'. I then had to take a step back and identify where my levels were getting so thick and strip away the fat whilst leaving a sold, fresh, interesting game to play. I had to start writing things down and planning out what i was going to do which as you probably know, I'm not used to. This was a difficult skill for me to learn, if asked in University to write out a plan for a level design i would have been able to write something down, but in my mind that level would suck and the only way i could resurrect it would be to physically create it so that i could visualise and get a feel the flow of the level. After quite a few attempts i was able to isolate sections of game play by not having too much on the screen at one, but the stuff that was on the screen, i thought, was really creative and interesting and most importantly different. I enjoy being able to take a different approach to game design and try not to be inspired by other games by playing every video game on the market but to be inspired by lots of different things around me instead.
Sometimes i may take the wrong direction at first, but once i get a feel for the flow of something i can pull myself back on the track and start to move in the right direction again. This may be a more time consuming approach, but i feel like i am creating something unique that no one has played before. On the rare occasion that i have a design idea and then later find out that its been used in a previous video game title, the only excuse i can make for myself is that i must create some awesome game designs!