Level Up: Planning the Vista

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When planning any level out, we usually think of pacing out our gameplay moments and intensity over time.  While both are vital, we can also do the same by pacing our scenery.

What I mean by this is creating visual contrast in the space outside of the gameplay area, so let’s focus on creating the vista point in our level and see what we can do to maximize it’s impact.  Keep in mind, any time you do the same thing over and over it will lose its effectiveness over time.  So we have to create this contrast, or in this case, a narrow space going to a vista back to a narrow space.

Uncharted is great example of this, here we see Drake standing admiring the view which is quite breathtaking to look at.  For the most part of the level you are traversing in a forest with no clear sightlines, and then as you turn the corner you get treated to this great shot of the world only to return back within the trees.

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Level Up: Flat is boring!

Level Up with Victor Kam — Banner

As the title suggests, flat is booooring!  A game level with little to no elevation will bore the player as the constant threat is completely visible;  the player always knows what’s coming ahead of them.  So what we need to do is add slight undulations in our paths to create tension and reveals in our levels.

In this day in age we have superb game engines and level editors that let us develop 3d worlds at the touch of our finger tips.  It would be a shame to not take advantage of this.  I remember making maps for Doom and Duke Nukem 3D, it was nearly impossible to create overhangs and vertical gameplay due to the technical limitations.

Let’s take a look at our first example, oh the dreaded UDK hallway.  Being a player, traversing through this area requires you to press the “forward” button to get through.  This is fine, especially if it’s in a downbeat in our game level and we just want the player to absorb their surroundings after an intense battle.  But we can make this calm section much more interesting, not by changing what the player is doing on their controller, but by creating the illusion that the player is doing “something” in a flat travel section.

This is done here by adding a ramp up or down.  Keep in mind that all the player is doing is still pressing the “forward” button on the controller.

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Level Up: Showcasing your UDK maps

Well it’s that time of the year, you’re done presenting on industry night and finished classes.  What a perfect time to dust off the ol’ UDK maps and start screen grabbing those hard worked on levels for your portfolio!

When it comes to in game shots, presentation and quality matters.  Surely we can go into fullscreen mode, hit PrintScreen and paste directly into Photoshop.  But let’s make the most of our game engine and get a beauty shot that captures your hard work without the loss of detail.

Here’s how we do it in UDK:

Step 1: Get into the level

Jump into your level like you normally would through the editor.

Step 2: Bring up the console

Bring up the console (press Tab).

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