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Game Design School - LEVEL DESIGN

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After this page:
  • You will know the basic rules of level design
  • You aim to create one thing per each level
  • You have learned bunch of tricks and methods to use when creating your levels
  • You understand in how many different ways you can use level design to create variation for your game


I'm often asked about generated levels. Well, to create good generated levels which aren't just noise without any good part, you would need to identify and preprogram patterns. Then this wouldn't be enough and you'd look into merging patterns. In the end, they would just be close to handmade levels.

  • I always prefer handmade over generated levels especially in games with progress structure & levels.

You will never get those "close calls", "super flows" or anything with generated.
In the end, creating the generated levels might even take longer than just making the levels.
  • Level Designer can work separate from Game Designer
  • One idea per level
  • Have a clear goal for the level: Player needs to know what to do
  • Have a theme for a level if possible
  • Support story: Introduce mission objectives based on story
  • Maintain variety

- Boss flights
- Shape , size
- Time of day
- Power-ups
  • Player will notice the differences and not get bored
  • Don't repeat the same over and over again
  • Tip: it's good if the level editor program uses the game engine
  • Think of a new item and theme per level
  • Think what will you introduce next in the game
  • Play around with the basic elements
  • Like make the level more narrow, bigger
  • Make smaller or bigger items and elements
  • Faster, slower elements
  • Uphill, downhill
  • Magnets, fans, bombs, mines…
  • If you have an item moving left-right, try another with up-down and so on
  • Compare the levels and put the most fun one's first!
  • Check if your game varies enough!


  • Draw it on paper
  • Create paper power-ups, level objects, characters, npc
  • Cut them
  • Play the game
– You can play it turn based with dice
  • Does it work? Is it fun?
  • You can also draw any other screen to test it

Here's an image from Finger Eaterz level editor. Usually Level Editors aren't like state-of-the-art tools but buggy and sometimes tricky to use and to learn.



Think of Angry Birds. Any shot from the game is pretty easy for anybody to understand.
There's a slingshot on the left with round objects a bit like stones and on the right there are these wobbly constructions which like they are going to break.
Ah, so I need to shoot them with the slingshot!

  • So create a screenshot / mock-up of your game.
  • Then show it to people and ask them what should you do in the game!

Preferably the should be able to do it!!! If they can, this will help people understand and get into the game!


- pick this power-up to shoot that and to continue
- “in this level you get this with this…” - but yet, keep it simple - and the game…

  • Create a boss fight level!
  • Bonus levels! Like allow the player to just relax and collect the max of items.
  • Mini game levels
  • Add alternative paths
  • Use risk & reward
  • Change shape & size
  • Try o pposite objective
  • Flip & rotate levels
  • Use risk and reward
  • Create alternative paths - but remember not to make it too confusing
  • Use combinations
  • Do the unexpected
  • Imagination is the limit


  • Introduce what is the thing in your game!
  • Make it understandable for others!
  • Make it simple!
  • Make it guiding!
  • Make it rewarding!
  • Use max 1-2 new items for this
  • What is the level goal?
  • Tip: Use a window to show the goal of the game!
  • More on levels here


  • Create Level 2 to 5 for your game
  • What are the next cool things!
  • What is the variation?
  • Let's say all stuff is introduced – what is “1st real level” like!


  • Will this level be interesting?
  • Will the level repeat the previous levels and use the same items - or do you have enough exiting content?


  • Create the Ultimate level for your game
  • All in!
  • Do this to see if you have enough exiting content for this level!


Exercise xxxTITLExxx
Intermediate - Day task