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Modular Level Design for Skyrim


Joel Burgess
Nathan Purkeypile
Bethesda Game Studios
Where We’re Coming From
 ●Bethesda Games are   Big
Where We’re Coming From
 ●Bethesda Games are  Big
 ●We value high-mileage
Where We’re Coming From
 ●Bethesda Games are  Big
 ●We value high-mileage
  ●   In our systems, art, team - everything


 ●Beliefs +    Circumstance + Experience = Culture
      ●How   can our culture benefit yours?
Case Study: Modular Level Design
What is a kit?

  ●Kits are Systems
What is a kit?

  ●Kits are Systems
  ●Typically snapped to
                      a grid
  ●More than the sum of parts
What is a kit?

  ●Kits are Systems
  ●Typically snapped to   a grid
  ●More than the sum of parts
  ●In this context: architectural
“Modular Level and Component Design”
Lee Perry – Game Developer Nov. 2002
Terminator:
                   Future Shock
                      (1995)




Elder Scrolls 2:
Daggerfall
 (1996)
Modular Level Design:
  The Pros & Cons
Pro - Reusable Art is… Reusable

  ●Reusable   Art Mitigates Scope
Pro - Reusable Art is… Reusable

  ●Reusable Art Mitigates Scope
  ●Skyrim Environment Includes:
      ●16 sq.mile Overworld   ●   300+ Dungeons
      ●5 Major Cities         ●   140+ Points of Interest
      ●2 Hidden Worldspaces   ●   37 Towns, Farms & Villages
Pro - Reusable Art is… Reusable

  ●Reusable Art Mitigates Scope
  ●Skyrim Environment Includes:
      ●16 sq.mile Overworld   ●   300+ Dungeons
      ●5 Major Cities         ●   140+ Points of Interest
      ●2 Hidden Worldspaces   ●   37 Towns, Farms & Villages

  ●400+   cells of traditional “level” gameplay
Pro - Reusable Art Mitigates Scope

  ●Skyrim: 400+ cells, 8 Level Designers
  ●Scope as Restrictive?
Beliefs
+ Circumstance
+ Experience .
  Culture
Con - Art Fatigue

  ●Abolish copy/pasting
Con - Art Fatigue
 ●Abolish copy/pasting
 ●Disassociate setting from
                         inhabitants & gameplay
 ●Encourage Asset Mix-n-Match
Pro - Low Artist:Designer Ratio

                                       TESV: Skyrim
                                  2    Kit Artists
                                  8    Level Designers
                                  7    Kits
                              400+ Unique Cells
                                  30   Months
Con - High Complexity

   ●Requires Art Talent &   Technical Understanding

                                   Aesthetics
                                   Composition
        Design
                                   Art Workflow
     Workflow
                                   Modeling
      Kit Logic
Snapping Rules
 Grid Multiples
Con - High Complexity

  ●Requires Art Talent &           Technical Understanding
   ●   Basically: Unicorn Artist
  ●Bug-Fixing can be       delicate
Pro – Instant, Game-wide Art Deployment

  ●Art changes propagate automatically
New Art
                       Incoming!




                Yay!
kthx.
        Whatever.
Pro – Instant, Game-wide Art Deployment

  ●Art changes propagate automatically
    ●Artwork viewable in “real” context
    ●Zero impact on Design workflow

  ●Keeps Cosmetic Control w/Art
    ●Aesthetic Process   Not Rushed
Pro - Iteration Speed

  ●High flexibility &
                   agility
  ●Fastest Workflow Ever?
     ●No  Turnaround Time
     ●1:1 Correlation w/Final Layout
Con - Total Dependence on Art

  ●Design empowered only    if kits available and good
  ●Art/Design Relationship is Imperative
Common LD – Art Relationship
●   Level Designers Build early version of level
    ●   In-Editor: BSP, Graybox
    ●   External Tools: Sketchup, 3ds Max, etc
    ●   Abstract: Documents, Paper Maps
●   Then: Hand off to art
LEVEL
DESIGN
Common LD – Art Relationship
●   Art does a visual pass on the level
●   Sends back to Design for markup, scripting, etc
ART
Art & Design Collaboration
●   Can we improve relations?
●   Kits May seem impersonal
●   Process is collaborative in dev
How Kits Are Born
Main Steps For Kit Building
●Concept
●Proof Piece
●Graybox/Functional Core
●Build-Out
●Ongoing Polish
A Note on Scale
●Abstract  Units (Commonplace)
●128 units ~ 6 feet ~ 2 meter
●This talk assumes Z as “up” axis
                                         1
                                         2
                                         8



                                    32
Global Standards
●Establish   Global Standards
 ● Doorframe   Dimensions
 ● Minimum Width
 ● Valid Incline Grading
 ● Gameplay-relevant metrics
  ●Jump heights
  ●Cover heights
Concept Phase
Where Do Kits Come From?
 ●Concept
  ●   Visual Theme, Gameplay Goals, Scope & Sub-Kits
Concept
 Phase




~1 week
}

          Level Designer
Concept
                     Kit Artist
Concept
Before You Begin
●ArtConcerns:
  ●Visual theme? Visual goals?

●DesignConcerns:
  ●Expected usage? Gameplay role of kit? Story?
Before You Begin
●How   widely-used?
                      Skyrim Kit Usage


                           Cave
                           Mines
                           Ice Cave
                           Nordic
                           Fort
                           Dwarven
                           Ratway
Skyrim Kit Usage



        Cave
        Mines
        Ice Cave
        Nordic
        Fort
        Dwarven
        Ratway
Before You Begin
●What        “Sub-kits” will be made?
   Cave – Used 200 times   Ratway – Used Twice   Nordic – Used 150 times
   Small Hall              Hall                  Small Hall

   Large Hall              Circular Room         Large Hall

   Small Room              Square Room           Small Room

   Large Room                                    Large Room

   Epic Room                                     Temple Room

   Shaft                                         Stairwell

   Balcony
Proof Phase
Where Do Kits Come From?
 ●Concept
  ●   Visual Theme, Gameplay Goals, Scope, Sub-Kits, etc
 ●Proof
  ●   Build out prototype pieces, test major concepts
Concept    Proof
 Phase     Phase


           1-3
          weeks
          }           Level Designer
Concept Stress Test
                                 Kit Artist
Concept    Proof
Pick Your Grid Footprint
●Grid Size is the Foundation   of your Kit
Footprint Sizes
●Equilateral Sizes are common:
  ●512x512x512
2
      5
      6




256
Footprint Sizes
●Equilateral Sizes are common:
  ●512x512x512

●Play with   Proportions
  ●256x256x768
7
      6
      8




256
Footprint Sizes
●    Equilateral Sizes are common:
 ●   512x512x512
●    Play with Proportions
 ●   256x256x1024
●    Sub-Kits on same grid size or multiples of it.
 ●   256X256x256 can match 512x512x512
 ●   256x256x256 cannot match 384x384x384
Keep Your Grid Snaps Large




                                      (unhappy LD)




(happy LD)          Grid Snap Size
Common Footprint Problems
●Non-uniform XY   sizes can be problematic
                     Kit         Kit          Kit
                    Piece       Piece        Piece
  Kit
 Piece
          Piece

          Piece

          Piece

          Piece

          Piece

          Piece
           Kit

           Kit

           Kit

           Kit

           Kit

           Kit
  Kit
 Piece
Common Footprint Problems
●Non-uniform XY     sizes – use sparingly.
●Don't tile on all six axes.
   ●Huge   Increase in Complexity
Understanding Footprint
●Footprint     = full bounds of a piece
  ●Including    Negative space
●Pieces   should exist within the footprint
 ● Footprintis not the traversable space
 ● Avoid temptation to build outside footprint
Stay Inside the Footprint
Stay Inside the Footprint




Outside Footprint!
Stay Inside the Footprint
Stay Inside the Footprint




Overlapping Parts
Stay Inside the Footprint
Graybox/Core Phase
Where Do Kits Come From?
 ●Concept
  ●   Visual Theme, Gameplay Goals, Scope, Sub-Kits, etc
 ●Proof
  ●   Build out one or a small number of prototype pieces
 ●Core Pieces
  ●   “Graybox” versions of high-use pieces in all sub-kits
Concept   Proof   Graybox
 Phase    Phase    Phase



                   1-4
                  weeks



Concept           }
            Stress Test

Concept Proof      Core
“Graybox” Core Pieces
“Graybox” Core Pieces
●Create a graybox of your primary sub-kit
●Figure out problems early on
●Focus on function, not aesthetics
Naming Conventions
●Be Consistent w/other Kits
●Balance Brevity   & Meaning
  ●Avoid over-abbreviation
  ●But   keep names recognizable
●Decide early - Difficult tochange
●Use “01” as a suffix to allow for variants
●   Utility Kit
                            ●   Bay Sub-Kit
                            ●   Corner (Inner)
                            ●   Mid/Tiling Piece
                            ●   WTF?
Utl BayCorInMid PRTT01L01
UtlBayCorInMidRRRT01RL01     UtlBayGirderMountL01         UtlBayCorInBot01
UtlBayCorInMidRRTR01L        UtlBayGirderMountR01         UtlBayCorInExSmL01
UtlBayCorInMidRRTR01R        UtlBayGirderStraightReg01    UtlBayCorInExSmR01
UtlBayCorInMidRTPT01L        UtlBayGirderStraightReg02    UtlBayCorInMid01
UtlBayCorInMidRTPT01R        UtlBayGirderStraightSht01    UtlBayCorInMid01LR
UtlBayCorInMidRTRT01L        UtlBayGirderStraightSht02    UtlBayCorInMidDbl01
UtlBayCorInMidRTRT01LR       UtlBayGirderStrutSingle01    UtlBayCorInMidFull01
UtlBayCorInMidRTRT01R        UtlBayGirderStrutSingle02    UtlBayCorInMidPRPR01
UtlBayCorInMidRTTT01L        UtlBayGirderStrutSingle03    UtlBayCorInMidPRPR01F
UtlBayCorInMidRTTT01R        UtlBayMidBot01               UtlBayCorInMidPRPT01FL
UtlBayCorInMidTRTR01L        UtlBayMidTop01               UtlBayCorInMidPRPT01FR
UtlBayCorInMidTRTR01R        UtlBayWallBot01              UtlBayCorInMidPRPT01L
UtlBayCorInMidTRTT01L        UtlBayWallExSm01             UtlBayCorInMidPRPT01R
UtlBayCorInMidTRTT01R        UtlBayWallMid01              UtlBayCorInMidPRTR01L01
UtlBayCorInTallBotL01        UtlBayWallMid02              UtlBayCorInMidPRTT01L01
UtlBayCorInTallBotR01        UtlBayWallMidL01             UtlBayCorInMidPRTT01R01
UtlBayCorInTallMidL01        UtlBayWallMidPR01            UtlBayCorInMidPTPT01
UtlBayCorInTallMidL02        UtlBayWallMidPR01L           UtlBayCorInMidPTPT01F
UtlBayCorInTallMidR01        UtlBayWallMidPR01R           UtlBayCorInMidPTTT01L01
UtlBayCorInTallMidR02        UtlBayWallMidPT01            UtlBayCorInMidPTTT01R01
UtlBayCorInTallTopL01        UtlBayWallMidPT01L           UtlBayCorInMidRRPR01L
UtlBayCorInTallTopR01        UtlBayWallMidPT01R           UtlBayCorInMidRRPR01R
UtlBayCorInTop01             UtlBayWallMidR01             UtlBayCorInMidRRPT01L
UtlBayCorInTopLR01           UtlBayWallMidRT01            UtlBayCorInMidRRPT01R
UtlBayCorOutBot01            UtlBayWallMidRTL01           UtlBayCorInMidRRRT01L
UtlBayCorOutEdge01           UtlBayWallMidRTR01           UtlBayCorInMidRRRT01LR01
UtlBayCorOutEdgeL01          UtlBayWallMidTR01            UtlBayCorInMidRRRT01R
UtlBayCorOutEdgeL02          UtlBayWallTallBot01
UtlBayCorOutEdgeR01          UtlBayWallTallCorInBot01
UtlBayCorOutEdgeR02          UtlBayWallTallCorInExSmL01
UtlBayCorOutEdgeSm01         UtlBayWallTallCorInExSmR01
UtlBayCorOutMid01            UtlBayWallTallCorInMid01
UtlBayCorOutPR01             UtlBayWallTallCorInTop01
UtlBayCorOutPT01             UtlBayWallTallCorOutBot01
UtlBayCorOutTop01            UtlBayWallTallCorOutMid01
UtlBayGirder3wayReg01        UtlBayWallTallCorOutTop01
UtlBayGirder3wayReg02        UtlBayWallTallExSm01
UtlBayGirder3wayRegFree01    UtlBayWallTallMid01
UtlBayGirder3wayRegFree02    UtlBayWallTallMid02
UtlBayGirder4wayReg01        UtlBayWallTallMid03
UtlBayGirder4wayReg02        UtlBayWallTallMid04
UtlBayGirder4wayRegFree01    UtlBayWallTallMid05
UtlBayGirder4wayRegFree02    UtlBayWallTallTop01
UtlBayGirderBaseFreeWall01   UtlBayWallTop01
UtlBayGirderBaseFreeWall02
UtlBayGirderBaseReg01
UtlBayGirderBaseReg02
UtlBayGirderBaseSht01
UtlBayGirderBaseSht02
Common Naming Conventions
Hallways        Rooms           Platform
1Way01          Corner01        Mid01

2Way01          Mid01           Corner01

3Way01          Wall01          ICorner01

4Way01          WallDoor01

DeadEnd01       ICorner01

1WayDoorL01     CornerDoorL01

1WayDoorR01     CornerDoorR01

1WayDoorB01     CornerDoorB01

DeadEndDoor01
Pivot Placement
●   Consider designer workflow & usage of the kit
●   Pivots at bottom-center are most common
●   Exceptions exist, such as:
    ●   Platform Kit (bottom of platform)
    ●   Pipe Kit (hinge pivot)
    ●   Alcove (edge of alcove)

                                            Pivot
Sidebar: Stress Testing & LD Role
Stress Testing Kits
●   Don’t test in ideal conditions – this proves nothing
●   Consider all possible use cases, likely and otherwise
    ●   Then decide which to support
    ●   Have answers for later
Common Problems: Loopback Issues
                    •   Double Kit on itself
                    •   Look for Gaps
                    •   Avoid Patch Pieces
                    •   Find Footprint Issues
Common Problems: Loopback Issues

Bad!                  Good!
Common Problems: Unable to Stack




• Uses full Vertical Footprint
• Floor/Ceiling Co-Planar
Common Problems: Unable to Stack




• Leave A Gap
  • Space for holes, gaps, partitions, triggers
Common Problems: The “Hall Room”
        Hall “3-way” Pieces




     Hall Corner Pieces

         Unintended Pillars!
Common Problems – The Hall Room
●   Somebody tries it eventually
    ●   Like, every time.
    ●   Sometimes it’s ugly
●   Decide – support it or no?
Stress Testing Is Teamwork
Building Out the Kit
Where Do Kits Come From?
    ●Concept
     ● Visual Theme, Gameplay Goals, Scope, Sub-Kits, etc
    ●Proof
     ● Build out one or a small number of prototype pieces
    ●Core Pieces
     ● “Graybox” versions of high-use pieces in all sub-kits

●   Building Out
     ●   Push for Functionally-Final, Begin Sharing w/Team
Concept   Proof   Graybox   Build Out
 Phase    Phase    Phase    4-8 weeks


                                           Additional
                                        Level Designers



Concept      Stress Test      Educate

Concept Proof      Core     Build Out
Start Making It Real Art
●Art worries about   this part - Design can start building
  ●Doesn't impact the flow/design of the level.
  ●Can be swapped out seamlessly.

●One “Visually Final” piece before    building whole kit.
Building Out the Kit
Avoid Hero Pieces
                    Which
                    Matters
                    more?
Helper Markers
Polish Phase
“Ongoing Polish”
 ●Review Usage Cases in Real Levels
 ●Respond to bugs, usability, special requests
 ●Continual visual refinement & development
Establishing The Kit
                                        Build Levels
          2-5 Months
                                        Build Levels

                                        Build Levels

Concept       Stress Test    Educate    Build Levels

Concept Proof      Core     Build Out      Polish
Establish
                 Building Real Content With Kit




1    2   3   4             Ongoing Polish
Going Off the Grid:
Advanced Kit Building
What You Can Do So Far
Always Looks Like A Kit
Learn the Rules, Break the Rules
●With Fallout3, we begin bending our own rules
●Always keeping in mind the ideas behind them
 ● Choose   and acknowledge logic quirks.
  ● “This one tiles vertically.”
  ● “These floors are placed independently.”
  ● “The halls in this one are curved.”
Rule-Bending: Always Remember the Cost
●Art/Design compromises
  ●Art –Looks better, takes longer
  ●LD – Harder to work with

●Worth it?   Case by case
Snap-to-Reference
●Key technology
●Select any   object, editor treats as origin
World
Grid




        New Snap Reference
Snap
Ref’s
Grid
Snap-to
Reference
Pivot and Flange
●Used for the Ratway in Skyrim
●Pivot actsas a hinge
●Allows for organic flow
Pivot and Flange - Organic Flow
Pivot and Flange - Archway
Pivot and Flange - Downsides
●LD build process is more linear
●Introduces non-obvious errors
 ● Be aware   and communicate this to LDs
●Bad   for Highly Specific Architecture
Looks fine...
…Holes!
Shell-Based Building: Skyrim Cave “Rooms”
Shell-Based Building: Skyrim Cave “Rooms”
●Organic Space   + Orthogonal Kit = Problem
●Skyrim Caves used large “shells”
●Inset with tiling wall sub-kits
●Adds very few pieces
Directionally Restricted Kits
●Snap together only in    certain rotations
●Some   Examples:
 ● Unique in every direction
 ● “Front/Side” pieces
 ● Asymmetrical halls
Asymmetrical Hall




A   B              A    A
Asymmetrical Hall



    A   B                       B   A

A       B                   A       B
Asymmetrical Hall “De-twist”
Platform Kits
●   Add “Planes of Play”
●   Low Piece Count
●   Bite-sized “LD art”
●   Works with all sub-kits.
Kit Mashups
●   Remember: Encourage Mix-n-Matching Kits
●   “Glue Kits” – small kits made for blending
●   Multiplier on visual variety options
●   Requires compromise on art & design
Wrap Up
Compromise versus Choice
Games Are Made By People
Thanks For Listening!
joel@joelburgess.com
lplasma@gmail.com




Additional Reading:
● Modular Level and Component Design -Lee Perry
http://udn.epicgames.com/Three/rsrc/Three/ModularLevelDesign/ModularLevelDesign.pdf

●   www.CreationKit.com

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Modular Level Design for Skyrim

  • 1. Modular Level Design for Skyrim Joel Burgess Nathan Purkeypile Bethesda Game Studios
  • 2. Where We’re Coming From ●Bethesda Games are Big
  • 3.
  • 4. Where We’re Coming From ●Bethesda Games are Big ●We value high-mileage
  • 5.
  • 6. Where We’re Coming From ●Bethesda Games are Big ●We value high-mileage ● In our systems, art, team - everything ●Beliefs + Circumstance + Experience = Culture ●How can our culture benefit yours?
  • 7. Case Study: Modular Level Design
  • 8. What is a kit? ●Kits are Systems
  • 9. What is a kit? ●Kits are Systems ●Typically snapped to a grid ●More than the sum of parts
  • 10.
  • 11. What is a kit? ●Kits are Systems ●Typically snapped to a grid ●More than the sum of parts ●In this context: architectural
  • 12.
  • 13.
  • 14.
  • 15. “Modular Level and Component Design” Lee Perry – Game Developer Nov. 2002
  • 16. Terminator: Future Shock (1995) Elder Scrolls 2: Daggerfall (1996)
  • 17.
  • 18. Modular Level Design: The Pros & Cons
  • 19. Pro - Reusable Art is… Reusable ●Reusable Art Mitigates Scope
  • 20.
  • 21. Pro - Reusable Art is… Reusable ●Reusable Art Mitigates Scope ●Skyrim Environment Includes: ●16 sq.mile Overworld ● 300+ Dungeons ●5 Major Cities ● 140+ Points of Interest ●2 Hidden Worldspaces ● 37 Towns, Farms & Villages
  • 22.
  • 23. Pro - Reusable Art is… Reusable ●Reusable Art Mitigates Scope ●Skyrim Environment Includes: ●16 sq.mile Overworld ● 300+ Dungeons ●5 Major Cities ● 140+ Points of Interest ●2 Hidden Worldspaces ● 37 Towns, Farms & Villages ●400+ cells of traditional “level” gameplay
  • 24.
  • 25. Pro - Reusable Art Mitigates Scope ●Skyrim: 400+ cells, 8 Level Designers ●Scope as Restrictive?
  • 26.
  • 28. Con - Art Fatigue ●Abolish copy/pasting
  • 29.
  • 30.
  • 31.
  • 32. Con - Art Fatigue ●Abolish copy/pasting ●Disassociate setting from inhabitants & gameplay ●Encourage Asset Mix-n-Match
  • 33.
  • 34.
  • 35.
  • 36. Pro - Low Artist:Designer Ratio TESV: Skyrim 2 Kit Artists 8 Level Designers 7 Kits 400+ Unique Cells 30 Months
  • 37. Con - High Complexity ●Requires Art Talent & Technical Understanding Aesthetics Composition Design Art Workflow Workflow Modeling Kit Logic Snapping Rules Grid Multiples
  • 38.
  • 39. Con - High Complexity ●Requires Art Talent & Technical Understanding ● Basically: Unicorn Artist ●Bug-Fixing can be delicate
  • 40. Pro – Instant, Game-wide Art Deployment ●Art changes propagate automatically
  • 41. New Art Incoming! Yay! kthx. Whatever.
  • 42. Pro – Instant, Game-wide Art Deployment ●Art changes propagate automatically ●Artwork viewable in “real” context ●Zero impact on Design workflow ●Keeps Cosmetic Control w/Art ●Aesthetic Process Not Rushed
  • 43. Pro - Iteration Speed ●High flexibility & agility ●Fastest Workflow Ever? ●No Turnaround Time ●1:1 Correlation w/Final Layout
  • 44. Con - Total Dependence on Art ●Design empowered only if kits available and good ●Art/Design Relationship is Imperative
  • 45. Common LD – Art Relationship ● Level Designers Build early version of level ● In-Editor: BSP, Graybox ● External Tools: Sketchup, 3ds Max, etc ● Abstract: Documents, Paper Maps ● Then: Hand off to art
  • 47. Common LD – Art Relationship ● Art does a visual pass on the level ● Sends back to Design for markup, scripting, etc
  • 48. ART
  • 49. Art & Design Collaboration ● Can we improve relations? ● Kits May seem impersonal ● Process is collaborative in dev
  • 50. How Kits Are Born
  • 51.
  • 52. Main Steps For Kit Building ●Concept ●Proof Piece ●Graybox/Functional Core ●Build-Out ●Ongoing Polish
  • 53. A Note on Scale ●Abstract Units (Commonplace) ●128 units ~ 6 feet ~ 2 meter ●This talk assumes Z as “up” axis 1 2 8 32
  • 54. Global Standards ●Establish Global Standards ● Doorframe Dimensions ● Minimum Width ● Valid Incline Grading ● Gameplay-relevant metrics ●Jump heights ●Cover heights
  • 56. Where Do Kits Come From? ●Concept ● Visual Theme, Gameplay Goals, Scope & Sub-Kits
  • 57. Concept Phase ~1 week } Level Designer Concept Kit Artist Concept
  • 58. Before You Begin ●ArtConcerns: ●Visual theme? Visual goals? ●DesignConcerns: ●Expected usage? Gameplay role of kit? Story?
  • 59. Before You Begin ●How widely-used? Skyrim Kit Usage Cave Mines Ice Cave Nordic Fort Dwarven Ratway
  • 60. Skyrim Kit Usage Cave Mines Ice Cave Nordic Fort Dwarven Ratway
  • 61. Before You Begin ●What “Sub-kits” will be made? Cave – Used 200 times Ratway – Used Twice Nordic – Used 150 times Small Hall Hall Small Hall Large Hall Circular Room Large Hall Small Room Square Room Small Room Large Room Large Room Epic Room Temple Room Shaft Stairwell Balcony
  • 63. Where Do Kits Come From? ●Concept ● Visual Theme, Gameplay Goals, Scope, Sub-Kits, etc ●Proof ● Build out prototype pieces, test major concepts
  • 64. Concept Proof Phase Phase 1-3 weeks } Level Designer Concept Stress Test Kit Artist Concept Proof
  • 65. Pick Your Grid Footprint ●Grid Size is the Foundation of your Kit
  • 66. Footprint Sizes ●Equilateral Sizes are common: ●512x512x512
  • 67. 2 5 6 256
  • 68. Footprint Sizes ●Equilateral Sizes are common: ●512x512x512 ●Play with Proportions ●256x256x768
  • 69. 7 6 8 256
  • 70. Footprint Sizes ● Equilateral Sizes are common: ● 512x512x512 ● Play with Proportions ● 256x256x1024 ● Sub-Kits on same grid size or multiples of it. ● 256X256x256 can match 512x512x512 ● 256x256x256 cannot match 384x384x384
  • 71. Keep Your Grid Snaps Large (unhappy LD) (happy LD) Grid Snap Size
  • 72. Common Footprint Problems ●Non-uniform XY sizes can be problematic Kit Kit Kit Piece Piece Piece Kit Piece Piece Piece Piece Piece Piece Piece Kit Kit Kit Kit Kit Kit Kit Piece
  • 73. Common Footprint Problems ●Non-uniform XY sizes – use sparingly. ●Don't tile on all six axes. ●Huge Increase in Complexity
  • 74. Understanding Footprint ●Footprint = full bounds of a piece ●Including Negative space ●Pieces should exist within the footprint ● Footprintis not the traversable space ● Avoid temptation to build outside footprint
  • 75. Stay Inside the Footprint
  • 76. Stay Inside the Footprint Outside Footprint!
  • 77. Stay Inside the Footprint
  • 78. Stay Inside the Footprint Overlapping Parts
  • 79. Stay Inside the Footprint
  • 81. Where Do Kits Come From? ●Concept ● Visual Theme, Gameplay Goals, Scope, Sub-Kits, etc ●Proof ● Build out one or a small number of prototype pieces ●Core Pieces ● “Graybox” versions of high-use pieces in all sub-kits
  • 82. Concept Proof Graybox Phase Phase Phase 1-4 weeks Concept } Stress Test Concept Proof Core
  • 84. “Graybox” Core Pieces ●Create a graybox of your primary sub-kit ●Figure out problems early on ●Focus on function, not aesthetics
  • 85. Naming Conventions ●Be Consistent w/other Kits ●Balance Brevity & Meaning ●Avoid over-abbreviation ●But keep names recognizable ●Decide early - Difficult tochange ●Use “01” as a suffix to allow for variants
  • 86. Utility Kit ● Bay Sub-Kit ● Corner (Inner) ● Mid/Tiling Piece ● WTF? Utl BayCorInMid PRTT01L01
  • 87. UtlBayCorInMidRRRT01RL01 UtlBayGirderMountL01 UtlBayCorInBot01 UtlBayCorInMidRRTR01L UtlBayGirderMountR01 UtlBayCorInExSmL01 UtlBayCorInMidRRTR01R UtlBayGirderStraightReg01 UtlBayCorInExSmR01 UtlBayCorInMidRTPT01L UtlBayGirderStraightReg02 UtlBayCorInMid01 UtlBayCorInMidRTPT01R UtlBayGirderStraightSht01 UtlBayCorInMid01LR UtlBayCorInMidRTRT01L UtlBayGirderStraightSht02 UtlBayCorInMidDbl01 UtlBayCorInMidRTRT01LR UtlBayGirderStrutSingle01 UtlBayCorInMidFull01 UtlBayCorInMidRTRT01R UtlBayGirderStrutSingle02 UtlBayCorInMidPRPR01 UtlBayCorInMidRTTT01L UtlBayGirderStrutSingle03 UtlBayCorInMidPRPR01F UtlBayCorInMidRTTT01R UtlBayMidBot01 UtlBayCorInMidPRPT01FL UtlBayCorInMidTRTR01L UtlBayMidTop01 UtlBayCorInMidPRPT01FR UtlBayCorInMidTRTR01R UtlBayWallBot01 UtlBayCorInMidPRPT01L UtlBayCorInMidTRTT01L UtlBayWallExSm01 UtlBayCorInMidPRPT01R UtlBayCorInMidTRTT01R UtlBayWallMid01 UtlBayCorInMidPRTR01L01 UtlBayCorInTallBotL01 UtlBayWallMid02 UtlBayCorInMidPRTT01L01 UtlBayCorInTallBotR01 UtlBayWallMidL01 UtlBayCorInMidPRTT01R01 UtlBayCorInTallMidL01 UtlBayWallMidPR01 UtlBayCorInMidPTPT01 UtlBayCorInTallMidL02 UtlBayWallMidPR01L UtlBayCorInMidPTPT01F UtlBayCorInTallMidR01 UtlBayWallMidPR01R UtlBayCorInMidPTTT01L01 UtlBayCorInTallMidR02 UtlBayWallMidPT01 UtlBayCorInMidPTTT01R01 UtlBayCorInTallTopL01 UtlBayWallMidPT01L UtlBayCorInMidRRPR01L UtlBayCorInTallTopR01 UtlBayWallMidPT01R UtlBayCorInMidRRPR01R UtlBayCorInTop01 UtlBayWallMidR01 UtlBayCorInMidRRPT01L UtlBayCorInTopLR01 UtlBayWallMidRT01 UtlBayCorInMidRRPT01R UtlBayCorOutBot01 UtlBayWallMidRTL01 UtlBayCorInMidRRRT01L UtlBayCorOutEdge01 UtlBayWallMidRTR01 UtlBayCorInMidRRRT01LR01 UtlBayCorOutEdgeL01 UtlBayWallMidTR01 UtlBayCorInMidRRRT01R UtlBayCorOutEdgeL02 UtlBayWallTallBot01 UtlBayCorOutEdgeR01 UtlBayWallTallCorInBot01 UtlBayCorOutEdgeR02 UtlBayWallTallCorInExSmL01 UtlBayCorOutEdgeSm01 UtlBayWallTallCorInExSmR01 UtlBayCorOutMid01 UtlBayWallTallCorInMid01 UtlBayCorOutPR01 UtlBayWallTallCorInTop01 UtlBayCorOutPT01 UtlBayWallTallCorOutBot01 UtlBayCorOutTop01 UtlBayWallTallCorOutMid01 UtlBayGirder3wayReg01 UtlBayWallTallCorOutTop01 UtlBayGirder3wayReg02 UtlBayWallTallExSm01 UtlBayGirder3wayRegFree01 UtlBayWallTallMid01 UtlBayGirder3wayRegFree02 UtlBayWallTallMid02 UtlBayGirder4wayReg01 UtlBayWallTallMid03 UtlBayGirder4wayReg02 UtlBayWallTallMid04 UtlBayGirder4wayRegFree01 UtlBayWallTallMid05 UtlBayGirder4wayRegFree02 UtlBayWallTallTop01 UtlBayGirderBaseFreeWall01 UtlBayWallTop01 UtlBayGirderBaseFreeWall02 UtlBayGirderBaseReg01 UtlBayGirderBaseReg02 UtlBayGirderBaseSht01 UtlBayGirderBaseSht02
  • 88. Common Naming Conventions Hallways Rooms Platform 1Way01 Corner01 Mid01 2Way01 Mid01 Corner01 3Way01 Wall01 ICorner01 4Way01 WallDoor01 DeadEnd01 ICorner01 1WayDoorL01 CornerDoorL01 1WayDoorR01 CornerDoorR01 1WayDoorB01 CornerDoorB01 DeadEndDoor01
  • 89. Pivot Placement ● Consider designer workflow & usage of the kit ● Pivots at bottom-center are most common ● Exceptions exist, such as: ● Platform Kit (bottom of platform) ● Pipe Kit (hinge pivot) ● Alcove (edge of alcove) Pivot
  • 91. Stress Testing Kits ● Don’t test in ideal conditions – this proves nothing ● Consider all possible use cases, likely and otherwise ● Then decide which to support ● Have answers for later
  • 92. Common Problems: Loopback Issues • Double Kit on itself • Look for Gaps • Avoid Patch Pieces • Find Footprint Issues
  • 93. Common Problems: Loopback Issues Bad! Good!
  • 94. Common Problems: Unable to Stack • Uses full Vertical Footprint • Floor/Ceiling Co-Planar
  • 95. Common Problems: Unable to Stack • Leave A Gap • Space for holes, gaps, partitions, triggers
  • 96. Common Problems: The “Hall Room” Hall “3-way” Pieces Hall Corner Pieces Unintended Pillars!
  • 97. Common Problems – The Hall Room ● Somebody tries it eventually ● Like, every time. ● Sometimes it’s ugly ● Decide – support it or no?
  • 98. Stress Testing Is Teamwork
  • 100. Where Do Kits Come From? ●Concept ● Visual Theme, Gameplay Goals, Scope, Sub-Kits, etc ●Proof ● Build out one or a small number of prototype pieces ●Core Pieces ● “Graybox” versions of high-use pieces in all sub-kits ● Building Out ● Push for Functionally-Final, Begin Sharing w/Team
  • 101. Concept Proof Graybox Build Out Phase Phase Phase 4-8 weeks Additional Level Designers Concept Stress Test Educate Concept Proof Core Build Out
  • 102. Start Making It Real Art ●Art worries about this part - Design can start building ●Doesn't impact the flow/design of the level. ●Can be swapped out seamlessly. ●One “Visually Final” piece before building whole kit.
  • 104. Avoid Hero Pieces Which Matters more?
  • 107. “Ongoing Polish” ●Review Usage Cases in Real Levels ●Respond to bugs, usability, special requests ●Continual visual refinement & development
  • 108. Establishing The Kit Build Levels 2-5 Months Build Levels Build Levels Concept Stress Test Educate Build Levels Concept Proof Core Build Out Polish
  • 109. Establish Building Real Content With Kit 1 2 3 4 Ongoing Polish
  • 110. Going Off the Grid: Advanced Kit Building
  • 111. What You Can Do So Far
  • 113.
  • 114. Learn the Rules, Break the Rules ●With Fallout3, we begin bending our own rules ●Always keeping in mind the ideas behind them ● Choose and acknowledge logic quirks. ● “This one tiles vertically.” ● “These floors are placed independently.” ● “The halls in this one are curved.”
  • 115. Rule-Bending: Always Remember the Cost ●Art/Design compromises ●Art –Looks better, takes longer ●LD – Harder to work with ●Worth it? Case by case
  • 116. Snap-to-Reference ●Key technology ●Select any object, editor treats as origin
  • 117. World Grid New Snap Reference
  • 120. Pivot and Flange ●Used for the Ratway in Skyrim ●Pivot actsas a hinge ●Allows for organic flow
  • 121. Pivot and Flange - Organic Flow
  • 122. Pivot and Flange - Archway
  • 123. Pivot and Flange - Downsides ●LD build process is more linear ●Introduces non-obvious errors ● Be aware and communicate this to LDs ●Bad for Highly Specific Architecture
  • 126. Shell-Based Building: Skyrim Cave “Rooms”
  • 127. Shell-Based Building: Skyrim Cave “Rooms” ●Organic Space + Orthogonal Kit = Problem ●Skyrim Caves used large “shells” ●Inset with tiling wall sub-kits ●Adds very few pieces
  • 128.
  • 129.
  • 130.
  • 131.
  • 132. Directionally Restricted Kits ●Snap together only in certain rotations ●Some Examples: ● Unique in every direction ● “Front/Side” pieces ● Asymmetrical halls
  • 134. Asymmetrical Hall A B B A A B A B
  • 136. Platform Kits ● Add “Planes of Play” ● Low Piece Count ● Bite-sized “LD art” ● Works with all sub-kits.
  • 137. Kit Mashups ● Remember: Encourage Mix-n-Matching Kits ● “Glue Kits” – small kits made for blending ● Multiplier on visual variety options ● Requires compromise on art & design
  • 138.
  • 139.
  • 141.
  • 143.
  • 144. Games Are Made By People
  • 145. Thanks For Listening! joel@joelburgess.com lplasma@gmail.com Additional Reading: ● Modular Level and Component Design -Lee Perry http://udn.epicgames.com/Three/rsrc/Three/ModularLevelDesign/ModularLevelDesign.pdf ● www.CreationKit.com