Role: Lead Level Designer
Employer: Pineapple Studios
- Created Level Layouts using GIMP. This formed initial level design ideas for how the level would appear, what obstacles the player had to avoid and where and when the player would have to fight an enemy.
- Created Level Blockouts using Unity using the Level Layout and the Level Design Document written by the Lead Level Designer, who had the role before me, as a reference. This allowed me to create my level designs in a game engine using placeholder primitive objects to represent enemies, hazards, rewards, etc. that had yet to be implemented into the project.
- Tested Levels and making adjustments to Level Designs to find the fun in each and every level using Unity. This process was also an opportunity to perform Quality Assurance tasks such as finding and reporting bugs to the design and programming teams and working collaboratively to find solutions to fix the issues in question.
- Adjusting and Iterating the Design Documentation for Gameplay Elements, Mechanics and Level Designs alongside other members of the Level Design team.
- Polishing Levels designed by myself and other team members by tweaking gameplay elements to make the game fun to play and regularly playtesting the levels with other team members across multiple disciplines such as Programming, QA and Art.
- Ran weekly meetings with the Level Design team to review weekly activities, discussing acomplishments from each week, suggesting improvments and planning work for the next sprint.
- Tracking and assigning balanced workloads throughout the Level Design team using a Kanban system in Trello
- Representing the interests of the Level Design team in weekly playtesting meetings with Leads from other departments such as Programming, QA, Audio and Art.
- Built Single Player Levels using pre-built environment assets created by the 2D Art team to quickly create art-complete, polished levels
- Worked closely with the Art teams to build and implement Art Passes for the each and every level in the game
Play Kingdom Jump Here!
(NOTE: Kingdom Jump is currently playable on Android devices in the UK and the Phillipines)
Summary of Job Role
Employment Type: Full-Time Freelance Contract (June 2020 – Present)
On a weekly basis, I ran regular meetings with the Level Design team to report on progress, seeing what tasks were completed, discussing any work that was needed to be done and made plans alongside the team to work out what was needed to be done each and every sprint and assigned tasks to appropriate team members in Trello which uses a Kanban system. I would also take part in weekly meetings with Leads from other departments such as Art, Programming, Audio and Quality Assurance in addition to the Producer, Project Manager and Company Owner and report anything important from these meetings to the Level Design team so my team is made aware of what’s going on and the work we should be doing as a team.
After becoming the Lead Level Designer, I improved the Level Design team’s communication by running weekly calls with the team, involving other members of the Level Design team in conversations with other departments such as weekly playtesting meetings, discussions regarding art assets for levels, level functionality and reporting bugs to the QA team. I also managed the team’s workflow to be swift and avoiding crunch situations by giving each team member a small but significant workload to focus on and keep iterating on over time, only changing individual workloads when it was required to, for instance, placing more talented members of the team onto higher priority tasks to meet tighter deadlines such as the minimum viable product completion date. Furthermore, I created and fostered a much more friendly and social environment by encouraging social conversation while working to provide a more positive working environment.
Contribution to Project
I was involved in assisting Game Design with creating a list of powerups to be included in the game, designed the tutorial levels in the Level Design Document and worked with the team to whitebox and test the designs in Unity, created mockups for 25+ levels using GIMP, made the whitebox for about 10 out of 25 levels that will be playable when the game launches, took a handful of levels from a whitebox to a final level which was polished and dressed up with art assets made by the Art team and maintained the GitHub repository for the Level Design team’s branch.
This was the process I followed when designing and developing a level: (Unfortunately, I cannot show work-in-progress images due to only being allowed to show work that’s present in the game)
➤ Write up a summary of the level and the challenges that the player would have to overcome in the Level Design Document
➤ Create a mockup using GIMP
➤ Use the mockup to build the level whitebox in Unity
➤ All versions of the level whiteboxes by each member of the Level Design team
➤ Vote on the whitebox that was the most fun the play
➤ Making iterative changes to the chosen whitebox from a functionality point of view, such as adding patrol points for AI enemies, moving and scaling environmental hazards and implementing gameplay features passed to the Level Design team from the Programming team
➤ Implement appropriate envrionment assets into the level using a proprietary tool in Unity developed by one of the programmers in the company
➤ Evaluate the art pass with the Art Team and make any suggested changes based on their feedback
➤ Further iterative changes and final review of the level
Takeaways from working on this project
➤ Followed a level design process from initial concept all the way through to a completed and polished level
➤ Transformed a text-heavy, isolated working environment into a collaborative and sociable environment where productivity was high and workflow was rapid
➤ Created a positive and productive network of fellow developers while emplyed with Pineapple Studios
➤ Learned the value of rapid level prototyping using whitebox techniques in Unity
➤ Contributed a high number of level designs to the playable game
➤ Learned how to work with a wide range of other developers from different departments and with a wide range of personalities
➤ Learned about managing an Agile team and workflow using Trello