All about the design of gameplay spaces. These are usually called levels, sometimes stages.
Level Design Tutorials
- Level Design - Tutorials List from World Of Level Design by Alex Galuzin.
- Level Design in The Last of Us by François "Furyo" Roughol, a three-part series by a Senior Level Designer, analyzing Naughty Dog's level design in The Last of Us.
- Designing Action: Defining the Encounter in Games by Nathan Cheever, an excellent dissection of how successful game levels are designed and made. Recommended!
- Level design process by Benjamin Darling
- GDC 2011 Transcript: Motivating Players in Open World Games by Joel Burgess
- GDC 2008: Level Design Challenges in Crysis: The Long Journey to Open Worlds by Sten Huebler, Lead Designer, Crytek
- Applying the Elements of Design and Principles of Design in Level Art by Jeremy Price
- Gears Of War Multiplayer Map Theory by Lee Perry
- GDC 2010: “What Happened Here?” – Environmental Storytelling by Harvey Smith and Matthias Worch
- Architecture: Form, Space, and Order ($) by Francis D.K. Ching
- Level Design Help Files, a collection of help sites for level design themed files - from the MapCore forums
- How To Develop A Map That Works - from The Valve Developer Community
- Map Planning - from the Unreal Wiki
- Ben's Small Bible of Realistic Multiplayer Level Design (PDF which may be older) by Benjamin Bauer
- What Is Level Design? - by Sérgio Duarte
- Level Design: Concept, Theory, and Practice ($) - by Rudolf Kremers (free preview: Chapter 7 - Reward Systems)
- The Hows and Whys of Level Design ($) - by Sjoerd 'hourences' De Jong (reviewed here)
- Maintaining the suspension of disbelief... Polycount forum thread. Discussion about the importance of using imperfection to create believable worlds.
- Level Design Video Tutorials - from 3DBuzz. A ton of useful tutorials and design tips about creating levels.
Level Design Resources
- Level Design Reference Database, a searchable collection of game screenshots with assigned tags that describe the images’ content.
- World of Level Design.com, a website/blog about game environment art and game level design for first person shooters.
- Dave's Mapper, an automatic mapping tool by David Millar
- Unreal Engine 3 tutorials, game industry articles, level design/art/technical tutorials - by Sjoerd 'hourences' De Jong. A ton of tutorials and articles about designing levels with the Unreal Technology.
- LEVEL-DESIGN.org - by 'seir'. Information related to level art and design; for mappers, level designers, environment artists, and any kind of world designer.
- MapCore, a forum and community devoted to modding, level design, modeling, concept art, and programming.
Units and Scale
The units and scale you use is very important. Modular meshes should be built to snap to a unit-based grid, and physics calculations depend on certain scales. Fortunately, game editors usually have a scale setting you can use on import to convert from 3d modeler scale into proper game engine scale.
- Unreal Engine 4 - External Content Development Standards - units and scale for UE4. (1 unit = 1 cm)
- UDN: Unreal Units - what units and scale to use for scenes in Unreal Engine. (Gears of War: 2 units = 1 inch, Unreal Tournament: 1 unit = 2 cm)
- CryENGINE SDK: Measurement Reference - what units and scale to use for scenes in CryEngine. (Crysis: 1 unit = 1 meter)
- Unity: Import Settings for Meshes - what units and scale to use for scenes in Unity. (Unity physics: 1 unit = 1 meter)