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LATEST SERIES: 3-Part Series on Single Player Level Design Pacing and Gameplay Beats - by Pete Ellis, a level designer at Guerrilla Cambridge game studios

Recent Tutorials/Posts

Single Player Level Design Pacing and Gameplay Beats - Part 3/3

Category: Level Design
August 24, 2015

"Uncharted 2" ©Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC; Dev: NaughtyDog Inc

The following tutorial is the third and final part of a 3-part tutorial series for single player level design. It is focused on pacing, gameplay beats and how to structure your level design narrative storytelling to a cohesive gameplay experience. The series was written and contributed to World of Level Design by Pete Ellis, a level designer at Guerrilla Cambridge game studios.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • How to combine gameplay beats, pacing, level difficulty and storytelling narrative into a cohesive single-player level design experience
  • One thing that will help you craft level design combat gameplay sections within the narrative of the game
  • Level design pacing examples from Naugty Dog's Uncharted 2: Chapter 6 - Desperate Times
  • How to change things up so every level doesn't follow the same pacing pattern
  • What to do with middle sections of your levels to keep the player engaged and interested
  • How to use contrast to improve gameplay pacing
  • Creating "calm before the storm" moments
  • Setting up main battle sequences
  • How to break up boss battle sequences into multiple parts
  • Creating intensity through dramatic sequence set pieces rather than combat
  • Establishing and rewarding a boss battles

Continue Reading...

Single Player Level Design Pacing and Gameplay Beats - Part 2/3

Category: Level Design
August 20, 2015

The following tutorial is the second of a 3-part tutorial series for single player level design. It is focused on pacing, gameplay beats and how to structure your level design narrative storytelling to a cohesive gameplay experience. The series was written and contributed to World of Level Design by Pete Ellis, a level designer at Guerrilla Cambridge game studios.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • What is pacing and how to use it in your single player level designs
  • How to avoid player boredom in your levels
  • How different gameplay mechanics can be used to vary level pacing
  • How to increase gameplay difficulty as the player progresses through the game
  • How to increase AI player encounters as you raise the intensity and difficulty of gameplay
  • Difference of pacing between film vs games and how to use that to your advantage (stealth vs combat)

Continue Reading...

Single Player Level Design Pacing and Gameplay Beats - Part 1/3

Category: Level Design
August 18, 2015

The following tutorial is the first of a 3-part tutorial series for single player level design. It is focused on pacing, gameplay beats and how to structure your level design narrative storytelling to a cohesive gameplay experience. The series was written and contributed to World of Level Design by Pete Ellis, a level designer at Guerrilla Cambridge game studios.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • What are gameplay beats and how to use them for level design storytelling
  • How to plan out your single-player level design story structure
  • How pacing and gameplay beats were used for single-player campaign in Killzone: Mercenary
  • How to use the three-act narrative structure from film in your level designs
  • How to pace your level designs
  • Ways to increase tension and intensity of your level
  • How to introduce boss fights and new gameplay mechanics
  • What are "hard-gate" sections
  • How to use gameplay beats to set up streaming options for optimizing frame rate and memory usage

Continue Reading...

UE4/MayaLT: Set Up Grid in Maya to Match Unreal Engine 4

Category: Unreal Engine 4, 3D Modeling: Maya LT
July 07, 2015

Common issue with creating custom Static Meshes for Unreal Engine 4 or any other game engine is to have the exact same scale and dimensions translate from your 3d modeling application to Unreal Engine 4.

In this tutorial you will learn what to do to set up the grid in Maya/Maya LT to match the grid inside Unreal Engine 4 editor.

Once you do, anything you create inside Maya, will translate directly in scale and proportion to Unreal Engine 4. Everything will stay on the grid and to the same size as you modeled it inside Maya.

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UE4: How to Convert/Update Projects to a New Unreal Engine Version

Category: Unreal Engine 4
June 23, 2015

With every new Unreal Engine 4 version update, we get new features, improvements and fixes.

For a few of my projects I decided it is time to update to the latest UE4 engine version.

In this tutorial you will learn how to convert/update an older project that was created in the previous version of UE4 to the latest version of UE4.

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UE4: How to Rename Your Project

Category: Unreal Engine 4
June 04, 2015

In this tutorial you will learn how to rename projects to a different name than what you currently have.

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UE4: How to Change/Move Project Folder to New Location Directory

Category: Unreal Engine 4
June 02, 2015

In this tutorial you will learn how to move Unreal Engine project from one location on your computer to another and have Epic Game launcher recognize and find that project.

Here are quick steps on how to do so.

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UE4: Create Projects From File Examples, Samples & Marketplace Content

Category: Unreal Engine 4
May 29, 2015

Unreal Engine 4 provides educational and example content for you to reverse engineer. There are Engine Feature Samples, Gameplay Concept Examples, Example Game Projects and Marketplace Content.

From the Epic Games Launcher, there are a lot of example files you can access and download for free. But once you download, what do you do with them?

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UE4: How to Create, Start and Open Your First New Project

Category: Unreal Engine 4
May 28, 2015

How do you open/launch Unreal Engine 4 editor?

Once you have Unreal Engine 4 downloaded and installed, you need to create a new project or open an existing project in order to launch Unreal Engine 4 world/level editor. In this tutorial you will learn how to do just that.

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UE4: How to Download and Install Unreal Engine 4

Category: Unreal Engine 4
May 26, 2015

In this tutorial you will learn how to download and install Unreal Engine 4 on your computer.

The process if fairly simple, but it does require few additional steps before you can use Unreal Engine world/level editor.

Follow these 6 simple steps to download and install Unreal Engine 4.

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Everything is $25 - All Premium Tutorial Guides are On Sale (Updated)

Category: News/Updates/Resources
April 23, 2015 (Updated: April 27, 2015)

UPDATE: The $25 sale is now over.

It has been a while since I ran a website sale for all premium tutorial guides.

I want everyone to experience and learn from these guides, so for next 5 days I am offering everything in the store/product section for just a fraction of the original price.

Starting today, everything in the store/product section of World of Level Design is only $25.

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UDK: Create Landscape Heightmaps w/Photoshop Clouds Filter

Category: UDK
February 19, 2015

In this tutorial I have a great technique/workflow for you - how to generate heightmaps for UDK very quickly. The results are usually very realistic and if you follow these steps, you can get a good landscape going in just a few minutes.

You will need UDK and Photoshop.

Lets break each of the process step-by-step...

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UDK: 2 Quick Ways to Modify and Form Landscapes

Category: UDK
February 17, 2015

In this tutorial you will learn how to generate and modify UDK Landscape heightmap very quickly to generate a random pattern of hills, mountains, peaks and valleys. It will give you a good starting base for a landscape.

These two tools in UDK are Landscape Noise Tool and Erosion Tool.

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UE4: Use This Skeletal Mesh Reference to Judge Scale and Proportion

Category: Unreal Engine 4
January 29, 2015

The first thing you should do when creating a game environment is place a character reference. This will help to create your level to proper scale and proportion. The character scale reference must have the same dimensions as the player in-game.

For this you could use a BSP Box, Static Mesh Box, Primitive Shape Human Mesh or Character/Skeletal Mesh.

The best option is to use a character/skeletal mesh. In this tutorial I will show you two ways you can use Skeletal Mesh Reference that is included with Unreal Engine 4. Better yet, you will learn how to always have this scale reference with any project.

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UE4: Guide to Player Scale & World/Architecture Dimension

Category: Unreal Engine 4
January 27, 2015

When I begin a new project or learn a new game engine, the first things I figure out is scale and dimensions to use.

Deciding on a scale of player character and world geometry will help you to avoid major problems with proportion. Correct scale means that you know the basic dimensions for your architecture, your character and you use them as a guide to create your environment.

At the beginning of every level creation, you have to decide on base dimensions you will use for your project.

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Paperback Available - The Essential Guide to Getting Started w/UDK

Category: Books/Ebooks/Products, UDK
December 29, 2014

After many requests, "The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started with UDK" is now available in paperback.

You may have already downloaded this guide as a PDF version but many have asked me if there is a printed version they could purchase. I myself also prefer to have a physical copy of a book in addition to a digital one.

The book features full color 125+ pages and 150+ tips, techniques and insight on how to get started and use UDK. This is a great reference guide to have on your book shelf (actual book shelf).

Get your paperback/print copy from Amazon of

"The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started with UDK" here...

16 Recommended 3D Game Engines (Updated)

Category: Level Design, Game Environment Design
December 12, 2012 (Updated: April 27, 2015)

Updated (Dec. 19, 2014): This post has been updated with an additional game engine, updated links and new information that was outdated.

If you ever wanted to take your skill further into game development and game design, you will need to begin exploring the world of game engines. Game engines will provide you with the framework that game designers use to create games.

Not every game engine is available to download to try without paying for a license first. However there are many free game engines, open source engines and non-commercial versions that you could work with and download right now.

In this blog post I will provide you with options and links to few game engine, their features and download page so you can make a better decision on which one is right for you.

So, for those who are interested in going a bit further into game development, to explore new technologies to showcase your game environments in or just curious behind game engine technology; here are 15 suggestions of game engines you can get your hands on right now.

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UDK: Landscape Challenge - 30 Minutes or Less to Create/Form a Landscape

Category: UDK, Level Design/Game Environment Challenges
December 04, 2014

If you are working on any exterior environment, you will need to know how to form realistic landscapes.

With UDK Landscape Mode, you can create large open worlds that are miles long. For this you can use external software to generate your heightmaps such as World Machine, Terragen 2, HMES TerreSculptor, L3DT or Photoshop.

But before you can get there, you should know how to form your landscapes manually. For any landscape to look good you have to know how to use the tools. Even more important, you have to understand the workflow and use photo reference.

This is where this short UDK Landscape Challenge comes in.

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UDK: 22 Steps to Getting Started with UDK - Updated (in Less Than 30 Minutes)

Category: UDK
December 01, 2014

In this tutorial you will learn everything you need to know in order to get started with UDK.

I've narrowed down this process to the core essentials in 22 steps. Best part, this will only take you 30 minutes to complete.

This tutorial is the updated version of "UDK Basics Getting Started in 11 Steps Parts 1-3" that were released in 2010.

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