I stopped playing games for a long time...
This happened naturally after I started working on level design and game environment art.
It became about wanting to create than wanting to play.
I'd rather work on my own custom level and model my own props. I'd rather spend time focusing on improving every aspect of production from an idea to block-in to gameplay to modeling and texturing.
I Realized Something Important
But, i began to realize something...
I gave up the one thing that inspired me to get into level design and game environment art. I was no longer opening up myself to new gaming experiences.
I had to start playing games again.
I started off with just 15 minutes at a time. Then I increased it to 30-60 minutes.
At first it was difficult to do. I felt guilty for playing when I should be working.
But then I had another realization.
New Way to Play
I no longer wanted to play for the sake of playing. I became more interested in playing to learn what I saw in the game, the level design decisions that were being made.
I'd catch myself wandering off and staring at foliage blends, prop placement, trying to analyze the way scripted events were set up and level design gameplay mechanics implemented.
Here is playing "Alan Wake", staring at foliage and props:
Admiring the pipe work in "Mirror's Edge":
I began to enjoy playing again and seeing the design process revealed right in front of my eyes.
New sense of purpose developed.
I Started To Want To Play Again
I began to want to play games again.
Now, every time I sit down for a new gameplay sessions, I have a note pad by my side. I get to play the game, enjoy it and at the same time walk away better from it.
My latest play session included "Alan Wake". I took 12 pages worth of notes and over 1,152 screenshots. Keep an eye out for an extensive tutorial on Alan Wake level design soon.
As I play and I look for patterns. I look for ways, ideas and pathways on how to improve and what I can learn.
When you play games here is what you should be asking until it becomes automatic:
Whether you are right or wrong about the answers doesn't matter. The important part is asking questions, trying to problem solve and reverse engineer your way through it.
Where I used to spend hundreds of hours practicing my headshot skill in Counter-Strike and learning every aspect of a map to dominate online, I now spend time playing to learn level design and game environment art. It was my natural evolution.
I reconnected wanting to play games again with a different goal that I haven't experienced before.
There is a lot you can learn every time you sit down to play games. Something I didn't do before because I played games for fun. Now it is still fun but also more purposeful.
I am now looking forward to going through my Steam game queue. I just finished "Mirror's Edge" and almost done with "Alan Wake" and "Alan Wake's American Nightmare". Next on my list are "Dishonored" or "Wolfenstein: The New Order".
You will receive a lot of ideas from playing games and taking notes. Preproduction Blueprint will guide you to making those ideas into level design and game environment art projects.
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