Welcome to Next Level Design Nov 24, 2018 1:42:05 GMT CertifiedChamp, Slaphead, and 1 more like this
Post by a Chunk on Nov 24, 2018 1:42:05 GMT
Read article on our new site: www.nextleveldesign.org/index.php?/featured-content/news/welcome-to-next-level-design-r3/
Hello, and welcome to the site!
With the advent of Next Level Design, it seems appropriate to provide a bit of an introduction.
I'm going to talk about why Next Level Design came into existence. But before I get to that, I need to offer some background information about myself. My name is Jeff. My online moniker is a Chunk, because I always liked the movie The Goonies, and I had a laugh at the thought of people seeing "you were killed by a chunk" when I killed them. Most people just refer to me as Chunk.
I'm no longer young (just turned 44), but still a kid at heart. I grew up on console gaming, logging endless hours on Atari, Intellivision, Nintendo Entertainment System, and many others. My love of First Person Shooters was born with the release of Goldeneye. From there, I became increasingly obsessed with the genre. A natural part of this obsession, for me, was a great curiosity about why I loved some maps, and hated others. I began to study them, trying to understand the attributes that made a great map. My first foray into actually building a map took place within the game Timesplitters. I had no idea at all what I was doing. I made sure I used every color available, with no rhyme or reason, and made a secret hiding spot that only I knew about.
When Halo: Combat Evolved was released as a launch title for the new Microsoft Console called the XBOX, it was a no-brainer for me to get it. I was hooked instantly. If I was obsessed with First Person Shooters prior to this, afterward it became all-consuming. From 2001 through 2007 I played virtually nothing but Halo. During this time, I continued in my search to understand level design, but didn't apply what I was learning, because I spent so much of my time playing that there was none left for designing.
Like nearly every franchise, Halo has evolved over time. It's evolved into something that I don't particularly enjoy playing anymore. Yet, somehow my love for the game rages on. When Halo: Reach released in 2010, I played it extensively for about 6 months, and then realized I wasn't having much fun. At this point, I turned to Forge, Halo's level design tool. This is when my level design education really began. Nearly all of my 'video game time' from that point forward has been spent designing levels.
I began devouring everything I could find on level design, and info at that time was relatively scarce. I also became involved in the Forge community, participating on forums, sharing my thoughts, and learning from others. I became part of the staff at Forgehub, which to this day is still the primary home of the Forge community, spending several years as an Admin. I eventually stepped away from my position on staff as my life priorities changed, but have remained an active member, and continue to have great interest in level design.
Now that I've shared who I am and where I've come from, I want to talk a bit about why Next Level Design exists, and what the vision for it is.
During my years of learning about level design, one of the things that bothered me most was the lack of information from people that were educated on the subject. I wanted to learn, but struggled to find sources that could educate me. Frustrated at what I saw as a lack of level design content, I set out to share what I had learned, hoping to be of assistance to those who were new to it. I offered detailed feedback on maps regularly, and generally just tried to be helpful. As I realized that most designers didn't fully understand even basic concepts, I set out to write a series of guides on the fundamentals. I eventually released a series of articles called Forge Fundamentals, covering the basics of Preplanning, Spawning, Cover, Flow, Weapons, and Aesthetics, along with a final article about how to put it all together in a functioning package. As I was writing and then releasing these articles, I realized that they were simultaneously important and insignificant. They were useful in helping very new designers, or those that simply hadn't thought about the art of level design in much depth, but mostly useless in helping designers get to the next level, beyond a beginners stage.
I felt that what was needed was a more holistic approach. The fundamentals are important, but advanced material is equally important. I also began to recognized the value of learning from people with different perspectives. I began reading and watching videos of levels built in other games. This alone helped to evolve my thinking. It opened my mind to new ideas about design, which ranged from how to build unique structures to how to approach the developmental process of designing a level. As I kept going back to the small community I was part of, I became more and more cognizant of just how isolated we were. We were in an echo chamber, and I felt like some outside influence could help us make a quantum leap forward.
Next Level Design is meant to be a vehicle which sends level designers leaping forward to advanced levels of ability and understanding. It's meant to be a home for the entire level design community, a place where we can share and learn from each others experience and point of view. It's my intent to regularly post content which discusses various aspects of level design. I plan to cover it in more breadth and depth than has been done before by anyone anywhere. We'll cover the fundamentals. We'll cover the advanced. We'll cover everything in between. There will be tutorials to help designers learn to utilize new tools. Next Level Design will be a place where designers come to share their work, and receive feedback that helps them get better. Collectively, we'll push each other forward.
We'll feature articles from anyone who offers valuable information, whether it be from Next Level Design members, or professionals in the industry. We'll feature interesting maps from anywhere on the World Wide Web. We'll listen to your feedback. Wherever there's a gap of knowledge recognized, we will try to fill it.
Distilled down to it's most basic purpose, Next Level Design is here to facilitate every designers growth to the next level. We look forward to learning and growing together with you.
Welcome to Next Level Design!