SHE Level 3
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code M3I625714
Module Leader Karen Shanks
School School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment
Subject Applied Computer Games
  • B (January start)

Summary of Content

This module introduces students to theory and practice of level and puzzle design in video games. Students will learn how game level architecture influences player behaviour and will be able to structure their game content to achieve design goals. They will learn techniques games designers use to pace player progression and to introduce new mechanics on a level by level or puzzle by puzzle basis. The module covers common design patterns used in action games and puzzle games and emphasises the experience of the player as central to the quality of any game content.


This module will cover the following topics: -360? Puzzle Design -360? Puzzles Vs Games ? History of "Swap Adjacent" games ? Player Teaching Mechanisms ? Player Feedback ? Use of space (collapsing / negative / clarity) ? Boosters vs Repeatable Actions ? Communicating Item Differentiation -360? Puzzle Design Patterns -360? Pacing and Difficulty Curves ? Using Difficulty Curves to Encourage Engagement ? Generating Content for Puzzle Games ? Game Mechanic Variations and Combinations -360? Level Design Vs Architecture -360? Architectural Principles of Level Design ? Grey / Orange Boxing ? Level Design Goals and Hierarchies ? Spatial Design ? Coping with hardware limitations (e.g. line of sight / disk streaming) ? Gating Mechanisms ? Area Fencing techniques -360? Player Movement -360? Human Survival Instincts ? Use of Light and Colour to Guide Player ? Influencing Player Flow with Architecture -360? Visual Communication -360? Colour Theory in relation to Spaces and Environments ? 2D and 3D landmarking ? Navigational Aids ? Mental Maps -360? Single Player vs Multiplayer Considerations -360? Balancing levels ? Patterns in First Person Shooter Level Design -360? Creating an Immersive Experience -360? Immersion and Embodiment ? Use of Audio and Lighting to enhance emotion and tone of environment ? Narrative, thematic design ? Environmental storytelling -359? Procedural Generation & Creative Support for Level Design

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:1. Demonstrate a working knowledge of the tools and techniques used to create 2D and 3D levels for games2. Apply appropriate design patterns and techniques to create content appropriate for a wide variety of game types.3. Influence player behaviour through use of level architecture and presentation techniques.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The University 'Strategy for Learning' documentation has informed the learning and teaching strategy for this module. The module material will be introduced through lectures, while practical exercises, based on the lecture material, will be given to students for their laboratory sessions. Tutorials will be used to help explain and elaborate on both the lecture material and the laboratory exercises. Full use will be made of GCU Learn to provide Lecture based and related study materials, along with sample solutions of Tutorial and Laboratory exercises, thus encouraging the development of independent learning and allowing self-reflective feedback on student performance. Staff-based feedback on student performance for submitted work will be provided in line with the University feedback policy, with summative feedback and grades on the coursework assessment utilising GCU Learn. The additional interactive discussion features of GCU Learn will be utilised, as appropriate to the module, to stimulate independent and flexible student learning outwith scheduled class time.

Indicative Reading

-567 Books and articles: Environmental Storytelling in a New and Unexplored World (2013), Jethro Jongeneel, Masters Thesis An Architectural Approach to Level Design (2014) Christopher W. Totten, CRC Press Level Design: Processes and Experiences Paperback (2016) Christopher W. Totten Preproduction Blueprint: How to Plan Game Environments and Level Designs (2016) by Alex Galuzin Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design (2014) Scott Rogers, John Wiley & Sons Online sources: Level Design, David Johnston, Blog, Ben's Small Bible of Realistic Multiplayer Level Design (2004), Benjamin Bauer, Crytek Studios The Hows and Whys of Level Design (2008), Sjoerd De Jong

Transferrable Skills

By the end of this module students will have gained competence in the following key areas: -360? D1 Specialist knowledge and application ? D2 Critical thinking and problem solving ? D3 Critical analysis ? D4 Communication skills, written, oral and listening ? D6 Effective information retrieval and research skills ? D7 Computer literacy ? D8 Self confidence, self discipline & self reliance (independent working) ? D9 Awareness of strengths and weaknesses ? D10 Creativity, innovation & independent thinking ? D12 Appreciating and desiring the need for continuing professional development ? D13 Reliability, integrity, honesty and ethical awareness ? D15 Ability to prioritise tasks and time management ? D16 Interpersonal skills, team working and leadership ? D17 Presentation skills ? D18 Commercial awareness

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Assessment (FT) 18.00
Tutorials (FT) 12.00
Lectures (FT) 24.00
Independent Learning (FT) 122.00
Practicals (FT) 24.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 1 n/a 100.00 40% Level Design prototypes and report.