This tutorial is all about the process and techniques professional level designers use to improve their levels. Designing for games, whether it's level design or systems design, is always an iterative process where ideas are implemented, tested, refined, and finally brought to a finished state. This iteration and refinement is the final piece to the puzzle of professional level design and is one of the defining things about working as a professional designer. In this module, we'll focus on three specific areas. The first is the concept of polish. Polishing a level is the final stage of refinement and iteration. It is often overlooked by people outside the professional design community, but is an important step for creating consistent, high quality levels. Next, we'll discuss the process of playtesting, from preparing the test to processing and responding to feedback. Playtesting is incredibly important to the iterative design process, and knowing how to conduct proper playtests will help you get the critical information you need to make the best possible levels. Finally, we'll talk about optimizing your level. Optimization has less to do with creating quality gameplay,and instead focuses on improving the level's technical performance to meet goals and limitations all professional designers deal with on a daily basis.
Polishing a level really gives it those extra touches that make it stand out for players and show that you, as a designer, understand the importance of quality.
Playtesting should be the key driver of your revision process. No matter how long you've been designing levels or games, you never really know what is going to happen when the rubber meets the road, so to speak, and a design is put into a player's hands for the first time.
Learning from a Playtest
Playtests are all about how learning how players react to your level so you can take steps to improve the experience.
Optimizing Your Level
While polishing and playtesting have primarily focused on improving the gameplay of the level, optimization is about making it run well on the computer. Knowing how to optimize a level and what to look for when figuring out performance issues demonstrates that you understand the importance of creating levels that run smoothly and meet platform and project constraints.