After I have my basic ideas I usually engage in a few hours of pure research. This is where I collect ideas and begin to solidify my overall vision for the level design. I will certainly look at game screen shots and possibly even play a game for a bit, but that is not the only thing I will do. I may visit architectural sites, movie sites, or just about anything that can give me an idea. As I am surfing the web I keep Photoshop open and dump images into it that spark that creative nerve.
After collecting a ton of images I go back through them and get rid of ones that no longer interest me. I then create a document in Photoshop that is the size of a standard sheet of paper. On this paper I drop in similar images that flag my mind with ideas. I arrange these images on the page and pretty much fill it up. After the page or pages are complete, I print them out and post them near my computer. Now I am ready to get to work!
If you decide to take this approach, please keep a few things in mind. While these images are there to help you think through the design of your level they are not to be copied from. In other words, resist the temptation to simply copy what you see from the images you collected. You want to create your own work, not mimic someone else’s.
Well, now that we have our basic idea and some images to help us along, let’s move on to actually designing the level!
Return to Part 2.2 - Deciding the Genre
Go to Part 3 - Snap, Crackle and Pop