THE ARCHITECT OF VIDEO GAMES
Who are the Level designers, behind the scenes anonymous with somewhat unclear functions? How do they work on a day-to-day basis? What are the skills of those who can be described without exaggeration as the architects of the game, since they build the levels, guide the players, and impose their rhythm on the game experience?
"This is the moment when we put the Lego pieces together," says Michel Ancel, game designer and creator of the famous Rayman series.
Building on the gameplay (concept and rules of the game) developed by the Game Designer (or screenwriter of the game), the Level designer imagines and develops the player's path, conceiving all the different levels in which the player will be able to evolve.
He will therefore design the game environment, based on the mechanisms already established by the creative team, and stage them. He works within a team under the responsibility of the game designer.
THE LEVEL DESIGNER'S MISSIONS
Analyzing the specifications and proposing solutions according to their feasibility;
anticipating the player's behaviors;
designing and assembling game situations on paper;
checking the game designer and the project manager's suggestions;
testing and regulating the levels to ensure a good gameplay (intuitive interface, ease of handling or possible learning with an interesting margin of progression, etc.),
are his / her missions.
The purpose is to guarantee a strong gaming experience by keeping the player at the heart of the game's universe.
His / her role is very important in the early stages of the development of a video game project, as he / she is the one defining and harmonizing the rhythm of the game as well as the difficulty and diversity of each level.
CREATIVE BY ESSENCE, TECHNICAL BY TRAINING
In order to become a level designer, and to meet the requirements of this profession, it is necessary above all to be creative and have an artistic sensibility.
The level designer is also rigorous and organized, some qualities that greatly simplify his work with the different members of his team.
HAVE A STRONG TECHNICAL BACKGROUND
On the technical side, he / she must have good drawing skills, since he / she starts by working on paper.
He / she also masters the several professional software, as well as level editing (Unreal, Renderware studio...) and 2D-3D modeling tools (Studio max, Flash...). Finally, as in all positions in the video game industry, it is recommended to have a good level of English and technical jargon.
CAREER AND OPPORTUNITIES
There are several ways to become a level designer. After graduating from high school (or equivalent), you can apply for a training as a game designer at ETPA. The course includes three years of study with the completion of a video game during the last semester.
Once they graduate, these video game technicians can pursue their career:
- in a creation studio,
- in the audiovisual industry,
- within a video game publishing company,
- or as a freelancer.
Later, he / she can move towards a career as a Game Designer and, after several years of experience, become a project manager or a creative director.
THE LEVEL DESIGNER'S SALARY
His / her salary depends on his / her skills and the company he / she works for. The average salary for a beginner in France is between 1,300 and 1,500€ gross per month. It should be noted that depending on his / her status (employee, occasional worker, freelancer...) the salary can vary greatly.
Many French level designers choose to pursue careers in other countries, which offer more opportunities, such as the United States, Canada or Japan.