level design

DISCLAIMER: I’m trying my best

this is a problem every time I make a game, I’m able to whip up mechanic ideas and program them in within an hour long session… but when I need to create levels that use these mechanics, or any level… that’s where the trouble arises.

the reason is obvious: when programming in mechanics, I have a clear set goal to reach. It doesn’t matter if I change the goal while messing around with parameters, I always have the general idea of what the mechanic should look like, and I iterate until I get to that point.

level design in contrast, often begins with the goal “make a good level”. It doesn’t specify the type of level, what the level is made up of, why the level exists, or how the player should feel about the level… nope, just make a good level. I need a better starting point.

maybe you can see where I’m going with this. I want to put a clear goal, or at least anything clearer than that “goal”, in my level design. here’s what I’m gonna be trying and maybe it works idk

list list list list list list list

  1. I got a notebook of some sort(anything you can write on can suffice, physical or digital, it doesn’t matter). I find that designing levels is signifigantly faster when you can just sketch it out, and it makes the process of programming the level into the game much easier.

  2. I figured out a clearer goal! this will heavily depend on the game you making

for a simple example: in a platformer, you may have level mechanics, like a trampoline or a moving platform. take all of your level mechanics, and for your level, initially limit yourself down to maybe 2(especially if you are introducing the mechanic for the first time). experiment with them, see what you can do with them, then use any novel interactions to your advantage in the level. you can incorporate more mechanics later in the level, but we need that initial inspiration to make the level. now this level exists to show how these mechanics can work with each other, offering new insights for the player to consider for the rest of the game.

my current project is an arcade bullet hell, and so the only specific level mechanics are bullets… but they can move around the screen in infinitely complex ways. The main thing I’m doing to help with level design is to out the general tone and asthetic of the stage first so I can write music for it before working on the level gameplay. I’d normally disagree with that, I’d prefer writing music after the stage so that the music matches the gameplay. in this case, however, music first has a few advantages, namely I can make my goal to make this section of the stage feel like this part of the song. I found that this makes the stage feel more “tactile”, if that makes sense.

something I’ll want to do soon is just draw out several “atomic” bullet patterns to reuse everywhere, so that I can replicate the platformer example.

  1. work on the level based on that goal


in my current game, I actually ended up trying out 3 different styles of stage/music design.

for the first stage, I did it “traditionally” and slodged through the stage first before writing music for it. I then went through the stage again to time the various sections to the music. the stage itself ended up being very simple in design, which is good considering it’s the first stage, so I’m actually okay with it.

for the second stage, I tried making the stage and the music at the same time… it was almost self-sabotage lol. constantly switching between writing music and level design was frusterating and slow, and the result is a level that is quite thematically messy, and the song is more sectionally wacky than I’d like. I’ll need to go through and attempt to fix things.

for the third stage, I initially worked on the stage first, but got burnt out and so I wrote the music right after. Then I designed the level around the music, as I just said above, and I was able to do it much faster than the other stages.


idk lol. I’ll try to set up a clear goal instead of something vague, like… not goal that you can only imagine if you saw it. maybe. who knows. who knows! nobody! nobody knows anything.

have a nice day :3