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Level Design for Games: Creating Compelling Game Experiences [Paperback]

Phil Co
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
List Price: CDN$ 57.99
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Book Description

Feb. 8 2006 New Riders Games
At the heart of any great computer game are expertly designed levels: the locales and stages that define gameplay. And at the core of any strong game development team are the level designers: the people who create the spaces and environments that you move through while playing the game. And because level design doesn’t require a fine arts or programming degree, it’s one of the best avenues into a career in game development. Level Design for Games: Creating Compelling Game Experiences is the definitive guide to level design, both for aspiring game developers, and for industry pros looking for practical, best-practice tips and advice.

With over ten years of experience with some of the industry’s top developers, Phil Co starts the reader at the very beginning of the
game development process, explaining the level designer’s role in the all-important preproduction phase. Co then moves into the
production phase, using a fictional level to demonstrate how to create and refine your level.

Packed with screenshots, diagrams, and real-world examples, this book gives you all the tools you need to build your own professional-grade
level, including level narratives, descriptions, diagrams, and templates. Chapter assignments help you practice what you’ve learned, and the demo of Epic’s UnrealEngine2 Editor (UnrealEd), included on the companion CD-ROM, gives you hands-on experience
with an industry-standard tool.

Phil Co has a degree in architecture from the University of Virginia but opted instead for a career in video games. Starting out as a tester at SEGA, he’s been a level designer since 1996 for some of the best-regarded game developers in the industry, including Cyclone Studios, Blizzard, and Valve Software, makers of the hugely popular “Half-Life” series. Phil lives in Seattle with his wife and son.

“Anyone interested in a level design career should read this book. Phil does an excellent job covering all
the aspects of level design across several game genres.”
—Rob Pardo, Vice President of Game Design,
Blizzard Entertainment

“An indispensable guide to the theory, process, and practice of level design.”
—Robin Walker, Designer, Valve Software

“This book contains a wealth of valuable information for anyone
interested in Level Design. It is one of the few books I would
recommend to my gaming students.”
—Todd Robinson, Game Design Instructor,
Academy of Art University, San Francisco

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From the Back Cover

Whether you’re a game developer or simply an avid player, you know that at the heart of any great computer game are expertly designed levels—the locales, stages, and missions that define game play and action. This easy, accessible guide shows you how to create them. By delivering the instruction in gaming terms—providing simple, concrete goals and then letting you explore the possibilities—author and master game developer Phil Co makes level creation easy. Manageable assignments with step-by-step instructions, loads of graphics, and sample games with stories and features let you learn as you build—until by the end of the book you’ve created a detailed final level. Whether you’re a student pursuing a career in game development, a game developer seeking a comprehensive reference, or simply an avid player eager to start creating your own levels using the editors that come with many of today’s games, you’ll find everything you need to create every element of a level—from geometry to textures, maps, export features, and objects.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good job! Feb. 5 2012
The book was delivered in the time allocated. It's in a perfect shape (new). Very happy with the service and glad to have it now!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book! May 20 2006
By Luke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book. It is straightforward and delivers very useful information. This book is devoid of the fluff, generalizations and pseudo-intellectual chatter so many books in the game development/design genre contain. This author speaks from experience, which is evident from his bio, but more so from the flow and genuine voice of his writing. I am particularly cynically and harsh on books in this genre so I didn't write this review lightly.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Practical take on level design Aug. 23 2008
By Ole Herbjørnsen - Published on Amazon.com
The book is practical and easy to read. It is clear that this book is written by somebody with experience from the games industry. Inside the book you will find several useful level diagrams and design examples to help you improve the way you work with, think about and document your level designs. The book is very focused which means that even though it is relatively short, it probably has more (relevant) content than other books which mix in a lot of other subjects (at the expense of level design). If you are a games design student you should read this book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect, but pretty much the best around April 22 2009
By C. Proctor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As an experienced game developer, I found "Level Design for Games" to be a refreshing change, focusing as it does on real world level documentation, from brainstorming, to paper maps, to prototyping and final development. The processes provided are very similar to what you find in professional game development, with an eye to asset reuse and testing designs as early on as possible.

It's not perfect however, the text has a few inaccuracies, and some of the content has dated. The last third of the book is very focused on Unreal, so skip it if you're using another engine, but everything else is applicable to level design in general.

Regardless, I believe there to be no better introduction to level design, go buy it if you're interested in making level design your career, or if you're going to be involved in the level design process in any way (system designers, environment artists and producers take note).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A basic overview on game production and an Unreal Engine tutorial Dec 13 2012
By joshua wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was expecting a high level of thinking for puzzles and level designs from this book. Instead it took the reader through game production as a whole to highlight where level design fit in to all of it, touching on common sense level design.He also emphasizes the basics of the artist process, purpose in design, reference material, and the general to specific strategy. The last half of the book Co takes readers through the actual building of levels in the unreal engine, in essence writing an unreal engine tutorial of sorts. Making the books actually topic - A basic overview on game production and an Unreal Engine tutorial. Level design is an important field of study for games and I wished this book could have focused on that. I would recommend this book to beginners of game production that will be using the unreal engine, but for everyone else seeking the topic, which is the title of this book, look else where.
5.0 out of 5 stars Page for Page the best content for your dollar Aug. 3 2008
By J. Morrissey - Published on Amazon.com
Page for page, this book is likely one of the most useful game design books on the market. Phil Co boils all the essentials needed to understand level design into this tightly written text. I wish others would follow his lead and give developers more useful information rather than a long winded history of the game industry.

Time and time again I point to this book as the most useful, manageable, and clearly written text on the subject of level design.

It's perfect for teens as well as pros who want to brush up on their level design.
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