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Level Designer wanted for interview


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#1 PadreMontoya   Members   -  Reputation: 115

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 10:37 AM

My sister-in-law works for the Tampa Bay History Center and is working with a team to create an exhibition on maps.  She'd like to interview a "video game map designer" to find out about what they do and ultimately put together a kid-friendly job description of a map designer.  

 

"It would be ideal for us to feature someone who designs city-building games, or something with a strong map/geography/terrain component."

 

If anyone is a professional level designer and would be willing to provide an interview for part of the exhibit, please contact me and I'll put you in touch with her.   She's under a short time-line, so please reply by Monday if possible.  A full transcript of the exhibit is below.

 

Thanks everyone!

- Anthony

 

 

In Sept. 2013, the Tampa Bay History Center will debut an exhibition of 150 historic Florida maps dating from the 16th century to present. In conjunction with the show, we are developing a Newspaper in Education (NIE) curriculum insert through the Tampa Bay Times (http://nieonline.com/tbtimes/supplements.cfm) which will be distributed to all 8th grade students and U.S. History teachers in our local school district. It will also be included as a special insert in the Sunday, Sept. 22 edition of the Times, reaching approx. 120,000 readers. This publication will use maps to tell the story of Florida’s exploration and development—and the evolution of mapping—over the past 500 years. We are looking for some modern-day “cartographers” who are mapping different realms—not only land and sea, but also space, the human body, and imagined worlds (in the form of computer gaming). We would like to feature these professionals to let students know about different and unexpected map-related career options.



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#2 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6301

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 10:09 PM

Hello PadreMontoya.

 

It appears you may be under a misconception (in part) of the job a level designer does.

While there is some actual landscaping involved for some, its generally theory that will later get processed by a team of artists.

The level designer's job generally encompasses most of the 'content' aspect of design, so its not impossible they'd be making cards, weapons, etc. Whatever object in your game answers to the basic rules and can be declined in various ways will generally fall into the hands of a level designer.

When they actually do make maps, they will mostly come with a list of objectives in mind, requirements so to speak that the map needs to contain.

 

For example, if this is a progression-based game, you might have a few gameplay ingredients you'd like to introduce in this level.

Say you're designing Mario's first level, you'll want to include holes very early, boxes and at least one enemy type, etc. They will have an idea of a sequence, tempo and flow, but not much aesthetics per se.

 

Also, generally, city-building games have little level design to them. Players are largely responsible for that. In this case, discussing with the actual game designer(s) might actually reveal more about what they've emphasized as a 'working city' and how 'good' placement is rewarded/explained to the player, but I doubt it would make a fun exposition.

strong map/geography/terrain component

I believe your best bet here would be first-person shooters. Because of the 3D nature of this gameplay, and the intricate physics of the genre, level designers have to spend a lot of time focusing on the relative placement (and distance) of every object. Their job probably feels a bit like being an architect :) You could probably get similar results from people working on 3D adventure/platforming games such as the Prince of Persia series.

 

As far as the exhibit is concerned though, you'll probably have to discuss this with the actual publishing companies of these games, because they are copyrighted material.

Even if the designer says he's done this in his 'spare time' a lot of laws can apply and prevent him from giving you the right to expose this work. I wouldn't normally bother too much since its a school thing, but since its to be published in a newspaper, you might need to worry about that.

 

Lastly, since the scope is to cover the actual process of cartography, I'd recommend to go with Lore Artists rather than level designers. Several games do with a lot of Lore that does not necessarily have an in-game ramification. Its generally the nice map you get in the box. Few games actually translate that into gameplay (although the Elder scrolls series are known for reproducing parts of Cyrodiil in full within each opus). AAA games that are filled with lore might have their own artists for that, and I'm broadly looking at MMOs here such as World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, even Planetside 2 (which has many continents, thus more material). Since they are AAA though, it might be harder to get their support within such short notice, and especially if you wish to showcase the resulting art.

 

I wish you luck!



#3 Sandman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 2078

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 05:31 AM

You could try asking around here: http://www.cartographersguild.com

Edited by Sandman, 31 May 2013 - 05:32 AM.


#4 PadreMontoya   Members   -  Reputation: 115

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 08:19 AM

@Sandman - Excellent tip!  Thanks - I've posted over there as well.  Seems like the right group of people.

 

@Orymus3 - Thank you for the thoughtful reply!  It makes sense, and I actually know a guy who did some Elder Scrolls stuff.  I'll see if he can connect me with a Lore Master.  (Oddly enough, I actually co-designed Elder Scrolls: Stormhold with Greg Gorden back in 2003 and forgot all about it)



#5 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6301

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 11:26 AM

I'm surprised that's something you'd forget :P



#6 PadreMontoya   Members   -  Reputation: 115

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 11:47 AM

I'm surprised that's something you'd forget tongue.png

 

I'm constantly surprised by things I've forgotten.  I'm like a 34 year old 6-month old.  I might discover that I have feet again soon.






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