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Dev Diary: Makin' Levels

Dev Diary: Makin' Levels

Posted on Nov 03, 15 By w40admin

Hamish Downes is the Level Designer here at Hammerfall Publishing and is responsible for the monstrous fifty mission campaign found in Warhammer 40,000: Regicide. Today he politely accepted my request to write up a blog post for the website. An infamous fan of the foul xenos known as Tau.

Hi everyone! My name is Hamish and I’m the principle level designer here at Hammerfall. I’ve been forced invited to write a blog post about a provided subject of my choosing and since my primary role involves creating levels for Regicide, it seems like the best choice of subject.

First I’ll usually start out with a simple concept such as ‘reach a position on the map’, ‘protect a piece etc. I try to have as much variation as possible, keep them fresh and different from each other. I like to avoid doubling up on objectives and make sure the player is never repeating them too soon.

Then I’ll make sure the objective ties in with the story. You can’t have objectives in places that make no sense to what’s happening in the story. The best game design is cohesive from top to bottom.
After that it’s time to throw together some rough designs for the level in mind, put them through the level editor, and see if they are actually any fun. I couldn't tell you how many times I thought a level was going to be great only to be proved severely wrong a few seconds into testing it. An Ork Rook walks down on his first turn and put his fist through the Librarian’s face, needs fixin’. Some fantastic levels have come out of jokes. One of my favourite levels is ‘The Eternal March’, a title that fits perfectly into the 40k universe, the idea of Dracomedes marching through ranks of Orks while they try, ineffectively, to stop him was too interesting to not use.

The last section usually takes up the most amount of time out of the whole process; Balance. Once an idea has taken hold and you have a solid design that plays out ok, make sure it’s balanced. This one can be pretty tricky. Some of our testers will destroy a level in a couple of minutes or less, some can get stuck and it takes them much longer to figure out an effective strategy. I also find it difficult to balance as I’ve played hundreds of hours of this game, I know it inside out, so I need to keep the fact in mind that the player almost certainly hasn’t put in as much time. Testers are great for this, they let me know if a level is too hard, not fun enough etc. Getting another perspective is critical to game development as a whole.

So this is the simple, but very long, process that is undertaken to creating all the levels found in the campaign for Warhammer 40,000: Regicide, I hope some of you found this interesting, and enjoyed the Campaign! - Hamish, Level Designer

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