Essentials:

How to make the Levels the Two Towers Way

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I found this article through some obscure Google search a few months ago and felt that it may be useful for some of my friends in the game development industry. It is a description of the workflow that EA used for their Two Towers game.

Overview

  1. Design the levels on graph paper
  2. Block out the levels in 3d
  3. Create 9 –12 pencil drawings of locations in each level
  4. Have your Environment Artists build the final geometry over the blocked out geometry
  5. Color the 12 level drawing in order to plan the colors, lighting, special effects and textures
  6. Light the levels after textures are done
  7. Place final cameras

GD = Game Designer
AD = Art Director
LD = Level Designer
CA = Concept Artist
EA = Environmental Artists
VFXA = Visual Effects Artist
CM = Cameraman

1 Design the levels on graph paper

  1. LDs- create level flow chart
  2. GD, LD and AD- discuss level content in meeting
  3. CA and AD create preliminary color and design sketches to inspire the LDs, EAs and to show the client
  4. LDs-draw out level on graph paper
  5. CM plans cameras based on 2d map

2. Block out the level in 3d

  1. EA scan in level map
  2. EA place it on 3d plane to scale
  3. EA extrude level geometry to the elevations written down on map
  4. EA import 3d block out into the game
  5. CM place preliminary cameras
  6. The LDs tests the game play in the blocked out level, place temp encounters and event triggers. The LDs give notes to EA who made the 3d block out, till the level is working for game play

3 Create 9 –12 pencil drawings for each level

  1. AD and CA all decide on 9 –12 locations to concept out
  2. CA takes 9- 12 screen shots of the blocked out level
  3. CA prints those screen shots
  4. CA does a tight pencil drawing of the setting over the printout of the blocked out geometry
  5. CA and AD go over changes
  6. AD, GD, LD, and CA go over final level drawings.

4 Have your Environment Artists build the final geometry over the block out

  1. AD gives EAs all the concept art and reference materials
  2. EAs divide up tasks between team members
  3. One EA starts to build sets
  4. Another EA starts to build the terrain geometry
  5. Another EA starts to make the textures and lays in preliminary lights
  6. AD oversees the work
  7. EAs create concept art for any changes they want to make. AD and LD have to approve any alterations to the set plan

5 Color the level drawings in order to plan the colors, lighting, special effects and textures

  1. CA takes the 9 –12 piece of concept art per level and paints them color before the textures and lighting for the levels are done
  2. AD oversees this work
  3. AD gives the EAs the color concept art
  4. The EAs use the color work to create textures and place the lights
  5. If there are effects in the level such as fire, smoke or magic portals and the like, the CA paints there into the correct position as well
  6. Then the AD gives it to the VFXA so he knows what to start working on and where to place the effects, and what they should look like. If he needs more information then the CA or SBA then draws out the FX sequence. The Ad oversees

6 Light the levels after textures are done

  1. EAs do a final pass on the level lighting after the textures are at first pass
  2. AD, LD, and the GD review the lighting

7 Place final Cameras

  1. CM placed final cameras based on LD, GM and AD’s notes
  2. Cameras approved by LD, GM, AD

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