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The Many Faces of Level Design

Instructor: Christopher Totten

March 5, 2021 | 9:00 am-5:00 pm PT

Registration for this course is now closed.

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Course Description

When people think of level design, they usually think about big 3D worlds in the most powerful new engines, but it’s possible to practice your level design skills outside of these technically intensive environments. Attendees make a series of level design prototypes with small game making tools to hone their ability to make exciting experiences for players. Topics of the exercises include building around strong core mechanics, puzzle design, filling levels with interesting decisions, and pathfinding. 


Course Type

One-Day Course: This is a single course that takes place over one full eight-hour day with breaks.


Intended Audience

Level designers from indie to AAA, game designers, game design instructors looking for new level design practices, and students.


Key Takeaways

  • Learn a variety of prototyping tools such as tabletop, Twine, 2D game engines, and grayboxing
  • Build experiences that make game levels engaging
  • Identify the impact that spatial quality has on gameplay
  • Craft game prototypes with a strong focus on player engagement
  • Develop a strong sense of macro‐level design, micro‐level design, and pacing



There will be a series of videos prepared by the instructor to watch prior to attending this course. Attendees will also be asked to download some paper prototyping materials.


Instructor Bio

Christopher Totten is an Assistant Professor of Game Design at Kent State University. He is also the founder of Pie For Breakfast Studios, a Northeast Ohio‐area indie game company. He has done work as an artist, animator, level designer, and project manager in the game industry. He holds a Masters Degree in Architecture with a concentration in digital media from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Chris is an organizer for the Smithsonian American Art Museum Indie Arcade, a lifetime member of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), and an Editorial Board member for the peer‐reviewed journal, VGA Reader.

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