0 Date posted: June 15th, 2011 • Author Maroje Ljutić

Level Design – Donald

When I started developing games and the player could move on a level I thought the main part of the game is done. But even after you setup the nuts and bolts that makes your game run, there are huge steps waiting to be done in order complete a game. One of these steps is designing the levels. Level design comprises all from defining the look to a polished enjoyable level or series of them. There’s a variety of level design techniques and and the right choice depends on what you’ll want to achieve. For Donald in Magicland we went for the tile-based technique.


Our intention for Donad in Magicland was to make a classic retro 2d platformer, what for tile-based level maps are the most common. Tile-based level creation is a technique which generates a larger graphic from re-using a number of smaller graphics.

This is only a segment from level 9 of Donald in Magicland. If you’ll have to include a drawing (texture) for the whole level, the texture would be pretty big. And every level would require it’s own big texture. This would be very performanse demanding and would increase the game size drastically. Fortunately tile-based level editing exists.

Here’s the tile-set, from which level 9 is entirely generated. Even better, this tile-set could be reused for multiple levels. All the game needs to load (of course enemies, sound assets, scripts etc. need to be loaded too) for level 9 is this tile-set and a matrix where the positions of the tiles are stored, (what saves a lot of ram).

Today there are many tile-based level editors. Since we’re using Unity for Donald in Magicland, the simplest approach is to use the Unitile add-on. The next video is showing how you can compose a level segment with Unitile.

Of course level composing ain’t that easy and fast as shown in the video. Levels need alteration, ascending difficulty, hidden featers, obstacles, enemies and so on to provide the player with a goal and an enjoyable play experience. All this needs planning, outlines and a good and in gaming experienced lever designer.

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