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Course: Level Engineering

"Level Engineering: Methods and Tools for Creating Game Environments and Level Design" is a practical course for game engineering students. The first time I taught the course was in 2021 at TUM. In this course, we explore the process of creating gamespaces and virtual environments in games. The motivation to develop this course was a topic for my doctoral studies. I wanted to get a sense of the design engineering process of gamespaces. And the easiest way to immerse yourself in a topic and understand it is to teach it.

Purpose: The purpose of this course is to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical applications: What is the relation of theoretical foundations and practical development? For me, this means I try to include many practical examples and examples from actual games. For the students, this means that they will gain experience by applying many processes and aspects in their assignments.

Structure: In a weekly practical course, I teach basics and important concepts and try to show their application in practice. Students then explore the topics in individual assignments. In the second part of the semester, students deepen their understanding of these concepts in a group project in which they develop a game.

Content: In this course, we focus on the systematic application of engineering approaches to the development of gamespaces and game environments. Students learn the basics of level design and 3D user interfaces. Using specific examples from industry-standard game projects, students engage with engineering methods and tools for designing and developing gamespaces for computer games. Topics include:

  • An Introduction to Level Design including basic knowledge of the role of level design in the context of game development processes (especially with regard to interfaces with other aspects of games and areas of game development), pacing, and gamespaces.
  • Advanced Topics of Level Design including topics such as wayfinding, design principles for game environments (learning, emotional design, storytelling, reward, choice), and the balance between aesthetic design, gameplay, and performance.
  • 3D user interfaces including the fundamentals of 3D user interfaces in the context of game environments with focus on the relationship between level design and classic 3D user interfaces (travel techniques, camera control, wayfinding, etc.)
  • Level Engineering methods and tools including topics such as documents in game development, planning, and prototyping.
  • Tool Engineering including an introduction to tool engineering for game engines and the development and application of complex software and tools to support the design and development process.

Further Reading: If you want to read more about the design engineering process of gamespaces, level design, and user interfaces, here are a few resources worth checking out: "The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses" by Schell (2019), "An Architectural Approach to Level Design" by Totten (2018), and "3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice" by LaViola et al. (2017).