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  • Level Design Using the Elements of Art and Principles of Design Part I

    - Wesley Rockholz

  • Balance can be used to guide the eye as well, and thus guide the player through the level. If the player sees an environment that is symmetrically balanced, the implication is that they should move straight through the level. The balance of the composition portrayed on the screen drives them forward through the level:

    On the other side of the spectrum, if your level does not have symmetry you are not using balance to guide your player. In a non-balanced environment your player subconsciously looks to other principles of design for guidance. If there aren't any present, your player is loose in your environment without a guide. Unintentionally this can cause your player to get lost and confused, but if used effectively lack of balance in an environment can encourage exploration if your game has a more open objective or you want the players to discover the world for themselves:


    Contrast is the concept of implying visually that two or more separate elements of a composition are similar or dissimilar. Contrast is used very frequently in level design to imply a change of areas or tone. World of Warcraft's capture the flag map Warsong Gulch uses contrast through color to effectively differentiate team territory:

    Contrast can also be used to guide a player through a level by emphasizing the destination and de-emphasizing the extraneous props and textures in the environment, or by introducing something radically different and unique in an otherwise homogeneous environment. In the fourth Elder Scrolls game, Oblivion Gates appear throughout the world that spawn demonic enemies and can take the player into Mehrunes Dagon's plane of Oblivion. Notice how the demonic shapes, rocky texture, and bright red color contrast the vertical grass and trees, lush textures, and flat green (red's compliment) of the forest environment:

    To be continued...

    Thanks much for reading.

    ~ Wes


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