Indie Game Dev Log: 18/04/2020 (6 Tips for Large World Sketching)
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Indie Game Dev Log: 18/04/2020 (6 Tips for Large World Sketching)

By Timanious | Coster Graphics | 18 Apr 2020

Hi all! 

I hope you're all hanging in there even though the isolation is awful.. After a month of keeping my distance to people and not meeting friends I'm almost at the point where I want to hug total strangers or get squashed by them in a full train during rush hour...  But anyway, I'm trying to stay positive and I try to keep myself occupied with creating maps for my game instead of going mad.
So in this dev log I just want to show some screenshots of what I'm currently working on and tell you a little bit about the process.

At the moment I am working on the creation of at least three larger maps for the game. My original plan for this game was to make about 75 small puzzle like maps, which I painstakingly did, but during the process I also realised that it is not exciting enough for me to just go from small map to small map in linear fashion, but that it would be much more interesting to use the small maps as extra bonus like levels and to make larger skirmish/multiplayer/bullet hell type maps with different game modes like death match, survival, capture the flag and what not the main gameplay element.
During the process of creating the larger maps I increased the size of the first large map that I made to about four times the size that I initially thought would be necessary, just to give the player enough room to dodge the enemy bullets.
I guess finding the right scale for a game will always stay difficult, mainly because when you start with empty space there isn't any context to see how large or small things are. The size of objects is only relative to the size of its surrounding objects or the context in which you place the objects.

A few tips coming from my own experience that can maybe help you with creating large levels or large worlds;

  • Keep your assets and tools close.
    With this I mean a lot of things including the ones that you come up with when you think about it.
    It is important that you can 'grab' your tools and assets with just one action ideally, so you can stay in the flow more easily.
  • Preparation is key.
    If you think you're going to need certain assets then collect those assets first, again so you can stay in the flow more easily.
    So spend time collecting and creating a database of useful assets 
  • Be free in the sketching phase.
    Try to keep the time between visualising ideas and sketching them out as short as possible. If you see it in your head then use that moment to create it before the image in your head fades away. Creativity likes speed.
  • Keep scaling in mind.
    You may have to drastically increase or decrease the size of your maps later so try to use a modular approach and be willing to keep making changes to the scaling of your assets.  
  • Have large, medium and small shapes.
    This has to do with scale and context. If you make sure that there are enough large, medium and small shapes in the world from the beginning of the process then you have a good context for other objects to place, with a scale that falls in between. 
  • Use waterfalls.
    Just an example, but a great way to suggest a certain scale is having waterfalls and rivers in your maps!
    Because water seems to move slower when viewed from a large distance, it can give a great sense and suggestion of scale to the viewer. People know really well how fast water is supposed to move so when we see a moving waterfall in the distance of a landscape we instinctively know how far away it must be. I got this idea years ago from the well know artist Olafur Eliasson who created an artificial waterfall in New York for this specific purpose and it has served me ever since;)
    Of course there are many other things that can give a strong suggestion of scale, but it is important to think about what those elements will be for your game.

Hopefully some of these tips will be useful to you and help you with your process. I'm always curious to your thoughts so let me know what you think.
I'm also curious to read what you think of these screenshots so let me know if you hate it, love it or just meh it. Nothing is really final so I will continue to improve upon it :)

Cheers and enjoy creating awesome games!

Project TankBlazeAR Skirmish map 2The map that I'm working on at the moment..It's going to be a really hot bullet hell!
49c47c05851efcdb31e800aaee1c1996a37591e3710745e8baa86617bd67c390.pngSeen from the other side..Project TankBlazeAR Skirmish map 1The first large skirmish map.Project TankBlazeAR Skirmish map 1 Old version

The first skirmish map before drastically increasing the size..Project TankBlazeAR some of the 75 small mapsThese are only a few of the 75 mini-maps created in the beginning of the process. They do look a bit better now..


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I'm an independent artist, teacher and game developer from the Netherlands. I love learning and writing tutorials about game design with Unity3D, programming and shaders. Feel free to visit my graphics blog at:

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