Darkworks was my first experience in the game industry working on the game “I Am Alive”. I did two internships:
– in 2007, I was a QA Tester than moved to a Level Designer position
– in 2008, I came back as a Level Designer and Technical Level Designer
Pre-Production – Summer 2007
When I arrived at Darkworks, I began as a Testor and I was in charge of tracking bugs in order to make sure that each version of the game was always playable before its release to the rest of the team. Then, I worked with a small team on a gameplay prototype being developed and my job was to help them to finish it for the First Playable Prototype.
This position involved:
– testing and analyzing game mechanics and Level Design under development
– communicating with development team members on game balancing and quality issues
– balancing small maps to explore the potential of the gameplay under development
– reporting detailed bugs description to the right team member using the bug entry software “ JIRA”
After one month, I became a Level Designer and I was in charge of making several small maps called “patterns” to illustrate specific gameplay mechanics. My work was very appreciated, so I stayed an extra month at Darkworks to work.
– designing and building small maps to explore the potential gameplay mechanics
– designing and building a part of a level for the First Playable Prototype
– helping the lead Level Designer to write Level Design rules which maintain coherence within the Level Design team
This first internship enabled me to work on a pre-production, so I was able to learn many aspects of this period, from the overall schedule and the roles of each team member. Moreover, I got the opportunity to work with many people in different jobs. This taught me a lot of things about game production.
As a QA tester, I learnt the “steps to reproduce” logic: to understand how far elements can influent each other, from technic to design.
As a Level Designer, I learnt to design small levels in order to show the full potential of gameplay mechanics.
Production – Summer 2008
I was in charge of designing and building the tutorial level of the game. The objective was to explain the core mechanics and system mechanics.
- designing and building the level layout while working closely with the Lead Level Designer and the Creative Director
- designing gameplay tutorials around core gameplay and system mechanics
- implementing graphics assets and working closely with several graphists
- iterating on design based on playtesting observation and feedback
- bug-testing and fixing
Technical Level Designer
When developing several features, level designers face many technical problems. As a Level Designer Technical, I was in charge of resolving them in order to make sure that their situations work.
- following the making of several maps to ensure they perform as required
- helping level designers with both creative and technical solutions
- producing required documentation about specific editor functionalities for level designers
- working closely with the rest of the team (game designer, programmer …) when adding new functionalities to the editor
- completing specific level building missions (streaming, save, special events using Kismet …)
- bug-testing and fixing
During this internship, I learnt how to design a good tutorial level by explaining the rules of a game without losing the player’s attention. Moreover, I had much more freedom than in my previous internship because, this time, it wasn’t just making patterns but a complete level.
This project was aimed at a large audience so I was able to understand how to make a level more accessible. It’s very important to balance the level and to design it for each type of players by giving multiple possibilities. Therefore, this level allowed me to manage a difficulty curve between levels while working with others level designers.
As a Technical Level Designer, I improved my technical skills on the Unreal Engine 3, as well as my capacity to communicate with other development team members. This position made me realize that technic must be really mastered during production.
Finally, I picked up several tips to improve the flow of the map (for example, using objects to control the point of focus).