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Diary of a Level Designer

Reported by CCP LogicLoop | Comments

Hey there, fellow Mercs. This is CCP LogicLoop from the outpost team - Team Knee 101. I am here today to share with you a little bit about how my day goes here at the CCP offices in Shanghai.

My day usually starts a couple hours earlier than others at the office. I like to come in early for a couple of reasons. One of those is to check our forums and interact with our community, answering whatever questions I can and providing any information I can. If time allows after that I like to use the rest of the time as a non-distractive period to get some other work done that I may not have had a chance to finish yet. Sometimes this involves just fixing up some bugs, finishing up a design document, updating our internal documents, creating templates, or any other myriad of possible duties I have here.

By 10AM it is time for my daily sync-up meeting with the game designers, other level designers, and the design director. This is where we discuss what is going on for each of our departments, what plans we may have, any issues we may have run into, or discuss topics that the community brings up with us. This is the meeting where I tend to bring up your feedback from the forums that falls under Game Design's responsibilities. You'll often see me reply to your forum comments that I will ask the Design department. This is where I bring them up and get your questions answered.

Following that meeting, at about 1030AM is when I have my sync up with Team Knee 101. This is a much more quick and dirty meeting where we each mention what we did the day before and then go over our plans for the day. It is also our opportunity to discuss anything with the entire team and our producer, including any issues or questions we may have. Sometimes we may have to cancel a playtest because another playtest, such as a performance playtest or a voice comms test, has taken higher priority. Sometimes it’s possible we have to talk about particular issues such as a design's implementation or how it ties with art's vision. That final topic is something we would eventually wait until after the sync up to discuss it further and resolve what the issue may be.

After the morning meetings, I set to work on my current tasks.. As many of you know this is usually an outpost or SI (Surface Infrastructure) set. More often than not, I am interacting with the environment artists or the concept artists working out the details of a gameplay area or some new fantastic art piece and how it affects the gameplay with in the socket.

At noon, it's lunch with my coworkers in the CCP cantina, and then a return to our daily playtests. This is usually a companywide playtest that is either a performance test or a content focused playtest. It is often our best opportunity to get feedback about how the current content is coming along, especially when we have had our new terrain or sockets in the tests. Sometimes these tests are preceded with or followed up by another playtest that was specific to our small team for testing the sockets or new terrain for a more focused look at what is happening in the new content. This is our time to give direct feedback from the entire group. This happens more often when we have just started up a new design and have something playable. It is incredibly beneficial since we get everyone’s perspective on what is happening. This is why I don’t like to take credit as a whole for an outpost – whether it is in a dev blog or anywhere else. The whole team is involved and owns this work.

CCP LogicLoop having discussion with CCP Galactus.

After the playtests I have more time to finish up some more work on the current task at hand and polish up whatever I was working on. This one is hard to describe as it often depends on the task which may change its priority at any time, and I need to shift my focus to some other, higher priority task. This sometimes involves fixing issues with the new content together with the team, using the level editor to pinpoint them and then shipping them over for another playtest round to see how those changes are applied in a “real world” scenario. Sometimes, it can be focused on the brand new content that we are building, where I am in charge of the layout and making the whole level make sense for players and feel natural for the FPS gameplay. This is the biggest chunk of my work day and it really takes time to think about, execute and test all these new ideas together with other teams.

Before I head out the door I like to check in with my fellow team mates (Team Knee 101) and see if they need anything. Once I am comfortable with everything I pack up my things and say good night!

-CCP LogicLoop