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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Science of Level Design: Design Patterns and Analysis of Player Behavior in First-person Shooter Levels

  • Author(s): Hullett, Kenneth
  • Advisor(s): Whitehead, E. J
  • et al.
Abstract

Level designers create gameplay through geometry, AI scripting, and item placement. There is little formal understanding of this process, but rather a large body of design lore and rules of thumb. As a result, there is no accepted common language for describing the building blocks of level design and the gameplay they create. This dissertation presents a set of level design patterns for first-person shooter (FPS) games, providing cause-effect relationships between level design patterns and gameplay. These relationships are explored through analysis of data gathered in an extensive user study.

This work is the first scientific study of level design, laying the foundation for further work in this area. Data driven approaches to understand gameplay have been attempted in the past, but this work takes it to a new level by showing specific cause- effect relationships between the design of the level and player behavior.

The result of this dissertation is a resource for designers to help them understand how they are creating gameplay through their art. The pattern collection allows them to explore design space more fully and create richer and more varied experiences.

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