The Three Qualities of Level Design

Martin Nerurkar writes...
In this post I'll talk a bit about the goals and requirements of good level design. This thing has grown out of my architecture degree and the numerous lectures I held on the subject of level design – especially those with architects-in-training as their audience. So if you've sat in on one of them, this will propably be familiar.

So before I get into level design, I'll first have to talk a bit about architecture. Thousands of years ago, the roman architect Vitruvius identified what he called the three "qualities of architecture". They are as follows:

* Firmitas, stability. The building stands stable on it's own
* Utilitas, usability. The spaces created by the building are suited for their intended use
* Venustas, beauty. This building has a beautiful aesthetic

Now I tried transporting this divide over to level design, and this is what I got:

* Firmitas, stability. The level runs well without any technical or performance issues
* Utilitas, usability. The space does a good job at leveraging the game mechanics
* Venustas, beauty. The environment creates an atmosphere and provides affordances.

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