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Level Editor

Industries:
Games
Personality type:
Technologist
Departments:
Design

The lowdown

  • Defining and creating interactive architecture for a segment of a game, including the landscape, buildings and objects

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • have good spatial and layout design skills
  • have knowledge of 3D modelling and a firm grasp of game design principles
  • have the ability to visualise layouts
  • have a practical understanding of programming and scripting language to work closely with artists and programmers
  • be able to train the QA Testers to play the game 
  • have IT skills and competence in the use of world-editing tools
  • have knowledge of different platforms
  • be very well organised
  • be able to work both independently and as part of a team 
  • be able to accept and give direction
  • be imaginative and creative
  • have excellent communication skills (both verbal and written)
  • pay close attention to detail and be able to evaluate quality
  • have a passion for games and knowledge of game design theory
  • have knowledge of the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures

What does a Level Editor do?

The Level Editor defines and creates interactive architecture for a segment of a game, including the landscape, buildings and objects.

They must be true to the overall design specification, using the characters and story elements defined by the Game Designer, but they often have considerable freedom to vary the specific look and feel of the level for which they are responsible. They define the environment, general layout of the spaces within the level, and lighting, textures, and forms. The define the characters and objects involved, whether they are player-controlled or non-player characters, and any specific behaviours associated with the characters and objects.

They also develop the gameplay for the level, which includes the challenges that the characters face and the actions they must take to overcome them. The architecture helps to define those challenges by presenting obstacles, places to hide, tests of skill, and other elements to explore and interact with.

The setting and atmosphere devised by the Level Editor can also give the player clues about different ways of progressing though the level and the game as a whole.

The Level Editor first sketches ideas on paper or using 2D drawing software. They have to imagine the playing experience, putting themselves in the position of the player, mapping out all the possibilities.

The ideas are then worked out in 3D and tested in the game engine, which produces further ideas. In consultation with the Programmers and Artists, the Level Editor draws up a detailed inventory of level ‘assets’ (all the objects and programming requirements needed to make the level run in the game in its final form).

Every asset can impact on the game’s performance and the Level Editor must understand the technical constraints to which the team is working, e.g. there may be a limit on the number and complexity of objects that can be displayed on screen at any one time.

Will I need a qualification?

You don’t need a specific qualification to become a Level Editors, however most people entering the industry are now graduates. Degree subjects vary, but you could study design, engineering or software development.

If you are considering taking a games course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the games industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a games career:

Games courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

You will usually need to be able to use industry-standard 3D modelling packages, such as 3D Studio Max or Maya. You may also be required to learn and use game world-editing tools developed by studios in-house.

It will help you in this role if you are able to sketch ideas on paper and to model in 3D. You don’t need to be fluent in programming languages such as C++ for this role, but competency in programming principles and in higher-level scripting languages would stand you in good stead. Industry experience is usually essential, as is knowledge of games spanning all genres.

What’s the best route in?

There is no set route you can take into this job, but it is rarely an entry-level role. You’ll normally need to have industry experience and to be educated to degree standard. You will definitely need an understanding of the conventions of game playing and an awareness of the target market.

If you’re a keen game player and have experience in ‘modding’ - creating your own levels of published games using software toolkits provided as part of the game - this will definitely be to your advantage.

You could progress into the role from various junior positions in the industry, such as working as a QA Tester – this would provide useful experience and give you an overview of the development process, access to software and tools, and insight to the different jobs.

You could apply to be a Games Trainee through Trainee Finder, which gives you hands-on experience in the industry and helps you build those all-important contacts that are essential when competing for a job:

More information about Trainee Finder

Interested? Find out more...

Websites

  • 3DWorld - the magazine for SFX, TV production and game development artists 
  • BECTU - the UK's media and entertainment trade union, covering broadcasting, film, independent production, theatre and the arts, leisure and digital media
  • Develop - the monthly magazine for European developers 
  • e-Skills UK - the Sector Skills Council for IT, Telecoms and Contact Centres
  • Edge - the UK's self-styled bible for UK gamers
  • Eurogamer - European-focused consumer website
  • Gamasutra - website founded in 1997 that focuses on all aspects of video game development
  • GameDev.net - online community for game developers of all levels
  • GamesIndustry.biz - covering breaking news from the game's business
  • IGDA - the International Game Developers Association, a global network of collaborative projects and communities comprising individuals from all fields of game development
  • IGN - internet media and services provider focused on the video game, entertainment men’s lifestyle markets
  • MCV - the weekly trade magazine of the UK games industry, 
  • TIGA - the Independent Games Developers Trade Association - non-profit trade association representing the UK's games industry
  • Ukie - the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment - champions the interests, needs and positive image of the video games and interactive entertainment industry whose companies make up its membership

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