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. We have taken a first step in improving understanding by identifying design patterns in first-person shooter (FPS) levels, providing cause-effect relationships between level design elements and gameplay. The next step is to validate this theory with a series of experiments that test the strength of these relationships. Analysis data collected from subjects can improve understanding and provide designers with scientifically verified tools for creating gameplay in FPS levels.
Kenneth Hullett. The Science of Level Design. In Proceedings of Foundations of Digital Games (FDG 2010) (Doctoral Consortium). Monterey, California, USA. 19–21 June 2010.
A prepress version of the paper can be found here.