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Plot and Parcel: Procedural Level Design in 'XCom 2'


Brian Hess (Lead Level Designer, Firaxis Games)

Location: Room 20, North Hall

Date: Friday, March 23

Time: 10:00am - 11:00am

Pass Type: All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, GDC Conference - Get your pass now!

Topic: Design

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

What if you got a unique map each time you loaded the game? How procedural do your levels need to be in order to reap the benefits while minimizing the costs? Making levels for a AAA title is an expensive and time consuming proposition. During this session, Brian Hess of Firaxis Games will walk through the trials and tribulations of designing and implementing such a system, as well as the benefits it offers and problems to avoid. Hear how the XCom team at Firaxis survived the transition from the handcrafted levels of 2012's tactical strategy game 'XCom: Enemy Unknown' to the procedural levels of 'XCom 2' and beyond.


Participants should come away with an understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of implementing a procedural level design system. It is best suited for developers looking to get the most out of the content they create for their games.

Intended Audience

This talk is for developers interested in learning about proceduralizing content in their game in order to maximize replayability. While the talk begins with explanations of 'XCom' and the qualities of a good tactical strategy map, participants would benefit from having a basic understanding of level design principles.