GDC + VRDC@GDC 2018 Session Scheduler

View, browse and sort the ever-growing list of sessions by pass type, track, and format. With this Session Scheduler, you can build your schedule in advance and access it during the show via export or with the Mobile App, once live. Sessions do fill up and seating is first come, first serve, so arrive early to sessions that you would like to attend.

Level Design Workshop: Invisible Intuition: Player Guidance from Blockmesh to Final Level Design


David Shaver (Game Designer, Naughty Dog)

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

Topic: Design

Format: Tutorial

Tutorials: Level Design Workshop

Vault Recording: TBD

Waypoints, HUD markers, buddy callouts, cutscenes, forced camera moves, and more. These navigation aids are ubiquitous in games and used to guide players to their goals, but can it be done without them? How do you design a level to flow naturally so that players go where you planned and notice what you want them to notice? This talk presents the audience with practical techniques to guide players naturally through 3D environments without relying on external systems. With the invisible hand of the designer guiding the way, players will know where to go intuitively without even thinking about it. Most of the presented techniques are applied in the blockmesh layout, while others occur via environment art, lighting, FX, audio, and scripting. It is important for designers to apply these techniques as early as possible in the blockmesh phase to ensure proper playtest feedback and layout changes are working as intended. As such, this presentation not only highlights good examples from existing shipped games, but also showcases the techniques using custom examples to show the improvements from initial blockmesh to final blockmesh design. Attendees will see the before and after of how these techniques improve a level layout’s ability to guide the player intuitively.


Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of how to guide players not with navigation aids, but with proven, and often invisible, level design techniques. They will be armed with these practical techniques to improve the flow of their level designs after seeing the them in action, both via finished games and custom blockmesh examples.

Intended Audience

Primarily beginner to intermediate level designers, but some experts may find some interesting bits as well.