Guys, I understand level design, I just don’t want to ever design levels. Is that too much? Bethesda is known for massive, curated worlds in their Elder Scrolls and Fallout games, but few realize how much work goes into creating a large amount of levels through use of modular systems. In a very, very lengthy read, you too can understand how Bethesda gets its artists and designers on the same page when it comes to shaping worlds.
Originally held at GDC, this presentation by Joel Burgess (senior designer) and Nathan Purkeypile (senior environment artist) explains how these toolsets come together. If you’ve played any of their games, you realize pretty quickly that their levels are designed on grids. In some of those games, especially the older ones, these levels can feel boxy and uniform. While the Bethesda guys and I agree that things started to switch up and become more unique with Fallout 3, it still largely felt like a big house of cards. In Skyrim, however, the technology and artwork allowed them to create far more detailed and organic work.
You can read (and read and read) all about their experience and advice below. If you’re into game design at all, you should definitely give its thoughts some review.
Source: Joel Burgess