GDC | Level Design Workshop

Level Design Workshop

The Level Design Workshop returns for the seventh consecutive year bringing together another an all-new docket of talks spanning a variety of topics that will interest working and aspiring level designers across the game industry.

Historically, LD Workshop presentations run the gamut from sharing specific techniques, to in-depth analysis of shipped games, to introspective explorations of "big" concepts that affect level designers/teams, as well as providing guides to process and workflow.

For 2017, we’ve again curated a diverse mix of established and emerging voices from all corners of the level design world to present an entertaining and enlightening agenda of talks for our attendees.

2017 Highlighted Sessions

All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, or GDC Summits Pass required.

Level Design Workshop: Rewarding Exploration in 'Deus Ex: Mankind Divided'
Clemence Maurer (Eidos)
Exploration in Mankind Divided's Prague ties navigation and narrative together, willfully giving each area a story driven meaning and a gameplay edge. This optional content was built with a balanced mix of environment storytelling, traditional readables fleshing out the lives of Prague's inhabitants, and pure LD driven navigation for building interesting and varied paths. Designing Prague with a limited workforce required fast, smart ways to populate a very dense gameplay area, without relying too much on other departments. Exploration setups, designed with these tough constraints, add a detail layer to Prague: not strictly tied to the critical path or any side mission, but essential in making the world coherent and rewarding, while conveying the feeling that everything is linked. Hopefully, the explorers will connect the dots using with their imagination, as they stumble upon bits and pieces of stories while hiking around the city's many tracks.
Level Design Workshop: Applying 3D Level Design Skills to the 2D World of 'Hyper Light Drifter'
Lisa Brown (Harrisburg University)
How much of level design's best practices are specific to a particular genre or presentation style, and how well do level design skills transfer between different formats? This talk explores these questions through the experience of Lisa Brown, a veteran level designer who has built AAA spaces for first and third-person 3D games, and more recently helped ship the isometric indie hit, 'Hyper Light Drifter'. Attendees will gain specific and useful insights from her experience and self-analysis as she learned what did and didn't translate from her pre-indie experience.

Level Design Workshop Advisors

Clint Hocking
Clint Hocking entered the game industry working for Ubisoft Montreal in July of 2001, when he began his career as a Level Designer, Game Designer and Scriptwriter on the original 'Splinter Cell'. Along with writer JT Petty, Clint was honored for his writing work on the title with the first-ever Game Developer's Choice Award for Excellence in Scriptwriting. Clint continued as Lead Level Designer, Scriptwriter, and Creative Director on Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory', the highest rated Splinter Cell to date with an aggregate review score of 94%. Clint then worked as Creative Director on the innovative and acclaimed 'Far Cry 2'. In 2010, Clint left Ubisoft and moved to San Francisco where he worked as a Creative Director at LucasArts. From 2012 to the end of 2013, Clint worked as a designer at Valve. From 2014 until mid-2015 he worked for Amazon Game Studios in Seattle. He currently works at Ubisoft again, this time in Toronto. Before games Clint worked in the web industry and experimented with independent filmmaking while earning an M.F.A in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. He maintains a blog at
Joel Burgess
Joel Burgess is a World Director at Ubisoft Toronto. He is a 13–year veteran of the game industry, specializing in open world and level design. He was previously employed at Bethesda Game Studios, where he co-founded the level design group that helped create 'Fallout 4', 'Skyrim', 'Fallout 3', 'Oblivion'.  He previously worked for Terminal Reality in Dallas, Texas, where he contributed to 'Bloodrayne 2' and 'Aeon Flux'. Joel helps organize and present the Level Designer's Workshop at both GDC San Francisco and GDC China in Shanghai. He holds a B.A. in Digital Media from the University of Central Florida.

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