Level design based on architectural environmental psychology

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Rasmus Storgaard Pedersen
4. term, Interactive Digital Media, Master (Master Programme)
The aim of this master thesis is to understand, explore and explain how users in a virtual environment navigate and how a level designer uses this knowledge to build the setting. This thesis focuses on wayfinding and how it can be combined with level design principles. The goal of the thesis is to provide a set of guidelines or conventions, which future level designers can use while creating virtual environments. The basis for this project originated, because the author felt there was a lack of knowledge in the field of level design.
This project examines the usage of architectural environmental psychology; the mechanisms behind it, how it is implemented and how it affects the users in the environment. The principles behind wayfinding are then transferred and combined with level design theory. Specifically, the project tries to explore how these principles can be used to affect the player's navigation and thus, help the level designer.
The project consists of two major sections, wayfinding and level design theory, which intend to answer the problem statement. The problem statement is:
How can theory concerning visual attention, as well as architectural environmental psychology, be used to create a set of conventions which, combined with level design theory, influence the user's navigation through virtual environments?
The wayfinding section deals with how a wayfinding person makes decisions in his surroundings and how he executes these decisions accordantly. These decisions are affected by the human cognition and perception. This project emphasizes on the visual attention aspect of the perception and how it is affected by the architecture, signs and cues surrounding the user.
The level design section is focused around level design theory, more particularly pacing and design patterns and how these affect the player's navigation. The patterns acted as a tool and a vocabulary through discussion about wayfinding and level design.
Lastly the project was concluded by providing an example of how these theories could support each other. By creating an overview of the user's decisions within the level, the level designer is able to apply the various level design patterns in the construction. These patterns should be applied accordantly to the general pacing. This allows the level design to develop the circulation system within the level. Subsequently he can assemble the environmental communication, which consists of architectonic cues and various signs.
Publication date31 May 2013
Number of pages74
ID: 76953709