Dan Koppel 2005

20 December 2005 on method.gamedesign.net
A = Dan Koppel aka Daniel Koppel (Technical Lead and Senior Level Design)
Q = Yan Ostretsov aka Method

 Method: Please tell us about yourself and how you got into gaming business?

Dan Koppel: I love playing games and making games. Currently I'm the Design Lead at Gray Matter Studios. My first game I worked on was Quake 2: The Reckoning. I also worked on Kingpin and Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Before all that I released a few of Quake 1 maps into the community, back then user made SP levels were much more common.

Meth: Was Kingpin level designing any different from other games you made?

Dan: In some ways yes, Kingpin was the last hub based game we at GMI made. I really enjoy the concept of hub based fps games. As far as level design goes hub based games take more planning and allow for some very interesting features. Metroid does this very well in modern games.

Meth: How long did it take you to make a good map?

Dan: Now that depends. Today's maps take a lot longer to build and script. But they also have a lot more going on in them and the newer engines allow for more poly's. Back for Kingpin we had no script based language that controlled the events in a map. In general I would say from start to finish it took me about 4 - 6 weeks of work to make a Kingpin map. That became about 8 - 10 weeks for building and scripting during the RtCW days and now it takes about 12 - 14 weeks on average to build and script CoD:UO maps. Also the amount of work animators and artists do for each map has increased considerably.

Meth: What sources did you use for inspiration in KP maps?

Dan: Hmm, Anything I could get my hands on. For my work on the steeltown section I actually ordered a promotional video from some steel companies. I also looked at many books we have here in our little library and as many movies as possible.

Meth: What's the most important part in level designing?

Dan: These days my answer would be planning. Planning helps you keep good framerate. Planning helps with gameplay and helps you find issues before they occur. When someone on my team starts to get an idea of what they want to make they always want to start in building right away. I have found making them take a step back and sketching things out helps a lot and gives better results in the end.

Meth: Do you sketch your maps on a paper?

Dan: Yes. I encourage everyone to do this. With 3d worlds, paper might not have all the details but you do get an idea of scale and you are able to look at the whole map before one brush is made.

Meth: Are you planning to work on Kingpin 2?

Dan: Nope. That's not being done by Gray Matter we are currently working on Call of Duty: United Offensive.

Meth: Do you have any tips or suggestions for a future level designers?

Dan: Learn many different tools. Work with different engines. Work on your lighting and keep the poly counts in acceptable ranges. Otherwise keep working on making better and better maps. I'm sure this is nothing new.

FREDZ | Tuesday 22 January 2019 - 16:27
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