A good starting point when creating a map, not an end all or be all list. I like lists, so it can help to quantify some of these ideas.

1. Start of an idea.
My Dishonored blockmesh idea : I started with thinking about what Sokalov said about Jessamine having a strange past. This was a rabbit hole that eventual resulted in the story.

2. If this is modding an existing game world, then choose which point in the story, else you are creating a level to server a narrative purpose and clearly define this.

3. Paper map the general idea.
In my Dishonored Blockmesh example I mapped the level as it’s seen in Returning Home and Return to the Tower in Dishonored. Also took ref screenshots all around the map.

4. Research.
A ton of research is needed, whether it’s from the real world or the history of your fantasy world.
In my Dishonored Blockmesh example I researched the architecture as seen in 1837, and compare it to London’s architecture of 1700-1752 (based on technology of the time, even though this was 100 years after London’s most famous plague)

5. More research!
In my Dishonored Blockmesh example I researched what 1600 architecture was like, and how it would have progressed into what we see in Dishonored.

6. Researched the circumstances of the current time and place to add these details to your level.
In my Dishonored Blockmesh example I researched the circumstances on how Jessamine’s father would have take the throne and changes that would be reflected in the level. Thinking about timeline, like how the boat lift and the gazebo would have been built after Jessamine’s father took power.

7. Set up blank level and version control

8. Started the blockmesh with the paper plans to get the walkway layouts, and continued to run through the level during changes

In my Dishonored Blockmesh example :
a) Started large with the Tower, Gazebo, and boat lift as landmark locations.
b) Used standard measurements for how tall doors/walkways/enemies/player would be and created prefabs to keep as ref in level.
c) Connected locations with walkways, while using screenshots to ref the approximate space between and heights of half walls and such.
d) Started adding small details to shapes/building, including rough affordances
e) Added colors to the meshes to differentiate and give depth
f) Rough sketch of narrative beats

9. Divided the map into separate sections. These will help break up the level into manageable pieces and help you communicate with the team about specifics.
In my Dishonored Blockmesh example : Major sections: Gazebo, Tower Lawn, and Boat Lift. Secondary are Carriage House, and Gardens. Planned that a limited approach for the level would work best

10. Determined how the map starts and what all would is needed for the initial spawn. Tutorial? Epic view? Tight space? Also the best place to set up the scale comparisons and rules for sizing.

11. Pick the most interesting and exciting area of the map to start blocking out.
In my Dishonored Blockmesh example I had to choose which sections would be most dramatically changed from Dishonored 1. Started modifying the map area by area.

12. Took screenshots of blockmesh and ideas for environmental storytelling. This was just the best way for me to remember. Squint test. Submitted to friends for feedback.

13. Working way back and forth from location to location adding details and choices. Keeping in mind the overarching theme of your game. Continued adding affordances.

14. Went over current routes, adding in leading lines, colors, affordances, and other breadcrumbs.

15. Went over areas to make them more covered or open, scary or inviting and added sight lines and basic non-alert enemy paths.

16. Started populating interiors with basic objects.

17. Add rough audio queues and audio notes

18. List dynamic drops if applicable

19. Rough lighting added, including light beams, lite areas/doors, ambient light, and directional light.

20. Review all steps, and create overview PNG’s, and videos. Sent out to more people for feedback.

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