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A Guide on Good Level Design in Video Games with Difficulty

Updated on November 2, 2015

Mario Maker Released Recently

A Guide to Level Design

Level design is a key thing in game design. In many ways it is something that people spend continuously learning from in what works and what doesn't. Some tricks and gimmicks might work for one sort of level but won't work for another. There are many aspects to consider within this such as difficulty, method of how the game will pay out in a stage or level, end goal of the game itself and many more.

There are some clear do's and don'ts but there are a lot of situations in which it's not a clear and cut answer if this is something you want or may not want in your game.

With this guide, I intend to layout the clear dos and don't in level design but after that we can figure out what you future level designers might want in your games.

Know Your Audience

When you are working with making a game you need to know what kind of design and game you will be making. When you are working with a game you intend to just be a simple and fun platformer you need to think about how your audience will think of it when the play it. If they want something like a Kirby game in terms of simplicity then you need to consider how hard of a game this will be when they want something simple. Understanding your audience when you make your game and when you are trying to make this game or level will help you design it better.

Don't make it as hard as this!


Don't make it frustrating

When you are making a level, you can add difficulty, but don't make it so hard that people get annoyed and mad at your level when they play it. Even if a level it meant to be difficult it doesn't need to be frustrating to the point where people want to rage quit what you made just out of frustration.

Mario Maker is fortunate enough to where you need to finish the level yourself before you can actually put it up for others to play. You cannot put up an impossible level that would frustrate and make people annoyed with it. It also leaves a marker to show how many people have finished the level themselves.

We can take away from this as to what you need to expect as a people to put in the other players shoes. Can you complete these reasonably, what kind of people do you want to play with this level?

This is something you need to put up and consider when you try to make a level rather than trying to make something super difficult when you put a level up. Can people reasonably finish this level or this game?

If they can't, you need to go back to the drawing board and reconsider the level or game from the top.

When it can be too easy it feels like you did nothing at all

Like I said don't do the reverse

Don't do the reverse and make the game way too easy to which people feel like they shouldn't have even played at all. Of course, every game needs a world 1-1 like in Super Mario Bros. You need an intro level, but consider what kind of game you are making and what you are trying to do. Don't try to make something different but in turn isn't even a remotely fun with how easy it is. World 1-1 is easy but is still fun to try and play through it. That is when it is done correctly. When you design a level and build a game with it. Do you have fun with the level you made even if it is easy? When other people play the level do they have fun with the game or level when they play it themselves?

These are questions you need to ask yourself and others when you work on designing and making a game or level. Know you might want to make it easier, but understand what the goal of it is and ask yourself questions putting yourself in the shoes of the people who will be playing the level.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 - Chemical Plant Zone


Taking this all in with level design

Balancing difficulty when you are designing a level is a key aspect of making a game or a level. You need to figure out what your goal is with this game or level and then start there before you begin. When you work on making a level think about this and ask yourself, the questions I have people ask themselves. Do you enjoy it, was it too hard for a lot of people you wanted to target it with, was it too easy? Did you balance it to make the difficulty fun?

Make sure you do these things when you are working on your levels or game and begin from there.

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