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    Level Designer Interviews: Luca Pancallo

    Interviewer: The_culture

    What is your current role, and what games have you worked on?

    I'm the project leader of PlaneShift, a 3D multiplayer on-line RPG and my basic role is to act as a coordinator of all team members. Our project is OpenSource and we have quite a large team so we needed one guy dedicated to this task.
    I've previously worked at PlaneShift when it was a 2D project.

    What’s lacking in level design today? What can be done to fix that problem?
    What I think is lacking is levels and 3D games today is more interaction with the world. Most levels have now anazing graphics details and good variety but the lack the ability to let the player enjoy its staying in the level. You find an new level, you kill everything you see, you collect an item to unlock a door, and you have surely finished it. After that you don't want to come back in that level and this is the bad part. The player must enjoy visiting again the level, interact with it, talk to NPCs, make friends, etc...
    The solution to fix this problem is to add more interaction with a non-commercial game, in which you can dedicate all the time you want to those features. In commercial games you will always run to meet the release date, and you must drop the details.

    With 3D engines becoming increasingly more sophisticated, level design becomes more complex, which in turn becomes a time-consuming effort.Is this a good or bad thing?

    The design of an important area, can be quite time consuming, because you can't re-use 3D models from other areas. Every corner must have a statue, a particular texture, an inscription and so on... but if you can enhance the time that players will spend in this area all the efforts will be rewarded.

    Is there a particular level from any game that stands out as an excellent example of craftsmanship? Why?
    I really love Descent's levels because they are built with 3 degrees of freedom and the player can navigate through them up-side down. All those levels looks really good from any view angle.

    Where do you draw inspiration from during your level creation process?
    I don't design levels.

    What new features in level editors would you implement if you were designing a new editor from the ground up?

    Surely a strong integration with 3D applications like 3DSMax, Lightwave, Maya, Alias and so on... the basic of building a good level is to add some spice with some details. The best way to create an animated object is to rely on a professional program.

    Where do you see level design taking us in the next couple of years?
    I hope that the tools will be able to pregenerate a level given some basic infos and then you will only have to modify it.

    What game are you most looking forward to?

    I'm interested in every Blizzard's game and I'm waiting the release of Warcraft III to see if it will really change the way we consider a strategy game and a RPG game.
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    Zalman: ZM-DS4F Headphones

    An affordable, ultra-portable headphone set.

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