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links to level design communities, websites, discords, podcasts, blogs, social media
There are many benefits to joining a level design community:
- help with design problems / troubleshooting tools
- provide critical feedback for your work
- motivation and encouragement
If you join a game-specific community they can offer focused help / experience, and they are much more likely to playtest your work and give good feedback.
However, there are some generalist level design communities:
- MapCore is one of the longest running active message boards for level design, and focuses mainly on Source Engine games (CS:GO, Team Fortress 2) but many members also regularly mod other games and use Unity and Unreal. Mix of modders and industry users.
- Polycount is best for 3D environment artists, lighting artists, and anyone concerned more with the visual side of level design. Projects skew heavily towards Unreal Engine 4 scenes with Maya / Max / ZBrush / Blender know-how. No one here will ever playtest your project, but they will happily critique screenshots or video. Mix of students and industry users.
- 80 Level features news, articles, and guides for game / film / VFX artists. It is often very technical and tool focused, usually focusing on pipeline and workflow with visual-oriented breakdowns of particular scenes or projects.
look at all these happy people sharing the same space; this too could be you if you join a level design community
- GDC Level Design Summit (formerly Level Design Workshop, Level Design In A Day) is a full day of talks from industry and indie level designers every year. After many years it has found a medium-sized audience at GDC. Unfortunately there's no convenient list of past sessions, but maybe we'll put that together someday. Open submissions every summer / autumn.
- Heterotopias is probably the premier level design criticism publication at the moment, featuring short blog posts as well as long-form features and interviews. Commissions and pitches year-round, pays writers.
- Game Maker's Toolkit (GMTK) is a very popular game design analysis YouTube channel by Mark Brown. He often critiques levels and makes good points, but we want to caution you, he doesn't quite have the personal experience of actually working as a level designer.
Below are some fun Twitter accounts which exist solely to post screenshots of community levels; they're good to follow because seeing more levels will help you train your eye for level design, and it's fun to see what other people make.