10 Best Level Design Courses and Certifications Online

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Close up iPhone showing Udemy application and laptop with notebookLevel design is an essential component of video game development that involves creating game environments and determining the placement of objects, characters, and obstacles to ensure the player’s immersion and engagement. With the increasing demand for skilled level designers, individuals seek online courses to gain knowledge and hands-on experience. This article explores some of the best level design courses available online to help aspiring designers enhance their skills and kickstart their careers in the gaming industry.

Here’s a look at the Best Level Design Courses and Certifications Online and what they have to offer for you!

10 Best Level Design Courses and Certifications Online

1. Level Design Master Class: All in One Complete Course by Emilio Padulo (Udemy) (Our Best Pick)

The Level Design Master Class: All in One Complete Course is a comprehensive program designed to equip students with the necessary skills to become a professional level designer in the game industry. This course is unique because it not only focuses on the fundamentals of level design but also provides practical demonstrations by experienced industry professionals using both Unity and Unreal Engine. The course consists of 12 main sections and includes videos, reference articles, books, and quizzes.

Section 2: Introduction to Level Design, the first section, covers the basics of level design, including the differences between game design and level design, key fundamentals, best practices, and production phases.

Section 3 and 4 focus on setting up and getting familiar with Unreal Engine and Unity, respectively. Students will learn how to download and run the engine and get familiar with the engine’s layout through hands-on exercises.

Section 5 covers a level designer’s workflow, including setting a theme, location, and setting, designing features, collecting references, and creating lore/story.

Section 6 teaches students how to break down a level, design gameplay beats, create a 3-act structure, and mix ingredients to create high-level gameplay. Examples of excellent level design are examined to illustrate how pacing affects gameplay sequences.

Section 7 is a theory-heavy section that focuses on composition in level design. Students learn how to use layers, observation parameters, visual weight, and composition to create effective levels.

Section 8 focuses on guiding the player through the level. Horizontal, vertical, oblique, and curved lines are used to create a direction for the player, and dominants are used as crucial points of guidance.

Sections 9 and 10 are practical exercises where students will create a 3D level using Unity and Unreal Engine, respectively.

Section 11 covers breaking into the industry and provides tools and tips for networking, creating a website, portfolio work, and more.

2. Create a modular dungeon in Unity by Pete Jepson (Udemy)

The Create a Modular Dungeon in Unity course is instructed by Pete Jepson and aims to teach students the fundamentals of modular level design for games. The course is suitable for individuals with no prior experience in Unity and only requires a computer capable of running the free Unity game engine.

Throughout the course, students will learn how to create a dungeon level using modular game objects such as walls, floors, and doorways. Modular game objects can be arranged in any order, making it easy to create hundreds of unique layouts. The course will cover snapping techniques for building unique dungeon designs quickly and efficiently, as well as lightmaps and prop placements.

Upon completion of the course, students will have the skills to create their own levels using modular game objects from any asset packs available on the Unity asset store. Modular level design is a key skill in video game development and will improve students’ abilities to quickly create impressive levels for their own games. All assets used in the course are available for free download from the Unity asset store.

The course is designed for beginner learners and does not contain any scripting or coding. However, the techniques taught in the course can be useful for individuals who already use Unity for their projects. The course includes an introduction and a section on modular layout.

3. Unity Level Design : Abandoned House by Pete Jepson (Udemy)

The Unity Level Design: Abandoned House course is led by Pete Jepson and is designed to teach students a professional workflow for creating a level inspired by the video game “The Last of Us.” Throughout the course, students will learn how to use free props and models collected from various online sources, and modify them using Substance Painter to fit within an environment that meets their vision.

The course covers terrain sculpting, painting terrain textures, arranging flowers, grass, ivy, rocks, and trees, level layout of an abandoned house, re-texturing assets in Substance Painter, creating decals in Substance Painter, lighting and baking lightmaps in Unity, using post-processing volumes, adding environmental sounds, and recording video within Unity for portfolios.

Upon completing the course, students will have developed the skills necessary to build their own levels for their own games. The course is divided into several sections, including introduction, downloading assets, sculpting the terrain, exterior layout, interior layout, editing objects and textures, lighting, final elements, and completion.

Music for the course is by Jason Shaw and is available from freemusicarchive. Students will benefit from the comprehensive course content and are encouraged to enroll to further their skills in level design.

4. Learn the ART of Level Design by Kevin Oxland (Udemy)

The “Learn the ART of Level Design” course, taught by Kevin Oxland, aims to teach students how to create game levels like a professional. Drawing on 30 years of game development and art and game design experience, Oxland provides a step-by-step guide to creating game-ready levels from scratch. The course covers creating bubble diagrams and sketching on paper to iterating quickly, creating 3D game environments in Unity, and using pro builder and pro grids to aid in level creation.

The course emphasizes the importance of storytelling and emotion in creating successful levels, and covers over 30 design principles and level creation techniques used in top-selling AAA games. These principles include design from the core, foreshadowing, immersion, and many more. Students will learn how to install a character controller, explore levels from the player’s perspective, and come to appreciate the iterative process of level design.

The course is suitable for beginners to intermediate level designers, and those serious about pursuing a career as a level designer in the video game industry. It is not an art course and does not cover programming, although a basic scripting section may be added in the future. The course includes an introduction, course details, developing concepts, design principles, setting up Unity, white boxing and blocking out shapes, adding functionality, and a bonus lecture.

Overall, the “Learn the ART of Level Design” course provides a thorough and comprehensive guide to game level design, with a focus on key design principles and techniques used in the industry today.

5. Welcome To Game Design – Master Videogame Design by One Day Code (Udemy)

The Welcome to Game Design – Master Videogame Design Course, instructed by One Day Code, aims to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of how digital games are made from scratch. Throughout the course, students will learn about various aspects of game design, including the history of video game consoles, how to choose the best game engine, building tutorials, providing feedback to players, game flow and transitions, common game elements, and creating prototypes.

Students will also have the opportunity to complete exercises and quizzes to aid in their learning and memorization of the course material. The course will include a downloadable presentation and promises to enhance students’ ability to appreciate and analyze games, as well as empower them with the necessary skills to become a better game designer.

The course is structured into four sections: Introduction, Game Moments, Game Elements, and Prototyping. Enrolling in this course will give students a new perspective on game design and how to create captivating games that keep players engaged.

6. Learn Level Design with Blender and Unity 3D by Stone River eLearning (Udemy)

Stone River eLearning offers a course titled “Learn Level Design with Blender and Unity 3D” aimed at those who wish to design fun and engaging game levels. The course spans over 66 lectures and 5 hours of content and caters to those who have a basic knowledge of Blender and Unity 3D.

The course begins by teaching the concepts and best practices of level design, from setting goals and getting references to planning and mapping out the level in Photoshop. Students then move on to modular design and complete basic object manipulation tasks, followed by each aspect of level design in detail such as floors, ceilings, walls, focal points, props, and other objects.

Students are also taught how to create textures through Photoshop and add intricate texture to each of these elements, making their level design look much more professional. Reviews and quizzes are incorporated into each section of the course to ensure that the material covered is constantly refreshed.

Upon completion, students will have an up to date skill set in Unity 3D and Blender, an understanding of graphics software, game engines, game level design, and how all of these elements work seamlessly to create fun and engaging games. Blender and Unity 3D are open-source programs used by game designers worldwide, making it beneficial for any game developer to gain a knowledge of both as it fine-tunes their insight and intuition for creating multi-faceted, compelling, and exciting game levels.

The course content is divided into several sections, starting with an introduction to the course, followed by modular design in Blender, creating the focal point, creating props, texturing the level, creating textures, building the level in Unity, conclusion, and bonus materials.

7. How to Design Game Levels &Adventures for Video and Tabletop by Lewis Pulsipher (Udemy)

The course “How to Design Game Levels & Adventures for Video and Tabletop” is offered by instructor Lewis Pulsipher. The course focuses on designing entertaining episodes, such as levels, stages, adventures, scenarios, and missions, for both video and tabletop games. The course does not cover programming or specific software usage, but rather focuses on what to include in the level and the principles of adventure design. The course strictly covers design and not production, although documentation is discussed. The course is eight hours, with four hours dedicated to the slides used in the videos.

The course explains that the episode designer is responsible for delivering enjoyment to the players in games that require episodes. The course covers the design of levels and adventures, which are related, with levels being a subset of game design. While there are books on level design, most of the material focuses on manipulating a specific level editor, such as Unreal III, and not the actual design of levels/adventures.

The course is broken down into five sections: Introduction, What is level/adventure design?, Questions you must consider when you make a level/adventure, Producing the design, Campaigns, and Conclusion. Additionally, the course includes bonus material. It is noted that the course will not be deeply discounted, as it is not part of Udemy’s “kamikaze marketing.

8. Learn the basics of building levels with CryEngine by 3dmotive LLC (Udemy)

The course entitled “Learn the basics of building levels with CryEngine” is being offered by 3dmotive LLC. The course is designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to prop placement, environment setup, and general level design within CryEngine. The course instructor, Emiel Sleegers, is a self-taught 3D artist who has worked on numerous unannounced projects as a freelance artist.

The course will cover the basics of the CryEngine UI and how to realistically and logically place objects in a level to ensure that the scene makes sense and flows effortlessly. The course will also cover how to light and add additional compositing effects, and finally, add particles for additional environmental realism. The course is aimed at individuals who want to get a jump-start with building levels in CryEngine.

The course content is divided into three sections: Blocking in the major forms for the level, Level polish and refinement, and Environmental realism. The first section will cover the basics of blocking in major forms. The second section will focus on level polish and refinement. The third and final section will cover adding environmental realism to the level.

To ensure that the course is accessible to all, the course content will be broken down into easily digestible pieces by breaking each paragraph after every three lines of text. The course is designed to be comprehensive, and the aim is to ensure that learners come away with the skills they need to build levels in CryEngine.

9. Realize Your Level Design Ideas with UE5 and Blender by Daniel Kim (Udemy)

The Realize Your Level Design Ideas with UE5 and Blender course is designed to teach learners how to approach level design using Unreal Engine 5. The course instructors, led by Daniel Kim, provide a comprehensive overview of the high-level design thinking and the practical aspects involved in blocking out a level that can then be traversed in UE5.

The course content is structured into four main sections, starting with an introduction to the course and its objectives. The first section covers paper map design, where learners are encouraged to create a 2D map on paper or an image editing app like Photoshop using a pen tablet.

The second section focuses on level blockout using Blender, a 3D modeling software. Although prior experience using Blender or Unreal is not required, it’s recommended that learners are familiar with the basics of their 3D software of choice.

The third section covers lighting and notating in Unreal, where learners refine the level geometry and set up lights, with annotations added where needed. By the end of this section, learners should have an awesome graybox level that runs on Unreal Engine 5.

It’s important to note that this course does not cover gameplay programming or network multiplayer setup. However, graybox maps are perfectly valid portfolio material as they demonstrate how learners design spaces. For personal game projects, the techniques taught in this course can be used to consistently tackle the blank canvas with a reliable design process.

10. Make a World of War game in Unity by Kevin Hadi (Udemy)

The “Make a World of War game in Unity” course, instructed by Kevin Hadi, teaches the fundamentals of game creation by guiding students through the process of making a shooting game. The course is designed to be easily understood by everyone, regardless of experience level, and covers game mechanics, rewards, player engagement, and level design.

Game development involves designing, building, testing, and releasing games. The 7 steps to creating a mobile game include making a plan, choosing software, learning a programming language, starting a project, implementing graphics, elevating play, and releasing the game. With the mobile game market growing rapidly, game development has become an increasingly important field.

The course covers topics such as full 3D character movement, physics, camera operation, player attack systems, scripting, enemy attack systems, enemy bullets, designing complete levels, killing enemies with bullets, and learning C# coding through real world coding activities. This course is ideal for complete beginners with an interest in game development, as well as artists and programmers looking to expand their skillset.

The course is divided into two sections: an introduction to game development, and a section on making a game. The course is designed to guide students step by step through the process of creating a shooting game, with the goal of teaching them the skills needed to create and publish their own games.