GDC 2018


Invisible Intuition: Blockmesh and Lighting Tips to Guide Players and Set the Mood

Summary: Waypoints, HUD markers, buddy callouts, cutscenes, forced camera moves and more: these navigation aids are ubiquitous in games to guide players to their goals. But can it be done without them? In this talk, two experts on blockmeshing and lighting present practical techniques that establish mood and naturally guide players through 3D environments. In the first part of the session, David Shaver shares techniques that developers like Respawn and Naughty Dog use to establish natural level flow via blockmesh design, environment art, FX, audio and scripting. Using examples from shipped games as well as custom material created specifically for this talk, David shows early blockmeshing techniques that guarantee proper playtest feedback and verify layout changes work as intended. Attendees will then see many more "before and after" examples of how the best practices presented here improve a level layout's ability to guide the player intuitively. In part two of this session Robert Yang delves into one of the most important yet often overlooked means of understanding levels: light. Lighting is one of the most crucial design tools for setting mood and readability in a game world, but level designers and environment artists often lack the language and theory to collaborate effectively on lighting design. Robert will illuminate what light does for games and show how developers can use it to facilitate specific experience goals for games. Robert's talk begins with a brief cultural history of lighting before moving on to an overview of lighting design theory as well as various case studies.

(Contains more tips and examples!)

PowerPoint presentation (with videos!)

PDF of the slides

Original GDC 2018


PDF of the original GDC slides

Video presentation (requires paid GDC Vault access).


Part 2 of the talk is by Robert Yang of NYU Game Center. His half can be found on his blog here: