Prototype 2 Level Design Ideas

Rather than rush straight into making the second prototype, I am looking at symbols and ideas that I can base my level design on. I am probably going to stick with the initial idea of a hub room with branching rooms coming off of it, as want to explore how the player feels moving from realism to abstraction. This first idea, a circular room with four branching corridors, is a combination of a circle, symbolizing safety, harmony and unity and a cross, symbolizing divinity, spirituality, wisdom and the self.


I wanted to have something in the hub room, as the doors and signage were too direct last time, and had no thematic relevance to my research. I’ve had this sort of glowing white tree in my head for a while, so I did some research on trees as symbolism. “Trees lend themselves to identification with the human form, and have frequently been endowed symbolically with anthropomorphic characteristics”(Crews. J, Sène. E. H.,2003) They are also seen as “symbols for an eternal and indestructible life force.”(Crews. J, Sène. E. H.,2003) due to their seasonal cycles and new growth. “Most of these myths and practices point to an underlying identification of trees as receptacles for spirits or souls, a belief common in many cultures.”(Crews. J, Sène. E. H.,2003) This tree as a receptacle for the soul idea is well suited to my theme.

Crews. J, Sène. E. H.2003.Forest and tree symbolism in folklore.Unasylva (English ed.).2003.54:213. pp. 37-44  


With there being four elements – each room and the tree – this could represent the balance of health in traditional Japanese Reiki therapy. This indigenous practice is refered to as “universal life energy” and is a pseudoscience that uses hands on healing.(Matsumoto, Juang, 2012) It works well as a metaphor for feeling complete and healthy.

Matsumoto, Juang, 2012.Culture and Psychology.5th edition.Boston:CENGAGE Learning Custom Publishing.


Within each of the themed corridors, I would like to move from realism to abstraction, to show the player going deeper into their mind. As I have previously discussed, abstract animation activates the right side of the brain, just like meditation, so is a good signifier for this.


For the corridors themselves, I have decided I want something bigger than just a small corridor and room like in the first prototype. I have considered tunnels, as they can symbolize a journey, a transformation or a look into the soul. (cite) I have also thought about using a spiral shape, either in the tunnel or as a sort of spiral staircase.  The spiral is a symbol of growth, evolution and transformation so exemplify my ideas.(Dondis, 1978) It also adds a bit of interest to the design. A spiral going up could be enlightenment or higher knowledge, whereas one going down could be “spiraling down” into something bad or dangerous.

Syonym.2014The Symbolism of Tunnels in Litreature.[online]Accessed 21 Nov 2014.Available from:



Two things that I have found really interesting doing these designs is that concept art might be helpful and that I’m looking into symbolism more than I thought I would. Though these are very quick doodle type drawings, they are useful to articulate my thoughts and help me think about ideas before hand. I haven’t used a sketchbook style method (eg going from doodles to silhouettes/thumbs to concept art to finished piece) in quite a while, as most of last years work was production focused and I was given concepts to work with. Symbolism wise, I think this can feed a lot into my project, but I need to make sure I relate it back to the formal elements rather than just the theme.


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