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Short CSGO Dust 2 level design analysis.
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Short CSGO Dust 2 level design analysis.

Malin Wong
by malinwong on 16 Apr 2019

This is a short analysis for an assignment in a level design course we had at Futuregames. It's about how routes and information is presented to the player when entering or exiting an area.

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I chose Dust 2 from CSGO.

The map is very iconic and well known, all CSGO players probably played it countless times, and it’s most likely because of its superb level design.

There’s a great number of leading lines in each and every component that either shows you what direction to go by pointing towards it, or showing where there’s cover by breaking the lines, making the object stick out.

This the first screenshot. Notice that even the tiles on the ground have leading lines in between them, luring the player forward. 

The boxes on the left break this pattern, as well as the stairs on the side. Breaking the pattern makes the boxes stand out, which signals to the player that there's cover in this location. The stairs are an object which usually leads to something, which leads the player forward. 

The shadow plays a big role here as well, especially the lack of shadow. This tells the player that the building has ended and is letting the sun through. This means an open passage for the sun, and most likely us.

Also, notice the shape of the doorway. This is a recurring theme. While analyzing the level I noticed that all doors and passages where you can pass through have a similar shape to this, rather than a square like the decoration doors scattered through the level. This teaches the players brain subconsciously to look out for this shape when looking for a route.

The power lines in the back are also very interesting because they are clear guidance to our eyes and brains in this level. They point towards both sides, telling us that we can go both sides. If the lines would instead be like this:

It would instead feel much more closed off and more likely to be a corner.

This is the second picture. The most interesting thing about this picture, in my opinion, is the lightning and the shadows. When entering this room I immediately just by looking at the lightning knew where to go. The angle that the shadows are pointing is telling us the location of the hole which is letting the sun through, and more often than not a passage for the sun is also a passage for us, since we’re in a cramped area and striving to get out. Notice the shape of the doorway, it's very similar to the previous one, sticking out from the rest of the geometrical shapes being used in the level, catching our attention. There are also some interesting geometrical shapes to our right, which catches the brain's attention too. This is good level design, because if we look that way there’s another passage:

Once again, notice the shape of the doorway. This scene is really interesting to me since it has so many leading lines leading the eye and brain of the player, the seams in the concrete, the tiling of the bricks, the way the light falls on the two exits, the roof, the doorways, the pipes pointing towards both exits, and the railing of the stair. This was a really clever trick to get in a down spiraling handrail, a very prominent leading line, telling us and the player that there’s a passage DOWN! It also sticks out color-wise in the scene and therefore tells you straight up that it's there. The boxes also break the lines of wall, making them stick out and telling you they exist, and that you can take cover behind them.


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