Posted: 4th October 2021

“I have wacky ideas, and Arkane keeps putting them in the game” - as Twitter bios go, Dana Nightingale’s sums up what she loves most about her role at Arkane Studios Lyon - where she was Campaign Designer on the recently released Deathloop.

Dana’s passion for level design goes way beyond her 11 years at Arkane Studios - with a decade of Thief modding undertaken before she began working on Dishonored as a Level Designer 

Over the intervening years - Dana’s work has helped further cement Arkane’s reputation for exceptional level design.  Before Deathloop - Dana was best known for Dishonored 2’s highly-praised Clockwork Mansion level. 

Her panel, “What Great Level Design Really Takes: An Entire Studio” -  is part of the design track at Develop:Brighton on Weds, 27th October - and promises to dig into the roles that all team members play in making a game with great level design. 

Develop:Insight spoke to an elated Nightingale on the morning that Deathloop released - as the internet filled with positive reviews, and glowing feedback on Twitter from early players who were already enjoying what many were calling their game of the year. 

“This panel isn’t about my level design practices - but we talk about the fact that everyone has a part to play - I focus on the level designer’s relationship with designers, narrative, effects, sound and all that stuff. 

"We talk about how teams are structured and leadership is organised at Arkane and our processes - how to keep different teams in sync, designing your tools so you don’t kill the level design team, and then the processes for documentation.  It feels like I cover a whole semester in 40 minutes, because there’s so much to talk about. 

“At Arkane people praise our level design, but none of that would be possible if the entire team wasn’t aligned.  Everyone is contributing, everything is fitting together - it’s not just the level designers getting a list of tasks and hoping they’ve done them correctly.”

On whether she believed Arkane was different to other studios, Dana said: 

“Arkane has been my career - but it’s clear from others I’ve talked to, that there are some things we do very differently from other studios. The autonomy that level designers are given - the amount of authorship control they have - essentially each level designer is the director on their part of the game - making all the decisions.

“The way the level designer and the artist have a partnership is one of the biggest differences - a lot of senior level designers who join us are shocked when they see how we do it.  The artist isn’t doing an art pass on the grey box - the grey box is a prototype - you are creating the finished map together, it isn’t about taking your grey box and making it pretty. It’s a true collaboration, and I believe this is rare.” 

To hear more from Dana, visit What Great Level Design Really Takes: An Entire Studio on Wednesday, 27th October from 12noon until 12:45 in Room 4.

Tickets for Develop:Brighton are on sale now.  Both in-person and online passes are available.

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