PhD Thesis – Mixed Reality Level Design Workflows

In 2023 I was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosphy (PhD) for my work and subsequent viva voce defence of my thesis titled: Mixed Reality Level Design Workflows. My thesis expores how augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies can be used to improve existing level design workflows and to develop additional workflows that enable new experiences.

The abstract is as follows:

The past decade has seen a continual increase in quality and capability of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices. Due to this greater capability, there have been an influx of entertainment and serious games that have been developed for these systems. Yet, the current workflows for developing VR game levels for entertainment or serious games have remained the same, with developers using a game engine presented on a 2D screen with a traditional mouse and keyboard for input.

This thesis explores the use of AR and VR technologies as part of level design workflows used to develop both entertainment and serious VR game levels. Two existing workflows were identified as areas that could be improved by integrating AR and VR technologies as part of the workflow. Whilst a third new workflow was developed which focused on enabling new experiences for players:

Workflow 1: This workflow explored using AR to help create a digital map of an existing space to help improve realism and presence of a VR serious game environment. The initial focus was on improving the workflow for developers of serious game levels.

Workflow 2: This workflow focused on improving entertainment VR game level creation through the development of a VR level editor. The focus was on improving the entertainment VR level design process for professional level designers.

Workflow 3: This workflow enables new experiences by supporting substitutional reality (SR) level design for players through a mix of both AR and VR technologies. It enables players to develop their own entertainment game levels that support SR using consumer technology.

Each of the three workflows are presented in this thesis along with results from multiple studies. Results from the studies show positive outcomes supporting each of the workflows.

The thesis is currently embargoed until 05/10/2023 on the ChesterRep website. However, you can view a copy of it below:


The following research papers were produced throughout the creation of the above thesis. More information on each project is linked below, as well as the citations:

Beever, L., & John, N. W. (2022). LevelEd SR: A Substitutional Reality Level Design Workflow. In 2022 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (VR) (pp. 130-138). IEEE. doi: 10.1109/vr51125.2022.00031

More Information on LevelEd SR.

Beever, L., Pop, S., & John, N. W. (2020). LevelEd VR: A virtual reality level editor and workflow for virtual reality level design. In 2020 IEEE Conference on Games (CoG). doi:10.1109/cog47356.2020.9231769

More Information on LevelEd VR.

Beever, L., Pop, S., & John, N. (2019). Assisting Serious Games Level Design with an Augmented Reality Application and Workflow. In 2019 Computer Graphics and Visual Computing (CGVC). doi:10.2312/cgvc.20191253

Beever, L., Pop, S., & John, N. (2019). Evaluating LevelEd AR: An Indoor Modelling Application for Serious Games Level Design. In 2019 11th International Conference on Virtual Worlds and Games for Serious Applications (VS-Games). doi:10.1109/vs-games.2019.8864534

More Information on LevelEd AR.

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