I started in 3DS Max trying to figure out a good layout, but found it very hard to get a sense of scale or really imagine the environment from the player's perspective. As a result it came out pretty flat and boring.
I took the result into UDK and made use of the terrain tool and existing UDK assets to get a better sense of what I wanted. After showing the environment to half a dozen students and getting feedback from them and watching them play through the environment, I made many revisions to the layout and flow of the level. The main areas I improved were:
- Allow the player to explore a little more (less "on-rails")
- One area needed better guiding to help the player go the right way
- Improve the sense of depth in the background
- enhance the scale a little more by making things taller
- adjust the field of view to allow the player to see more content on screen
- many other tweaks