Are Level Editors worth it?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by jrjellybeans, Feb 4, 2010.

  1. MrMandrill

    MrMandrill New Member

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    Oh, heavens! I'm going to say the same thing here that I said to my former employer - That's a horribly draconian approach to content regulation. For the record, they now have 8 full-time staffers just policing content from just one game (released ~1 year ago - that's a lot of wasted cash IMHO). People are used to the Craigslist/YouTube model by now. Put in an in-game button to allow people to flag content as offensive. Put in some built in safeguards to prevent griefing (stat tracking for who's flagging what, block from view if flagged by user). Manually review only "offensive" levels.

    Why does everyone want to waste resources sanitizing their games? Give me the "once you go online, you're in the wild effing west" warning like the ESRB and let me get on with it. If you haven't already learned, if you're easily offended, it's best to just disconnect your modem now.
     
  2. simonh

    Indie Author

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    I added a level editor to my game which was released about five years ago.

    I received my first user levels last week :)

    Up until about a week ago I might have said adding the level editor was a waste of time. But now I'm glad I did, if only for the set of levels I received which were brilliant, full of creativity and clever design, and which were a thrill to receive and play. To play something for your own game that someone else has put so much of their own creative energy into is a special feeling indeed.

    As such, I'm now going to try and integrate a level editor into the iPad port I'm working on. The iPad with it's large screen should be very well suited to such a thing, and will allow me to correct some of the mistakes I made first time around, such as lack of level sharing etc.
     
  3. lightassassin

    lightassassin New Member

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    Assuming you have created and released a level editor and want to provide access to mods (ie an offical database) this would be the approach I would take also.

    It's like building a Dedicated Server for a fps, you don't have to worry about match making with stats, skills etc.. You're creating a whole lot of work for yourself for no real good reason other then some control nut method. Have the players/volunteer admins take control, vote the players out, call it a newbie only server and boot the cheaters, let them choose. Players like choices.
     
  4. Maupin

    Original Member

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    That's awesome. Gives me hope for my own level editor! Perhaps I only need to wait another year...
     
  5. cyodine

    Original Member

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    I like that idea - thanks! Much better than full time 'policing'. Guess I don't spend much time on YouTube and have never been to Craigslist.
     
  6. GavinClifton

    GavinClifton New Member

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    My view is you should create a level editor if you feel you need to, based on your game design and also taking into consideration the direction you want to take your company.

    For instance, if I knew as a game developer I wanted to make a series of side scrolling platformers then to me it makes sense to create some sort of editor as it can be reused on the next projects. If you want to make great sidescroller games then it makes sense to gradually create a toolset over each project that can be used to aid the next game.

    Of course if you had no such direction and plan on switching game genre each project then there might not be much point creating a dedicated editor for a single project. Especially as you could most likely find some existing software to act as a temporary editor.
     
  7. manicmilkman

    manicmilkman New Member

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    Since the release of the flash version on Tuesday, about 50 user levels have been created for Aqualux.
     
  8. James C. Smith

    Moderator Original Member

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    When I was a kid all my favorite games had levels editors and that is probably why they were my favorites. I spent a lot of time with Load Runner, Adventure Construction Set, Pinball Construction set and Arknoid. But I many not be normal or representative of average players or modern times.

    In the games I have played in the past 10 years, I personally never use level editors. But maybe that's because I don't have time for that when I could be making my own game, or maybe just because most games don't come with level editors anymore.

    Even if you don't ship your editor, you should definitely have a level editor for your game. I always believe the quality of the levels improves when you have an interactive editor. Using notepad you will get levels that look like they were made in notepad. With a real-time, interactive editor you will get more polished levels. Once you have the editor for yourself, you may want to release it to the public. But that is usually a lot of extra work. Not only will you want to clean up the editor to make it easier to use, you will also have to make the game support multiple sets of levels. Ricochet Xtreme had a level editor we never released mostly because the game didn't support a concept of level sets. In the sequel (Ricochet Lost Worlds) we added support for multiple levelsets and made the editor accessible to the public. I always make the level editor be part of the game rather than a separate program. This is because I believe it is important to support rapid iterations of level design. Edit->test->edit->test->edit->test should be as fast as possible. And the editor should be WYSIWYG. The game engine can render the level much more accurately than a separate editor can. The Reflexive framework we use to make most of our games has a lot of components that make it easier to make level editors.
     
  9. Game Producer

    Moderator Original Member

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  10. Garthy

    Indie Author

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    I considered this when I was putting together long-term plans for E.V.E. Paradox (I bailed on this due to weak sales, but that's another story). In developing E.V.E. Paradox I put together a level editor, which was done in such a way that I could adapt it to more general use, but I left the polish until later. This difference in effort between a useful level editor and one that you'd release to the public can be large, by the way! Anyway, my plan, if it took off, was:

    - Polish up the level editor for use by the general public. Release it.
    - Support user content, etc.
    - When I released an expansion pack, I would add *new* features to the engine, create levels using these new features, release the expansion pack, but *not* release the editor that could use those new features. That way, the expansion pack would offer something that user levels could not.
    - After a period of time, cave in to demands to release the editor with new features, but always require the expansion pack for levels that use those new features to work, pumping demand for the expansion pack to be able to use the new user levels.

    In this way, you're not really competing with yourself, since you're making levels that the editor (initially) cannot.

    I never did get to put those plans into effect, but that's how I planned to approach things. I hope it helps someone. :)
     
  11. lightassassin

    lightassassin New Member

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    Garthy good points.

    There are so many variables to each games situation, while a fps would gain much from a map editor, a story driven rpg wouldn't be such a great idea.
     
  12. BUnzaga

    BUnzaga New Member

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    I wish I could find this great article about an indie developer who finally 'made it'. It was very interesting and had several good points.

    One of which, was to forget about level editors in your first few projects.

    As an indie developer, speed and simplicity are the goals. Your team is probably a 3-4 man team, with one or two programmers. Who is the level editor for? Is your 3d modeler going to make the levels? Is your concept artist? No, you are. You are a programmer, so it all makes sense to you.

    Are you going to spend a month or two making the interface, code, debugging, testing, redesigning, retesting, etc needed for the level editor, or would you rather spend that time making the game and taking care of business? Are you making a level editor, or are you making a game?

    The only time I would suggest making a level editor, is if it is part of the core game itself. Like in StarCraft, you can make your own maps, upload them to the internet, use map settings, etc. The level editor is incorporated with the game, and is part of the experience.

    I use XML a LOT for my development. It is very easy to read, and is universal. You can change your platform, your engine, your OS, and it can still read XML. All that changes is execution.

    I started out like you, whenever I began a project, I would go through my head listing off all the various editors I would need, item editor, quest editor, npc editor, spell editor, the list goes on and on.

    But a simple text editor and XML is all you need.

    So unless you are having SOMEONE ELSE create the levels, or the project is SO BIG that it would be easier to use an editor than it would be to open up an XML file and modify a few values, I would say, just make your game man, leave the level editors for Blizzard and Nintendo :)
     
  13. Bad Sector

    Original Member

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    That's as shit a suggestion as "you must never use 3D for your indie games" :).

    I can't imagine making a platform game without a level editor, for example.

    Ok i can. Its horrible.
     
  14. chillypacman

    chillypacman Guest

    I dn't tihnk most people use level editors much but having one does help in sales regardless as people are like 'oh level editor! that'll be fun to use!'
     
  15. BUnzaga

    BUnzaga New Member

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    If you are referring to me, I would suggest you reread my post:

    I said for your first few games, not every game you ever make.
    I also said it is a good idea if the editor itself is part of the game experience.
    I also said it is a good idea if someone else is doing the level editing, and not the programmer.
    I also said it is a good idea if the project is so big, having a level editor would help manage the project.

    Is there any reason you felt the need to attack my post and say my opinions and ideas are 'shit' ? Is this the kind of forum this is? If so, I have better things to do with my time.
     
  16. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Yeah! It's my job to say things are shit! :)

    If your editor isn't going out to the public, you can get away with any old ropey shite tbh. Mappy solves most 2D problems ime.

    I've already stated elsewhere though that I think making a polished editor is nothing but a timesink and will rarely be worth the effort.
     
  17. tolik

    Original Member

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    wrong thread
     
  18. JarkkoL

    JarkkoL New Member

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    It's quite a time saver to work with a wysiwyg editor though, at least when it comes to 3D.
     

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