28 months (editors only)
Dec 03 2012 04:03 PM
These are the editors we have made to create Awesomenauts (PS3/360/PC/Mac). Their features and possibilities are best shown using a little video I made of them:
We made our previous game Swords & Soldiers with hardly any tools (level editing was done in Notepad!), so we really wanted to step up the quality and workflow up here.
These tools are part of our own engine and we keep using and improving them for our future games. The core target here was quick iteration, so most tools are in the game itself, and can be used while playing at the same time.
The editors were made over the course of four years, mostly by interns. I made the core components of the in-game editors myself, but from there our interns Ted, Niels, Bart, Thijs, Eric and Rick worked on them to really turn them into a useful and rich toolset.
Our editors have a ton of features, including:
Game can be played while editing
Several artists/designers can edit the same level at the same time over the network, seeing each other's edits in real-time
Everything is animateable
Edits to animations or particles are immediately reflected during actual gameplay
Graphics look exactly the same on all platforms, so artists can comfortably work on their PC and don't need to use the more laborious console devkits
Having the editors in the game does have its downsides. Gameplay code is more complex because editor and game are so intertwined. Another issue is that everything needs to be able to be updated at any time, which makes some optimisations impossible. Building our editors this way definitely cost us some performance, but with a lot of optimisation work I did manage to get proper framerate: Awesomenauts now mostly runs on 60fps on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, and rather old PCs can still run it fluently.