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Creating 3D levels...

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I just wondered what method you guys used for ceating maps/levels for your games. I''m trying to do a 3D Role Playing Game in OpenGL, and just want some advice on what way to create the maps. I have some 3D modelers working with me, I suppose they could do levels in 3ds max, but I''d prefer to do the levels myself. Any advice? (I wasnt sure exactly where to put this, I''m sorry if it''s in the wrong place) Thanks! -Chris

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Personally, I use a scripting interface along with a comprehensive set of rule files to generate my levels randomly using a wide variety of algorithms or patterns. However, that is not the "standard" approach that most people take, and isn''t really suitable for some games.

Level editors can range in complexity from Notepad (or the equivalent), to a full-blown in-house editor with script editors, object property editor dialogs, placement routines, terrain brushes, etc...

If you decide to build a custom level editor, how you structure it depends on how your level data is organized and stored. Are your levels based on some sort of terrain heightmap? Then you will need tools for editing terrain, raising elevations, lowering elevations, painting terrain types, etc... Or is your map constructed of pieces, or "nodes", in a manner similar to Dungeon Siege? In that case, you will need tools to construct the pieces (Gas Powered Games used 3DStudio custom plugins to create the static meshes and export them as nodes), which are joined together to form the mesh of the world.

Depending on how complex you want to get, building a level-editing tool can be as comprehensive and complicated as building the game itself. Just look at a tool such as the Neverwinter Nights editor to see how complex a tool can get. This tool allows you not only to build the world geometry, but you can also edit object properties, build behavioral scripts, edit script hooks, construct and edit conversation trees, etc... All within the same tool.

Although your editor can reuse a lot of the code you use in the game to handle things, there is still a lot of work involved in its construction, and you can save a great deal of time on tool construction by using an existing modelling package (Blender, 3DStudio, whatever) and creating your own custom scripts or plugins for handling game-specific tasks and exporting to game-specific formats. It''s really up to you. You could get up and off the ground quicker centering your work around an existing package, but in the long run you might be happier with a full-fledged editor.

vertexnormal AT linuxmail DOT org

Check out Golem: Lands of Shadow, an isometrically rendered hack-and-slash inspired equally by Nethack and Diablo.

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