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AwesomeDangerous

2D level editor, what to do..?

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Hello there everyone, I'm completely new here, so tell me if I'm posting this in the wrong place, or otherwise doing something wrong.

I'm not really a game programmer, but a designer, artist and game developer in general. I've been involved in a handful of little indie projects, especially 2-man jobs with me and a versatile programmer friend of mine.


Throughout these projects, some logistics problems of development have become very clear to me:

1. First off, the designers and artists are very dependant on the programmers to constantly be there to put their things into the game, even just to see it in action. This slows the process of development down tremendously, and makes development exponentially slower the bigger the game grows. Anything else than a very uncomplicated game ends up being virtually impossible to finish. What I need is for artists and designers to be able to compile and try the game out on their own, with as little assistance from programmers as possible. That they are able to place and edit objects in a level editor and basically create the game as much as possible without the need of programming. (Complex programming, that is.)

2. A level editor that can lay out "rooms" in a sheet. A lot of 2-dimensional games play out in a game world of maps or rooms connected on huge 2d array of rooms. When editing these maps one by one, you really lose the overview, and this leads to really clumsy and ineffective game level design. I would like a solution in which it is possible to actually view maps in a sheet like this while doing the editing.


So basically I'm wondering how to go about this. I've been talking a bit with a programmer about coding our own level editor / framework kind of thing, with the features we need, but I'm really puzzled that level editing frameworks of with this kind of features are nowhere to be found, nor even mention about how to go about building them, if it is so that everyone builds this kind of thing to make their larger scale games?

For our latest project, an XNA action game, we used Tiled Level Editor (http://www.mapeditor.org/), which worked its purpose decently. As a level designer I could paste tiles and game entities into levels, and assign simple values to the different entities. But yet, every time I wanted to test my level, I needed help putting it into the game, and the editor also felt kind of clumsy and awkward. (and also, there was no way to do the sheet thing)

This is all with 2d games in mind. Low resolution old-school games, that are simple in nature, but rich in content. Programming language and such doesn't really matter, as I would go for whichever is most suited for doing this kind of thing.

If I haven't really formulated what I'm asking about yet, here goes:
How do I go about this? I need the tools to give the designers and artists the power to work more freely on the game's content without constant babysitting by programmers. Are there any ways to do this without developing our own complete development kit? If not, what is the best way to go about this, saving as many work hours as possible? (Keep in mind that we're talking tiny tiny teams working on simple indie games.) How do you go about creating the "development kit" for your larger scale games?

This is all killing me, I really hope you guys can help me out with this. Thanks! Edited by AwesomeDangerous

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Try out my Gamestar game creator. I think it does what you want. Let me know what you think.

http://rpgdx.net/sho...?project_id=423

You may need a custom client to run the game though. I could make that for you.

The map-lineup bit would need a specifc design. You'd want to make it "region" based, where the region could be a set of maps or all the maps. Edited by tcaudilllg

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I can only speak from personal experience, and I should say that I've never developed as part of a team, so not sure how applicable any of this would be in your situation.

In past projects, there are 3 routes I've gone for producing maps, each with their own pros/cons:

1. Use existing tile map editing software (Tiled, tIDE, and Mappy)
Pros - already built, generally easy and quick to get content ready
Cons - inevitably, there will be features or editing tools that I want or need, and need to either repurpose a seperate tool or use other workarounds

2. Build custom editor
Pros - will have the exact features and editing tools needed, can be integrated very tightly with the game engine so that level creation to testing can be quick
Cons- Not trivial to create, a completely separate project to maintain, engine and game must be co-developed along with editor to keep components and features in-sync

3. Repurpose other tools for the task, such as using an image editing program, where each pixel or small group of pixels represents a cell's data
Pros - somewhat quick to get content ready, can be used when there really is no existing tool for the job but I don't want to develop a custom one
Cons - still need to develop a solution to convert between bitmap data and game data, using a tool for what it is not designed for can be ineffecient and difficult

Really I've only used 3 when my requirements were unusual and I had no other good option.


So basically I'm wondering how to go about this. I've been talking a bit with a programmer about coding our own level editor / framework kind of thing, with the features we need, but I'm really puzzled that level editing frameworks of with this kind of features are nowhere to be found, nor even mention about how to go about building them, if it is so that everyone builds this kind of thing to make their larger scale games?


Existing tools are generalized, but games will likely have their own specific requirements and corner cases. I suppose it is like anything else, a tradeoff - will you save time, in the end, by developing a custom tool? Or does the tool development time overshadow the difficulties of working with existing tools?


I would like a solution in which it is possible to actually view maps in a sheet like this while doing the editing.


For very large arrays of large maps, this becomes an excercise in optimization. I'm sure it can be done, but it likely would not be trivial, though I agree it would sometimes be nice to have this feature.

Also, never tried this but it may be possible to create one huge map using Tiled (or similar), and just section or grid areas off as "rooms" - assuming of course you stay within the sane constraints of your hardware. You may need an intermediary step to chop this super-map into various rooms for use as final content.

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