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Designing levels faster?

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I'm working on a 2D platformer and level design is taking me a long time. Are there any tricks to speed up productivity when designing tile based levels without sacrificing quality? I want to speed this up so I can focus more on programming.

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Thanks. I actually am using tiled already. I tried out some of your suggestions and I'm working a little bit faster already.

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I think good tools are probably the biggest potential for improving your process -- an improved work-flow works wonders, especially if you can eliminate any delays that occur regularly. It can be helpful to actually note down every step in the process of creating a level and looking for steps that could be:[list]
[*]eliminated, either through use of different tools or a different process,
[*]automated, by writing a script or finding some tool to do them for you, or
[*]made more efficient, through selection of a more performant tool or a change in your process.
[/list]
Perhaps you're doing something that doesn't actually need to be done.
Perhaps you have to run an application at some point during the process and you've been doing this by hand each time -- can you have the tool you were using for the previous step do it for you instead, or would it perhaps be acceptable for this application to be running constantly in the background?



If you need a [i]lot[/i] of levels you could also consider procedural generation. There's a certain overhead in the amount of work required to initially set this up and get it working satisfactorily, but if you're planning on a large enough number of levels the benefits can be huge. There was a gamastura article with some good tips on procedural levels for platform games called "[url="http://gamasutra.com/view/feature/170049/how_to_make_insane_procedural_.php"]how to make insane, procedural platformer levels[/url]".

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