A Game Editor for All Seasons

A level editor does not actually need to be bug free. Bug-free software is the stuff one buys in stores, if one is lucky. Really great in-house tools can have plenty of bugs in them. What is important is that these tools be buggy in predictable ways. The bugs should occur in patterns that the designers can learn how to predict and teach themselves to avoid. Once a designer becomes adept at the tools he will know what not to do and will be able to easily work around the trouble spots. Proprietary level editor tools are one place in software development where the old joke Doctor, it hurts when I do this! Then don t do that! really rings true.

Of course, if the tools used on a project are good enough, marketing may catch on and can come up with the bright idea, Hey, we can release the tools with the game! Indeed, shipping a game with its level editor and having users create add-on levels for your title can help to keep interest alive in a game long after it has been released. Hard- core fans will love to make mods for the game to circulate among their friends or the general public. For the tools to be released, they really will need to be relatively bug free, or at least much more stable than when they were only being used in-house. The possibility of releasing the level editor to the fans should function as an incentive to encourage the programming team to create the best tools possible. Of course, some publishers still fail to see the logic of having the fan community build add-ons and refuse to release the tools used for the game s creation. The argument they often give is that if users can build more levels themselves, who will want to buy the sequel? Of course, id Software, the company that popularized releasing level editors to the public, continues to do quite well financially , suggesting that protectionist thinking in terms of level editors is somewhat foolish.

In the end, it all comes down to what should be recognized as an axiom in the gaming-industry: a game can only be as good as the tools used in its creation. A well-conceived level design tool can make the difference between a great game and a mediocre one. One can think of the ideal level editor as a place where the designer has total control of the game-world: of its architecture (where players can go), of its aesthetic appearance (lighting, texturing, and sounds), and of its gameplay (NPC, item, and other entity placement, movement, and behavior). Of course, the best level editor in the world is not going to make up for a subpar engine, a fundamentally flawed game design, or a demoralized development team. But those are topics for another chapter.

Game Design Theory and Practice
Game Design: Theory and Practice (2nd Edition) (Wordware Game Developers Library)
ISBN: 1556229127
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 189

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