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  Survivor level editor  (Read 2232 times)
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Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


http://t-machine.org


« Posted 2004-05-28 10:35:23 »

Survivor is the game we're (myself, KevGlass, and a friend who works for a java games dev company) writing for Sun's game dev competition, and I've just about finished the level-editor for it. Enough so that I'm able to make a new level from scratch with 20 interesting rooms in about two hours.

What I'm wondering is: should we stick the editor up on our website (note: we don't actually *have* a website ... yet Wink) along with the game? I wrote it deliberately to be as simple to use as possible, primarily because I knew we wouldnt have time to mess about using an editor that had lots and lots of "quirks" - we needed something that worked and was simple to use. So, it's kind of usable by anyone.



...but there's no help, the documentation is only one page long, and I don't think any of us really have time to support it Sad so if we posted it, you'd be pretty much "on your own".

Of course, you don't even know if you're going to like the game yet, seeing as we don't have a demo ready Smiley  (yeah, we've got a LOT to do in the next 10 days!), but I thought I'd try and get some feedback on whether we should try and release this editor? (i.e. clean up the docs a bit, put some screenshots on the website, etc etc).

FYI: If you've ever played Smash TV (an old SNES game you should be able to find ROM's for online, and run on Snes9x emulator), then you've got a good idea what survivor is like...

It would be great if any of you got some fun out of it, and *amazing* if anyone came up with a funky level for us to put in the game (note: remember the game has to be complete by the 7th june!), but I'm guessing that anyone who's into level-design probably is spending all their time on Quake3 editors and UnrealEd and friends...

So, what do you think? Would you want to create and edit your own levels for Survivor?

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline monkeyget

Senior Newbie





« Reply #1 - Posted 2004-05-28 11:30:50 »

That smash TV game is really fun (but really hard -_-).
Id'love to help you, too bad i can't at the moment (exams  Grin ).
By the way why wouldn't you release it?
Offline cfmdobbie

Senior Devvie


Medals: 1


Who, me?


« Reply #2 - Posted 2004-05-28 12:10:00 »

I say release it and see what happens - if there's any interest in it and it's worthwhile, then clean up the docs and revamp the interface.

You may not even need to do the cleanup and doc-writing stage at all - if people are really interested, a third-party will get a tutorial up somewhere and people will get the hang of things in no time.  Or if the editor is straightforward enough, the tutorial won't even be needed - people will just start using it.

Withholding a level editor when you have one available seems silly - if there's no cost to you, release it.  Even if you decide to come out with a 2.0 with better docs and a slicker interface, you'll still benefit from the first release.

Hellomynameis Charlie Dobbie.
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Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


http://t-machine.org


« Reply #3 - Posted 2004-05-28 12:51:43 »

Quote
That smash TV game is really fun (but really hard -_-).
Id'love to help you, too bad i can't at the moment (exams  Grin ).
By the way why wouldn't you release it?


Not that I'm arguing against releasing it, but just FYI here are the major arguments AIUI:

1. lots of emails "Why doesn't this work you lazy dumbass "£$"%^!?"

Sure, it "shouldn't happen", but reality is it does Smiley

2. releasing something publicly creates a new responsiblity for yourself. Although many people (the poorest of the open-source programmers, for instance) either don't realise this or ignore it, there are many many around who do understand this. Releasing something and then ignoring your responsibility can often be worse than not releasing at all - you reduce the value and the respect that people have for the thing itself and it's surrounding stuff (in this case, a contrived example might be a short game-review from a free games site where we got a lower score because the reviewer tried the level editor and got p***ed off; whilst it's frustrating and sad when this happens, IMHO it's legitimate - reviewers aren't expected to be pure and unbiased Wink)

Although, if you're someone like Epic Megagames, with literally millions of people playing your games, I agree that the community is so large and determined you'd have to try *really hard* to release something they didn't somehow manage to make good Smiley.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline Orangy Tang

JGO Kernel


Medals: 56
Projects: 11


Monkey for a head


« Reply #4 - Posted 2004-05-28 13:44:23 »

Level editor looks good, but I thought this was a 3d game? Is it just easier to use J2D for the editor for some reason?

I'm trying to decide on pretty much the same thing as well - a level editor is pretty much essencial (theres no way I'm creating tile based levels in a text or hex editor!) but the jump from internal tool to an actual public release is much bigger that it first seems.

However my biggest worry is destroying some of the 'magic' around the game. Tinkering with the level editor shows how certain things are done (like critter movement) that otherwise remain somewhat mystical and vauge. Although that probably varies depending on the game.

Equally, you've got to add some sort of protection to stop users tinkering with the 'official' game maps, yet allow custom maps to be dropped in without too much effort. I still think its worth releasing some sort of tool though - even if you have to stick a bit "Not supported in any way, shape or form!" pop up when you start the thing.

[ TriangularPixels.com - Play Growth Spurt, Rescue Squad and Snowman Village ] [ Rebirth - game resource library ]
Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


http://t-machine.org


« Reply #5 - Posted 2004-05-28 14:15:54 »

Thanks, OT, you've pointed out some of the other concerns around this topic. It's a bit of a FAQ for each time you write a game, isn't it? Do I write a new editor? Do I release it if so? Do I allow people to play levels, or require they are submitted to me, and then *I* will pacakge them and distribute?

(nb: to anyone wondering about the validity of the last Q, have a look through the Your Games Here on this board, for the 2D side-scrolling planes dogfighting multiplayer game; someone created a map that made some blatant in-your-face *ahem* extremist comments on stuff like the two towers and racism. Although it had nothing to do with the author, a lot of people mistook it for an official level Sad )

Quote
Level editor looks good, but I thought this was a 3d game? Is it just easier to use J2D for the editor for some reason?


aha! It's all part of my Cunning Plan!

One person working on 3D renderer. Different person working on level-editor. Means that by the time the 3D renderer is complete enough to use seriously for level editing, the level editor is already complete enough to create levels. Makes no difference on 1-man projects, but where you have several people, the parallelisation makes a HUGE difference.

(as you will hopefully see when I get around to parts 1-3 of my dev-diary for this project (on JGF: http://grexengine.com/sections/externalgames), this decision actually saved our bacon - had I not been doing the editor independently, we would not have had any levels by the time the compo ended!)

Quote

based levels in a text or hex editor!) but the jump from internal tool to an actual public release is much bigger that it first seems.


Yeah, it's a veritable Chasm...

Quote

Equally, you've got to add some sort of protection to stop users tinkering with the 'official' game maps, yet allow custom maps to be dropped in without too much effort.


Well, if I can, I'm going to:
- update the highscores system you and I talked about, and put a "first draft" version into this game (but probably, at this rate, not until AFTER the competition), and then you and I can hopefully convert that into a usable API
- ...and then have a go at cloning and extending that into a level-distribution system. Although that starts to move much more firmly into the realm of Valve's Steam-Engine (and I don't really see a future in competing with the authors of Half-Life...Wink)

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


http://t-machine.org


« Reply #6 - Posted 2004-05-28 14:23:44 »

Oh, yeah, one more thing...I did idly wonder whether it might be worth making the editor available as some kind of "generic tile-based-game level-editor".

Now, I must point out that on the whole I am very much NOT in favour of such things, since many many years (decades, even) of experience with game editors points to the fact that each game needs too much customisation of it's own. Or the editor just is too crap for your game - too hard to do your game levels in an editor that wasn't expecting your CoolFeatureTM in your game.

And...when you put a circle around all the parts that would be common to all games, you end up saying "what I'm going to do is a new framework for building document editors" and you find yourself wanting to call the project "Obscuration", or "Adumbrate", "Darken", "Black out", or something like that. Hmm. Wonder why? Wink

...and if you were to do an editor *purely* for 2D tilebased levels, still I suspect you'd be better off starting with Eclipse than with any proprietary Swing-based editor I did off-the-cuff using my own toolkits for building swing GUI's (...that I have given away free to people before, but never made available in a public or source way...).

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
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