I’ve been thinking about this between the fact that LittleBigPlanet is coming next month (I’ve pre-ordered it and I don’t even own a PS3 yet, I have no shame) and the fact that I’ve been playing N+ on the DS this past week. N+ is awesome, but I think I prefer the computer version of making your own levels just because I find it easier to manage than on the DS.
Anyway, not to get sidetracked, but creating my own levels/games has always been a passion of mine. It’s mostly because I always have all these great ideas for games and such in my head but I don’t know crap about programming.
One of my favorite games when I was younger was Klik & Play. Basically it was a game that let you create your own games. What you could do was limited, each level could only be one screen big so there was no scrolling, but me and my friends eventually got good enough with it to make some pretty insane things. My friends always hated any games I made because they were, for lack of a better word, ass-hard. In fact, I got my own difficulty level: there was easy, medium, hard, and Pollux Oil. I was quite proud of that.
I also picked up the original RPG Maker for the Playstation, but I grew frustrated with the fact that the dialogue was so hard to input. I tried a later version for the computer but it was too complicated for me, sadly. I wish I had had the time to figure it out, I might try to pick up the latest version of it as I’m an RPG fanatic.
So is there anybody else out there that gets as much enjoyment out of creating games/levels as playing them? Aside from what I’ve mentioned already, are there any other games out there that give you the ability to make your own levels?
Warcraft 3 has to have some of the most insane custom maps ever. You only need to understand logic, as the programming is chosen from a drop down menu (okay, you CAN program in longhand JASS, but you only need to if you’re doing ridiculously complex stuff) and pretty straight forward. It takes a little bit to get used to all of the variables and such, but there are plenty of tutorials online.
Maybe not what you were looking for but I thought I’d put it out there.
There are literally thousands of games that let you make your own levels. Start with 95% of first person shooters released for PC’s and move on from there.
The oldest title I can think of where that was the entire point of the game is The Pinball Construction Set from Electronic Arts in 1983. Games had been hacked to modify levels before but that was the point where it really started.
To my knowledge there is only one franchise that has taken this to the next level by not only providing the professional tools they used to create the main adventure of the game, but polishing them up, making them easier to use, and supporting them: Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2.
The first one is the easier toolset to use, the second requires more time in getting the hang of it, but you can make just about anything RPG and D&D with it. From a short multi-player dungeon crawl, to an epic multi-chapter adventure, to a “persistent world” which are essentially small scale MMORPGS. This is a PC game though, not a console game.
I’m anxiously awaiting the next Issue (free expansion) to City of Heroes/Villains, specifically because it will include a mission/story arc creation tool based on the ones used by the developers. There will be limitations on it–notably, we will be limited to choosing one of the 1,000 or so defined maps, rather than making our own. It will, however, allow us to populate those maps with enemies of our choice, write all the dialogue and clues, set mission objectives, include escort and helper NPCs, and more. One of the goals is also to allow us to use the game’s extraordinarily flexible character customization system to create custom looks for bosses, but I’m not sure if that option will be available when the feature launches. The missions will be available to all players, just like regular missions.
This may be the first feature of its kind in a true MMORPG. Neverwinter’s system offers a lot more options, but persistent worlds aren’t quite the same, and don’t necessarily deal with the kind of balance issues that MMO developers face.
There was this crappy game on my mate’s computer back in high school - real basic arcade game, no scrolling, had to collect all the gems which opened the exit style. Boring as all hell. But we spent hours designing our own levels with the level editor, which was quite sophisticated given the rest of the game. And the game mechanics were quite good - there were teleports (which enemies could use) and switches (again, which enemies could activate/deactivate) allowing you to go nuts with the levels you make. sigh good times.
We also spent time designing, on paper, our own levels for games without editors. Lemmings and Mario Party come to mind.
Yeah. Even Warcarft II had a useable editor. I once made (apart from the typical mutliplayer maps and “campaigns”) several RPG style adventures, like a squad of suped-up trolls launching a multi-pronged attack on a prison, or a knight looking for the church to make him so kind of uber God. They were fun, though the difficulty mainly stemmed from the gameplay mechanics, which I know annoys a lot of people.
Oh, and I just remembered. One of the “Incredible Machine” type games, the Incredible Toon Machine, was great for this. It was similar to the others only, no suprises, it was very cartoony. Think Loony Tunes as an inspiration for the Laws of Physics. As such there were two “parts” of interest, a mouse and a cat. Cat will chase the mouse and possibly catch him, but give the mouse a pencil and he will use the eraser to rub out the cat’s arms and legs, then punch him til he explodes. Heeheehee.
I spent perhaps too much of my childhood on the editor, coming up with campaigns for Special Agent Sid, a lone mouse waging a war against the vicious cat army. It even had cutscenes! I tried to reproduce this sort of idea in Incredible Machines: Contraptions, a later version of the series, but with less success.
A lot of artificial life games allow you to get into the nitty gritties. When I was fourteen, I was dissatisfied with the breed selections in the game Dogz, so hacked it and turned my puppy into a mutant freak. I continued this trend with the Creatures series of games, by altering the genetics files for the Norns within it. I was especially proud of my photosynthetic, water-breathing Norns, though the ones that ate by beating each other up were fun, too.
They’re a bit different from most games out there, but the Creatures games were fun because not only could you change the world or add things to it (I recall one person making an ice world available, and there were multiple “water worlds”), but you could fundamentally alter the behavior and life cycles of the creatures that inhabited it.