Tools (Part 2) - Level Creation

Welcome back to the second post in a series about the tools I'm using to create [Speer]! This time we're talking about level creation.

One thing I've realized while working on Magnet Man Adventures is that if your game requires level creation you absolutely _need_ a good set of tools and an efficient workflow. The first iteration of MMA was done in an early build of Godot which had its own built-in tilemap editor, which was pretty cool. However, there was one flaw: It didn't have a fill-bucket tool. This meant that I had to manually fill in all the background tiles so that there wouldn't be any gaps. Doing that took up  almost as much time as actually designing the level. It wasn't fun and it certainly wasn't efficient.

But soon after I remade the game using HaxeFlixel and since that didn't come with a level editor I looked around for an external one. Eventually I ended up with Tiled and this is probably as good as you can get.

Tiled is flexible enough to be used with pretty much any engine and comes with everything I need (and yes, that includes a bucket tool). All the stages in MMA were made with it and I'm using it for [Speer] as well.

But a good tool isn't everything, you also need a good workflow. For [Speer] I'm using a few tricks to make things as easy for me as possible. For example: I've set it up so that I can draw paths on the map and certain objects will follow it (if you're interested in how I achieved that, I wrote a full blog post about it here.) This makes it very simple and quick to create and tweak the movement of enemies. 

I'm using a similar trick with the balloons in the game: In order to attach an item to a balloon I just have to place it below the balloon in Tiled. When the level is being built in-game, the item will automatically be attached to the balloon and updated accordingly. This is intuitive and just a lot easier than having to manually assign items. (For more info check out this post.)

Stuff like that doesn't only make level creation more efficient, it also makes it more fun because you have to deal with less hassle. You can focus on design instead of fighting with the tools. I've you've ever felt annoyed at having to build something for your game, maybe take a look at your tools and how you use them; chances are, taking some time to rework your workflow can make things a lot better in the long run.

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did u do the coding using godot