The UGC Dilemma: post-mortem of a level editor

It is undeniable that user generated content is getting more and more relevant for games. When a player has the power to create their own content , they engage with the game in a completely new way. But if you’re a developer, you should know that creating a proper level editor can be even more time consuming that creating the game itself. Giving players the chance to create content is not enough: it has to be fun. On top of that, level editors need to be intuitive, or players won’t be able to use them properly. The best solution is a trade off between giving players the power to create whatever they want, and the need to simplify it.

500px-Puzzle_Creator_initial_viewA perfect example of this is Valve’s Puzzle Creator, which beautifully captures the essence of Portal’s gameplay. There is no space for scripting or custom events, making most of the original levels from Portal impossible to replicate. Valve has made a very clear design choice: they add constraints, but in a way that guide players’ creativity.

This post go through some of the challenged I encountered while working on the level editor for 0RBITALIS, and how I solved them. I will show in the second part how the editor actually works.

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