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I'll be likely writing one this year. It will end up having unique design so things turn out on its own anyway.

Though, what an experienced level designer would want from a level editor? Requirements? Key features? Things that could be worth the time spent into implementing them?

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Suggest making this a wiki as there's no one correct answer. –  Lee Jul 24 '10 at 7:16
    
alright. at least you understand the purpose of community wiki –  Cheery Jul 24 '10 at 11:36
    
Just a tip: check out the existing Tilemap editors. Tiled, Mappy and a few others. Something they all have is something you're very likely going to need in your own editor. –  LearnCocos2D Jul 25 '10 at 22:02
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8 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Not yet mentioned:

  • Autotiles (so the designer can draw freely, and have the application set the correct corner tiles).
  • Plugins (so I can develop in-house format exporters/importers and tools, etc.)
  • Cross-platform (so designers are not forced to use one specific OS.) This, for me, would be one of the most important requirements.
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+1 for autotiles, especially if the system is designed flexibly to allow many different scenarios / logic for selecting tiles. –  davr Jul 23 '10 at 17:58
    
Make it work online. Cross platform indeed. –  BerggreenDK Nov 21 '10 at 5:36
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  • Loading in custom tiles
  • Setting map size
  • Setting tile size
  • Square tilemaps, hexagon tilemaps, or other shaped tiles
  • Save/load map
  • Layers
  • Animating tiles
  • Tile properties (walkable, swimable, etc.)
  • Events (depends if you want to add this; i.e. player steps on tile at x,y and does an event)
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+ positioning objects at the pixel rather than tile level –  Iain Jul 23 '10 at 15:27
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Plug-in Editor
I would just like to reiterate the value of creating a plug-in based editor. Jeff Ward pointed me in this direction a few years ago when I started working on an editor.

Creating such an editor will allow you to remain agile in development. Inserting a new component into the system should be a painless experience. Requirements will come up where you didn't expect them and having this kind of architecture will save you time in the long run.

And, tbh, from a developer stand-point -- this was pretty fun to experiment with. :)

Easy-to-use Event Editor
I wouldn't want to see one window with a thousand checkboxes, comboboxes, etc. Give me one window that does one thing. Imagine right clicking on a door and selecting add event. It recognizes it's a door and opens a 'Door' dialog. Well, what do we do with doors? We go places. Have a drop down of other positions the player can go. KISS

Dungeon Creator
It would be handy if I could start designing a dungeon, or even island, from a random start-point.

Improved Tile Placement
Say I started drawing the exterior of a castle or the coastline of an island. Imagine, for the island, that I needed to go around the island with the coast tile. If I could hold shift and set the coast tile all around the island, that would be slick.

Database
What I use for one game, I'd like to use for another game. Create a way for me to store my characters, items, monsters, spells, etc into a database.

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Plug-In Editors rule. Besides what you said, if a plugin is broken, you can just disable it instead of having the Editor crash or do other unwanted stuff. –  LearnCocos2D Jul 25 '10 at 22:03
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Often overlooked issues from the user's standpoint:

  • Stable, nothing worse than an editor that crashes
  • Reliable Save/Load
  • Auto-backup
  • Level integrity check (does the map have everything the game needs to run)
  • New Level creates a loadable level from scratch (spawn points & whatever the game needs)
  • Ability to create, save, and place collections of tiles (Prefabs)
  • Ability to copy/paste/move/rotate arbitrary selections of tiles
  • Ability to rapidly swap a placed tile with a different type of tile in that same location
  • Keyboard shortcuts, preferably customizable.

On the coding side:

  • Plug-in architecture for ease of expansion to future needs.
    • Allows multiple people to add features simultaneously and release them independently.
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Level integrity check.. That's an excellent feature that may determine success of the game. –  Cheery Jul 24 '10 at 11:49
    
In other hand, I don't think plugin architecture is important. I prefer opening the source and integrating new features into whenever they are required at. Though internally it might be good to have high walls between separate concerns and an automated mechanism to install them. –  Cheery Jul 24 '10 at 11:52
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My big wish list feature is the ability to easily make a large map "stitched" together from 'rooms'. Basically a map editor designed specifically for a metroidvania style game. Editing many separate smaller maps by hand and dealing with markup or configuration files for specifying how one map links to another is tedious. I'd love to be able to simply make a huge map but section it off with markup and export it as submaps for implementation/efficiency/etc.

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Multiple Map Sets: This could server for having the world on one map set, the dungeons on another, and the houses/caves/etc. on yet another. You could even have multiple worlds (i.e. Balanced, Ruined, etc. like the old Final Fantasies).

Character/Boss/Enemy Positioning and Properties We are probably going to want to set where the player and enemies are in the editor. It would be great to be able to edit their properties on the fly (i.e health, defense, current items, etc). This would also help with testing.

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Something I would put as very high in a level editor "goal" would be to avoid ANY situation where starting the map from scratch is easier than correcting a mistake in the current map.

I've seen this happen with a lot of the tools i write for myself or even in other bigger tools(like tiled) where it is very hard to replace a tile set with a new version of it, or even change the size of the map.

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Something that can top this? :)

http://thetoolsmiths.org/2009/02/24/sweating-the-small-stuff/

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Any map editor tops that. –  DFectuoso Jul 23 '10 at 17:45
    
+1 for interesting use of excel. –  Cheery Jul 23 '10 at 19:54
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