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What are good free and widely used tools for editing 2D sprite-based game levels? I'm looking for one that allows exporting data to a custom format. One that I know of is Blender — a 3D tool, primarily, but can be used for 2D art as well — which also supports Python scripts for exporting data.

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Until I saw this question I didn't realize there is a distinction between tile-based and sprite-based levels. – jhocking Jan 8 '12 at 13:46
As per the FAQ, "What technologies to use" questions are off-topic for this site. – Trevor Powell Jan 9 '13 at 18:09
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Gleed 2D is the most popular tool. It has recently been rewritten and can be found on GitHub.

The output of the tool is a simple XML file. If you're using XNA, there's a small component that'll turn the XML into an object graph. There's versions for Windows, XBox, and Windows Phone.

The new version contains lighting and behaviours:

Lighting in the new version of the tool

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It's been a while since the last update, but there's Gleed2D. I've used it before and it's pretty straightforward. Basically set up your layers, drag and drop sprites into the stage, and transform them into the correct place. Then export to XML and read on your game.

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+1. Gleed2D is very versatile. The possibility to add custom properties to each sprite allows you to add a lot of meta-data if needed. I didn't like the XML export too much, but that was easily fixed with a custom XSLT. – bummzack Jan 7 '12 at 10:51
I've been rewriting Gleed2D for a few months. It's now plug-in based and has plug-ins for lighting and simple behaviours. – Steve Dunn Jan 8 '12 at 14:30
I'm confused to why this isn't the accepted answer... – Byte56 Jan 7 '13 at 22:20

The best ones I know of are Mappy and TIDE. Both export in open formats, and TIDE while not as well-known also exports in its own XML format and supports Mappy FMP, and Flixel's file format, so you can move back to Mappy or easily port to Flash.

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Those are both tile-based. – Paul Manta Jan 6 '12 at 20:23
Tile-based, not sprite. But tIDE is very cool. Nice to mention it. – Gustavo Maciel Jan 8 '12 at 1:17

Take a look at Tiled.

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Looks powerful, but as he commented already, he's looking for sprite-based level editor, not a tile-based one. Still, thanks for sharing, looks like a good application. – David Gouveia Jan 8 '12 at 1:29
Ah. To be honest I thought that sprite based editor == tile based editor. Sorry :) – Patrik Jan 16 '12 at 22:12

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