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Take a look at Super Mario, or even PacMan, or Arkanoid.

How are their levels made, do they created a simple level editors to visualize them, or they designed them by hand (directly with code)?

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All those old games didn't have the good fortune of level editors, with the exception of some of the super marios. Being mostly written in assembly with limited resources(memory, cpu speed, etc...) a lot of them would have just been hard coded points. Array's do well for this. But at the end of the day there isn't much difference as a level editor will have to load in or create the necessary data structures. This question is fairly generic and without more information like the type of game the possibilities are limitless. –  dennmat Feb 8 '13 at 17:40
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Writing an entire video game in assembly already requires a lot of imagination and work ;) –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Feb 8 '13 at 17:56
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With pen/pencil and paper –  user25712 Feb 8 '13 at 18:38
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@dennmat Don't underestimate paint.exe or similar programs as level editors. For example, all levels of the original Lemmings have been created in a simple paint program. –  Hackworth Feb 8 '13 at 19:56
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Even if most of these games were written in assembly and that lots of data was the result of 'trial and error' method, for some other stuff (sprites, levels, ...) they use tools. Tools also allow non programmers to create some stuff in the game. look at that picture : s9.postimage.org/uebv3q00f/019.jpg (especially the guy at bottom left, editing mario sprite). Good old paper and pencil for prototyping is useful too ! –  tigrou Feb 8 '13 at 21:36
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closed as not a real question by BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft, Jimmy Shelter, Byte56, bummzack, Sean Middleditch Feb 10 '13 at 20:52

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