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This question has probably been answered before but I've not been able to find the answer, since I'm not able to frame the question with brevity.

So the whole question is :- The worlds/levels that you see in games like Crysis, Assassin's Creed, etc, what do the designers and developers use to create them? Do they use the tools present inside the engine (whether proprietary or in-house) or a separate software that exports these worlds as an importable object for the game engine to use to load models into it, etc?

I know this is a very general question but I have been curious regarding this for some time. I have used Unity in the past and it had a terrain toolkit that could be used to make the terrain, and I'm pretty sure it had completely to do with my lack of skill but I wasn't even close to making an environment that looked like the ones you see these days.

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closed as not constructive by Nicol Bolas, Byte56, bummzack, Josh Petrie, Sean Middleditch Jun 8 '13 at 18:26

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Typically, in both triple-A and indie games, the developers will develop a set of tools for map and level for their game themselves. Take The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim as an example, the creation kit is basically a level editor as with it you're able to edit the world of Skyrim. When the develops made the world and levels of Skyrim that would have used a slightly different version of the creation kit (since I think they altered it for public release). Skyrim Creation Kit

A lot of games nowadays are developed using the Unreal Game Engine (both indie and triple-A), which has its own editor

And since you mentioned Crysis. Crytek have developed their own engine and development kit called the CryENGINE, which they obviously used to build Crysis, you can read about it here:

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As a note, many of these tools commonly take level geometry made in Max/Maya and then import those for further editing. – Sean Middleditch Jun 7 '13 at 4:35
The answer is pretty good. Answers most of my doubts. Sean, what do you mean by level geometry? Can't these details also be dealt with in the engine or level-editor? – Siddharth Kumar Jun 7 '13 at 4:48
By level geometry, I believe he is talking about the game assets of the level. In the creation kit image above those trees or rocks would be made in some 3D Modelling Software like 3DS Max or Autodesk Maya and then imported into the editor to be placed. – BeanBag Jun 7 '13 at 5:05

From my very limited experience as a game developer and somewhat bigger experience as gamer:

  • If you write a game from scratch or you just use some graphics framework, you can adopt some existing level format and just implement a loader.

  • You can implement your own level format and create an editor (levels, maps, campaigns, etc) that will suit all your needs. I believe this is the way of the big games. Sometimes they will release the editor along the game which is usually very welcome in the community. I spend many hours with Heroes of Might and Magic III map editor!

  • Engines usually have some way of loading data from few level formats. I am using AndEgine that has its own format and also implements TMX map file format that can be very easily extended to a fully functional level format.

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Its nice to see a fellow heroes of might and magic III fan (was my first REAL game). What do you mean by Loader here? I assumed it was an editor, but on the 2nd point, that gets contradicted. – Siddharth Kumar Jun 7 '13 at 4:41
If you can find existing format that suits your needs and already has an editor, just implement a mechanism to load the level data to your game. – sm4 Jun 7 '13 at 4:45

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