People who build in Unity or UDK have immediate access to a 3D level editor. People who build their games in XNA or from scratch have no such thing. I'm looking for 3D level development tools available to these people.

  • It must be free, or affordable to an indie developer. I leave the term "affordable" open to interpretation.
  • It must not be restricted to a specific game engine. I should be able to build my game from scratch and use this level editor to construct my levels.
  • It should have a file format that comes with an interpreter, or sufficient documentation for me to be able to build my own interpreter.
  • Open source and/or modifiable/customisable is a plus, but not a requirement.

I know beggars can't always be choosers, but I'm hoping there's something high quality out there.

If there isn't, maybe someone would like to jump on that opportunity and fill the void.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Might want to make this a Community Wiki \$\endgroup\$ – mpnk121 Jun 2 '11 at 5:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd rather not make it community wiki. I want the rep reward to stay to provide incentive for people to post up the excellent tools they've used or know of, when they might otherwise not bother. I don't see what value a CW would add that's worth removing that incentive (especially since even non-CW questions can be edited by anyone now). \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 2 '11 at 5:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ The reason that "list of" questions are made CW is so that people don't get massive amounts of rep just by being the first to list something that's popular. \$\endgroup\$ – Tetrad Jun 2 '11 at 18:45

You can use Blender 3D as level editor. In new version, it can export scene in COLLADA format which is very easy to parse. For special objects, just add tags, and then search for such tags in level loading script.

With similar workflow, you can use any ordinary 3D tool, just add tags to objects and then do something in your game about this tags.

I use this workflow in panda3D and it is very good!

In the case of using COLLADA files, there is a pre-existing C# library that parses the XML for you.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm already using Blender to create meshes for my game projects. Blender can link other files, upon which it saves a reference to the other file instead of importing the data of the linked file into the current project. This mechanism could be used to reference assets without including them in the generated level file. \$\endgroup\$ – Exilyth Mar 9 '13 at 19:51

GtkRadiant, the primary editor for the Quake family of engines, is an open source level editor that may be something you want to look into.

  • 100% free, licensed under GPL
  • Not restricted to a specific engine
  • Generates .map files which can be compiled using Q3map2 (also open source) into the Quake 3 BSP format. BSP loading code from the Q3 engine can be utilized in your own software.
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A quick google gave me Getic - you can browse the source, and I can't tell if it's free or something like $5 CAD per license.

A slightly out-of-the-box solution is to implement your own. There's a chapter on doing it in Game Coding Complete, and it really isn't too difficult. It's also guranteed to be free (except the book which earns that back via general usefulness) and does exactly what you want.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow, that is EXACTLY the kind of book I've been looking for. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$ – Jesse Emond Jun 2 '11 at 12:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jesse Emond I highly recommend the book. Hell, I've been known to read it in bed. \$\endgroup\$ – The Communist Duck Jun 3 '11 at 16:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ I also recommend Game Engine Architecture by Jason Gregory, who worked on The Last Of Us. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan Jul 13 '16 at 13:55

DeleD is a level editor for Windows. It saves to its own format and COLLADA so it's easy to read the levels to your own game.

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After using some modeling tool to build the geometry, a great free tool for lighting your level is gile[s]



Blender is probably the most advanced of free 3D editors, featuring modeling, IK, rendering, physics, etc.
Update: it is extensible with Python, and supports many output formats (see Import/Export page), including md5 (Doom 3), Neverwinter Nights and Crystal Space engine file formats.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The question is about 3D level editors. Perhaps Blender can be used to this end (can it?), but if it can, you should indicate this in your answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Olhovsky Jun 2 '11 at 16:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ I read that you updated this with basically "it can save to many formats". That doesn't mean that it can create levels. This question is about creating levels, not just 3D models. \$\endgroup\$ – Olhovsky Jun 3 '11 at 18:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, you can create levels in Blender. It supports many formats, most of which allow you to arbitrarily tag objects with level metadata. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan Jul 13 '16 at 13:57

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