We are currently working on a 2D platform game, all lot of the game elements have been created and designed. But now it is time to design all the levels.

What I am wondering is: Are there any tools which simplify level design, we prefer designing in basic wireframes, so no actual graphics yet. It would also be neat if the tool would allow layering specific groups;

  1. Background
  2. Platforms
  3. Enemies

I have thought of tools like Visio or Omnigraffle but these aren't specifically meant for game design.


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  • \$\begingroup\$ In this case building a ingame editor is probably less work than importing a format for which tools exist. \$\endgroup\$ – API-Beast Aug 8 '12 at 13:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ raywenderlich.com/1163/… \$\endgroup\$ – Phill Pafford Aug 8 '12 at 13:30

How about Gleed2D http://gleed2d.codeplex.com/documentation?referringTitle=Home

it's XNA centric but since it is a 2D editor and emits XML for the level source it would be fairly usable in other frameworks.

I myself have a custom level designer for my 2D platformer which started from the Farseer physics samples.

This, http://hoppsbusch.com/blog/?p=97 has some good links to 2D level editors and overviews.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess this doesn't exactly cover "Wireframes" but the technique of "Blocking" is fairly fundamental in the development pipeline. For example I have an artist in the UK who takes my blocked out levels then draws background, and assets based on what I blocked in the level. At some point you will progress beyond wireframes to this next step :) \$\endgroup\$ – Eat at Joes Aug 8 '12 at 18:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ javilop.com/gamedev/… Also I found this link which was really interesting to me. \$\endgroup\$ – Eat at Joes Aug 8 '12 at 19:39

It's maybe not the best suited solution but you could use Inkscape, a free vector based graphics editor. It's output is svg, which is basically xml. You can make layers in inkscape and draw your parts in the specific layer. You only need to define a basic rule set, on how to create the levels and what tools can be used and then parse the created svg files according to this ruleset, to generate your level objects.


I think SketchUp would be a good idea.

  1. It is 3D, which could be nice to leverage.
  2. You can use an orthographic camera and snap to a top-down view to make things 2D.
  3. It supports different rendering modes, including x-ray and wireframe.
  4. It has groups and components.
  5. It has layers and an outliner.
  6. It has a Ruby scripting API. (So, you can write custom tools/exporters)
  7. It's simple to learn, easy to use, and there is a large community.
  8. It's free.

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