Games you wish had a level editor

i mean in addition to, all of them.

as ive been playing the original Legend of Zelda, i can’t stop thinking about how it seems like such a slam dunk to let people make their own Zelda dungeons. even just the first game, keep it simple! making a dungeon is likely significantly more involved than, say, a Mario level, but gosh it would be so fun to play around with.

feels worth mentioning that i’m sure there’s a massive, massive difference between a level editor that’s good for devs, and one that is suitable for ordinary folks to use, let alone sharing and curating creations with. but if you could pick, what’s a game you’d love to be able to mess around making stuff in? what would you want to make?

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Titanfall 2

At the end, the multiplayer maps were set in simulations with geometries that would easily be made in a layman’s level editor. I’d wanna see people basically whipping up THPS maps with various lines and what not to shoot people through. Really, imagine if Titanfall 2 had skate lines. If the meta had you needing to know this one tricky route through the map with perfect timing and whatnot.

Also, custom gauntlet runs. Show us what can really be done with launching yourself with grenades.

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Nintendo did try to make a dungeon maker in the Link’s Awakening remake but it… wasn’t great. Part of that was because it was a bit of a half assed mode, but also because making a worthwhile dungeon maker is hard. I mean, when I’m thinking of my favorite dungeons in the series, they tend to fall into one or more of three categories:

  1. It’s in a really cool setting that looks dope. Ocarina’s Forest Temple is a good example.
  2. It has interesting and novel mechanics. Twilight Princess’s Snowpeak Ruins fits here.
  3. It’s just a very well executed puzzle and combat gauntlet. OG Zelda’s first dungeon is the archetype.

For an official Nintendo product, they’re not going to allow for outside art assets. So we’d be stuck with the developer’s library of art, which basically means you can’t create visually unique or interesting dungeons. Category 1 is ruled out.

Category 2 design is possible, but once again we’re stuck with the limited verb and mechanics list that the dev provides. So eventually a player will be able to spot the various puzzle and combat paradigms and running through any dungeon becomes rote because there’s no novelty or unpredictability.

So that basically leaves category 3, which is possible with a limited art and mechanics pool. On paper that sounds good, but as Link’s Awakening showed, it quickly becomes repetitive. It doesn’t for Mario Maker because the act of moving Mario in itself is fun, whereas Link’s move set relies on context to be enjoyable.

But hey, I still think a well executed Zelda Maker would be incredible. Ultimately though, I just have more faith in a random Steam developer to make a good knock off that supports modding and external art assets than Nintendo to ever put out a good Zelda Maker.

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you are so right… let the mechs skate…

this is a really good point. i guess you could hypothetically like, specify what items players are equipped with at the start, to tailor the dungeon to, say, having the boomerang? but like you say, i don’t know that i have a ton of faith in nintendo to do all of the ancillary stuff that a ‘Zelda Maker’ would need to really sing. and given zelda dungeons are way longer than mario levels, it would be harder to dip into a level and bounce off like you presumably can in mario maker. but i can dream!

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I would absolutely love a Yoshi’s island maker. Nintendo please help me out here

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Not sure if the Nintendo-ness of the conversation on this thread is an indication of something or just the result of Mario Maker existing and being good but I’m just going to add to that theme by requesting a Pokemon level editor/maker, specifically a 3rd gen (Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald) Pokemon maker. In being a series that’s always been about iteration, about making old things new again through reorganization, it feels like a prime candidate for something like that.

I said specifically 3rd gen because the art style and overworld design of those games would make building a region honestly pretty simple but still visually appealing — those games are built on grids with repeated sets of assets and a limited number of styles, and it’s the way they flow and work together that makes them appealing. And designing gauntlets of enemy trainers, item placements, pathways and shortcuts is something that would (in my amateur opinion) be fairly simple to translate into some kind of level editor, while allowing for a lot of depth and style. And it might allow people to take advantage of the metroid-ness of Pokemon regions in the ways that Game Freak just never seems to be willing to do.

And it would be fun. Pokemon is fun — and it’s fun because of the specific intermingling of novelty and familiarity that a new Pokemon game offers. Seeing a familiar creature in an unfamiliar place, raising it up, etc. It feels primed for some kind of Maker-esque game, and I think people would really enjoy it, and it also absolutely would never happen.

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DOOM (2016).

Yes, I’m an absolute bastard.

But also SnapMap doesn’t hold a candle to the old DOOM map editor. You can feel the creep of capital into what should have been a really amazing tool but it was simultaneously not fleshed out to be a proper successor to DOOM’s tools while also not being user-friendly enough to make cool stuff on a console.

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I’m not asking for something as grand as a level editor, but Star Wars Squadrons has obstacle course tracks on one of the maps, accessible through the practice mode. I would like for more of the available maps to be made available and for players to set up their own courses by simply flying and pressing a button at regular intervals to create the rings to fly through. And naturally they’d be able to share with others and show off their flying skills.

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This reminds me of a twenty year old gripe of mine. Command and Conquer Red Alert 2 does not have a level editor feature where Red Alert 1 did.

Still makes me mad.

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I have no clue what this would look like in manifest, but a World of Assassination Trilogy Hitman level editor would either be really bad or really interesting, if not traditional Hitman stuff. The game loses a lot without the maps feeling as alive as they do with all the little stories and such, but I could also see a versions of this where people are making real janky mario-maker esque escalation challenges or something and that would be interesting.

I guess the game already dives into this with the contract maker though, and that’s real cool

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Although the actual game’s levels are random, I think it would be neat to make levels for Into the Breach. Little mech vs kaiju chess puzzles… and really now that I think of it, a level editor kinda of frees you up for some wild stuff, so why not bigger? Gimme a 16x16 grid with like 6 mechs !!

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All of them, pretty much, but all FPSes in particular. I cut my teeth on QuakeWorld Team Fortress, which literally had no “official” maps (though 2fort5 may as well have been one). People just made their own, which helped keep things from getting stale.

While we’re at it, bring back server browsers, too.

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I could play Into the Breach forever (and I really should get back to it!), but ItB like this sounds so fun

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i’m curious if people who are more into FPS’s than me would know, are level editors/ modding support getting less common in general? it feels like a lot of the biggest games in that space used to revolve pretty heavily around user created content, more so than now. but i can’t tell if that’s real or imagined on my part.

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It’s definitely a LOT less common. Like, Doom 2016’s SnapMap (mentioned above) was a bastardized piece of junk compared to what people can do with WADs, never mind BSPs and Hammer and whatnot, but it was still a selling point because mass market FPSes simply don’t ship with map editors at all any more.

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Yes! And I’ll add that really any run based game would benefit from having a level editor. With a robust enough tool-set I imagine clever people could come up with all kinds of interesting and fun runs in games like The Binding of Isaac, Dead Cells, Spelunky, etc., etc.

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Oh fuck, now I want to see a Scorch manualing across the battlefield while lighting everything on fire.

I just popped into Celeste because I needed something familiar to take my mind off of schoolwork, and I’d love a Celeste level editor. A “Celeste Maker” with Celeste, Classic, and Classic 2 options would rule so hard

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this is absolutely part of it for me. i had a post i started writing about like, how level editors and modding can make games live on beyond when theyre profitable, and i might finish it, but also… sometimes you just want to play Pokemon Ruby, Again, But Different

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I think the thing that’s really appealing to me in concept about a level editor is how it can prompt different sorts of playing styles or unusual scenarios you wouldn’t generally see in levels in recent games.

Chris Franklin of Errant Signal made a video on Doom 2016 with a section where he compared the level designs of the original game to Doom 2016 which I found very interesting:

The big thing being that the original Doom games had a lot more weird and unique levels and encounters, where Doom 2016 a lot of encounters are slow evolutions of previous ones.

Where I feel this relates to level editors, is they allow people to explore the extremes of the game’s systems in a way contemporary level design usually doesn’t. Mario Maker thrives on this for example where people will hone in on one systems interaction (like spinning on top of thwomps for example), and build an entire level around that.

Thinking back to my theoretical hitman level maker, I could imagine myself making a level that was just a maze of stairs, which would make it tougher to take out enemies quietly in. Or like a level where the only way doors unlocked was via crowbars, and therefore doors you went through would always stay open. These probably wouldn’t be good, but it’d be interesting to explore that space.

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