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The Editor & How we build levels

Posted by bach,

One of the aspects we’ve always wanted to make sure is that our games come with good modding support. When we started working on Halfway, we knew that it’ll be something we want to plan for from the beginning.

Halfway is coming out later this year, and we will shortly thereafter release an entire toolchain that will allow anyone to build their own levels and campaigns for the game.

One thing we’re still thinking about is the various ways to make sharing of user-built content as easy as possible. We want it to be very straight-forward and an integrated experience. Stay tuned for more details on this front.

Before digging into some details about our level building process we made a video to get you a feel for what’s involved in building a Halfway level. The video shows Simon building a small level in just under 45 minutes:

All of Halfway’s levels are completely hand-crafted in this manner. We don’t use anything procedural to create the levels. We feel strongly this is the way to go for the game. Interestingly enough, we had a procedural generator in the early days, but soon decided against it. By manually designing the levels, we felt we had much better control over storytelling and the flexibility needed to create the detailed and atmospheric environment we had in mind.

To build our levels we follow roughly 3 steps:


Dummy-Level: Usually, we have a rough sketch on paper of what we want the level to look like, along with the story and challenges the player will face. From that, we construct a dummy version of the level. We purposely make this abstract, so we can entirely focus on the core: How does it play? Is it fun?

Playtest: In the second phase we playtest the level. The editor allows you to play the level without having to quit the application. This makes for a very stream-lined and iterative process when designing levels. We keep going back over the design and playtesting stages until we’re happy with how it plays and feels.

Finalise the Level: Once we’re happy, we make the level pretty. This usually means replacing all the tiles and placing proper objects for things like cover, etc. The majority of time is spent putting all the little details in place that make the level atmospheric and unique. This certainly is the fun part!

And that’s about it 🙂 Would love to hear what you guys think about the level editor & modding support in general. Maybe there are things we should consider?

Until next Friday!

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