Band of Bugs Preview: Level Editor Pt. 2

June 14, 2007 at 12:34 am (Gaming, NinjaBee, XBLA, Xbox 360)

Here is part 2 of my Level Editor breakdown with two new exclusive screens.  Part 1 can be found here.

Level Editor Rogue Options

Creating maps hooked me right away because the maps did not require a crazy amount of detail to be fun.  I could easily test an interesting idea and if it sucked I had not wasted hours working on a bad idea.  I just scrapped it and started a new one.  However, with some advanced editing techniques you can often turn a bad design into a great one.

Much more after the break.

Tip, Tricks, and Advanced Editing

After testing or playing a map you may find the map is not quite balanced.  Fixing it is easy though.  Many times rebalancing the map merely requires editing the levels of individual units without changing anything else on the map.  In the picture you see above, the Rogue’s level is set to 6 but it can easily be incremented down or up.  A quick and easy fix and you are right back to playing a rebalanced map.  In fact, many of the most powerful spells and abilities do not even appear in the campaign.  So, experimenting with unit levels can add some serious new challenge and excitement, even after you have played through the entire campaign (wait till you try out the high level Fire Mage spells — wow).

Height also plays a big part in the strategy of map building.  You can create choke points and walls and all kinds of effects with a simple height change.  Falls from a height can also do damage.  And since the edges of the map can be used to great advantage (read: used to insta-kill enemies by knocking them off the map) you should always take your map’s edges into account.  Personally, I also enjoyed putting bottomless pits in the middle of the map.  They act just like the map edges (i.e. bug gets pushed in, shuffles off its mortal coil.) and can be highly dangerous to walk past when fighting bugs with knockback.  Water also provides an instant means of bug disposal.

In addition to the basic map building blocks, doo-dads can also add strategy.  Many doo-dads can block ranged attacks or serve as a wall.  Then again, the dizzy fish is just cool to look at so go ahead and gussy up your map while you are at it.

Finally, you can also completely change the look of a map by selecting a different lighting set or by changing the tileset.  (You can actually see this effect in the recently released trailer — it changes from the Leafy tileset to the Golden tileset.)  One selection and the whole map has a different feel.  That speed and ease of use is one reason why this map editor is great for me.

I think it is also important to note the following: more stuff is not always more fun.  The maps that I had the most fun with were often very simple in concept but required smart strategizing.  Do not be afraid to simplify or even shrink the map.  I even created some small maps that were like puzzles (Escape style maps work great for that kinda thing).

My secret map editor hint for you: you can zoom in and out by clicking the right thumbstick.

Level Editor Finished Map 

Here you see a finished map (not that you couldn’t edit it at any time after this point)– 6 nimble and versatile Rogues against 4 powerful but slow Barbarians.  Note the use of water, doo-dads (inlcuding those useful bridges), and even the unique map shape (read: not just a simple square).

The Ugly Bit

The only criticism I have of the Editor is this: I cannot immediately test a map I have created.  I had to exit to the Main Menu and start up a single-player Skirmish game to test it out.  But because the menus load so quickly (a ton of asynchronous loading speeds up all the menus and cuts down on loading screens throughout), this seems like a minor quibble.

Conclusion

The level editor is a key addition to this game and should be a major selling point.  It is full of features and yet reasonably easy to understand and use and should even appeal to those with short attention spans like me.

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