Happy Birthday to Me! Have an Editor!

[Originally posted on the Last Regiment blog]

So – now that we’re dev-blogging, I thought I’d do short updates every now and then to let people know what we’re doing on a day to day basis, and what the actual process of development looks like.

Today, which happens to be my birthday,  was spent working with 2 coders, and a bunch of artists on improving our editor.  Specifically the editor that allows us to build the hexes that go into the game.

Because we’re hoping to ship with an editor, we have sort of broken building maps into 2 steps:

  1. Build the building blocks the game is made of – such as the Hexes in the map, the Structures you put on it, and the Units that move around. This is done with a combination of “ugly but functional” internal editors, and some big ass excel spreadsheets that churn out .lua files that define a lot of the game.
  2. Put all of these together in a more user friendly, consumer-facing editor, that allows you to build maps w/o having to ever switch programs and makes sure you are working with building blocks that dont (easily) break the game.

Today’s journey (and last night’s) was to pound the “Hex-Editor” – the one that allows us to build hexes – into something that we can use properly, since it has been a bit neglected, and there was a lot of ‘build as you go”-ness to it that needed to be standardized.

It’s unsexy work, but it has to be done.

Of course, making the tool is just the first part. The *really* hard part? Making all of the data once the tool is done. But that work gets compounded terribly if the tool is not optimized – and even a step that takes 1 minute can quickly become HOURS or DAYS after you use the tol long enough – and since game development is all about iterative building, you have to expect you are building allof your maps/levels multiple times. Having a tool that does not let you do that quickly… well, the time is well spent to get it right.

Today’s development working soundtrack?
The Bar-Kays “Holy Ghost” 

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