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Vladimir Nabokov

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Letters from Terra - Life in water warmed by sunlight

The level editor

If you've had the demo of the game, you'll have probably found the level editor that allows you to construct levels purely of your fabrication. All the levels in the single player game will be made in the editor, so it is possible to create something as good as, or far better, than my level standard. However, if you don't know how to use it it can be a bit of a pain. I'd suggest disseminating a demo level, so you can learn how a whole level goes together, and start to pick up for yourself the more subtle techniques of level design. The editor itself is fully integrated with the game, and can handle levels of very large size. Also available is the Level editor for windows, which works in much the same way, apart from the windows dialogue boxes.

Like the game itself, there are various basic controls to be used in the level editor:

Basic controls

Arrow keys Move the level window around the level
Zoom button Left click to zoom in, right click to zoom out
"Image" button Right click to select "images". Left click to open images menu
"Objects" button Right click to select "objects". Left click to open objects menu.
"BK" display Click to scroll through available backgrounds for your levels
Left click in window Place a new selected object/image; move an existing object/image using green tag; resize an existing object using pink tag.
Right click in window Cancel the movement/resizing of existing objects/images. Bring up properties of objects/images on green tag.
Left click in menus Select/scroll through item
Right click in menus Quit current menu

In general, you left click inside menus to alter things, and quit menus by right clicking. You can move the level window to different parts of the level using the arrow keys, and zoom in and out by left or right clicking on the zoom button.

The level editor

This is the editor window, with a diagram of the level being constructed on the left and the control on the right. Before you can start making levels, you have to know what an image and an object is in Trooper II. An image is a picture that appears in the game; nothing more. An object is something that affects the game, like a squasher or a monster. Some objects need images to look right in the game, such as teleporters. Images appear as grey through to white, and objects appear coloured.

Putting in an image: Select images as opposed to objects by right clicking on the image button. Left click to bring up the images menu, and scroll through until you find the one you like by clicking on "up" and "down" (note that images are given a simple name - to preview the images, see the image catalogue). Right click to exit the menu, and then place the image in the level by left clicking in the level.

Game engine objects

Objects can be inserted in a similar way. Every object has a different colour code, and some have different shapes or tabs.

To move things about in the level, click once on the small green tab on the article to be moved, and then move the mouse to the new position - the item will automatically be dragged. Place it down by clicking again, or right click to return it to it's original position.

Objects sometimes have one or more pink tabs, as well. Clicking on these allows you to resize some aspect of the object, such as a monster's patrol range.

Right clicking on the green tab brings up the properties menu for that particular item. You can alter different features of an object, for example the speed of a moving platform or the type of monster, and also bring images to the forground by changing their "level" tag. Images with a "level" of 2 will appear behind Fred; and those with 4 will obscure him as he walks behind them. Left click on things in the menu to alter them; right clicking exits the properties menus.

Objects : Those that need images, and those that don't. Some objects recquire images to be placed on top of them, so they can be visible in levels. The images recquired are fairly obvious, so here is a table of those that recquire images and those which don't:

Stand alone objects
Those that recquire images
Monsters, points, buttons, doors, squashers, spewers, moving platforms, lightening doors, trapdoors, minefields, Bosses Platforms (Any platform image, see catalogue)
Walls (Any wall image, see catalogue)
Stairs (StairL for stairs going left2right, StairR for right2left)
Ladders (Ladder)
Springs (Spring)
Death (Spikes)
Teleporters (Teleport)
Checkpoints (Chkpoint)
Signs (Signpost)
Savepoints (Savepnt)
Cover (Any scenery object, Lshadow and Rshadow)

NB. Some objects (particularly the older ones) may only work if places exactly on top of the platform, so that the two lines merge. Sorry about this, but I can't be bothered to go and alter all the old classes.

Notes on objects

Stairs: Left2Right describes fred's movement as he climbs up the stairs. If he's going from left to right, set left2right, else set right2left.

Monsters: The extendable line represent the monsters patrol range, which is important in the AI. Typically, monsters will walk, fly or otherwise travle from one limit to the other. In the case of immobile gunners, if both ranges are set to one side on the monster, then that gunner will not patrol left and right; but stay fixed in one position.

Buttons, and anything with a "tag" record: When you press a button, anything with the button's "Number" in it's "tag" record will open or shut, start or stop. You can give multiple objects a tag of say, 1, and when a button with number = 1 is pushed all of these will be altered; their states switching to the alternative mode of function. For example, squashers can be turned on and off; spewers likewise; and doors can be opened and closed. The reset property for the doors refer to their ability to remain "green"; or switched for the time given in game engine cycles (there are around 30-40 game engine cycles per second); before resetting to the red phase, and so making all the associated objects return to their original state. Use this to create timed sections in your levels.

If you wish to analyse some of the levels that constitute the game, you can load copies of them in the level editor. Note that any changes you make to these will NOT affect you single player game in any way ... so play around to your heart's content. The filenames for these levels are listed below:

First, Big, New, Level2, Level3, Chibbon, OldCopy, Live, Gates (containing the man himself), and Int1 to Int6 (so Int2 would be valid).
Letters from Terra | Updated 15th December 2004 | By Jonathan Ayling