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Ciarán Daly’s Level Designing With Toolbench!

Welcome to my first developer blog for Epiphany Games! Hi, my name is Ciarán Daly, and I’m lead level designer here at Epiphany Games. I’ve brought my experience with The Creative Assembly back in the UK over here to Australia to work with Epiphany. The guys here have asked me to write this to firstly introduce myself, and to discuss some of the amazing tech which we will be using on our upcoming RTS title, ‘Frozen Hearth’.

 

First of all… Me – I worked on level design for around 7 years with The Creative Assembly in the UK on the Total War franchise and on their console titles. In those 7 years, I learned so much about game development as I watched the studio grow from about 30 to 150. I then moved here to Australia in March 2011 and was thrilled to find myself level designing with an exciting new studio here. Having the opportunity to be a part of a company from its beginnings and to be one of the primary cogs in its wheel is exactly what I was looking for and have found that at Epiphany working with a great bunch of lads on a game that is precisely the type I’ve always loved playing.

 

As for our level editor, we use Toolbench, the main tool that is part of our engine, Gamebryo LightSpeed. It was incredibly easy to pick up and start using. After getting a brief demo as to how it works I was let loose on it. Within a few days I had created a level which is still in use today with a few minor adjustments as I learn new tricks as I go along. Among the number of features and tricks Toolbench has in its bag, I’m firstly going to talk about the Terrain Editor.

 

Terrain Editor is a very powerful tool. To explain how useful it is I will show how I would typically manipulate the land in a few simple steps:

 

1. Create a new palette

2. Add elements to the palette, i.e. Elevate, Flatten, Smooth, Noise, Paint. I can pick any combinations of these elements to use on one palette. I can leave them on the palette and disable them if I decide not to use them.

3. Adjust your percentage strengths on each element. If you want a little hill, set elevate to 10%, if you want a mountain set it to 50%. I tend to hold the mouse down and draw in a mountain using a smaller percentage for more control, it may take longer than a single click on a high percentage but the results are better.

4. Chose a brush, either the in-built circle or a user made mask. I made 7 different masks in 5 mins for testing and they work perfectly for me so I kept them.

5. Decide if you want to randomise the size, rotation or both of the mask or brush.

6. Turn on the Terrain Edit Gizmo

7. Create your terrain

 

It’s that easy.

 

I’m not sure how many times I said the word simple, easily, or quickly so far on this blog but if it’s a lot then there is a good reason for it 🙂

 

Check back soon for my introduction to editing water in Toolbench!

 

Ciarán.