Level Gaze: Grimrock’s Map Editor Is Looking Fantastic

By Nathan Grayson on June 30th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

Oh goodness, the whole party's dead, and it's two mushrooms versus... a Minotaur. I fail to see how they got into this situation in the first place.

Wow. I always thought Legend of Grimrock would be a natural fit for a map editor, but – given that it’s a smaller project in a fairly cutthroat genre – I worried that it’d turn out to be prohibitively complicated for everyone except rocket scientists and RPS readers. Almost Human’s released a video of the almost-complete Dungeon Editor in action, though, and it actually seems tantalizingly intuitive. I mean, it’s no Perpetual Testing Initiative, but you can script some fairly complex stuff in a few clicks and try it out with a single button press. Throughout history, the existence of a cow level has been debatable, but soon, I will craft the snail level. Glistening bodies and chunky tendrils of mucus as far as the eye can see. Oh yes.

So yeah, if it wasn’t already apparent, I’m very impressed. It seems like it can be as simple or as complicated (and therefore, whistle-wettingly versatile) as you it to be, too. Speaking personally, I’ll probably never use Lua scripting, but options never hurt anyone. Now, though, they get to hurt everyone, because they include things like “spike pit,” “fire wall,” and “tree monster army.” Hooray!

Unfortunately, Almost Human still hasn’t nailed down precisely when it plans on releasing the Dungeon Editor from the depths of its own snail-ridden development dungeon. But that’s about the only real downside I can see here. And I mean, just think of the possibilities if this thing gets Steam Workshop support. I am actually salivating at the prospect. It’s pretty disgusting. People are staring and stuff, too. I should probably go.

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36 Comments »

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  1. Khalan says:

    Looks great.
    Now I want a dungeon master game with this system.

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      jrodman says:

      Which of the various differences with dungeon master and this game are the ones which matter to you while thinking these thoughts?

  2. Jason Moyer says:

    I can’t wait to play around with this (and to see what sorts of crazy things people come up with).

  3. x1501 says:

    I really wish the game had co-op. I just can’t imagine spending much time on custom levels all by myself, so the addition of some sort of cooperative multiplayer would raise my level of interest in creating and playing custom content immensely. It’s just too bad that the devs don’t seem to think that adding this functionality in will be worth the effort.

    • Tuco says:

      I don’t even think co-op could work in any decent way for this kind of game.
      Beside, the point of these kind of tools isn’t to play what you create yourself, but to share it and to play what others create with it.

      • x1501 says:

        Why on earth wouldn’t it work here? Just like Portal, the game seems perfect for it. As for creating custom maps, I find much more pleasure in creating stuff for later enjoyment with my friends or family members (and then still sharing it online, if it’s good), than in creating it simply for getting it posted online, never to be seen again.

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          Big Murray says:

          The image of your co-op partner/party whizzing around at the breakneck speeds which you as a player can travel at in comparison to the creatures in the game would just be immersion breaking.

          • Vexing Vision says:

            Why immersion-breaking? Bloodwych did this kind of game in co-op 20 years ago, and it was an immense fun.

            So, yeah. I would love to see co-op in the future, but the editor itself makes me very happy already.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            Because to a large extent the game builds it atmosphere on the sense of isolation. Being alone in this gigantic dungeon really sells the game and adding co-op would completely destroy it. It’s not that far from Dead Space in that regard really – yes, gameplay-wise the game can support it, but it’s hardly worth it on the long run.
            Not to mention they would have to invest a significant amount of resources into co-op. It’s just not worth it.

          • x1501 says:

            @Xardas Kane
            You could say the same thing about Portal, and yet Portal 2 managed to implement co-op extremely successfully and without any detriment to the rest of the game. Doom III also was built on the same idea of loneliness, and yet I found its levels to be just as creepy and desolate in co-op as I did when playing it alone. If something like Dead Space can pull co-op off, the problem is definitely not as insurmountable as it may seem. Besides, I think that “the sense of isolation” is a vague and fleeting descriptor. I’m not sure how many gamers who play the game on a sunny weekend day with their family members roaming around the house can actually experience it to begin with, and I certainly don’t see how it couldn’t be reproduced with two appropriately morbid players exploring different parts of a dungeon at the same time on a rainy night.

            As for the investing additional resources, you can apply the same argument toward any kind of an update, including this very editor. Coding in networking functionality isn’t simple, but it’s not overly difficult either. It’s especially true on a basic LAN/direct IP non-essential level of networking we’re discussing, where you don’t have to concern yourself with stuff like complex server architecture, account security, latency compensation, elaborate anti-cheating measures, and so on.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            I could definitely NOT say the same about Portal. Portal was great because of its fresh puzzles and humour. Being alone had nothing to do with it.

          • zeroskill says:

            Co-op is the new zombies.

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            dahauns says:

            @Xardas – seriously?! Now you’re just trolling. Isolation was one of THE central themes in Portal (1!). Weighted Companion Cube? Nothing?

      • x1501 says:

        I just checked the game’s website. The developers’ position regarding co-op is that “[it] would require a huge amount of work” since they “would have to model and animate all player characters in full 3D”. I think that this approach is a clear mistake. Viewing party representation as secondary and completely not essential to the gameplay would be much less costly and therefore easier to implement. For example, they could just represent each player party as some kind of a shadowy, spectral blob (basically, a simple model with a semi-transparent, optionally animated texture), and disable all collision detection between them. A workaround like this may look simplistic, but considering the alternative, I’m sure most co-op players would not mind.

        • Jay says:

          They’re underselling the complexity of making the leap to co-op there, I feel. Implementing any kind of multiplayer is a fairly huge task in and of itself, and it’s generally better if you design for it from the outset. The character model issue is certainly significant, but it’s far from being the only problem.

  4. JD Ogre says:

    Once this goes in, Grimrock will be a “probably buy.” If it gets Steam Workshop support (as well as being able to manually add mods/levels, of course, for the non-Steam crowd!), it will be a “must buy.”

    • Xardas Kane says:

      I don’t know what you are talking about, Grimrock has been a must-buy since launch.

      • JD Ogre says:

        I just couldn’t get past the whole “15 levels, always the same” aspect. *shrug*

        • epmode says:

          The lovely and surprisingly complex puzzles necessitate this. Grimrock lives or dies by its level design which all goes out the window with random map generation.

          • MadTinkerer says:

            This is most definitely a Why-Haven’t-You-Bought-This-Yet-You-Loony game.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            No, the developer’s “must cling to old-style play mechanics” philosophy necessitated it. There’s no reason (aside from budgetary constraints) why randomly-generated map design couldn’t have included the same complex puzzles.

            As I stated below, I lost interest in the game after my primary playthrough. I would have gladly payed $10 more for a robust random level generator.

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            jrodman says:

            A well-tended ordering and placement has advantages thtat random generation cannot provide.
            And vice versa.

          • Baresark says:

            @skittlediddler – procedural generated content has been around since the beginning of games. Having that in is clinging to old-style play mechanics. Having fully fleshed out levels and events is far more advanced and didn’t even come around till memory technology had advanced enough to allow this. Also, there is no way a procedural map could have had the same puzzle complexity. Think about the puzzles. The necessity to walk in the right path lest you transported back to the beginning that was outlined by a found scroll. Putting the right scroll on the right shelf… these things are complex and procedural generation cannot accomodate that. Also, take into account that all of the things are are randomly/procedural generated offer up just the rearranging of room tiles. D3 for example didn’t have puzzles. Nor D2 or D1. This game would have been terrible if it were that way.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            Baresark: so you’re saying complex puzzle mechanics can’t be done in a procedurally-generated video game? Sorry, I call bullshit — I won’t pretend to be an expert in the field of coding and game development, but you seem to think that since it hasn’t been done before means that it can never be done. Why couldn’t a properly developed engine be capable of pulling it off?

            I’m willing to bet that given enough time and the proper tools, the makers of Grimrock could have done precisely that. Instead, they chose to (lovingly) imitate the design of a 25-year-old PC title. Nothing wrong with that, but in my opinion it resulted in a game with a lot of lost potential.

          • DryRoastedLemon says:

            Well, there is probably some way the puzzles can be implemented into a procedurally generated game, but I personally don’t see the point of this. I really don’t see why procedural generation is such an important feature to some people, and it really doesn’t make sense to make that the reason for not buying the game.
            It is obvious that the developers made the choice of implementing deliberate level design, and I like it that way. I will always value good level design as being infinitely greater than a good procedural generator. A procedural generator might give you infinite replay value in theory, but even this will become boring. In my opinion having a clear goal and deliberate level design is always the better choice.

  5. x1501 says:

    The video left me wondering about two things:

    First, I wonder whether it’ll be possible to link custom maps to form a custom campaign. If the answer is “yes”, it would especially be great if it could also be done nonlinearly, making it possible to create branching paths throughout the campaign.

    I’m also curious whether the assets like those basic three wall types and their textures are hardcoded and cannot be replaced or expanded upon. Allowing the editor to include custom assets would open it up to a wealth of interesting possibilities.

    • BloonerNL says:

      Linear linking of maps would be done with the stairs just like in the Grimrock campaign.
      Non-linear could probably easily be done using teleporters.
      That is actually going to be what I am envisioning for my first map. A central hub with locked doors where you keep returning to to go towards the next “level”.

      They have already mentioned on their blog that the map-editor will allow custom texture packs and custom assets (including new enemy’s etc.) although that would require a deep knowledge of Lua from the mod-developer side.

      Expanding the existent texture-packs I wouldn’t know.

      Another thing the developers haven’t commented on is whether it would be possible to create and add our own intro- and cutscenes.

      I’m so excited for this. Can’t wait to play other peoples awesome inventions and create my own for others to enjoy, and read their responses.

      I for one thought the puzzles in the Grimrock campaign were too easy. I hope some more intellectually challenging maps will show up.

      • Baresark says:

        I’m excited about making the game look as I want it in my campaign as well. I can’t wait for this.

  6. AltF4 says:

    That admittedly is a very impressive game editor. Spider level here it comes.

  7. JackDandy says:

    Look amazing!

  8. Ravenshaw says:

    Anyone else fancy recreating classic D&D maps from yesteryear like Undermountain?

  9. slive cinclair says:

    Very promising indeed..there should be some great home-made adventures to play when this gets released.

  10. SkittleDiddler says:

    If any game desperately needs a map editor, it’s Grimrock. The vanilla version has absolutely no replay value after the first playthrough.

  11. Swanny says:

    Hmmm, i wonder if i could port Wizardry VII into this?

  12. Navagon says:

    Outstanding! Normally These things are great as they mean that other people can create new maps for me to play. But with this I could probably do a few myself.

  13. wererogue says:

    My one question is whether I can affect the monster AI with scripting. Can I make it so that snails always walk in a straight line, for example, or set up snail vs. minotaur fights?