Ever since I visited the ill-fated Iron Lore in 2005, I’ve wanted to find the words to talk about a peculiar response I had to their level editor. It’s taken me this long to gain the vocabulary needed to even take a stab at it, primarily gained/cribbed from the essays and thoughts of film theorist André Bazin. (Whom I confess I first discovered through Linklater’s excellent Waking Life, rather than from the half a degree of film studies I slept through in ’98.) And so, smuggled onto the internet in a large wooden retrospective article on Titan Quest, my thoughts on the teleological nature of level editors. I don’t know how successful I’ve been, since I’m massively out of my depth without a useful background in either philosophy or semiotics. The EG commenters appear to have opted for pretending the article was only one page long, which is understandable. I’m nervous of what happens if someone who knows what they’re talking about responds. There’s a quote from it below, since I’ve waffled so much up here.
“I’m not a modder, and I don’t have any significant experience with level editors, so forgive my ignorance on the matter. But watching a Titan Quest level be created was something of a revelation. The editor was built so that you could paint levels into existence, which enormously appealed to me. Frightening wireframe boxes have never let me get past a corridor in most editors, but here the guy was waving his wand on the tablet and it was appearing before him.
He began with a black void, into which appeared a mass of rock, soon covered by his painting in the sea. Once it was covered in water, he then picked out a tool to allow the formation of land, which was risen from the waters, shaped and crafted into an island. Then he dressed that island in grass textures, trees, rocks. This was then brought more to life with animals on the ground and fish creatures in the water. Finally he added a player character. And it was good.”
I also briefly talk about Titan Quest, and the team who made it, and why it’s fun.