I’ve been quite busy these past few months. Busy with education, busy with work, and busy with what you care about most: Game Maker. The result of this busy-ness with Game Maker is quite something; two programs, one called “Mars Lander Builder”, the other called “Mars Lander Runner”.
The Story of Mars Lander Builder/Runner:
Mars Lander Builder was a specially requested piece of software I developed as part of the aforementioned “work” I did. I work at a program called iCamp where I help kids make games, either by teaching them myself or by assisting them through tutorials much like the ones I write. Part of my work includes birthday parties, where the children go through our single shortest tutorial. Only, they rarely finish it within the time we have, and never get to make more than a single level. So I proposed that I develop a pair of programs, special proprietary level building software and another program that would run those levels.
As a result of this agreement, I will not be distributing the Mars Lander Builder, but I will be distributing the Mars Lander Runner. But what good is the Runner without the Builder?
I will release level packs on a weekly basis for the Lander Runner. The Lander Runner itself comes with 10 levels in a “Starter Pack”. The weekly packs will be in sets of 5, one for each weekday! Expect them along the traditional "Sunday-night/Monday morning" release schedule.
While I can’t release the level building software, I can tell you how the levels are saved, and how you can edit them manually. The levels are saved in an alphabetical code with each letter corresponding to a different Object:
Levels are loaded from a 300 character “string”. They are loaded in columns, from left to right. Also, all letters must be in uppercase. The default case for any unrecognisable character is an empty grid space, and I’ve yet to enter a string that messes up the level-loading script. So it doesn’t matter if the string it too short, too long, full of lower-case letters, it will load. You can use Notepad to edit levels.
Asteroids are different Objects depending on what direction they travel:
M = Left
N = Right
O = Up
P = Down
Geysers snap to adjacent surfaces automatically, but the time it takes them to fire can be adjusted:
T = 3 Seconds (Fast)
U = 6 Seconds (Medium)
V = 9 Seconds (Slow)
One last thing: The level code loads the last character (#300) as the first (top-left) Object, and the first character (#1) as the second Object (second down from top-left). Not even I know why...
I could easily have written a level-code that would be harder to manually edit, but it would have been to our own detriment. After all, with such a simple level code (and thanks to the fact that it was made with Game Maker), the Runner can be ported onto any number of devices, basically anything Game Maker Studio will have support for.
So with all that in mind, I would like to issue a challenge:
Level Building Contest:
By manually editing a level save-file, try to design a level that is actually playable but can be read as a sentence when opened for editing. Don’t worry too much about it being “playable” if you manage to make a neat pattern, or discover that a high-school essay becomes a horrible death-trap, you can send those in too.
To submit your levels, simply leave the code as comments on this News Post. Let everyone try your level! Use the Mod DB Karma system to rate up good levels for all to play! HAVE FUN!
Anyone who sends in something exceptionally creative will get their levels featured in an upcoming Level Pack.
- You can leave a whole bunch of spaces and it will just load empty grid-spaces. This will prevent your level from being too cluttered while also reducing on how many “W”s you need in the save-code.
- If you use an "L" in the code, the game will spawn a "Checkpoint" this Object was cut from the final game because of saving difficulties it would cause. The Object has no programming, and will appear as a "CP" in it's grid-space.
- Grab any text you can find! What does this News Post look like as a level!?
So have fun! See what makes a neat level, functional or not.
And as always,
Good luck Game Making!