Designing a level for your game can be one of the most exciting parts if you are an artist or enjoy being creative but it can also be time-consuming sourcing art and drawing your game scenes. I will show you some game level design tools to help increase your productivity and create levels for your games.
Making a level for your player to interact with can be done in most game engines. Engines like Unity, Unreal and Game Maker Studio all have level editors and the ability to create a scene that you can let your player interact with. Creating a complex level can take a long time which is why using a tool designed to assist you to build game levels is often a more productive approach.
When you are making a game you will know already if your game will be designed in a 2D space or a 3D space. The game engine you are using and the type of game you are making will determine what space you are developing in.
For 2D games, you need to create levels that allow the player to move only on 2 axes and design the level looking from the point of view all the time for consistency because a player will always see the 2D game level from the same direction. 2D levels are usually flat graphics called sprites that are done in painting programs.
A 3D level allows the player to see your level design from many viewpoints and they will not always see the game from one direction. 3D levels usually use 3D models or objects placed in the scene which are created within the game engine or using external 3D modelling software.
I have compiled a list of level design tools and software used for game level design for 2D and 3d game level design.
3D Terrain Generation
- Terragen is a powerful solution for creating 3D terrain scenery and there is a free version to get you started.
- TerreSculptor is still under development but has a free version that you can use to create and export terrains for your game.
- World Machine will generate a 3D landscape and allow you to export it to use in many game engines.
- Unity3D game engine has a terrain editor built into the game engine for creating and editing terrains.
2D Sprite Based Level Editors
- Tiled is a free level map editor that allows you to draw 2D levels for top-down and side view games. Also supports orthogonal, isometric and hexagonal maps. Exports level data to a text file which needs to be imported into a game engine.
- Unity 2D Tile Placement Assets can be used to speed up the game level design process of making a 2D scene in unity which already has a fantastic scene designer.
3D Level Design Editors
Most 3D game engines have their own build in 3D level and object design tools so third-party tools are often not needed but there are some exceptions to consider.
- GeoVox will generate a top quality 3D environment that can be edited and exported to Obj to be used in game engines.
If you have used any of these level design tools or have another suggestion please talk about it in the forums.