Creating the Creator

Every game needs a game editor program; Ours is called Sledge.

Our Level Designer & Overlord, Mechadon, just loves grids — Really though, who doesn’t? 2D grids are very intuitive to use. However, one of the things I’ve always been frustrated with in modern 3D editors is the limitations of their fixed grids.

Something just seemed to click into place when Mechadon proposed an “Anywhere Grid” that could be placed, well, anywhere!

Our 3D grid system is inspired by the familiar grid based editing employed in classic 2.5D map editors.

Unlike some editors, Sledge allows grid based editing in its 3D views. The 3D grid can also accommodate editing in traditional 2D views by snapping a view’s “camera” to an axis aligned Top, Front or Side direction.

Our modders aren’t limited to editing in only the three standard axis aligned coordinate planes. Mappers can make use of any arbitrary grid rotation they desire. This makes it easy to create content relative to any 3D surface in a simple 2D fashion.

Many game editors are limited to merely placing items, enemies, and other objects within the game’s levels, but leave the task of surface modeling up to other external tools. Sledge features basic modeling capabilities in addition to tweaking the placement of game entities and various asset management functions.

We aim to address the complexity barrier that many beginners face with popular 3D Modeling tools. Our modders won’t have to purchase or learn a separate tool to create 3D objects for use in Project Retrograde. Our primary goal is to keep the Sledge editor simple to use.

Though still in a very experimental state it’s already possible to create simple models with Sledge. This “flying saucer” was created in about 15 minutes using our current minimal feature set.

Don’t worry, we know this “programmer art” looks like it was drawn with a crayon — It basically was. :P The purpose was primarily to test our texture mapping code, and secondly to see how fast a simple model could be created.

From start to finish it only took 33 minutes to create this using our incomplete and very basic editing features.

We can’t wait to see all the amazing mods that modders will create with the full version.

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3 responses to Creating the Creator

  1. BNeutral

    I hope this engine also supports importing .objs.
    Some of us already know how to use 3D packages (which probably have a lot more features than yours will because it would really be a waste of time to implement them all)

  2. That’s a great point, and I mostly agree. Right now we’re focusing on the minimal set of features needed to produce the game content, but there are hooks in place for new capabilities to be attached easily.

    Sledge has a plug-in API to allow use of other data formats.

    It would be foolish not to include support for .obj files if for no other reason than there is already so much content in the .obj format. Support for import & export of virtually any other data format can be provided via additional external plugins.

    You’re correct in that Sledge will have less features when it comes to modeling than other 3D tools have, but we don’t think it would be a waste of time to implement them all — It’s true that it would take a lot of time to do, but I don’t think it would be a waste of effort if we were to do so eventually.

    Conversely, Sledge needs to provide game specific features that other modeling packages just won’t have. For example: .obj doesn’t support multiple texture coordinates per vertex, texture transform frames for animated texturing, or paths for objects to follow.

    We’re not trying to replace your favorite tool-chains, but I do think we can add something to the modding community by rethinking them with game creation in mind.

  3. Neat, our first comment!

    Vortex pretty much summed up the entire idea behind our feature set and the reasoning behind them, I think. Essentially we’re looking to create an editor that is capable of producing relatively basic 3D structures as intuitively and user-friendly as possible. From the mapping perspective, from which I came up with some of my concepts for the editor, my goal is to be able to create structures that aren’t overly complex and intricate. But rather maps that are, architecturally speaking, similar to how the maps in the id Software game “Quake” looked. That being our goal, we’re not really looking to create an editor that is jam packed with all sorts of modeling features, at least not on it’s own.

    Vortex has done a really great job so far with the features that we have. Some of which weren’t even a part of my original ideas (but are definitely going to be useful). The entire plug-in system we’re hoping to have will allow Sledge to become even more powerful for people out there who might want to extend it’s feature set.

    As Vortex said, the goal here really isn’t to create or replace existing editors out there with Sledge. Rather Sledge is meant to be more of an editor suited towards some of our ideas of what a simple and intuitive 3D editor could be. At the end of the day, we want modding to be as flexible as possible to allow a wider audience to create new content too :)

    Thanks for your comment BNeutral!

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