I tweeted this a few days back, I figure it deserves elaborating upon outside of Twitter.
TALKING OF REWARDS. If you lock off level editor stuff as a reward, please don’t do that.
— It’s A Wonderful Rob (@retroremakes) January 3, 2013
No really. Don’t do that.
I think the first time I really noticed this was with Flock, the Capcom-released sheep-em-up (sorry Andrew, up against the wall you go). As you progressed through the stages, the game threw you fairly arbitrary rewards, some of which were pieces for the level editor. Now in most games, that’s a fairly grim reward anyway, in Flock, it’s awarding you a bit of a fence. In some ways this is hilarious, in others it’s just a bit sad. Well done you, here’s a fence. THANKS! JUST WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED. HOW DID YOU KNOW?
But that’s videogames for you. We’ve reached this a point in history where we lock things off because that’s what we do. We lock things off. We need stuff to give the player as a reward. We need stuff to encourage the player to play more. We need stuff to touch the player in a special place or something. I just don’t know. But really, we don’t tend to have much of worth to lock off, right?
Which is why I tweeted this remark just after MCV Ed Michael French tweeted this…
“Oh wow, my reward for progressing through this video game is unlocking concept art work!” – No one in the history of time, ever.
— Michael French (@Michael_French) January 3, 2013
We lock off some pictures that some people made whilst making the games and we give them out to players during the game as a reward for playing the game and we don’t think this is weird. Why?
But at least that’s just weird. Locking up parts of level editors is stupid and wrong and makes me question what you think people do with level editors in the first place and what you want people to do with them.
Because a level editor is a tool for building levels, yeah? I’m going to assume that you put the level editor in with your game because you want people to use that tool to build levels, yeah? So why in the name of Jarvis would you want to lock off content to make it harder for people to build levels, right? Why would you do that?
There’s already a small percentage of your players who will want to open up and use the level editor. You might get quite a few tinkering with it providing it isn’t some arcane mess of menus and terms barely understood by humans but generally, most people buy or play games to play games and that’s just what they do. However, those who want to build levels for the game… they want to build levels for the game.
That leaves me with two important questions.
ONE: Why are you giving level editor pieces to people who will have no intention of using the level editor and thinking this is some sort of reward?
TWO: Why are you keeping level editor pieces from people who just want to build levels and aren’t necessarily interested in playing the game right through?
Either the answer is “I am making Sound Shapes and discovering the pieces as you progress is a part of the design and seeing these things out of context first would spoil the surprise” or your game is every other game on the planet and you should just stop what you’re doing right now and not do this.
If you want people to get the most from your level editor, give them everything you can. Give them everything they need to make levels and let them be creative. You’d be surprised at what people can do given the tools.
And stop using parts of a tool as a crutch whilst you’re at it, natch.