Side-scroller Level Design

This is a discussion on Side-scroller Level Design within the Game Programming forums, part of the General Programming Boards category; I'm wondering if anyone knows of a good article on the level design behind side-scrollers? I'm currently programming a 2D, ...

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    C++ Enthusiast jmd15's Avatar
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    Side-scroller Level Design

    I'm wondering if anyone knows of a good article on the level design behind side-scrollers? I'm currently programming a 2D, SDL-based, side-scroller and I've got mostly everything else developed, I just need an idea for the levels. I haven't even decided on how to set up the levels. Should I store all the levels in a file? In separate files? How should the data look in the files? How should the data be parsed? Any help or links are appreciated. Thanks.
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    Frequently Quite Prolix dwks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmd15 View Post
    I'm wondering if anyone knows of a good article on the level design behind side-scrollers? I'm currently programming a 2D, SDL-based, side-scroller and I've got mostly everything else developed, I just need an idea for the levels. I haven't even decided on how to set up the levels. Should I store all the levels in a file? In separate files? How should the data look in the files? How should the data be parsed? Any help or links are appreciated. Thanks.
    It's entirely up to you.

    I would store each level in a different file, simply because they're easier to manage that way. If one file gets corrupted, you don't lose everything. If you want to add a level, delete or edit one, it's a lot easier.

    How to store the data? I would use text. That's just me. Text files may be larger than binary files, but they're easier to read, easier to edit, and often more portable.

    Depending on how big your maps are, there are two basic ways to store the data. You'd probably just store the value of every square, much like this:
    Code:
    A A B
    B A A
    A A A
    But if there are vast distances between object on the map, or very few objects, or the values must be very exact, you could store it more like this:
    Code:
    B 2, 0
    B 0, 1
    (That is, store the positions of each non-blank square instead of every square.)

    Another suggestion: to make the levels easily customizable, you could have a header like this:
    Code:
    A tile.png
    B wall1.png
    C wall2.png
    Then in the file you use A, B, C etc for the squares. That way you could very easily create different themes or whatever you like.
    Last edited by dwks; 04-23-2007 at 10:25 PM.
    dwk

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    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    I use linear arrays to store levels. What you use is purely up to you. But arrays are easy to load/save and to manipulate in-game.

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    C++ Enthusiast jmd15's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies.
    dwks, your argument convinced me to use separate files for each level.
    Now for the way/style of storing the levels in files.
    I was thinking of assigning codes like (A1, A2, A3, etc) for each object, the letter corresponding to the type of object and the number to the specific one, etc.
    So the files would look like this:
    A1 50,20
    A2 100,20
    A3, 25,35

    With the numbers after it being x,y values.

    Then when reading the level files, I could store each set of coordinates in one 2d array, and then store the name of the object/sprite to draw in a corresponding array under the same index number.
    Then to make it run faster, I could check the current frame of view each game loop, and draw all sprites in those arrays with coordinates that lie within the frame. Is that a sound level design idea?
    Not being well versed in game design, any tips/suggestions on this are welcome.
    Bubba, what are these "linear arrays" you talk about? I'm not familiar with those.
    Thanks for the suggestions guys.
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    Frequently Quite Prolix dwks's Avatar
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    That's just what I was suggesting in my post. But I think that in your file you should assign A1 etc to filenames if you can, to facilitate changing artwork.

    A linear array is just an ordinary array AFAIK.
    dwk

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    C++ Enthusiast jmd15's Avatar
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    Ok, thanks.

    I get your filename idea, but I'm planning on writing different classes(using inheritance off of a main Sprite class) for each specific sprite. So that way, the A1 naming system will specify a certain class which will have that class's sprite image file loaded on creation into it's inherited SDL_Surface member. I think I'm ready to begin development know! woo! Thanks again guys, appreciate it!
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