Gravity Ace
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Level Editor

A whole new world...
A whole new world...

Basic concepts

The level editor allows you to modify and build your very own levels for Gravity Ace. It is the exact same tool that was used to design all of the levels that came with the game.

When you enter the level editor from the main menu you are presented with a blank canvas. The camera is centered on the player start position icon. Every level always has exactly one player start position. This is where the player will warp in to begin playing. You can place a new player start anywhere you like and the old one will automatically be erased. You can also move the starting position.

Saving

Levels are saved for the first time when you play test them. Levels are organized in campaigns. Campaigns are groups of levels that are played together. Every level is part of a campaign, even if it's the only level in the campaign. When you save your level the editor will ask you for a campaign. You can either choose an existing campaign or create a new one. After you save for the first time, your level will be automatically saved every 60 seconds and whenever you play it.

Play testing

You can play test a level by clicking either the Play from start or Play buttons. Play from start restarts the entire level from the very beginning. Play continues play from the current ship position. This is useful when you are playing a level and enter edit mode because it allows you to continue from right where you left off.

Level properties

Click the Level button to open the level properties panel. Here you can name the level, add a subtitle, and set options like gravity and how much fuel the player starts with.

Organizing campaigns

Click the Campaign button to open the campaign organizer. All of the levels in the campaign are listed. Levels will be played in this sequence. Drag and drop levels to change their order.

Walls

Create walls by clicking the Draw button on the toolbar (or press D). The pointer will show a brush outline where the next wall segment will be drawn. You can change the shape of the brush by pressing keys 1 through 4 on your keyboard. Click anywhere on the canvas to draw a wall. Click and drag to draw a larger wall.

Drawing
Drawing

When you draw a new wall segment that overlaps an existing wall, the two wall sections will be merged. Simply moving an existing wall on top of another wall will not merge them.

If you want to place two walls very close together then it is sometimes helpful to create them far away from each other first, switch to Select mode, then move and rotate one of the walls until it is where you want it.

Erasing works just like drawing. Click the Erase button on the toolbar (or press E). You can change the shape of the eraser by pressing keys 1 through 4. Then erase by clicking anywhere on the canvas where the eraser overlaps an existing wall or walls. If a wall is bisected by the eraser, the entire smaller part will be erased.

Vertex manipulation

Vertex, what? A vertex is a corner on a polygon. Each wall is a polygon made of many vertices. When you select a wall the vertices are highlighted with small circles or handles. You can grab any handle and move it to a new position to change the shape of the wall.

Vertices on a wall
Vertices on a wall

To add a new vertex, hold CTRL and left-click near a segment between two existing vertices. To delete a vertex, hold CTRL and right-click on it.

Walls are limited to 500 vertices each to improve performance. To make larger areas you can overlap multiple wall segments; or place them very close to each other with gaps that are too small for the player to fly through.

Selecting and rotating

Select any object by clicking Select on the toolbar (or press A) then left-click on the object you want to select. The object will become highlighted and the property inspector will show any properties that can be modified.

Rotate a selected object by holding down the SHIFT key and then click on the object and drag it.

Select and rotate
Select and rotate

Undo

A undo and redo system keeps track of every change you make in your level. You can undo changes by pressing Ctrl+Z. After you undo, you can redo by pressing Ctrl+Y.

Placing objects

To place objects, select an object on the object toolbar and then left-click where you want it to appear. The object will be placed instantly. A preview will appear next to the mouse pointer showing exactly where the object will be placed. Objects will snap to nearby walls if you move the mouse pointer near the wall.

Properties

Select an object by left-clicking. The object's properties will appear in the property inspector. Every object has different properties that affect its behavior. Some objects (like some props) don't have any properties.

Some special properties:

  • Hidden: The object will be hidden until the reactor core is destroyed or beamed
  • Phase: This determines the start time for objects that repeat their behavior in a loop. Adjusting the phase to make objects start at different times.
  • Cooldown: This is the time between repeated actions like shooting

Signals

Some objects have signals that allow them to trigger actions on other objects. For example, enemies have a Destroyed signal that activates when the enemy is destroyed. This is the same mechanism that allows the exit to appear when the reactor core is beamed.

Signal connection
Signal connection

To connect a signal, click the Add button below the signal then click the Select button. Finally, select the object that you want to trigger. The property inspector will show the target object and action that will be triggered on that target object. Some objects have multiple actions that you can trigger. You can add as many connections as you'd like for each signal.

Not all objects have signals and not all objects have actions that can be triggered.

Reactor core and exit beacon

Reactor cores have a Destroyed signal and an Beamed signal. In most levels, both signals are connected to the Exit Beacon so that it is activated when the reactor is destroyed or beamed. The Exit Beacon is hidden until it is activated.

Props and decorations

Some objects are purely decorative. These include space grass, buildings, and rocks. These objects add visual interest to a level but don't affect gameplay in any way.

Dialog

Dialog can be treated just like most objects. You can place dialog anywhere in the level. Dialog is activated in two ways: either through proximity or by a signal. To activate dialog when the player gets close to it, set the Dialog Area to a value greater than zero. Otherwise, the dialog will only be activated via signal.

Dialog has two signals: Say and Mute. Say activates the dialog. Mute causes the dialog to never activate.

Edit the dialog by clicking the Edit Dialog button in the dialog property inspector.

Dialog
Dialog

In the dialog editor, click Add Dialog to add another node. Each node has an actor, the text to say, and optional choices. If the choices are empty then only the green connection is used to advance to the next dialog node. Multiple choices are presented to the player so they can choose a branch.