A level editor is a piece of software that allows gamers to create their own playing fields for their favorite game. They often give a great boost to the game’s replay value and popularity. Level editors have existed since the days of Loderunner. Interest in them became more widespread with the coming of Doom and its add-on wad files. Today, many gamers find it a disappointment if a game doesn’t have a level editor.
By my reckoning, there are basically three types of level editors:
- Official - A level editor that is provided by the creators of the game fits in this category. These may be built into the game itself, or a stand-alone packaged with the game. Games that have official level editors include Loderunner, Tapan Kaikki, Warcraft II, and Duke Nukem 3D.
- Third Party - Some game companies don’t include level editors with their games, but still encourage level editing. Fans of the game create their own editors, possibly with the help of information provided by the company. Sometimes third-party editors are created even if there is an official editor. Examples of games that use this method include Doom, Rise of the Triad, and Quake.
- Hack - Fans of the game decode the level data for a game that does not support editing. These fans then make their own level editor with the information they discover. The legality of level editors made this way is questionable. Some companies prohibit them, while others tolerate or even praise these efforts. Hack editors have been created for games such as Metroid, Wolfenstein 3D, and Commander Keen.
CaptainSpam's writeup for reminding me that Loderunner had a level editor.