Def feature reveal part 3 – your story, your levels

Here’s the third part in my indie-marketing-douchebag-wannabe feature reveal series.

Today’s feature is: Mod support

Def edit mode – dropping some red Phr

This is a biggie. The very first prototype of Def, made for the 26th Ludum Dare game jam, was built around a single survival mode challenge. With a simple square level, there was no need for fancy level editors and the like. That first gamejam version had some balance issues, but once tweaked, I felt like it was a concept worth expanding. In order to build campaign levels I came up with a simple text file format (originally inspired by the FASTA file format, for the bioinformatics geeks out there) and a very bare bones built-in level editor. I never originally intended these to be used by players, so they were all hidden and disabled in public builds. But the more I used the level editing feature, the more I realised – wouldn’t it be cool if anyone could build a level for Def.

The other half of Def, wrapped around the realtime levels, is the story. Text and stuff. Text with some choices. Rather than reinvent the wheel here, I decided to use an existing interactive story format – Twine / Twee. Ironically, this required me to reinvent the wheel, by building a Twine interpreter in Unity, but the result was worth it. Story chapters in Def can be easily edited using the Twine desktop tool for authoring hypertext interactive fiction, or hand edited in plain text Twee format. To to make a Def mod you (1) build levels, running the game in edit mode (2) define waves in the text file containing the levels [ladies & gentlemen .. start your text editors !] (3) write the story in Twine, using some special Def-specific macros to launch levels at the right place in the story. I’ll admit up front – it’s not the simplest, nor the most flexible modding system under the sun. But you can do a lot with it, and I hope people get a kick out of making their own levels – I’m sure I’ll be constantly surprised what people come up with.

For those curious, you can take a look at the contents of the example mod here. The first release of the Windows/Mac/Linux builds is getting really close now. Really really close.

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