Report article RSS Feed Far Cry 2 - Mapping made easy?

Far Cry 2's new level editor and why easy-to-use doesn't mean easy-to-make.

Posted by stenchy on Sep 27th, 2008
Article

Considering Ubisoft's track record of internally developed games, it shouldn't come as any surprise that their upcoming African-themed shooter Far Cry 2 won't provide any extensive modding capabilities. However, the fact that the level editor can yield satisfactory results inside of an hour should prove testament to Ubisoft's willingness to venture out into modding territory. It empowers the average gamer—on any platform—with the ability to test his mettle in the arena of level design.


There are some of you out there who may think this sort of thing is trash (check the comments). The notion that making such an easy-to-use editor enables anyone to become a level designer overnight is preposterous. What it does is lower the barrier entry for more creative types to participate. Intrepid reporters over at Shacknews recently got a hold of Hardy LeBel, the man in charge of multiplayer for Far Cry 2. He touches on designing levels that suit Far Cry 2's pace and large battlefields.

Hardy wrote:There's no question. Our thinking process for this game specifically was very much tied to the fact that we had the level editor. The editor was a big focus technologically, and a big focus in terms of trying to, from a design side, trying to take the robust enemy tools that we had, and figure out how to put a wrapper on them so that they're accessible and easy for people to use. And with that in mind, also making incredibly complicated game modes just seemed like, if were looking to the community to create content and enjoy it, it could very easily turn into rocket science. Because like, okay, well we have these incredibly complex game modes that require all this logic to successfully pull off.. It's really hard to make a good level.

The level editor is just a tool; no matter how good the tool gets, you still have to hone the craft. Just because people can import objects with a single click of a button doesn't mean they'll be able to design great levels. Likewise, just because you've memorized every insane button combination within a given editor doesn't make you a great level designer. I know I can't wait to get my grubby paws on it, based on the impressions I've read.

I call dibs on Pride Rock

Post comment Comments  (0 - 50 of 89)
tacoo
tacoo Sep 27 2008, 8:02pm says:

Think it'll out-conquer Sandbox 2? I doubt it.

+3 votes     reply to comment
stenchy
stenchy Sep 27 2008, 8:05pm replied:

Well Sandbox 2 is a full editing suite, this will just be a level editor.

+3 votes     reply to comment
broadsword
broadsword Sep 27 2008, 11:29pm replied:

Thats the thing that upsets me. People are saying "Oh its great to have an easy map editor" but i would rather have a difficult editing suit. I mean you can only do so much with just a map editor, no matter how easy it is to use.

+2 votes     reply to comment
MaceMadunusus
MaceMadunusus Sep 28 2008, 11:42pm replied:

Yeah I would rather level editors have at least some kind of skill required to make something decent.

Look at me working with the old Quake 3 engine. There we actually have to care about Tris draw, VIS work, and things engines now a days you can just turn your head away.

Level editors are just getting easier to use... and actually kinda diminish the skill needed to create something that looks and feels decent. (Lately its been very pre-fabish... but still the same deal)

I just hope in the future, there's some level of skill actually needed to create good levels, not just throw something together and the game glorifies it.

Worrying about things like I have to with such an old engine, just allow you to turn in disgust at the recent stuff... Call of Duty 4 being a perfect example, man was I disgusted at the lazy mapping the 'pros' did... ahh well, nothing I can do.

+2 votes     reply to comment
nige111
nige111 Sep 29 2008, 10:57am replied:

The only reason they're getting easier is because more games are turning to the "terrain and prop" approach, rather than complex brushwork stemming back to the quake era.

+3 votes     reply to comment
MaceMadunusus
MaceMadunusus Sep 29 2008, 11:36am replied:

Indeed, its saddening :P

+2 votes     reply to comment
Crispy
Crispy Oct 8 2008, 8:10am replied:

"Yeah I would rather level editors have at least some kind of skill required to make something decent."

You seem to be focusing on technical art skill over gameplay design. Currently we have people who spend years and years learning how to use Hammer or UnrealEd or DoomEd and they come out with maps that look great as standalones or in mods but have fundamental design errors. Design gets overlooked time after time because level 'designers' are concentrating too much on getting the looks right. In my opinion these guys have technical skill but in some cases ZERO design skill, and it's really depressing because gameplay is what largely dictates a product's success.

So here a game ships with a level editor that lets you forget about the art side and put your full attention on making levels that are actually designed to play well and a bunch of stick-in-the-muds are complaining they want a program that lets them handle everything themselves. They would actually prefer it is the barrier-to-entry for modding was higher and if less work got released and of that work less of it was actually fun to play. The mind boggles.

Let's not forget that you can still make your own custom props if you want to go down the art route too and have full control of the content you place in your level (and this isn't a waste of time because levels these days are shifting away from BSP to using modelling programs to achieve the look).

I'm eager to see more of the scripting side of the editor, but if that gives you enough control over pathfinding, other AI behaviour and attitudes, plus inter-dependant triggers and events, then I think this is a great idea.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Sebhael
Sebhael Sep 29 2008, 10:24am replied:

You can do some amazing stuff with just Valve's Hammer though.
Provides enough entities and other additions to actually create a mini-mod with zero programming or anything.

Other mapping tools suck though, and I'm not too pleased to hear about this mapping tool since I'm an active member at FPSBanana, and all I see there is a flood of freaking horrible maps. The easier the tool, the more crap that will have to be sifted out of the good.

+2 votes     reply to comment
MaceMadunusus
MaceMadunusus Sep 29 2008, 11:38am replied:

Yeah, I can see the same, people who really really shouldn't be making maps... just spamming them. And with these new engines that auto-glorify maps... it makes it harder.

And yeah Hammer is pretty nice, although I personally prefer GTK Radiant over every single level editor I have tried. (Even other versions of Radiant)

+2 votes     reply to comment
USrules
USrules Sep 30 2008, 4:33pm replied:

Very true, Sebhael. Although, it's probably for the better that people put up with the bad maps coming out. If the makes are smart enough to realise that they could do better, they'll get better with practice, and then we'll have god knows how many new modding teams on the block. They could merge with some of the older guys, and that's how companies (or just really, really good mods/maps) are made. Hopefully.

Maybe I should try to be more negative <_<

+2 votes     reply to comment
ImpulseDXE
ImpulseDXE Oct 1 2008, 9:29pm replied:

HI SEB

+1 vote     reply to comment
macavelli
macavelli Sep 28 2008, 10:05am replied:

I think your all being way too negative. Im going to come in from a different angle here and im just going to be honest. I love games and i love MODS. I would have given up on gaming a long time ago if it wasnt for people like all of you guys creating them and promoting them. So thats one thing iv put across. I think this Easy way of mapping is a god send. You still have to have the vision and creativity to create a truely great map.

I have tried my hand at modding before, but only creating skins for Call of Duty 4. I dont have the knowledge to work with Sandbox or any other DIY modding kits. Abit too past be in terms of techyness. I wish i t wasnt however.

Im a very creative person and do design for a living, and i have always wanted to put all my drawings into reality with an easy to use map maker. This gives Very creative Gamers the chance to get involved where in lots of other games they could not have done due to that amount of modding knowledge you need.

So im all for this. Its just a map maker, not a full editing suite. So why not welcome the idea of having more modders out there making maps. Its for the good of modding and for the good of the game.

Bravo!

+8 votes     reply to comment
Wiweeyum
Wiweeyum Sep 30 2008, 6:41am replied:

Amen my brother!

+4 votes     reply to comment
NullSoldier
NullSoldier Sep 27 2008, 9:22pm buried:

(buried)

This is garbage, it's just a WYSIWYG. Sorry for the negative comments but this is NOT a positive benefit to the mod community. Get a clue Ubisoft.

I support modding and Ubisoft NOT that.

-6 votes     reply to comment
Henley
Henley Sep 27 2008, 11:08pm replied:

The idea is to bring more people into the scene, as stated just because its simple does not make it easy. What exactly is so bad about getting more people interested in modding in general?

+10 votes     reply to comment
NullSoldier
NullSoldier Sep 27 2008, 11:55pm replied:

I believe in learning the right way, not the WYSIWYG way. We have been moving forward for years with the evolution of modding tools, why are we now going backwards? When it comes to modding yes, it actually takes a brain and some effort to learn and do and thats the way it should be.

Theres tons of other reasons here too that I see people seem to understand where I come from.

-4 votes     reply to comment
Henley
Henley Sep 28 2008, 11:13am replied:

So say someone picks up Farcry 2, finishes the game, loves it like their first born and says to himself "Man what else can I do with this game with all its awesomeness?!?" He opens up the map editor and sees a world of potential he mucks around with the engine for a while placing all the things he can think of within the editor and makes a few smashing maps to boot. Yet he is left feeling that even tho the map editor is powerful and fun his creativity gets the better of him (as it is like with most of us) he needs more bread for his butter and off he goes in search for a more creative solution. And then boom he approaches the modding scene finds his new home and learns more skills then he could possibly imagine. All thanks to the simple yet powerful map editor built within the game Farcry 2.

This happens more then you think friend, so don't be so quick to shun the game's choice. Chances are they will be fixing up an SDK for the rest of us to further promote the Dunia engine.

+6 votes     reply to comment
Mapiarz
Mapiarz Sep 28 2008, 9:14pm replied:

The problem here imho is not that many noobs will do ******/moderate maps. Its that level designer is limited to premade stuff(models, mainly). That means, we'll get bored very, very quickly of all those africa maps, with the same houses, structures, enviroment props etc. So, if a mod team will want to do something really different, they will have to create hundreds of props. In source for example, most things are made up from brushes. Level designer isnt limited to anything. You can create your very own unique architecture. That is harder, takes a lot of time but players never get bored.

+5 votes     reply to comment
stenchy
stenchy Sep 29 2008, 4:55am replied:

After all this discussion, you guys are still focusing on the tool itself. You guys worry about the outpouring of noob maps -- look around ModDB! Tons of noob crap everywhere.

Some of you talk about options with SDK's, yet how many mods truly utilize those options and create something truly different? Limits often can encourage creativity.

+6 votes     reply to comment
Lucífer
Lucífer Sep 29 2008, 3:37pm replied:

Think of this from a Modeller and texturer point of view.

A person can Model and texture several things they've created, import them into the game and from there, make a map simply with their own unique idea.

All we saw were the basic tools being used, does this editor have a more advanced complication to making a persons maps more interesting?..such as action points and triggers etc.

People would also create model packs and several other things for Farcry which can be imported into the editor and thus, a more 'different' feel when you play on a map.

Someone further up said something about things are meant to be getting harder as gaming and modding develops in evolution etc.
Wrong, the very first games were nothing simple anyone could do or edit at all, with on-going technology, things like mapping at least become a lot more simpler.
This means you wont have people spending countless hours on a manual on how to use the editor, for it's easy-to-use, which allows people to concentrate on the more formal sides of modding, such as texture artist, modeller, coder etc.
You cannot just shun something because it is easy to use, the most advanced gun in the world that is ahead of the times is simple to use.
The most advanced car in the world is most probably easy to use.
Why should this be any different?..You want Modding to become Rocket Science or something?
--------------------

As for the video, Stenchy, you're a genius at work. :D

+4 votes     reply to comment
Henley
Henley Sep 29 2008, 4:27pm replied:

LOL Ryan didnt make that video... LOL

+1 vote     reply to comment
Lucífer
Lucífer Sep 30 2008, 12:50pm replied:

He's still a Genius!

+2 votes     reply to comment
Crispy
Crispy Oct 8 2008, 8:27am replied:

"The problem here imho is not that many noobs will do ******/moderate maps. Its that level designer is limited to premade stuff(models, mainly). That means, we'll get bored very, very quickly of all those africa maps, with the same houses, structures, enviroment props etc."

Honestly this was the case with Half-Life 2 and still is, to a degree. If you want to make a mod that isn't set in a near-future universe you need to make your own weapons, new textures, new NPCs (from models to animations), everything. Your argument could go for most games.

True, with other editors you can make free-form shapes as you like them, but if this ships with the console release or as DLC, this will be the single most powerful editor ever to be put into the hands of console gamers.

+2 votes     reply to comment
bobalong131
bobalong131 Sep 28 2008, 12:43am replied:

I agree with being against learning anything the WYSIWYG method but this editor looks pretty kool. That being said it's not an SDK or mapping suite... It's only an editor meant for the end consumer not us small percentage of modders. It's just like stuntman having that create mode. It's more of something for the everyday person to make quick little maps. So in the end nobody will learn from this but 95% of the people playing don't want too. It's a shame there is no real SDK.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Henley
Henley Sep 28 2008, 11:03am replied:

Not yet anyway.

+2 votes     reply to comment
bobalong131
bobalong131 Sep 28 2008, 9:01pm replied:

Yep, not yet... Though I must admit I get lost easily in any mapping program that isn't quark or hammer.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Armageddon104
Armageddon104 Sep 27 2008, 9:29pm says:

wow thats awesome :D

+4 votes     reply to comment
Spooboy
Spooboy Sep 27 2008, 9:35pm says:

That's really cool, for someone as lazy as me i cant wait to get my hands on a simple editor!

+3 votes     reply to comment
Neurological
Neurological Sep 27 2008, 10:03pm says:

The problem of this editor is only for make multiplayer maps and you can't script or import any new assets. So without new contents will get old quickly, but is just my opinion.

+3 votes     reply to comment
cyberdaemon
cyberdaemon Sep 27 2008, 10:20pm says:

Can i actually carve a tunnels in ground or tunnels , so i can place some sort of gold mine there ? This editor reminds me an RTS level editor , not FPS one lol :D

+2 votes     reply to comment
selman_akinci
selman_akinci Sep 27 2008, 10:26pm says:

It cant get new contents? if so it dumb...

0 votes     reply to comment
CitizenLand
CitizenLand Sep 28 2008, 12:04am says:

wow, there are some real elitist slobs out there. I had to listen to this same kind of mentality when server browsers came out...that somehow having to take extra steps using complex cvars and such somehow made the gaming community better. Or how about the ones that complain when a game interface is streamlined for consoles? Cries of "consolized" echo in every forum.

The best analogy though is when punk rock came out. All the classic rock douchebags whined that "they got no talent". You know what? I'd rather hear some dude play a few chords badly but the song has something fresh and fun rather some staid boring crap played well. Its the same with the editor. There are plenty of folks out there who probably have some awesome ideas for maps that don't want to have to spend weeks on learning some complex skill set. It's completely retarded to cry about this editor. Rather, we should applaud Ubi for taking the extra time and cash to make it so more people can experience the fun of map creation. No one is going to get put out of a job nor experience anything negative because of existence. Get ahold of yourself.

+9 votes     reply to comment
NullSoldier
NullSoldier Sep 28 2008, 12:48am replied:

Your missing the point. They didn't just provide an easier experience, they SACRAFICED functionality for usability. How would you feel if they took out the connect command and FORCED you to click on servers from the server browser in any source game because they thought it would provide an easier experience.

This is going to lead to tons of new generation gamers thinking WYSIWYG is the be all end all and that anything else is simply foobar.

-4 votes     reply to comment
Henley
Henley Sep 28 2008, 11:17am replied:

No I think YOUR missing the point as to WHY they made it simple! I'm not going to repeat myself so just read my replies above.

+5 votes     reply to comment
INtense!
INtense! Sep 28 2008, 11:32am replied:

I'm all for this, I love that this opens up modding to many, takes things mainstream and is a step forward in game design (because they are trying something new). However NullSoldier does have a point here. See the thing with WYSIWYG editors in my experience, is that you can only do what the editor allows you to do. If there isn't a button to do something, you can't do it - whereas more complex map editors allow you to dig into the code, script in new stuff, custom stuff. WYSIWYG editors are not designed for this because it is extremely hard to do so. So yeah my issue is sure you can create a map in hour, and i'm certain there will be awesome awesome maps made - but they are all going to feel the same because at the end of the day all maps are made using the same 100 options the WYSIWYG editor provides.

+4 votes     reply to comment
CitizenLand
CitizenLand Sep 29 2008, 7:47pm replied:

Not neccessarily. I'll go back to the punk era analogy. many bands used about 4-5 chords tops. It didn't stop great music from being made. The same with the map editor. Give folks credit for having an imagination. For instance, I've seen some great maps made for BF2 using default assets.

Also, having a full toolset doesn't necessarily mean we'll get quality user made content. Go play UT2k4 and see how many custom maps being played are utter garbage. Poorly done giant bathrooms, kitchens, etc (yes, such things were cool back around, oh, 1997)along with endless servers playing on blank simple geometry.

Lastly, I have no doubt if the game sells well and the map community grows that Ubi will release some advance tools for PC users.

+4 votes     reply to comment
mm3guy
mm3guy Oct 1 2008, 9:38am replied:

You know that you guys both spelled "You're" wrong? (To NullSoldier and Henley

+2 votes     reply to comment
Ilsamir_Lord
Ilsamir_Lord Sep 28 2008, 1:21am says:

Agreed, but ease and complexity/versatility aren't mutually exclusive.

In just playing around with SandBox 2 (the first map editor I really used to any effect) I was making landscapes, populating them with AI, vegetation and buildings in less than an hour. Only the complex stuff in SB2 is actually difficult or requires a tutorial. SB2 is, by and large, very straight-forward to use and extremely powerful: an excellent double ;)

Still, it's probably a good thing that more people will have a go at editing because of this seemingly simpler option.

+2 votes     reply to comment
technoblue
technoblue Sep 28 2008, 1:50am says:

In ancient times, when there was no electricity or machinery, people would build structures using hard manual labor with tools such as axes and hammers. That is how the Colosseum was built in Rome.

Today we have cranes, laser pointers, trucks and so on, which eases the process by which buildings are created.

How is it any different here? I can only see this as an evolutionary step in terms of level editing. I do not think they would sacrifice some of the more intricate options for an easy to use editor, they would still be in there somewhere.

Also, just because you know how to use a level editor, doesn't mean you can create decent looking levels. It takes a little creativity!

+3 votes     reply to comment
NullSoldier
NullSoldier Sep 28 2008, 2:27pm buried:

(buried)

Yes, they did sacrafice the intriciate options for an easy to use editor. Those options are not there and won't be.

-5 votes     reply to comment
VEpP
VEpP Sep 30 2008, 12:17am replied:

Good God.

Have you used the editor?
I absolute am disgusted by all the people on here hating on this tool.
I personally don't know what it will be like, because I haven't ******* used it. All of you are just speculating. Hope for the best, send Ubi e-mails, don't just sit here and ******* moan. If you really think this is going to be the end times of good modding, just... god.
I don't take that from anyone directly, it's just the gist of the topic in here. I hope that the editor will be fun, easy (but extensive), and above all, inspire people to stumble upon community websites like ModDB.
But seriously, they've still got like a week to fix it before they start production of discs. I 'spose that isn't enough time anymore... Regardless, my point is, when you don't like something, and the devs show you months in advance of release, and you have time to tell them you don't like it, ******* TELL THEM.

+4 votes     reply to comment
SirBaron
SirBaron Sep 28 2008, 5:18am says:

Meh, no custom content = no use from me.

¬¬

It's not bad for what it does I suppose, which is more maps for multiplayer. But for as far as someone who MODS games, it's useless.

+3 votes     reply to comment
barto300
barto300 Sep 28 2008, 7:26am says:

nice world building out there.... looks cool I like to edit games in my own way

+2 votes     reply to comment
ussr1943
ussr1943 Sep 28 2008, 10:44am says:

Everyone has to start somewhere, whether those of you eliteists like to accept that fact or not. This should help people completely new to level design get in the game, sure people might make crappy levels, but that's where you (the modding community) come into play: Providing constructive criticism we will be showing new people the way by example which will ultimately help expand the mod community. As stated above, this helps lower the entry barrier into level design, which I'm all for.

Some people posses the creative ability but have a hard time applying it, due to not being very mod savvy, this will help those types get started somewhere.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Wiweeyum
Wiweeyum Sep 30 2008, 6:51am replied:

This is true. I am a designer all the way. Do I actually have any talent in modding? Not too much... Do I have great ideas for games, maps, and stories? I like to think so.

This isn't a tool for the serious MODDER, but a tool to sit down and make maps. That's just fine with me. Do you think that they thought people were incapable of making great content with their engine? I'm sure that this tool does exactly what it was intended to do.

+2 votes     reply to comment
RogerRamjet
RogerRamjet Sep 28 2008, 11:03am says:

Personally, if the game is good enough on its own merits and has as much content already as seen in the video, it is brilliant, so simple, yet with a very professional look to it. Obviously it will take time to produce a decent map of quality, but doesn't everything? I am sure we will see thousands of crap maps as usual, with a few quality ones thrown in that people have taken the time to learn the software and then produce.

In truth, unless you want to so a total conversion, I think the sandbox is superbly done and gives those who have either no time or no talent the ability to produce at least something, and if it is crap, I am sure many of you above will tell them it is...

Well done Ubi, another quality product. As long as the game-play meets expectations and my PC can at least run it on medium quality...

+2 votes     reply to comment
Amosinn
Amosinn Sep 28 2008, 1:27pm says:

It looks quite intuitive and I like it

+2 votes     reply to comment
NullSoldier
NullSoldier Sep 28 2008, 2:31pm says:

Theres a huge misunderstanding and misconception here. It seems like the people who think its a good idea to take the SDK away and give a WYSIWYG map editor seem to think those who actually want an SDK are elitests. The only reason you call us elitests is because you don't understand why we don't like it in the first place. "They must be elitests because they don't want a simplified watered down experience with no other possibility". It's not that we don't want a simplified experience for new users, it's the fact that its what they LIMIT you to. No one likes limits, and when you place Limits on things that people have used for years with a lot less of, it will bring the bitterness out in the people who believe in higher standards.

So to summarize...
Easy experience for newbies == good
Easys experience with NO possibility for further expansion, new content, or moddability with an SDK = NOT good

-4 votes     reply to comment
EdOscuro
EdOscuro Sep 28 2008, 7:13pm replied:

The "misconception" is because NullSoldier didn't take the time to explain that the missing SDK is their issue, instead immediately crapping on the WSYWIG aspect of the editor (which is a great thing; everybody has to gauge performance just as in the older map editors). Only have yourself to blame for that one.

I think we all agree that lacking the SDK is a bad thing, but that's really separate from the issue of how the editor works.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Ennui
Ennui Sep 28 2008, 7:53pm says:

There's nothing wrong with modding being accessible to people, and I have no intentions of modding FC2 so it's not a big deal to me... but they have no obligation to provide any tools at all in the first place, so it seems silly to get butthurt about the lack of an SDK.

My real objection is that I think it shouldn't be TOO easy to use... all that grunt work required for mod developing builds character.

NullSoldier, give it a rest. You already cried enough in the comments for the post linked to in this article, we all get your point.

+6 votes     reply to comment
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