Class for Dark Forces Editing
Conceptualize, Actualize, Refine
LESSON ONE - PRE-DEVELOPMENT STAGE
In Dark Forces editing, one of the most important parts is the stage you go through before you even start the level. This is the conceptual stage. Here you decide on your plot, your setting, your characters, and a general idea of what will happen. It is a good idea to write down the information that will come to you in this stage.
The very first part is the wait for inspiration. Generally the wait isn't long, but it can be. It ends when you get a flash of an idea for a level, one that you really like. The idea generally falls upon the plot, but it can be setting or characters, too.
The next part is generally very short. This is where you decide how everything will work, you decide the dynamics of the plot, the characters and how they will interact, and the details of what will happen.
Now, with the main ideas figured out, you're ready to open up your project in your level editor and begin.
LESSON TWO -
This is the most lenghty part of building a new Dark Forces level. This is the actualization stage, where you actualize the level.
The first part is the lengthiest. You just build the level. Build the architecture, design the textures, create your important INF. You aren't quite done doing architecture by the time you finish this stage, but you're very close. This is also where you put in your textures, align them, and place your signs. You will also be in your graphics program, making new textures. You should probably just about finish making new textures here.
Now is the part where you get on the internet for a long time. Here, you go on the internet and search for new components. Download just about every package of WAXes, FMEs, VOCs, BMs, and 3DOs you can find. It's a good idea to sort these out in different directories on your hard drive.
Here you also download essential utilities such as VueCad (Frank A. Krueger), Scale3DO (Peter Klassen), Pacmut (Jereth Kok), Goldwave (Chris Craig, shareware), and you also download your packages of "other" components, such as PBRFS (Peter Klassen). Now unzip them all, the go through them in your component viewer. If you see one that you think you can use if it fits in the plot and setting, then save it in your GOB. If you find one that you don't like, then either delete it or zip it back up and save it for later levels.
Here you go back and add your various objects, such as enemies and powerups. Be thoughtful about your placement of enemies. Put them where you think they would be likely to be posted. Put powerups out of the way, but keep enough readily available. At this point, you may wish to go back and build an armory to keep some in. Be sure to not forget VOCs as well. VOCs are one of the most important components. Add some as background, others as sounds you hear on an elevator or as a door opens.
Now you go for extra details. Would a nice VUE of a TIE flying overhead look good? Or should there be a lift to get in the cockpit of the TIE in your hangar? Maybe there would be, in real life, a door right there marked "Emergency Exit Only." Or maybe "Authorized Personnel Only." So see, you aren't really done building yet. So just keep adding details until you really like the way it is.
Now you go broader, and look at the large picture. This stage can actually be going on at the same time as the above steps, but it's only recommended if you've got a second staff member working on it. This part is the LFD and main GOB. Here you're gonna want a good LFD, a textcrawl, a creditcrawl, and a briefing. You also want to take a look at the music. Even if your ingame music suits your level well, you will want to change it. It is quite derogatory to open up a level and find that nothing was done with the music. You will want to crack open the sounds.gob and pull out the GMIDs. Choose which one you want (probably by opening them up with GMID), then put the two files (fight-**.gmd and stalk-**.gmd) in your GOB. Done! If you want to go even further, you can find your own MIDI from somewhere and convert it to GMID format, and then use it! However, note that you cannot use fight and stalk without adding some internal commands, so you'll only have a stalk GMID, meaning that there just won't be any new music when you meet the enemy. But there's a step past that too! You can find another song for fight, and then go in and add the commands! You should see one of the tutorials out there for this.
Now you're pretty much done, and it's time to release a beta version of the level.
LESSON THREE - POST-DEVELOPMENT STAGE
This part is relatively short, but much like pre-development, it cannot be skipped. This it the refining stage, where you generally release a beta of your level to a small number of people, who run it and then give you a report of what they liked, what the didn't like, and their suggestions.
Put out a call, and choose 4 people (you'll probably want to try going for people with different specs on their computer, a Win95, Win3.1, Mac, so on). Then give them the beta of your level. Tell them to run it, first without cheating at all, then go through using all the cheats they can.
Within a short period of time, they will respond back with their results. They will usually have suggestions, so you'll want to listen closely.
Finally, you are completely done!
Now you have a choice. Does your plot allow for further levels in a series, or are you done?