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Thread: One giant, seamless 'level'?

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    One giant, seamless 'level'?

    Hi all -- I've been playing around with Sonic Worlds Delta V1.2B, a platform for making Sonic the Hedgehog-style games and levels in MMF2.

    I'm wondering -- would it possible to have my game be one giant, non-linear level, rather than consisting of many separate levels?

    I'm worried that as the level grows increasingly large, this might pose a memory problem, perhaps?

    Would there be any way around that?

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    Re: One giant, seamless 'level'?

    This is generally done through 'streaming loading', where the game is actually broken up into levels or otherwise areas, but these areas are cached and streamed into the memory at runtime as you approach them, in order to seamlessly load to the next area.

    For example, as you approach a door to a house in a village, the game would anticipate that you wanted to enter that house and start loading all the information for it into memory, and when you opened the door, it would either all already be there, or if you were too fast somehow, it would just do a momentary 'loading' to catch up.

    You can't possibly expect to load an entire large game all into memory- thats inefficient and would not work on even moderately sized games. People only have so much RAM at disposal, and all matters in CSci are tradeoffs between processing and memory. So by caching your levels and buffering them on demand, you can give the appearance of a fully seamless game while still fragmenting the memory into levels.

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    Re: One giant, seamless 'level'?

    Knytt is one big seamless level, and it works fine, though I'm close to limitations with the frame width and edit-time maximum number of object. I also had to make sure that all the actives were set to inactivate when out of frame, and avoid using events to control most objects (enemies and creatures used the path movement).

    However, if you have something larger, more dynamic, and with more event controlled content, I guess you have to do what Pixelthief suggests.

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    Re: One giant, seamless 'level'?

    Whoa, it's Nifflas! I'm actually a huge, huge fan of Knytt's design, especially the way in which the secret areas were handled.


    The thing about Knytt, though, is that I'm not sure it does the same thing as what I'm proposing -- there are still 'screens' you move between in Knytt, where you exit the top of one screen and arrive on the bottom of the next, etc.

    I'm trying to do something more akin to the game being like one giant Sonic the Hedgehog level -- no 'screen exit/entrances', just seamless scrolling the entire way.


    I like Pixelthief's approach -- I'm not planning on having a massive amount of open-air space, so I could funnel the player through tunnels at key loading/unloading points so the game is never 'ambushed' by the player loading unexpected data. I'm more going after that 'feeling of seamlessness' than anything, it's not like the player will be instantly able to move from any area of the world to any other. My main goal is visual -- I never want the player to see the character run off the edge of one screen, and then onto the next.


    I'm curious why you had to avoid using events to control most objects -- could you have used Pixelthief's method to deactivate them whenever the player wasn't nearby, and thus had things similarly work out nicely? Did the method you chose limit your ability to design your enemies' behaviors?

    (Also, was Knytt made with HWA? Does that change the equation at all?)

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    Re: One giant, seamless 'level'?

    Knytt was not made with HWA. And the scrolling is negligible (You can scroll any way, it doesn't affect performance)

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    Re: One giant, seamless 'level'?

    Does having HWA as an option change any of the stuff we're talking about here?

    And Jacob, could you elaborate a bit on what you mean by 'the scrolling is negligible'? If the player character is literally -- for the course of the entire game -- never moving off the edge of one screen and onto the next (a convenient 'level load point'), if it's all just continuous scrolling, it's still negligible as a concern?

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    Re: One giant, seamless 'level'?

    Its a much more fundamental design question than anything specific to MMF2, much less HWA concerns. Many games in the past have done streaming loading.

    The algorithm is very simple for a linear game, and only slightly complicated for anything more open ended (For example, something that might be useful for a large MMORPG).

    Say you have a game where all levels go from left to right. Within a certain distance of the right exit of a level, the game should start buffering the memory of that level. Within a smaller distance from the boundary in both directions, the game should start displaying both areas, overlapping the two. And after traveling a distance beyond that limit, you can erase the buffer.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DynamicLoading

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    Re: One giant, seamless 'level'?

    Yeah, we're on the same page in terms of the underlying theoretical concept.

    I'm mainly wondering to what extent MMF2 can do that, and if MMF2 won't do it easily, to what extent I might have to compromise the game's design in one area or another.

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    Re: One giant, seamless 'level'?

    Theres no limitations to MMF2 to stop it from doing it any more than any other programming language, besides inefficiencies as a HLL, but you might find it more difficult to build it using the built in level editor than you would doing your own custom level editor.

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    Re: One giant, seamless 'level'?

    Gotcha. World-building wise, if I were to first lay out the whole world (in the default editor), and then after the whole thing's done go back in and add in rules for dynamic loading, will that work? Or will I be royally screwed for some reason or another if I'm not handling this as I go along?

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