Level (video games)
A level, map, area, stage, world, track, board, floor, zone, phase, mission, episode, or course in a video game is the total space available to the player during the course of completing a discrete objective. Video game levels generally have progressively increasing difficulty to appeal to players with different skill levels. Each level presents new content and challenges to keep player's interest high.
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Different levels in a 2D computer graphics game layout
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A level editor (also known as a map, campaign or scenario editor) is a game development tool used to design levels, maps, campaigns and virtual worlds for a video game. An individual involved with the creation of game levels is a level designer or mapper.
In some cases, the creator of a video game includes built-in level editing tools, for example, a track editor for a racing game. Other times they may release an official level editor for the game as a separate application. Sometimes players of the game create fan-made level editors.
One of the first 3D games which became popular partially due to level editors and fan-made content was Doom. The creation of various third-party editors led to the birth of an online community trading fan-made maps.
A level editor is often limited to creating levels for only a certain game engine. Developing a level editor takes a lot of time and it is more time and cost efficient to release multiple games using the same engine instead of developing a new engine and level editor for each game. Level editors offer some limited scope of content creation, but in the case of gaming industry solutions the scope is very large allowing an entire game to be created without the need for much support from a programming team. To make larger changes to a game than simply adding new levels, a software development kit (SDK) is sometimes needed.
In the early years of video-gaming, some games came with a utility called a "construction set". This was similar in many ways to a level-editor. Some games used them to create extra levels, whereas others (like the Shoot-'Em-Up Construction Kit) used them as a means to create a game rather than be a game in itself.
A bonus stage (also known as a bonus level or bonus round) is a special level within a video game designed to reward the player or players, and typically allows the player to collect extra points or power-ups. Bonus stage either have no enemies or hazards, or replace the normal penalties for being struck by enemies or hazards with simply being thrown out of the bonus stage. Many bonus stages need to be activated or discovered in some manner, or certain conditions must be satisfied to access them. Otherwise, they appear after the player has completed a certain number of regular stages.
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Typically, bonus levels are either hidden and require discovery or appear after a certain number of regular levels have been completed.