Using Google Drive for Collaborating with Level Creators

March 21, 2015 - 12:58 am

I recently realized that I will be needing an extra hand if I want my game to have the promised 100+ levels before the planned release date.

The solution to the problem is opening up development to level creators by having a system in place that would make level creation easy to set up and use.

After a lot of thought, I came up with a process that would make use of Google Drive.

The Basic Idea

A copy of the game is uploaded to a publicly shared folder in Google Drive. From here, collaborators can run and play the game on their browsers.

google_drive_folders

Each collaborator is then assigned their own levels folder where they could add and edit levels using their own Google Drive accounts. When they’re done, they can just refresh the game to see the new changes.

Games running on Google Drive?

Yes, it is possible! This article here explains how it can be done.

In essence, Google Drive becomes a webhost where the game files reside. It has most of the features that you’d need to have a game playable online except for the fact that Google Drive is free to use.

Creating and editing levels

Since level files for my game are just text files with special formatting, collaborators use the “Drive Notepad” app to edit them. The app is not a part of Google Drive by default but setting it up is fairly easy.

drive_notepad

New levels would automatically appear in the playable build as long as they follow a certain naming convention.

Level creation Manual

Collaborators are given a copy of the Level Creation Manual. It contains easy to follow instructions on how to set up their sandbox as well as some guidelines on how to create and edit levels.

Give it a read here if you are interested (As an added bonus, you’ll also get to see how levels are formulated as well as principles that guide the level creation process).

Pros of this system

  • No need for collaborators to install any development environment. Only thing they need to set up is a Google Drive account.
  • Runs on a browser. No need to install any special software.
  • Files are online. You can work anywhere with an internet access.
  • Can revert to previous versions of files. This is a neat Google Drive feature that would be a big help when problems arise.
  • Google Drive is free! No need to pay for a webhost.

Cons

  • Not completely secure. Anyone who has access to the link and may download the source files if they know where to look (Be sure to share the sandbox to people you can trust).
  • Does not work for targets where you cannot access external files at runtime. Works best with HTML5 games.
  • URLs are a long string of letters and numbers. This is how Google Drive does URLs for publicly shared files and folders.

Final word
The system is working out surprisingly well for us. While it is not perfect, I feel that it brings a lot of advantages that would make it worth considering for game developers.

Cheers to a 100 levels!

I’m hoping that you found this article useful. If you have any comments or suggestions on how to improve it , just get in touch with me through email or twitter.

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