How to Use the Level Editor

Have you ever wished you were a level designer at an obscure 1980s game company? (Of course you have!) Well, now you can live your dream via the Plangman Level Editor.

Elijah's Custom Level
Now you can create your own crazy, glitch-filled levels, like this one my son made.

So put on your time-traveler’s cap, and let’s take a journey back to the days before tile editors, drag-and-drop, and WYSIWYG.

Where is it?

To start the Level Editor, begin at the Main Menu. Press S to go to the Settings Menu, and then press E. You’ll see something that looks like this:

Screenshot of the Plangman Level Editor
What is this madness?

Words or Story

At the top of the Level Editor is a textbox containing either:

  • A list of words or phrases to be guessed, each on its own line, OR
  • A story, with each level’s bit of story on its own line, and the words to be guessed surrounded by [square brackets]

This is where you define the words the player will attempt to guess when they play your levels. To add, remove, or change the words, simply edit the text in this box.

By default, the words are:

time
fell
love

But you could easily replace these with your own:

prince of persia
lode runner
captain goodnight
carmen sandiego

You can also create your own Plangman story, by surrounding the words to be guessed in [square brackets]:

Once upon a [time]...
I [fell] in [love].

Note: If you use words that don’t occur during the normal course of the game, and your level contains a “clue atom”, the player will get a generic visual clue (an Apple II with a question mark on the screen) for those words. Here’s a list of the words and phrases you can use which do have specific visual clues:

across, amnesia, and we lived happily ever after, back, barreling, bathtub, believe, between, bridge, calls, cape, capsule, castle, chasm, chin, coasted, colonies, combat, corny, crawling, crying, dead, deal, destroy, disguise, dream, drill, drive, dungeon, dwarf, earth, emerged, engaged, eowyn, fell, fender, fiddled, flight, force, fortune, friend, fungus, fuselage, fusion, girl, graduation, home, hope, hot rods, hoverboard, humor, interest, jane austen, juliet, keytar, kidding, kill, know, laces, lasers, letter, letters, life, lost, love, loveliest, luck, mach, maze, memories, mess, mining, mint, mustang, never, nose, note, novels, orion, overcome, overhead, parking, pegasus, pirates, plate, praying, psychology, punch, raced, reading, refused, ring, rocket, runes, school, scythe, sergeant, shadows, shipped, shoes, signed, smelling, smuggler, squadron, stretch, threatened, time, together, tolkien, tractor, training, twin, volkswagen, waiter, wheel, wink, wizard, writing, wrote

Levels

This section may look like indecipherable gibberish at first, but it’s really quite simple. Each symbol that you type in this text box represents a game element.

For example:

  • @ represents Plangman’s starting location
  • % represents an undroppable block
  • L represents a letter block
  • * represents a clue atom
  • and so on

Using just the symbols explained above, we can re-create the first level of Plangman in the Level Editor. Here’s what that would look like:

      @
  *   %
  LLLL LLLL

%%%%%%%%%%%%%

This represents Plangman (@) standing on an undroppable block (%) with four letter blocks (L) on each side, a clue atom (*) over the leftmost letter, and a row of undroppable blocks (%) underneath.

Using text like this is a simple way to define the structure of a level, and is actually how the “real” levels in Plangman are defined behind the scenes (and in many other games).

Here’s a list of symbols you can use when defining your own level:

Symbol    Meaning                        Explanation
//        Comment                        Lines that start with // are
                                         ignored and don't affect the
                                         level.
~~~       Level separator                Separates one level from
                                         another.
@         Plangman                       This defines where Plangman
                                         starts the level.
L         Letter                         This is a letter that can be
                                         right or wrong.
R         Right letter
W         Wrong letter
®         Part of a right letter group   (See explanation below.)
©         Part of a right letter group   (See explanation below.)
%         Undroppable block  
#         Block                          
0         Sphere
|         Vertical pillar                Seven blocks high, centered
                                         at the point where the symbol
                                         occurs.
_         Horizontal pillar              Seven blocks wide, centered
                                         at the point where the symbol
                                         occurs.
1-9       Moving block                   Moves up the number of spaces
                                         indicated by the number. For
                                         example, 777 creates a
                                         platform of three blocks that
                                         moves up seven squares.
*         Clue atom
+         Zoom star
!         Bomb
\         Letter gravity switch
$         Jetpack
?         Zoom question block
¿         Hidden zoom question block     "Hidden" means there's no
                                         question mark, i.e. it looks
                                         like a regular droppable 
                                         block until you select it.
£         Jetpack question block
¥         Hidden jetpack question block
¡         Bomb question block
ß         Hidden bomb question block
H         Hoverboard question block
}         Enemy 1 ("Budley")
{         Enemy 2 ("Dudley")
]         Enemy 3 ("Moe")                Moe clings to ceilings.
<         Left arrow
>         Right arrow
^         Up arrow
V         Down arrow

A note on ® and ©

These are used when you want to ensure there’s a section of a level that contains a right letter, but don’t want it to always be in the same location. For example, the first level of Plangman is actually defined this way:

      @
  *   %
  ®®®® ©©©©

%%%%%%%%%%%%%

When the level loads, one of the ® characters will be randomly replaced with an R, and the rest of the ®s will be replaced with Ls. Likewise, one of the © characters will be randomly replaced with an R, with the rest being replaced by Ls.

This ensures that the player has to traverse both sides of the undroppable block, and that all the right letters don’t randomly end up only on one side or the other.

Play

Starts a new game featuring your custom words and level. Also saves your edits. To return to the Level Editor while playing, just press E.

Cancel

Discards any edits you have made since the last New Game, and returns to the Settings menu.

Save/Load

Save generates a compressed text payload containing your custom words and level that you can paste somewhere for safekeeping or share with friends. Load allows you to import such payloads back into the Level Editor.

Restore Defaults

Restores the default words and level that appear the first time you access the Level Editor.

That’s it! I hope you enjoy creating your own levels and sharing them with your friends. Please send any feedback you have to ehren at vonlehecreative dot com.

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