Once development of the PC version of Shining Online started, it became apparent that a suite of editors would make creating the content much quicker and easier than adding information directly to the source code. Here’s a little look at two of the old Shining Online development tools.
Shining Online – Level Editor
The first version of the level editor was built directly into the game engine, and could be activated by pressing certain keys. The buttons on the side would slide onto the screen in a similar fashion to the Dreamcast web-browser, and the whole thing was controlled using the arrow keys.
As the levels got larger and more complicated, using this editor became much harder. After the first demo was released it was re-designed and rebuilt from the ground up.
The “Shining Online Development Application”, or SODA, was the next iteration of these development tools. It was a separate, full screen application that took advantage of a higher resolution and the mouse, so was much easier to use. It made it much easier to edit maps and characters, and integrated an “event editor” that allowed the user to create simple scripted events, such as characters speaking or changing the weather.
The quest featured in Shining Online Demo 3B was developed using SODA, which was difficult considering the unfinished state SODA was in. It was mainly a race between adding functionality to the main game and then adding a method to edit it in SODA.
When Shining Online was put on indefinite hold, my focus switched to other projects which would need a set of editing tools to be created. Instead of creating a million new editors for each new project, it seemed logical to create a single, unified application which other editors could be built on top of.
Instead of writing a complete GUI system as in the first two applications, the standard Windows GUI is used instead. Naturally a few extra bits have been added, and the finished version should allow for GUI’s to be loaded dynamically from an XML definition file, which opens up the possibility for the application interface to be developed using itself.
The editor is currently in development (as always), but is still called SODA. Because recursive acronyms are so popular these days, SODA should stand for something groovy like “SODA: Omnipotent Development Application”. I think I’ll keep that.