Trapped in the Sketchbook: 2D Platform game & level editor development

I worked on my Diploma Thesis between March and June 2010. My goal was to create a computer video game with Microsoft’s XNA Game Studio. There was actually no plan or specific theme. I could do whatever I wanted, however I wanted. It took me quite a while to decide what game I would really like to create. I had images in my mind or even glimpses of idea, but nothing concrete. So, I decided to go with what I always liked to play, platform games…as old school as it gets! Growing up with Mario..well.. what else could one expect?! I also wanted to recreate the 8/16-bit pixeled look in my game, but I wanted to do it in a more artsy way… Doing it in a watercolor pattern was one of my first ideas, which I kept ’til the end! Having decided the first basics everything started to become more obvious…the plot and the concept of the game had to be something about drawing and color… So there it was! My platform would be a sketchbook! My character would explore the page/level, while it is being drawn! This brought me to my second idea.. I’d create a separate level editor for my game so everyone could create their sketchbook pages/levels… And that’s exactly how it started!

The project in keywords:

C#, XML, Microsoft XNA, game development & design, UI development & design

What I did:

For my Diploma Thesis, I coded and coded and coded! I implemented it in C# using Microsoft’s XNA and some XML and basically.. I was responsible for everything! Developing the physics in the game – from jumps and running to diving in water and floating – , the graphics, the gameplay, the UI…to adding music, designing the levels and testing it. The level editor I created turned out to be the core of my game… I created the interface for the editor, where one could “draw” a level and edit it, simply by dragging and dropping colors from a watercolor palette to the level grid and setting all the features on the grid, for example where it’s water, where it’s land, crystals to collect and so on. These levels were extracted to XML and could be loaded onto the game, giving therefore the chance to the players to create and play their own levels, or even play the level somebody else created.

Trailer Demo for Trapped in the Sketchbook

You can download the game , the level editor and also my thesis. The thesis is in Greek (good opportunity for you to say “it’s all greek to me!”)…but you can still have a look at the pretty pictures!


Graphics, Multimedia & GIS Laboratory – Computer Engineering & Informatics Department, University of Patras