Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 100,597,592 Issue: 199 | 14th day of Swimming, Y7
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Pirate Cave Making 101

by cheopspyramid


Halfway down the Action Game list lies an almost forgotten game that always leaves questions lingering in your poor, confused heads. Hannah and the Pirate Caves. Now, surprisingly, in a time far before avatars and sidebars and all this stuff you whippersnappers collect, level making began. Hannah and the Pirate Caves was the very first game that you could actually create your own user level and play with your “caver” friends. Instantly, this became a hit and slowly over the years, other games began to have level makers, but Hannah and the Pirate Caves remains the only level maker that has to be downloaded, which, in some ways, has its advantages. Let us journey through time and learn more about this “cave making” and even some tips for the regular part of the game!

    The Game and Tips:

As a beginning lesson, you might need to get used to the game. Hannah and the Pirate Caves has twenty-six levels (six tutorial levels and twenty regular levels). Now, when you open the game window, you will notice three buttons, “Play Game”, “Load User Level”, and “Cave of the Week.” For now, you just need to press “Play Game” and start with the tutorial levels which will guide you through the different things found in a cave. Now, assuming that you have completed the tutorials and the regular levels, we can now learn a few tips for the actual game that might come in handy:

*How many times have you been playing a game that has sound, but you really want to listen to YOUR music instead of the dumb default sounds of the game? Well, Hannah and the Pirate Caves doesn’t exactly have a button that turns off all sound… or does it? If you wish to silence the game (and you have a PC), simply right-click on your current game window, go to “Adjust Volume” and press “Mute.” Ta-da! Silence.

*Yet another question: what happens if you’re going after the trophy and you are beckoned to dinner and you REALLY need to pause the game? Once again, right-click and leave the drop-down list open. While the drop-down list is there, the game will be paused.


Once you’ve figured out the entire game, you might as well get started on making your own level! On the game page, you may notice that there are a few links at the top. Click on the link that says “Download or Save Level.” This new page will be your new best friend from now on if you remain in the caving business (Yes, you can forget your other best friend… Sally or Suzie… whatever her name is). Now currently you should see a box with a heart on it that says “DOWNLOAD CAVEMAKER” next to it. Preceding that text, there should be a date when the Cavemaker was last updated; the one that says “Updated Dec. 5” has a bit of a glitch when saving the game (Note to someone on TNT—Please fix this glitch! It’s quite annoying!). If you save your user map and close down Cavemaker, when you reopen it, your level will be scrambled. But anyways, download Cavemaker (run a virus scan on it first, just in case) and open it once the download is complete. We are ready to explain all of the shiny new buttons!

1) Where to Begin

Cavemaker is a giant grid on which you shall build your new level. At first you may feel a bit empty when creating a new level, but don’t give up. Start small and once you get a hang of making a level, then you can start upgrading to bigger and better ones. It’s best to look at the bottom bar of Cavemaker and find “Width” and “Height.” Play around with the number until you are pleased with the size of your cave. But note: sometimes when you upload your level it may be too large for uploading, so try and limit your cave size to about 75 by 75 pixels (if this is your first cave, don’t start that large). As for the other buttons on the bottom, don’t worry about changing the background as there is only one to choose from. If your level has water in it, use the “Water Type” drop-down to choose the darkness of your water. Finally, there is the “Terrain Type.” Personally, I choose to build my level first and then change the terrain to see how it looks in each type. When it comes to choosing the spot where you want to begin building your level, might I suggest the upper left-hand corner. It is a common spot, but is easy to work with. But before you make your cave, get used to the buttons:

2) Buttons

On the right-hand side of Cavemaker you should see a toolbar with many delightful images to choose from! Simply select the image you wish to use, select the place on the grid where you want to put it, and double-click on the image. To do mass building on the grid, click and drag a square area on the grid and then double-click on the image to produce multiple pieces. Here is an explanation of each of the pieces in order:

*Terrain—This is the main building block of a cave. Terrain cannot be destroyed and cannot move, but it does form the outline of your cave. Neither Hannah nor her enemies can go through terrain.

*Wooden Crate—Wooden crates can be smashed by Hannah jumping on them, destroyed by arrows penetrating them, and blasted away by bombs. If a crate falls on a stalactite or a stalagmite, then it crushes it and the danger is no longer there.

*Steel Crate—Similar to the wooden crate, steel crates are much stronger. They cannot be smashed by Hannah, but bombs and arrows destroy them when they come in contact. Your enemies in the level cannot travel through these. Also, if a steel crate falls on Hannah, she loses a life.

*Arrows Up, Down, Left, and Right—Each of these do basically the same thing: launch arrows. The only difference is that each of them do it in a different direction. Arrows can be put together to form an arrow system which basically means that one arrow can trigger another arrow. Arrows can penetrate Hannah as well, so watch out!

*Dynamite Crate—This form of dynamite can be broken by Hannah. If she walks into it, the bomb is launched in whatever direction Hannah was traveling in. These bombs can also harm Hannah if she gets in their way.

*Steel Dynamite Crate—The steel crate is also similar to the regular dynamite crate, except it can only be broken by other bombs or by an arrow. Hannah cannot destroy these on her own and they can smash her if they fall on top of her. Also, your enemies cannot travel through these, either.

*Platforms Left, Middle, and Right—The only difference between these platforms is the way they look, which is hardly noticeable. I prefer just to use the middle one. Platforms can be destroyed by arrows and bombs, and Hannah can jump through these.

*Heart Crate—Only one of these can be placed in the level, but they give your player an extra life. But take note that they can only be used once per life round. In user levels, these aren’t very useful because you can always start over a user level, and lives aren’t necessary.

*Gem Crate—These are to be used as an extra challenge for players of your caves. The gem is worth extra points and is made to be difficult to collect. Like the heart crate, only one can be put in a level, but the gem will always remain there, unlike the heart.

*Water Tap Crate—Up until recently this item hasn’t been known how to work! But thanks to a fellow caver, its secrets have been revealed. The crate starts a water tap (the place where water comes from) but if the crate isn’t hit, then the tap doesn’t start. Of course it is difficult to get this crate to work; you must manually type in an exclamation point in your cave’s text in order to get this to work and you must also have a water tap placed somewhere in your level. The tap crate can be broken by Hannah, arrows, or bombs.

*Water Crate—Basically if you have running water in your cave, this crate raises the water level. It can be destroyed once again by Hannah, bombs, or arrows.

*Treasure—Ah, the most important thing in the cave! Treasure cannot be destroyed by anything; only Hannah can collect it. Treasures can be used to block arrows or to smash stalactites or stalagmites, but enemies can float through them. Make sure you don’t have too much treasure (too much is considered more than 100) or else you might get an error when you try and complete the cave.

*Ladder—You can use a ladder to move Hannah up or down a steep area that she cannot reach. But be warned that ladders can be destroyed by arrows and bombs.

*Boulder—Boulders can be pushed by Hannah, but they can also destroy her. If you push a boulder over spikes, the spikes are destroyed and it leaves Hannah a clear path to travel through. If a boulder falls on Hannah, she is smashed, so when making a cave, you can use that as a trap! Boulders can be destroyed by arrows and bombs and enemies cannot travel through them, so you can use them to block their way. Also, if a boulder falls on another boulder, it tumbles in another direction.

*Stalactite and Stalagmite—These, for the most part, are one of the things that Hannah needs to avoid. If she hits one of them, she loses a life. But when you make your cave and want to decorate it, use these! It will give your cave chic, evil look, but make sure that the spikes don’t interfere with the main portion of your cave, unless you are using them as a trap.

*Secret (Area)—Secret areas are a cool way to create a, well, secretive cave! Hannah can walk through secret areas, but so can her enemies. Arrows are deflected by them and when they are placed underwater, they act as an air pocket. If it is underwater then the water doesn’t affect Hannah if she’s inside of it; you cannot float in a secret area. They can also be used as a pothole sort of thing: if you make it where Hannah is running from arrows, place one of these in the floor and have her fall into it and be protected from them. Secret areas are also a good way to hide gems because when you actually play your level, you’ll notice that the secret areas look exactly like your terrain; therefore it is camouflaged.

*Starting Position—This is the place where you make Hannah start the level. Wherever you wish her to start, you can put her there, but you can only put in ONE… who knows what would happen if Hannah was cloned! This piece is required in a cave; you cannot make a cave without the starting position. As you may know, when Hannah starts a level, she is invincible for a few moments, so use that to your advantage when making a cave!

*Door—The door is also required in a cave, and there can only be one. The door is the spot at which you finish the level; your goal point. Once you collect all of the treasure, the door opens. When you place the door, place it in a spot that is able to be reached: you don’t want an impossible door!

*Water Flow—Uh… I’m not sure what this does ^_^ but it mustn’t be very important! When you place it onto your grid, it shows up, but it doesn’t show up on your text version of your cave, so don’t worry about it.

*Enemies 1, 3, and 4—These are the flying enemies. Flying enemies go through anything: water, secret areas, and regular open spaces. Now as much as you want to be like Mario, you cannot jump on these and smash them, it will only make you lose a life. There is no way to destroy ANY enemy.

*Enemies 2 and 5—These are the walking enemies. These are slightly different from flying enemies because if there is a secret area IN the floor (not ON the floor) they will stop and turn back around; they can’t crawl over it. And just as I said before, they cannot be smashed.

*Air Pocket—Only to be used underwater, air pockets provide Hannah oxygen. If you make a water level, make sure you put either these or secret areas so that players of your level won’t drown.

*Water Start—Also called “water tap”, this is the place where your flowing water begins. I recommend only having one of these in your entire level. If you have more, your level will quickly swell up with water and you’ll get a Shockwave error (see vocabulary below) and then players cannot complete your level! There are special tricks to having more than one water tap, but you might need to find that out from other cavers.

*Water Level—This is the square that you use if you don’t want your level to FILL up with water. You are only allowed to use one water level square, but that’s all you need. Simply place the square at a spot where you want the water to rise to and when you play the level, there will be water entirely below that point.

*Tutorial Up, Left, Down, and Right—Finally we have reached the last few buttons. These buttons are rarely used, unless you want to guide your players through your level or confuse them with false directions. There is a mistake with the arrows, so don’t judge them by their pictures: judge them by their text that is next to the picture. You may notice that the arrow pointing right says “Tutorial up.” Follow that text, not the picture.

3) Types of Caves

By now your head should be BULGING with new ideas for a cave! But for some of you who are still a bit confused as to what your first cave should be like, here are some ideas!

*A simple cave! A little bit of everything in mixed in this type of cave. At one moment you may be dodging arrows, and the next you could be in a room filled with enemies! This is probably the best kind of cave to make if you’re a first timer.

*A still-water cave! This is the kind you make with the water level button, not the water tap button. You can make your cave filled to the brim with icky, murky water, or have one half-full (I’d say half-empty!) with crystal clear water. But don’t forget your air pockets!

*A running water cave! Have your cavern begin to fill with water; winding its way in and out of tunnels and lifting Hannah up to reach new parts of the cave. This level can be made only with the water tap crate (remember to try and only use one water tap!).

*A rush cavern! This kind is mainly made of steel bomb crates and arrows. The arrows should trigger other bombs and Hannah must rush quickly over the steel bombs before they blow up and leave her stranded. It might be better to play someone else’s rush cavern to see what I mean.

*A secret cave! This kind of cave is usually made with only secret areas and terrain. They can be quite annoying though because you try and make an invisible maze out of the secret areas.

*A logical cave! Made completely out of puzzles, these are my personal favorites! Nothing beats logic.

There are other types of caves out there, and you can even make your own type! Just play around with tricks and traps and begin to form something great. Hopefully, these ideas will get you started on making your new level. But remember, you don’t have to complete your cave all at once. Try testing different parts of your cave by uploading it to the internet and playing it to see if it is beatable or not. The following directions are how to save and upload:

4) Finishing Up

Now that you have created your wonderful cavern full of tricks, traps, and fun, try naming it! The name button is located at the bottom left-hand corner. Now don’t call your cave something like “Cave of D00000M!!!!111!” (that one is SO overdone). Name it something unique… maybe something that has to do with the way your cave looks. Try anything! But remember that you are limited to how long your cave name is: twenty characters, so try to keep it short.

Once you have named it, go to File >> Save and save your cave as a TXT file. From there you want to go to Edit >> View Map As Text >> Select All >> Copy to Clipboard. Now you have your cave saved and copied! From there go to your best friend webpage (the link that says “Download or Save Level” for those of you who forgot who your best friend was). Scroll down to the text box that says “Submit your Pirate Cave!” and right click in it. Paste your copied cave and press “Upload your Pirate Cave” and wait to see if there are any problems when you uploaded it. If there were any problems, they will be listed in red right above the text box (some of the errors include: No starting area, no door, or you can only have one water level). If your cave is successfully submitted then the name of your cave will appear above the text box (“Your current map is: Cave Name”).

Now I bet you are ready to go out there and play your cave, huh?! Well, if your cave was successfully uploaded, go to the game page and open up the Hannah and the Pirate Caves game window. From there, click on “Load User Level” and type in your username. If all goes well, the name of your cave will appear and it will show a thumbnail of your cave. Play your cave and make sure that it is fully beatable; you don’t want an impossible cave. If it is impossible, go back to Cavemaker and edit the part that you couldn’t complete.

Playing Other Caves:

     You are not alone. Yes, there are aliens. Haha, well, what I mean is, there are other cavers like you! Many of which have awesome caves that you can play and learn from. If you want to play someone else’s level, the best place to look is on the Game Board. On rare occasions there is a Cave Rating Board (see vocabulary below) where you can find other people who have caves, or you can try making your own board asking people if they have a cave. Yet you must be specific; you can’t just say “Who has a cave?” because there is also Faerie Caves. Instead, you want to ask “Who has a Pirate Cave?” Or you can view petpages that have lists of usernames of people who have Pirate Caves. Here are some popular pet pages:

* Alanna122192

* Littlefuzziewings

Or you can look for Hannah and the Pirate Cave guilds because most of them have people with caves. It’s not hard finding usernames. Once you find a username, go to the game window once again, press “Load User Level” and type in their username. Easy as pie.

Pirate Cave Spotlight:

RED ALERT! RED ALERT! It’s time for the big whammy! The Pirate Cave Spotlight (AKA: Cave of the Week) is every caver’s dream to win! Each week on Thursday, Neopets chooses one cave that is worthy enough for the title of “Spotlight Winner.” If you think your cave is good enough, and you are after that shiny trophy, then go to the game page and click on “Cave Spotlight: Submit.” From there you need to type out why your cave is so much better than the next caver’s and what your cave is like.

Alas, if you’re not ready for that kind of excitement, try viewing some of the other spotlight winners! The link next to “Submit” says “View” and from there you can see the many, many spotlight winners from the past, including myself (*cough* *cough* number thirty-six)! Or you can play this week’s spotlight a little bit more easily by opening up the game window and clicking on “Cave of the Week.” But might I just say this to those who don’t want to enter: why not?! You have nothing to lose, so it’s worth a shot! Good luck to those who enter!


Most of the Internet that we explore has some sort of language of their own, each differing from site to site. People who make their own user levels and play with each other also have their own language… shall we call it, “Caverese of the Pirate division”?

1) Words

*HatPC—Hannah and the Pirate Caves.

*HatIC—Hannah and the Ice Caves.

*CotW—Cave of the Week AKA the Pirate Cave Spotlight.

*Cave—A user level on Hannah and the Pirate Caves.

*Caver—One who makes user levels (rarely referred to as ‘spelunker’).

*Unplayable/Impossible/Unbeatable—Basically this means that your cave cannot be completed.

*Cavemaker—The program used to make your user levels.

2) Phrases

*Shockwave Error—This is a mistake in someone’s user cave when they add in too many water taps or too many treasures.

*Cave Rater—One who rates caves (usually on a 1 to 10 scale and presented as a fraction).

*Cave Rating Board—A place where you can get your cave rated. These can be found on the Game Neoboard, but nowadays they are fairly rare.

*Buenos Dias!/Hola!—A common way to greet your friends on a cave rating board, although many of us have no clue what they mean; we just know it's Spanish. :P


Well, thank you all so much for taking the time to read this! If you are planning on making a totally faboo cave, I wish you the best of luck and I hope this guide has helped you. Remember: help is always on-hand on the Cave Rating Boards and if you Neomail me. Happy Caving!

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