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View Thread: Mapping (Tutorials and Tips)
Vietcong.Info » Vietcong General Discussion » Maps & Mapping
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Mapping (Tutorials and Tips)
Curandero
How to create my first coop map from ground up? (under construction)


Part One (intro and setup):
- Intro
- Definitions
- Needed Things
- Installations
- Modeling It Yourself" or "Collect Library" (optional)?

Part Two (first map):
- Things To Consider
- Creating Folders And Copying Files
- "New Scene Wizard"
- Lighting And Fog
- Populating The Scene


Part Three (finalizing):
- Optimizing
- Creating The Handmap
- Creating The Thumbnail
- How to make it rain?

----------------------------------------------


Part One (Intro and Setup):

- Intro:

With informations and tutorials on creating Vietcong maps getting less and less and lots of those which are out there being geek-talk I'd like to give you a step by step guide. I will try to keep it simple and fool proof. Should there be any question or problem coming up I'm sure we'll find answers and solutions. Should there be anything unclear in this guide don't hesitate to ask. Furthermore the help file of the editor provides a good documentation as well as some definitions and the keyboard shortcuts. Note: This guide is made by a beginner for beginners and also comes without any scripting (well copy & paste scripting :P). As always I would be glad to get some feedback like corrections, suggestions or additions.


- Definitions:

*.BES - object file (3d model of terrains, skies and all other objects)
*.DDS - DirectX texture file (image files prepared for the use in game engines)
*.DAT - container with the map objects and files packed into it
*.cbf - Vietcong map file
*.max - 3dsmax scene file
*.psd - Photoshop file
*.wcx - Total Commander Add-On
TexDB - Texture Database
TC - Total Commander
LM - Lightmap


- Needed Things:

- Vietcong Game installed and updated
- Vietcong Editor v1.61 and the Dev-Edition (developer edition)
- A terrain and a sky (optional: objects like huts, plants or bridges)
- Coop script and vc scripts
Optional
- Paint program which is able to save images in the DDS format
- Total Commander and the packer plugin cbf.wcx


- Installations:

Game And Editor
First of all you need additional tools to be able to edit maps. Make sure your Vietcong game is installed, registered by the OS and patched to v1.60. It's not a bad idea to install the game twice... one instance for gaming and another for editing. Download and install the editor and update to v1.61.
Now download the Dev-Edition which adds some more options to the editor. To use the Dev-Edition just copy the dev_editor.exe into the vietcong\dev\engine folder and don't forget to link the new dev_editor.exe in the desktop shortcut otherwise the normal editor keeps launching.
Note that to have access to the FistAlpha maps and objects, you have to "link" the shortcut to the FA addon, by changing its path. Right-click the shortcut to select > properties > shortcut > and add > -addon fistalpha > at the end of the "target" path.
"C:\Program Files\Vietcong\dev\engine\dev_editor.exe" -addon fistalpha

Total Commander (optional)
Total Commander is needed to unpack any map. These can be loaded into the editor to extract some content like objects or textures or manipulate the map itself. Install Total Commander and start it. Inside TC go to Configuration - Options... Now click packer on the left and Configure Packer Extension on the lower right of the popup window. Now associate the cbf.wcx addon to the cbf extension by browsing to the cbf.wcx (better copy this file into the TC folder because after adding it to TC the cbf.wcx file should not be moved or deleted) and type in the extension "cbf" into the upper right field. Click Ok.


- "Modeling It Yourself" or "Collect Library" (optional)?

Now that your system is set up it's time to think about content for your first map. What terrain, which foliage or buildings and where to get them? Either you are able to create them by yourself using 3d Studio Max or you collect objects out of any existing map. Note: It's always better to ask the original mappers the authorisation to use the custom objects they made. Anyway it's a good idea to build up a library of objects and their textures over time. Remember there are lots of objects already inside the editor if you intend to start right away... but first things first.


Part Two (First Map):

- Things To Consider:

...when creating content like houses, walls, terrains or any other (optional):

Looking at map-making creatively and considering the limits given by hardware and game engine making maps really is all about creating the illusion. Like in a movie or theatre where you have attrapes of all kinds of buildings or foliage. Looking behind them is kind of disillusioning. But thats what you have to keep in mind while modeling new objects: Only create the stuff that is visible to the player. Take a street for example with houses on each side. If you can't enter the buildings it makes no sense to have a fully modelled back side of those houses. The additional polygons will add to the hardware usage of the game. Adding too much objects to a scene Ever wondered why there is no map with foliage covering the whole ground? Too much!

...when looking at the delicate balance between content, view distance and fps:

Frames per second (fps) will drop with increasing value of polygons (too much objects in the visible scene), textures, view distance of the whole scene and the various objects. You can see the current fps on the bottom of the editor scene window. That value should not drop below 30 and considering your individual hardware specs and the avarage hardware specs of coop players it should be like no coop player drops in frames lower than 25. That means balance your scene in any direction to a good fps rate. Basically it's fps rate versus amount of objects and their polygons/textures/LOD's/view distance, versus scene view distance (fps depends on the direction you look at). Only the places a player can visit and look around should be good on fps, means if you zoom out of your map in the editor and view it from a flying position there are usually more objects visible. Fps rate drops but don't worry about places a player can never visit.
By setting the view distance of a scene you can increase your fps but decrease the view distance. The less objects are shown the less hardware usage. Try to not put too much objects in one area to avoid players looking at this spot having delays and lags. More on that in "Part 3".


- Creating Folders And Copying Files:

Before creating a scene in the editor create a directory inside the levels folder of the game and copy your terrain_yourname.bes and your sky_yourname.bes objects into this folder (you can name the folder as you like but avoid spaces in the name). Create a folder called "tex" inside the map folder you created and copy the relevant textures for the terrain and sky into it. All textures will go into the tex folder. Note: Your terrain and sky has to be named like the syntax above so the "New Scene Wizard" of the editor (if you click File - New Scene) can find and assign them. It's a good time now to create an "objects" folder inside the map folder and start copying all the additional needed objects and textures into them. How to get some objects and textures to start with is explained in the Editor's FAQ (How to get objects for my scene?). Also the editor itself already offers built-in objects like plants, huts and furniture.


- "New Scene Wizard"

Start the editor and click File - New Scene and start the "New Scene Wizard". It will now show you the levels-directory where the maps are located on the left side. Your created map-directory is listed on the left side of the "New Scene Wizard" dialogue. Click your map-folder and then type in a sublevel name of your choice in the lower right field. Now click Next and click both the terrain file and the sky file. After clicking Finish the editor loads the files and creates the directory structures needed inside your map directory.
The editor builds the TexDB and saves the map (sublevel name). The terrain and sky show up and your scene is ready to get populated. Well, better do a first test and press F8 to calculate the scene and after that is finished press F9 to enter your scene in play-mode. As you walk around your scene you may be notice that the terrain is too small or too big. You can select/move/rotate/scale any object with the first four buttons of the Toolbar.


- Lighting And Fog:

These settings should be at least adjusted roughly right at the beginning. If you modeled terrain and objects it's time to adapt the terrain and main objects texture-wise. Click the "Select" button on the toolbar or press "Home" key. There you can see a list of the existing items in your scene. Background and World Sector are the ones for setting up lighting and fog. Highlight "Background" and click select. On the left hand side you have the Editor Panel with the various tabs like properties, help, transform, databas or scene. Click on the properties tab and select the background ambient light color. Here you can adjust the basic ambient light of the scene (wether it's day or night/only affects the sky).

Next is the background fog color where you can slightly add to the effect or tint your sky color. Be aware if you go too dark with the colors the original sky textures will fade into the chosen colors till they are completely invisible. Both colors to completely white shows the map in its original colors. Background fog is useful for rainy maps and has no effect on the view distance of the map but on the brightness and tint of the sky. What has an effect on view distance of the sky is the "Near" and "Far" settings below the background fog color settings. Putting near and far to a value of 0 let's the fog color overwrite the sky texture completely. The optimal color and distance set up depends on the chosen map daytime and scale of your scene. Setting far to around 40 causes the sky texture to slowly appear while a value of 300 on far distance will push the fog out of sight and let the sky texture slowly bleed through.

After setting up the background lighting and fog go to the select window (toolbar/"Home" key). Now we take the World Sector which is the first and main sector of the map containing all the terrain and sky. In the end a good balance between the background lighting and fog and the sector lighting and fog (sky and terrain) is the target.
Now that you have your lighting and fog setup you may be wondering how on earth you can start adding objects without seeing anything on your new midnight pitch black, or fog-country map? The toolbar provides three little helper buttons to have settings like light, fog or visibility limits deactivated. They are called "Toggle help-light", "Toggle scene-fog" and "Toggle far visibility" (the yellow ones).
Terrains can be lit by sector, spot and omni lights. We will take care of spot and omni lights later since you should place some stuff like a camp fire or street lamp (if you happen to use such) first before inserting a light for them.


- Populating The Scene:

After you have copied objects and textures into your project folder you can start filling the scene as you wish. In the database tab of the Editor Panel you can find various objects in the many folders there. If you copied your own objects into the project be sure to refresh and rebuild the TexDB if objects otherwise textures are not shown.


Part Three (Finalizing):

- How to make it rain?

Open up the editor and your scene. Go to "editor", select "Level bitmap view" and in this top view of your scene adjust and center your map with the cursor and +/- keys. When centered go to "editor" and select "save level.bmp" and be sure to save your scene after that! You can find the saved bmp-file inside the vietcong/levels/yourmap/data/yourmap-folder. Open the image with an image processing software which is capable to save in the TGA-format. Using a blue color (1-254) you can now paint in the areas of rain. When finished save it out as "level.tga" (into the same folder as the level.bmp). Inside that same folder you find the "level.ini" (if not just create one with a txt-editor and name the txt-file "level.ini").
Note: There is one white pixel in the image you need to preserve. Otherwise the rain won't work.
Add the following code to the level.ini and adjust the values to your needs:

Download source  Code

RAIN_visibility= 20
RAIN_density= 1.0
//RAIN_area= area_id, appear_up, around_tolerance, wind_x, wind_y, wind_rnd, speed, intensity, drop_len, drop_width, color_r, color_g, color_b, color_a
RAIN_area= 220, 2, 0.4, 0.1, 0.1, 0.05, 40, 4, 3.5, 0.01, 190, 190, 190, 50
VIS_use= 0
WATER_fog= H_, 30,27,21,0,2, 0,5, 2
AIGRID_everywhere= 1



Important: RAIN_area (220 in this code) defines the blue color you used to paint in rain. If you use another value of blue you have to set it to your value of blue.


To continue...
Edited by Curandero on 27-02-2012 19:48
  x 1  x 9  x 1
 
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