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Map Editor Tutorial

Hey there, today I´m starting this thread to give you some advanced tips and tricks for the AoW-Editor.

Before starting a map you should read these documents carefully:

The official starter tutorial (also inside your game folder.):

How to Create a Map Using the Act of War Map Editor


This map editor is a professional tool intended for advanced users, and we encourage you to experiment exhaustively to utilize its full potential. This “manual” will only cover the basics, and most commands are pretty self-explanatory.

Save often, keep in mind thereÂ’s an Undo functionality, and have fun! Follow these six steps to create a new map:

NOTE: this editor is more of a construction tool than a design tool; we recommend you make a detailed sketch and design of your map before you start constructing it in the editor!

  1. Launch the editor
  2. Create an empty map and decide map size
  3. Place required elements (starting points & money sources)
  4. Place decorative elements (structures, terrain, textures, etc.)
  5. Map validation
  6. Compile map data into single file

1. Launch the Editor Launch the editor by couble-clicking the file “aoweditor.exe”. Make sure that it resides in the same folder as the game executable (“actofwar.exe”; default path “C:\Program Files\Atari\Act of War - Direct Action”).

2. Create an Empty Map and Decide Map Size

1. Click the large New Map button in the opening dialog New or Open Map. Skip the bumper videos. Loading the editor may take a minute or two.

2. Select MapSettings > Map InfosÂ… from the menu bar.

1. Select the Description tab and enter the Map Name and Map Description in the provided areas (this is the description shown in the game menu; number of players, map summary).

2. Click Save, then Close.

3. Select MapSettings > Canvas SizeÂ…

1. Set the Width and Height of the map by entering a value between 40 (smallest) and 200 (largest), that is a factor of 4.

2. Click Apply.

3. A message box appears to alert you that we recommend you not to adjust the size of the map once created. (If you reduce the size, you may accidentally lose elements that are outside the new size. And in case you wondered, Oui means Yes in French.)

4. Stand by a few moments while the map rescales.

Note: if you have previously created custom maps, these will be listed in the bottom part of the “New or Open map” dialog. You can also access these from the File > Open a Custom Map… menu option.

Now that youÂ’ve created the blank map, take a moment or two to familiarize yourself with the different camera modes:

Camera Modes

There are four different camera modes available in the editor, accessible from the tool bar next to Camera Mode.

· Top down (icon looking like a chair): this will place the camera above the map, looking straight down. Zoom in/out with mouse wheel, go left/right with arrow keys, rotate by pressing mouse wheel.

· Isometric (icon looking like angle): this is the default view; same as in-game. Same camera controls as in-game.

· Free camera, aircraft style (icon looking like aircraft): free-roaming camera, change camera height (altitude) with up/down cursor keys, move sideways with left/right cursor keys, and rotate and tilt camera by pressing the mouse wheel.

· Free camera, “Quake style” (Quake icon): free-roaming camera, move sideways with left/right cursor keys, and rotate and tilt camera by pressing the mouse wheel. You cannot change the camera height (altitude) in this view.

· NOTE: if you zoom out far enough, the camera will clip through the sky dome and you won’t be able to see the ground mesh. If this happens, press Ctrl and hit the / and * keys on the numpad to move the clipping plane in/out.

3. Place Required Elements (Starting Points & Money Sources) Before going into more detail, letÂ’s just place down one or two Starting Points to try out the interface: Starting Points

1. Select Units > CreateÂ… from the menu bar.

2. In the Units Creation Tool palette (the floating window that now appears on the map), select TypeWarrior > GameDesign > Tools_Warrior > typewarriorunitstartingpoint.

3. Right-click on the map to place a minimum of 2 and maximum of 8 Starting Points on the map.

Note: the Starting Points are the locations of the playersÂ’ HQs at the start of the game. For each Starting Point you define, one player slot will be available. You must define at least 2, and a maximum of 8 Starting Points.

Congratulations!!! In theory, your map is now ready to be finalized and played! However, let’s go into a little more detail opn how the map can be customized… General Object Selection and Modification Interface · As you just saw with the Starting Point, to place an object on the map, whether it’s required or decorative element, simply select it in the Units Creation Tool palette, then right-click on the map. · To select an object, left-click on it. You will see a green bounding box around the currently selected object. Left-click on the ground or click the Unselect icon (red arrow in top left part of the menu bar) to deselect it.

· To move an object, select it and right-click + drag it to the new location. · To rotate an object, select it and keep shift pressed while right-clikcing on it and moving the mouse to its new facing.

· To load the cursor with an object that’s already placed on the map (to create dupliactes), select the object, then press alt while right-clicking on it.

· To delete an object, select it and hit the del key.

· To copy/paste an object, select it and use Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V, respectively.

Object Layers / Visibility Palette

· Go to Windows > Unit Visibility. By selecting this you can toggle the Visibility palette on or off. This window contains 20 different; objects you place will be placed in the currently selected layer. Click on the eye and lock icons to show/hide a layer, or to lock/unlock it.

· Clicking the palette icon in the top left corner of the Visibility window toggles editing of the Decorative elements on/off, and clicking the joystick icon toggles editing of Required elements on/off.

Once youÂ’ve familiarized yourself with these basic commands and options, letÂ’s move on and make some $ available out there on the map.

Oil Wells

· Select TypeWarrior > GameDesign > Tools_Warrior > typewarrioraowgisementpetrole from the Units Creation Tool palette. There are four different oil wells to choose from, the only difference is the amount of oil they contain by default, it is however more convenient to edit this manually:

· Select the oil well by left-clicking on it (make sure that there’s a green box visible on top of it)

· Select Command > Oilfield or bank Setting to edit the amount of $ that the Oil Well contains. Banks

· Select TypeWarrior > AOW > Buildings > Banques in the Units Creation Tool palette to place a Bank.

· Select the bank by left-clicking on it (make sure that there’s a green box visible inside the bank).

· Select Command > Oilfield or bank Setting to edit the amount of $ that the Oil Well contains. Note: make sure to leave sufficient space to expand the base around the HQ. If you place an Oil Well close to a Starting Point, it will automatically have a Derrick on it at the start of the game; be careful though as you cannot place any new structures too close to Oil Wells.

4. Place Decorative Elements (Structures, Terrain, Textures, etc.)

Decorating your map can be done in any order but we recommend you follow this order: 1. Set Topography 2. Apply Ground Textures 3. Place Roads 4. Place Vegetation 5. Place Objects and Buildings

Set Topography

There are four tools available to modify the topography of the map. You can change the behaviour of these tools by pressing Shift, Alt and/or Ctrl while clicking, as described below. While editing the topography, we recommend you have the ground mesh polygons visible (select Debug > Land Wireframe from the menu bar), as the editor will not recalculate the lighting in real-time (see below), and it may be difficult otherwise to make out the topography, especially if you’ve already applied ground textures. To edit the topography, from the menu bar, select Landscape > · Plateau: Raises the (left-)clicked area to the defined height. Press Alt while left-clicking on a height to set it as default. The Plateau palette contains various options to set the size of the brush, the height, the feather value (amount of slope around the plateau). If “one click = one action” is unchecked, then your cursor will act like a brush that you can move around the map. · Bump: Raises the (left-)clicked area for as long as you keep the mouse button pressed. Keep Ctrl pressed to lower the area instead. Check “Noise mode” if you want an irregular crest of the knoll. · Ramp: Automatically creates a ramp between two elevations (to allow units to travel between them); left-click on the origin and drag to the destination. · Soften: Softens an edge, for example on a ridge or coast line. · Import: Allows you to import a height map from a grayscale TGA file (.tga), a height map from another Act of War map (.iff), or a RAW format file (.raw). Note: The editor doesnÂ’t recalculate the lighting and shadows in real-time, so the actual visuals may be deceiving. Select MapSetting > SunlightÂ… and click the button Recompute LightMap when youÂ’re done editing all the topography. Note: If you modify the topograpyy under objects that are already placed, the elevation of these objects wonÂ’t be immediately re-adjusted. To readjust the elevation and put such objects firmly back on the ground, either select them and nudge them slightly, or save, close and reload the map.

Apply Ground Textures

The tools for applying and modifying the ground textures can be found under Materials > Brush. As with the topography tools, Ctrl, Alt and Shift can be used to alter the actual functionality of each tool. Ground textures are applied in layers, each layer can be manipulated individually; locked, hidden, etc. just as with the objects. You can change the order between layers or create new ones as necessary (similar to how most popular art packages work). The layers window isn’t visible by default, to show it, go to Windows > Material layer. · Selecting and Applying Ground Textures: Click in the list in the Material Brush palette. You can have two textures loaded at the same time; one in the foreground (applied by left-clicking) and one in the background (apply by right-clicking). Toggle between the two by clicking on the curved arrow icon o If you press Alt while left-clicking, the brush will pick up the clicked texture and place it in the foreground layer; right-click to pick it up to the background layer. o If you press Ctrl while clicking, the brush will erase the clicked area.

Place Roads

The tool for creating roads can be found under Units > Road Creation. This will open the Roads Tool palette. To lay down a road: · Open the Roads Tool palette and select AOW > Stickers, then locate your desired road texture. The road textures are organized by environment. · Right-click where you want the road to start, then right-click again where you want it to end. The road will automatically be laid down between these two points. · Each time you right-click on the map, a new waypoint will be created, originating from the last selected waypoint of the existing road. The new waypoint will automatically be selected; you can simply keep right-clicking until the road is finished. · When you’re finished with the road, left-click on the map to deselect the last waypoint. · You can connect two existing waypoints by selecting the first one and then right-clicking on a second one, a blue box will appear on the map when the cursor is in the correct position. · Note that certain road types are directional. · Note that if you connect more than two waypoints to each other, the editor will attempt to create an intersection. Not all combinations for intersections are possible.

Objects, Structures and Vegetation

To place objects and structures, select Unit > CreateÂ… form the menu bar to open the Units Creation Tool palette. See General Object Selection and Modification Interface above for more details.

Some more useful tools:

· Units > Tree Brush : select this tool to “spray-paint” the ground with the types of trees/plants you have placed in the bottom box of the Tree Brush palette. You donÂ’t have to use the tree brush to place vegetation – you can also place the trees individually – the tree brush is however the fastest and easiest way to do this.

· Units > FacingÂ… : select this tool to rotate objects. In the snap box, you can enter the value to rotate the selected object each time you click one of the curved buttons.

· Units > ScaleÂ… : select this tool to change the scale of selected object(s). For trees, itÂ’s very useful to use the Random Scale function to create an impression of a dynamically growing forest; select all the trees, enter for example “65%” in the Min% box, and “150%” in the Max% box, then click Apply. YouÂ’ll see each tree be individually but randomly rescaled to between 65 and 150 % of its original size (click the number “1” in the Relative Scale box to undo). Under Options, you can set to which axes you want the changes to apply.

· Units > Altitude…: select this tool to change the altitude above ground of the seletced object(s). · You can toggle free-form placement and snap-to-grid in the Windows > Unit Position menu. Not all objects can be placed in free-form.

Note: not all tools work with all objects; for example, most buildings can only be faced to 90 degree angles.

Note: certain groups of objects can be turned/scaled/altered simultaneously (as a group), if this doesnÂ’t work however, try manipulating a smaller group or even individual objects. Note also that once you have changed the scale of objects, you will no longer be able to move them around as a group. Hint: to facilitate aligning objects in straight lines, select Debug > Land Wireframe to display the ground mesh.

5. Map Validation Note: these steps are not required, but strongly recommended.

Adjust Lighting

The tool for adjusting the texture and color of the skydome, as well as overall lighting and density of the clouds, is accessible from the menu bar: MapSettings > Sky (to set the skydome texture) and MapSettings > SunlightÂ… (to set the position, color and intensity of the sun). If you make any changes here, don’t forget to click the button Recalculate Lightmap to re-render the shadows.

Flag Restricted Areas Certain areas of the map will automatically be flagged as restricted to ground troops (for example, steep slopes, water), but some areas will have to be flagged manually. This tool can be opened from the menu bar: Landscape > Forbidden AreasÂ… Left-click on the map to flag an area as restricted to ground troops (for example, plateaus and pits without entrances/exits). Press alt to erase a manually restricted area. Note: pay special attention to very narrow terrain passages, as these tend to confuse the pathfinding A.I.; try rather to block these as restricted. Note: a pilot that is shot down over a restricted area will be placed next to the area; be careful not to leave any holes in the middle of a restricted area.

Generate Mini Map and Cube Map

· The cube map is sort of a 3D photo projected onto all reflective surfaces on the map (the default projection is solid blue). This step can be skipped if you have a map without reflective surfaces (windows, water, etc.), but if you have these and want your map to look great, simply select the menu option Command > Generate CubeMap to generate the cube map. · Select the menu option Command > Generate Minimap to generate the minimap used in the in-game interface and in the various menus. (The default minimap is kinda awful; we strongly recommend you don’t skip this step.)

6. Compile Map Data Into Single File

1. Select the menu option File > Finalize

2. Click Pack to verify that the map is valid and has been correctly compiled. (For those of you that don’t speak French, the message box “Le fichier … existe déjà , voulez-vous lécraser?” means “The file … exists already, do you want to overwrite it?”.)

To test your map in the game: 1. close the map editor 2. launch the game 3. your map should appear under the tab Custom Maps in the Select Theater section of the game session creation screens (in both Online, LAN, and Engagement modes). Miscellaneous Hints and Tips · Make a detailed sketch of your map before you start. · Save your work frequently and donÂ’t be afraid to use the Undo feature. · Before distributing a map online, make sure to have played in in Engagement mode several times – and watch the replays carefully ! – to ensure that o all Starting Positions are OK o no terrain paths are blocked o all building entrances are accessible o itÂ’s possible to construct Refineries close to all Oil Wells · If you select to join a game that uses a custom map, that map will automatically be downloaded to your Custom Maps folder.

So, this should be enough to answer almost every newbie question. One other thing I found out is just that you try, try, try and dont forget to save your maps before you do so, saves a lot of time, believe me Smile

So, now your ready for some advanced tips...

Map Editor Tutorial Editor Tutorial/2
Map Editor Tutorial Editor Tutorial/3