Battle for Middle Earth II Worldbuilder Updates - Articles Posted by: MoMMa_Dean on 09-20-2005 @ 11:25 - Source: MaDDoX
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Well, this is the info i got from MaDDoX:
Quote:Hi guys, MaDDoX here! I'll now comment about the new BfME worldbuilder as presented in EA LA's community summit last month. It's pretty obvious they haven't expanded WB from Zero Hour to BfME due to the heavy time constraints, but now they took the time to evolve the tool by leaps and bounds over its predecessor. Knowing in depth some competitor - and top notch - mainstream map creation tools like Warcraft3's World Editor, I was graced with the task of writing about it. Took me a bit too long to get this on-site, since I was collaborating with EA LA in another project, but better late than never so here we go! I'll write this down in topics, and some of this might will be subject to changes up to the final product, but it's a safe bet that things can only get better from this, since in any game production cycle the tools feature definition is the first thing set in stone.
I. General Worldbuilder improvements and additions
- You can now select which upgrades you want to grant to your pre-created units right from the attributes window, without the need to scripting it
- Added the much-needed FALSE condition statement to the script editor, which means you can have NOT-like entries for any condition
- Team properties eg. upgrades can be set directly on the teams window. Not sure if this applies to AI editting too.
II. New Fire attributes
- Fire now causes persistant damage (ie. of quickly fading away according to a per-unit setting as in ZH/BfME) and properly spreads out gradually to other flammable objects
- Fire is now set on the ground in maps, as a property. Visually it resembles the "cliff-attribute" tile-hint, but using a green shade instead of a red one. You can set multiple attributes as base damage, recharge etc, as easily as you set the tile texture.
- Flammable terrain may be set on fire by fire arrows (from upgraded archers) which can be used defensively in the gameplay to hold ground.
- Fire logic system is properly added to weapon nuggets in a fully functional way, properly interacting with the new WB flammable terrain feature. If you don't know what a weapon nugget is, it's something introduced in BfME to allow you to have more than one damage type in a single weapon projectile (warhead), so for example trebuchet rocks have SIEGE and FLAME damage-type weapon nuggets, fire arrows have PIERCE and FLAME nuggets, etc, each with its own damage values and stacking on top of each other.
- Workers can extinguish fire. Pretty handy considering all factions have workers/laborers now.
III. General Tools
- The underwater transparency now works smoothly in WB, letting you paint and define details below the water level while seeing the transparency exactly as in-game.
- You can now precisely direct the river flow direction by simply drawing a polygon mesh. Previously an external tool had to be used to define these flows, and no interaction with the worldbuilder was possible - you had to edit in WB, edit in app, load game, rinse and repeat, with only two possible directions (Top-right and bottom-left). This tool is great, you have to see/use it to understand how cool it is.
- New wave tool, allows you to define initial and final heights and widths for the waves, to better replicate the different waves on large masses of water. Wave placing is interactive and fully WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get).
- Terrain Copy and Paste and Flip and Rotate functions. I can't say how much I drooled when I saw this in action. Even though it's a common feature in other editors, it was always a hassle for SAGE-engine games having to re-do mirror sides of a symmetrical maps. These work as user-friendly and smooth as possible, basically you select the terrain, click a button and the wireframe representation of the terrain block shows up, glued to your cursor. You move it to where you want, or rotate/flip it first, click and boom - all ready, with textures and blending intact :wub:
- Post Effects settings are now extensive to the new graphics engine possibilities and much more accessible. You can basically set your frozen lake to be as specular-shiny as you want, have glowing trees, set lightning storms, etc, to add that extra "umph" and style to your map or scenario. Very very good looking and easy to use.
- Map.ini extensions - I was probably the one around that most pushed for extra map.ini code support, so that custom maps can have better control on the gameplay. Works wonders for Warcraft - they have full mods built in maps! - and it's really cool for map creators too. EA claims there are some technical issues with loading extra info from the map.ini, although they've been a bit vague and I got word from Jason Bender that they'd look into what else they could add. One thing they have added is the ability to define the reflection map plane in the map.ini, which's how far from the contact point to a reflecting plane that the reflection render will show up.
- LOD visualization - with this setting you can see exactly how will your map or scenario show up on lower-spec machines, even if you have a top-spec one. Settings correlate to the in-game setting like low-quality, high-quality, etc.
- Global Blend - This is certainly one of the coolest new features of the new WB. Which map editor haven't lost hours tweaking their blends so they're all smooth, just to have a small new texture in an area screw up a number of blends around? Well, I'm glad to say this will be a thing of the past in BfME2's Worldbuilder. You can now paint your map completely with hard edges (ie. no blending) and at the click of a button globally blend all the tiles in the map with the nearest tile. You can also remove all blends at any time. A serious, very serious time saver feature.
- Hotkeys - No more moving the pointer all the time from the edit area to the tool bar simply to switch tools, there are now shortcuts for all the tools. Probably as much of a lifesaver as the Global blend feature, it was quite funny when the EA guys commented this was one of the features they always had on their wishlist but always left for laters. 'Let this be the hour'
- Placeholders - There was a request from one of the community members to leave placeholders for the current BfME art that won't get through BfMEII, to help converting existing maps. They've agreeded it would be nice and wrote it down, so it might be in.
Well, that concludes my BfMEII Worldbuilder article, hope it helped you getting some insight about the lots that's being improved in the mapmaker's backend too. I personally loved how easy it is to define camera paths with a PiP (picture-in-picture) window showing exactly the in-game view - Mr. Taylor, EA's legendary cinematic director, also told me he loved them. Of course heh. BTW, some of this might be a bit off or I might not be able to add much further info since it's taken mostly from my (bad) memory and some very generic annotations. Still, feel free to ask any doubt you have, I'll try my best to get them answered either by myself or from my new EA friends that work directly with the new WorldBuilder.
PS: If you enjoyed this, don't miss checking out the Worldbuilder map making tips article written by Darky, important stuff the BfME staff showed us, some small details that make all the difference. For example, even after years of SAGE-engine map-making, I didn't know you should set the water areas to "impassable" to speed up the pathfinding! :WTF: Thankfully that won't be needed for BfMEII map creation, since the updated engine auto-ignores water areas.
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