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Thread: The map

  1. #1
    Rex Pelasgorum et Valachorum Member Rex_Pelasgorum's Avatar
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    Default The map

    We need to have a working map until June.
    After i have finished the Easter holyday, i will offer myself to start working on it together with Caius.
    Dogma nemuririi sufletului îi făcea curajosi fără margini, dispretuitori fată de orice pericol, poftitori de moarte (apetitus morti) luptători cu hotarâre si cu o întreprindere de speriat.
    (Metianus Capella)


  2. #2
    Honorary Argentinian Senior Member Gyroball Champion, Karts Champion Caius's Avatar
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    Default Re: The map

    Rex, I promise Im starting.

    I need a grey map.




    Names, secret names
    But never in my favour
    But when all is said and done
    It's you I love

  3. #3
    Rex Pelasgorum et Valachorum Member Rex_Pelasgorum's Avatar
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    Default Re: The map

    Ok, i will wait.
    But i can help you if you want.

    I know its damn hard to make a map...
    Dogma nemuririi sufletului îi făcea curajosi fără margini, dispretuitori fată de orice pericol, poftitori de moarte (apetitus morti) luptători cu hotarâre si cu o întreprindere de speriat.
    (Metianus Capella)


  4. #4
    Honorary Argentinian Senior Member Gyroball Champion, Karts Champion Caius's Avatar
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    Default Re: The map

    All help is need.
    I know its damn hard to make a map...
    I know that too
    Contact me here, or in the proboards forums.




    Names, secret names
    But never in my favour
    But when all is said and done
    It's you I love

  5. #5

    Default Re: The map

    Quote Originally Posted by Caius Flaminius
    All help is need.

    I know that too
    Contact me here, or in the proboards forums.
    I thought we had the map ready. Anyway, i will send the Inca units to the mods e-mail today, check the mail later. The Inca units are completely remapped and most of them slightly remodelled with fewer polygons, Rome Total War style.Ill finish the mapuche this week, ok?

  6. #6
    Rex Pelasgorum et Valachorum Member Rex_Pelasgorum's Avatar
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    Default Re: The map

    Hmmm, the map is still not the part wich worries me....

    I am worried about all that amount of coding and scripting wich the teammembers will have to make
    Dogma nemuririi sufletului îi făcea curajosi fără margini, dispretuitori fată de orice pericol, poftitori de moarte (apetitus morti) luptători cu hotarâre si cu o întreprindere de speriat.
    (Metianus Capella)


  7. #7
    Honorary Argentinian Senior Member Gyroball Champion, Karts Champion Caius's Avatar
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    Default Re: The map

    I am doing some testing.

    If everythings goes ok., I know what to do.
    If not, we are in the same




    Names, secret names
    But never in my favour
    But when all is said and done
    It's you I love

  8. #8
    Member Member Tuuvi's Avatar
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    Default Re: The map

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex_Pelasgorum
    Hmmm, the map is still not the part wich worries me....

    I am worried about all that amount of coding and scripting wich the teammembers will have to make
    that is going to be the worst part of making this mod

  9. #9

    Default Re: The map

    So, seeing as I've taken on the responsibility of creating the map, I'll hijack this thread to do what I call Rama's Ramblings. Where I just go on about my experiences, ideas, and musings concerning my work on things related to the Inca Total War map. (Well, that's the plan, be sure to expect some tangents every so often)

    I am a Noob when it comes to mapping or any modding at all. Its something I began as a chance to make my own fantasy worlds come alive and when I saw there was an opportunity to practice and expand my skills on Inca, I jump on board. I say this up front because many of the discoveries I made while working on Inca may seem obvious to some, but they were moments of accomplishment to me.

    One thing that really drew me to the Inca:TW team was that they are attempting to do something that, as far I know, has not been done before. Namely, make a highly detailed game set in the world of the Andean cultures. I follow the progress of many mods here and am always eager to see the changes they have made to the maps. And I find most mods are set in locations where maps have already been made to either reference off of or build off of. However, I have yet to find a South American map for the Total War series.

    There are many challenges I faced when approaching the task of creating a South American that would load with a CTD. Over the next few posts I will try to cover just a few.

    The Land to Water Ration Bug

    The first challenge we faced was the shape of the South American continent. It is long and shaped like an eye drop. This isn't something that would fit easily in the vanilla radar map area on the strategy interface. To further complicate this, we decided to add the Mezo-american Aztec faction which added Mexico and Central America to the map.

    One of the major problems we immediately encountered was the land to water ratio bug. No matter how we oriented the map to fit all the regions we wanted, it would CTD. Then someone recalled the solution used by Arthurian Total War. They placed symbols on their map to help balance the ratio. Brilliant! (I mean that, we would have never considered that on our own. We thank you and applaud your creative solution to the problem)

    Huzza! We have a map that loads without a CTD. For more info on this you'll just have to wait for some official screen shots when we are prepared to release our Premier Preview. I assure you, we here at Inca are proud of the way in which we used this solution.

    Well, there's the first of my rambles which covers the first problem we solved in creating our map, kinda fitting don't you think? When next I find the time or the urge I will cover the second problem we encountered: map_heights.

    Until next time, Mod well

    Ramashan

  10. #10

    Default Re: The map

    As promised, here's more of Rama's Ramblings. (This may be a long one, so pull up a comfy chair, make some tea [or coffee, either will do, perhaps a Dr. Pepper even] get some sugar cookies, yummy, and enjoy :) )

    map_heights

    This is, in my opinion, is what really gives your map the character you are trying to achieve in your mod. Yes, the ground textures are a huge part of it, but I think most people see the heights before they even recognize any of the cool things you spent hours working on for the ground type textures.

    I have a love hate relationship with the map_heights file. When I created my first map, I approached this file eagerly and was quickly discouraged. Things were just not coming out the way I wanted them to. I would use photoshop in tandem with the TIME map editor to get things to work the way I wanted. But still, the mountains and terrain was never what I envisioned

    Then I discovered Earth Sculpture and the tutorial Red Spot wrote on that program over at the Org. This looked to be the answer to my problem. I began playing around with that, and again, I was discouraged.

    My discouragement in both cases came from wanting things to look perfect the first time I edited them. This is a problem I have with most artistic endeavors and one that I tend to cope with in time. Mostly by cursing for a while, vowing to never touch the thing again, then sighing and giving it another try. As anyone who mods knows, tendacity is key!

    Soon I figured out a way to make the map_heights using a combination of photoshop, TIME, and Earth Sculpture, and then came my love for this file.

    I've always had a fascincation with maps. I've been drawing them for my own fantasy world for almost two decades now. I have the atlas for the Dragon Lance world of Krynn and the Forgotten Realms world of Fearun. I wanted to make maps just like the ones I found in these books. This interest led me to a job at Rand McNally for 5 years, then teaching people how to read topographical maps and how to use a map and compass out in the wilderness. When I found a way to create a map that I could play around in, I was very excited.

    OK, enough of my background, your probably already bored with your finger twitching on the mouse button to get out of this ramble. So, onto my experience with the map_heights file for INCA Total War.

    The South American continent is known for two distinct features. The Amazon basin which covers nearly half the continent and the Andes mountains which run the length of the continent north to south. I knew going into the project the extremes of this landscape would be a fun challenge.

    I have visited south america once and was amazed by the extremes of its geography. Growing up, I was taught to believe that the continent was one giant rain forest or jungle. Movies like, 'Jewel of the Nile' showed the dense jungle one must drive through to get from the airport to the city of Cartegena Colombia, and 'Miami Vice' showed the rain forest in the Guajira of northern Colombia. Boy are you in for a shock when you get to these places. The road from Cartegena's airport is surrounded by forrest, but it is far from jungle and most of the area is urban. The Guajira is a desert. I drove across it using low mountains on the horizon as reference points since there was no road. The locals traditionally make their three sided homes out of dried cactus stalks. Thes homes are three sided because the wind that blows non-stop across the desert tends to only blow in one direction; out to sea.

    Knowing this, I knew I had a lot of research to do. And here is a few of the things I discovered. Most of the cities we planned to use in INCA Total War are located at 3000m. Lake Titicaca, a prominent area for the Inca, is located at 3000m. A good portion of the area we are representing on our map are mountains that go from sea level to 6000m in a very short distance. The Nazca area of Peru is one of the driest places on earth.

    Man, I had a lot of work ahead of me. Trying to make a workable map where most of the playable area is at elevation was going to be interesting. And, as those who have made any maps for RTW know, you can not place a navigetable lake or water way above sea level.

    I quickly solved the lake issues. The simple answer was to place them in a valley that went back down to sea level. My first challenge was to make the surrounding mountains not look like steep escarpments. Through trial and error I learned that the smudge tool in photoshop is your friend. This allows you to just pile on contrasting height values (place 150,150,150 atop 40,40,40 for example) and then smudge them out to make a nice even grade from one height to another. I am very satisfied with what I have accomplished for what I call the lake valleys.

    Now, when ever I mention to people how I do my heights, the first comment that I get is, "why don't you use bdh's method?" The answer, I've tried, remember that whole discourage thing I spoke about earlier.

    My method is to create a photoshop doc that includes a separate layer for ground_types, regions, and heights. I can easly make changes to one as it relates to another. But what does that have to do with heights you ask? Well, I find maps on line that have the height information I need, then use them as template layers to work off of. I like being able to control what I am doing, I am a painter at heart and feel that creating the heights map is sort of like painting. Once I get it to look how I feel will best represent the landscape, I then go into the TIME editor and tweek what I have done before loading it into the game. This also ensures that I have not place a city in an area that is now at a 30 degree angle.

    OK, enough of that. I think I lost the real train of thought back at Lake valleys. I'll leave what ever thoughts remain on this topic for a future post. Please, if you made is this far I'm sure your very confused, ask me questions, I love answering questions.

    Till next time.

    Mod Well
    Ramashan

  11. #11

    Default Re: The map

    OK, back again for another Ramble. It seems like people are actually reading these things, which makes me happy. Its good to do things that make me happy and I hope that I am also doing something that other people are enjoying. Right then, onto my thoughts.

    More Map_Heights

    I’ve had a chance to do a lot of thinking since my last post on this subject of map heights, especially on the use of satellite imagery to create them. I am currently banging my head on my desk trying to get the rivers and the city locations just right and this has sort of lead me to a better answer as to why I didn’t use satellite imagery. Basically, it comes down to perspective versus functionality.

    What the heck does that mean Rama?

    Well, I’ll tell ya. By using Satellite imagery your getting a great perspective on the land mass that you are mapping from way up high. From sort of the same distance we are looking at the map we are creating. If anyone has ever looked at a satellite image or a large map of South America they will notice two things right away, a large flat area of the Amazon and a long multi-hued brown and white line which is the Andes.

    By trying to exactly replicate this in the TW engine as I would by using satellite imagery, it would never functionally work. This truth never hit so hard as it did the first time I loaded the map into the TIME map editor and saw a field of jagged line with teetering cities all over the place. The point was further driven home when I tried adding the rivers.

    From several thousand feet up, river courses look like thin lines on the ground. If draw these lines exactly and try to place a river in them using the TW engine, suddenly you have these amazing waterways running sideways along mountains.

    I looked at the map preview in Diadochi TW, specifically that for the Hinukusch and saw how to do it right. Nice wide river valleys to allow for the TW engines ungainly rivers that need to be wavy to run at angles.

    If I was to stick with the satellite imagery, I would never get the rivers to work right, so I compromise. There in lies the functionality portion of my statement. The most important thing we must remember when designing a map for TW is the playability of that map. If it looks exactly like the area your trying to represent but has soldiers seeming to walk from mountaintop to mountaintop, it really isn’t a very functional map, now is it?

    It seems like most mappers I’ve encountered here get that. I say this because I have seen nothing but amazing maps come out of the mods I’ve scanned over. However, as I said in my first Ramble, I’m a noob and am still making these critical discoveries.

    Approaching the map with this idea of functionality but wanting to make it as authentic as possible, I chose to highlight several areas that the South American continent is known for. Tenochtitlan, called the Venice of the new world for its canal system.



    OMG!!! Screenshots! Yes, I was aware people were waiting ever patiently for these. The only request I make is, these are not final nor are they textured, this is just a taste of what we are working on. Having said that, lets continue.

    The Terraced landscape iconic of the pre-columbian Andean cultures, some of which is still farmed today using the same irrigation systems built by the Inca. (amongst other cultures.)



    If you read my reply to Cherryfunk you will notice the radar map in this screenshot. Also, the Interface is not final, this was just one of the many ideas we’ve been playing with.

    And I’m determined to remain true to the South American landscape;


    Rio Magdelena


    Larga Maracaibo


    Lake Titicaca

    Well, that’s all for now. I’m sure there’s more I can say about map_heights, and perhaps they’ll be a third or fourth or even a fifth installment. But that’s for some future time. Remember, questions are appreciated.

    Until next time

    Mod Well
    Ramashan

  12. #12
    Honorary Argentinian Senior Member Gyroball Champion, Karts Champion Caius's Avatar
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    Default Re: The map

    Delete this reply, please.
    Last edited by Caius; 07-16-2007 at 03:57.




    Names, secret names
    But never in my favour
    But when all is said and done
    It's you I love

  13. #13

    Default Re: The map

    Research

    Most of us that enjoy playing the Total War games do so because we enjoy the historical aspect of the game. Well, at least many of us do. Or the creators would not have spent so much time researching the units and the style of armies they placed in the game. And those who took that game would not have spent hours and hours to build upon that research and add to the historical accuracy of the games.

    With every historical mod, and non-historical for that matter, the creators must research not only the era, the uniforms, the buildings, but, since I am doing the map, I must say, the geography of the world in which they wish to present to us. Some mods build upon pre-existing historical periods. So what they have to do is add to that period. Show us, the gamer, somethings we did not know about time period, and make it more alive in what we see the units wearing, how the buildings are modeled, and even creating land scapes that reflect what we see on maps.

    Now, doing the first mod for South American cultures we on INCA: Total War team have to research everything. Its been said in other threads and posts in the Inca mod section, but trying to finmd reliable information for the cultures we want to include in our game is very difficult. Most of what we are relying on is second hand accounts and what ever else we can dig up in the library or online. Most of these cultures were completely wiped out. We have very few artist rendering or books to look at since there was no real written language in these cultures. But you know what? That's what our wonderful researchers and historians are for. And they've done a phenominal job. Anyone who plays the mod will know that we have gathered perhaps the most cohesive collection of pre-columbian military information all in place then you will find anywhere on the internet.

    Wow, that just hit me as I was writing this. And its true. Go ahead? Check for yourself. If you do find a treasure trove of information, please, link it to us, we'll add it to our mod and make my statement above even more true.

    Anyway, what I was getting at is, my research as the mapper is a little bit easier. I just go out, or go online, and find every map for the area I can get my grubby paws on. Its a good thing I've been planning a dream backpacking trip through Bolivia to Equador which meant that I had many maps and was familiar with much of the terrain. Although we humans do tend to deforest the land and fill in the waters, the main features of the landscape don't change all that much. This helps when trying to create a map_heights file that not only is familiar to modern day viewers, but is also fairly true to how the land was five to six hundred years ago.

    Here are some examples;


    The Atacama Valley. Or The Atacama Desert. One of the driest places on earth.


    Altiplano, a high flat plane sitting atop the Andes. Also where Lake Titicaca is located.

    Neither of these are textured, I try to get the basic form to my liking before I experiment with texture as you can see here;



    As I approach the detail work on the map_heights map, I talk to those members of the mod team who are most familiar with the region, I refer to all my maps, I google the country and research travel guides to get the key features that people travel to that part of the world for.

    When the researchers give me the locations of the pre-columbian cities we are going to include, I must begin to research the geography of those regions. This all goes back to my previous ramble where I said that we must balance authenticity with game play. If a city is nestled high in the mountains and in some valley, well, how do I represent this? Well, I guess you'll just have to see.

    As usual I start intending to write a great essay and I slowly lose my train of thought as time goes by. I hope I made some clear comments above about the research we are doing in an attempt to bring you an authentic South American experience.

    Hope you enjoyed my ramble. As usual questions and comments are appreciated and welcome.

    Until Next Time

    Mod Well
    Ramashan

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