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TMIT's Guide to Strategy & Tips Series Map Creation

Discussion in 'Civ4 Strategy Articles' started by TheMeInTeam, May 27, 2009.

  1. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Introduction:

    Hello again forum! From time to time I get requests to do articles, the most recent being how to create a map to be used in series frequently seen on the Strategy & Tips sub-forum. I'd like to start this off by thanking Bleys and R_Rolo1, since I garnered the vast majority of my initial map making skills from them when I took over PYL and Noble's Club quite some months ago.

    At this point, I can make a usable map for series forum games, convert it into a WB save, and upload it in about 5 minutes. If I want to make edits, it might take like 20-30, but that's when you start seeing minor nations and crazy start locations/Sid appearing in the game ;). Following will be the process used to:

    1) Check starts for balance
    2) Create a worldbuilder save
    3) Make requisite changes in a word processor
    4) Upload the pictures and zip file to the forum

    Arguably, this could be under creation & customization, but I think some of the points addressed below apply to strategy as well, and since these steps are used extensively in strategy and tips games (and players can use them to tweak their game further, as we'll see), it should also apply enough to strategy. Note that none of this involves modding, it's actually simple.

    Checking Starts for Balance

    You start off like you would with any other game: run a custom game and pick whatever settings you want for the game. Once you get a start, you CAN skip this step, but if you want to make sure the map is good for others to play you might want to take a peek in worldbuilder.

    Once in worldbuilder, look at the starting position of the human player and each AI. Strong AIs tend to be creative, warmongers with a good start and soft neighbors, and mass expanders like Joao. Knowing this, you can intentionally make the map hard or easy based on your choices. If you want it harder, pull the player's copper, or roll until the player is poorly situated or isolated with minimal land :devil:. Obviously high-commerce starts with easily accessible strategic resources (along their logical tech path) make for the easiest openings, even moreso if the neighbors are friendly (can be rushed or used for trade fodder).

    I can't tell you 100% what to do. One of the things that varies between hosts is their judgment of how a game is "too hard" or "too easy". Try to give the community something playable though, unless you're labeling it as a challenge game or a role-play approach.

    Once again, if you want to "play it blind" too then just bypass all this and go to the next section.

    Creating a Worldbuilder Save

    This step is easy. I recommend zooming in as much as possible if you want to play it blind. Then, go into worldbuilder and just click save. It will save into the worldbuilder save folder by default, and the game can then be played as a scenario. If you were checking or tweaking the map as per above, just click save and name it.

    Making Requisite Changes in a Word Processor

    Okay, here's where we lose people and where the mistakes are made (unless the host decided to be too mean or nice, that is)! First thing to do is to find the save file in your worldbuilder folder (or wherever you put it). Right click on it and select "open with". Any major word processor will do - most people will just use microsoft word, but if you don't have that you can download openoffice since it's freeware ---> it can also handle this (not to mention word docs!).

    Important note: WB saves are CASE SENSITIVE and you must match the case + spacing you see for the changes to actually work! Also, don't actually type the "" around the things I tell you to type, I'm using them for emphasis on what to put in each place. It's a safe bet to make whatever you're typing look like the format around it.

    Okay. Now you're inside. Looks a little scary at first, right? It isn't too bad though, most of the placement is logical/intuitive. I'll walk you through the basic steps first. The very first thing you'll see is a list of the general game settings. You want to make it so that any speed will work. To do that:

    - Leave "StartYear" as is (-4000) but set "Speed", "Gameturn", "MaxTurns", and the other values all to "=0". Example: MaxTurns=0

    Now we want to make it so that only the human's civ displays when the scenario is selected. To do that:

    - Use find and replace (control F is a shortcut). Under find, type in "PlayableCiv=1" and tell MS Word to replace it with "PlayableCiv=0" (Again, the upper/lower case matters).
    - Scroll down to the human player's civ, and switch it back to "PlayableCiv=1"

    Once the player's civ is locked in, we move on to handicaps:

    - Use find and replace. Find "handicap=" and replace it with a blank (literally, delete "handicap=", not what follows it, or delete the whole line). This should let the AI handicap vary by level, and if a human screws around with this and manages to switch civs, he won't have monarch + bonuses :p.

    Almost there! One step left, and that's to clean the starting units:

    Simple Way:

    - Use find and replace. Find "beginunit" and replace it with a blank. Do the same for "endunit". Done. All units will now spawn based on the techs assigned to the civ and the difficulty the player chooses.

    Slightly More Complex:

    - Use find to see each "beginunit". Remove the ones for the AI, but not the human. This keeps the human's warrior or scout unit from spawning in random places each time the scenario is played. Other than that, it's the same as above.

    Note: For games that are monarch+, the AI is supposed to start with archery. The above needs an extra step if you did not start with a monarch save originally:

    - Add "Tech=TECH_ARCHERY" to the AI civs. Do note that you actually need 2-3 WB saves if you want bonuses to perfectly scale with difficulty. Usually though, just tacking on archery as needed will suffice. Maybe R_Rolo1 will yell at me here but nobody cares ;).

    That concludes this section for now. I will do a 2nd post with some advanced word-editing options that are not needed for forum games but might be fun to add into them or just to tweak your own game.

    Uploading Pictures and .ZIP Files to the Forum

    Worldbuilder saves are not valid formats on the forum. However, .zip files are valid. You can use basically any compression software you want as long as it saves .zip. I recommend something cheap or free, since this isn't exactly advanced compression. Most zip software lets you merely right click on your WB save and select "add to archive...". So do that and save it accordingly. Once you have it saved, you can upload it to the forum as part of a thread post under the "manage attachments" option. It looks like a paperclip.

    To add pictures, take a screenshot at the start of the game, including the starting position. If you press the "print screen" key it will take a picture and put it in the screenshots sub folder of civ. Holding shift before clicking print screen lets you name the file if you want, but I don't do that any more. It takes too long :p.

    Once you have your screenshots, you'll need an image hosting account online. I recommend photobucket, since all the cool kids and adults seem to use it, and it happens to be free and effective.

    Upload your images there, and use the IMG code for forms to paste it to the forum.

    Conclusion

    You're all set! Gogo write up your series introduction, lie to the players about how hard or easy the map is, talk about settling 1NE, or complain about the leader! It's all in good fun :).

    Once again, this seems like a lot of steps, but that's mostly because I'm explaining it out. My computer I have to use at the moment is too crappy and loads games too slowly, or else this is a 5 minute job, unless you want to do some advance map tweaks, balance play-testing, or other nonsense that is!

    Video Demonstration:

    I have created a video demonstration for this process to make it easier on players:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xy8gnmM-34
     
  2. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Okay, in this section I'm going to assume you've played around in WB saves a bit and are familiar with the general functionality, as per above. I'll give a few examples of things you can do once you're used to this, that don't take too long:

    Swapping Leaders After the Game is Made

    Want to use somebody else on the same map? Want a different opponent placed where shaka was? Want an extra AI to appear in that awkward fractal post-astro island chain? You can do it!

    Scroll down to the "beginplayer" area. Find the civ to swap. Now, how do we know who to put in there? Well, we copy and paste! You can either use old WB that you know has the leader you want, OR you can go into the XML data for civ leaders and look at that, copying and pasting what you want over to your current WB save.

    You can also vary starting location (and if you swept the units as I told you in the OP, they'll spawn with the correct units where you define starting X and Y). Where does the X and Y correspond to? Actually the easiest way to do this is to put something like a panzer or modern armor in while doing the "balance check" phase. Cleaning the units will make sure this doesn't actually appear in the game (be sure to clear the revealmap too!), but it is a GOOD PLACEHOLDER to find the starting x/y in the exact area you want. Repeat this for any area you want to move a starting location with different units.

    Note: Sid is the leader of the "minors". If you want to play as or against him, this is how!

    Changing colors

    Because nothing says "haha MadScientist, I played it on epic not marathon!" like using green Egypt for the own all wonders game. It's an easy switch too. Color=PLAYERCOLOR_(insert color here). Don't go too exotic though, pick colors the game actually recognizes, or you'll just get the boring default.

    Minor Nations

    Minor nations are nations that start at war w/ everyone, but unlike normal barbarians get a palace and tech normally. I like putting them in from time to time, mostly to scare people, make the game interesting, or piss oyzar off since he always criticizes me every time I do this :lol:.

    Nothing makes civvers say "what the ?" like seeing the event log say "Super Barb has founded Christianity!". In 3800 BC or so. With choose religions OFF.

    They tend to suck though, so be sure to help them out. Like giving them theology, for example.

    Final Note:

    If you want to be a complete jerk, at least be creative. Go into the leaderheadxmls and look for a leader who likes cottages. Switch that leader's starting civic line to read "Civic=CIVIC_EMANCIPATION", but don't tell anyone you did it. Let them wonder why their populace wants to be emancipated in 3500 BC at pop 4 ;). Early police state can be fun too.

    There are a lot of unexplored tweaks in WB saves that can add (or subtract) from a series game experience. Hopefully, this guide has been helpful to those wanting to learn WB save creation and give a kick start to the mean and nice-spirited future hosts out there :).
     
  3. sfnhltb

    sfnhltb Chieftain

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    Find "hanidcap=" and replace it with a blank.

    I guess this is spelled correctly in the save files?
     
  4. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Yes, I fixed it here too.
     
  5. RRRaskolnikov

    RRRaskolnikov Goldfish

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    Nice guide TMIT :) How do you put them in though? I mean, what's the syntax?

    Cheers
     
  6. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    You forgot to talk about changing the artstyle :p Nothing beats the face of player seeing a aztec looking civ with preatorians :D Or switching players from one starting spot to another, if you feel like not having shaka nearby :p

    And, you could always redirect people for the seminal work on this area, In depth look at the WBS file by Dale ( I learned almost all I know from there ), if they are really interested. There were some changes in the tags ( BtS has advanced start points , for a example ) but the core intel is there.
     
  7. RRRaskolnikov

    RRRaskolnikov Goldfish

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    Thanks for the link Rolo ;)
     
  8. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Minor nation status...it's in with the rest of the leader info like PlayableCiv and color. Set it =1 and you have a minor nation.
     
  9. VoiceOfUnreason

    VoiceOfUnreason Deity

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    That's a bucket of awesome, right there.
     
  10. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Alright, I've posted a video walkthrough also, so anything that wasn't clear should be now. It's almost exactly 10 minutes so if you want to host games here have a look!
     
  11. DMOC

    DMOC Mathematician

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    Thanks for the guide! :)

    Can I put in a minor civ if I already have 18 in an 18 player game?
     
  12. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    I don't think you can...minor civs in the WB save take up one of the civ slots after all. It's probably possible only with the mod that allows more civs.
     
  13. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    A minor civ is a civ after all in terms of WB ( the only diference is that it set as minor civ )...
    ...so no, you can't put a minor civ in a unmodded game with already 18 alive civs there.
     
  14. madscientist

    madscientist RPC Supergenius

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    Trying to modify a WB to post an open RPC and continue to have problems here

    I tried eliminating the words after handicap= and the WB crashes. I tried adding zero after it and it still crashes. Put the original handicap and it works fine.

    Otherwise great article, thanks!
     
  15. dalamb

    dalamb Deity

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    I think he meant turn the whole "handicap=" line to a blank.
     
  16. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    That's what I meant, yes. If you define something the game doesn't recognize after an "=" sign it will probably crash, possibly ignore it.

    I do explain this particular step in the video as well ;).
     
  17. madscientist

    madscientist RPC Supergenius

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    Thanks TMIT. I went over the video but that aprticular section was done rather quickly! Appreciate the thread and video!
     
  18. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    Mad ( and everyone else ), if you just want to use a map without fancy changes ( that is, just get a clean WB from a WB save ), you can use this utility . I don't use it in the LHC because i need to make more extensive changes ( adding techs, sometimes change civs of place, ... ). TMIT doesn't use it just because ;)
     
  19. madscientist

    madscientist RPC Supergenius

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    way cool, thanks! The only modification I would need then is change the playable CIV!
     
  20. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    I usually win up wanting to change colors, swap civs, or some odd crap. Pretty much the only series I don't do that in is IU, but then again I guess that's all I've hosted...lately. I forgot about the utility :p.
     

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