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Tutorial: Area Editing with the Area Editor

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Joined: 09 Sep 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2006 5:31 pm    Post subject: Tutorial: Area Editing with the Area Editor Reply with quote Awarded

I have not edited this tutorial since I posted it on the Echoes of Akarra development forums, so please excuse any references. Any suggestions are useful. Please note that I have learned more about the editor since I wrote this and I will amend it eventually to include that information. (ie Area Families Editor) And I will edit this sentence to reflect that.

If I am too long-winded and descriptive, then skim it or don't read it. Please don't come here to flame me.

Anyways, here is the tutorial...

Before reading my mapping tutorial, please read what Khaile has to say about it. I will explain most of what he said more indepth. Why did I include his brief tutorial? Well, there is the process of using input and output targas to make a base world. That is the one feature I know of in the editor that I have not learned how to use as I have failed to get it to work. Why am I telling you this? Well, I feel that you should know my one incompetance with the Area Editor before you place your trust in me to teach you. Or I could just blame it on the ambiguousity of Khaile's instructions... perhaps if I reread them now several months later and tried again I could learn that feature, but I have no use for it at the moment. (My new sectors have tediously based themselves off the worldmap image.)

How to edit the world of Akarra

1) Copy the files from the sectors folder in your server to the sectors folder of the area editor.
2) The password for the original akarra world files is "or1gin4l".
3) When changing any of the maps, copy all files back to the server and send the "SC2" files to your players.

It's not possible to expand the Akarra world without letting people see your maps unless you completely delete "caves" and "caves2" and rebuild these mazes from scratch (with your own password).

How to create a new world map

1) Start the editor, choose "Create Sector" and enter "world0x3y" and your own, secret password.
2) Choose "Convert to World Sector" in the menu.
3) Get the area at (0, 0), select "Yes" in the message box, choose "Area Static Edit".
4) Draw an square in the area with each one of the different tilesets (you will need this to get the colors of each tileset type later).
5) Press "Save Area!" and then "Write output.tga" in the first tab.
6) Close the editor.
7) Rename the file "output.tga" to "input.tga". Open it in Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro (or another editing app that can open TGA files).
8 ) Now zoom in in the upper left corner of the image. If you did everything correctly you should see some pixels of different colors. These colors are the index colors of the different tileset types in the world maps.
9) Choose the water color, then select a rectangle somewhere and fill it with water. Save the tga.
10) Open the area editor again. Load your sector and press "Import from input.tga". Select an area (any one) and save it. Reload your sector again.
11) Now you will have a base world that you can build on. You can use the tga inport function to quickly lay the base tiles for your world, but please note that it will overwrite any area that is non-black (in the TGA), so be careful.

Remember that all your clients will require the SC2 file in order to see the correct world maps. Also remember that it's not possible to modify the starting location (1056, 7332), so you should center your world around that spot.

Like most video games, Whispers in Akarra runs on a matrix of x and y co-ordinates. X and Y are numbers that determine your location. X is the horizontal. Y is the vertical.

The worldmap of Akarra is a grid of co-ordinates. The X and Y span of co-ordinates is from x0-8192 and y0-8192. (x0,y0) is in the top-left corner, x8191,y8191 is in the bottom-right corner.

The worldmap is divided into poritons called sectors. Both the vertical and horizontal edges of the map are divided into four sectors. With four rows and four collumns, you can hopefully do the math, and calculate a total of sixteen sectors in the worldmap. Each sector is then divided into sixty-four rows and sixty-four collumns. Each of those smaller sections is called an area.

Do the math:
8192 / 4 = 2048
2048 / 64 = 32

Those are the proportions of each type of section. If you want to be specific graphically, each tile, square or co-ordinate(whatever you want to call the spaces) is 16x16 pixels. One character takes up one space.

What is the significance of the worldmap? Well, you kind of need it to put things on, namely everything. (Cave sectors are not part of the worldmap and they have no map image to help players navigate through them.)

What is the significance of a sector? As I said above, the map files are divided into sectors. There is a file for each sector. The server reads the file names like this: world0x0y and world0x0y.dsc2. Except the zeroes would be replaced with the specific location of the sector in the four by four matrix of the worldmap's sectors. The starting sector is where the town of Hope is, unless you're mapping for a server that started from scratch, is world0x3y. No matter what you do the starting position is (x1056,y7332). I suppose you could pay Khaile to alter the source code or buy the code itself to change that - but basically it is hard-coded.

What else is hard-coded? Sadly, the non-worldmap sectors and worldmap sectors that the Area Editor writes proper co-ordinates for based on name and that the server reads in are restrictive. You are limited to four of the sixteen worldmap sectors. Hope's sector and the three around it. In other words, the south-west quarter of the worldmap. World0x3y, world0x2y, world1x2y and world1x3y. And the caves? Limited to caves and caves2. Do I know what Khaile charges to change that? Nope. If I did, I'd gladly tell you.

Open the Akarra Area Editor.exe

You will see four selections along the top of the window. File, Edit, Area Navigation and Area Families. Ignore them for now, I will explain their options later.

Look at the four panel tabs below them. Area Info Edit, Area Static Edit, Area Trigger Edit and Spawn Points.

The Area Info Edit is your control center.

Load Sector opens sectors. Create New Sector creates a new one. The only file names you need to deal with are the ones that the server recognizes: world0x3y, world0x2y, world1x2y, world1x3y, caves, caves2. (Assuming your server is not capable of recognizing more.) Will you ever use other file names? When I am merging map files I copy them over in 'area' portions one by one from one sector to another. Sometimes I have to do this between two versions of the same sector. You can't have two files called the same thing in the same directory, something like C:/Program Files/Akarra Area Editor/sectors/world0x3y (and .dsc2). And so, I suggest in such a situation that you rename one something similar like world0x3y2 so that when you use the Load Sector funciton to switch between them, you can easily add and remove one character of text from the filename.

The Write output.tga and Import from input.tga buttons are explained by Khaile in the quote above. I don't know much about that feature so I will avoid talking about it.

Draw Population Graph. It's straight-forward. Monster population or level changed the color on each area within your sector shown on the overview map. Is the change permanent? No, move to another area and it reverts back to it's previous setting. (I got scared the first time I used it because I thought I had ruined my wonderful overview.)

Load Overview TGA... I have never used this. I assume it either reads in a portion of the worldmap image or the whole of the sectormap image to draw your overview map. I assume that's how the original world0x3y came to be so detailed and then had the strange variations drawn atop it.

Get Area reads in the x and y co-ordinates of areas, not of specific tiles, to load that area for your viewing in the actual-size map view to the right of the panels. So it reads in 0-63 in each one.

Area Version? I'm pretty sure that's a variable for the number of times the specific area you are currently viewing has been saved.

Active Neighbors: Check off the directions in which you want messages in the area ingame to be read and which directions you want to be seen. In the worldmap all areas should have active neighbors in all directions. In caves and caves2, it has a much more practical application. If you have two dungeons that are placed in adjacent areas, and ingame it is unrealistic for voices from one dungeon to travel to the next, possibly through some soundproof walls, you do not check it off. This both restructs you from seeing it in the mini-map and from players hearing each other ingame across that barrier which is the edge of the area.

For example, the floors of Kal Zatra's Tomb are not active neighbours where in the cave editor the first, second and third floors are side by side from left to right. Can someone in the third floor hear someone in the second or first floor speak in normal chat? (Obviously guild chat, OOC, admin chat, private messages, fellowship chat, etc. do not count.) No.

If you position two areas so that you can walk from one into the other but do not make them active neighbors, a black barrier appears in the area the player is not currently standing in. Is this glitch of a feature at all useful? Yes. Aside from some people liking the black barrier, there are some practical applications. If one section/dungeon in the caves file switches tilesets(not spritesets) from neighboring area to neighboring area, you will see the graphics of the tileset of the area you are currently standing in administered to the area nearby. That creates an ugly glitch that is better solved with a black barrier. Sometimes black barriers and tileset changes within adjacent areas of a section of map are best when they change across as secret passage through the black nothingness behind the walls, the most common secret passage technique in Akarra.

Did that example not make sense? Let me give a more concrete version of it. Take for example the Forgotten Burrow. As some people know, it is composed of two sections. There is the main section consisting of an entrance stairway, an obelisk and an abandoned burrow. The second section is the secret not-so-forgotten part of the burrow. You get to it through the hole in the wall of the passage up to the end of the burrow. The hole is on the righthand side and is subtley indicated by some green mold on the exact spot on the wall that you can walk through. The user then enters a new area. Now for the "What If". What if you redecorated the rest of the burrow to look like Sharindar's Tower with the Temple tileset? Well, if any of the two tilesets were visible in the dark black hole between the two sections, which might only happen if they had a large light radius, a black barrer could be used to prevent the glitch from being seen and the black barrier would not be noticed at all unless the explorer was either being followed or dropping a trail of items. I hope I illustrated my point about the visual effects of active neighbors clearly enough.

Top left global co-ordinates: (x, y). This refers to the top left corner of the area you currently have opened, not of the sector file you currently have opened. (Unless you have the top left area opened in which case you would have the co-ordinates that are the top corner of both the current area and the current sector. Two birds with one stone? Meh.)

Change sector password: [Set New PW]. Do I need to say anything about what this does? I guess so. It changes the password, and only does so when you save the area after using the command. Note that the original old akarra maps use the password or1gin4l which is a mixed leet/1337 and english way of typing 'original' for those that don't speak that odd language that substitutes numbers and other text characters for actual letters.

Save Area? It saves the area. If you have things set right areas also save when you scroll to the next one. (Look under area navigation and check Save Area to make it save when you move from area to area with either the Area Navigation options or the arrow keys on your keyboard. Note that it will not auto-save when you click away to another area using the overview map.
If you turn a blind eye to any side of a discussion, if you disallow what may be and what actually is the truth, then you've no credibility whatsoever. You end it by saying "I don't want to talk about it." Classic regression.
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Joined: 11 Jul 2005
Posts: 128

PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2006 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cool, i have a similar tutorial in picture/text format
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Joined: 09 Sep 2005
Posts: 148

PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2006 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Additional Advice for Spawns: Unlike in the Spawn Editor, the spawn route co-ordinates can be pasted into the spawn's data by clicking the location you want to insert the co-ordinates from while highlighting the route location slot you want it to be insterted into. I hope this stops people from tediously copying in sets of co-ordinates, it makes it MUCH easier to make routes and quite easy to make an area with patrolling spawns such as Wraith Woods.
If you turn a blind eye to any side of a discussion, if you disallow what may be and what actually is the truth, then you've no credibility whatsoever. You end it by saying "I don't want to talk about it." Classic regression.
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