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Bitmap ConverterBy: Sandcrawler
2. Creating a heigthmap using GIMP
3. Putting them together using bildramer's Bitmap Converter
4. Playing the Map
1. A bitmap is what assigns the colors to the voxels, basically it is a color map. Most times you will want to make the bitmap after you have created the heightmap. But the Converter asks for the bitmap first.
I'm going to be making a map that is covered in grass...so greens. I started with a solid dark green base:
Next we need to add some variation to the bitmap, else the map will be one solid color, but we still want green grass so here is what I did. Make a new white layer, and run the RGB Noise Filter on that layer (Filters > Noise > RGB Noise), I maxed out all of my settings, but you could play with them a bit.
Push ok, and you will have a texture of Red Green and Blue dots. Next step is to Desaturate (makes the colors into a grayscale layer) Make sure you have the layer with the RGB Noise Selected and go to Colors > Desaturate, Leave Lightness selected, and push Ok. Still not very useful, but we are getting there.
Next you will need to create a new layer, then you need to use the Paint Bucket tool to make the new layer a lighter green (needs to be different than your background layer). Now right click on the new layer and go to Add Layer Mask, in the option box that comes up you don't need to change anything, just push Ok.
Now you need to go back to the Desarutated RGB Noise Layer, make sure to select the layer by clicking on it. You need to select all of the data from that layer and copy it. The easiest way for me is to push Ctrl + A (Select All) then Ctrl + C (Copy), you can also right click on the image and go to Select > All, then right click and go to Edit > Copy.
Go back to the newest solid green layer, the one you added the layer mask to, click on the layer mask (the White Box):
Just paste the content that you copied, using Ctrl + V, or right click Edit > Paste. Now you just need to click anywhere on the image workspace.
Thats it, a basic bitmap for green grass. You could do more, if you wanted to add patches of dirt, you could go in with the paintbrush tool and add patches of brown. But for this tutorial I'm not going to.
Lets go ahead and save the bitmap. You need to unselect the Layer Mask if you haven't already, just click on any of the other layers. Go to File > Save a file browser will open, pick a location to save to, and name your file, after the name add the .bmp file extension. Gimp will alert you that the format can't save layers, just hit export. Another window will come up. You need to go into the Advanced Option and select 24 Bits R8 G8 B8 then just hit save.
Thats all for bitmaps, this will give your map a little bit of variation, rather than being a solid color, there are alot of ways you could accomplish the same thing.
2. Creating a heightmap is a little bit more complicated and takes more time. You need to make a grayscale image, from white for the highest layer, down to black for water (lowest part of the map). For water don't forget in your bitmap to color the water.
So just set out with the paintbrush tool and start painting gray areas, I would start with a neutral gray, then go up and down from there. If you have a Graphics tablet they can be a great help. Once you are done with the layout you will want to use a Gaussian Blur (Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur) Set it to around 24 and blur it. In the End you should have something that looks remotely like this:
The blur is to help smooth out the steps, so you can actually play on the map. If you don't use a blur there may be a steep drop all around your map, that would make it difficult to play. At time if you wanted to make a cliff, you may want a steep sharp edge.
Now just save the heightmap, follow the same routine as we did for saving the Bitmap earlier. You need a 24 bit .bmp image.
3. Now lets put them together and make our first Terrain. Firstly you need to open the folder that contains bildramer's Bitmap Converter, if you haven't downloaded it already go do that now.
The Bitmap Converter is a command line tool, so there are many different ways you can pass it the variables, but the easiest is to make a batch file. What I do to make it as simple as possible is to have three files that I added to the folder. makemap.bat, heightmap.bmp, bitmap.bmp. I just save over the .bmp files with news ones (saved elsewhere of course). This makes it simple because I don't have to make a new .bat file every time I make a new terrain.
To make your .bat file, right click in the folder, go to New > Text Document and it will let you name it makemap.bat Next you need to right click the new file and click on Edit. It will open a Notepad window, just place the following text inside of it:
converth.exe bitmap.bmp heightmap.bmp
If you wanted to make a bat file each time you could. You can also pass the variables to it using a command prompt window, or modifying the shortcut. Regardless of how you get the variables to it run the file and you will now have a map.vxl file inside the Bitmap Converter folder.
4. Now that you have a map.vxl file here is what you can do with it.
The fastest way to preview your map is in Voxed, so open up the Ace of Spades folder (C:\Ace of Spades) Now just drag the map.vxl file, onto the Voxed.exe file. Voxed will open with your newly created map loaded.
It useful as a quick preview, but if you want to see it from a players perspective you will need to run a localhost server with your map.
The first thing you need to do is copy your map into the Ace of Spades/vxl/ folder. You may as well rename it as well, to something easy to remember. Now just run the server.exe found in the base Ace of Spade folder. It will first ask you for the mapname, or to generate a map. Type in your mapname without the .vxl extension. (if your map is hills.vxl you would type in hills) It will ask for the number of players next, then a server name, neither the number of players or the name matters. The next step will ask you if you want to list the server, push n (for No). Thats it now the server is running. You can now go to the Ace of Spades Website, and the Play page. At the bottom there is a Localhost Connect link. Or you can click here ;)
In the next tutorial we will take a look at how to create decorate objects and structures, that could then be placed on your map.
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