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Re: [liquidwar-user] A Map

From: Christian Mauduit
Subject: Re: [liquidwar-user] A Map
Date: Fri, 5 Jul 2002 10:44:35 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.3.28i


On Wed, Jul 03, 2002 at 02:27:49AM -0400, Mouse wrote:
Just tried it, and lost against the CPU 8-) Nice map.

> Files contents:
> map3d_m.bmp - The map, custom/map.
> map3d_t1.bmp - The background, custom/texture.
> map3d_t2.bmp - The foreground, custom/texture.
> All three are intended to be used together.  No real thought went into play 
> balance, just experimentation.
Your method of creating a map, that is create a "shape" bitmap and an
"appearance" bitmap raises an interesting problem: maps in LW5 look
rather "flat" and this is not very nice to look at. So you decided to
give it a "3D" effect. 
FYI, at the old times of LW3 - back in 1995 - maps used to have that 
kind of 3D effects. With my friend Thomas we created maps using Deluxe 
Paint under DOS and used some "shape gradient" function to give some 
basic graphical effects to the maps. To make the difference between
the "walls" and the rest of the map (where armies can go) we used a
convention which was something like "if color index is between 32 and 63
it's a wall and if it's between 64 and 95 it's not". This was a good
choice because we used Deluxe Paint and it was very easy to create such
map with this software. However, I've never found any graphical tool
which did this as well as Deluxe Paint, and I didn't like the idea of
being dependent of a given program to create maps, especially when it's
a DOS program.
So for LW5, I decided that maps would contain basic information about
where the walls are, and people would be able to apply textures on them.
This has several advantages, which are:
- it saves place. If you think that disk place is not a problem anymore,
  think of people who download LW with a 56K modem and pay the phone
  while doing it. These people care about how big the game is.
- it avoids the problem of "artistic but unplayable maps". If the map is
  drawn once for all with fixed colors, some people might not like it,
  and some other might not see where the walls are because they are on a
  dusty laptop. Anyway, I think it's good to leave some choice to the
But the drawbacks are:
- barely possible to make a really good looking map
- some players might be confused by the number of textures/colors
  available. In many cases, people want to play on a map, final dot.
  They'll just pick up a nice map, and won't take the time to fiddle
  with all the available options.

So I think it might be time to change the way maps are "skinned" with

I have thought about several solutions, but I'm opened to suggestions:

a) associate each map to a given couple of background/foreground
textures. This will require some work, for someone will need to
associate textures to all the existing maps, and each new map will
require some default textures to be specified. It won't be easy to
handle custom textures nicely - we're likely to need to choose some
"generic custom map default textures". From a GUI point of view, one
could simply add a "use default textures" in the map screen. With this
option set on, switching between maps would automatically select the
corresponding textures. With the option set off, the behavior would be
the current behavior.

b) code a "3D effect" filter which would enhance the border of the
walls. The major advantage is that it requires a coding effort only.
Once the engine will be coded, no additionnal effort will be required
when designing maps, and custom textures will work as well as other
maps. The only difficulty when implementing it is that textures have 32
colors allocated only, and it might be hard to make some nice smooth
shading on them in these conditions. Still, I stay optimistic.

c) allow some maps to have textures "stored in them". This way,
everything would work like now, except that for "some" maps, there would
be specific textures. These textures would not appear when selection
textures for other map. They would just be associated to one _single_
map. In fact, one would not draw a couple of textures, but a full bitmap
which would be the exact representation of the map. So for these
"special" map, one would need to draw the current "dark and light"
bitmap to specify where the walls are and then a second bitmap to
specify the way the map should look like. The only problem with this
method is that it might make the game get bigger.

So that's it for my ideas, I'm waiting for yours 8-)
Personnally, my favorite solution is b), but that's _my_ opinion only.

Last thing: all these evolutions would be for 5.6.0 which will be a
"relooking" of the game. That's to say new colors for the menus, and
maybe theme support and other enhancements such as the one mentionned
above. And 5.6.0 is not scheduled for the near future. 5.5.3 is, and
will include some minor bug-fixes plus the possibility to chat within
the game.

Thanks for reading me and have a nice day.


PS: I think including map3d_m.bmp in the current CVS tree is a good
idea. However, I don't think I'll include the textures until we've 
found a way to handle them "cleanly". Is it OK to include map3d_m.bmp
(GNU GPL etc...) ?

Christian Mauduit

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