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Adding art to current maps?


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It involves changing a few obtuse files (WED, TIS) or adding new area animations (and potentially changing the searchmap if you want to affect walkability). The latter is probably simpler and is definitely doable in DLTCEP, possibly also in the nicer NearInfinity.

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Of course, why would it be different? If you're adding it, not editing, you'll have to convert it to the BAM format before use (same tools apply).

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To avoid giving wrong impressions: there are no "tools" for it. You have to export the terrain into an image, a PNG, and then redraw it in some editor like any other picture. For making those bushes into a container later, or making them impassable, and so on, there are tools, but that's not what you want to know.

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Posted (edited)

 

54 minutes ago, temnix said:

To avoid giving wrong impressions: there are no "tools" for it. You have to export the terrain into an image, a PNG, and then redraw it in some editor like any other picture. For making those bushes into a container later, or making them impassable, and so on, there are tools, but that's not what you want to know.

Oh, that's interesting, so then there's really no limit to the art you could add, or the variety of it, since they are not separate sprites that you place on the map... Very different from e.g Fallout 2 map editing.

So i guess you have some type of overlay where you paint where e.g a rock or a tree is, so that the engine understands that a character shouldn't be able to stand on the tree trunk etc.

I would absolutely need those tools to make e.g trees or a rock impassable, so they are also interesting. 

Also kind of related, what is needed to make it compatible with Enhanced Edition? If i want to do that..? 

 

Edited by serialmodderer
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As far as I know, area editing hasn't been changed in EEs. It's the same two and a half tools, the main one being DLTCEP. Tiling seems to have been used in the drawing of terrain for trees, there are only a few models of them. Bioware might have had some special terrain-maker with which they could drag and drop ready sprites over pre-painted backgrounds, like the map editor of Warcraft 2 from about the same time. But the resulting picture is just a PNG of certain proportions - side pixels need to be multiples of 64, for 64-x64 tiles that don't account for anything on land. They do on water, though. Water is very difficult, it is superimposed over river courses and basins and consists of cycling ripples. It is made half-transparent for bottoms to be seen in shallow pools, and the bottoms in those spots are painted white to look like sand through the blue water. This water layer is tailored to every area that has water, and it would be a pain to reproduce even if it worked well, but it is bugged and, converted back from a PNG, ends up with white squares around. I gave up on flowing water and coastlines for this reason, but this is limiting, of course. A dry land area or a house are much simpler: just keep the dimensions right, including the black borders, and you can paint whatever you want in that space. There is no height in a 2D world. Until you make a search map (as that's called) in DLTCEP, cliffs and houses can all be walked over like a painting.

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Oh, man, Marilyn has really dwindled with age. She used to be a big girl. Well, in that case I didn't edit the area but laid out a visual effect over it, like the spell effects. That works, but for large pictures characters will be able to walk over the face of the image as they go farther back. If you keep sizes modest, though, you can use VVC files and looping projectiles to introduce small changes. Cracks and holes in the ground, for instance.

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This is an early version of the hole. Later I made it assume the colors of area lighting (set up also in DLTCEP), and the hole became as dark as the rest of that place. These VVC effects and projectiles are ephemeral, won't be there on reload, but if they are attached to rings, and the rings are worn by invisible creatures off to the side somewhere, they will resume. Or sometimes you can just blow images across the screen for a time.

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Here rope is sent through the wall... upwards or lengthwise, depending on the observer. Relativity.

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Another example of a permanent addition without area-redrawing. There is an invisible helper on this map too, playing this from an equipped item. But these minions need to be prepared in the right way, with immunities to damage and effects that would accidentally blow them to the side or teleport them away, occupying no space, not bumpable by passing characters and so on. Test, test, test, test, that's how it goes.

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The picture above is simply the island with nighttime enabled. It is merely nice. Below is the same island with adjusted lighting (the characters are darker) and recolored terrain itself. There it is deep and harsh polar night.

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One of the games' 2DA files controls fog. Fog is the fourth weather type, it's dynamic, and some people have looked into how to make it gather and blow and change colors, but no one has done anything with it.

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And here is water. In this example it's been made brighter, so the tiles are more visible on it. A trade-off.

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Another area, on fire. This looks a little blurry because there is a see-through snapshot of this room superimposed over the contours, only a few pixels off to make the air seem dense and unclear. (The characters' sprites are in focus, but players wouldn't notice.) There are more fires and smokes in the side rooms, but the party would have to go in there for them to be visible, unfortunately. The fires are undisarmable trap regions charted in DLTCEP. Don't always react quickly enough. Upstairs of the central fire, on the second floor, there is more burning and beams are scripted to fall at random every few rounds, whacking anyone who is nearby. That makes the rescue mission rather more challenging, especially with enemies on the scene. 

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And then there is music. It can be a big part of an area as well, along with ambient sounds. Getting your own somewhere instead of the standards makes for better quality... except who even appreciates quality or listens to those sounds?

Edited by temnix
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For what you mentioned, the approach with area animations (even if they're just static images) is probably easier, since you don't have to redo the TIS. Harder from the artistic point of view though, since it would take more preparation of the sprites (one layer per each, more fuss when you don't want to just overlay).

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Posted (edited)
59 minutes ago, serialmodderer said:

DLTCEP and GemRB is the same thing i guess? GemRB being newer?

No, the DL... is Dragon Lance Total Convertion Editor Program, a tool like the Near Infinity, just a game editor, with a useable "graphical user interface".

I say this as the last part as the weidu(.exe) is one too, but without a GUI, but it is used to install nearly every mod you have, as that's the setup-modname.exe that does that.

GemRB, is primarily non Windows tool to run the Infinity Engine games, the non-EE games, at that, in the other operation systems, or with modified resources that take remake the originals game engine and recreate it in it's own way so it can add stuff that is not there. Like for example the ability to play with 10 party members, that the original engine can never do.

Edited by Jarno Mikkola
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