Making Tile Maps
The creation of a good Tile Map for each final HEW battlefield presented on the web site is a goal now set by Leadership. The following “how-to” guide has been written to facilitate that process in the expectation that all club members will pitch in and help with this exacting but rewarding task.
What is a Tile Map?
A “Tile Map” is so named because it creates a giant, bird’s eye view of a battlefield using several smaller “tiles”, much like a mosaic or collage, which are carefully pieced together to create the whole picture. These tiles are in fact segments of the battlefield; pictures taken in the game’s Editor then accessed in the Main Directory and Screenshots folder.
Not only does a Tile Map provide a beautiful view of our Hawks battlefields for the casual visitor to our web site while showing certain map rules, but it also can be used by players to plan out strategy and tactics before major games. Tile Maps have come to be seen as an integral part of our current publishing process, and while all new maps are published with a Tile Map, scores of older battlefields have none. All EW maps that have been updated and published as HEW maps plus any new HEW maps will have an accompanying Tile Map (now called “Large View”).
Step One; Take the Pictures
Before you start, go to Options in the game menu and select a Resolution of 1024 x 768. Now, load the desired map in Editor; Editor>Menu (drop down)>Game Menu>Load Saved Map>(find correct map)>Load>Return to Editor. Make sure that you Load the correct version of the map, the one that is going to be published to the web site. Leave in “Peace” mode.
Now you are looking at the map in Editor. Zoom out to bird’s eye view by hitting the “L” key. From this perspective you hit “H” and sit back let the program take its pictures…don’t interfere in this process. You will notice that during this process, the resource bar, mini map, and any tool boxes will be excluded from view. The game will take shots only of the map itself, 5 rows of 7 shots each totalling 35 shots.
These screens shots are now stored in the Main Directory of your game, whether it’s HEW or HDN. Follow the correct path to access them, either Start>My Computer>Local Disc C>Program Files or wherever you have the main game folder stored. Once you open it up you will see out in the open with the maps and other game components, a series of bitmaps called scr000 – scr034. The numbering is one off so don’t be confused by this…there are 35 screen shots here.
The picture taking is not over however…you will need to finish the job manually by moving the view box over and taking pictures of the entire right-hand edge of the map yourself using the “F11” key. Start in the upper right hand corner, and push the “F11” key 6 or 7 times in rapid succession. Move down and take the next picture, making sure to overlap the area in the box. Hit “F11” again for a series of 6 or 7 shots. Continue all the way down the right hand edge in this fashion until you have finished, making sure to keep the view box tightly pressed against the right hand edge of the map.
You may be wondering why you must take so many shots of each location…this is because most of these shots will include the mini-map, player index, resource bar and any tool boxes. However, when a rapid series of pictures is taken in quick succession, one of these shots invariably turns out “clutter free” and can be used to make your Tile Map.
These second series of manually done pictures are actually found in your “Screenshots” folder of your game’s Main Directory. It is best now to trim down the series that is in your Screenshots folder. Find a good, clutter free shot for each area and Delete the rest. I normally rename them “A” through “H” or “I”, depending on the depth of your overlap for each area.
Now you have all the pictures that you will be using to make your Tile Map.
Step Two; Piece together “scr000-scr034”
These are the first set of pictures that you took. Locate the first screenshot (scr000) found in your game’s Main Directory, right click it >Open With>Paint. Anyone who runs a Windows operating system should have the program “Paint”. Now, with the picture open and highlighted, go to “Image” in the top menu bar, drag to “Stretch/Skew…” then replace the “100” with “25” in both the Horizontal and Vertical boxes, showing the % of the original size which shall now be presented. This reduced screen will look grainy…pay no heed.
At this stage you will need to create a large enough palette for the entire Tile Map. Go to Image>Attributes… and give the Width 2000 and the Height 1000. Leave Pixels and Colors alone. Hit OK.
Now go to “Edit” in the top menu, “Paste From…” and then find the Main Directory from which you will select the remaining tiles. Find scr001, left click it then click “Open”.
This large image is now on your Paint work desk…with it still highlighted, go to Image>Stretch/Skew… then fill in 25% once again for both dimensions, hit “OK”. This new reduced screen, as all others, will always start off in the upper left hand corner. With it still highlighted, pull it over and place it flush against the right hand edge of the previous screenshot. Now you are going to go back and redo the very first screen, scr000…this is the only time you will have to do this. The very first reduced image of a Tile Map always appears not quite right and must be redone. The rest will be fine from here on out.
Now you have 2 tiles placed out of the 35 available…repeat the process of Edit>Paste From…>next image. Then, Image>Stretch/Skew>25%25% and then line it up where it needs to go. I like to delete used screenshots as I move along so that I never get confused. I start this process right before I paste the 3rd tile, deleting scr000 and scr001 before I select scr002 to “Open”. Keep deleting as you move along and you will never lose track of which Screenshot is next.
Periodically Save your creation (a JPEG file is best I think) so that at any point when you make a mistake (and you will, as I do), you can re-open it and start from an advanced point.
Step Three: Place Edge Shots
This is a more demanding process as it entails a good eye and artistic judgement from the Tile Map maker. After you have placed scr034 in the lower/right hand edge of what looks to be a finished Tile Map, you will need to go to Edit>Paste From… once again and this time select the Screenshots folder from inside your game. There you will see the renamed shots that you took by hand. Select the first one and bring it in, reducing it just as you have the others. As you took these pictures from top to bottom, this will obviously go in the upper right hand corner of the map.
This picture will not be lined up flush against the right-hand edge, instead, it will overlap onto your already existing Tile Map. Try to spot features such as roads, streams or trees to use as guides for placing this over already existing scenery. Make sure however, that the top of the map is flush. Now grab the next in your series. Use the same skill to place it over existing scenery on the left and top but flush on the right hand edge with the previous tile.
Repeat this process until the whole battlefield is now represented in your Tile Map.
Step Four; Cover up Text
The series of screenshots that you placed on the right hand edge of the map did have one small blemish…small amounts of white text were still visible. You will really have to get out your artist hat for this little project. Use the “Select” command (a dotted box) from the Paint menu and draw a small box around an area that closely resembles the area to be covered. Copy it, Paste and drag it over from the upper left hand corner to cover the different size texts that spot the right hand side of your Tile Map. You will have to get especially creative for text that appears over trees and on the edge of rivers or streams. But it can be done, and done well so that the patch over job is not at all noticeable. Take your time with this process…you are creating the final representation of this battle for as long as we play this game…make it look good.
Step Five; Frame It
This last step merely trims out your Tile Map and covers up any blemishes of misalignment along the edges. Select the “Line” icon and then either the 3rd of 4th thickness from its sub-menu along with a very dark green or blue in which to trim your map. Make sure that these lines are straight and no “steps” appear in the framing lines. Draw in the view from the lower/right hand corner so that no white area appears on the edge of your map. Save one last time…you are now done.
Now you may congratulate yourself for adding more quality material to the Hawks growing collection of both visual and written instruction. Thanks for your hard work.