How to Create Advanced Map Effects
In this portion of the tutorial, we are actually going to share with you how we create the 'look' of an Armored Task Force game map. These techniques will help your create maps that are both visually appealing and more effective in communicating terrain the the player.
But beyond this, these techniques will also improve the performance of your map in Armored Task Force. Drawing terrain objects at runtime eats a lot of processor power. By using these techniques, you can eliminate the need for Armored Task Force to draw terrain objects to indicate their location on the map. This means better performance and less lag during game play.
You should not execute the techniques in this topic until you are sure you have added all of the terrain to the map that you want.
Change Terrain Types for Color Replacement:
We want to make the terrain appear as solid color blocks when the color map is displayed. We do this so that we can use color replacement to insert our own graphics on the color map. We will repeat these steps for every terrain type in the Terrain Type List.
Build an Export Map Image:
The next step is to create an export map. A good export map indicates where terrain is on the map, so that you can replace it with your own, more attractive and descriptive graphics. Essentially, what we are doing is converting the map from DX format (see Creating a New Map), back into a normal Windows bitmap, but with all of our special terrain drawn on it.
Edit the Export Map Image:
Prior to this step, we need to create graphics panels. These are bitmaps with graphics patterns representing trees, urban terrain, roads, and other terrain types. Each panel should be the same size as the export map for best results. We need one panel for each terrain type on the map. We assume this is completed before we continue.
We are just showing you how WE created maps for Armored Task Force. You can use any technique you want to modify or improve the style of the map.
Import the Export Map Back into the Game Map:
We have finished modifying the export map, adding all of the graphics we want to appear on the finished map. Now we must make it usable by ATF (converting it to DX format).
Make Terrain Objects Invisible:
Wait a minute! What happened? We have changed the map but it still looks the same? We have to tell Armored Task Force not to draw the terrain itself, so that our handiwork can shine through.
Making Terrain Permanent on the Contour Map:
We are going to create an export map of the contour map as well and re-import it into Armored Task Force. But we are not going to edit or make any changes to the export map before we import it. Why do we do this? If you have a lot of graphics on the contour map, when it is shown over the color map (when the 'Contour Over Color' view is active), the added graphics will block out the color map. We want all of the terrain to be transparent, so that you can see the color map beneath (see previous step).
Why bother? If we are not going to change the contour map, why execute this step. it's simple. Drawing all that terrain on the map takes ATF a lot of processing power. That causes lag and slows down game play. If we make the drawings on the map permanent, and prevent ATF from drawing the graphics, we will speed up the game.
Make Terrain Objects Invisible, Part II:
Finally, we have to tell Armored Task Force not to draw the terrain when the contour map is shown, either.