Map Editor

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The Map Editor is the tool the Ashes of the Singularity team uses to create maps. It has many powerful options, but be aware - generating maps at high quality levels, and especially at large sizes, requires a ton of CPU and RAM resources.

Enabling the Map Editor

Creating a new map
To enable the Map Editor add the “-modding” (without the quotes) to the Launch Options for the game (in Steam, right-click the game, go to Properties, click Set Launch Options in the General tab). That will add a Map Editor button to the main menu of the game. From there you can decide if you want to modify an existing map, or create a new one. If you create a new one the menu to the right is presented.

Map Editor Commands

  • File - This is where you can edit the MapProperties.xml file, go to the folder where the map information is stored or exit the Map Editor. If you want to change the victory point limits for your map then use this option to modify the MapProperties.xml file and regenerate the map.
  • Show/Hide Help - This displays some useful information for using the Map Editor. I have it set to display help in the above screenshot.
  • Toggle Display Mode - This changes how you are viewing the map. In the above screenshot I’m not looking at modeled terrain. It’s often easier to layout the map in this mode. But you can switch over to realistic terrain if you want to see exactly what your map would look like to the player.
  • Enable Symmetry - Enable this if you want your terrain painting to be symmetrical. If it is set you can choose to make is symmetrically mirrored or use a radial symmetry for multiple equal positions.
  • Terran/Desert/Frozen - If you would like to switch your world type while building you can do it here.
  • Brush Size - When painting terrain or cosmetics this is the brush size you would like to use. Also [ctrl+mousewheel]
  • Edit Terrain - Ashes has 5 (7 in Escalation) base terrains:
    • Plains - Normal ground
    • Plateau - Higher ground that the player can still move and build on. Height is an advantage for many units so plateaus generally make for good defensive positions.
    • Hill - Hills connect Plains and Plateaus. Use them to determine where players can access one elevation from the other.
    • Mountain - Mountains are impassable by anything except flying units. Use them to block parts of the map.
    • Basin - Basins are also impassable to anything except for flying units. But units with long enough range can fire across basins.
    • Highlands (Esc) - Like Plateaus, but higher. Connect them to other terrain types with Hills.
    • Lowlands (Esc) - Like Plains, but lower. Connect them to other terrain types with Hills.


 

  • Edit Buildings - Use this to place the following on the map:
    • Player Seed - A player's starting location.
    • Relay - The heart of a region. Surround it with Metal and Radioactive deposits to decide what that region offers.
    • Turinium Generator - This is a special type of power generator that can provide victory points.
    • Metal Deposit - Provides Metal for the player who owns this region.
    • Radioactive Deposit - Provides Radioactives for the player who owns this region.


 

  • Edit Cosmetic - Place alternate ground textures. NOTE: Turn off symmetry when editing cosmetic details!
  • Edit Effects (Esc) - Place particle effects on the map. This is currently (Jan 2017) experimental.
  • Build Quality/Erosion - Increasing these will increase the amount of time and memory required to generate the terrain. Tip: Use minimum settings while testing. Stardock generates at terrain quality 3 or 4 for our final maps. Anything higher than 4 will probably crash your machine.
  • Terrain Synth - The style of slopes and mountains generated by the erosion simulation. Anything other than 1 and 2 is experimental.
  • Rebuild Terrain - This regenerates the map with any changes you have made so you can see how they look.

 

Map Example

I selected Terran (grassland) terrain and default lighting. As you will see in the demo I change to Frozen terrain later, it’s easy to do so don’t worry too much about your selection here.

The following is the default map that you are given. It starts with two player Nexuses, a Turinium Generator and one other region. But we have lots of things we can add.

Logical view of a super-basic map

Teal is plateau, red is mountains, blue is basins, yellow is hills and the green is plains.

The player Nexuses are in the upper right and the lower left. The point of this map was to create a single channel for the players to battle through. The upper part is biased for the player on the left, giving him a plateau to fire down at enemy units driving by the area below and the reverse for the southern part of the map.

There are three Turinium Generators, one in the center of the map and one on each of the two plateaus overlooking the plains pass. The goal is to make one Turinium Generator easy for each player to grab so they need to battle over the one in the center (since victory points are awarded to the player who holds the majority of generators).

Basic map after terrain generation

Rebuilding the terrain and toggling to map display mode gives us a look at what the map will look like. I like the pass, the mountains and the basin. But the rest looks a little bare. So I need to add more details to make that area more interesting. I often forget how big the Ashes maps are, so when I toggle to the real map they don’t seem as full as I imagined.

Better map - logical view

In this update I’ve added more opportunities for the defending player. The overlooking plateaus can only be accessed from the Nexus region so they get to attack in the central channel as well as attacking units forced to come by the plateau wall on their way to the Nexus.

Better map - terrain view

I’ve also switched it over to the Frozen terrain. I think its brutal hostility fits the maps focus better. I put the build quality up to 4 and increased the erosion levels so it looks great. It took a lot more time to generate (btw: don’t attempt to use high build levels on the largest possible maps unless you have a lot of memory) but it looks great.

This map is a lot of fun to play, but may favor aircraft too strongly (since they can bypass all of these defense and attack anywhere. In a later section we will talk about creating scripts where we could do things like disable aircraft so the players are forced to slug it out.