From: metro Chicago, Illinois, USA
Coder Diary #27 -- Upping Our Game -- to 50 Elevations!
It's been a while. Time for a new Coder Diary!
Among the many new features and capabilities in the forthcoming new Campaign Series game Middle East, we have increased the available elevations from 20 to 50.
Why so many? Well, that's what the map specialists on The Dev Team requested of me. They say they really need that many in order to portray certain scenario locations just right.
Who am I to argue?
Here, in the map editor, is an early screenshot of all 50 elevations put to the test:
+49 max elevation. But since elevations start at level 0, that makes 50 elevation levels total.
Since then, and as you shall soon see, we have tweaked the map colors, achieving the so-called "Saab Speedometer" effect -- where there is greater color difference between the more common lower elevations than the less common higher elevations. In other words, at low elevations, from one elevation to the next, different color shadings are more pronounced. As you move up to higher elevations, the differences in color shadings become less and less pronounced. At the very highest elevations, the differences in color shading are nearly imperceptible to the normal human eye -- not really a problem, as you shall soon see.
Here's a screenshot of one of my ongoing test games:
Kind of hard to discern the elevations, isn't it?
With so many elevations, and especially in the Middle East game, where most maps are set in the desert, or arid terrain -- the color continuum ranges from light sandy yellows through tans then into darker and darker reddish browns. (At the very highest elevations, the colors are almost indistiguishable from black.)
What to do? One thing, we can hit the 'C' hot key (or toggle the ToolBar button or the Display > Hex Contours menu selection) to turn on hex contours:
You don't think the contours are sufficiently clear? No problem, switch from Medium Hex Contours Colors to Dark:
Still not sufficiently clear? Applying a heretofore map editor only feature to the game engine, you can hit the '.' hot key (or toggle the Display > Map Elevations menu selection):
All those numbers are a bit distracting. You probably don't want to play the game with elevation numbers showing all the time. With the '.' hot key toggle, it is so easy to switch the numbers on and off. You might find yourself doing this frequently. (In the screenshot, note the similar Display > Map Elevations, ',' toggle, for displaying/not displaying map coordinates.)
Cool stuff. Does all of this apply to 3D mode also? But of course!
All of the 2D map display toggles and features are available also for your 3D map viewing pleasure.
Again, to be clear: These are not just map editor features. They all apply equally to the game engine.
Here is a screenshot, in 2D Extreme Zoom-Out (hot key 7 mode), of the map contours and on-map elevation numbers in action:
If you look closely, you will see that in that map, elevations max out at "just" 16 or so.
Here is a map of the Golan Heights. Note elevations as high as the upper 20s to 30 in the upper right hand corner.
You might note also that in the preceding map, Hex Contours Colors are set to Light -- for otherwise, the Dark contours would blend in too much with the darker higher elevation colors.
I won't display their maps right now. But the "mad mappers" on the Dev Team are said to be making several Vietnam maps, and at least one Middle East map, using all 50 elevations, or nearly so.
Upping our game! The sky's the limit! ... Um, not really. We are most unlikely ever to increase available elevations beyond the new standard, 50. Reductio ad absurdum, right? [cough cough]
Until the next time...