Author Topic: GRAW Map Making for Dummies  (Read 8743 times)

Fishmonger

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GRAW Map Making for Dummies
« on: February 12, 2018, 01:03:39 PM »
I am manually resurrecting the thread from the old forum database. It will not include all comment posts, because a) users do not exist here, and b) this is mostly a reference, not a discussion thread.

Ok - here we go. The hardest part of this entire tutorial was to come up with the title page ...
 

 
with that out of the way - let's move on and look at what we want to do here. The idea of the thread is to allow those who are not totally afraid of using notepad and a few small utility programs to create their own OGR Coop maps from existing maps. We'll use this thread to work on a project in which we all share the same map, keep our mission scripts and enemy group naming to a standard that lets these lines be reused for other maps, and look at the small little things that had me stumble when I was reading all I could find online to figure out how this map thing works. When done, we'll end up with a number of completely different variants of the same map.
 
What you will need to participate and create your very own GRAW OGR COOP map:
 
GRAW, obviously
GRAW map editor (if you have GRAW 1.35, you have this on your start menu as well)
Bundle Reader (this thing lets you take apart maps and use pieces of them)
Bundler (included in the game)
Notepad (I prefer this over dedicated XML editors)
MSDOS prompt (to run the bundler commands)
Calculator (to create the grid coordinates that define the area shown in minimap)
 
Optional
Photoshop or something else to customize/fix your minimap images.
 
 
For extra credit at this time, you can grab some files that I accumulated to help me do things I could not figure out from the sketchy documentation and help screens the GRAW editor provides. Don't look at this stuff right now - most of it you will never need to know unless you get ambitious:
 
The GRAW map editor tutorial (don't even remember what's in there)
 
Info on random scripting
 
Info on texture_scope.xml file
 
"Clean" original game mission world files (we may use one of these for this tutorial)
 
The complete "GRAW Scripting Reference" (I have it printed, but never find answers in it)
 
Using C4 in Coop maps (I am going to use that on my next map, while you may never use it)
 
 
Right now, just get mentally ready to become a map maker - I'll post some files and instructions to get started later today, then take screen shots and write instructions up as I go. I'll have to actually sit at the computer I do this on to make sure I don't skip anything.
 
We'll keep this very simple for starters - no random spawns, only panhards, no custom objects on the map, just a few spawn zones on a smaller map. We'll probably use one of the larger multiplayer maps for this.
 
More when I get some time later today.
 
UPDATE 2-28-2011 - since people still play the game and I am not the only map maker, I decided to start a video tutorial collection for GRAW OGR map making. Note that only the DOWNLOAD option works these days, as Windows Media Server was outlasted by GRAW by many years  ;)

https://didnt.doit.wisc.edu/graw/tutorial/video/video_tutorials.html
« Last Edit: February 12, 2018, 01:57:42 PM by Fishmonger »
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Fishmonger

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Re: GRAW Map Making for Dummis
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2018, 01:05:06 PM »
First Step:
 
picking an existing map. Best way to do that usually is to go into GRAW and choose your multiplayer screen, pick from the menu what you got and load it as a local server so you can walk around in it. Most of those maps will be known to you, but we rarely venture into TDM games, so a refresher visit may be necessary.
 
What I just did, not having the ability to run GRAW was to look at the bundle files that are in the game. Using the BundleReader application I simply extracted all the image files that are inside the game to provide the small mini map for each included mission.
 
Doing that, I came up with these files as most interesting candidates (converted to JPG format here so you can see them in the post). Reasons why they are interesting: a) no OGR missions exist on them as far as I know, b) they aren't as small as the normal TDM deathmatch terrains so you can actually get a mission feel at small scale.
 
Small maps can be a pain as you have to give up almost half of it so that the bad guys don't spawn in your face, and then you only have a very brief area to trigger secondary and further spawns. Why not spawn all at once? Lag and CPU load on the server makes anything over 20 AI walking around at the same time a bad idea.
 
 
ok - here the map I found as the most idea candidate for this tutorial and you'll probably recognize the place right away if you've done any TDM action:
 
This is mission "s01" in the game - no idea what it is called on the menu
 
 

 
 
There are 5 more that would be great candidates - we can all work on the same map, or you can take of of these - just let me know which one you're interested in and I'll get the necessary files ready to go for you (including info on what you need to do to replicate the process)
 
mp01, mp02, mp03, mp04, mp05 in that order
 

 

 
 

 

 

 
 
My next post will be about using the tools to get the files ready to go for the editor. Once I have the files ready to be edited in the GUI of GRAW we're already at the point where zones and AI are placed. Piece of cake - we're almost done!
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Fishmonger

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Re: GRAW Map Making for Dummis
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2018, 01:06:56 PM »
To get started with a map you need to generate a map project with the editor, even if you are about to steal most of a map from the Grin-provided files. We need some of the files this process will generate, although we will then replace the main content with existing stuff.
 
Start up the editor - go to Start menu and find the Ubisoft Program group, then Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and in there the and launch it.
 

 
since the editor almost takes as long to launch as the game itself, now is a good time to grab a potato chip with some dip and take a sip of that good Dogfish Head Raison d'Etre beer you got on your desk....
 
After a burp or two, or when you'll run out of beer and chips, you'll find yourself staring at this menu:
 

 
Here we hav to create a NEW project. The button is right there on the bottom left! Once you click it you are asked to fill in some information. The NAME of the project is the most important part at this level, but it helps to actually pick the proper texture set for the map you are about to hijack. My s01 map from the game clearly uses the "ghetto" set. Graffiti set is irrelevant unless you make your own map, and even then I don't know what you get in these.
 

 
So you enter your information. Don't be too picky here since the stuff saved will always be called "My Level" no matter what you call it here.
 

 
 
Click create and find yourself on the screen so many GRAW players have found only to spend a few confused minutes there and then leave it and never return. Here I already clicked on the top left layer menu, otherwise it would look even more desolate:
 

 
You are in an empty world. What we need to do to generate all the files we need to get this project folder set up so we can begin swapping in files from Grin is to place one single static object. To do so, click on the top left menu and then again on the "static" layer item on that list. You will get another menu to open up:
 

 
I then picked one of the grass pieces to lace on the blank map (that guy standing there on the gray slate has absolutely nothing to do with our map. It is just the "center" of the map you can build here. To place static object click on an item on the right side, then go over the map with your mouse pointer. Look for the blue indicators that show where it is about to drop the item. Once all of them show on your screen RIGHT CLICK your mouse. You just placed the first piece of a new map world into the void:
 

 
At this point we have done enough for the editor to honor our efforts and let us save a full fledged project folder (into our custom levels folder!). So hit the ESC key and push the save button on this menu
 

 
You just saved the first building block of your map. You can now tab out of the editor and move on to other things.
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Fishmonger

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Re: GRAW Map Making for Dummis
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2018, 01:08:10 PM »
Let's take a look at what this thing just generated in our custom levels folder:
 

 
in my case, there was already a folder called expendable_assets inside the "work" folder that now should be in your custom levels folder as well, but it added "my_level" and a number of files we will need there to work on our new map.
 
Before we go through the files and adjust the naming, we now go and grab the stuff we will need from Grin.
 
We use the Bundle Reader program to get to this stuff. See link in my first post to download this utility - it's the most important program you'll need for this job.
 
Running it you get this screen once you navigate to C:\Program Files\Ubisoft\Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter\Bundles
 

 
in this case I am opening the patch.bundle which contains most of the multiplayer maps that were added to the game with the update patch. To get to a single player mission, you need to go to the quick.bundle file in that folder.
 
Expand the tree on the left pane until you find the folder s01 in the data/levels sub folders and hit the extract button. Place the output somewhere easy to find.
 

 
This is what you'll find inside the generated S01 folder extracted by the bundle reader:
 

 
Right now we are after a file in that XML folder: world.xml holds the entire map world information that will save us days of work to build our own world file:
 

 
Copy this file into the my_levels folder in your custom levels folder where you see world_01.xml - delete that file, and rename the one you just copied there to world_1.xml (oh - if you didn't close the editor, it would be a good idea to do that before this operation
 
Now go back to the editor and open your project file. You should find yourself in a screen that shows the S01 world. If there were version of the world file with numbers higher than 1, just delete those while moving this file there.
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Re: GRAW Map Making for Dummis
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2018, 01:10:08 PM »
Here is what you'll see once the map is opened in the editor:
 

 
on some maps you will actually find your first view to be below the surface level and look much stranger. Anyway - now we start to FLY through the map.
 
Move your mouse - nothing happens? Hit the space bar and try again.
 
then use the AWSD and Q and E keys in conjunction with your mouse to fly - AWSD work like in the game while Q and E are elevator keys to go up and down. Whenever you get to where you want to go and want to do some menu selections or place objects hit space bar again to lock the view. Practice some. Look around the map and get used to these controls.  The mouse wheel controls the speed of everything - want to go fast, roll forward, go slow and detailed, roll way back and move.
 
View from far above:

 
Now the bad news - this map is a TDM map and it is missing a bunch of stuff we need to create, plus the spawn bots are not in a location where I'd want them to be. I suppose now is a good time to get to know the map and make choices based on what kind of mission you want the Ghosts to run here. Spot two locations for spawn and zulu location, because you will need to stick to those in the future.
 
The real grunt work on these maps (not on the single player mission maps, since they do have AI) is that we need to create an AI graph for soldiers and vehicles so tht they can move around. I'll show you how to do it and then provide the file so that we don't all have to duplicate the job. It easily will take 30 mins on this map to do that.
 
But before all that some more words about the editor while we are in here.
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Re: GRAW Map Making for Dummis
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2018, 01:11:25 PM »
Some words about the layers in the editor:
 
Static - you already used it -this layer places stuff like buildings and roads on a map. We won't use this at all on the existing maps.
 
Props - those are things like fans, MGs, garbage cans, etc - we only use a few as only a handful of these will not require a new set of lightmaps to be rendered. More on that when we get there
 
Electric - only needed if you are building your own map. More on that when we do that tutorial
 
Dynamic - here's where you find cars and trucks - definitely needed!
 
Props Brush - only needed for map building. Ignore
 
Sky environment - very important to pick the sky this map was build with. How do we know what to pick? I looked it up in the XML we unbundled earlier - it is actually in the world.xml file we are using. Still a good idea to make sure the value we need is selected in the editor. Changing this will create unwanted results with shadows, etc. We have mission08 skies here:
Code: [Select]

  <sky name="first">
   <rotation yaw="0" pitch="0" roll="75.00177"/>
   <setup sky_name="mission08"/>
  </sky>

Related to the sky is the "light box" which we choose on export of the map data from the editor. We'll get to that much later, but it is linked to what you pick here.
 
Sound - here's the layer for ambient sounds and detailed localized sounds. Don't mess with it if you are re-using a map that was well made
 
Multiplayer - important layer - here we set up spawn and zulu bases and check if our map area is properly set (can only set that in the xml but here we check if we did our math properly)
 
Player - ignore - not needed for OGR
 
Area - here we set up spawn zones - very important
 
Human - most important for us - this is where we place and determine what the AI does
 
Vehicle - Panhards, Tanks, Helis - you find them here
 
AI graph - Here we create/check if the AI has "anchors" to allow them to move in our world. The AI graph is a network of nodes that are needed for AI to spawn and move around. More on that when I create the one for this map.
 
Mission Command - ignore
 
Composition - ignore
 
 
 
I'll leave it at this for now - tomorrow afternoon I'll dig into the AI graph and show you a mission script that we can import and use for most maps, as long as we use some proper naming conventions for AI groups and vehicles, etc.
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Fishmonger

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Re: GRAW Map Making for Dummis
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2018, 01:17:39 PM »
Quote from: bullett;180511
If one could similate the terrain,A good mission would be to take hilltop Alpha in landing zone zebra of the movie "WE WERE SOLDIERS".What with the creekbed area,the small ridge,and then to take the mountain.Maybe a stretch but can it be done?

you have to remember that in OGR coop, there's only one single objective: reach Zulu. How you wrap that into a mission is up to you, however, to force a certain route and resolution of situations, you'll probably have to resort to blocking off the direct route with stuff on the map. I've done it on Snake On Point - lucky there are a few objects in the editor you can put on any map without causing major graphics issues. This is higher level stuff and right now I'd rather not get into that.
 
I'll continue with this thread in little while, and I will post my world.xml for everyone to download once I have fixed it up far enough to start putting in trigger zones and AI, which everyone should do for themselves. At that point I can also put a sidebar up how to block off routes in the map. The blow-up part to open up routes is something I have not yet done myself, so that'll have to wait
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Re: GRAW Map Making for Dummis
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2018, 01:18:50 PM »
not fnding the editor? that is because the editor IS the game executable, just starting up with different parameters. There's a special command line that is all the shortcut does for you. I'll grab it off my box downstairs and post it here - then just make a new shortcut and put the line in. I had a similar problem when I first started using the editor, as I was constantly swapping the startup XML files to launch either editor or game by editing the files, however, there are two files in the graw dir that let the program read presets for either editor or game mode. Some stuff is shared, like video settings, but the mode you go into is controlled by those files.
 
The game starts up using "context.xml"
 
The editor starts up using "context-editor.mxl"
 
the server starts up using "context-standalone.xml"
 
more on this in the next post - I gotta go to the system that has the program installed to get the startup info in detail. 
 
The only other reason why there may be no editor is that you're not running version 1.35, but that's unlikely.
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Re: GRAW Map Making for Dummis
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2018, 01:23:11 PM »
this is the command line in my GRAW editor shortcut:
 
Target box:
 
"C:\Program Files\Ubisoft\Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter\GRAW.exe" -o context-editor.xm"
 
Start in box:
 
"C:\Program Files\Ubisoft\Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter"
 
just make a copy of your GRAW game shortcut and swap the command line and possibly adjust the path to where your game actually resides and that should do it. If it then still goes straight into the game, we need to edit your context-editor.xml file to look like this (the line I highlighted is the key - if yours is different you may still be loading the game and not the editor, even if you do all the above correctly)
 
Code: [Select]

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>
<context>
<!-- exchange this line with the one under the comment to start in editor mode
<script base="data" exec="menu/menu" editor="false" language="english"/>
-->
<script base="data" exec="levels/editor/editor" editor="true" enforce_texture_sets="false" override_allow_autoload="true"/>
 
 <layer_config file="\data\settings\layers.xml"/>
 <scene_config file="\data\settings\scenes.xml"/>
 <unit_database file="\data\units.xml"/>
 <sound settings="/data/sound/settings.xml" />
 <network settings="/data/settings/network.xml" />
 <static_texture_scope file="\data\settings\static_texture_scope.xml"/>
 
 <skeleton_def file="\data\objects\def.xml"/>
 <animations def="\data\anims\anims.xml" state_machine="\data\anims\state_machines.xml"/>
 <texture base="\data\textures" />
 <effects file="\data\effects\effects.xml"/>
 <decals file="\data\effects\decals\decals.xml"/>
 <!--<keys disable_windows_key="false" />-->
 <default_shader_config file="\data\shader\default_shader_config.xml"/>
 <default_render_templates file="\data\shader\default_render_templates.xml"/>
 <physics settings="\data\settings\physics_settings.xml" fps="60" novodex="hardware" />
 <global_materials file="\data\settings\materials.xml" />
 <gui file="\data\gui" optimized="true"/>
 
 <camera shakes="\data\settings\camera_effects.xml" cameras="\data\settings\camera_settings.xml" />
 <bundler make_logs="false" />
 <nls_lookup size="64"/>
 <installer use="false"/>
 <calc_video_mem_adjust value="false"/>
 
 <!-- Enable this for bundled versions. -->
 <compile xml="false" scripts="false" mopps="false" texture_db="false"/>
</context>
 

The key line in that context file above your game should include is this one:

<script base="data" exec="levels/editor/editor" editor="true" enforce_texture_sets="false" override_allow_autoload="true"/>
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Fishmonger

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Re: GRAW Map Making for Dummis
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2018, 01:24:47 PM »
At the risk of talking to myself - let's get back into this thing. Next step is to make sure the map we are hacking has what GRIN calls an "AI graph" - those are essentially a network of invisible hooks the AI tangos need to be able to walk around on the maps. They don't have a clue about where they can go unless there is a grid for them to hang on to. All multiplayer maps of the game except for the coop map, that graph is not present. So you just add it!
 
Here is what you need to see when you go to the AI Graph layer of a map. IF this stuff doesn't show up, just start right-clicking all over the place and make the mesh grow. That's what I did here - 45 mins and the AI can go into bunkers, on top of buildings, everywhere I put these little "anchors" on the map:
 

 
These things all have to link togther somewhere - not hard to do - the linking happens automatically if you click close to a node that can be reached.
 
There's a second AI Graph for vehicles. That one can be seen/edited/created by hitting the "N" key while in the AI Graph layer. Silly but that "N" key is a very valuable little key in the editor that does a bunch of stuff for placing objects as well. Here it toggles from human graph to vehicle graph.
 
The vehicle graph can only go where the biggest tank can fit - if the road is too narrow, it won't let you connect the dots. Do not have more than one vehicle graph on a map, as it will crash it when you try to load it later...
 
Here's my screen from the placing of my vehicle graph (right mouse button - green thing shows how far you can go from the last one)
 

 
When you're all done, you can check from overhead where you placed this stuff. Note that any vehicle you want to move on a map must spawn within the range of these green circles you see above to actually move somewhere on orders. Spawn away from the graph and the vehicle will not go anywhere.
 
This is where you order panhards or tanks or trucks to go in my map now:
 
 

 
And, to save you the hassles of doing this yourself, I am uploading my files so you can start from here (almost ready to place the bad guys)
 
Starting at this point, decisions about the mission have to be made. The spawn zones and zulu location need to be defined.
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Re: GRAW Map Making for Dummis
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2018, 01:26:15 PM »
In case you want to place your spawn and zulu in different corners than I did, you will need to go to the "Multiplayer" layer of the map and change the location where "base 1" Alpha and "base 2" bravo is located. That's pretty easily done by right clicking in that layer and then dragging a box on the map, then naming it off a pull down menu base 1 or base 2. Play with it to get the hang of the controls. You can delete them off the list if things don't look right and do it again.
 
here are my spawn and zulu zones (left spawn, zulu right). The red thing is the box that defines the minimap top view crop and the game area, although I have seen maps where we wander outside the box (that is when you are apparently outside the minimap). Anyway - here's my layout:
 

 
 
The very last thing to do before starting to set spawn trigger zones (area layer) and placing AI (human layer or vehicle) is to put 12 to 16 "spawn dummies" from the props layer menu into the spawn location. Here they are, defining where the Ghosts spawn, inside of "base 1" seen in purple on the top image. Select the spawn dummy from the props list and right click where to place them:
 

 
 
Now we're ready to get the mission made. If all this was too much hassle so far, don't worry - just unzip my ?my_level folder into your work folder inside of custom_levels and you got all the above taken care of. We can always operate like this - I release maps for you to place AI on and then you send me back your world file and I'll make it work, just in case you don't want to do anything but be the tango general that schemes the defense against the ghosts. Over time you'll learn how all this works together anyway.
 
Here is the zip with the map pretty much ready for AI scripting. I placed my mission script in there that allows for 10 spawn areas and 3 MG spawns. Vehicles and random stuff would need to be added, but for starters, let's ignore that.
 
my_level.zip  (note that this file needs editing due to the invisible walls discovered later over the course of this project)
 
Up next information on the part that is much more fun than everything I have talked about so far - the creation of the AI on the map.
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Re: GRAW Map Making for Dummis
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2018, 01:27:05 PM »
Quote from: G4F-Snake;180522
This stuff is way above my paygrade, I'd rather just shoot'em.

me too, but I got bored to be playing on the same map for 3 weeks in a row. The game is too good to have it get boring just because you don't get any new maps.
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Re: GRAW Map Making for Dummis
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2018, 01:29:36 PM »
Up next:
 
  • creating areas (trigger zones for the infamous "lag" moments)
  • selecting and placing AI on map, naming them for the scripting
  • giving orders to AI]

Then we go to the MGs and vehicles, before we wrap up the basic stuff with a look at what to do in the scripting to make it all work.   I will provide a base script that will work with my naming convention and explain where you have to make small edits and have control over things like vehicle orders.
 
At the very end, a look at how to "bundle" it all up - a step you don't need for maps you build from scratch, but when reusing terrain, this is important and saves a ton of time, plus in some cases is the only way to get decent textures on large maps.
 
Anyway - can't upload my next lesson pix right now -I'll try again after lunch.
 
I think when this thread is done, I'll do a little bit about how to build your own map terrain with the editor - for me that was the most fun in my first map, but it is a huge time sink.
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Re: GRAW Map Making for Dummis
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2018, 01:30:32 PM »
Let's have a look at the "Area" layer on the main menu. When you go in there on a new map, you will see only a small box pop up in the right. What to do now?
 
Right-click anywhere on the map - a new box shows up on your screen (usually bottom left corner). This box usually has the default "area1" label. I change these for each area to have them work with my scripts and remain sorted. I over type that name with   area01, area02, area03 etc. I also use area_mg1, area_mg2, and so forth.
 
When done naming you can use the left mouse button to drag a box on the map. That "box" is then listed as "shape1" in the bottom left menu. Don't like it? Hit delete and it is gone. Already deselected it? Click on the shape1 item in the menu and it is reselected and can be deleted. You can have more than one shape for each area. This is good when you need  very targeted trigger zones between buildings without overlapping zones that you don't want to be triggered. Here is a screen of what the first spawn area looks like on my newest map project: it simply sits around the spawn bots at the game start, so that when the game starts and players spawn, they automatically trigger the first wave of enemies
 

 
note that every time you click your left button, you are creating areas when in that mode. Those show up as thin lines sticking up through the map and to get rid of these accidental trigger area shapes, just run through all your areas and shapes by selecting them until the one you want to get rid of gets highlighted in light blue. That's the selection color for individual shapes. Green shows multiple shapes belonging to the same area, while red shows other areas you currently have not selected. Things can look pretty dense once you get these things on the map, especially since MG trigger areas sometimes overlap with those that trigger foot soldiers, etc. Here's a vew at an area between two or three spawn zones on my new map:
 

 
You can change these areas as you go at any time, but the naming of them is very important to keep your AI groups sorted. I use the area name to name enemy groups so I know where they belong.  I also place these zones on the map one enemy group at a time so I can work from spawn to zulu, building map areas one at a time. That way you know you put spawn areas where nobody can see the enemy yet when they do spawn - well, at least that's the goal.
Don't eat food off the sidewalk, no matter how good it looks.

Fishmonger

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Re: GRAW Map Making for Dummis
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2018, 01:33:04 PM »
And finally we can place some enemies on our map!
 
Go to the "human" layer and you will see a green stick man on your mouse pointer. That's the AI placement indicator.
 
To place an enemy at a location of your choice, click the right mouse button. Once placed, you can configure the AI in that spot by turning it to face the right direction, by assigning the type of enemy soldier(s) to spawn there, and by giving it orders and assigning it to an "enemy group" that will work well with our script code.
 
Every time you place a new soldier on the map, you get this "blackhawk crew" 4-enemy figure. The red dots on top are the number of enemies to spawn there. We really don't want a blackhawk crew to spawn where we want some gun toting Aguila 7 rebels to appear, so we need to change that.
 

 
 
first we want to orient the spawned enemy in the right direction. Note the red and green lines on the base. Red is the right arm, green is the viewing direction once spawned. Very important for soldiers on "guard" orders, as they will stare in that direction. I placed one guy in Lightning Unleashed on a balcony staring at the wall and he never notices any Ghosts - should have turned him...
 
Once placed and oriented, you select a soldier type and number to spawn there. The "Group Type" pulldown is where you do that, and it is a LONG list. Note that many items on that list will not work in OGR coop and actually crash the game if you put them in there (most recent mistake was one of these guys on an MG on the Snake on Point map). Here's a view at what is on the list - red means "do not use" - green means "works fine" and white means "I have not tried that yet but it may work"
 

 
and before this page gets too long and has too many images on it, let's break this post up into multiples.
 
And those rangers - you can use them. Not as lethal as Special Forces, but still pretty hard hitting enemy type. These are groups of multiple soldiers with various weapon combinations.
Don't eat food off the sidewalk, no matter how good it looks.