Ok, I have an example map here for the next version of Elementerra. It is playable at this point and I want to get some feedback on the new system. This is a drastically different style of map! So much so that it doesn't even work fully with the current game, but hopefully I can lobby for a few easy tweaks that can remove the mostly aethsetic obstacles. Give this a try and tell me what you think in terms of resource placement and balance. This is a large map made for all ten factions. If you have cheating turned on, you can view the whole map in game with the Ctrl+U key.
Download the file here -> Mountainless.zip Unzip this and put it in your user/Documents/My Games/Elemental/Maps folder.
Magic creates the world!
The world is molded by the magic forces present in the shards. Air and earth magic are relatively calm forces, but when they come in contact with one another through the ether a violent reaction occurs. Over time, these interactions fold the land and push up large mountain ranges in places where air and earth magic are found in relatively even strength.
Fire and water magic are volatile forces that create parched deserts and icy wastelands. When they come together however, they will counteract and nuetralize one another. Where fire and water magic are found in balance with one another we find the areas of the world that are the most fertile, and the weather most agreeable. When there is a great deal of both fire and water magic present, vast quantities of water melt from the ice and collect in nearby lowland swamps.
Multiple walkable levels!
This is a high-relief map that supports winding mountain paths and room for city building on some of the highest mountains in the world! Every flat area in the mountains is pathable. It can sometimes be an extremely complex maze, but there is no walkable area in the mountains that cannot be reached on foot from the lowest altitude... eventually. In this map it is possible to go 'into' and 'over' the mountains along footpaths, not just go around them. Its a whole new way to extend the exploration game and hide amazing treasures in the nooks and crannies!
Resources in this version can be 'showcased' with little preset terrain blocks that setup a certain fictional context. The screenshot below gives a few examples of ancient city remnants where I am placing Lost Libraries, Ancient Temples and what few ruin like objects I could find in the map props. These showcases are configured by drawing with text in an XML file so that you can make your own showcases for modded resources and other map objects.
So why doesn't it work?
There are three minor problems with the game that are preventing full functionality of a map like this in the standard game. Hopefully these can be changed in an upcoming patch.
1.) I had to fake the mountains! Those aren't actually mountains. They are hills made impassable with a blocked tile object. I couldn't use mountains because there is a routine called upon loading a map that creates hills of a set altitude around mountains. This prevents the map maker from controlling the altitude of the maps tiles unfortunately. This routine is probably unnecessary and the call could probably be commented out as a solution to this problem. Edit: actually, removing this code could break all the premade maps that come with the game... Maybe instead we could get an XML tag to turn this off for a map. Automatic placement of beaches is another thing I'd like to eliminate.
Another unfortunate side effect is that you can't see any mountains on the cloth map.
2.) I can't control the snowline. Mountains near a fire shard in the desert really shouldn't have snow on them. At some point I'd like to make volcanos instead. It would be nice if I could set the environment snow levels in the map file. This snowline variable is actually controlled in the XML, but since I'm trying to make a map for the standard game, it would be good to not have to resort to a mod.
3.) Building cities on a mountain causes the mountain to melt away! This one really crushed my spirits. I reallly wanted to show you guys an awsome screenshot of a mountaintop citidel, but it was not to be. The issue here is also in the XML, but appears to be unmoddable. In the 'city' terrain type, there are two tags <MaxHeight> and <MinHeight>. When you build a city, the altitude morphs to the larger of these two variables! I don't think this is working properly, but it probably wasn't noticed because the default values for these variables are both the same at 50. If you set one of these to 1000, your city morphs into a giant spire! purdy funny stuff. I don't think this behavior is necessary either, city graphics can handle small inclines. Its much better to have a goofy looking city sometimes than to not have a mountaintop citidel!