The 3rd Age

Battles of Gondor, the War in the South

Battles of Gondor, the War in the South

Converts BfME2 RotWK to the war in the south, bettween the armys of Gondor and Mordor. 4.0 released.

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Living World Map Graphics Deconstruction

Avatar of Nertea


Category: Graphics
Level: Expert
Created: Sunday April 26, 2009 - 23:46
Updated: Sunday April 5, 2015 - 15:28
Views: 22447
Summary: Some notes on the function of various graphical parts of the Living World Map


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Additional Map Components

The Text Plane

There is an interesting subobject labeled TEXT PLANE in the livingworld.ini file.


TextLayerSubObject    = "text plane"

As with everything else so far, the TEXT PLANE subobject is contained in livingmap.w3d. Its function is to give you region labels to view. Note that interestingly when assigned to TextLayerSubObject they will be visible only in the LW's zoomed out mode (they will fade when you zoom in). An astute modder could use this to their advantage. The default text layer uses unconventional textures - a bmp for actual coloring and a png for transparency. I wasn't able to figure out quite how this works, but you can easily replicate the effects with .dds file using alpha blend shaders.

Note that if the object referenced here doesn't exist in the file, the game will crash.

Landmarks and Cities

The great majority of the LWM's landmarks and cities are models like any other in livingmap.w3d. They are modeled and textured and then included in the file. Then, their locations are noted. To do mouseover effects, they are treated as armies, so I'll talk about them on the next page, when I talk about armies. The following screenshot shows that it is relatively easy to add landmarks and cities to a new LWM.

User image

Smoke and Cloud

For now I'm leaving this section blank as I didn't use any smoke or cloud in my deconstuction. If you got through the Water section though, you should be able to handle this. All cloud objects are basically planes with specific assigned shaders and mapping types. Good use of WDump will allow you to extract precise settings for these from livingmap.w3d as you need. Note that the

CloudBorderSubObject    = bordercloud

cloud border subobject does not need to be present (unlike the text plane), the game will run fine without it

Ancillary Animation Objects

By this I'm referring to other objects on the map (eagles, the Barad-dur). These are added via code, unlike cities and landmarks. The reason they aren't inlcuded in livingmap.w3d is because they often support code or keyframe-based animations. The Barad-dur, for example, uses code cues to point the Eye of Sauron at various locations on the campaign map. I'm actually not going to talk about this property as I didn't use it much, I may cover it in a related tutorial.

Other animation objects like Eagles are reasonably easy to understand. Code for them is in livingworld.ini as follows, it's around halfway down the file:

LivingWorldAnimObject Eagle2
    Model        = LMEagle                        ; model used
    Pos            = x:136 Y:1187 Z:200            ; map coordinates
    Frame        = 0.33                            ; starting anim frame (0 to 1.0 - used as percent of total frames in anim)
    HasAnim        = Yes
    Xfer        = Yes                            ; this object should be xferred (position can change during campaign)

Each of the properties is pretty self-explanatory. Model refers to the w3d object to use. You can replace this with any of your own objects with a standard hierarchical animation. Skeleton/skin animations will not work as they need 2 seperate files. Pos is the position on the living world map in map units. By moving the cursor around in the 3DS Max viewport you can find coordinates for any location on the model. It is defined in terms of X, Y and Z (height). Frame controls at which fame the animation should start as a percent of the total animation. Why would you want to change the start frame? The stock LWM has about 6 Eagles on it, there are 3 different AnimObjects. Each object has a different Frame value, this is so the animations are offset in the game and the eagles don't all start circling at once. HasAnim just tells the animation to play, and Xfer should always be yes.

You can use the LivingWorldAnimObject for any of your own animations or objects very easily.


Display order: Newest first

Sulherokhh (Team Chamber Member) - Tuesday April 28, 2009 - 9:26

Whosoever dared to rate this at '4' now has to explain what is missing for it to be rated '5'.
Or else the Lord of Skies shall smite him with Thunder and Lightning until only coals and ashes remain ....

Yup. You know that i am talking to ... :-#

Námo - Tuesday April 28, 2009 - 1:59

Excellent! and MOST welcome - lots of thanks to both of you!

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