Full Version: Slopes Mod
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Hi gents,
A few weeks ago I posted a few screenshots in the thread above with the results of my experimental attempts to add a simple 3D effect to the map elevations in 2D view. I'm now ready to share the final product packaged as what I call the "Slopes mod".

This is a visual mod that modifies the stock game's .map files. in my opinion, it considerably enhances the readability of elevations in most maps. The stock outline option is essential, but just doesn't cut it for some of the more complex terrain. Also, I was basically envious of other games like PzB or the Civil War series, which do have sloped terrain and IMO look really good, so I wanted to see just how close we could get to mimicking their appearance.

As I described in that earlier thread the solution I came up with involves repurposing one of the terrain hexsides so that it looks like a slope. Once the hexside graphic was modified to look slightly 3D, it had to be applied along the contour lines to follow the elevations changes. This would be of course too much of a hassle to do manually for every map, so I ended up creating a small program that automates the whole process.

This approach has two downsides. The biggest by far is that one of the existing hexsides in the game must be sacrificed to become the ersatz "Slope" hexside. Eventually I chose to get rid of the "Embankment" hexside. Due to the way hexsides are handled internally, there were only two other candidates: Cliffs and Escarpments, but the former is tied to a specific game mechanic and the latter has a more significant effect on unit movement/protection. Embankments are comparatively milder in terms of game effects and infrequent enough to be the natural choice.

The second downside is that the hex info box will show "Embank" instead of "Slope" on any hex side next to an elevation change. A possibly minor but annoying side effect nonetheless.

If you're hesitant about the whole thing, my suggestion is give it a try. The mod is fun, completely reversible and, for maps that do not originally include embankments, it doesn't affect gameplay in any way. For maps that *do* contain embankments, it all depends on how much prevalent they are and whether you feel the tradeoff is worth it. In my opinion, it is so for the vast majority of cases.

The mod is ready for use with JSGME (It can be applied manually, but you have to take care of copying and replacing the files yourself). Below is the procedure for the one-time installation needed for each game; once completed, the mod can be enabled/disabled with JSGME like any regular mod. These steps assume you have a "MODS" subfolder created within the main program folder.

1) Choose your SB game and extract the contents of "Slopes" provided below into the "MODS" folder:

2) Copy all maps (.map files) and all PDTs (.pdt files) from the main game folder to the "MODS/Slopes - Base" folder.
3) Run "slopify.exe" included in "Slopes - Base" (either double-click on it or invoke it from a command prompt). This little program does all the heavy lifting. It will modify all .map files in the same subfolder to create the needed slopes. It is cautious by default. If it encounters a map with embankments, it will ask the user for permission to overwrite them. You can choose to modify just that map, to overwrite all further maps, or to skip all further maps that include embankments. I tried to be as conservative as possible, even when we're already working with copies of all the original files.
After processing the maps, slopify.exe will move on to the .PDTs and will set the movement/protection values of embankments to 0 (this is needed so as not to affect normal gameplay).
4) After slopify.exe is done, it will exit. You can now enable "Slopes - Base" with JSGME and enjoy the new vistas.

Final notes:
- The simplest and fastest option is just process all maps and .pdts and see how you like the end results. If you prefer to skip a map because you don't want to break the existing embankments, make sure to identify its associated .pdt to manually restore the embankment values. If the .pdt is shared with other maps, a decision must be made either for that batch (which the option to create specific .pdts for each map).
- Submaps are not true maps, but "viewports" to the original maps- they don't contain any terrain data, so Slopify.exe will automatically skip them.
- Slopify.exe can be run with a few optional switches that are disabled by default:
/l will create a detailed log file in the same folder under the name "Output.txt", and will open it for review after all the processing is done.
/b will create a backup (.bak) of every file it modifies. This is probably overkill, but the option is there.
/v will enable "Verbose Mode", which will output a detailed log of the program's activity on the screen.

Hope you enjoy the mod and like the results. Feel free to ask if you have any doubts, questions and of course I will greatly appreciate any feedback!

EDIT: A couple more screenies for comparison. First, the vanilla game with elevation outlines, depicting a battle in Mozambique (playing with mod Africa at War):
[Image: Mozambique_NoSlopes.jpg]

The same section of the map, now with slopes, outlines deactivated:
[Image: Mozambique_Slopes_NoContour.jpg]

Elevation outlines can coexist with the slopes, which is especially helpful in some scenarios with dense tree coverage. The combined effect results in a bit of an extra oomph:
[Image: Mozambique_Slopes_Contour.jpg]

Fantastic work on this! I was able to follow the directions in your post and modify a copy of the MAP files and PDTs easily in my Mods folder without any issues.

Here are a couple of screenshots from AotR for maps that use elevation. It makes things so much more readable and easy to see.  I like the added 'oomph' that comes from leaving contours on along with the hex sides.


Mamayev Kurgan:
[font="Proxima Nova Regular", "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif][Image: saQ0BO9.png][/font]
Assault on Wielke Dzial:
[font="Proxima Nova Regular", "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif][Image: ij17xxu.png][/font]

[font="Proxima Nova Regular", "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]Chee[/font]
Glad you're enjoying it, and thanks for the feedback! Helmet Smile

Hey Charles, am loving this, thanks!!
Thanks Charles!
Looks good. Thanks for this.
Now that's thinking outside the box!
(08-14-2021, 03:43 AM)bigus Wrote: [ -> ]Looks good. Thanks for this.
Now that's thinking outside the box!

Necessity is the mother of invention Big Grin 

I may have another thing or two cooking up. Stay tuned...
Thank you for this excellent work. Not only does your mod make the games more visually appealing and functional, they become more accessible to visually impaired folks such as myself.
(12-31-2021, 03:09 AM)hub6actual Wrote: [ -> ]Thank you for this excellent work. Not only does your mod make the games more visually appealing and functional, they become more accessible to visually impaired folks such as myself.

Really glad to hear that!! Enjoy! Smile
This is a great mod, thank you. It's really helping with reading the Gallipoli terrain in FWW:
[Image: zsUgKGZ.jpg]
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