Author Topic: Map Mixer tutorial  (Read 3176 times)

Offline NIN-IceWolf

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Map Mixer tutorial
« on: May 01, 2012, 07:43:41 PM »
Note: This guide as well as the current version of the Map Mixer tool is dated, the new version currently in works will have many different and all new features!

DOWNLOAD Map Mixer V1.0 Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 Redistributable Package x86 (4 MB)

Welcome to the Quake II Map Mixer tool! Map Mixer allows you to perform Map Remixing for bsp files with no need for compiling or other hassles in three main ways, Retexturing, Relighting with arghrad, and overriding! This is a step by step guide to help you get started!

Setup: Extract the contents of the archive into any desired directory and run MapMixer.exe to begin setting up the tool for use. Fill in or browse and point to all the relevant directories of your Quake 2 installation so the tool can make full use of any resources available according to the mod directory you wish to work in. Filling in the path to your desired Quake 2 client allows you to save your project while also launching Quake 2 and automatically loading the map to quickly view changes. Arguments entry allows you to specify command line parameters for your client upon launch such as the mod you wish to load.

The include in zip options allow you to specify what resources are saved in a zip when you want to save an entire project for future editing or distribution.

Light defaults are the included parameters with MapMixer that define the available features of arghrad you can use in the relighting interface of MapMixer. For more information on relighting parameters refer to the arghrad manual. You may access this menu again at any time by clicking "file" in the top left of the tool window and choosing "settings"

figure 1

Once you are done configuring your settings click OK and the tool will begin to cache texture files into a folder within the MapMixer directory called "cache" as jpgs for previews of textures you can work with in the ReTexture interface. This process may take a while depending on how many textures must be cached. Note: If you encounter an error during thumbnail creation install Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 Redistributable Package Also, create an env folder if it doesnt exist in baseq2 and weapons folders.

Beginning a new project:
Now that MapMixer is done caching all needed files, begin a new project by clicking "file" and then "Open bsp" to be taken to the maps directory within the game folder (such as weapons or xatrix) you specified in settings. Now choose the map you wish to modify, in this example I chose biggun.bsp (if you want to alter stock maps you must extract them from the baseq2 paks). You should now be presented with a column of textures that exist in the specified bsp (figure 2).

This is the ReTexture interface, the first of the three main work interfaces you can choose via the tabs at the top left of the window (Associate tab is WIP).

figure 2

To begin browsing available textures that you can use to replace the ones you see shown, click "View Thumbnail Directory" (figure 2) to open the cache folder in windows (figure 3). Once you find a texture you wish to use, click drag it from the cache window (if the tool window is behind cache window drag over the MapMixer tab on the windows taskbar to bring it up front) and then place it into the column and slot just to the right of the texture you want to replace (figure 2), and that's all there is to it (The two columns to the right of those on the left are reserved and WIP)!

You may also drag and drop textures from one slot to another in the interface as well. But if you must scroll to reach another slot you'll need to right click on a texture and choose "copy" and then paste into next slot you desire. If you wish to remove a replacement you made, simply right click on the replacement texture and choose "clear". To go directly to a texture in either the cache or original texture directory choose "open wal file location" or "open thumb file location" (figure 2). However, going directly to the file will not work if you already have a window of it's directory open due to a limitation of windows.

figure 3

This is the second main interface of MapMixer that allows you to relight the bsp via arghrad. This feature is disabled by default so be sure to click the enable relighting box below the ReLight tab when ready to use it. Performing a relight can be a very CPU demanding operation and may even cause low end units to hang on highly complex or poorly constructed maps so generally you may want to perform this as a final step in a project. Relighting is a fairly complex subject and can be subject to the most trial and error of all the features available to you. For details on all the functions possible with arghrad, see the arghrad manual.

If you are unfamiliar with lighting but would still like to do some quick experiments to alter brightness and color you may get away with using only minlighta and maxlighta while leaving everything else unchecked. minlighta controls the minimum light level permitted in an area not shined upon by any light and should generally be in fairly low ranges like the default of 5 and maxlighta determines the maximum amount of light in any area and should be in upper ranges like 170 + depending on the map. nocolor (Can try nocoloru too but if it doesn't look good go back to just nocolor instead) is another but very easy to use option that may also be used alone without changing anything else to create a major change to a maps appearance. Only much experimenting will yield a perfect result.

figure 4

Override: This is the third and final main work interface of MapMixer that now makes .override file creation and modification more convenient and quicker than ever before! Every project will present you with an entity override file with all entity info from the bsp already dumped so you can begin right away by removing, modifying and creating new entity entries to your desire and view the results right away by MapMixers automatic client and map launching upon project save!

First, let's not touch the override text yet and simply save the project and auto launch into the map and lets make three quick viewpos entries to demonstrate how much easier MapMixer can make this process. Have a key bound to "viewpos" and move the player to any area and hit that key once and a world coordinate will show up in the console matching your position and direction you are facing. We will use this spot for a teleporter. Now go to another place for it's destination and hit the key again for another coordinate. Now just move a little from the destination point and hit the key for the third time.

Now we are done placing coordinates for a teleporter & destination plus another test entity. Now you  just type condump ents into the console to dump the entire contents of the console into a text file found within the condumps directory called ents.txt. Quit the game and return to MapMixer. Now you can begin adding three ents at the botttom by choosing what entities you want to add according to their mod via the dropdown menu (figure 5). Since we are using common entities choose baseq2 and then go to the dropdown menu below and choose the teleporter Template and click "add" to the left. (Templates which are above the entities you can choose from are essentially prefabs for pairs or chains of entities that work together like lasers that need targets and teleporters with destinations). This template will instantly place both a teleporter and a target pad ent for a destination already tagged and ready to go. Next pick your third entity such as gun or any other single ent from the list and we are done with only one more easy step to go to demonstrate how quickly assigning even dozens of coordinates to entities can be done in seconds (figure 6)!

figure 5

Now to get the coordinates we got with viewpos from the condump. Go to the top right and click "View Condumps" to open the directory where your condumps are found and open the ents.txt file with the coordinates we need. Now simply scroll to the point where your viewpos entries begin and just highlight them all without any regard for other text that may be copied as well and just right click and copy (or ctrl + c) and then return to the tool and then highlight all of the entities that you added from the dropdown list and right click on them and then choose "set positions from clipboard" (figure 6) and then all of our 3 ents which had no defined origin will instantly have the 3 coordinates we copied from the condump applied to them in proper order! This can work for any number of entities, even a hundred! You only need to match the number of coordinates copied to the number of entities you are applying them to and in proper order.

figure 6

Now for a few additional handy functions that also make overrides far easier to work with in MapMixer when we right click on entity entries! Right clicking on a laser for example will bring up options for flags (figure 7) that makes the process of adding lasers you want even faster without the need to add up spawn flag numbers. Just remember that lasers can only have one color type specified at once, for special colors you need to have two lasers of different colors like red and blue within each other for purple or yellow and blue for white as an example. Currently only lasers have a quick option for modifying spawnflags but the number of supported entities will grow in the future.

figure 7

Next option available which applies to all entities is remove block (for removing entire entity entries). Pretty simple, you right click on an entity you want to remove without bothering to highlight it or you can remove all entries of that entity found in the override at once with a single click! Also note you may use ctrl + h or go to edit menu found at the top of the window as you would in notepad to bring up a find and replace feature to find or replace any strings you want. You can also use goto to jump to any line and offset quickly with ctrl + g or by clicking the feature in edit menu.

figure 8

Another notable feature is you can now also drag skies over into the worldspawn entity much like you would in the ReTexture interface by clicking "view skies" found in the upper right part of window to open the env folder in windows. Now it's much easier to choose and apply a good sky for maps!

Loading & saving projects / Misc

Whenever you save a project "Save project + bsp + launch" (figure 9) a copy of the bsp file you are modifying is created with the changes you desired with the appendage of new_ added to the name like new_biggun.bsp for example and the original is always preserved. Also made with the new_biggun.bsp is a .mix file with the same name  which is your actual project file that is essentially a savestate of your work and preserves important original texture data and other information that allows you to resume a project where you left off when re-opening MapMixer. Never use "Open bsp" to resume your work on a bsp file as previous texture info will be lost, especially if you replaced several textures with a single new texture. Only open bsp files for starting new projects. Use "Load project' to resume a project.

The other option for saving a project is "Zip current project" (Save your project normally first before zipping). Performing this operation will gather all textures, env, sound, override and project files into a single zip file archive that preserves original directory structure of the files that can be ready for any distribution (click "share maps") or long-term safekeeping of a project and it's resources. One should often do this as a quick and easy backup once in a while in addition to normal saving when working on a project should something go wrong or you make a major mistake. You may easily access the zips by clicking "Open project location".

Next major feature seen is "Save bsp as zip package". This is used to simply read any bsp without loading it as a project and gather all resources related to it and package them along with that bsp into a zip archive. Do not use this for saving a project or bsp related to a project with MapMixer. Use "Zip current project" instead!

figure 9

So, hopefully I have covered the most important things to know about using this tool. If any of you have any questions or comments, please post them!


Before and after example

Map Mixer tips and tricks / Misc:

This section will be gradually expanded over time as I and others come up with special tips and techniques on how to use Map Mixer to add creative elements into maps.

Adding moving lasers via override:

If you ever wanted to add moving lasers that track a func_train ent you probably ran into the problem that those ents cannot be used without a bsp brush defined as Quake II will usually not run the map in such a case. Throughout my time doing overrides I found that lasers will follow either a misc_viper or misc_strogg_ship moving along a path defined by path corners just as they would a func_train. Obviously the tricky part about using this method is you will not want the ships to be seen. This is accomplished by defining a path of path_corner ents that will always hide the ship under floors or walls in the directions where you want the lasers to track. Unfortunately this method can make having a perfectly aimed laser almost impossible in some cases so it may take lots of patience to make good moving lasers without using func_train ents.

Included with Map Mixer is a template for quickly adding such a ship path for a laser to follow. For additional info on how to setup ship paths read the following tutorials

===End of tutorial===

« Last Edit: January 02, 2013, 12:31:13 AM by r1 »
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