A Step By Step Guide to making and publishing Age of Wonders 3 Maps
By Narvek and JimiH_Dev
This guide will teach you the basics of the joy of creating your own map within in the added level editor.
You can only create and play maps from the content you have available. If you haven’t bought the Golden Realms expansion you will not be able to create or play maps with any of this content.
You can open up the Creator Engine straight from the game launcher. Open the Launcher. Underneath the game title banner in the launcher there are four tabs. Click the User Content tab.
In this tab you will see a button. Click on Age of Wonders 3 Editor. After clicking the editor will start and throw you right into the action. When the editor has finished loading continue with the following steps. The Editor allows the creation of both Scenario as Campaign maps (Campaigns are basically Scenarios that are stringed together with extra story scenes tucked in between).
Step 1, Creating a new Project:
Start creating a new map by File -> New (or Ctrl+N).
You will be presented with a little box asking you for some standard properties you want your map to have.
At map type you can choose which kind of map you want to create. This can be either a Scenario map or a Campaign map. You can also set your map size, the number of players and it’s possible to include an underground layer. Take note that Campaign maps will not show in the Scenario menu of the game when you want to play it. And remember you can only link Campaign maps together to form a campaign.
Keep in mind that every map needs at least two players to be able to function (unless you are ready to do some scripting to work around that!)
For this guide we will go with a Scenario map for two players at a small size and no underground layer. Click OK when you’re done to continue.
Step 2, Navigating and Loading in Packages:
You will see that the editor loads in a plane of grass and a minimap. You can move around the map by using the WASD or Arrow keys. By scrolling your mousewheel you can zoom in and out of the world.
If you zoom out far enough, the whole world will turn into the overviewmap you also see when you zoom out far enough in the game.
Do you have DLC (Golden Realms) installed? When you do not have any DLC installed, then you can continue with Step 3. If you do have DLC installed, then we need to load in all the content of those expansions before we can start using the DLC content to place any units, model the terrain or place any decorations. You can do this by loading in packages.
To load in a DLC package just go to Content -> Packages. You will be presented with a pop up box that gives you a list of the different content packs. The list will contain the base game and all the expansions you have installed (including downloaded User made packages, which you got when you downloaded a map made by a community member who also made a package).
Next to the names there are checkboxes that can be checked to select which ones you want to load in to use. We want to use as many things as we can, obviously, so check “Halflings [DLC2]” and click OK.
Now it’s time to get creative!
Step 3, The bare Essentials:
The most important thing that you need to do with ANY map you create is placing both the player positions. Not having two players in there can result in errors or your map not working at all.
We will place them now to make sure our map loads whenever we save and we want to see it in-game. We can change the location of the starting positions of the players later on to their final ones.
At the right side of your screen there is a whole collection of tabs containing different categories of items that, for the majority of them, are self-explanatory. To place a player starting position click on Leaders.
Figure 3: The Leaders Tab
Right after clicking the editor will show you a list of leaders called Players, which is displayed directly underneath it.
These leaders are already chosen by the map editor now, but you can change them in a list of properties that appears when you click one of their names. In this list you can select the plus sign next to the option Lord.
A small menu will unfold which lets you select which lord you want to use from which campaign. Choose the campaign from which lord you want to have at the Category option. If you select “none” for the campaign option you can choose all lords from across every campaign. Select the actual lord you want to use by clicking the arrow next to the Resource option.
By now you might also have noticed that selecting one of the two players at the top right list changes your cursor when you move it over the map. You will see a hexagon with a pin and an arrow in it, this represents the lord and therefore also the starting position of the player.
For now it’s a good idea to put them both roughly in opposite corners of the map. Click somewhere on the map to place one, then select the other and do the same.
Pro-tip – Continuing on:
From now on you are actually free to model and create the world as you see fit (wouldn’t we wish we were able to do this anytime?). There is no wrong or right way to create your map. Make it as difficult or easy as you like to yourself. Nobody dictates the rules, only you do. It’s your life, be your own boss, get creative!
I can, however, still give you some tips on using the various tools at your disposal. So for now we will continue building the world the way I like it. But keep in mind that all that is going to be written from now on is not THE ONLY WAY to creating maps, quests or anything at all for that matter.
Step 5, Editing the Terrain:
Now that we have placed our heroes it’s time that we get used to the basics of editing the terrain where our new adventure will take place. We can alter the world in multiple ways. You probably want to use different sorts of base terrain and place water, so that’s what we’re going to do first.
Placing different sorts of terrain:
Go to the collection of tabs from which you selected your hero. In between there is also a tab called Terrain. Click it. You will see that the menu that unfolded contains more tabs, categorized by themes you can choose from. Click on “Water”.
As you can see there are a bunch of different sort of water that can be used. Click “Water 00: Internal Water [Water]”. This is the water you normally use when you want to create a lake or any kind of river that runs through your map.
Figure 6: Selecting Water
You can create water simply by clicking the terrain with your Left Mouse Button. You can also keep on creating water by holding the button and dragging the cursor wherever you want the terrain to change. By clicking the Right Mouse Button you can cancel the terrain tool.
Create a lake. Don’t worry about having too much water in there. You might notice that dragging the mouse around placing water, a single hexagon at a time, could be quite the job. Because of that the editor also has the option to increase the size of the selection of hexagons. Directly underneath the Terrain tab there is a slide called Brush Size and by dragging it you can increase or decrease the size of the brush. Try using it!
Pro-tip – Undoing Terrain Modifications:
During process of creating lakes and rivers you might do something you did not intended. You could, for example, by accident, placed water somewhere you don’t actually wanted to. Don’t panic, pro’s don’t panic.
With the key-combo of CTRL+Z you can undo any previous alterations on your map regarding terrain (Keep in mind that you can only undo any previous movements for the editing of terrain, not for placing units, decorations, structures, etc.).
When you’re done with placing water it might be a good idea to change some of the terrain to something different. For this example we want to create something cool to show off, so we’ll choose the Arctic theme. Click Arctic between the theme tabs.
Select “Barrens 00 Rocky Frost [Arctic]”, this is the standard Arctic themed ground. Place it in the middle of the lake and create an island. You will see that the water will convert into Arctic terrain. You can change terrain sorts with any theme and any sort of terrain anywhere you like to any of the other Terrains.
Pro-tip – Creating Variety:
When creating a map it’s nice to visually mix things up. All of the terrain sorts in the editor have multiple versions of themselves that visually look different, but don’t have a different function. This is purely intended to have more decorative options.
To change a model to a different instance just keep clicking the hexagon where you placed your terrain and it will show you a different one every time you click. Make sure to check them out!
When you’re finished with creating an island select a new Terrain from the arctic theme. It’s time to create a more interesting place for the player to explore then just this cold barren wasteland.
Select “Mountains 01: Round [Arctic]”. Place some mountains around the island. While placing the mountains consider putting a few of them on the borders of the island, you will see that it looks nice and smoothly blends the ice with the water. If you’re done with the mountains it’s time to create some forests around them.
Figure 9: Placing Mountains
Select “Dense Vegetation 01: Snowy Pine Forest [Arctic]”. Place a few of them around the mountains. Don’t go crazy on the trees, solely for the reason of keeping everything a bit clear and giving the player some room to maneuver.
Figure 10: Adding Trees
Roads and Bridges:
Now we have our island we might continue with placing some roads and bridges. First make sure that there is a spot on the island where the distance between the island and the mainland isn’t bigger than a single hexagon. The hexagons on both sides need to be empty by having no mountains or trees.
To go to the tabs where you selected the Terrain tab and select Roads. Just like with the water you can now click and drag the cursor around to create roads. You can also make a single hexagon into a road by clicking the one where you desire a road.
To create a bridge you only need to click and drag the cursor from where you want your bridge to start and release where it needs to stop. Keep in mind that bridges can only be placed over rivers or gaps between an island and the mainland (or another island) which are not bigger than a single hexagon.
Pro-tip – Roadwork:
Roads will create themselves if you drag your cursor around the screen. Often times they will create a form, like a triangle, that you don’t really want. Triangles or other excessive amounts of road that are not wanted can be removed by right-clicking the part of the road you want to have removed.
Figure 11: Placing Roads
Step 6, Adding Interactivity:
Now that we got ourselves quite a cool place to chill out at it might be a good idea to fill it with some interactivity and a reason for the player why it might be worth checking out. To do that we are going to stuff our little island with a structure, a pick-up and a few enemy units. The first thing we are going to place is a nice fort for enemies to hang out in.
Search between the different tabs from which you also clicked the terrain tab for one that is called Structures and click it. A large list of all different kinds of structures will appear. Finding our fort in there might take some time. To make it a bit easier we are going to filter by only fortresses.
Underneath the structures tab there is a small bar called “Name Filter”. Click in the white box and type in (without quotes) “Fortress”. All the different fortress structures will be filtered. Select the Stone Fortress and place it on the island somewhere nice.
Figure 12: Placing the Fortress
Pro-tip – Rotating Structures and Decorations:
All the decoration and structure models can be rotated to provide a different view. To rotate an object like this you have several different methods at your disposal. The easiest way to do this is by pressing the middle mouse button when the item is selected and still needs to be placed. You’ll cycle through all available directions.
There is also an alternative way to rotating an item. On the left side of the screen there are also a number of tabs. These tabs usually contain all the information about the unit, structure or decoration you have selected. The fortress that has just been placed has two tabs. One called Main which mostly contains all kinds of technical information (which we will get into in a moment). Next to that there is another tab called Direction. When you click that there you will see a circle of selectable little circles. Some are white, others are grey. The white ones show you all the possible positions the structure can take inside the hexagon it has been placed (or which the model in general allows you to place it). Clicking any of the white circles will also rotate the structure.
Since we have our fort placed we are going to place some enemies in it and around the island. To do this I am going to explain to you two methods of placing enemies. Because we still got our castle selected we will continue with putting a quite tough defending army in there.
On the left side of the screen there is also a collection of tabs. Instead of models and terrain all of these contain more technical information. If you didn’t click anything else yet a tab with the fortress should be visible. There are two tabs underneath the picture of the fortress. If not selected already yet, select the Main tab. All kinds of data are visible here. By clicking any of the cells on the right values can be changed.
Player, for example, defines who owns the structure. Does it belong to Player X or does it belong to Independents? This time we are not going to touch that and just leave it to the Independents.
For this example we want the structure to be defended by a tough bunch of Orcs. So next to the cell Defender Spawn Strength we are going to select Strong. This tab specifically sets the toughness of the defenses of this structure and doesn’t define the race that inhabits it. To tell the game that we really really want orcs there we can click the “+” sign in the cell called Race. Some more cells will unfold, one of which is called Resource. From there we are going to select Orc- Race Definition, which will make sure that there are going to be some Orcs placed there once we play it. If you want to we can also name the Fortress with a custom name when clicking the “+” sign at the cell called Name. In the menu that will unfold we need to select the cell next to the one called Custom String. Let your imagination go wild and fill in whatever name you desire.
Figure 14: Naming the Fortress
The fort is done now. Take note that the fort is a domain generating structure: when a non-independent player owns it, it will project domain. You can’t get any treasure from forts when you take them over in the main game. But treasure generating sites like the Wizard Tower Ruins automatically generate an appropriate award that corresponds with the strength of the defenders inhabiting the structure.
The last two things we are going to do to complete the island is adding another army of enemies and some treasure to collect.
Placing units works exactly the same way as you place structures. On the right side of the screen go to the tab Units and Click it. Here you can find every single unit that is you can encounter while playing the game. Search for Dire Penguin in the same search bar we used before (called Name Filter, directly underneath the Unit tab). Select the penguin and place it somewhere on the island.
Pro-tip – Creating Enemy Stacks
You can place multiple enemies on a single hexagon, up to a maximum of 6 units. By just placing them over the previous unit they will stack. The stack can be seen on the left side of the screen when you’re placing them. To delete units from the stack select the unit from the stack and press the button that says Delete Unit at the bottom of the screen. To delete the whole stack press the big button above the stack called Delete Stack. Know that you can also stack decorations, so be careful when placing them as you might have placed them more than once.
To complete our level we now only need to add some treasure. Go to the tab called Pick Ups and select the object called Treasure Chest and place it somewhere close to the penguin.
Step 7, Saving and Exporting
Placing of the treasure concludes this basic introduction to the Creator Engine Level Editor. The map is done now and only needs to be exported correctly. To learn more about exporting and uploading your level to the Steam Workshop follow the steps in the following document:
Step 8, Other Links:
If you feel like you’re on a roll with learning things you might also want to check out these documents and tutorials:
It is possible to script entire campaigns with Lua in the Creator Engine if you’re up for it. Check out this link to learn more if you feel adventurous: http://ageofwonders.com/advanced-level-editing-and-scripting-guide/
On our forums we’ve already answered a number of questions and posted some tutorials. Feel invited to ask your questions here and browse through the answers we and other helpful community members have given: http://ageofwonders.com/forums/topic/leveled-scripting-tutorialsresources/