Author Topic: Modding Continuum  (Read 2570 times)

Offline dm-horus

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Modding Continuum
« on: August 30, 2006, 10:39:32 AM »
This thread is in reference to a project outlined here. Please refer to it for specific project information. This thread will cover development and execution of Continuum mods and customization. Links are plentiful here and I recommend you use a tabbed browser when using this thread as a guide to make your own mods and content. You are encouraged to explore the links in this resource. I will add new posts to this thread as devlopment continues. I am always adding to the information here. Feel free to ask questions.

File types and file dissemination
Common game resource file extentions are:

.bm2 = Common .bmp graphics file. Simply rename the .bm2 file extention to .bmp to view or edit. Stored in "graphics" directory.

.wa2 = Common .wav sound file. As with the .bm2, simply rename the file extention to .wav to view or edit. Stored in "sound" directory.

.lvl = Continuum map and file format. Usually for maps (arenas), .lvl files can be edited extensively and are the subject of most of this wiki. Can be edited using several applications like FACTS 0.9.1 and most map editors.

.lvz = Companion file format to .lvl. Is analagous to a .dll or cabinet file. Contains extended code for use with .lvl files. Continuum server software like ASSS (A Small Subspace Server) compress graphics, sound and ini files into .lvz format and may contain numerous directories.

.ini. = Basic configuration text file. Editable by opening in notepad. Contains data for running servers and many other necessary functions.

These files can be edited without the assistance of other programs, although the use of professional sound and graphics software are advised. I use notepad for coding, Photoshop CS for image editing and most sounds are obtained via internet or require simple editing accomplished in sound recorder. Proprietary file editing (.lvl and .lvz) is accomplished with several applications which may be found here or here.

Running a Zone
To run a Zone (a server) you require a server that can run DOS programs and allow you to access DOS prompt. In essence, running a zone is as simple as uploading a copy of a Continuum installation directory to your server. However for it to be accessible to players, the billing server must be running.

Billing Server
The zone billing server transmits game data, player stats, maps, graphics, sounds, etc to players who connect to the central server. The central server hosts zone information and runs the master zone list (centeral billing server) which all players receive their list of zones from. When players connect, any zones accessible by the master zone list are displayed on their local zone list.



For your zone to appear on the master zone list, the zone's billing server must be running and functioning properly. Refer to this help file for instructions on how to edit and enable your billing server ini once it has been downloaded and installed to your Continuum directory. You can download billing server and custom server software from this directory.

Once your Continuum directory has been uploaded to your server and the billing server enabled and working properly, your zone should appear on the master zone list within minutes (it can take up to 10 minutes for the master billing server to update and include your zone). Any changes to graphics in the server Continuum directory are transmitted to connecting players and is the principle behind zone authoring.

Tilesets
Tilesets are image files that are 304 X 160px, 8 bit 256 color and contain 190 15x15px tiles arranged in 19 columns and 10 rows. You can view an FAQ to examine the tile layout or download the proper palette for editing tilesets that can be used in Photoshop CS2 (but I recommend you download the backup that I use here) . Tilesets are an important aspect of map editing and directly affect the appearance and features in your zone. To create a properly formatted tileset in Photoshop CS, open a new document in RGB color mode, 8 bit, 304px wide by 160px high. Once created, click on Image, then Mode and select Indexed color. Click the dropdown menu in the prompt that appears and select Custom. Then click Load and select the Continuum tileset palette that you downloaded. Click OK and you can begin filling the document with 190 15x15px tiles. (Check to make sure Indexed color is properly enabled by clicking on Image then Mode. If Indexed Color and 8Bits/Channel are checked, youre good to go.) Make sure you review the FAQ and make note of your tile placement as seen in this diagram. Tiles in certain locations on the tileset have particular properties so you must make sure the tiles you create are in the right location. You do not have to fill the entire document with tiles. The default background is black but you may want to use pink for custom maps that do not have a black (space) background.

Map Editing
Making maps for Continuum can be as simple or as complex as you want. You can make maps using the default Continuum tileset with one of these editors (although I recommend this editor for basic map editing and this one for advanced server file and .lvz editing) or use the myriad of applications for working with ASSS (A Small Subspace Server). You can also download tilesets (and maps) made by others in the past from here or download applications to create your own tilesets from here. Tilesets are stored within map files and a tileset does not have to exist on its own in the Continuum directory to be usable or downloadable to players connecting to a zone server because of this.

Most people will want to simply create their own tileset and make a custom map, but for those wanting to create a truely unique zone with scripts, modules and custom graphics and content, they should refer to ASSS - A Small Subspace Server.

ASSS
A Small Subspace Server is a custom package of files for running custom scripts and content on your zone server. You can visit their site, download it and download expansion modules. A handy FAQ is here and of course the all-important forums.

Most ASSS files are in .lvl, .lvz and .ini format. The use of ASSS is required to achieve advanced content delivery on your zone. The basic map editors will only allow you to add a custom tileset and create a map using it, whereas ASSS allows you to make transparent tiles, splash screens, clan banners, logos, animated tiles and other graphics as well as scripted zone events and links all the zones hosted on your server. ASSS also lets you run bots and transmits zone data to be parsed into IRC, PHP and even mobile formats.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2006, 03:42:54 AM by dm-horus »
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Offline dm-horus

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Modding Continuum
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2006, 03:31:06 AM »
To do:

[ ] Mapping Tutorial for SSME and analogs.

[ ] Continuum Zone Mapping theory.

[ ] Tileset formatting and editing tutorial.

[ ] Basic zone server setup tutorial.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2006, 10:09:37 AM by dm-horus »
Always outnumbered. Never outgunned.

Offline dm-horus

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Modding Continuum
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2006, 03:16:02 PM »
I've uploaded a zip file containing all the necessary tools, utilities and apps with links to faq's and tutorials here (15mb). If youre interested in modding Continuum, hosting a Zone or server or just want to make maps or tilesets get it now!
Always outnumbered. Never outgunned.

Offline dm-horus

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Modding Continuum
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2006, 10:05:31 PM »
A huge part of modding continuum is making unique zones for players to visit. Using SSME (Subspace Map Editor) to make maps with a tileset can let you create Continuum-themed zones, but what if you want to make a zone where people get to play as WWII infantry or characters from a video game? To do this you need to create, edit and utilize .lvz files. Applications like Level/LVZ Tool 1.0 can make this task much easier. Certain server software like ASSS and CatID Software work with lvz files to help you create totally unique zones whose limit are your imagination. Seriously.

Ive created a quick and dirty tutorial on how to import images as lvz's to create unique terrain for Outpost 2 : Continuum. The techniques shown can be applied to all aspects of lvz use. It discusses image rigging, importing images to lvz, lvz formatting, placement and terrain design.

Read my tutorial here.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2006, 10:09:34 PM by dm-horus »
Always outnumbered. Never outgunned.