Author Topic: Cheating with the map  (Read 120 times)

Offline MichelGuenette

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Cheating with the map
« on: June 02, 2019, 12:29:02 PM »
A while back, I was delving into the assets of the game. I found the list of .bmp images for the technologies, buildings, and terrain. I was trying to figure out a few different things.

  • Which images belonged to the different versions of the buildings?
  • Which images of the planets might I find the site options in? Are they consistent from game to game?
  • Which images belonged to the different technologies? (See my other thread about my current research efforts.)

At some point, I realized that the "pretty" image of the site had a terrain elevation twin. So, for example, site001a.bmp was paired up with site001b.bmp. (File names are not accurate to the asset list, but they are here as a point of reference.) What would happen if I switched out a terrain elevation twin with a new file?

So, this is how I proceeded.
  • Start a new game
  • Either pack the starship properly or just go with the default settings because I was only testing ideas
  • Make landfall on the planet
  • Use my print outs on card stock to confirm which site I selected
  • Save and exit the game
  • Go to the asset folder for the game and rename (i.e., hide) the "good" version of the terrain elevation twin
  • Duplicate the terrain elevation twin and open it with an image editor, like MS Paint
  • Select all and clear the canvas
  • Use the paint bucket (or some similar command) to change the colour (I chose black because it is the "easiest" terrain type to bulldoze)
  • Save and close the image file
  • Confirm that the "new" terrain elevation twin matches its "pretty" version according to file name
  • Load the saved game and confirm my results

The testing was successful. It is possible to substitute any terrain elevation file with any image that uses the same colours: black, red, yellow, and green. (I do not have the exact RGB values recorded, but an eyedropper tool in any image editing toolkit should give the values that you need.)

If you were crazy enough to create multiple colonies in the same site, then it should be possible to lay out Command Centre diamonds across the entire surface with an X pattern using different terrain types (for the seed lander) to find the exact location where the zone of control (ZOC) is not overlapping.

At moment, I have no idea how to compare the "pretty" images of the sites with their terrain elevation twins. If there is a simple (or assumed to be simple) one-to-one relationship between the colours and the topography, then it should be possible to make up different sites and swap out the built-in asset files. I do not know where to start with this, but it is just another idea that I had when I confirmed my testing.

I do not know whether this will affect the underground levels on the planet. Because the diggers open up new tiles by destroying "hidden" rock, there is a chance of leaving behind a "pillar" or a "wall" of impassible rock that needs to be dug a second time. Without a coordinate system, it would be difficult to match above ground features with below ground features. They could be random for all I know.

With more testing, it should be possible to determine if there is (or is not) a relationship between the different levels.

Offline leeor_net

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Re: Cheating with the map
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2019, 01:07:44 PM »
The terrain type map is a fairly straight forward thing. I don't know how the original developers did it, probably with a basic image editing program at the time and a layer mask and then just hand-drew the different colors. I use a similar processes with OutpostHD -- I get the site map, then I rough in the different elevations using soft edge brushes in photoshop then reduce the number of colors to four with a dither in between and viola, I've got myself a height map. I opted for four levels of grey instead of the odd color choices used in Outpost (mostly because I'm partially color blind and the contrast from the different gray's was a lot easier to see).

Anyway, I imagine the processes was basically the same with the original devs.

As for the terrain variations underground, they match the surface. If you have an Impassable tile on the surface, all tiles underneath will also be Impassable.

Creating your own images for the original Outpost shouldn't be hard but you will need to take care to save them as 256 color BMP's with the same palette. Any modern image editing application (besides the build in Paint and Paint3D in Windows) should be perfectly capable of this. Hell, I'm even pretty sure Paint.net can do this though I've never tried. But yeah, basically, just make sure that the palettes are the same and you should be good to go.

Offline MichelGuenette

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Re: Cheating with the map
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2019, 09:53:05 AM »
Thank you for replying leeor_net.

I found your thread on the same topic, after I posted mine. I just figured that I would post my findings before I forgot them again.

At my previous job, they bought licenses for SnagIt by TechSmith. For the type of image editing that we needed to do for work, it was great. I imagine that I would use that application, if I had it installed on my laptop. I found that I had a lot of control with it. Also, using the stamp feature, it would be quite easy to design a pattern that could be placed and flattened into the canvas at each stage of the build. I am still considering maximizing the coverage on the surface for the number of colonies that can be placed.

Also, thank you for confirming that impassable terrain carries on through the different levels. It is one less thing for me to confirm.