Category:Map Making

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BZFlag uses its own map file format called the BZW file. BZW files are text based and contain a list of objects and map options that are read by the BZFS server.

Map Creation Methods

BZFlag has several well practiced methods for the design of maps, from simple text editing, custom editors, to exporters for 3D modeling software. While basic dedicated map editors, such as BZEdit, can often only create simple objects, 3D modeling software can create complex custom mesh objects, but have a much steeper learning curve.

Dedicated Map editors

Dedicated BZFlag map editors (i.e. written specifically for graphically editing BZW files) generally go by the name BZEdit. There are a number of versions of BZEdit that have been developed over the years, some of them sharing code, some of them not. Each editor has its own level of support for various map features. At this time there is no custom editor that supports every feature of the BZW format. In general, these will only support simple map objects such as a box, a pyramid or a teleporter.

Editors supporting BZW 1.10 features

Editors supporting some BZW 2.0 features.

Blender

The blender 3d modeling application features a plug-in called BZWTools, which enables blender to read and write the BZW file format and to create BZW specific objects. Tutorials on using blender (not specific to BZFlag) can be found on the blender web tutorials pages.

Wings 3D

Wings 3D is a good modeler to use if you're new modeling. It has a much smaller learning curve than Blender, although it doesn't have as many features. There is also a plugin (which you can download here) created by trepan which allows you to export objects to a BZW file. It is not widely know that you can export a bzflag map from the actual bzflag client in .obj format. To do so, you must connect to a server hosting the BZW map you would like to download and type /saveworld -o "mapname.obj". This will allow you to then import the .obj file into Wings 3D and edit the map. Then you can use the exporter created by trepan which allows you to export objects to a BZW file.

Creating BZW files via scripting or trivial programming

Several of the existing BZFLAG maps are created using a trivial application custom created for the purpose of generating each map. The application/program consists of print statements that output BZW file primitives (boxes, pyramids, meshes). This method, using Perl, visual basic or C, allows re-use of the print statements with variables, for relatively fast creation of nearly identical objects. Once a coder creates a box primitive, for instance, another box can be created with a simple call to the same set of print statements but with different size or location arguments. The sets of print statements are then collected by the coder to create a library of available primitives (box, cylinder, fancy-teleporter, cage) that can be used again and again. The library of primitives may then be used to create additional maps but without all of the original work required to make the first map. The flaws in using this method compared to a graphical modeler or even bzedit are: representation of the work are not available without first launching a bzflag client to look at the map; Errors in the library or in calls might make the map unusable but with only visual basic, Perl or C compiler output as a clue; The map is created in a text and syntax intensive process that may not be tolerated by many otherwise creative individuals.

The advantage of this method is that the library is relatively easy to improve compared to bzedit and new features of bzflag are easily applied. In addition, the ability to replicate structures in a for-next loop context allow for repetitive or stepped structures with more rapidity than other mapping methods.

Editing by Hand

The last method of creating maps is simply coding them by hand as text files using the raw BZW structures. This is still one of the most common ways that people create and edit maps, and can be very fun and challenging. This is easily done in any text editor, for example NotePad on Windows, and TextEdit on Mac OS X.

Most maps made by hand tend to be fairly simple, though experienced mappers have made some extraordinary maps in this way. The reason for the popularity of the 'hand made' approach is partly because of the simple structure of the BZW code, but also the fact that, until recently, there were no graphical editors available for operating systems like Mac OS X.

A detailed explanation about creating a map 'by hand' can be found on the Editing by Hand page.

Maps that contain 2.0 objects (such as mesh) tend to have been either completely made in a text editor, or partly modeled in 3D modeling software, and later manipulated in text format.

Subcategories

This category has the following 2 subcategories, out of 2 total.