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Designing with the Common Interface

The common interface includes both the Unix/X11 and Windows versions; game design works the same for both.

The common interface provides a design mode that allows you to do many game design tasks interactively. At present, you can use it to lay out maps, specify the contents of the different area layers, and set up units. You can then save chosen elements of the design into a file.

Common Interface Design Mode

There are several ways to get into design mode; you can specify `-design' on the command line, you can choose Design from the Edit menu, or you can type in the long command `design'. When you do any of these, several things will happen: the side list will mark your side as a designer, the Show All item in the View menu will appear, and you will get a popup window with a palette of designer's tools. The popup applies to all maps equally.

The identification in the side list is for the benefit of other players, since it is actually possible to enable designing in a multi-player game.

The Show All view control allows you to see everything accurately. It is switchable so you can compare what things look like to the player vs what they are in reality. This is also important for side view painting, which is useful for exploration-based scenarios.

Note that the online design mode is powerful, with few restrictions. This means you can scramble things if you're not careful. Frequent saves are a good idea.

Common Interface Design Palette

The design palette consists of a number of buttons next to a varying frame whose contents vary depending on the button pressed. Each button corresponds to a different sort of painting/placement mode.

This mode corresponds to normal survey mode. This mode is mainly for moving units around. You can move a unit by left-clicking to select it, then right-clicking on the desired destination. You can even right-click on another unit to have the selected unit become an occupant.
Paint Terrain
In this mode, clicking and dragging in any map paints terrain, just as if you were using a standard paint program. The varying frame displays samples of the terrain, as well as two popups, one for foreground terrain and one for background terrain. The foreground type is what normally gets painted. However, if you click on a cell of the foreground type, you will paint the background type into the cell, and will continue to do so when you drag the mouse. This makes it easy to toggle when you're fine-tuning a coastline and so forth. (It's easier to use than to describe!) You can also select border and connection types to paint, in which case clicking toggles the existence of the border or connection. The background terrain type is not used while painting borders and connections. Note that you don't need to follow terrain/terrain or unit/terrain compatibility rules while painting; you can paint sea underneath a city if you like, or rivers through icefields. However, the city will quietly disappear from the game when you start up the modified module.
Place Unit
In this mode, clicking on a map creates and places a unit. Popups in the varying frame let you specify type and side. As with terrain painting, compatibility rules are not enforced.
Paint People
This mode lets you specify the side of the people in each cell. The varying frame's popup lets you choose the side, then clicking/dragging paints. Clicking on a cell with people on a different side converts them to your selected side, while if the people are on your selected side, then the cell becomes empty (not independent!).
Paint Control
This mode is very similar to the people-painting mode, but applies to the control layer instead.
Paint Feature
This mode is for painting geographical features. You choose the feature from a popup menu. You can also create new features and edit the name of any feature. You should turn on the display of display feature boundaries. The feature you're painting have its boundaries drawn red, while the other boundaries will be gray.
Paint Material
[not yet implemented]
Paint Elevation
Use this mode to set terrain elevations.
Paint Temperature
Use this mode to set temperatures.
Paint Clouds
Use this mode to set cloud cover.
Paint Winds
Use this mode to set winds.
Paint View
Use this mode to paint the side view. At present, this only works on the designing side's view. In his mode, the paintbrush toggles the view between unknown and an accurate view of the terrain and units in each cell. Turn off the Show All option on the View menu to see the effect of this; unknown terrain will still be visible, but dimmed. You need to switch out of designer mode to see exactly what it will look like to a game player.

Below the buttons is a popup with a numeric label. This sets the radius of the paint brush. A radius 0 brush affects only a single cell, while radius 1 applies to the cell and all adjacent, and so forth. The radius goes up to 9, which is spectacularly large for most maps, and always at risk of painting over something you wanted. A brush size of 2-3 is more useful for roughing-in shapes. There is currently no undo for painting, so be careful!

Common Interface Design Save

If you go to save the game while designing, you will get a much more elaborate dialog than for normal saving. Use the checkboxes to decide which elements of the design to save.

Common Interface Image Families

X11 Xconq can use images in either its portable image family format, or as bitmaps. However, since images in portable format will work with other interfaces, you should only use bitmaps while prototyping, and translate them into portable form using `x2imf'.

To translate image families into bitmaps, use the tool `imf2x'.

The program `xshowimf' displays image families.

Control the display of three-color images (mono+mask) with the resource `maskColor' (see `XShowimf-co.ad' or with the command-line argument `-mc'.

To edit the image families, do something like

mkdir tmp
xshowimf [imf/xbm/xpm files...] -o tmpdir &
(cd tmpdir; xpaint) &

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