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Old March 28th, 2008, 02:27 AM
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LongHeroscaper LongHeroscaper is offline
 
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How to share your maps with the world.

Every now and then, a new member of heroscapers.com decides to join the group of architects here. Of course I mean the creators of Heroscape maps that we all need to play the game on. Well, technically, your 6-year-old kid does not really need those hexes to enjoy Heroscape, but you, an intellectual adult should play the game with different kinds of terrain. Actually, you still don't because I've heard someone here bought tons of Nakita agents and put them around their bed. But that is another story.
In this post, I will not tell you how to build a map. Anyone can build a map. You may want to check Velenne posts for tips in building maps. I will not tell you what maps I like the most either, although I may do that someday. You may want to check out BoV maps thread (and the show-thread) to see the best tournament maps out there. Hopefully after looking around here , you will join us and build your own maps. Of course, we would love to see them and I am sure that you will love to share them with us, too. The question is how you can share them with us, and I hope I can show you how in this post.

1. Create your map.
Let me guess: you just thought: "Duh!". It is obvious, isn't it? But see, there are actually two ways to create a map. You can create a map by actually sit down (or stand up, or crawl on the floor, whatever you want) and work with the physical hexes. Let's call it the Physical way. Many of us do it this way. It is illustrative, real and hand-on. Another way is to use a map-editing software. Let's call it the Virtual way. You don't need to have the hexes with you. You can create map wherever you want, as long as you have a computer. For map-editing software, I recommend VirtualScape, which is THE best one out there.
The nice thing about Virtual way is that it is very easy to switch things up. You can change a 7-hex sand tile with a 7-hex grass tile with a few clicks. In the Physical way, digging a tile in level 1 of a mountain can be tough, but it is a very simple task in the Virtual way. You can move the tiles around, adding or removing terrain expansions easily. It also makes huge maps possible (such as Hero World by Hero-X).

Now, if all you need is to show your map to the world, either way is fine. But if you also want other players to build your map and share the joy playing on it, you will have to handle the Virtual way. There are ways to make map-building instruction without a map-editing software, but the softwares make it much more simple. You can create your map by the Physical way, put your map into a software to edit, and then make the instruction using the software. I will talk about creating the building instruction using VirtualScape in section 5. I believe that is the most common route being used by map creators.

2. Take pictures of your map.
With the Physical way, you need a camera. Take pictures of your map with the best angles. Make sure the light is sufficient and do not shake your hand(s), otherwise the pictures will be blurry and dark. If people can't see your map clearly, they may not know what great features it has.

With the Virtual way, find the option to render a 3 dimensional picture of your map. In VirtualScape, you should click on the 3D View button. The angle can be chosen by rotating, moving left-right (Left key and Right key) or up-down (PageUp key and PageDown key), and moving closer-further (Up key and Down key). The nice thing is that sometime, you can take a picture inside of a castle's complicated structure where a physical camera can't get to.
When you are happy with the angle, you have two options: either Save the 3D picture as it is, or Render it into a high quality picture and then Save it. To render into a high quality picture, click on the High Quality button with a camera on it. It may take long, depending on your computer's configuration.To save the picture (high quality or not), choose "Tools>Save picture" on the menu bar.

You now have pictures of your map ready to show everyone. But remember heroscapers.com does not show bitmap files. You need to save your pictures in jpeg or gif to share with everyone here. Normally, pictures taken by a physical camera are in jpeg. The pictures taken in VirtualScape, however, are in bitmap. The easiest way to change the type of your picture is opening it in Paint (comes with Windows) and Save it As a jpeg one. You can use GIMP, which is a free image editing software and has Windows, Linux and Mac versions. GIMP offers a lot of option, you may want to experiment with it, too. Another option is to use Paint.NET. I have not used it, but it is free and it looks good .
My suggestion is to not take a lot of pictures. One or two pictures with good angle that shows the major features of your map is usually enough. Most of the time, one is sufficient. Three, in my opinion, is already too many. But it's just me!
Another suggestion is to reduce the size of the pictures. A picture too large stretches the view screen of the forum and people will have to scroll updown or sideway to see the whole picture. Unless it is something important, they usually don't. So, resizing your pictures to smaller than 801x601 helps everyone to see your pictures in full easily.

3. Upload the pictures.
You have the pictures. Unless you are willing to let others have access to the files on your computers, you can't share them with anyone else except putting them online. The closest place to upload your pictures is heroscapers.com's Gallery. In the forum screen, the link to Gallery is in the top line, together with Home, Downloads and Events Calendar. Thanks to the hard work of our admins, your account is now unified, meaning you do not need to create separate accounts for the Gallery sections. In other words, just go to the Gallery and start upload your pictures. Well, actually you need to be a Site Supporter or a Contributor to be able to upload your pictures in the Gallery section. How to become one is explained here.

The gallery provided here is small though. You will pretty soon find yourself deleting old pictures for the newer ones due to the lack of space. "How can I delete my creations, my beautiful precious creations every bit of which the whole world should see?", you ask. Well, the answer is photobucket. Or any online photo hosting site, for that matter. After registering, you can upload your pictures and have them ready to use.

4. Post the pictures.
To include a picture in your post, the first thing you need to do is to get the link of the picture. You can do that by choosing the picture from the Gallery or from the hosting site. When the picture is opened, Right click on the picture, then choose Properties. You will see the Location of the picture, which is a link. Copy that link to use in the next step.
Now, what you need to do is to click Image button (second from the right, right above the editing box).



A pop-up window will appear and ask you to Paste the link to your picture. Paste the link in the window and click OK. Immediately after you click the button, you will see your picture sitting in your post beautifully. And of course, everyone else can see it, too.

If that is all you want to do, namely showing how pretty your maps are, you do not need to go further. But if you also want other players to build your maps and play on them, or if you think of having one of your maps accepted to the BoV someday, then you should go on and read the next sections.

5. Building Instruction.
I think having a map-editing software and knowing how to use it make the job much easier. I will illustrate it using VirtualScape. I am sure the concept is the same with other software.

The first thing you need to get is a PDF printer. It is a software. When it is installed in your computer, it will create a virtual printer which will only print to PDF files. Instead of printing on paper, it creates a pdf file with the stuff you want to print out. There are many free PDf printer out there, one of them is CutePDF. Follow the link, download it and install it.

Now, in VirtualScape, you can print out your map with building instruction using "Files>Print" from the menu bar. If you do not have PDF printer, you can only print it out on paper. But if you have a PDF printer, such as CutePDF, you can choose it from the list of printers installed in your computer. Then when you print, a pdf file will be created.

If you want to add the name and the author of the map, you can choose "Configuration>Map parameters..." from the menu bar. You can also add the scenario description, how many sets are needed to build the map, and how many layers to include in one page. Experience it to see the difference. Before you print (out on paper or in a pdf file), you can choose "File>Print preview" to see the final result.

One more note: If you want to include a 3D picture of your map in the first page of the file, you need to render a 3D version of your map (see section 2) before you print. I recommend it because it gives people an overview of your map. Only looking at the instruction does not always give a good sense on how a map looks like.

6. Upload the files.
This process is almost the same as uploading your pictures. You need to find a place to host your files. The closest place is the Downloads section here. The link to the Downloads section is next to that of Gallery. Follow the link and upload your file. And don't forget that you need to be a Site Supporter or a Contributor to be able to upload your files.

When you upload a map-building instruction, I think you should upload a screenshot. To add a screenshot of your map, you need to upload the building instruction without worrying about uploading the picture. After the file is uploaded successfully, you will see a place to add pictures. Click Browse... to choose the picture you want to add. You can use the same picture that you show everyone how your map looks like. Without a screenshot, people will less likely to download your map when they come across it in the Donwloads section. Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words. One thing that Velenne has suggested is that you should put a link back to your map thread in the description of your map in the Downloads section. The reason for that is if someone finds your maps from the Downloads section before checking your thread, he will be able to come to your thread for comments. How to create a link is shown in the next section. Another thing he suggested is that you should put how many terrain sets needed to build your map in the description. Here is an example from one of my my own maps.
Another thing to notice, is that the file that you upload needs to be approved. So, if you don't see it immediately right after you upload it, don't try to upload it again nor to PM admins and yell at them. Recheck it later, you will see it there.

7. Link to the file in your post.
Just like with the pictures, you need to get the link to your building instruction file. One of the easy way is to go to the file download page and Copy the link from the address box of your web-browser.
Then Paste the link, highlight it and click URL button, next to Image button.



Just like with linking picture, a pop-up windows will appear and ask you to Paste the link. After you Paste the link and click OK, the link to your file will be created.
If you want a group of words link to your file, you should highlight that group of words and repeat the above process (click the URL button, Paste the link, click OK).

I hope this helps some of you who want to share your maps with us but do not quite know how to. I will include illustrative pictures if you think they are necessary.
If you decide to create a map thread of your own, don't forget to let Dignan know about it so that he can include you to the Index of Mapmakers. I suggest you to visit GameBear's map thread to see an example of a carefully constructed and presented map thread.
All comments and criticism about this post are welcome .

L...o....n......g.....H...e.....r....o.....S....c....a....p...e......r .....
Heroscape Brief Card for Beginners.
How to share your maps with the world.
VirtualScape 101.
My map thread.

Last edited by LongHeroscaper; May 13th, 2008 at 03:57 AM.
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  #2  
Old March 28th, 2008, 10:54 AM
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Wow, good job. This needs to be stickied or something.


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Old March 28th, 2008, 11:52 AM
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Very useful for new members.

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Old March 28th, 2008, 12:50 PM
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Wow, good job. This needs to be stickied or something.
Agreed, and done. A very thorough explanation on how to set up a personal map thread.


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Old March 28th, 2008, 01:49 PM
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Thank you, Long.

Some of us, as you know (because you know me), simply must use our hands to make maps. We can then translate them into virtual reality; but we need that sculpting feel to make it work for us.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 03:03 PM
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Thanks a ton Long! Now I can post some of my tournament maps!
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Old March 28th, 2008, 05:36 PM
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LongHeroscaper LongHeroscaper is offline
 
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Thanks for the encouragement, everyone !
Revdyer, I use my hand to make maps, too, and so do most of us. But when you put the map in VirtualScape, you can edit your map very easily. Especially when you make a map under BoV standard, because one hex being moved from here to there sometimes makes the difference .
When I make map by hand, I pay less attention on the aesthetic part of it than the balance part. When I touch it up in VirtualScape, I move the hexes around to make the map look better. That way works for me so far .

L...o....n......g.....H...e.....r....o.....S....c....a....p...e......r .....
Heroscape Brief Card for Beginners.
How to share your maps with the world.
VirtualScape 101.
My map thread.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 06:16 PM
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This helped me out a LOT, LongHeroscaper!

I kind of laughed when I saw this earlier today after my thread last night titled: "How do you post your maps?"

It's almost as if this was a response to my question, but in a huge way .
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Old March 28th, 2008, 08:23 PM
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LongHeroscaper LongHeroscaper is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gomolka
This helped me out a LOT, LongHeroscaper!

I kind of laughed when I saw this earlier today after my thread last night titled: "How do you post your maps?"

It's almost as if this was a response to my question, but in a huge way .
Actually, you were the last straw that broke my laziness and made me write this post. And of course I mean it in a good way . I have seen many good answers to the question like yours (and Cav's is an example), but we can't always rewrite everything in details each time someone asks. So, hopefully this post can save everyone some time so that we can post other thing more interesting .

L...o....n......g.....H...e.....r....o.....S....c....a....p...e......r .....
Heroscape Brief Card for Beginners.
How to share your maps with the world.
VirtualScape 101.
My map thread.
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  #10  
Old March 28th, 2008, 08:50 PM
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I will join the list of people saying thanks Long! Just this past weekend I was discussing this very thing with Rodriquez and this tutorial is a great resource. Now I will begin posting some of my maps.

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Old March 28th, 2008, 11:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LongHeroscaper
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gomolka
This helped me out a LOT, LongHeroscaper!

I kind of laughed when I saw this earlier today after my thread last night titled: "How do you post your maps?"

It's almost as if this was a response to my question, but in a huge way .
Actually, you were the last straw that broke my laziness and made me write this post. And of course I mean it in a good way . I have seen many good answers to the question like yours (and Cav's is an example), but we can't always rewrite everything in details each time someone asks. So, hopefully this post can save everyone some time so that we can post other thing more interesting .
Hahaha. Before I posted that thread I was looking around and searching through the threads to try and fine a really detailed explanation on how to post your maps. As one of the responses, someone just left me with a link to an image hosting site.

Once again, I, along with many others out there, sincerely thank you for this thread, and this is a great contribution to the Heroscapers forums!
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  #12  
Old March 29th, 2008, 01:31 AM
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Wow. This thread gets a cookie. Full of win.
Thank you for writing this up. I might finally start a map thread. Maybe.

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