SSG's Campaign Editor
Darklords Rising is the follow-up game to Reign of Heroes containing all the original Reign of Heroes scenarios plus fifteen new ones, four new campaigns, further hero types, armies, spells and abilities and an enhanced A.I. (Check out The Wargamer's Darklords Rising Review.)
Perhaps of even more interest to the Warlords fan, SSG has provided an editor for maps, armies, items and campaign creation. They have released this free as part of the 1.01 patch without financial support from their publisher Red Orb. SSG's effort illustrates just how much the design company cares about supporting its games.
Unfortunately Red Orb decided not to provide technical support or develop full documentation for the editor. Although the advertising on the box actively promotes the editor, a ReadMe notice declares non-support, there isn't a single word in the manual about the editor, and there's only a very basic set of instructions with an absurdly simple example in the ReadMe file found in the Editor folder.
It`s hard to understand why Red Orb chose not to document and support the editor properly as the actual product is well constructed, fairly robust, has a smooth interface and can produce scenarios every bit as good as the originals.
The problem with the Darklords Rising Editor is not so much how to put it into basic use but more in learning how to use all the options available, and believe me, they are extensive. There is a plethora of on/off buttons, slider bars and lists to alter just about everything from choices of heroes, sides, armies, items and shields, selection of cities, sites and ruins, to numerous different playing conditions and a wide range of victory criteria. All this is backed up with extensive text-editing facilities to customize your scenario or campaign.
A second problem is the lack of accurate or common nomenclature across the sections of the editor. The Map Editor is incorrectly named as it handles everything related to scenario design and should be called The Scenario Editor. Scenarios are called episodes in the Campaign Editor and then again chapters in the Campaign game. To add further confusion there is an Item Editor and an Edit Item function within the Map Editor! Clearly the development team could not decide on a common language.
The purpose of this article is therefore to give a fairly detailed description of how these editors work as well as to conduct a general review. To try to remove some of this confusion I have included a Menu Chart (below) which summarizes the purpose of each section and the links between them.
The Darklords Rising Editor is in two parts: the Map Editor which creates the scenarios and the Campaign Editor which combines the scenarios and provides the links between them.
The Darklords Rising structure has scenario parameter options at three levels. At the highest level you decide what side, army, hero, city, site, ruin or item sets you wish to include from the Darklords Rising database. At the second level you select units from these sets for allocation to sides and locations on the map. The third level, inserted into the Campaign Editor, allows further operational changes identical to those available when starting to play a stand alone scenario, i.e. hidden map, fog of war, spying, play balance etc.
As defaults operate at every level, a scenario can be set up very simply by accepting most of them. Alternatively you can make detailed changes at every level, customizing your scenario to a very high degree.
After starting up the Darklords Rising Map Editor, the first screen requires you to enter a unique eight letter code, the title of the scenario and, a nice touch here, your name as author. You also have to select one of four map sizes and choose a tile set, (e.g. Grasslands, Dungeon etc.) to be used when making the map. Once this is done, click on okay and you are into the Main Menu which shows the scenario options: NEW, LOAD, PACK and UNPACK, and the Item Editor.
Taking the NEW option brings up the screen with the editors for MAP, SIDES, ITEMS, DIPLOMACY and DATA. It's debatable where you should begin when creating a new scenario, but let's start with EDIT SIDES.
The Skull buttons indicate that the side is included in your scenario and if you click on any of the black Names boxes on the left you can change the name of the side (limited to 16 letters).
Clicking on a shield will bring up another screen where you can customize the shield by picking a different base, ordinary and charge for each side.
To set up the armies for each side click on EDIT SIDES. Starting at the top, choose whether the side is human or one of the three levels: Knight, Lord or War Lord for a computer opponent. On the left are the side`s current sets of Regular, Mercenary and Allied armies along with the Hero Set. Any one of these can be altered individually by clicking on the name or a completely new set can be generated by taking the CUSTOM option at the bottom of the screen.
On the right are the MANA indicators for type used, how much the side has at start and the maximum amount allowed at any one time. The other on/off buttons are to decide whether mercenaries, merchants or item-selling are allowed. Finally at lower right you can type in a description of the side. Repeat the above process for the other sides.
Take the EDIT ITEMS option and you will see a list of all the items currently available to the scenario, divided into two groups, compulsory and optional. If you have created any new items, see Section II later on. Edit Items is where you bring your new items into the scenario, substituting them for existing items.
This is also a high-level editor which you don`t need to use at the beginning. It covers editing the strengths of the monsters in ruins and the creation of different sets of cities, sites and ruins. The possible changes here are quite small apart from the cities, where you can choose any four city types from the ten available.
Having established the sides, you can now define their relationships with one another by going to the Diplomacy Screen. Here you select all the combinations of two sides and indicate their standing or bias. Thus if you have four sides you need six statements.
Now that the sides and armies are set up you can create the map. The quickest way to do this is to take the COMMAND option and then EDIT WHOLE MAP where you can employ a simple painting process, using larger brushes and the fill option, to create the basic features of the map. Once this is done, go back to the Map Editor to use the detailed tiles to remove the blocky shapes, finish off the finer details and add any animated features. It is probably better to add the roads after you have located the cities. Use the REMAP icon to update the strategic map with any changes you have made.
The range of tiles available will depend on which of the sets (Grasslands, Outlands, Citadel, Dungeon, Cavern or Plains) you chose at the start.
Most tiles are common to all sets but I found the Cavern set the most flexible as it has both walls and a good series of generic animated tiles. It does not have forests but these can be substituted by overlay trees.
Names of countries, rivers etc. can be put on the strategic map by using a paint program to edit the Strat_l.bmp file in the Scenario Folder.
The next step is to place the cities, villages etc. Take the CITIES option and left click on the large map to place the default city. Immediately the City Screen comes up where you define its characteristics. At the top of the screen enter the name and a description and at the bottom right choose type and level of city, gold and mana type production. If the city is owned by a neutral side choose up to four of the armies displayed to be produced there and then exit.
If the city is not neutral then click on the shield (bottom left), taking you to the Ownership and Production screen. Declare city ownership by clicking on the side and indicate if it is the capitol. The regular armies shown are those you defined when editing sides. Choose up to four of these for production in that city.
Take the SITES option and place the site (the default is always a Port) with a left click on the map usually close to a city, as whoever owns the city gets any benefits accruing from the site. The Sites screen now comes up where you can select the type of site and give it a name and description. You can also edit any other existing sites by locating and clicking on them on the strategic map at the top of the screen.
Similar procedure to Sites but a ruin can be located anywhere. Ruins give up a one time reward which is randomly selected from the set you define made up from gold, mana, sage, items and allies. You can also choose a monster to guard the ruin.
GENERAL POINTS ON CITIES, SITES AND RUINS
A description is optional but always give the feature a name. Otherwise it will not appear in the game. If you cannot be bothered to give all features a name use the RANDOM function which will give a random name to any feature which does not have one.
When you are in any of these screens you can edit similar existing features by finding and clicking on them on the strategic map. To directly edit existing cities, sites or ruins left-click on the PAPER icon and then right-click on the feature to be edited.
To remove any of them click the ERASER icon and then click the feature to be removed.
SETTING UP HEROES
Click on the HERO icon, then click on the required location and the Hero Screen pops up. You have already chosen the hero types when editing the sides so the pictures of the four heroes should now correspond to that selection for each of the sides. Check this by clicking on each of the sides.
Starting with the first side, click on the first hero, decide sex, flight and move bonus, type in his/her name at the top, then set level, chance of appearing (top right), experience points (XP) and statistics. Now choose Items and then Abilities by clicking on the yellow numbers. Note that items have a chance percentage associated with them so to be certain your hero has this item set this to 100% on the Item Screen. Repeat for all the other heroes.
Be very careful and deliberate when placing heroes. I found that randomly editing the Heroes can often confuse the computer causing it to put them on the wrong sides or in different locations both in the stand alone scenario and more frequently in the campaign. If this happens, it is better to delete all the heroes in the scenario where the problem occurs and start again.
You have already set up Army production in the cities but you will need some troops to start the scenario off. Click on the ARMY icon then right click in chosen location. The Army Placement screen will appear with pictures of the army set you chose when editing the sides. Choose one of the pictures, set the number required then click Okay and your armies are placed. Right-click again in another location and repeat the process until you have sufficient troops. To remove an army, right-click directly on it and then take the delete option on the Army Placement screen.
The ITEMS EDITOR is a high-level adjuster which allows you to edit items in the database and even create new items with different characteristics. This is probably worth leaving until you have mastered all the other aspects of Darklords Rising scenario design.
To create a new item click on NEW and enter an eight-letter code. Type in the name of the item, pick a picture and decide on level of item. Now click on the dash next to abilities and choose from the list. Finally take the SAVE option to put this profile in the database.
The creation of a campaign is very easy, the major effort being in the writing of the campaign briefing and introductory, win and loss texts for the individual scenarios.
After you have added a scenario (in this editor called an episode) you can edit it within the campaign. There are four Edit sections, OPTIONS, RULES, REWARDS and TEXT.
The OPTIONS are the same operational ones that appear at the beginning of play in a stand alone scenario and include all the alternative victory conditions. The RULES are for beefing up the strength of a particular side and REWARDS define the number of units that can have one-step increases in strength, hits etc. at the end of the scenario.
The Campaign Editor does not save its own version of a scenario so it will automatically pick up any scenario changes you subsequently make with the Map Editor, saving time and effort.
The Darklords Rising Editor is a very good product which should have been marketed properly with a professional manual. The scenario editor has probably got more options than most games, whilst the Campaign Editor is one of the easiest to use that I have encountered. It?s inherent flexibility promotes plenty of creative thinking and once people get the hang of it I can imagine the Internet being awash with Darklords Rising user scenarios and Campaigns.
To start that ball rolling I`ve included my "Lord of The Rings" Campaign. You must have the Warlords III Darklords Rising Editor to be able to use it.
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Last update: 09.08.2013