Empire Earth 2
Scenario Editor Overview (Part 2)



The Editor

The Edit menu option contains of course, the editing functions for the scenario editor objects one would expect, such as undo, redo, cut, past, delete. It seems very handy as it seems to have a keep an extensive history of your changes, so you can undo and redo a lot of actions. I didn't test out how many steps it can actually keep but even a few steps can be a godsend. However, John from Mad Doc warns that some actions aren't undoable from this undo/redo command. So still be careful about what you try to with this feature. But for just about all common scenario editing, you can pretty much count on it. The Edit menu also contains much of the scenario management, indeed orchestration for your scenarios. The number of built-in settings (it includes a very rich cinematics editor) will bring your scenario to life. We will now go on to describe some of these features.

There is a short walkthrough of how to use the scenario editor for map editing, included in the installation. This is found in your base EE2 game installed folder. It's not exactly what you call documentation, but it should be enough to get you started. It contains a 6 step process that takes you from starting the Empire Earth 2 Editor to Saving your map.

Scripting

There has already been a lot of discussion about whether or not Empire Earth 2 will use a trigger system or not. The short answer is no. It will in fact use a compiled scenario scripting language. In all likelihood, it will resemble C programming, and in fact, John Cataldo mentioned that snippets of C code can literally be used within the script. It will also require a compiler in order for it to be turned into DLL files which the scenarios need to execute the script. The preview copy we got, does not seem to include the compiler. But John said that it should be in the game when its released. Scripting maybe a turn-off to some scenario designers, but I was told they will also release the documentation for the scripting language. Apparently though it is a very hefty volume, at least thats the impression I got when I asked about it. So while it maybe a bit of a learning curve, it probably means that you can do a lot with the scripting. I am not sure how much more you can tap into the game's innerts to do incredible scenarios due to it being compiled into DLL's. But certainly it should mean that the speed performance of scenarios should be fairly well behaved.

However,it should be noted that as of the current release of Empire Earth 2, the scripting feature is not current available for public use. Mad Doc is busy working with their publisher to deal with this very pressing issue for the scenario designers in their fanbase.

It appears that the scripts (or rather compile DLL's of scripts) are imbedded into the scenarios from the Edit menu under mission properties, which you set in the Script FIle type in box. You can also use the Browse button to select from all the DLL's in your games ScriptLib folder. You can see what that looks like from the picture on the right.

Defining the Mission

You can also set the number of entities (human or computer) that are in the scenario from here, what civilization each will belong to, and what epoch they start in, and on the far right the player color. What is interesting is that you can set its AI properties.

The game seems to be framed by the three main lines of research; Miltary, Imperial, and Economic; and it appears you can set the AI to exhibit one of these three types of personalities. There is also a setting for AI map type, which would imply that there are different AI behaviours based on map type. This is a good thing since how many times have we seen the AI act like a complete idiot on sea maps?

In the mission properties panel. There are a number of type in boxes, which if you load up the second Tutorial scenario will have some cryptic references such as text_t2_mission_name or text_T2_aztec_civ. The type in box near to the Mission Name label as the name implies allows you to reference a string that gives the scenario a title. The set of type of boxes along the left of the panel below the Name heading, allows you to reference a string which gives each AI entity in the name a Player name. For example "Admiral Nelson" might be the player name for a scenario about the Battle of Trafalgar. The set of type of boxes below the heading named Custom Civ Name, is used to assign a name for the group that each player or AI entity represents. This is useful if you want to use more specific civilization or group names instead of just the basic civilizations provided by the game. For example, you may want to use the Greek civilization to represent the "Athenians" and show up as that in your scenario. Now you may ask so how do these cryptic looking references translate to the names I want to assign.

Well, its actually quite simple, but requires a little bit of extra effort. If you look into your game folder, you will see inside that, a folder names zips. If you navigate down, you will see a file called db.zip. If you are using Windows XP you should be able to just keep navigating into the files and folders. If not just unzip the db.zip file into the main game directory. So if you installed your game in the C:\Program Files\Sierra\Empire Earth II\ folder, then there should now be a folder under that called "db". From there you are essentually modding the game, but you can start changing things like the civilization and player names of your scenarios. If you know go to "Text" folder. You will see a number of files with the UTF8 extension. If you look into the dbtext_scenario_tutorial2.utf8 file, you will recognize those cryptic text references within the file. For example text_t2_mission_name translates to "Conquistadors". The text_t2_mission_name is known as the key and the "Conquistadors" is called the translated string, which is what shows up in your scenarios when you play them. So when that scenario loads up, you see that the scenario is called "Conquistadors". So now, what do you do to add a text reference for your own scenario.

All you need to do is create a new text file with the UTF8 extension and place it inside this unzipped folder where you found all the scenario UTF8 text files. In this new file you've created, you can enter as many sets of text translation references as your scenario requires. This is usually of the form:

text_t2_mission_name,"""Conquistadors"""

The game will automatically search through all of the files in the folder to translate your key. However, this means that all keys has to be unique. So you should try to create keys that are unique to your scenario, like text_mygreatscenario1_mycivname. You should then also distribute this key to translated string file along with your scenario, and provide a clear instructions on how to install both sets of files, or better yet create an autom installer to put everything in the right place automatically. Note, that you do not need to have every file from the original zipped db file in your unzipped version. Only those that you wish to change. In the case of scenario, you only need to have the \db\Text\ folder structure, and your own scenario specific UTF8 file.

Diplomacy

You can set the diplomacy setting from the Edit->Diplomacy menu option shown on the right. It is pretty self-explanatory for the most part. You can set the scenario entities to Hostile, Neutral, Allied or Full. I would guess that the last option creates a connection between the entities that has "full" diplomatic connection with each other. This probably means that for all intents and purposes they can be treated as one entity except in name, as all aspects of their economy, land rights, line of sight and victory and basically what is important are treated as if both had the same rights.

What is interesting, is that the allied option allows you to set the same conditions as you would in game against opponents. What you may ask those this mean? Well Empire Earth 2 seems to have the most sophisticated diplomacy options I've seen in an RTS. It allows you to set very specific conditions on alliances, from typical resource tributes, to unit trading, to line of sight sharing, territory sharing and trading and finally time limits on these conditions.

Victory Conditions

The victory condition settings brings up a screen which you can see on the left, that provides you a list of typical victory conditions that are pre-programmed in a typical skirmish game. These include; conquest, crowns (number), crowns (time), king of the hill, capitols, allied capitols, regicide, hot spots, territories, and sole survivor.

There is one additional choice however, that is different. This one is "Script says so", as the name implies this makes the victory condition of the scenario dependent on your scenario script. John from Mad Doc warns that you have to be careful when you use this option, to make sure your script handles the victory condition properly or else your scenario will not have an ending.


Other Edit Options

Finally there are two more options under the Edit Menu. The "Create/Assign Groups" and "Rename All Territories" options. The first is used to create and assign your units and buildings to organized groups. The second is used assign names to the territories on the map, and the starting city name. These will be described in greater detail later in this article.

Next: Lights, Camera, Action!
Pages: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8


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