Making Modifications and Total Conversions for Meteor

This document provides information about making modifications for Meteor. It also includes a step by step guide describing how to make your own total conversion.

Contents


Introduction

Nowadays a game modification (mod) can be anything from a new map to a total conversion. One of the great things about Meteor is that it caters for this.

Meteor Data

Meteor uses a complex but well thought out data system. I like to describe it like a hierarchy with a game map being at the top. A game map may contain instances of tiles, sprites, races, players and projectiles.

 

The Base Folder

In the game folder there is sub-folder called "base" which contains all of the data used by Meteor, this is clearly visible in Windows Explorer.

The sub-folders within the base folder are split into various elements for ease of working.

 

How Mods Work

Note: If you create your mod properly then you wont need to touch your original Meteor data files at all.

In a nutshell a mod is a second base folder that contains your new data.  The original data will also be available to your mod but if you use files with the same names as the original data then the modded files take precedence.  It is important to understand this definition.

 

Making a Mod

Making a mod from scratch typically involves:

It is recommended that you use the Meteor Mod Manager to create new mods for Meteor as this creates the folder structure and duplicates certain files automatically.  The Meteor Mod Manager is a separate download from www.jbgames.com.


Elements of the Game

Maps

Maps are at heart of a game, they are the direct interface with the player. A map is made up from tiles, sprites, races (monsters), power ups, projectiles, sound and players (your game character). All of these elements may be customised.

Map Lists

Map lists control which maps (and music) are played for both single player/cooperative and head to head.  These map lists should be saved in your mod's "MapLists" folder with the following filenames:

Tiles

In real life tiles are flat square things. In Meteor they are no different. All maps consist of a base layer of tiles, you can not get rid of them, you can just change them, they are always there, they are everywhere, simple as that.

Tiles are edited in the Tile Editor (which is basically a very simple art package). Special tiles may also be set up that are linked. This means that "walking" into a tile may cause that tile (or another tile elsewhere) to change. This is basically how the doors and switches work. Note that special tiles may not work unless you posses a certain item (this is how keys work) and that an event sound may be played when they do work (hence the "werrrrr" door open sound). Got all that? If so then read on.

Important Note on Tiles

You should never modify the main tileset, instead you should create an extended tileset which can be distributed with your new game files.  An extended tileset can be used by your maps, it sits side by side with the main tileset giving you an additional 1024 tiles which you can modify.

To make an extended tileset: 

  1. Open the Tile Editor
  2. Create a new tileset ("New Tileset" button)
  3. Save your tileset with a new filename ("Save Tileset As" button)
  4. Exit the Tile Editor and open the Map Editor.
  5. Open the Advanced Map Properties ("Advanced Map Properties" button)
  6. Click on "Extended Tileset" and select your tileset.

Now when you go to pick a tile you get an additional 1024 tiles.  Tiles 1025 to 2048 are from your tileset.  Note that tiles can be edited directly from the Tile Selector by right clicking on the tile and selecting "Edit".

Sprites

The sprites system in Meteor is real simple but very effective. A sprite is like an animated gif, you draw (well import) each frame and assign them display times (in 100/sec). For additional visual stimulation you may place sub bitmaps on top that will always be there (i.e. for all frames). To add to the fun these sub bitmaps may spin around (this is how helicopter rotors work). Use magic ping (255,255,0 RGB) for transparent pixels (does not work for tiles). Using all this you can make some pretty cool animated sprites (now get to work!).

Note that Meteor will automatically rotate sprites during the game in real time so you don't have to worry about making loads of frames for different angles. When making a sprite just make sure that they point (or face) upwards.

Also, try to avoid making sprites that are too large (i.e. half of the game screen!), this will really impact on the game speed.

Races

Races are the classes that make all of the creatures (except you because you are special!) in the game what they are. When you place a unit on the map it is an occurrence of a race.

Each race has the usual properties that you would expect like hit points, speed, terrain type (land/air/water etc) and so on. However each race also inherits other Meteor entities including sprites and weapons.

In terms of sprites you can have three of these per race (one for still, one for moving and one for when the unit is wasted). If you are not bothered about moving animation then just use the same sprite for both, the wasted sprite may be left blank if you don't fancy making one.

You can add weapons to your race buy selecting weapons (these are made in the Weapon Editor) and placing them on top (one at a time).

I gave the sheep rocket launchers once (they blew the crap out of me), hmmm perhaps I could make a mod where the sheep battle it out with the cows.


How to make a Total Conversion

This section describes the steps required to make a total conversion for Meteor.

Create Mod Folder

Before you do anything you will need to create a folder (or directory) for your modified data. The supplied "makemod.bat" (in the main game folder) will help you do this, just type "makemod <YOUR FOLDER NAME>". Note that as Meteor is currently a DOS application a DOS friendly folder name must be supplied.

Once you have done this a folder will be created that contains all the required sub-folders and core files. A batch file called <YOUR FOLDER NAME>.bat" will also be created in the main game folder which you can use to run your mod later on.

Create Sprites

Monsters, map objects (not tiles), your player character, weapons and power ups all use sprites. You will need to make any sprites that you wish to use using the Sprite Editor and save them to your "<MOD FOLDER>\sprites" folder. See the Sprite Editor documentation for more information on how to do this.

Add Sounds

In my opinion adding new sounds to game mod is essential to promote a unique atmosphere. Sounds are stored within the "soundfx" sub-folder as standard wave (".WAV") files. Mono 8 or 16 bit samples at 22KHz should be more than sufficient.

Meteor has a clever way of playing different variations of sound effects. Basically you may have many samples with same filename by adding a digit on the end. For example "boom.wav", "boom2.wav" and "boom3.wav" will all be referenced by Meteor as "boom". Thus when Meteor is asked to play "boom" it will randomly play one of the boom sounds. Note that only one digit may be added to end of a filename.

What this all means is that you can have up to 11 files for each sound (zero to 9 and one more with no number added). Note that filenames (not including the ".wav" extensions may not exceed 8 characters.

You may want to create sounds for:

Remember that you can override the standard Meteor sounds by putting files with the same names in your mods folder. If a standard Meteor sound has more than one file and your mod folder sound with the same name only has one sound then all of the standard files will be ignored. I hope that all makes sense.

Note that Meteor does not have a sound editor so you will need to make your wave files elsewhere.

Create Projectiles

The next step is to create any new projectiles for your mod, like anything else you may use the standard projectiles included with Meteor is your are not too bothered. However if you do want to create custom projectiles then refer to the Projectile Editor section for more help.

Create Weapons

Next you should create any custom weapons for your mod using the Weapon Editor, note that a weapon is made up from some variables, a projectile and sprite for the weapon's image. See the Weapon Editor section for more information on weapon editing.

Add Items and Power Ups

The items and power ups system in Meteor is pretty simple. You set up your items (example items are a bullet, a hit point or a pistol). Then you add power ups which are made up from a sprite (i.e. a picture of a box of bullets) and an amount of which certain item to credit the player.

An example of this would be a box of rockets power up. This would refer to a sprite that looks like a box of rockets and would award the player with 10 "rocket" items.

Create Races

Now is the time to start making your races using the Race Editor. Races define the characteristics and appearance of all of the creatures on the map (this does not include the player).

Using the Ra e Editor you can the change the look (sprites), sound and behavior of each race. This includes equipping them with any weapons that you may ha e made earlier on using the Weapon Editor.

For more help on editing race please refer to the Race Editor section.

Create Players

If you have made any new weapons for use by the player or you simply do not want to use the default Meteor player then now is the time to create your new players.

Players characters are created using the Character Editor. A player character is what defines the appearance and characteristics of the player. They also define which weapons the player may use.

Note that you can have a number of player characters and specify a different one to use for each of your maps. This is pretty cool because it makes if possible to make the player radically different between maps. For one map the player could be a human and for the next a tank, boat or helicopter. This should make things interesting.

For help on creating players please refer to the Character Editor section. For help changing the player character to be used on a map then refer to the Map Editor section.


Meteor Web Site    Get Meteor mods and maps from meteormods.com    Official Meteor forum

Last Modified: 04 September 2005
Copyright (C) 1998 to 2005 by James Bunting. all rights reserved.
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