A good build requires a solid foundation which I why I chose to build on the NLD starter map. As with most starter maps you begin with an empty level terrain as well as the essential elements such as a start point, load places, animal areas, and splines. The NLD map adds some additional grass foliage layers which add are nice for adding some variety to the landscape. Another reason I like the NLD starter map versus some of the others is that NLD does not include all of the default assets that some starter maps do. I’m comfortable pulling in the assets I want and not starting off with unneeded clutter seems like a plus to me. Speaking of assets I’ll likely create a page to list the assets being incorporated into the map though these will be subject to change as the map progresses towards completion.
There are many ways to go about building a map but a general rule of thumb is to start by laying out your road system and then adjusting your terrain to meet the contours of the roads. Good advice which I chose to ignore, or at least ignore this time around. As I had mentioned earlier there were a few false starts on this map. I had initially started by laying out the roads and terraforming the terrain before moving on to integrating additional crop types into the map. The first step is a lot more labor intensive than it sounds. Getting it right is a fiddly process that involves a lot of jumping back and forth between GE and the game to check how everything is shaping up. Eventually I got to point where I was satisfied with what I had and moved on to incorporating the additional crop types. Unfortunately this didn’t go so well, I got some graphical glitches I could not get rid of and in the end I decided to scrap everything and start over.
This time around I decided to start with getting the additional crops set up and then moving on to the roads and terrain which while time consuming is pretty strait forward. This meant that for the foreseeable future I’d be spending more time in Notepad++ than I would GE. Notepad++ without question gets my vote for being the unsung hero of creating a map. For those unfamiliar with the process adding new crop types involves adding new textures, modifying the map.i3d to map to these textures, modifying the map.i3d further to configure the new crops, adding the AdditionalMapTypes lua script and then making changes to the map.xml and the modDesc.xml. None on which is terribly hard but it’s easy to make a mistake which inevitably leads to time spent hunting down and squashing that mistake.
One long weekend later and Oats, Rye, Millet, and Triticale were added to my map. I threw down a field with each of the new crop types and proceeded to harvest them all with the big NH harvester. Everything looked good, the graphical glitches were gone. Feeling the need for some playtime before moving on the next step I decide to do some more harvesting with the new crop types. This time around I chose the largest Case IH and again things went swimmingly. Not quite ready to get back to work I broke out the big Massey Ferguson for another go at harvesting. Crap! Why the frak is the cutter effect running down the side of the combine? Tried it again with the NH and the case, no glitch, back to the Massey, glitch city!
My investigations over the next two days as to why my map had a distinctly anti Massey Ferguson bias proved to be futile. As a last ditch effort to salvage my weekends work I turned the German speaking Marhu.net forum where the creator of the AdditionalMapTypes was rumored to lurk. One problem, Ich spreche kein Deutsch. Fortunatley with the aid of Google translate I was able work my way through 20 or so pages of the AdditionalMapTypes support thread until I found a post from another user who was having the same problem. My luck ws to take a turn for the better. Jaguar95, the other poster with the same problem, speaks english, and while he couldn’t tell me why the problem was cropping up he did have a work around. Back on track at last, weekends work salvaged!