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Fubster's World Building DLL for EDIE - A Review

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  • flaurez
    I downloaded the Fubster DLL for EDIE (Aka the Fubby ) a few weeks ago (http://killerbeesoftware.com/kbsgames/ednew/extras.shtml) and have been fooling around
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 21, 2004
      I downloaded the Fubster DLL for EDIE (Aka "the Fubby") a few
      weeks
      ago (http://killerbeesoftware.com/kbsgames/ednew/extras.shtml) and
      have been fooling around with it considerably. I have to say this -
      this thing is awesome. Anyone who is a fan of this game and likes to
      create maps, who desires maps which are more balanced, more
      interesting, or who just likes to have more control over the process
      of map-making, is going to love this nifty little guy and should
      download it and give it a go...

      Note: I also posted this at the Swarm forum at KillerBee (with
      pictures! - check it out if you would like some groovy visuals :))

      First off, when I heard about the DLL, and not being too
      knowledgeable about technical stuff, I figured it was just in the
      form of a complex file of some type and would be somehow difficult to
      use. As it turns out, it's really an actual program in itself, with a
      professional looking interface, and a myriad of clickable functions
      and options.

      I'll get to what all the various features of the program are in a
      second, but first I would like to briefly describe the install and
      how one accesses Fubby from within EDIE...

      Installation

      The installation is pretty straight forward, although there are a
      couple of steps involved. After one downloads the zip file you simply
      click on the file and let winzip launch. Inside the zip are 3 files.
      Now you want to create a temp folder somewhere and extract these 3
      files into that folder. Ok, now go to that temp folder and click on
      the file called 'Setup'. This will launch the program installation
      screen, which is quite well done and typical of a professional
      looking install screen. Click Ok and off you go! (Note- I encountered
      another screen at this point, telling me my system files were out of
      date and would I like them to be updated - after sending a worried
      message to Fubster, who was very helpful, I said yes to this and
      everything installed fine...)

      Now after the install has completed there's one more small step.
      There's one change you must make to the Ed.ini file. Open up the
      Ed.ini in Notepad (just drag the file onto Notepad) and
      Change the line that reads

      "WORLDBUILD_DLL=WorldBuild.dll" so it says
      "WORLDBUILD_DLL=Fub.dll" (ignore quotes)

      This line is about 3/4 of the way down in the file in the section
      called 'Worldbuild'. Make sure to save your changes to the ini and
      close it. Now you're all set...

      Accessing within EDIE

      Method 1

      1) Go to Game Editor - New World
      2) You will be presented with the Map Sizing screen. Here's where you
      pick the dimensions of your map as well as map wrap. This is the same
      screen as usually comes up and is also used by the Fubby...set the
      options and click OK
      3) Now you're into the editor screen, so far nothing new has
      happened and you're wondering 'where the heck is the Fubster
      program!' Not to worry, it'll pop up soon...
      4) Go to Map - Build with DLL from the menu
      5) You will now be presented with 2 screens which usually come up
      when using the stock map editor. Click OK on both of these screens
      (they will have no bearing on the Fubby's operations)
      6) After clicking ok on the 2nd one, there will be a brief pause, and
      then - bingo! - up pops Fubster's Random Map Builder Interface! (see
      first screenshot)

      Method 2

      1) Go to Play Game – choose Advanced/Standard/Basic - then
      choose "Generate Random World with DLL"
      2) The map sizing screen comes up, choose your map size and click ok.
      (choose 100*100 with map wrap to follow examples in this review)
      3) The two unneccesary screens come up, click ok on them.
      4) Voila! The Fubby appears!

      The Program

      As you can see, there are 5 main sections of the program, represented
      by the 5 tabs "Land Masses", "Terrain and Cities", "Player
      Cities", "Building Algorithms", and "Shapes". Now there are a lot of
      functions and choices in this program – it lets you control a
      heck of
      a lot of stuff (some I didn't even know existed!) – so
      it's important
      to read the Fub Readme file which should be in your EDIE folder which
      explains what everything means and does. One thing I really like
      about the program is that you can choose to keep things really
      simply, picking only a few important options with a mouse click or
      typing in a few numbers here and there; or you can get very detailed
      and control a whole shwack of options. In fact, there are many, many
      options available in this program, some of which I have yet to fully
      understand and will not get into in this review. For now I'll
      just go
      the fairly simple route to give the reader a basic idea of what's
      going on…

      The first section is probably the most important and quite a few
      things are set here. The first part we'll look at is `Land
      Masses'
      Here we'll choose large, medium, or small land masses, how many
      of
      them, how big they are, and what `range' to tell the Fubby to
      choose
      from for each. We will also choose the `Sea Border Size'
      – how far
      apart the islands are from eachother are how far away from the map
      edge. Which numbers you put into these categories will likely depend
      on two main things, what size of map you picked, and how much
      land/water you like on your maps. Since you can't see the map
      until
      it's built (or if it's for a PBM game until you actually
      start
      playing on it) you will have to create the map `blind' as it
      were,
      trusting that you're setting the right parameters. With practice
      you
      will get better and know what options to set to get the map you want.

      At the very bottom of the program is a very helpful aid for
      this…The
      little section that says Land = is telling you what percentage of the
      map is currently land, so we see here we have 84% land – and
      therefore 16% water. That's a lot of land, and as I like a lot of
      water on my maps, we'll be taking out some land masses to change
      this. As you change the land masses this percentage will update
      itself. Just enter the changes and click in another box somewhere
      else and you'll see the percentage change.

      Lo =Hi: This is telling you what the random range will be. So for
      example in the large category you're telling it to pick between 3
      and
      5 large land masses. Now if you click a checkmark beside `Lo'
      there
      will be no randomness. It will simply put 3 large land masses on the
      map. This can be handy if you really want to closely control the
      amount of land there is.

      The second box automatically changes to 3. Ofcoarse you can simply
      enter the same number in both boxes manually yourself to accomplish
      the same thing. You will see this Lo =Hi choice in many sections of
      Fubby…

      Moving on, we will set the low =hi for land mass size and pick 1
      large, 6 medium,, and 15 small, as this will give us an example of a
      map with lots of water and strategically placed land – there will
      be
      38% land to be exact - everyone will have their own goals as far as
      the land/water ratio goes, depending on the kind of game one wants to
      create. The one large land mass will likely be the decisive factor in
      the game – whichever player controls this baby is likely going to
      win. However since it will be placed right in the middle, then the
      opponents may end up in a fierce battle for it, which makes for some
      quite interesting situations…To this effect, and to also make
      sure
      the medium and small islands are spread out evenly, we will checkmark
      the option `Space Large Land Masses Evenly Apart' in the
      section on
      the right.

      Terrain and Cities

      This one is pretty self explanatory and chooses the parameters for
      terrain type and cities. I've set everything in terrain at 5-10%
      except mountains at 10-15%, just to make things interesting. How
      frustrating when there's an annoying mountain range blocking
      your
      armour divisions!

      For cities, I've chosen exactly 135, a fairly large number, but
      small
      enough that there might be some resource drain problems later in the
      game. Production is at between 75% and 150% - a pretty wide range
      which will make capturing those 150's pretty important. `%
      Specialty'
      is between 20-25%, which controls what percentage of the cities will
      have a production specialty. What that specialty is will be randomly
      set as this cannot be controlled. (Would be interesting to be able to
      pick something though, like `Carriers' and then see how the
      players
      try to use this to their advantage, could end up with some nice
      carrier battles). Lastly on this screen there is `% Coastal',
      which
      chooses the percentage of cities which will be coastal cities –
      important in a game with a lot of water…

      The next tab `Player Cities' is currently blank, and one
      hopes that
      this means there are some further developments planned in regards to
      this important aspect of things. In particular – where are the
      starting cities, and perhaps even how many of them. But where they
      are is the most important factor I would say, and to be able to
      create fair starting positions would be terrific. The lack of this is
      really the only major deficiency in the program…

      Building Algorithms

      Now things start to get a little complicated, and I have to admit I
      have yet to master and learn fully the choices on this tab. Suffice
      it to say that choosing `Wandering Blob' or `Stick
      Blob' creates
      random extensions to your land masses, just to mix things up a little
      bit and keep everything from being too symmetrical and predictable.
      The `Wandering Blob' will create larger sized extensions, and
      the `Stick Blob' will create more or less thin extensions.
      The `wgt'
      box tells the Fubby how much `weight' to assign to each
      choice… For
      now I'll pick the Wandering type only, and I'll toss in some
      other
      numbers there to make things `erratic' – we don't
      want to end up with
      bland islands! Also, on the right we have `Shapes', which is
      directly related to the last tab, and basically authorizes the use of
      the shapes to be chosen on that screen…

      Shapes

      I find this screen to be quite interesting, as it let's you pick
      the
      basic geometric shapes to be used for your islands and land masses.
      I've picked a few `unusual' shapes, to spice things up a
      bit. These
      shapes provide islands with all sorts of nooks and crannies, with
      harbors and peninsulas which will surely have an interesting
      strategic effect on the game…

      Ok when we're finally ready we're going to click on Build in
      the
      lower right corner and the Fubby takes a few seconds to do its work.
      Then – Voila! We have our map!

      Everything is spaced out fairly evenly, there's variety in the
      shapes – with none of the dreaded archipelago type shapes of the
      old
      ED map editor - and instead of having to rely on a mirrored map we
      have a full map for each player to explore, should make for a good
      game!

      Conclusion

      The Fubby has changed my expectations of what a good map is, raised
      the bar as it were, and now I find I simply cannot/will not play on
      maps which are created using the old method.

      Good work Fubster! This program obviously from the looks of it took a
      lot of time end effort to create and your work is much appreciated!
      When a guy takes the large amount of time out of his schedule to
      embark on such a project, and comes up with something as successful
      as this, he really should be applauded for his skills and efforts. In
      the words of EDIE – "Honor has been thrust upon Fleet Admiral
      Fubster!"
    • Fubster
      ... Notice that there are two check boxes that will keep Sea Borders from effecting land mass placement at the edges: 1) Sea Borders Effect Placement of Mass
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 22, 2004
        Thanks for the glowing review, Flaurez! A few comments of my own:

        > We will also choose the `Sea Border Size' – how far
        > apart the islands are from each other are how far away
        > from the map edge.

        Notice that there are two check boxes that will keep 'Sea Borders' from
        effecting land mass placement at the edges:
        1) Sea Borders Effect Placement of Mass near Edges
        Keep this unchecked (which is the default) and land masses may touch the
        edges
        2) Allow Mass to be placed where it is partially off edge
        Check this (not the default) and a land mass may be placed any where the
        center is still on the map, even if part of it is off the edge
        But, if both of these boxes are set the other way, then sea borders WILL
        effect how far land masses are placed from the edges.

        > However since it will be placed right in the middle,
        > then the opponents may end up in a fierce battle for
        > it, which makes for some quite interesting situations
        > To this effect, and to also make sure the medium and
        > small islands are spread out evenly, we will checkmark
        > the option `Space Large Land Masses Evenly Apart' in
        > the section on the right.

        The 'Space Large Masses Evenly across Map' ONLY affects the placement of
        Large land masses, not medium and small land masses. And it is because you
        have this box checked that your single large land mass ended up in the
        center of the map. Without this option checked, your large could end up
        anywhere on the map. When this box is checked, the placement of large land
        masses is pre-determined by a pattern based upon the number of land masses
        you choose to create. Which is also why the option forces a maximum number
        of large land masses to 6. Let me know if you would like more information
        about this option and the patterns used.

        > Building Algorithms [snip] For now I'll pick the Wandering
        > type only [snip] Shapes: I find this screen to be quite
        > interesting, as it let's you pick the basic geometric
        > shapes to be used for your islands and land masses.
        > I've picked a few `unusual' shapes, to spice things up
        > a bit.

        I could not tell if you understand this or not...the shape picker (shapes
        tab) ONLY comes into play if you have chosen to use the 'Shapes' building
        algorithm.

        NOW, some additional information, NEW VERSIONS!!!

        I have a new version that is ready for distribution, I will put it out this
        week. Here is the small features list:

        - Enable the "Recommend Parameters" button
        - Fixed bug: If a large sea border was specified, land masses became very
        "squarish".
        - Split Terrain & Cities into two separate tabs.
        - Cities tab: Allowed 3 methods for determining number of cities placed:
        Specify, Calculate (Land), and Calculate (Map)
        - Cities tab: Added 3 different algorithms for placing cities, with multiple
        parameters.

        I have also started working on some features for the next version, most
        notably Enabling the "Player Cities" options. This has already proved to be
        both challenging and fun.

        -Fubster
      • Steve (Gryphin)
        A new one, Way cool. Thanks! I better let my sweetie know I won t be around for a while. Steve ... from ... touch the ... where the ... WILL ... placement of
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 24, 2004
          A new one, Way cool. Thanks!
          I better let my sweetie know I won't be around for a while.
          Steve
          --- In empire-deluxe@yahoogroups.com, "Fubster" <Fubster@w...> wrote:
          > Thanks for the glowing review, Flaurez! A few comments of my own:
          >
          > > We will also choose the `Sea Border Size' – how far
          > > apart the islands are from each other are how far away
          > > from the map edge.
          >
          > Notice that there are two check boxes that will keep 'Sea Borders'
          from
          > effecting land mass placement at the edges:
          > 1) Sea Borders Effect Placement of Mass near Edges
          > Keep this unchecked (which is the default) and land masses may
          touch the
          > edges
          > 2) Allow Mass to be placed where it is partially off edge
          > Check this (not the default) and a land mass may be placed any
          where the
          > center is still on the map, even if part of it is off the edge
          > But, if both of these boxes are set the other way, then sea borders
          WILL
          > effect how far land masses are placed from the edges.
          >
          > > However since it will be placed right in the middle,
          > > then the opponents may end up in a fierce battle for
          > > it, which makes for some quite interesting situations
          > > To this effect, and to also make sure the medium and
          > > small islands are spread out evenly, we will checkmark
          > > the option `Space Large Land Masses Evenly Apart' in
          > > the section on the right.
          >
          > The 'Space Large Masses Evenly across Map' ONLY affects the
          placement of
          > Large land masses, not medium and small land masses. And it is
          because you
          > have this box checked that your single large land mass ended up in
          the
          > center of the map. Without this option checked, your large could
          end up
          > anywhere on the map. When this box is checked, the placement of
          large land
          > masses is pre-determined by a pattern based upon the number of land
          masses
          > you choose to create. Which is also why the option forces a
          maximum number
          > of large land masses to 6. Let me know if you would like more
          information
          > about this option and the patterns used.
          >
          > > Building Algorithms [snip] For now I'll pick the Wandering
          > > type only [snip] Shapes: I find this screen to be quite
          > > interesting, as it let's you pick the basic geometric
          > > shapes to be used for your islands and land masses.
          > > I've picked a few `unusual' shapes, to spice things up
          > > a bit.
          >
          > I could not tell if you understand this or not...the shape picker
          (shapes
          > tab) ONLY comes into play if you have chosen to use the 'Shapes'
          building
          > algorithm.
          >
          > NOW, some additional information, NEW VERSIONS!!!
          >
          > I have a new version that is ready for distribution, I will put it
          out this
          > week. Here is the small features list:
          >
          > - Enable the "Recommend Parameters" button
          > - Fixed bug: If a large sea border was specified, land masses
          became very
          > "squarish".
          > - Split Terrain & Cities into two separate tabs.
          > - Cities tab: Allowed 3 methods for determining number of cities
          placed:
          > Specify, Calculate (Land), and Calculate (Map)
          > - Cities tab: Added 3 different algorithms for placing cities, with
          multiple
          > parameters.
          >
          > I have also started working on some features for the next version,
          most
          > notably Enabling the "Player Cities" options. This has already
          proved to be
          > both challenging and fun.
          >
          > -Fubster
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