Creating a Basic Level
If you have just installed Sandbox 2 and don't have the faintest idea where to start to create your map, this is the article for you. This tutorial will cover the basics of creating a new map, the generation of the terrain and how to set up your level so it becomes playable.
Creating The Files
To start off our new level, first we need to create the appropriate new files. To do this, click on File → New. Once this is done, you should see a small window pop up in the centre of the screen. This window, shown below, decides the name of your map, its size, whether to use terrain, and the units per square metre in the map. The important thing to remember when naming your map is to never use spaces, as sometimes this can confuse the editor. If you want a map with spaces, for instance "My map", you could either name it "My_map" or "MyMap", whichever suits you better.
You'll notice that to choose the map size there are a number of different options to choose from. Although these range from the small to the insanely large, as this will most probably be one of your first maps you will want to start small. You may have big ideas for a fantastic map, but they won't be realised until you can master the basic techniques and skills of the editor, which does require some time to pick up. Due to this, it's probably better if you choose a smaller sized map (probably between 128x128 and 512x512) to start with, and once you become confident with the skills you can progress to the larger maps. Keep all the other settings as they are, make sure Use Terrain is ticked, and then click OK.
When you click OK, you are doing more than just naming your map. You have created two files; a .cry file and a level.pak file. The .cry file is the file the editor uses to read and edit the map, but not the file used by the game. The level.pak file is the one read by the game, and is updated by Exporting To Engine (covered later). The .cry can simply be deleted to remove the ability to open the map in the editor.
Completing The Basic Map
Once you've created your map, the picture in your perspective view could be anything from a black nothingness to a white glowing screen. It's not because your map is weird, its because the camera that you view the map through is in the wrong place.
- Rotating The Camera
- Hold down the right mouse button, and then drag the mouse forward to look down and backwards to look up.
- Use the mouse wheel to zoom; scroll forwards to zoom in to where the camera is facing, and scroll backwards to zoom out.
- Moving The Camera
- Use the "WASD" keys or the arrow keys to move the camera relative to the direction you are facing. For example, if you are looking down, pressing "W" will make the camera move in the direction you are facing (i.e. down).
- Speed Moving
- To make the camera move faster when you move it around, hold down Shift and then use the WASD keys to move around. The speed multiplier that the Shift key adds to the movement can be changed in the preferences menu (found in Tools → Preferences).
Once you have orientated your map to your viewpoint, your map should look like something resembling this. However, the colour of the square section of map and of the backgrounds can differ immensely between editors when you start, so don't worry if yours is a different colour.
Next, we are going to add terrain to what is currently a blank square that resembles the sea bed. To do this we are going to go to the Terrain Editor to generate some terrain for our map. The Terrain Editor is found at Terrain → Edit Terrain.
Once you have clicked on this, a new window should pop up showing your map as a top down 2D view. At the moment it will contain nothing, as we haven't added any terrain. Lets change that by generating some terrain using the editors in-built terrain generation system. The button to do this is found just to the left of the little lightbulb icon as shown above.
Within the new generation window are 8 sliders which determine the basic details about the terrain which we will create. Although they may seem like jargon, they are in actual fact fairly simple; below is a bried explanation of the terms.
- Feature Size
- This slider sets the amount of land that will be created.
- Bumpiness/Noise (Fade)
- This determines the degree of bumpiness that will be applied to the surface.
- Detail (Passes)
- Determines the number of times that the effects chosen will be applied during generation.
- Variation (Random Base)
- The variation sets the variation in the patterning of the land.
- Blurring (Blur Passes)
- Sets the number of times smoothing of the terrain is applied to the noise filter.
- Sharpness (Exp. Base)
- Determines the sharpness of the surface terrain.
- Sharpness (Freq. Step)
- Determines the number of times the sharpness filter is used on the surface when terrain is generated.
The default settings in this window should be fine for now, but later on you may want to return and experiment with the sliders to perfect the look of your map. Once you have set the sliders, click OK. The result obviously varies between every generation, but you should now have something like this shown in the map of your terrain editor.
Now once you exit the Terrain Editor and pan around your map, you will see that terrain has been generated and applied to your map. Later on once you have generated the surface texture and the terrain becomes properly visible and usable, you may wish to edit the terrain with the editors in-built terrain modification tools, but for now we will leave it as it is.
Preparing Your Map For Use
Now we have added the fundamental aspect of a level to the map, it's time to finalise its preparation so we can jump in and walk around.
The first thing we need to do is to generate the surface texture of our map. This will replace the current all white surface texture with a varied green one, and will also allow us to see the default sea levels in our map. To do this, go to File → Generate Surface Texture. A new window should now pop up showing the options available for your surface texture.
The default settings in this window are what we are looking for at the moment. The resolution you choose will effectively determine how good your texture looks, as it defines how many "units" of texture you can have in your map; the more the better. However, the default setting is fine for the moment, and the highest resolution is only required when generating surface texture for the final time before finishing your map. The same goes for the "High Quality" (determines how good looking the detail and distance textures look after generation) and the "Calculate Terrain Sky Accessibility" (makes the shadows and contrasts look more striking and realistic) options, as they only are really used to set the finish of the map and make it look good for distribution. Ignore the Debug option as well, as this has been known to cause more problems than the name suggests. Finally, once you have set the options, click OK. With the surface texture generated, your map should now look something like the screenshot below.
In order to jump into our map however, a few things need to be finished off. Firstly, the map needs to be saved, as the editor needs to be restarted before the map can be played. Then we need to Export To Engine (either by pressing Ctrl + E or browsing to File → Export To Engine) to save all the edited data to the level.pak which will be opened by Crysis if you decide to play it in-game.
Once the surface texture has been generated, the map saved and the files exported to engine, we need to exit the editor. Restart the editor and open up your map. Pan the camera to a part of your map that isn't too high off of the ground and flat enough for the player to walk on, and press Ctrl + G. After a brief delay, you will be dropped into the map and will be able to walk around your new creation!