The Round Table ProposalThe Map Editor
by Dragon Angel
The map editor is one of the greatest assets of the series and, despite some problems, is one of the things the participants on the discussion consider has brought good features in every Heroes game, being always powerful and easy to learn. The general opinion is to keep what has been made, and improve on it keeping a balance between power and ease of use. Qrystal sums up this feeling nicely: "I think the H5 editor should combine the best features of H3, H4 and add new features that will astound the mapmakers with their functionality and simplicity."
Ease of use or possibilities was one of the questions brought into the discussion, and the most common answer was, not surprisingly, both of them. In any case, realizing these can be opposite variables, there were different options chosen. More experienced mapmakers demand overall a friendly environment to work with, and as many options as possible; while others miss the simplicity of Heroes II and Heroes III editors, with less but more clear, non-scripted options. A compromise solution might be the editor could show two faces, an ‘advanced user’ one, with full options, and another ‘simple’ one, with less but more clear options.
The combined demand of a friendly environment and more options appears in the wish list for new functions of the editor. The ability to set grow rates on the neutral stacks, the control of the month-of events, the option to have several ‘environment’ layers to modify in-game the map, or a better control of the AI behaviour are of examples of the second. While functions as the modification of the savegames of a map that is being tested, the option to cut/copy/paste whole areas of a map, a better search and replace option or a brush tool like the one introduced with Heroes 4 Winds of War editor, are desired by the mapmakers as features that save time and ease the process of making a map.
For advanced users, the scripting options introduced by the Heroes 4 editor should not be missed, and the desires of improvement follow the same lines as in the overall editor: an easier and more flexible environment than the current window one: code-based, palette-based and a combination of the two the presented options. And more options, either structural: loops, options to print and carryover variables... and on functionality: placing objects on the map; more possibilities on the things that can be removed (as all the creatures of an army, flagged objects, certain buildings on a town, individual objects placed in the same position as others...), the possibility to move an army to another place of the map, or options to reduce movement, disable luck or morale, and to modify the text shown by certain objects, are some of the things desired by the mapmakers.
On a last point, the customization of certain parts of a map is also a request of some mapmakers. The option to create ‘different’ heroes, as BallistaeHero explains "Not just being able to set the skills, (...) but (...) the actual abilities. (...) [A hero] that can naturally fly without (...) [the fly artifact] . Or a medusae hero that can turn people to stone. Some Lich heroes that are actually undead...", is one of the most requested ones, as the option to create new artifacts (preferably with art not used by other artifacts of the game to avoid confusion). Terrains, Towns, Units and the rest of objects on the game are also interesting options.
Most of the wishes expressed follow one of the two ‘main lines’ exposed: functionalities to avoid the most boring tasks, and more powerful configuration options to get the map to do as the mapmaker want. Some people mention the Warcraft III editor as an example. In any case, the expressed wishes could be summed up in making the mapmaking experience even more enjoyable than the previous games.
Random Map Generator
On a slightly different subject, a second question was suggested on the thread dealing with the idea of a Random Map Generator. While this is not considered a priority by most of the mapmakers who discussed the editor features, there was a fairly great group of players, mostly of multiplayer games, that dropped by to express its a very valuable feature for them.
Check out the full discussion about the Heroes of Might and Magic V map editor here.