Site for SB ASL mod and map editor

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#2
Magnifique.

But what exactly is " VBRUN6~1 " I'm a bit wary about installing this.
 
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FastPhil

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#3
Good Evening;

I am sorry but I think you find that HPS looks at this a copyright infrigment and a violation of the licensing agreement. There is no map editor provided with any SB game by design.
 
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#4
This isn't really a map editor of the type you are thinking. Using what little I remember of French I tried this out. This program can take any ASL map and convert it to a Squad Battles format. It does not allow you to make maps from scratch. It allows you to combine and align maps in any configuration just like ASL. If you're into ASL it's a way to take your ASL scenario info and convert it into a playable Squad Battles format. If anything this enhances the Squad Battles series.

Maybe it's time Tiller finally gave in and included a true map editor. I can understand PzC, Nappy or CW not having such an editor but a tactical series needs a full fledged map editor. Let me give you an example. I just finished a book about the battle for Hue in 1968. My first thought was to attempt to create some scenarios in SqB Vietnam or Tour of Duty but the maps included with both games won't allow me to create a single scenario that would truly represent a believable depiction of Hue. With a full fledged map editor I may not get exactly what I want but I could come a lot closer. I ended up using WinSPMBT (Steel Panthers) and I got pretty darn close to what I was trying to do. Look at the scenario listings for all the variations of Steel Panthers. It runs into the 100's or maybe even the 1000's and even after 10+ years people are still playing some form of Steel Panthers. I doubt that would have happened without a complete map and scenario editor. Another example is TOAW. In all it's various shapes and forms the scenario editor and the ability to create is what has kept it alive.

The Squad Battles series is too stagnant. It goes through spurts with releases and then dies again. This is a tactical series and needs a full blown map editor capable of creating maps. From what I've seen of franzi's program Tiller should be thankful that someone took enough interest to do something like that. It could generate more interest in the Squad Battles series. As it is now with nothing but a submap editor the longevity of this series is questionable at best unless Tiller/HPS can put new products out in a reasonable time. Then there is always the dilemma of a theater or conflict not represented because it was of no interest to the designer. Complete editors alleviate that problem by allowing people to create what they are interested in. I doubt very seriously that Tiller/HPS sells enough of this series to put food on their tables. So why not give something that people have been asking for quite awhile now?
 
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#5
Magnifique.

But what exactly is " VBRUN6~1 " I'm a bit wary about installing this.
You should be okay without downloading it. It's the Visual Basic 6 runtime files and dll's but you probably already have it with Windows. It's safe. I downloaded both files and scanned them with Avast anti-virus. They were clean. Keep in mind the program is in French but it wasn't too difficult to figure out and once you get the hang of it you can convert ASL maps and scenarios to Squad Battles. I think it's a really nice program and will actually enhance the Squad Battles series. It opens up 1000's of ASL scenarios to this series which can only be a good thing.
 
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#6
Gentlemen:

Most of the ASL maps were converted to SB files and there was a small program that allowed you to combine them in different configurations. The maps for the ASL scenarios at TF Echo-Four were all created this way. Perhaps this is the same program or at least the French equivalent. I don't know if the ASL maps and the program can be found on TF Echo-Four or not, but I am sure somebody has them.

There have been some problems with the design team over the years, but the Squad Battles series is far from done. In addition to the last two titles, there are two new mods that add considerably to the series. Except for the Suez map that Andrew managed to create with a text editor, all of the scenarios have been created with submaps of the maps included with SAW. While it may be difficult to recreate exact replicas of terrain, it is not that difficult to find something close. Since there are a series of scenarios in Vietnam that cover some of the battles in Hue, there should have been something close to what you were looking for, although not perfect.

Jeff Conner
 
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#7
As Jeff mentioned SB series' stagnancy was more related to the absence of a reliable design team for a considerable amount of time rather than lack of editor. This is not the case anymore. However, although a new team is producing new titles pretty fast it has a downside. Most of the scenario designers including myself spend their time working on official projects so we dont have the usual flow of 3rd party scenarios as we used to. A couple of designers are not here anymore (especially Frank Harmon) and others are working for official projects, so we need new people dedicating their time for scenario designing. There are tones of scenario possibilities in a tactical game.

SP series, Campaign Series and TOAW give excellent tools for community to make whatever they want and thats great from player's perpective. But does it return money to the original creators or the publishers of the game engine? Things are not same from the point of game companies.

I agree that a tactical title needs a map editor. I would have supported such a decision if I had a vote but JT has his own perspective and reasons. However I think this doesnt explain the lack of new scenarios. If someone really wants to spare his time he can find lots of stuff to use. More than 100 scenarios presented in TFE4 were done with existing maps (others used the ASL editor Jeff mentioned) so I believe lack of editor is not something to be complained about in such degree.

Btw you can find the old ASL editor (geomapper) on this page. Not sure if it is the same editor but it is there for years:

http://hosted.wargamer.com/squadbattles/id90.htm
 
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#8
...My first thought was to attempt to create some scenarios in SqB Vietnam or Tour of Duty but the maps included with both games won't allow me to create a single scenario that would truly represent a believable depiction of Hue. ...
SB Vietnam has got a map of the entire city of Hue , and surroundings.
 
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#9
...
SP series, Campaign Series and TOAW give excellent tools for community to make whatever they want and thats great from player's perpective. But does it return money to the original creators or the publishers of the game engine? Things are not same from the point of game companies. ...
Just look how buoyant is Talonsoft these days...
 
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#10
Just look how buoyant is Talonsoft these days...
Yup, down to the buttom of the ocean with SSI. Given the fact that JT was the creator of many Talonsoft classics I can understand his hesitancy in releasing a full fledged map editor. After all HPS is still in business and producing sound wargaming titles for more than a decade.
 
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#11
SB Vietnam has got a map of the entire city of Hue , and surroundings.
Ok seems I missed that map but my point still stands. If I wanted to make a scenario about the US embassy attack during Tet, I couldn't because unless I missed that map too there is no map depicting the whole of Saigon, the embassy area or the Tan Son Nhut airbase. Or how about the Falklands War, Invasion of Panama, Grenada or Somalia? Where are those maps? All of those areas would make several great scenarios. Like I said I understand not including a full map editor for the other series but for a tactical series it's a must. It seems a shame that when I overlooked the map of Hue my first thought was to turn to a 10 year old game to do what I wanted. Thus my point about Squad Battles being stagnant. Until Tiller/HPS decide to release full map editing features for this series it will always be stagnant and relegated to what others want to design and play.

As far as the program in question is concerned, it's just like the Geomapper found on TE4 except it goes one step further and includes all the ASL maps and allows them to be used in all but the most recent Squad Battles releases. The program enhances this series by allowing people to convert 1000's of ASL scenarios to Squad Battles format using ASL maps. What's the difference between that and the mods Africa at War, Arab-Israeli War and Long War which practically change whole games? To me there is no difference and anything that enhances this series should be looked upon with excitement and praise by HPS/Tiller.

The financial excuse, in my opinion, is just an excuse. Steel Panthers has survived with full editors. So has TOAW, Combat Mission and a whole host of other games such as Elder Scrolls and NWN. Even POA2 has a way to create and edit maps. Editors enhance a series. Maybe Scott Hamilton does HPS as a fulltime endeavor but Tiller has a full-time job. My understanding is that he pretty much just creates/enhances the engine and his team are the people who actually do the designing. Apparently most or all of them have full-time jobs too and only design part-time. My point is that nobody is getting rich off of the Squad Battles series or putting food on their tables with it. It almost borders on stupidity to not include a full map editor for a tactical combat series and using financial concerns as an excuse might tend to have more credibility if the developer/design team wasn't doing this on a part-time basis. If I'm wrong about anything please let me know but that's my understanding of the situation.

With the exception of the last few releases I own this whole series. I want to enjoy this series and create scenarios for it. Without a full map editor that allows me to do what I want to do, I'm limited. For me it's better to use a 10 year old game with full editing capabilities than to try to use the tools given to us in the Squad Battles series. Sorry for ranting but I get upset when someone does something that will actually enhance this series and is given a difficult time for it.
 
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#12
Yup, down to the buttom of the ocean with SSI. Given the fact that JT was the creator of many Talonsoft classics I can understand his hesitancy in releasing a full fledged map editor. After all HPS is still in business and producing sound wargaming titles for more than a decade.
True but saying that Talonsoft, SSI or any other company went out business due to the inclusion of map editors in their products just isn't believable. I believe it was more to do with bad business practices and bad business decisions more than anything else. Why is it that Matrix, Shrapnel and others can sell products with editors? They even sell some or practically all of the same products that Talonsoft and SSI sold. Yet Matrix and Shrapnel are still in business and unless I'm mistaken are doing fine. I don't understand Tiller's hesitancy with not releasing a map editor other than the fact that by non inclusion he can force repeat business. To me it's a bad business decision. When I feel the need to go to a 10 year old game because of not having full editing capability in this series that's not a good thing for HPS/Tiller.
 
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#13
Ok seems I missed that map but my point still stands. If I wanted to make a scenario about the US embassy attack during Tet, I couldn't because unless I missed that map too there is no map depicting the whole of Saigon, the embassy area or the Tan Son Nhut
airbase.
I personally don't think that the US Embassy would be a good scenario, given that it represents an assault on a single building, somthing more akin to be represented in TSR's Sniper. But even then, ToD has got a West Saigon map, and if you're willing to use ASL geomorphic maps, then certainly the West Saigon map would do just fine.

Or how about the Falklands War, Invasion of Panama, Grenada or Somalia? Where are those maps? All of those areas would make several great scenarios.
Undoubtedly. Who knows, may they are in the works as future games in the series?

As far as the program in question is concerned, it's just like the Geomapper found on TE4 except it goes one step further and includes all the ASL maps and allows them to be used in all but the most recent Squad Battles releases.
One note, as far as I can see, it does not make maps of use to any game other than AotR.

The financial excuse, in my opinion, is just an excuse. Steel Panthers has survived with full editors. So has TOAW, Combat Mission and a whole host of other games such as Elder Scrolls and NWN.
Let's see, the companies that did Steel Panthers and TOAW have both folded. And Combat Mission. Now , CM, for example , there is no Combat Mission PTO, which leads me to believe that CM editing is done within the scope of the theatre given, a bit like Panther Games does with their AA series. Whether you restrict the estabs, like Panther Games, or the maps, it all amounts to the same. In CotA you can edit the maps , but not the units, Panther Games got all kinds of flak for it. They justify it with economical survivability.

RPG's are a different game al together, just compare the sales of Elder Scrolls, with the sales of any serious wargame. Also, the editor's only appeared in the last incarnations, Arena ,for example, had no editors whatsoever.
 
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#14
You're side-stepping the point. Game editors are game editors whether it's for a tactical series or an rpg. If the argument is that editors hurt games financially that should be true for all genres. As you pointed out ES:Arena didn't have an editor but so far every ES game has had one since. Bethesda doesn't seem to be hurting for it. True they are rpg games but if the argument stands those companies should be losing money too. Combat Mission gives full mapediting capability within a given theater. I can make almost any east front map I want with the CM:BB map editor. With the Squad Battles series I'm limited to using submaps of the maps included. If my choices are going to be limited then why play this series? Everytime a discussion about map editors comes up the financial excuse comes up with it. And to me it's just an excuse. Maybe wargames don't sell as well as rpg's but they sell. With economic times being what they are developers such as HPS/Tiller should start listening and providing customers what they want. This is after all a luxury type business. This is not a necessity. As I pointed out most if not all of them have full-time jobs. Using financials as a reason not to include a full map editor borders on the ridiculous.

Maybe the embassy attack wouldn't be such a good scenario but I'd like to find out. Right now I don't have that option. Without looking at my maps of Saigon maybe the West Saigon map would or wouldn't work. I don't know. I just used Saigon as an example. Sure there are Hue scenarios already included along with a full map of Hue. But as any wargamer already knows two scenarios can be created on the same subject and play out completely different. And maybe 100's of scenarios could be created with the maps included. So why hasn't it happened? There's a limited number of user created scenarios. Way less than Steel Panthers or TOAW or CM which are all wargames. I only speak for myself when saying this but for me it's the fact that I'm limited to using the maps provided instead of making my own. With a full editor I may still have to make allowances but at least it's by choice. I'm not forced into it. If my options are going to be limited then I may as well play boardgames or ASL where my only limitations would be the size of my wallet.
 
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#15
...But as any wargamer already knows two scenarios can be created on the same subject and play out completely different. And maybe 100's of scenarios could be created with the maps included. So why hasn't it happened? ...
I don't know the answer to that one, but I can speculate. People doing scenarios represent a vast minority of players. In pretty much the same way that there are thousands of ASL scenarios, but the scenario creators represent only a minority when related to the number of players. I do believe that a lot of scenarios could be created with the maps contained in the games, and I can prove it. The three mods out there where done with the stock maps of 2 games. One of them was so imaginative as to use the Pacific maps for an African themed game. This proves the argument that much more scenarios than the ones that exist can be done with stock maps. As a further example one of the mods changed the theme to modern Israeli wars. Then another scenario designer came and changed the theme to 60-70's Israeli wars. All this with the stock maps of a single game, go figure.
It's far easy to have a map editor, but the lack of it , are not the actual reason for the lack of user created scenarios. The above proves it.

Speaking from memory, previous JT games included editors. Yet, neither of those games has thousands of scenarios out there, nor did they had when they where 'new' games.
 
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#16
This discussion can go forever. I dont know what are the exact motives behind HPS' decision, nor do I know financial situations of the wargaming companies. SB cannot compete with SP series since they are free games. Probably it will never have sufficient amount of custom scenarios. But I do believe that low numbers of custom scenario is due to few numbers of dedicated designers in the SB community. One can produce dozens of excuses for not making scenarios. The buttomline is with dedication and energy you can contribute the game you love. If you get easily distracted with a couple of problems probably you dont love it that much . Map editing is probably the most time consuming part of making a SB scenario. From what I observe in the last 5-6 years of SB community, I seriously doubt players will create dozens of scenarios even when they are given an editor. Because, apart from a couple of dedicated guys most of the players dont give their time even for easiest way of doing a scenario: a ready map and a template oob.
 

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#17
I agree that even with a map editor you probably wouldn't see a proliferation of new maps for the same reason you don't see a proliferation of new scenarios, where the tools are available. Creating them can be very time consuming.

The games do ship with a lot of maps, large areas of which aren't used at all. With some new graphics and unused portions of maps, you can make a lot of completely different map types. They are finite, however, as I've come to find doing two mods using the one set of maps, which is why the next project I'm considering will use a different game.

Would I like to see a map editor shipped with the games? You bet. But the fact that there isn't one is not a limiting factor in creating new scenarios.

Lets face it, the map system in the game, while flexible, has a limited ability to accurately recreate a piece of geography anyway. It uses a small number of generic tiles to approximate a given area and is very limited especially when it comes to things like roads which can only run straight up and down or at a 45 degree angle. A healthy dose of imagination is required when playing the games. But a forest is a forest and a town is a town and providing your map has most of the key features found on a battlefield you're looking to reproduce, you're set. Using this mindset, you'll find it pretty easy to identify a section of an existing map that will suit your needs.
 

rahamy

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#18
Speaking strictly for myself, when I'm involved in bringing a game to market and I have the time to do it, I create very big maps to include with the game, even if only a small portion of it is used. I do this specifically so custom designers can work with them. So far, by and large, almost no one takes advantage of them. So I find myself echoing Oz...even if the editor existed I doubt we'd see much change in content.

I made a 200 x 160 hex map for SAW with lots of varied terrain...good for many scenarios...would love to see that used. I believe Andrew did use it some for his mods. But what about user SAW scenarios? I've made a 320 x 270 hex map for another game currently in development as well. Took me many long hours, not to mention trying to find the time to fit the work in!

Anyway, when the community get saturated with new scenarios using the existing maps I'll start lobbying harder for a map editor, until that time its pretty hard to justify.
 
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#19
Lets look it from the brighter side. HPS still invests into a solid tactical game so a design team was given an opportunity to create official titles where every scenario was playtested before release. Maybe there are not dozens of 3rd party scenarios around but design team produces new titles -IMO- in a very good tempo. Some of them are areas rarely covered in wargaming industry. SB:Winter War, a title covering a conflict which lasted only for 5 months, had 50 scenarios. Spanish Civil War portraits another conflict people know so little. With many titles in the production line, we have every reason to look SB's future with optimism. However we shouldnt forget that it is possible because wargamers give their hard earned money and HPS supports the system.
 
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#20
I own and play CM(1), CMSF, SP (several versions), and all SB games. I have come to the conclusion that the scenario bulding activity is based on a few things: Ease of use of the scenario building process, popularity of the game, and AI flexibility.

It may seem like common sense, but having an map editor and scenario builder that allows you to build a quick and dirty scenario is critical. Not everyone wants to be en expert scenario builder. Most people just want to play a game.

Also, having an AI that can react to dynamic situations is critical. Compare CM1 to CMSF. You have to basically program the AI while building the scenario in CMSF. CM1's AI may not have the equal to a human, but it required minimal input from the scenaio builder.

I don't think being able to build custom units is an issue in most of the above games because the OOBs are so extensive. SB may a little more limited than the others in that category because its individual games are a little more limited. In the end of all the issues driving editing, I think map making is critical, with AI programming next.
 
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