The WarGame Processor Editor

The WarGame Processor Editor provides an intuitive interface with which you can design your own modules, based on your favorite games.  In it you can design your map, define your order of battle,  name hexes and design your unit images . 

What is a game module?

A game module provides the data that players will need to effectively use your module.  The most obvious and appealing aspect of this is the graphics, but there is much more to a module than just pretty pictures.  Other elements of a module include the hex coordinates and/or names, unit names and values, forcepool names, and card definitions.  Attention to detail and a little forward planning can make or break a good module.

Planning your module

The quality of your module will depend on how well you orchestrate the different steps and functions of planning, map design,  force pools  and Order of Battle  layout.  While the map design and implementation will provide the greatest visual impact, the planning of the Order of Battle will be the most significant contribution to how easy the module is to play.  The artwork and how the unit values are displayed can make the difference between a good module and one that is unplayable.  Once you have the map and the order of battle together, you will have to tie it all together by preparing set-ups and documentation.

When you start designing a module, do a little preparation work first. How many hexes high and wide will your module have to be?

It's unwise to set the map limits to that exact number when you initialize the module.  I've found that a two hex pad on the edges all the way around may give you some room to make mistakes in. This can be visually negated by filling the padded area with a gray hex image with no borders. Then decide how your map is going to sit in the play area, and if you are going to include any record tracks that aren't part of the map.  Some maps use a hex grid where the grain of the hexes runs top to bottom.  Since the WGP hex grain runs side to side, you have to decide if it would be more aesthetically pleasing to turn the map 90 degrees from the normal play position, or just 30 degrees, effectively canting the board to line up the hex grains (The modules for War and Peace and France 1940 are examples of this method).  You may also choose to make the hexes oversize, as was done for the module Imperial Japan.

You should also decide how many units you need in the module, and how you're going to portray them.  Which unit data fields will hold what data? Will the data be summed together within a stack, or will the program only show the highest or lowest value of that field in a stack?  Some games have step reductions for losses, and one "unit" might have two or more sets of game values, depending on what step you're looking at.

If the game requires that units be flipped over to hide their ID from your opponent, you should plan on making step 1 the "anonymous" step, with no information about the unit contained in the image.  This will then allow the "Hide Unit ID" function to work well in the player.

When you get to the map editor, do a quick layout of your game map, but avoid doing detail work at first.  If you need to put a coordinate system on the map, you should do so early on, as redoing coordinates will erase existing hex names.  If you have a part of the play area that's not part of the map coordinate grid, you'll probably want to clear the default coordinates first.   The default coordinate system names the hexes after their X and Y coordinates. If you want 100% accuracy, you may want to rename the coordinates based on whatever system the game actually uses. The "Coordinates" button will allow you to select a coordinate system for your game. If you don't see the system you need, E-mail me with details.

As soon as you begin your new module, you should mark out the corners of your map, and lay out the coordinates. Then fill in the major terrain features that take up whole hexes (oceans, mountains, forests, possibly cities).  When initially laying out your map, you may find it necessary to blank out the leftmost hex on all the odd rows so that your map edge will match the game you are modeling. One of the games I used to proof much of this code by installing was World in Flames, which uses off-map area movement out of the hexagonal play area, and so the actual hexagon play area started two or three hexes from the game processor edge to give room to draw these areas.

If your counters are punched in your game, you should sort them by unit type.  It's much easier in the order of battle editor to keep units of similar types together. 

There are two files associated with each module.  The .gpf file contains the data for the module, and the .gpg file contains the graphics.  You may load the .gpg into almost any graphics software and edit it.  This is useful for drawing terrain features such as river, borders, and coastlines which are bigger than one hex.  Use the WGP editor and another graphics program together for the best results, to take advantage of the strong points of each one.

Copyright 2010, Sean Emerson

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