Guide: Map Making

Discussion in 'Modding' started by Stu, Feb 11, 2017.

  1. Stu

    Stu Active Member


    I have no particular skill when it comes to computing or creativity and if someone sat me in front of a computer screen and told me to mod Cossacks3 to change game play or create a new unit or animation then I would not have a clue where to begin.

    The way I have learnt has always been with the help of others who have kindly taken the time and the trouble to write step by step guides. I did some modding for ACFB and animated and inserted my own units with their own animations. I was only able to do that by following a guide (firstly with a 3d modelling programme to learn how to create and animate units and then with a specific guide about how to add them to the game).

    As always mastering anything takes patience and practice but guides will help more people access the creative side of Cossacks 3. So I have put together a guide that deals with some limited aspects of the external map editor. There are undoubtedly ways of doing some of the things set out below in a simpler way but this is what has worked for me so far. Hopefully others, as well as me, can add to this thread and together we can build up a body of knowledge.

    In due course I would love to be able to use some of the new and as yet untapped features of the editor such as reinforcement arrival, time of day, position of the sun and weather. In respect of modding in general I am looking forward to making new units and people developing concepts like morale and other game play improvements which should all hopefully become moddable in time.




    The External Map Editor - Getting Started


    The external editor is accessed by opening Steam, clicking on “Cossacks3” in your game library and selecting “Play”. Then select “Launch Game Editor”.


    There is an internal editor that can be accessed by opening Steam, clicking on “Cossacks3” in your game library and selecting “Play”. Then select “Play Cossacks 3” and select “Editor” from the main game menu. The internal editor remains very limited and can only be used to place troops and building. As we shall see shortly in this guide the internal editor can be utilised through the external editor as a helpful tool but more on that a little later.

    Once you have launched the external game editor there will be a small box that appears which may seem disconcerting but fear not. Although it contains troubling warnings and red writing it is the debug box and is there to help you. It can identifying things that have gone wrong in the making of maps and scenarios. It is too far advanced for me so I just close it. You can turn it back on from the “Window” menu on the top bar and selecting “Show Debug”.


    The editor looks complicated, my word it looks complicated and it can clearly do a lot of things. Do not be put off however because the simple elements of map making such as laying terrain and textures are actually quite easy.

    WARNING: I do not know how to ‘upload’ user created maps to play in the actual game. I do not see an option for loading a user generated map in multiplayer and I have not tried to upload one to the campaign maps or scenarios. Just bear in mind that you may not be able to share anything you create yet with others. No harm practicing though.

    The Window Pane

    The centre of the screen will display a flat green canvas and along the top of the screen will be a list of drop down menus from where you can select tools and tasks. So far so easy.

    Map Size

    The first thing to do is to set up map size. Select “File” and then “New” and a box will appear from which you can choose the height and width of your desired map size. From 384 onwards the maps begin to get large and the largest, 1024, is a huge space to fill.


    Setting Up the Map by Using the Internal Editor

    You can set up each map parameter and each player using the drop down menus but this is complicated and I have not done it using this method. Instead I stumbled upon a handy method by which everything seems to be set up for you.

    Having selected map size select “File” and then “Test Map” or use “Ctrl-T” as a shortcut. This will open the actual game within the external editor menu. Open the in-game editor. You will see from the mini-map in the bottom right the size of the canvas on which you are working. Now press “Ctrl-T” again and you will switch back to the external editor. You can tell the difference between the two because of the screen cursor.


    NOTE: Each time you create a new map and each time you load a saved map you need to open the internal editor by pressing “Ctrl-T” and selecting “Editor” or else this method will not work.

    The effect of undertaking this task is that by opening the in-game editor you set up the basic parameters of the eternal editor. For example, and to see that it has worked, click “Layer” and then “Players” and you will see that where there were none before you have a list of players from 0-9 and crucially you have a player titled “env”. This is the player entry from which you can access scenery such as trees and fences etc.



    The first thing that can be off putting about the editor is navigating around the canvas. The arrow buttons on your keypad will only allow you to move to the left and the right and the scroll bars at the side of the main window are not particularly helpful. I have found the following controls the best.

    Mouse Scroll Wheel - Zoom in and zoom out
    Mouse Scroll Wheel Held Down - Pan camera
    Right Mouse Button - Hold down to move left, right, up and down by swiping motion.
    Left Mouse Button - Select menus and map assets, either individually or by drag box
    Space Bar - When all menus are closed space bar un-selects all currently selected assets

    If you zoom out using the mouse wheel you will see the green canvas is bordered by a black void. This is the edge of the map. If you zoom out far then you will see a blue dome. Do not fear, the editor has not crashed. I think this dome is the weather or sky dome or the draw distance dome. Whatever it is it is harmless.

    Placing Terrain and Troops

    The “Layer” drop down menu is where you shall find the majority of the tools you need for basic map making.


    Select “Layer” and then “Terrain”. From here you can raise or lower the topography and paint textures. If you would be assisted by topology grid lines then select “View” and then “Topology”.

    HINT: If you place a single soldier or a formation on the map then it will help you get a sense of scale.



    Select “Layer” and then “Players”. From here select “env” and you will see that the options are “resource”, “decor” and “mountain”. All trees, bushes, fences, carts etc are contained in “resource” and “decor”. Select which you would like to place and off you go.



    The method that I use to place buildings is to use “Ctrl-T” to switch to the internal editor.

    HINT: The controls in the in-game editor are different to those in the external editor. The camera is restricted to the game camera (unless you have debugged it) and you can use the normal game controls to navigate. Use the num-pad to change the colour of the player and the menu on the right to select units and buildings. Once placed in the internal editor simply press “Ctrl-T” and you will switch back to the external editor where you can manipulate the assets you have placed.

    Place the buildings that you would like to use in the normal way and then press “Ctrl-T” to switch back to the external map editor.

    You can now manipulate the building in the external editor by selecting it to make a white box appear. In the centre of the box is a red, blue and gree “XYZ” axis that if you click and drag can be used to pull the building around the map for specific placement. Pressing “Shift”, “Ctrl” and the left or right arrow keys will then allow you to rotate the building.


    NOTE: I have note worked out how to rotate the terrain pattern below buildings yet but you can use foliage and other textures to disguise anything that looks a little strange.

    Pressing “Shift”, “Ctrl” and the up or down arrow keys to increase or decrease the size of the building.



    I use the same method as for placing buildings by switching to the internal game editor and placing the units there and then switching back to the

    NOTE: I have not yet worked out how to set the global parameters to unlimited resources so be careful when you place troops as resources will start depleting. I am sure changing the resource is easy and that someone will post how to achieve it shortly.


    That should be enough to allow you to make a start. Good luck and please add to this guide by posting more help about what you discover yourself. I will also keep testing and post further hints and tips in due course such as how to mod the editor to introduce your own textures.

    Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
  2. Mark Kandaurov

    Mark Kandaurov Well-Known Member

  3. Francesco_Cavalli

    Francesco_Cavalli Active Member

    Great! How did you get that water, or is it a texture, as in C1?
  4. Stu

    Stu Active Member

    It is texture, in ACFB maps I used to use texture instead of water quite a lot as it had a better finish then for small streams that troops could cross I would add small amounts of blocking along the length so that formations had to break up in order to cross. This made them vulnerable to cavalry and musket fire from formed enemy units. The combination of the texture and blocking made for reasonable looking streams that had an impact on the battle. Given that water is quite hard to use in the map editor this may be the way forwards.
  5. (OC)Fotheringill

    (OC)Fotheringill Active Member

    You have awakened my interest. Thanks.
  6. A. Soldier

    A. Soldier Active Member

    I really need more of your work to use as wallpapers and facebook covers lol.

    Brilliant job Stu, so I'm guessing you made some of HEW and HDN's maps?
  7. Daddio

    Daddio Moderator Staff Member

    Stu was a master map builder in the Hawks. His maps were known for very detailed and accurate renditions of histories greatest battles.

    He is unmatched in my opinion in the map making world!

    Not to mention just a really nice guy!
    Stu and Loner like this.
  8. Stu

    Stu Active Member

    Oh Daddio, you have made me blush. I love you too.

    The more I play around with the map editor the more I am convinced that there is a massive amount of potential just waiting to be unlocked. I do hope that the developers finish the internal map editor as well because I think making things accessible to people, with an easy to use interface etc. does so much for inclusion and the more people who can make and share maps the more vibrant the community.

    I want to concentrate my efforts next on exploring the following:

    1. How to upload maps for people to play (not sure that this can be done yet as there doesn’t seem to be an option in the multiplayer menu screen).

    2. Water - This is quite difficult to work with and I can only lay squares of water at the moment. Going to have to try it out some more.

    3. Weather - How to use it and apply it to maps. The environment box looks awfully complex but the occasional rain shower etc. would be ace.

    4. Develop a ground textures mod so that better textures are available (the current vanilla ones are not great). There is a limit to the amount that can be added and this may be eaten away if developers continue to add their own. This is a must to make maps look good. I will wait to see how it looks after the next Add-on.

    5. Time of day and the position of the sun etc. If maps could move from dawn through to dusk (simulating the end of the battle as bad light stops play) that would be amazing.

    From his posts I think Ebel knows his stuff and I wonder if he may be able to help me with some of the above.
  9. A. Soldier

    A. Soldier Active Member

    Can't you just upload the maps to the workshop?
  10. Daddio

    Daddio Moderator Staff Member

    Ebel Is a lady! Just so you know.

    I made the same mistake several years back.
  11. A. Soldier

    A. Soldier Active Member

    Huh, well he, uhm sorry, I mean she fooled me, I usually pick up signs of a female but I didn't in this case.
  12. (OC)Fotheringill

    (OC)Fotheringill Active Member

    Sexist pigs !!!!!
    It doesn't matter.
  13. Stu

    Stu Active Member

    Oh dear, I hope Ebel will forgive my ill-judged assumption. Sorry Ebel.

    I have only given this issue a cursory look but it was not obvious on the face of it how you accessed user created maps to play in the game. I will do some more exploring.
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