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 [PCM06] Stage building - Tutorials & Utilities

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Fus87
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PostSubject: [PCM06] Stage building - Tutorials & Utilities   Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:00 pm

I separate this from the stage building area to keep general information and tips about stage building easily accessible and in one place.

Firstly, there's impish's GPS Kicker. I don't know if it's still up somewhere (probably at PCM.daily), so here's a download link to the version I have: Download GPS Kicker

It's simply an Excel file with macros that enable you to convert GPS data into a XML file. Apparently it only works with newer versions of Excel (at least it doesn't work with my Excel 2003 - so I have to do my converting at the university).
Using it is very simple: First, you have to build a GPS file with the route. For that, I recommend Bike Route Toaster, as it incorporates the altitude data directly.
Be aware that the GPS Kicker should only be used for circuits (where you plot one lap in Bike Route Toaster and later add the number of laps in the XML file) or point-to-point courses. Stages that incorporate finishing circuits etc. aren't suitable as PCM06 doesn't allow you to use a road several times.
When you've plotted the route, download a GPX file ("to file", not "to Garmin GPS"; I'm not sure whether it makes a difference, but it's better to be on the safe side).

Open the GPS Kicker (enable the macros of course!), and click on "Import". Choose the GPS file, click OK, and the columns on the left side should be filled out.
Now, click on "Calculate PCM data". The other columns will be filled out. This may take a while, depending on the length of the stage.
Finally, click on "Write XML file". A new XML file will be created: C:\Test.xml.
If you're familiar with Excel, you can (in the macro) change the folder where the new XML file will be created (it's also explained in one of the following tutorials).
Rename the newly-created file to something else (otherwise it will be overwritten the next time you use the GPS Kicker), and proceed with the next stage you want to do.

NB: The XML files you get from the GPS Kicker aren't finished stages! You have to adjust them to make them playable in PCM, and a more-or-less thorough workover will lead to better stages.

First of all, the GPS Kicker writes all XML files as ITTs. If the stage indeed is an ITT, fine. If not, delete the "itt=1" in the XML, and change the type of the finish to whatever is correct.
These are the various finish types:
"finish_flatstage" - obviously a flat stage
"finish_hillstage" - a hilly stage
"finish_mountainstage" - a mountain stage
"finish_mountain_hc" - a mountaintop finish, category HC
"finish_mountain_1" - a mountaintop finish, category 1
"finish_mountain_2" - a mountaintop finish, category 2
"finish_mountain_3" - a mountaintop finish, category 3
"finish_mountain_4" - a mountaintop finish, category 4
"finish_itt" - an ITT
"finish_ttt" - a TTT
"finish_classic" - only meant to be used for one-day races by Cyanide, but leads to better gameplay also in flat stages. Ought to be used in smaller stage races (where a flat stage doesn't always end in a sprint) or flattish stages that aren't a guaranteed mass sprint. Also works well with hilly or medium-mountain stages, generally better than "finish_hillstage".

Also, you'll have to insert the files for the surroundings. Unless the race takes place in the desert or high mountains, you can use the default files; but if you want, you can of course choose others. If you don't know what I mean, look at an existing stage in the PCM StageEditor: On the right side of the screen you can see drop-down menus called "Sand", "Land", "Slope" etc. If you open your newly-created stage, these will be empty. Choose the appropriate files, and save. You should also adjust the podium, city kit, and crowd density.

After these changes, the stage is playable - but it won't be very good. There may be waypoints too close to each other (although normally there shouldn't), and the entire stage will be on one long road.
The first steps to making it a bit better will be adjusting the stage average height (to whatever is the altitude the stage mostly takes place in) and the field max height (if it's a flat stage in the Netherlands, don't give it more than, say, 100. As a rule of thumb, this should be a bit higher than the stage average height; how much depends on the terrain. The best way to build a mountain stage is to put in the mountains by hand, but that's a lot of work and not particularly easy). You can also adjust the snow height, if a part of the stage is held in a snowy environment (Gavia or Lake Tahoe, anyone?).
Also, putting in a few roads and crossings, maybe even a river bridge, will make the stage a better experience. For advice on how to do that, look to the tutorials that follow, or elsewhere.
________________________________________________________________________________________

Finally, I include two tutorials (in Dutch) that helped me in making my first steps into stage-making.
They're from PCMBenelux, but at least one of them isn't up anymore. Luckily, I'd saved them before.

Waarom moeite doen?
This one explains how to use the GPS Kicker. There may be some things I forgot to mention, and it also explains how to change the output folder for the XML file.

Uitgebreide Tutorial
This explains how to build a stage from scratch, including the profile, the waypoints, streets, sea and lakes, forests, towns etc. It's for PCM08, where mountains are built differently from PCM06. In PCM06 they're built exactly as the sea (only with positive altitude, of course).


One thing that may be mentioned in the tutorial, but that can't be stressed enough: When you work with the StageEditor, save often. Very often. It may crash at any time. You can minimise the risk by closing the StageEditor after saving and then opening it up again, otherwise it uses a lot of RAM.


There may be other tutorials elsewhere (in English maybe).
And maybe wackojacko or Hermi want to explain how they make their stages.
If you have questions regarding stage building in general (how to use the StageEditor, what went wrong, etc.), you can ask them here.

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Jaroslav
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PostSubject: Re: [PCM06] Stage building - Tutorials & Utilities   Wed Jun 29, 2011 12:28 am

Thanks Fus
Is there some sort of trick to bikeroutetoaster? I keep getting errors where it gets stuck in "retrieving route information"
To be allowed to add track points I have to choose OSM as data instead of Google and by foot as transportation. That way I can build a reasonably accourate route untill it gets stuck with the beforementioned error.

EDIT: Seems I got it working now scratch
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PostSubject: Re: [PCM06] Stage building - Tutorials & Utilities   Wed Jun 29, 2011 12:34 pm

I get stuck in that sometimes too, but only rarely.
Normally it works like a charm, also with the Google dates (which are faster to calculate for the program). I only have to switch to OSM (bike or foot) when the race goes through a one-way street the wrong way, or over a tiny mountain road that's normally closed.

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PostSubject: Re: [PCM06] Stage building - Tutorials & Utilities   Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:29 pm

How do I create criterum like stages? I make them with the gps and run them through the kicker but the last waypoint is missing. How do I connect the end to the start and specify how many laps to run?
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PostSubject: Re: [PCM06] Stage building - Tutorials & Utilities   Thu Jun 30, 2011 12:03 am

This is haaaard Neutral
Does anyone have a stagebuilding tutorial in english?
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PostSubject: Re: [PCM06] Stage building - Tutorials & Utilities   Thu Jun 30, 2011 1:41 am

When you insert the following line
#circuit loop="XX" /#
after the line with the start altitude (XX of course being the number of laps to be ridden), the route should become a circuit.

Spreek je keen Nederlands? Wink
You could look at PCM.daily, the tutorials for PCM07 and PCM08 should be relevant too (apart from the mountains, as I said before).

But yes, stage making isn't easy.

EDIT: Apparently the line disappears if I write it in here... Rolling Eyes
I've changed it, instead of the # you have to use < (at the start) and > (at the end).

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PostSubject: Re: [PCM06] Stage building - Tutorials & Utilities   Thu Jun 30, 2011 6:54 pm

I think this one is included on the game CD, but anyway:
StageEditor Tutorial (English)

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PostSubject: Re: [PCM06] Stage building - Tutorials & Utilities   Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:57 pm

I always have this problem when I click "write xml file"



Whats the fault there?
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PostSubject: Re: [PCM06] Stage building - Tutorials & Utilities   Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:54 pm

The problem is that the kicker tries to save the file on drive P:
You have to open the visual basic editor and change the path where it saves to for example c:\kicker\
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PostSubject: Re: [PCM06] Stage building - Tutorials & Utilities   Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:13 am

Jaroslav wrote:
The problem is that the kicker tries to save the file on drive P:
You have to open the visual basic editor and change the path where it saves to for example c:\kicker\

I tried but I don't get it Embarassed I don't know how to work with this...
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PostSubject: Re: [PCM06] Stage building - Tutorials & Utilities   Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:21 am

Can you open the editor?
If so search for the path where it saves now by searching this term (without brackets) "test.xml"
Replace the path p:\xxx\xxxx\test.xml with a choice of your own. I chose something like C:\Games\PCM2006\Kicker\test.xml

If you can't open the editor do a quick google to figure that part out
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PostSubject: Re: [PCM06] Stage building - Tutorials & Utilities   Fri Jul 08, 2011 4:15 pm

Jaroslav wrote:
Can you open the editor?
If so search for the path where it saves now by searching this term (without brackets) "test.xml"
Replace the path p:\xxx\xxxx\test.xml with a choice of your own. I chose something like C:\Games\PCM2006\Kicker\test.xml

If you can't open the editor do a quick google to figure that part out

Thanks, I got it Smile
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