Map & level basics¶
What you usually refer to as a map or an area in a cRPG (typically a 16×16 or 32×32 cell grid) is called a level in Gridmonger. A set of levels is, in turn, called a map. The program always operates on a single map: when you start it for the first time, you are greeted with an empty map; when you load or save your work, you’re always loading or saving a map.
Let’s load one of the example maps to illustrate these concepts! Start up
Gridmonger, press Ctrl+O to bring up the open map dialog, then select
Eye of the Beholder I.gmm from the
Example Maps folder in
your program directory (Gridmonger map files have the
.gmm extension). Mac
users will need to download the Example Maps
Click on the current level drop-down at the top of the window that currently
Undermountain – Upper Sewers (-1). The list of all levels that
comprise this map will appear:
Undermountain – Upper Sewers (-1)
Undermountain – Middle Sewers (-2)
Undermountain – Lower Sewers (-3)
Undermountain – Upper Level Dwarven Ruins (-4)
As you can see, the full name of a level consists of three components:
Location name – Level name (Elevation)
Location name may refer to a distinct geographical area, a dungeon, or a city consisting of one or more levels. In this example, the whole game takes place in the Undermountain dungeon deep beneath the city of Waterdeep.
Level name is the name of an individual level (or area) within the location. It is optional because some locations may contain only a single level, or multiple levels but with no unique characteristics. In either case, it would make little sense to name the level.
Elevation is the vertical position of the level in relation to the ground.
An elevation of zero means ground level (displayed as
G in the level
name). Negative numbers are underground (e.g. the levels of a mine), and
positive numbers are above the ground (e.g. the floors of a castle or a
tower). As this game takes place entirely in an underground dungeon, all
numbers are negative.
The benefit of this naming scheme is that the program can automatically organise the levels for you: the level list is sorted by location name first, then by elevation, and lastly by level name. Note that elevation is sorted in descending order because that way the resulting list in the drop-down mirrors the vertical position of the levels (and underground dungeons are just more common in cRPGs).
The important thing to remember is that the full name of every level must be unique within the map (the program enforces this).
Apart from their name, levels have a few other properties too. Some of them can be inherited from the map, so let’s examine the map properties first. Bring up the Edit Map Properties dialog with the Ctrl+Alt+P shortcut!
Let’s start with the General tab. Unsurprisingly, every map must have a Title — this is what gets displayed in the title bar of the window. You can also optionally specify the name of the Game and the Author of the map. The local Creation time is also displayed as a non-editable property.
The Coordinates tab contains properties that govern how the cell
coordinates are displayed. Origin specifies the corner where counting the
grid coordinates should start from. There are two coordinate styles to choose
from: number and letter. You can set the style separately for columns and
rows with Column style and Row style, respectively. The letter style
works as follows:
A corresponds to
1, and so on, right
25), then it continues with
AC, etc. You
can specify the starting values for the coordinates in the Column start
and Row start fields. You need to enter the start values as numbers, even
for letter style coordinates, in which case the program helpfully displays the
corresponding letter coordinates next to the input fields. Negative start
values are allowed (
-1 corresponds to
-B when using the letter style).
Finally, the Notes tab contains a nice large text field to store all your map related notes in. You can use Shift+Enter to insert line breaks when editing the note text.
Now open the Edit Level Properties dialog with the Ctrl+P shortcut.
The General tab contains the Location name, Level name and Elevation properties discussed previously. The dimensions of the level are also displayed (Columns and Rows), but you cannot edit those fields.
By default, levels use the same coordinate settings as the map. You can customise them on an individual level basis by enabling Override map settings in the Coordinates tab.
The Regions properties will be discussed later in the Regions chapter.
You can attach notes to individual levels as well under the Notes tab.
Managing maps & levels¶
To add a new level, press Ctrl+N to bring up the New Level dialog. This is almost exactly the same as the Edit Level Properties dialog, the only difference being that here you must specify the level’s dimensions. The maximum allowed size is 6,666×6,666 — hopefully, you’ll never ever come across a level this big, but some kind of upper limit had to be introduced and this is as good as any! Don’t worry if you don’t get the level size quite right initially; you can always change it later with the resize and crop actions, as you’ll see.
To delete the current level, press Ctrl+D. If you accidentally deleted a level, no problem, you can always undo it by pressing U or Ctrl+Z.
Similarly, you can create a new map with Ctrl+Alt+N. Make sure to save your current map first if you don’t want to lose it, because deleting the whole map is the one action that cannot be undone!
Whenever you save your map with Ctrl+S, Gridmonger appends the
suffix to the name of your current map file, then creates a new file with the
normal map name. This is a safety measure — if saving the map fails for
whatever reason, at least you have your last backup. Just remove the
suffix from the filename and load it as a regular map file.
You can also save the map under a new name with Ctrl+Shift+S.
Gridmonger has an autosaving feature that is enabled by default; you will learn more about this in the Preferences section.