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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Simple Terrain Mapmode Mod for Hearts of Iron 4

Paradox grand strategy games don't let mods create new map modes without some serious hacks - even something as important as truce map modes for CK2 and EU4 is still missing.

Fortunately at least here a hack worked.

If you just want to skip the explanations and get the mod:

How Hearts of Iron 4 map works

In most strategy games maps are generated dynamically, so there's always simple mapping from map data to what's displayed.

Even a lot of games with static map use similar technique - gameplay map drives what's displayed.

That's not how Hearts of Iron 4 and other Paradox games work. Instead, they contain a bunch of bitmaps driving what's displayed, and almost completely separate gameplay map data.

So it's possible for a tile to look like a forest visually while being a gameplay hill. In some parts of the map like Persia or Tibet majority of tiles are not what they look like.

This separation is supposed to make things look nicer, but I'd say it's not worth it. When players have a choice - like in Europa Universalis 4 - vast majority instantly disable default map mode (terrain) and nevel look back again; instead using political map mode 99% of time, and if they want to see terrain information they use simple terrain map mode which is driven by gameplay data.

Unfortunately Hearts of Iron 4 doesn't let us disable visual terrain view. And to make matters worse it contains no way to see gameplay terrain. Instead we're forced to see clutter which might or might not match gameplay terrain in every map mode.

Since visual and gameplay terrain match poorly, the result is that figuring out which way you can send your tanks is a hellish exercise of mouse-overing every tile to see its real terrain, and then trying to remember it all.

What the mod does

The mod changes visual map to make it match game map more accurately, by running some image editing scripts.

It changes terrain and tree layers. It make everything far more accurate, and while it loses some detail, I'd say map looks cleaner and better this way.

I experimented with changing heightmap as well, but that made the map look rather ugly, and other changes are usually sufficient to make terrain clear. Taiwan is an example of region where terrain and heightmap mismatch.

It doesn't completely wipe out detail on source map, just tweaking it in places where there's significant mismatch.

There are a few mods that try to make terrain look better by replacing textures used for various terrain - but they don't deal with core issue that data they're trying to display doesn't match in game map.


There are two versions:
You can use them with other mods as long as they don't change the map - in particular Road to 56 mod works just fine, since it uses vanilla map.

As it's all a script if there's demand I can run it for other mods. Or you could use it anyway, it might be better than vanilla map anyway.

You can use it with mods that change map graphics.


Good luck guessing where the mountains are. Or hills. Or deserts.


And these are the answers.


Some minor rivers flow through a tile, and it's still some guesswork if you get river penalty or not attacking it. Mod doesn't affect river placement in any way.

A number of tiles in vanilla are declared as "urban", even though game files declare them as something else. The mod believes game files. If anybody has a clue what's going on, I'd like to know. The only tiles affected that I noticed are a few VPs in Iraq region. Kaiserreich doesn't seem to be affected by this problem.

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