Map Editor Overview

by Dale M.A. Johnson


created 3/27/06


The purpose of this page is to document the general plan for how the map editor should work. All content is subject to change. The purpose of the map editor itself is to create maps with terrain, objects, and units for campaigns and multiplayer.


Getting Around the Map Editor

The three most important keys needed to operate the map editor are ESC, TAB, and F1. Pressing F1 always brings up a mini-guide with several entries explaining how to use the basic map editing functions. ESC brings up a menu with options such as "Save Map," "Load Map," and "Quit," as well as another link to the help function. TAB brings up a palette, which will be explained later. Most everything else is be done with the mouse.


20 x 15 maps (the number of 16x16 tiles that fit on a single screen) are the smallest maps the engine is designed to handle. If the map is larger than that, moving the mouse to the edges of the screen will cause it to scroll.


Basic Layout

The screen should remain as uncluttered as possible at all times so that the user can always see the actual map. Any information not relevant to what the user is currently doing should be hidden away until the user calls for it. At the top-left corner of the screen, there should be two images, one of a TAB key, and the other of an F1 key. The TAB key icon should have "Palette" next to it, and the F1 key should have "Help" next it, both explaining what the given key does.


The Palette

There are actually two palettes; both are displayed when the user presses TAB on the keyboard. The first palette, the Tool Palette, is displayed to the right, and has a button for all the different tools you can use. Taking up the bottom portion of the screen is the Terrain Palette. It acts as a user-friendly way to select the terrain you want. Buttons allow you to select a terrain, and to select a specific tile from that terrain group.


Forming the Actual Map: Inserting Terrain

When you create a new map, it will be filled with whatever the default terrain is (usually grass, or water, depending on the tile set). To create a map, the user muse select the Terrain Tool, which allows them to drop tiles in. The shortcut key for the terrain tool is "T" on the keyboard. First, the user must select which tile they would like to use; this can be done one of two ways:


The "user-friendly" way is to press TAB to bring up the terrain paletter. A quicker way is to use the arrow keys on the keyboard. Left and right will select a terrain group, and up and down will select a specific tile within that group. The tile currently selected will always appear "attached" to the mouse cursor, but will also appear for a few seconds in the top-right corner of the screen whenever you change terrain. You can also select a tile by right clicking on an already placed map tile with the Terrain Tool.


Once the user has selected a terrain tile to set, all they have to do is click the left mouse button to set the tile in place. To simplify this process, the user can always tell what tile the mouse is hovering over because that map tile will be highlighted. The user can also press "G" to toggle on/off a grid if that makes the process easier for them.


Inserting Details and "Objects"

Anything on a map that is not a map tile or a unit is referred to as an "object." Shops, villages, armories, and event triggers are all types of objects. To place an object on the map, you must first select the Object Tool by selecting it from the Tool Palette, or by pressing "O" on the keyboard. When the Object Tool is active, the Terrain Palette changes from showing terrain tiles to showing the different objects you can place on the map.


Simply select the object you wish to place from the palette, then click on where you want that object to be. After placing an object, the tool will switch to the Selection Tool automatically (unless you are placing event triggers). If you want to insert another object, you will need to select the Object tool again.


When you first place an object, it won't actually do anything yet. You'll need to click on it with the Selection Tool to bring up a mini-editor and edit its properties. For example, if click on a shop object, you'll get a menu letting you choose what that shop sells, what the shop keep will look like, etc.


One important thing to remember! When playing the actual game, you can't "see" the objects. Make sure, if you're placing a shop, for example, to put an actual shop tile there with the terrain editor so the player can see it (unless, of course, it's a secret shop).


Event Triggers are also be inserted with the Object Tool, however, they are outside the scope of this article.


Adding Players

Before you can begin plopping enemies in, you need to set up Factions to assign characters and units to. Factions are the "sides" in Fire Emblem. In the actual Fire Emblem games, there are really just three factions: Player, Enemy, and Allies. However, you can make up to eight and name them anything you like.


To do this, tap ESC and bring up the main menu. One option on this menu is "Faction Setup." By clicking this, the user will be presented with a small editor window. Here, they can assign the faction a name and color, and set who controls the faction: The player, or the computer. In addition, you can choose which other factions this faction can fight.


Adding Meat and Potatoes: Placing Generic Units

Generic units are minor, random characters: the hundreds of faceless enemies that you always have to fight in Fire Emblem. Of course, in Fire Emblem Factory, they don't always have to be on the enemy side! Generic units are set up with the Unit Editor, which is outside the scope of this article.


Once you've set up at least one faction, you can select the Unit Tool from the Tool Palette (or just push "U"). The Terrain Palette will change to show units instead of terrain, there are also buttons to let you choose which faction to assign the unit to. Although you can use the left and right keys to select units on the fly, it's generally easier to select a unit from here instead because they aren't always arranged logically in order. The up and down keys are helpful for selecting a faction, however. Once you've selected the generic unit, simply choose an empty spot on the map to insert them. Like the terrain tool, the unit you have selected will hover beside the mouse cursor.


Once you're done setting units, you can click on them with the Selection Tool to bring up a little window. From here, you can assign a strategy for them. By default, they are on "Do Not Move" and, if the computer is controlling them, they will simply stand in place even if they are attacked. You can choose between several different strategies using this menu. Obviously, the strategy you assign has no effect if you've set the unit to a player-controlled faction.


Enter the Actors: Placing True Characters

To place actual characters, the user has two tools at their disposal. The first, and perhaps most useful, is the Portal Tool. A Portal is what FEFactory calls the little blue squares where you can place your characters at the beginning of a chapter/map. To insert a portal, select the Portal Tool (or press "P"), select a faction from the Terrain Palette, then click on the tile you want the portal to be.


The second tool is the Character Tool (assigned to the "C" key). This is what you would use, for example, to place a lord character which must be present on the map. It's basically just a glorified Unit Tool--Select the tool, select the character, select the faction, then click on a tile. Unlike the Unit Tool, however, you can't just plop the same character all over the place. Only one instance of a character can ever be present on a map.


When you set a charater, it is important to remember that if that character is dead, injured, or otherwise unavailible, they will NOT SHOW UP when the player comes to that map. You can, however, force them to appear by clicking on them with the Selection Tool and bringing up the menu where you assign their strategy top them. For characters (but not units), there will be an option called "Force to Appear." If the character is dead or injured, but this toggle is on, the character will be playable on the map anyway. It will not bring them back to life, however--They'll just be dead the next map again. If they are injured and recovering, this map will still count as them resting, so they'll still come back after the number of chapters they were forced to sit out.


Cleaning Up "Oopsies"

Another helpful tool is the Eraser Tool ("E" on the keyboard). With it selected, you can left-click to delete characters/units, and right-click to delete objects.


Additional Notes

Conversations, event triggers, and victory conditions are set up through the map editor. However, they fall outside the scope of this article and will be discussed on another page.


List of Shortcut Keys


ESC Brings up the main system menu
TAB Brings up the Tool and Terrain Palettes
F1 Brings up the help feature
C Character Tool
E Eraser Tool
G Toggle Grid
O Object Tool
P Portal Tool
S Selection Tool
T Terrain Tool
U Unit Tool