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Create a Civ V Map from Scratch!

by: Christian Cawley ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 5/2/2012 • Leave a comment

While the Civilization V game engine will create random maps for you each time you plau, you can use the WorldBuilder tool in the SDK to create custom maps that you can use for scenarios and mutiplayer games.

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    Create Civilization V Maps with WorldBuilder

    If you’re particularly fussy about the position your tribe starts off from or you want to develop your own Civilization V scenarios, taking advantage of the WorldBuilder tool and creating a map from scratch is a great way to do both of these things and more.

    Using a tile-based brush system you can create entire worlds of archipelagos, single continents, and insane worlds where even the smallest and weakest tribes can eventually reign supreme thanks to your specific placement of various resources and landscape types that you will be able to take advantage of during the game.

    For the best results, of course, you will probably choose to fairly distribute these resources, just as you might choose to randomize start positions and other aspects that might affect how the game is played.

    Whichever path you take, the WorldBuilder tool, available as part of the Civilization V SDK, is great fun to use.

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    Deciding On Your Map Type

    Deciding On Your Map Type   To get started with WorldBuilder, you will first need to install the Civilization V SDK, following the guide in the earlier article in this series.

    Once you have done this, and followed the instructions to open the utility, select New Map. You will then be presented with a screen like the one on the right, which appears to be just sea. On the left-hand side you have a selection of Map Options, the most important being the size of the map which you can adjust by using the sliders and clicking Generate Blank Map. If the values in the two sliders – representing the X and Y axes – are the same, then the resulting map will be square.

    The largest map you can have is 128 x 80 tiles, while the smallest is 20 x 20.

    With a map size selected, you will need to select a map type, using the drop-down menu options. These are World Age, Temperature, Rainfall, Sea Level and Resources, and each can be adjusted to allow a particular type of world to be created. If you don’t really care too much about these, each has a Random setting.

    To create the map, you will also need to specify what type of world should be created; you might have a preference for a land-filled mass with little water (the Inland Sea option) or an Archipelago world; there are 18 options available here, and these can be applied with the Generate with… button. As the maps are created at random based on the settings you have specified you can generate as many as you like; once you’re done, select Accept Map to proceed.

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    Editing the Landscape with Tiles

    Painting a Civilization V map   With your map created, you will then be able to view it in the main map editor; for larger maps, you might choose the Fullscreen button in the top right corner, and use the Mini Map toggle checkbox to create a smaller version of the world that you can use to navigate around the main view if it is larger than your display area. The World View checkbox will also do this, but if you have a large map on a small display the tiles will be difficult to distinguish. You should also be able to zoom in using your mouse roller, and the arrows on your keyboard enable you to scroll around the map.

    In the right column of the editor you will see the Map Editor Tools, and these are designed for you to paint the map with features, resources, rivers, and landscape types.

    There are different ways in which you can do this, based on what your requirements are. For instance, if you wish to add vast swathes of new land or even ocean to a map, you would use the Paint tab, select Hex as the Brush Shape, select a Medium or larger Brush Size and then under Brush Type choose one of the Terrain options such as Grassland or Ocean. With that done it is simply a case of left clicking on the map where you want to edit the map. Smaller, single-tile brushes are available for more specific editing.

    You can also edit on a tile-by-tile basis using the Edit Plot tab – simply select the tile concerned and select from the various options offered in the drop-down menus to change the initial state of the plot and whether it has any resources. Meanwhile with the Rivers tab you can add and remove rivers, a useful tool for changing their course.

    Any edits that you make in the Map Editor can be undone using the standard CTRL+Z and CTRL+Y undo and redo combinations. Also, remember to save your work regularly.

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    Distributing Resources

    A key aspect of Civilization V is the battle over resources, and no map-making tutorial would be complete without showing you how to distribute these.

    The most obvious way is via the Plopper tab, which allows you to manually distribute Resources, Features, Improvements, Natural Wonders, and Routes on a tile-by-tile basis. All you need to do is select the option from the appropriate drop-down menu and then left-click to drop it onto the map.

    For a fairer approach, and one that will be far less time-consuming, you should use the Misc tab with the Randomize Resources and Randomize Goodies options ticked, and then hit the Scatter Resources button. This will then populate your map with random resources and other bonuses that can be utilized by the players as they expand their empires. If you’re unhappy with the distribution of resources for whatever reason, simply select Clear Resources and try again.

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    Editing Scenarios and Game Options

    Editing Scenarios and Game Options   If you're planning on developing your map as the central element of a scenario, then you might like to take advantage of the options available for configuring various options and victory types.

    Available via the Scenario Editor button on the WorldBuilder toolbar, these settings can have a considerable effect on how the game plays out. On the left-hand side you can select a speed (from Marathon through to Quick via Epic and Standard) as well as a Start Year. By default, Civ V games will start in the year 4000 BC, but you can change this to read 1920 AD, 1 AD, 19000 BC, etc. You can also specify Max Turns, a useful option if creating your map for use in a multiplayer game.

    The Game Options section offers the most considerable settings, from greating a world where happiness doesn't play a part in the management of your people to disabling Barbarians or even making Barbarians a major force in the game.

    Finally, you can also edit the Victory Types; you might choose to disable the Diplomatic Victory, for instance, in favour of a win by domination.

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    Specifying the Start Points and Adding Units

    Using the Display toolbar no the lower-right of the Map Editor you can toggle what map information is visible, and this might make it easier for you to add and remove and edit certain landscape features. When you’re done editing, however, the time will come to specify start positions for units, and to do this you will need to use the Scenario Editor screen.

    With the Players tab, use the + and buttons to add and remove civilizations and edit their colors, difficulty level, starting era and even set custom leader and civilization names. You can also configure diplomacy settings, useful if your map is for a scenario rather than a standard game.

    With the civilizations created, close the Scenario Editor screen and with the Cities tab use the Create drop-down menu to select and paste a capital city for each of the civs chosen. You can also select a capital city and use the Edit option to Select Buildings to add, adjust the health or population totals and whether it is occupied or a puppet.

    If your map is for a scenario rather than a full game, you might like to add Units, which you can do in the same way as adding cities. This is a useful way to get a scenario setup before you start playing the game.

    Once you’re done editing the map, use the Save option; your custom map or scenario will be available in the options when you start a new game of Civilization V!

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    Loading Up and Playing a Custom Civilization V Map

    Loading Up and Playing On a Custom Civilization V Map   With your map completed, you will be ready to use it in the main Civilization game, either in single player or multiplayer mode.

    When you save the map in WorldBuilder it is automatically added to the selection of available maps, which makes things a lot easier when you're setting up a game. If you give the map a memorable name, you should find it all the more quickly.

    To use the map in a single player game, launch Civilization V and select Single Player > Set Up Game. In the next screen, click Advanced Setup, and then use the Map Type drop down list to find the map you want. Once selected, you will notice how the various options in the Advanced Setup screen update to reflect the game options that you specified earlier.

    For multiplayer games, you can use the map in hot-seat mode, available by selecting Multiplayer from the game menu, then Hot Seat and selecting the map from the Map Type drop down list.

    And that's it - you've successfully created, saved and loaded up in the game a custom Civilization V map, built by your own hand. Next, make good on the maps potential and build a civilization to be proud of!

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    Author's own experiences.

    All screenshots provided by author, from the Civilization V SDK WorldBuilder.