KaM Remake history. Part 1. Background

How did KaM Remake appeared? I’m going to write a series of articles on that topic. Here’s the first one – about the background. To write this I had to actually dig up some old forum archives and ask few friends to check me.

I need to come up with a development plan and features list.
For now I code features randomly.
2006-07-08, Krom

Back in 2007 I was half-way into on my second attempt to create KaM map editor, tool that would allow to create maps with ease by using brushes and being completely WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). Back in those days there were several map editing tools, but they hardly could be called “user friendly”:

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(Screenshots from Jan van Kranendonk’s and Quage’s terrain editors)

One of the KaM “elders”, The Barbarian was up to the task of making a handy editor, but sadly he had abandoned it back in 2005. Only a few “work-in-progress” screenshots remained. The Barbarians editor looked promising and well thought.

Seeing this and having a background in 3D modelling and programming with OpenGL I knew how to make an editor that would show terrains looking close to original game, something that none of the editors had. Also I was eager to try making an RTS editor for a change (doing racing game tools for several years before that). To sum this up, KaM Editor had no real competitors in sight and a clear development plan. What else would it need? My main concern at that time was “would anyone still want to make maps for such an old game?”.

During that time KaM community was nowhere as near as active as today, separated into several local communities each speaking in its own language. Last KaM was released in 2001 and by 2007 everything looked close to decaying. Decoding the map format and resource files was a big deal, there was little public info. I had to dig through binary codes and foreign forums in languages I did not understand. There were no evident clues that when the KaM Editor was made it would be used. However during development I kept on posting status updates in most forums and got a positive feedback from members. That kept the project alive.

While doing that I have discovered there was an interesting but abandoned project – OpenKaM (not a relative to openkam briefly active in 2009). I was a big fan of open-source projects and remakes (and still am), so I was genuinely sad that it didn’t work out. Too bad there was not even a screenshot of it. There was not much info about it at all, but the name.

There was another project that was semi-active back then – KaM TKE (The Kingdom Expanded) created by Harold. From what I know TKE was started in 2006. The first screenshots looked good and Harold did some promising statements about his plans, but the project was often on ice and did not advanced much over 2 years till 2008.

2006-2008 was a time of establishing true KaM “modding scene”. In March 2008, the KaM Editor was mostly functional, terrain and height brushes allowed to edit terrain like an oil painting on canvas. Thanks to Chinese programmer (freeSMSkam) mission script files were decoded and people started to make mission script editors. One of them was Lewin, who was making a “Mission Editor” that allowed to edit mission scripts visually. Both Lewins and my editors were programmed in Delphi, so it is just natural that we had some talks about merging them into one complete terrain and script editor. KaM map editing scene looked well and healthy with mapmakers starting to rise.

There was just one big problem – KaM itself. It was mostly a single-player game, riddled with bugs and locked to just a few screen resolutions, without support of add-on maps.

to be continued …

P.S. Everything described above was happening 5-7 years ago, I might have misplaced some details inadvertently. Please feel free to correct me in comments!

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10 Responses to KaM Remake history. Part 1. Background

  1. Qaatloz says:

    It’s fun to read the developer’s blog. 😉 Keep up the good work. I’m a happy user of KaM-Remake

  2. The Dark Lord says:

    Ah, Qage’s editor… Where heights and objects were nothing more than numbers. There would have been exactly 0 good-looking maps without Krom’s map editor. And the scripts were coded using Command Prompt… Those were the times. 😉

    • Krom says:

      KaM map format had way too many numbers with unknown meaning. If I recall right, there’s 23 bytes per tile, but only 5 are used – the rest is “mostly” unused, meaning that they cause effects only in some rare cases (e.g. lighting along upper map edge).

      I didn’t knew you could script in command prompt, could you post some more details plz? )

  3. The Dark Lord says:

    I looked it up for you, but I was partially wrong, sorry. 😛 Coding happened through MissionDecode.exe, a program written by King Harold. This was written by Nick on January 3d, 2007:
    “Mission (de)coder (MADE BY KING HAROLD)
    Syntax to use in MSDOS:
    – from txt to dat: Missiondecode.exe missionnameSOURCE.txt misisonnameTARGET.dat
    – from dat to txt: Missiondecode.exe missionnameSOURCE.dat misisonnameTARGET.txt

  4. Paul says:

    Good Job KaM Remake is the best idea. I played this game 10 years ego but today I downloaded Your Remake and I planed strat playing once again

  5. Steven says:

    Nice reading, thx for sharing experience. I currently working on 3d map editor and I really wonder how is possible to create elevation on the map when I want to create mountains. I dont know how to save this terrain heights into file (map file) so it can be properly loaded next time (from file)?

    Do you have some advice for me? Thanks

    • Krom says:

      I’m not sure I understand you problem right. What are the difficulties in making mountains elevation in 3D and how is that connected with saving into a map file, KaM format?

      • Steven says:

        Simply said, how is terrain elevation saved into KaM map file?

        • Krom says:

          Terrain is stored as 2D array. Each item has a bunch of properties: terrain type, object, rotation, shading value, etc. One of these properties is upper-left corner height. Each items size is 23 bytes. In map file that is saved as (map_x * map_y) count of 23byte chunks. And in each such chunk there is 1 byte that is tiles upper-left corner height.

  6. Akira says:

    I’m happy you guys went through with the Editor and the Remake. It’s great to return to my favorite game with new maps and enhanced functions. Thanks and keep up the good work!

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