HeavyMetal Software

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Program Summary 

HeavyMetal Map (or HMMap for short) is the latest in the HeavyMetal program series, and the first designed to be primarily a graphics-based program, rather than a calculation-based program. The main purpose of the program is to design and print map sheets based on standard BattleTech map sheets. The quality graphics included with the program make it a snap to make maps with better graphics than has been possible in the past, and to add some truly unique features to both standard and custom maps.

HeavyMetal Map is the only Official BattleTech map design program. As you've come to expect from all of the HeavyMetal programs, HeavyMetal Map gives you all the tools to design, including both standard, tournament-legal terrain types, as well as advanced terrains and other features not previously available on any CBT map.

With HeavyMetal Map, you will have available approximately 60 data files covering published CBT maps from all of the map compilations. You will also be able to download additional, user-submitted graphics and more from the HeavyMetal Map Additional Graphics page.

Please check out the specific features and screenshots (click on the screen thumbnail) below:

Special Computer Requirements for HMMap

Due to the large amount of graphics loaded during use, HeavyMetal Map has higher system requirements than the other HeavyMetal programs. Be sure to check out the requirements here.

HeavyMetal Map User's Guide

You don't have to buy the program to check out all the neat features in the program. You can download the full HMMap User's Guide in PDF format, as supplied with the program. It has screen captures, everything you need to use and get the most out of the program, including examples of more complex graphics that can be used to make incredible maps. So please take a look at the HMMap User's Guide (it's about 5.5 MB in size); we think you'll be impressed!

Note: Please note that a PDF-reader program such as Adobe Acrobat Reader or Foxit Reader is required to view the User's Guide, online or after receiving the program. HMMap includes the very lightweight and fast Foxit Reader 2.0, in case you don't have a PDF-reader.

HeavyMetal Map Features

  • An extensive Userís Manual in PDF format is supplied, which not only gives complete instructions on using the program, but also examples on how to obtain certain effects and a how-to section for making your own 2D and 3D maps.
  • Over 1,000 high-quality graphics are included with the program, organized into palettes, so as to accommodate computers of various capabilities.
  • In addition to printing maps, an optional Map Data Sheet can be printed, which outlines all the items on the map sheet, along with their location, rules and a sample graphic.
  • Add-On graphics allow scaling of any graphic, such as a DropShip, to cover multiple hexes and print basically any size desired.
  • Colorful logos, as included with HeavyMetal Plus, have been specially adapted to allow users to add Clan and House logos on their favorite building complex, courtyard, or to denote ownership or objectives on the map.
  • All official terrain types are included, and in addition many new graphics, such as railroad, Maglev monorail and canal are provided.
  • Most graphics can be flipped and mirrored, meaning that you can vary the appearance from hex to hex, even while using the same graphic.
  • Graphics are added in layers, with over ten layers providing great flexibility and the ability to add several different items within the same hex or area.
  • HeavyMetal Map includes a Random Map generator feature, which can place woods, lakes, shores, rough and levels in random locations on the map. Choose the percent of each terrain type, or let HMMap do its own thing with the ďIím feeling luckyĒ feature.
  • Most or all of the standard published maps are already entered in for you; print them out, or use them as a basis for making your new designs.
  • You have complete control over the printout, including the type and color of hex lines and text that is printed on the map. You can even choose to include building rating, CF and height, rating and height only, height only, or none of the above (in case you only want your GameMaster to know).
  • Zoom in while working on the map, or view the entire map at once. Either way, full resolution map previews are available at the touch of a function key.
  • Maps can be automatically printed to multiple sheets (as standard size maps rarely fit on a single sheet), or high-resolution images can be made for printing at a print shop or for other uses.

The CD Package

HeavyMetal Map has been packaged for sale in out our New Slim DVD case, a high-quality DVD case, which looks better, is much stronger, ships better and has more convenient room for the instructions insert, than standard CD jewel cases. The thumbnail shown below is from a scan of the package; click on it to see an enlarged version.

                Program Requirements 

The Main Screen

HeavyMetal Map's main screen is centered around map design, with the center of the screen being devoted to the working design map. To the left are the group and graphic buttons, from which you choose the graphics to draw on the map. To the right is a preview of the graphic selected, along with additional information concerning it. I use 1280 x 960 screen resolution on my computer, and it's great. However, you don't have to use that high a resolution to use the program. The screenshots below show 800 x 600 (left) and 1024 x 768 (right) screen resolutions:


While I like to design while showing the entire map at once, you can zoom in to see areas closer during design, and even temporarily hide the graphic preview to show more of the map. The screen shot below shows a relatively low screen resolution, but with the map zoomed in and the preview hidden:


Graphics are organized into Groups or Layers. There are several purposes for this. It is easier to find the graphic you're looking for (there can be over 800 graphics available at one time), so the graphics are separate into groups. For example, there are Terrain graphics, Features, Details, Water, three kinds of Paths, and more. Each is drawn in order when the map is viewed or printed, so there is also a defined order for them. Features (houses, trees) always cover Terrain, and Details always cover features, for example. This layered approach results in the ability to have extremely detailed hexes, with up to10 different types of graphics or information shown in a given hex. The partial screen shot at the left below shows the groups or layers available, while the one at right shows some of the graphics available in the Features group:


Path Graphics

Roads, rivers, multi-hex buildings and other such graphics are considered Path graphics in HMMap. Rather than search through dozens of graphics, choosing the one to fit the road graphic needed, then flip or mirror it to fit the situation, path graphics in HMMap are drawn in a rubber-band line mode. That is, you click on where you want the path to begin, then as you move the mouse pointer, the road rubber-bands to the hex locations where the road can logically extend to, as the screenshot below shows. Continuing on to another hex at a different angle is accomplished by single mouse clicks. Roads and other path graphics are extremely easy to place in this way, yet look very professional and detailed.

Open Screen

The Open Screen has a map preview, so that you don't have to just rely on the filename to be sure you're loading the map you want, as you also have some basic information about the map, as well as a small picture of what the map looks like.

Map Previews

While designing your map, it's nice to get a very close look of how the detail will appear. You have two zoom levels, a Full Map Preview, at half resolution, and four quarter maps, at full resolution. At full resolution especially, you can see every pixel that will appear in printouts and saved images. Half resolution is still a great view of your work, and you can scroll to see the entire map. The two screenshots of map previews below are only on an 800 x 600 resolution screen, yet show great detail. The left shot is a portion of a Full Map Preview, while the right one is a Quarter Map Preview:


Printing Maps

The best map design is not much good unless you have a way of using it outside the program. HeavyMetal Map gives you a number of ways to do this, the first being to print your maps. As you are probably aware, a standard BattleTech map sheet is approximately 18" x 22", meaning that most of us will not have a printer capable of printing them as a single sheet. HMMap helps you in this area, separating the map into as many sheets as necessary to print to your desired size, which you can then cut and tape together. Using standard letter size paper, nine sheets are required to print a standard size map, as shown in the screenshot of the Print dialog box below:

The map preview to the right of the screen shows exactly what each sheet will contain. If you have a larger format printer, or would like to print other size maps, the sheet boundaries change accordingly. You can even print a single, letter-size sheet with the entire map on it, for reference or other uses. While nine sheets is a lot of paper, you can cut that back to only four sheets, if you accept a hex size just 1/8" smaller than standard; still playable, and less cutting and taping.

Of course if you're lucky enough to have a large format printer, you can print entire map sheets as a single sheet. You can also save such printouts as files, and take them to your local print shop, to let them print out the large sheet. You can also specify large size maps, and have many other options as well.

Although HMMap does not include PDF-making software, you can easily download any PDF-maker such as pdf995 to make your own. The image below links to a full size PDF map made using the program, which can then be printed by any system able to use PDF files:

    Sample PDF Map

Map Information Sheet

The Information Data Sheet is an optional sheet that can be printed, and which has all pertinent information on terrain features and other graphics on the map, including the rules and hex locations they occupy. The sample map data sheet linked to below is for the very complex demo map used here, to give you an idea of what information is included on it:

    Sample Map Data Sheet

Making BMP and JPG Images

Another great feature of HMMap is the ability to save you maps as half resolution BMP images, or full or half resolution JPG images. In fact, you can specify a smaller JPG size as well, to suit you needs. A full-resolution JPG, with a quality of only 20 (to keep file size down), is shown below, so you can look at the detail.


Please note that this preview is much lower quality than you will be able to produce, as a higher JPG quality will eliminate the JPG "artifacts" that occur on this image. Examine the small map section to the right, above, to see what full JPG quality can give you. Although it's only a small portion of the map, the level of detail is consistent across the map.

Multi-Map Images

So, making an image of a single map isn't enough for you? You can make full-resolution images of up to four maps and save them for future use or printing (possibly by a print shop). The Multi-Map Image Screen allows you to specify up to four maps, flipping or mirroring any or all as desired, and then make either a low-resolution or high-resolution image (resulting in an image size as large as 6145 x 7549 pixels).

HMMap even takes care of the hex numbering for you; although you can keep the individual map numbering, you can have the program renumber the four-map combo starting at the upper left, renumbering the other maps as required (even with the mirroring and flipping) to have a continuous progress of numbers.

Random Maps

HMMap even helps you create custom maps quickly and easily with its Random Map Designer screen. For this screen (shown below), you can specify what percentage you would like woods hexes to occupy, water, elevation levels and more. Once you've made your settings, making a new random map with those settings is only a function key stroke away.

HMMap also provides an "I'm Feeling Lucky!" button, that sets all of the random factors for you, resulting in a truly random map. And when it does that, it still maintains your manual settings for you.

Map Properties and Options

You have complete control over the maps you create, from what background graphics, if any, are used, to the style and thickness of hex lines, to the font size and color for text located within the hex, and much more. The Map Properties is where you specify this information, which is saved with your map.

You can also enter information about the map, giving it a title, and giving yourself credit, and that information will show up at the bottom left of the map, just as it does for published maps.

Add-On Graphics

An unique feature of HMMap is its ability to place any BMP, JPG or GIF image anywhere on the map, resize it, even stretch it, as well even as flip and mirror it. This is done separately from the map graphics (which are organized into palettes), and add-on graphics go over all other graphics on the map. This is great for adding DropShips, large industrial complex, large craters and other types of graphics to the map. Plus, these can easily be placed on standard maps, and their locations changed as well. The program includes six high-quality DropShip images, as well as many House and Clan logos that can be added for use to indicate ownership or objectives. In the screenshot below, the Kurita emblem and the Union DropShip are add-on graphics included with the program:

Customizable Graphics and Palettes

Although HMMap comes with approximately 1,000 graphics for use in palettes (groups of graphics) and elsewhere, those so inclined can add their own graphics, and even develop entire palettes. You could develop your own land, lake and woods graphics to represent a non-earthly world, for example. Each map is saved with information about what palette was used in designing it, so the palette changes automatically when required. The screenshot below shows the Palette Management Screen, where you customize and create your own graphics and palettes:

Help System / User's Guide

HeavyMetal Map is a bit different than the other HeavyMetal programs in a number of ways. One of them is that lack of a traditional Windows help file. Our research indicates that few people actually use this very helpful system, and there is a lot of information we'd like to get across to those using the program. Therefore, we decided on using a very comprehensive User's Guide in PDF format instead. Approximately 100 pages in length, this easy-to-use guide is always available on your computer, and unlike traditional help files, is easily printed in its entirety for hardcopy reference. It is fully indexed and has a table of contents, linked to the topics themselves.

What's even better is that you can download the User's Guide right now, without even buying the program. We are confident that HeavyMetal Map is so complete, yet easy to use, and feel that the best way for you to see this is to be able to browse through the User's Guide. So, the best way to learn more about HMMap is to:

    Download the HMMap User's Guide

HMMap Additional Graphics Web Page

As we receive contributions from users of HMMap of individual hex graphics, entire palette graphics sets and add-on graphics, we will be adding them to the HMMap Additional Graphics page on this web site, where you will be able to download additional graphics for use with your programs, all at no cost. Some graphics are available now, while others will be shortly. Make sure you stop by to take a look!

And Much More...

There are too many screens and features to show here on this web page, not to mention all of the available graphics. The best way for you to get a better and closer look at the program is to download the HMMap User's Guide using the link above. I believe you will be impressed with the thought that has gone into this program, and will find it the very best way possible to make your own quality maps for use when playing BattleTech.

Order HeavyMetal Map Today!

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Web site and contents Copyright © RCW Enterprises. All rights reserved. Last updated 01/02/2019
All HeavyMetal programs are developed by Rick Raisley of RCW Enterprises, and Copyrighted © by RCW Enterprises. All rights reserved.
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