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Mapping

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Mapping, or called making new custom levels, is a type of the action of modifying levels. However, what makes custom maps (custom levels) entirely different from ordinary modified levels is, custom maps do not, or almost do not, contain any parts derived from default levels.

A screen shot of Moneng Space, the most representative custom level

Mapping in Ballance

Generally speaking, mapping in Ballance, is much harder than in almost any other games, which makes some mapping skills and mechanisms still unclear till now, even more than a decade after the release of Ballance.

The basic software for mapping is Virtools, which can be used to modify .nmo files. However, since Virtools doesn't support 3D modeling[1], 3ds Max is commonly used for assistance.

Tutorials

Still waiting to be fully translated.

Ballance Map Pack

History

In 2011 the first pack containing all custom levels till that time was released. In 2013, since too much maps had been available, the new version removed “bad works” and ordered the maps by difficulty.[2]

Download

All custom levels are free to use and modify. The newest version of map pack is 7.5 (June 2019), containing 13 default / 45-degree rotated / semi-blind levels, 30 reversed levels, 43 professional speedrunning levels, 184 custom levels.[3]

History

Default levels

The first 12 levels were released with the game itself, in April 2004. Another downloadable level, named level 13 (“Speed”/“速度”), was released in September that year.[4] Nowadays most Ballance setup packs already contain this level.

Virtools 2.1 is credited to be the software used to make this levels; however, since it is clear that Virtools can't do 3D modeling[1], what apart from it is used remains unknown.

Custom levels

In Chinese forums

Most softwares were hacked to be downloaded and used for free in China in 2000s, thus providing access to 3D modeling softwares and the most important software for Ballance mapping, Virtools.

The date of the first available edited level is unknown, probably dating back to 2006; The first level considered to be a “new” level was Reversed level 1 (December 2008); the first custom level was Level 14 (June 2009); 3ds Max was also chosen as the software to create 3D models at that time. In April 2010, the first level with Ballance textures, Beautiful Textures was released. In June 2010, a Ballance-floor-making tool, BMMaker, was released.[2]

In other forums

Due to the lack of 3D modeling softwares and unified forums, there seems to be no new custom levels before the release of First CLU's Level in May 2019; in 2012, some Chinese custom levels were brought to some forums; in 2018, mapping tutorials were translated and brought to the Discord Ballance server.

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Virtools can be used to edit existing 3D objects, but cannot create 3d objects.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Due to some reasons, currently posts before 2017 are hidden in Chinese forums.
  3. 【地图包】【2019.6】 地图包7.5发布_百度贴吧
  4. (Archived 20 Oct 2007) Ballance Developer Homepage