Author Topic: CAW tutorial - first contact  (Read 21125 times)

Offline Anushka

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CAW tutorial - first contact
« on: March 13, 2012, 01:50:16 AM »

Starting CAW - first contact

Starting CAW will open you a window with plenty to look at and wonder what is what.

Here I will cover the basic tool mostly used in CAW. More in depth explanations and examples will be shown later.

Under File options you’ll get several simple and usual functions and few unique for CAW. Opening New World will take you to the window to chose the Height Map and specs for starting map. Open world will let you open the height map of Sunset Valley and Riverview without roads and objects, just the shape of the land. Recent files is a simple shortcut to reach your recently opened worlds, and Close Current World is selfexplanatory.
Select World to Export is available even if world is not currently open in CAW, but you need to prepare your world for that. (More about it later).
Edit in Game will load Sims .exe file and in separate window you’ll see the familiar loading screen. Once it's open, you’ll have an idea of how will your world look in game. More about this later.
Save will create a back up copy of your previous world and will continue to do so in 6 folders. You can have even more of them, but it is recommended to have more Save As versions and not overwrite your backups too often – you never know what could go wrong and one of those backed up backups might save you from starting all over.
Exit will leave you out of CAW.

View options are more advanced. You should play with first 9 options to see how it looks – wireframe will give a special look to your world but also show if anything is burried under ground. Most of it will clutter your view and are better off, but this can be usefull to check your world.
Pausing game time will stop the effects – waves and waterfalls will freze which can save your card from overheating when you’re working on a huge worlds.
Time of Day is usefull at the start. It will show you sides of world – where the sunrise and sunset are so you can plan your world accordingly. 
Layers are working similar as first 9 options, you can turn off terrain, objects, flora, effects etc. and it is usefull for checking routing data but also to spare your graphic card if there is a lot of trees and effects.
Routing – this deserve a special tutorial, but for start, Show routing data will show you a network of connected dots in your world to show you all the places game consider reachable for your Sims. If you add objects including trees, lots or roads, with saving file routing will rebuild automatically. But this last option is usefull if you find a spot that needs to be adjusted, you remove some of the opsticles and want to check if that solve the issue.


Arrow is a simple marker without any special function. You’ll use it to navigate trough your world and often to select something before moving/rotating it, or deleting. (To delete marked object, road or lot, press delete on your keyboard – that is the most efficient way)
Next 2 functions are CAW wonders. You can move ANY object ANYWHERE. You can have tree high above the ground as well as deep under the ground. But it should be on surface. Some objects like bridges, rocks and effects will often require a lot of moving to get it just right.
Undo and Redo are usual functions, but there is a limited number of undos in CAW while some things can’t be undone (like autopaint) Also, avoid deleting lots then undoing it – it can turn them into ugly blue squares that are visible even when you export world.

Green square is to turn on grid. Similar to what it does in game on lots. It is usefull if you want your roads to be streight so you can add lots in game without the gap. Also, it is usefull for placing lots as they will follow the grid authomatically. Marking unroutable areas is also recommended to be done in with grid on. BUT grid on will limit the moving/rotating objects, roads and lots, so it shouldn’t be on all the time.
Green Plumbob is a shortcut to go in Edit in Game(EiG). It will ask you if you want to proceed, and will save any changes you made in CAW. It is very usable to see how will the changes in your world appear in the game.

First icon is to cluster the trees (and all the plants and flowers) you placed in world. They will be grouped for easier handling in game, but they will no longer be named as they are. Less number of  different types of trees will make it easier to group and handle. When you save, it will automatically cluster them. Uncluster option will be used if you realize you want to move/remove some of the already placed plants/trees. Saving world will cluster them again.
Roads deserve a special chapter.

Lots section have 4 options but you really use only the first one – create a lot. More about this later.

One of the first thing you’ll do. First icon will take you to the tool section where you can paint the terrain, sculpt the shapes, mark unroutable areas and export mask. More about this later.
Adjusting sea level is quite simple in CAW. Just select this second icon and click on ground where you want water level to be. You can lower it or make it higher. CAW won’t make any difference so you can sink your whole world including lots, trees and roads.

Exporting Height Map is usefull tool (wish I knew about it earlier). It will copy the terrain shape of your world so you can start fresh new world with already shaped terrain. It will only copy the terrain, no painting or roads. Paint can be copied as well as objects but roads can’t. Still, this can be very very usefull, more details later.

World layer is where everything you place in your world is saved. To place anything you need to Add Layer but that can be done only when you already start the world. Right Click on World Layer and chose Add Layer. You can add as many as you want, even layers under layers. It is good for you and the game to have them organised. I when you have a large world it is good to know where everything is. You can also rename layers with two slower clicks or rightclick-rename layer.
Add/Edit Description is neccessary to export world. More about this later.

Metadata is where everything you want to place in your world is. Under Game Objects/Environment you have all available objects in CAW – trees, rocks, spawners, effects, objects such are streetlights, city walls, distant terrain, bilboards even CAS Room. You can look for trees and plants separately, and for effects.

If you have many EP’s it is a huge list, so once you learn what you have and what you are looking for, there is a filter for a selected list of objects you want.

Offline Anushka

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Re: CAW tutorial - first contact
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2012, 01:53:08 AM »
Starting the world from the scratch
-Before even loading CAW, it is good to have an idea what kind of the world you want. Do you want small world with few objects but maximum performance? Or you want the huge world with all possible and impossible lots there? A lot of small or big lots? Suburban, farm, Downtown or all in one? High mountains, steppy hills, of flat land? Part of the land or an island? Desert or lush? High cliffs above see or long beaches? Or no see at all?

If you don’t know the answer to these questions than explore the CAW options, and look around, not just in Sims community but in real life too.

Starting a new game will lead you to this window:

Image file is Height Map, it’s a greyscale birdview picture of desired terrain that CAW transform into terrain shape in .png format in different sizes. With PhotoShop and other advanced applications it is possible to create them outside CAW, even from GoogleEarth.
Maximum Height limits the height of the mountains above see level. Lush will put the basic color of terrain in green grass, while desert will make it all in sand. Clicking on those 3 dots to browse Height Maps you can see what EA has provided us with:

Shape of TinyMountainBeachMap and LargeMountainBeachMap is the same, only different in size. Numbers at the end of the name are showing you how high it is comparing to see level – only 100 is above see level, 200 is just below:

While 300 is deep under water:

Difference it makes is if you start from flat map, you have to shape everything. So if you want the archipelage or just deep blue water surrounding the world – you can raise the terrain where you want leaving majority of it deep under water and with dark blue water color. If you want narrow tropical lagune with wide and narrow sandy beaches between atols – 200 is the best. Painting the terrain under it will change the color of the water into what you want. Finally, if you want your world mostly on land, than chose 100. Later you can change the see level into exactly what you want and use sculpting tool to get the effect you want.

Size of the world and maximum height
Tiny world with 100 Maximum Height (lot is 60x60 for the orientation) Flat top appear when hill reach it’s highest possible point.

Small map with 200 Maximum Height:


Medium Size with 300 Max Height:

Large map is not really recommended except – if you want inland world and most of the Map won’t be routable, or you’re expirienced and have an awesome PC that can handle supersized worlds. I used large map for Union Cove, BUT almost half of it is unroutable (both for Sims and Camera) – so you don’t see the edges of the world and have a feeling it is part of the land. Same goes for Height. Higher the mountains, harder it is for to handle it in game, so if you don’t want Himalaya’s or Alpes, use 100 or 200 height.

Looking at huge green square in the see can be discouraging, but if you don’t import some of the height maps, this is the best way to start – in View, there is an option Time of Day, you’ll get this when you select it:

By default sun is positioned almost in zenith. Type in 18 instead of 11 and 20 instead of 0, and you’ll see the exact point of sunset in your world. Mark it somehow so you can have an orientation – I usually use valley from sculpting tool and mark southwest corner:

Type back 11 so you can have normal coloring, and start shaping that world! (This is important because you can’t rotate your world to position sunset where you want, you have to plan that ahead.)

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Offline Anushka

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Re: CAW tutorial - first contact
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2012, 02:00:48 AM »
Terrain Tool

Terrain Painting

Clicking the icon “Paint terrain” will bring you this window open on side. Drag the slide bar to see all the terrain paints you have. You can add as many as you want but be carefull not to use too many of them.
At start there are 4 layers, grass, rock, and dark and light sand. To add more, click on "Add layer" button and you'll get this window opened:

Name it anyway you want or just leave it the way it is, and click browse (3 dots button) to select from the list.

You won't be able to see how each pattern look before adding it, but you can edit the layer if you don't like it. If you have used pattern somewhere don't edit it to something else, but add the new one. If you change the pattern on already used layer, it will change in the world too.
It is quite easy to add your own terrain patterns, and there are many shared around the community. EA didn’t really give us much to work with, specially rocks, and sadly it is a wider choice to paint on lots than it is in the world. But at least we can add them as much as we want. It is said that we should not use more than 8 patterns on top of each other but I didn’t find any proof or information about why, but it won’t hurt to avoid such a thing.

There is no “erase paint” way except for limited undo before saving it, painting over it or some radical methods that will delete most or all of your custom paint work. So don’t rush with painting the areas before they are shaped into what you want them to be (or at least close to it).

Autopaint may look like usefull tool but since it is undoable, use it carefully. I find it best usable when shaping terrain to see how flat/steppy areas really are. Once you start painting the world, forget about Autopaint. Routing opacity will increase/decrese the visibility of nonroutable areas, once you mark them.
By template, opacity and falloff are on max, but to create a natural and beautiful scenery (or something specific you had in mind) change it accordingly. This same brush is available for painting, and it is what makes the difference between good and wonderful worlds.

Top full circle is with all settings on 100 (size, opacity, falloff)
One under it has the opacity 50 but falloff 100 and it look almost the same. Only very close zoom and high detail will show small difference in intensity of the pattern. Next by intensity of pattern is with both opacity and falloff on 50. Only now you can see the edges are looking more natural.

Setting falloff to 10 and opacity on 50 is giving you the result visible in next circle by intensity. It is the one I used most often as it will make the most natural transition between some terrains. Last most transparent circle is both the opacity and falloff set to 10. I use it to highlight some terrains – with others and that is the most used setting for final touches.

Terrain sculpting.

This is the list of the tools we have to shape the world. They are selfexplanatory. Flattening is good in areas where you want flat lots to be placed. Hill gentle will slowly raise the terrain, while steep hill will do it faster and more vertical. Mountains will also raise it fast and high, with some uneven edges, cliff like. SheerCliff will broke and raise the terrain, while smoothing will make it – smooth. Valley gentle is good to make beaches, while steep valley will create a large lake or deep river without visible bottom. Depending on size, opacity and falloff of the brush, this tools can make wonders.

The best way to raise bigger areas of world is to use gentle hill tool. It will raise biggest areas of land at the same time, and slowly enough so you don’t get peaks. You can also raise smaller part of the land, use flat tool, start from the top of the raised terrain (height you prefere) and raise the rest using flatten terrain tool. Then shape the edges into what you want.
Here is the picture of results most of the terrain tool can provide:

Spikes on left are made with mountain tool. It will raise the terrain high and fast and you’ll probably end up with spikes. Smoothing the area will make it even less mountain like! Play with brush options (falloff high opacity low) and you’ll get better results. You can always improve the look by using Sheer cliff tool or very small brush for valley or stepp hill.
Central small hill is the result of gentle hill on one spot. Next to it, like a long high cliff with smooth side is stepp hill. It will raise high and fast, but wider and smoother than the mountain.

Sheer cliff will “broke” the terrain and elevate it just a little bit, result is visible between low hill and deep pond.
Valley gentle – will make the edges more gentle and is good for any shallow holes/creeks to be made. Sharp and more vertical edges and deeper holes are made with valley steep.

Here is another example of what can be done with hills and mountain tool if you elevate the area with gentle hill, use mountain tool on top and sharp hill on the side:

I recommend to open one flat map and play with these options, just to get a feel of how it works. Quite soon you will be able to use these tools with confident. And there is always exit without save and return to one of the backups.