Make Your Own Course

Have you ever wanted to make a course and see it in the Orbz coursepack? Here I hope to show you exactly how to do that in a clear and easy manner. Now, I know this guide might look a little long, but it’s editing is really very easy, there’s just a lot of stuff to talk about. If you want to just skim it and figure out the details for yourself, go right ahead.

First things first: You need the map editor, more formally known as the Torque Game Engine. The package you get from garage games is no longer compatible with Orbz (trust me, I checked) so I salvaged a copy of the old editor from my old computer and uploaded it. Download it below:

Save/extract/copy all files to your .../orbz/common/editor folder.

Congratulations! You should have a working map editor.

Now I need to teach you how to use the editor.

The first thing you should do is host a server – put on a password so other people can’t join. Start the course you want to edit (for your first time editing, just use any course). Enter “Observer” mode and press F11. If the editor does not open (and you’ll know if it does) you have a problem.

Simple commands for using the editor

  • Move with W, A, S, and D (because you are in observer mode).
  • Clicking and dragging an object will move it.
  • Clicking on an object and clicking and dragging one of the blue axis (labeled x, y, and z) will move the object in one direction. Generally, x and y are sideways; z is up and down.
  • Saving a map: The first time you save a map (aka a mission) select Save Mission As, NOT Save Mission. If you do not save it with an original name, it will overwrite the mission you first opened and you will not be able to play that mission again until someone emails you the correct version of it. (Don’t worry if you do make this mistake, it happens to everyone, and it will turn out okay). Just remember: Save As!

Familiarize yourself with these controls… Well, that’s pretty easy. Now let’s get more advanced.

Rotating an Object
Hold down the “Alt” key while you click and drag on one of an object’s axis.

Copying and Pasting an Object
Okay, this is WAY more complicated than it should be. There are these things called SimGroups that the editor uses – it’s a way of telling Orbz that a star is a star and not an accelerator. For example, all the stars are in a SimGroup folder specifically for stars, and all the accelerators are in a folder specifically for accelerators. If an object is not in the correct SimGroup it will behave like a rock.

Anyways, go to the Window Menu and click on World Editor Inspector, and click on the + next to “Mission Group”. Press alt while clicking on the proper SimGroup (they all have + signs next to them) and then copy and paste whatever it is your copying and pasting either with Ctrl+C/V or the commands in the edit menu. A “normal” object – like the pillars in Boot Camp – that has no “special” abilities, like giving points or a powerup, does not need to go into ANY SimGroup.

For quick reference, here are all the SimGroups and what goes in them:

  • Starting Platforms – you guessed it, starting platforms
  • Powerups – powerups
  • Teleportals – teleporters
  • Accelerators – accelerators
  • Bonus Targets – Purple Stars ONLY
  • Targets – Red, Yellow, and Orange stars ONLY

I usually like to configure it so that the object is dropped where I am. Go to World-->Drop at Camera. Then paste away! This works for creating new objects too.

Creating a New Object
You can only create “normal” objects – it may appear that you can create stars or powerups but they will never “work.” To create one, go to the Window menu and select “World Editor Creator.” On the right-bottom portion of the screen, you should see four folders: Interiors, shapes, Static Objects, and Mission Objects. If you navigate though all of these you will find various objects, but 95% of all objects are in Interiors/fps/data/interiors. Click on an object and it will appear in your map. Warning: It is possible to create objects that look like stars, teleporters, accelerators, etc., but you will not be able to go in them or hit them or anything like that. It will be like having a rock in your map. It may be possible to create new stars this way, but I have never gotten it to work. Stick with copying and pasting.

NOTE: Any object you copy and paste or create will appear in one of 4 states: Accelerators and teleporters will appear normal, ALL stars will appear yellow, all powerups will have a ? on all 6 sides, and all other objects will be black. If you press Alt+L the black objects will enter their normal state.

Changing an Object's Size
In the World Editor Inspector mode, click on any object. In the Scale box, you should see 1 1 1. This is the object’s natural size. To make an object bigger or smaller, just change the numbers. 2 2 2 makes an object twice as big, and .5 .5 .5 makes an object half as big. HOWEVER, a map will get laggy if you make an object too big or too small. Therefore, I would never make an object more than 5 times as big or one fifth as small as its original size. If you want to distort and object, only change one or two of the numbers. The first number is width (along the x-axis), the second is length (y-axis), and the third is height (z-axis). For example, 2 2 5 would make an object twice as big as it normally is and a lot higher.

Changing the Terrain
This can be kind of fun, but there’s a lot to talk about. Bear with me. Start by going to the Window menu and clicking on Terrain Editor. You should see a circle with green, orange, and red squares by your cursor. This is your “brush” – what will be changed when you do something. Try clicking (don’t let go, hold the button down) and moving the mouse up and down – you’ll see that the ground moves up and down too.

This is good enough for some basic editing, but there are some nifty commands that can make this a lot easier. You can change the brush size by going into the Brush menu – you can make it bigger, change the shape, and change between a soft and a hard brush. A soft brush is good for making hills, because the center moves up more than the edges. A hard brush is very even; the whole area selected changes exactly the same.

Under the Action Menu, you’ll see a bunch of choices. I’ll tell you about them briefly here. Important ones are in bold.

  • Select/Adjust Selection: If you want to change a LOT of land at once or make an interesting shape or something, you can select it with this option. Click in any manner you choose. Adjust Selection will act like the Adjust Height option – it moves everything you selected up and down.
  • Add Dirt: Click and hold, and the land moves up.
  • Excavate: Click and hold, and the land moves down.
  • Adjust Height: Click and drag, and the land moves up or down.
  • Flatten: Click and hold, and the land becomes relatively flat.
  • Smooth: Click, hold, and drag, and the land becomes more level with itself. This is how I made the walls of Forbidden Forest (the version to be released in coursepack 7) – it used to be a lot like a cliff, but now it’s all hilly and, well, smooth.
  • Set Height: Click, hold, and drag, and the land goes to a height you can set in the Edit menu under Terrain Editor Settings.
  • Set Empty: Essentially, this gets rid of the ground entirely – there will be a never ending pit in the world. I’ve never used this option in a map I'm considering letting others play.
  • Clear Empty: This undoes Set Empty.
  • Paint Material: You can change the terrain (texture) of the ground here (how it looks).

Painting the Ground: I know there’s an option for this under the Action menu, but that’s really no good. Instead, go to Window-->Terrain Texture Painter. A box with all the terrains used in the map appears. You can have up to 6 textures per map. Click on the texture you want to work with, and then click with your brush to paint the ground. Press Change or Add under each box to change or add a texture. You’ll notice that the edges are like a combination of the two bordering textures – if you want a clear-cut border, use a hard brush instead of a soft one.

To see the shadows your new hills/valleys create, press Alt+L.

Play around with those settings (Edit-->Terrain Editor Settings) and these different actions to familiarize yourself with the terrain editor.

Changing the Fog Color
Go to Window-->World Editor Inspector. Click on the + next to MissionGroup. Click on Sky-Sky. Down below, you’ll see a ton of boxes – some are pretty self explanatory, and most don’t matter. About halfway down, one box will be labeled “fogColor” – this is what we’ll work with. There are 4 numbers in the box, with too many decimal places. They range from 0 to 1, and with them, you can create virtually any color. The first number changes how much red you have, the second green, and the third blue. The fourth number is black, but I’m not sure how it relates to the other colors. Press Apply to see the color you’ve created. Just experiment with different values till you find the fog color you like.

Adding Water
This really isn’t that hard – go to Window-->World Editor Creator-->Mission Objects-->Environment. Click on water, and a small square of water will appear in your map. Make it larger so that it covers the area you want it to. I usually start with the size 300 300 1, and making it bigger or smaller from there.


Making Teleporters and Accelerators Hit Stars or other Objects
A while back I saw this on the old forums, and it’s worked for me ever since. Open up your map, and get in an accelerator or teleporter. Then enter observer mode (usually before you land so you stop in midair) and open up the editor. Go to World-->Drop at Camera, and copy a star or powerup. Paste it, and you’re good to go. You can do the same thing with teleporters.

The Y-Axis
The y-axis is important in starting pads and teleporters. When you start a map, you will be looking from the starting pad in the direction of the y-axis. With teleporters, you will exit the teleporter along the y-axis. Make sure the y-axis is facing the direction you want it to.

The .MIS file

There’s a ton of fun things you can do with the editor – you are not limited in any way; you can do anything you want. Here I’ll tell you some of the essentials.

Orbz stores a missions’ information in two files – the terrain (.ter) file and the mission (.mis) file. The terrain file is the ground and its colors, and the mission file is everything else (all stars, objects, powerups, lobby information -- literally EVERYTHING about your map). There are some things that can only be done in the .mis file, and here I hope to make it less intimidating.

So, save your map and close Orbz. Open up Windows Explorer or some equivalent program and navigate to …/Orbz/fps/data/missions. Open up your map’s .mis file – if it asks you which program to open it with, choose a word processor like Notepad. (For example, if I saved a map as XYZ, I would open up XYZ.mis.) I’ll decipher the important bits for you.

Lobby Information

The Lobby Image
I always enjoy finding an image to be seen from the lobby. Enter observer mode and fly around until you see a good scene for your lobby image (I like to find a spot that really captures the "essence" of the map, or somewhere that shows off one of the better/more exciting aspects). Hit the "Print Screen" button on your keyboard to take a screenshot. Close Orbz and enter an image-editing program such as Paint or Microsoft Photo Editor. Paste the image and save it in …/orbz/fps/client/ui/orbz/courses -- give it a name you can remember easily. Also, it is best if the size of the file is less than 100 kb, but if it's close or if you don't know how to reduce the quality, it's not the most important thing in the world.

If you want to be able to access your map from the lobby, you’ll have to change some of the information in the first block of script.

demo = "0";
size = "Easy";
image = "fps/client/ui/orbz/courses/XYZ.jpg";
name = "XYZ";
descLines = "2";
sortIndex = "##";
desc0 = "A simple new mission template.";
  • Size is the level of the map – either easy, medium, or expert.
  • Image is the screenshot that people see in the lobby, saved in …/orbz/fps/client/ui/orbz/courses. This is where you would save a screenshot of your map – just change the “XYZ” to whatever it is you saved your screenshot as (make the file names match).
  • Name is the name of your course.
  • SortIndex is where your map appears in the lobby. Right now, there are “official” maps – maps that either come with the game or are in the coursepack– in slots 0-60. Therefore, you should probably put your first map in slot 61. If you have the fishpack, start at 67.
  • The other lines of script don’t matter.

Changing the Sky
There are a lot of different skies in Orbz. Go to …/orbz/fps/data/skies. Any file that ends in .dml is a sky. Most skies are pretty self explanatory. In the .mis file, find where it says:

new Sky(Sky) {

materialList = "~/data/skies/XXX.dml";
Change the XXX to match the .dml file is the sky you want.

The easiest way to see what the sky you picked looks like is to open up your map in Orbz.

There is a way to see what the sky looks like without opening Orbz back up, but it’s a little complicated. Open up the .dml file with a word processor. You should see 7 lines of text. Those are all images, also located in the /skies folder. Each of those images is a different wall of a giant cube – one image should give you an idea of what the sky looks like. For example, if I open csky_day.dml, I see that one of the images is cday_1. So I find cday_1.jpg in the same folder I’m already in and open it up. Now I know what that sky looks like. If I like it, I can put csky_day.dml in my .mis file; if I don’t like it I can try another sky.

Changing Powerups
Your map should have the exact powerups you want it to. Open up the .mis file and scroll down to

new SimGroup(powerups) {
Sometimes it’s a little hard to find. You should see one of these:
new CourseTarget() {
for every powerup you put in your map. The important information looks something like

nbrPowerups = "2";
powerup = "MoneyBallPowerup";
cyclePowerupTimer = "XXXX";
powerup0 = "MoneyBallPowerup";
chance0 = "1";
powerup1 = "StickyBallPowerup";
chance1 = "2";

I’ll try to make sense of this for you.

  • nrbPowerups is the number of different powerups (like Money Ball and Sticky Ball) the one powerup target can spawn.
  • Powerup is the first powerup the powerup target will be when the map starts.
  • You can ignore cyclePowerupTimer – in fact, I often just delete that line of code.
  • PowerupX is any powerup, and corresponds with chanceX.
  • The chance is how many times the powerup will show a specific powerup out of the total number of chances. For example, the powerup above will be Money Ball 1 time in 3 (1+2) and will be a Sticky Ball 2 times in 3.

In the powerup line of text, there is a specific name for each powerup. Here are all of them:

  • Money Shot: MoneyBallPowerup
  • Sticky Shot: StickyBallPowerup
  • Freeze Frame: FreezeFramePowerup
  • Teleporter: Teleporter Powerup
  • SuperShot: SuperShotpowerup
  • Curse of the Goober: GooberPowerup
  • Demagnitizer: DemagnetizerPowerup
  • Floater: FloaterPowerup

Congratulations, you now know everything about making maps! Go forth, andastound the orbz community with your newfound abilities.

Tips from fishbob:

  • A good map has a healthy balance between objects and terrain. Some maps are 100% objects (like Orbz on the Catwalk) or 100% terrain (like Crusty Canyon) – these maps aren’t as fun, IMO, as ones that have an interesting terrain with objects in it. For this reason, I am most proud of my maps Winter Warzone and Forbidden Forest, which I feel meet this “standard.”
  • A good map has more than one path and a lot of interesting details. More than one path is necessary, for otherwise the first person to shoot will almost always win. Details are what make a map special and unique. Be nitpicky; make your map a piece of art.
  • Water should not be too deep. Otherwise it’s hard to go anywhere and not very fun, unless you have a floater.
  • The fog color should usually match either the sky or the ground. In my opinion, it just looks nicer that way.
  • Use powerups that are good for the map. For example, if a map had a lot of distance between stars, you might put in some super shots. If there are a lot of hills, sticky shots would be nice so you don’t roll too far. Think about negs too. Do you want them? If so, what would be deadliest? Goober is killer in Crusty Canyon, so I put a lot of Goobers there. That is the basis of my neg “philosophy:” if the creator of the map put negs in a map, he put them in there to be used. Also, you might want a powerup in one spot but not another – all your powerups don’t have to be the same.


I realize that this can be very confusing, so please d not hesitate to cantact me () with questions.

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