How To Make Your Own Layouts for the Shanghai Games

You can create your own layouts for the Shanghai games (Classic Shanghai, Kids, 2-Player, Pandamonium, and Dynasty). Press Ctrl-E (for "Edit") anytime you are playing Shanghai: Second Dynasty offline, or select Create Custom Layouts... from the Layouts menu (this menu is only visible in the Shanghai modes, not when playing the Dragon's Eye or Mah-Jongg).

There are three types of layouts used in Shanghai: Second Dynasty. "Shanghai" layouts are used in Classic Shanghai, Pandamonium, 2-Player, Timer, and Arcade. "Dynasty" layouts are used only in the Dynasty game. "Kids" layouts are intended only for use in Kids' mode, but can be used in other modes. There are folders for these three types of layouts, and there is also a fourth folder, named "Custom." Layouts which you create should go into the Custom folder.

Shanghai layouts ideally should have two text boxes. If you fill the screen with tiles and there is no place for boxes, then the resulting layout will not be useful for a game of 2-Player, Pandamonium, Arcade, or Timer.

While playing these modes, it is very important to see the onscreen status information (players' status, timer reading, tile count, etc.). If you create a layout without any boxes, you can nevertheless enjoy the layout in Classic Shanghai mode - once you've mastered the game, you don't need the Prompts box, and you can get by without the Tile Count. There are several such "box-less" layouts in the Custom folder for you to enjoy in ("untimed") Classic Shanghai. You can make layouts of less than 144 tiles if you wish - but the number of tiles must always be a multiple of four, and must be no fewer than 28 tiles. It is possible for tiles stacked high at the edge of the screen to go off the side of the screen. Make sure you test any layout you create before sharing it with friends.

Dynasty layouts must be no wider than 7 tiles, otherwise the layouts will not be able to fit on screen. Do not place any boxes in Dynasty layouts (they won't be used by the program). Dynasty layouts must be comprised of 72 tiles only.

If you create a custom Dynasty layout, you should probably label it in a manner to make it recognizable as a Dynasty layout when navigating to it in the "Open" dialog box. Or make a separate folder within the Layouts folder. All of the layouts provided in the Custom folder are 144-tile layouts suitable for Classic Shanghai, Pandamonium, 2-Player, or Arcade-144-tile layouts are not suitable for Dynasty games.

Kid layouts should be less than 72 tiles, and must have four info boxes (not just two). The theory is that once a young player has mastered layouts of 68 tiles or less, and desires layouts comprised of more than 68 tiles, then that player is most likely ready to graduate to Classic Shanghai (with 144 tiles, without the voice, and without the extra onscreen buttons).

While in the layout editor, you can use the Layouts menu to change edit modes, or you can use Ctrl + key combinations.

Change to Insert Mode - +
Change to Select Mode - -
Change to Insert Boxes Mode - \
Delete Highlighted Tile or Box - Delete
Cancel Layout and Return to Game - Ctrl-C
Save Layout (Layout must meet requirements) - Ctrl-S
Open Layout to edit - Ctrl-O
Play This Layout - Ctrl-P
Clear the Layout - Ctrl-X

When you enter the Editor, the program immediately puts you in Insert Mode. There are no tiles present. Just put a tile where you want it, and click to leave one there.

To delete a tile, press the - key to switch to Select Mode. Then click on the tile you want to delete (it will become highlighted) and press the Delete key. Use the same procedure to delete a box.

To place a box, press the \ key to switch to the Insert Boxes Mode. Move the mouse cursor to the spot where you wish to place a box. If you cannot see a box there, then that spot is too small. You'll either have to delete some tiles to make room or put the box in another spot.

While in Insert mode, your cursor is used to place tiles and build a layout. Just click when you see the tile in the desired location to place a tile there. To remove a tile, switch to Select mode. When the cursor is over a tile you wish to remove, click to highlight it, then press the Delete key.

The info boxes (Game Name/Tile Count box and the Prompts box) need to be located as part of the layout you create, unless you are creating a 72-tile Dynasty layout (otherwise the game does not know where to place these boxes). Use Insert Boxes mode to place these boxes. The first box you place is the Game Name/Tile Count box; the second box is the Prompts box. If you do not define locations for these boxes, your layout will not include these boxes.

After you have created your layout, you need to save it from the File menu before you can play on it. Make sure that you give the layout a unique and logical name.

If you are going to share the layout with your friends or post it on the Internet, keep in mind that somebody else might use the same layout name you do if you don't make a good effort to come up with a truly unique layout name.

The game will not allow you to save the layout if it does not meet the following three criteria:

1. There must be at least 28 tiles in the layout.

2. There must be no more than 144 tiles in the layout.

3. The total number of tiles in the layout must be evenly divisible by four (the number of tiles in the layout must be a multiple of four).

Windows users: If you cannot tell how many tiles you have in your layout, you need to hide your Taskbar. Go into Settings from the Start menu and choose Taskbar & Start Menu and then make sure the Autohide box is checked. You will then be able to see the information at the bottom of the screen in the Custom Layout window.

Macintosh users: This updated version of Shanghai will not refuse to open a custom card, tile set, or layout if the filetyping information ("Creator" and "File Type" attributes) is not "just so." But the original Macintosh version of Shanghai: Second Dynasty and Shanghai: Mah-Jongg Essentials will refuse to open custom cards, tile sets, or layouts if the filetyping information ("Creator" and "File Type" attributes) is not "just so."

So if you are sending a custom card, tile set, or layout to a user of the original (v1.0) Macintosh version of Shanghai: Second Dynasty or Shanghai: Mah-Jongg Essentials, it would be "user-friendly" if you would alter the Creator and File Type attributes before compressing and sending the file. (You are not obligated to do so, but it is probably not wrong to assume that someone who creates a custom card, tile set, or layout is more "computer literate" than someone who does not.)

There are several filetyping programs which can be obtained via the Internet:

* A Better Finder Creators & Types -- http://www.publicspace.net/ABetterFinderCreatorsAndTypes/
* FileBuddy -- http://www.skytag.com/FileBuddy.stuff/fb_download.html
* Change Type and Creator (CTC) -- http://www.eureka.ca/rmf/Docs/CMM.html#CTC

These are the Creator and File Types for Shanghai files which can be customized:

- Creator: ShD2 (Shanghai: Second Dynasty files)
- Creator: SMMj (Shanghai: Mah-Jongg Essentials files)
- File Type: card (custom American mah-jongg card files)
- File Type: patt (custom layout files)
- File Type: BMPf (custom tile set files)