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Old 06-23-2007, 07:55 PM   #1
Dark.Revenant
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Default Map Design

Map Design

Introduction
Every week, I see several new Warcraft III maps being thrown into the cruel world, and 99% of the time, I am surprised by their quality. I know, my standards for new, freshly made newbie maps are pretty low, but I must still say that I'm surprised by them. The sad truth is that I am not pleasantly surprised; I am completely shocked and dismayed at horrible excuses for games being crapped into Battle.net every day. I'm not saying that the abilities aren't cool, or the units aren't inspired, or the graphics aren't breathtaking, it's the damn map design that those poor mapmakers are completely failing in! Eventually, I became fed up with it, and hope to remedy at least part of the problem here and now.

Map (and game) design is a very tricky matter; many people think it requires a whole tangled web of thought, counter-balancing, features, ideas, gameplay, and general frustration. Most of those people, in fact, are right; but that whole mess doesn't have to be necessarily difficult. I think the problem is two-fold. The first portion of the problem is that those mapmakers don't even realize how important map design is, but the second portion is that those mapmakers who actually know the importance of map design think it's too hard to do and or simply don't know how to do it. The main portion of the tutorial will cover the latter, and the former will be remedied right now. Map design is actually somewhat straightforward, contrary to popular belief, the only requirement being an open, cool mind. This relative ease of use makes the complete lack of intelligent design in many maps a tragedy! Many people don't understand how important a good design plan is, so I will try my best to illustrate how important it really is:

Click at your own risk

Imagine... You are playing a map in which you have no idea what to do, with no documentation or tips in the map whatsoever. No, not even the 7 others playing the map can figure out what the hell the point is supposed to be. You wonder what sadistic mind trick the map author is trying to impose on you. Suddenly, the only person who remotely understands the map (the mapmaker himself) sends swarms of high-level stuff at your base and heroes, completely crushing you. This sadistic onslaught on your units and, more importantly, your brain, begins to make you question your sanity and makes you quickly put all of the sharp objects in close proximity to you under lock and key. During this one-sided fight, the mapmaker continues to exclaim, "Dis shit is teh dope man!" You leave the game in defeat, wondering why life was so cruel as to waste 8 minutes of your life in such a mind-rottenly disgusting manner...



Obviously, that's a really bad example, but I can name many other times when I join a map, see some cool features, but detect absolutely no plan beyond that. >>>OUTDATED>>> Even in the freaking mapmaking clan in which I am a part of, half of the users who can even make a map don't even know triggers, while half of the remaining people don't have any concept of the words, "Overall Plan". Now, I think it's due time that I talk about the actual map designing guidelines and techniques... <<<OUTDATED<<<


First Steps
Map design is actually not very difficult. It requires thought and an open, cool mind, which should be easy to come by with enough sleep. The simplest way to go by map design is to come up with a rough idea, write it all down (with plenty of space for crossing-out and revising), question yourself, revise, then repeat the last two steps until you strike gold.

Think about what you want in a map. Do this until you are ready to confirm the type of map you want. After that, write down...
• What is the map type? - Write down something like "Hero Arena" or the name of the map that comes closest to your plan.
• What is the goal for the players? - Write down the goal that the players will try to achieve. This does NOT have to be the victory condition (for ORPGs) Remember, you don't need to limit yourself to just one goal.
• What are the obstacles? - Write down everything that will possibly impede the progress of the players. If any part can be the most important, then this is THE most important aspect of map design. Any game is defined, made, and broken, by the conflict that must be overcome in order to win. Without any obstacles, there is no game, and therefore the "game" is just an interactive cinematic in which you will never see the words, "Game Over".
• How will each obstacle prove a challenge to the players? - If any part can be the most important, then this is the third most important aspect of map design. The game type, ingenuity, and overall map form are all defined by this part. If the obstacle of "Other Players" is in your game, then the answer to this question may be "Other player kills, attacks, slows, and blocks you, while trying to attain the goal before you do (resulting in your defeat)".
• What will the players be able to do? - If any part can be the most important, then this is the second most important aspect of map design. A game in which the players can do nothing is, in all honesty, pretty damn boring. This is where the game is either "Hard" or "A Fun Challenge". List EVERYTHING that the players can do to attain their goals and overcome their obstacles. Make sure that there are actions to fill every niche, i.e. please give the players some way to get to their goal and ways to overcome most obstacles. Nobody likes it when you are powerless to stop a big attack from hitting the Hero.
• What is the overall theme? - E.G. Call of Duty's theme is World War II, and Warcraft III's theme is medieval fantasy.
• What's the "Rest of the Stuff"? - In here, just write down some of the units, abilities, triggers, functionalities, etc... (Specific stuff).


Questionnaire
Now, comes the part that separates the good from the bad. You will answer several "Yes/No" questions about the map while modifying your plan to answer "Yes" to every question.

(∆) Will your map be fun to play? - No explanation needed. Deep down, everybody who plays games does so for the enjoyment generated from it. Is there something for the players to do at all times? Is the map going to have no boring parts? Will the map captivate the players at all times? Truly think about this; will it actually be fun to do whatever you will have the players be doing? Spare no expense in this section.

Will your map stay fresh during the...
(2) First run? - Basically, will your map offer anything new or distinguishing from the pack? Just like most people in the 20's and 30's don't want to do an old lady, most gamers don't want to do an old, dusty map formula. At least have the decency to dust and polish the formula if you must use it.
(1) Second time through? - Basically, will your map stay fresh after you beat it / win, or will it get old faster than crappy jokes? If the map is linear, find a way to make it nonlinear. If that is impossible, think of ways to offer variety or different, more challenging game modes.
(3) Fifth go at it? - Basically, will your map stay fresh after you beat it / win a good number of times? If you truthfully say "Yes" to this, then you've already surpassed the vast majority of Battle.net maps in terms of map design. If you can't safely move on to the next, final rung, I can assure you to say that it's safe to stay at this level.
(3) Forty-eighth match? - Basically, will your map stay fresh indefinitely? Is it the map that no matter how many times you play it, you will always come back for a unique experience? There are only a select few maps that actually make it to this point, so if yours makes it here, it can very well make it to the WC3Campaigns map database! However, this rung is NOT a requirement. If there is simply no way to keep your map fresh for this long, you can stay at the rung just below this.

(2) Will your map be complex? - Please, do NOT mistake this with complication. High complication means that the map is simply hard to understand and play. This works for some games, but it is horrible for Warcraft III maps. What you want is complexity. High complexity means that your map has a variety in strategies, plays, situations, and requires thought and wisdom to win with somewhat simple rules. Complexity is almost always good to have in a map. Think Civilization for a complicated game, and Chess for a complex game.

(1) Will your map NOT be complicated? - Please, do NOT mistake this with complexity. High complexity means that your map has a variety in strategies, plays, situations, and requires thought and wisdom to win with somewhat simple rules. Complexity is almost always good to have in a map. What you DON'T want is complication. High complication means that the map is simply hard to understand and play. This works for some games, but it is horrible for Warcraft III maps. Nobody wants to read a large rule book in order to understand the game, let alone play it. Complicated rules are fine, but there is a point at which the map becomes frustrating. Think Civilization for a complicated game, and Chess for a complex game.

(2) Will your map be challenging, but not impossible? - Nobody likes a game in which they can't win. Likewise, nobody (truly) likes a game in which their win is certain each time. Having a good point in-between by having a genuinely challenging game that can beaten is a good idea. Variable difficulty settings is also VERY helpful here.

Will each player feel they are equal? - This part covers a lot of ground. Basically, will each player believe that they have the same chance at winning as everyone else? (Adding the points to the left assumes that you do NOT have any of these traits in your design) In order to say "Yes" to this, your map must be nearly devoid of:
(2) • Snowball Effects: The player that gets an advantage at first should NOT be given more of an advantage. This causes the dreaded situation in which the winner will just keep winning. Some snowball can be justified if it's minor and only there to give the players a reason to continue.
(3) • Bad Balancing: Need I say more? If one player has an obvious advantage without any glaring disadvantage, people will say that player is rigged. Don't allow that to happen. However, one player may be stronger than the others, but the other players must be able to have a way to counter that player without great difficulty.
(1) • Luck-Based Outcomes: Don't get me wrong; random values are all right, but don't overdo it. If the map becomes a luck of the draw for any more than a third of the time, you need to change it.

(1) Will there be incentive for the player to win? - This part is tricky. Usually, you should be fine with whatever plan you currently have, but give some thought into whether or not the player will have any reason to attempt to win. Not much is needed to fulfill this section, but your map will be somewhat boring if there is no incentive for the player to win. Don't worry too much, though, as having a "No" here is rare. All you need is something to the effect of high-level spells, a cool boss, a few cool super-expensive items, a fun mini-game, or a really good end cinematic.

(1) Will your map be generally appealing? - Let's face it: everybody judges books by the cover. Your map will be infinitely more successful if it has some sort of cool feature or something that will draw users. A minimap picture can help, too. However, the absolute most important part of this section is a good name for your map. If the map name is horrible, the number of people who join / download will be horrible.


How Good is your Plan?
You see the number in parentheses to the left of each question? If you answer "Yes" to any question, add that number to a total. Look at this table to see how good your plan is:
22 = Perfection!! Provided your mapmaking skills are comparable, your map is going to rock the pants off of people!
18-21 = Great! Your map is going to be of excellent quality if your mapmaking skills are also great.
15-17 = Good. Your map is going to be of decent quality if you can actually make the map. You can try harder to improve the design, however.
11-14 = Try again. You need to make some changes to your map design, but the design has the potential to be gold.
7-10 = Crap! Your map is going to be crap if you don't make major changes to the design.
0-6 = OH NOES!! Please start over from scratch.

∆ = If the map isn't fun, it can't be good, no matter how perfect the other parts are. The map being fun is a bare minimum.

If your plan scored lower than what you want it, revise your plan. After that, repeat the questionnaire and revise until it gets to your goal point. Make sure your map plan is incredibly good on paper, as 9 times out of 10, it won't be as good in practice as it looks on paper.

Before you go on, confirm that you will genuinely enjoy making and playing your map. You will never complete the project if you don't like what you're making (unless you are being paid).


After you Have your Full Map Design
Your map design is complete, but that doesn't mean you can't add anything else later on. At this point, I must refer you to the other tutorials here at Wc3Campaigns, so that you may make your map to the quality of your designs. No matter how good your design is, the real deciding factor is how well you can actually build the map. My analogy for this is house building. The draft for the house may be absolute perfection, but if you hire a bunch of drunken old people to build the house, it will topple over and kill somebody at any time.

Good luck with your map!

- Dark.Revenant

Last edited by Dark.Revenant : 03-26-2008 at 04:42 AM.
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Old 06-24-2007, 02:43 AM   #2
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I think it is helpful to people that are new to mapmaking, and to some that are experienced map makers, and i like your scoring system
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Old 06-24-2007, 02:56 AM   #3
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Thanks! I designed the scoring system carefully to be accurate to most permutations of questions answered "yes". For example, a map that has no originality at all loses a staggering 9 points, putting it in the "Try Again" category even if everything else is perfect.
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Old 06-24-2007, 03:17 AM   #4
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I agree. Many suckish maps are crapped into Bnet all the time, while good ones have no chance.
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Old 07-01-2007, 09:58 PM   #5
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One could probably argue about the weight of the questions,
but afterall this is a good start to wake some people up.

*approved*
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Old 10-18-2007, 03:31 PM   #6
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Well good to guide beginers. Still this is written from your point of view, not every one thinks the same.

I like it!
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Old 10-18-2007, 07:53 PM   #7
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Thanks, to Pinzu for updating this otherwise I never would have seen it.

Good tutorial, I was just telling Rising Dusk the exact same things.
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Old 10-24-2007, 12:27 AM   #8
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Everything is good and all but...

Quote:
Will each player feel they are equal? - This part covers a lot of ground. Basically, will each player believe that they have the same chance at winning as everyone else? In order to say "Yes" to this, your map must be (nearly) devoid of:
(2) • Snowball Effects: The player that gets an advantage at first should NOT be given more of an advantage. This causes the dreaded situation in which the winner will just keep winning.
(3) • Bad Balancing: Need I say more? If one player has an obvious advantage without any glaring disadvantage, people will say that player is rigged. NEVER allow that to happen. Do whatever you can to eliminate bad balancing!
(1) • Luck-Based Outcomes: Don't get me wrong; random values are all right, but don't overdo it. If the map becomes a luck of the draw for any more than 15% of the time, you need to change it.

Shouldn't these (x) numbers be NEGATIVE? I don't think one should get points for it being BAD.

I'm jokin'. But really, change those numbers to a negative or something - else you FAIL.

-

Alright, scratch some of the above. Instead, it's slightly confusing. Clear this section up, as it really might make some people think that it's a good thing to be bad.

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Old 02-20-2008, 10:03 PM   #9
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Updated.
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Old 03-28-2009, 03:19 AM   #10
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This tutorial is very important in my eyes. I'm glad I can say yes to most(srsly) of the positive questions and no to the negative crap. Only part i need help in is making cool terrains.thinking of how to make cool snow effects where units can look like they sink into the fluffy snow
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Old 11-26-2009, 12:50 AM   #11
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Can't be more right! I agree with you!It will help a lot for mapmakers or beginers to form a concept of making much sense.
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