What makes a good map?

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What makes a good map?

Post by Jarkko »

Okay, so - I started Wesnoth a week ago (well 7 days, 5 hours, 34 minutes and 21 seconds ago at the time of writing) and while I haven't gotten myself to the MP area to get kicked to various parts on my body, I've been diddling around with the Map Editor a bit.

As a result I've got a whole set of ideas, about 92% of them being complete waste of time, 4% of them being questionable - and the remaining 4% worthy of being worked on - half of that 4% are completely crazy. So much about that, I don't want to bore you off.

But what are your map preferences? What maps are such, you'd actually like to play?

I am not pointing out to any specific maps now. I don't want any names. I'd like to know, for example, do you prefer small size over large size? Do you want to march your troops on to a fast-paced blitzkrieg and annihiliate your enemy in 5 turns or less, or do you want to sit back and take your time in a slightly larger (or largest possible) map, where individual battles are scarce, but with maneuvering space.

Do you prefer symmetrical over asymmetrical or vice versa. Do you prefer a lot of open frontier to cover, or do you wish to have a few strategic "bottle necks" to squeeze your opponent to etc, etc, etc...

There are an ample of questions - and I know, that there will be an ample of answers too.

But I'd like to hear your thoughts, before I even think about considering to start working on anything ;)
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Re: What makes a good map?

Post by Velensk »

Depends on what you want to do. I'm going to assume you are talking about standard multiplayer maps.

The general things that make a map good are: Fun, Balanced, Aesthetically pleasing, Interesting to play (note that what makes something interesting differs depending on the skill of the players) and unique (note that this last one is good only in combination with the others)

Other things that can make for a good map depend on the style you are going for: Small (for if you want a map that plays quickly), large (for if you want grand scale battles), how aggressive the map is (this affected by terrain shape, distance between opposing villages, and a few other things).

Different objectives emphasize different qualities. If you are looking for a short, fast, and vicious map to play with your friends then you can probably worry less about the balance. If you are looking to make a good competitive map then consider 'fun' and interesting to play to be the same thing and put a lot of effort into the balance. If you're looking for a game where you and your friend can slug it out with huge armies then it will be near impossible to balance but I would suggest putting a lot of effort into the aesthetics so at least it feels somewhat realistic and you have a cool map to look at while it isn't your turn.

If you are looking to make a map balanced it really helps to be an experienced player.

Personally I'm fond of large maps. If you are making a large map you will almost certainly need multiple keeps per player. This allows a player to cover more ground than they otherwise would.

On certain features that might appear on the map that are usually best to avoid.

-Bottlenecks: Many new map makers seem to think that these things would be cool to put on their map. After all they are strategically significant and you can hold off many suicidal computer units as they try to break through. The problem is that when you're fighting against a good human player he won't attempt to break through unless he has a reason to believe that he can and considering how easy it is to defend bottlenecks he probably has plenty of good reasons to believe he can't unless you leave it unguarded. I would not recommend these as a common feature on most maps that are aiming to be either balanced or aggressive.

-Homogenous lumps of terrain other than open ground: It's hard to avoid these on a map designed to look realistic however they are hard to balance. Even large bodies of water are hard to balance as certain factions have units that can fight both in the water and land or transfer power over the water with great ease. In any event any large mass of terrain of the same type in any critical area of the map has a strong potential to grant a faction favor over the other.

-Alternative keeps/villages in the center of the map: The problem with these is that they have the strong potential to grant first player advantage. There are situations where these are appropriate however for most competitive maps these should be avoided.

-Villages next to mountains: For non-realistic maps only. The problem here is that if knalgans can get a dwarf onto that mountain they can put an incredible amount of pressure onto that village. It is frequently imbalancing and rarely fun.
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Re: What makes a good map?

Post by MRhe »

Jarkko - I'd highly recommend actually playing a few MP games first. Check out the games list on the MP lobby. See what maps are popular/interesting/fun. See how much different the games are on small vs. large, standard vs. special maps.

It seems to be popular (as a non-mapmaker myself but from what I've observed) to make a map, playtest it with others, receive criticism/feedback, and improve on it from there.

In the end though there is such a wide variety of maps according to play style, experience, "fun factor," etc. that almost any map can find a niche.
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