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Ah! My arch nemesis...

Posted by Tharis, 03 March 2013 · 243 views

So I think I have pin-pointed the biggest hindrance to my development cycle. Maps. They really do not get along with me... I have all the creativity in the world when it comes to story, character design, depth and intrigue. Just today, I was telling my brother-in-law (who isn't by any means a game player and is not really even all that into fantasy) about all of the information my players won't get. The behind the scenes stuff, as well as the stuff that is going to happen from the latter half of the first chapter (which will include and then conclude the Extended Demo) and he was like "man I want to play that game". Then I was like " Yeah! I need to get working on it right now!" and then I sat down, and realized that I needed to create new maps for all of this... and it was like a syphon hose.

I got about 1/4 of the way done with 1 relatively small map and I realized I just do not care what is in it or what s not in it. I don't care what rudementry junk I throw in there it's just a damn map. But everytime there is something to critique that's the one largest thing that people get hung up on is the damn mapping. I am certainly not one to want to push out an inferior production but MAN this is the one thing I wish I had an easy button for. Oh well that's my rant...

tomorrow I'm going to finish up those maps and start eventing the new battle sequences for the intro, as well as tie the new prologue (to help ease the shift from epic to mundane in the first chapter).




Mapping is a skill like anything else. Here are some tips:

 

- Make only what you need. Don't feel like you have to fill out a map with more houses/buildings just to make it look bigger. Players will notice when you've strained yourself to fill out real estate instead of creating meaningful content. If you can make 9 cookie cutter houses, some empty and some with NPCs with pointless dialogue, or 3-4 really good houses with NPCs that are interesting, pick the latter. Sometimes less is more.

- In a similar vein, map size is important. Try to work with the smallest map size possible. It's best to start small then expand as you need.

- Work in steps. Start with a base outline of the structure you are creating, then add in more elements in a step by step process.

- Start looking at how other people map to get inspiration and ideas.

- Challenge yourself to tell a story with your mapping. You mention that you are creative when it comes to storytelling, so why not apply that to your mapping? What story do you want the terrain to tell? Is the house you're making decrepit? Affluent? How are the owners? Mean? Greedy? Nice?

 

Ultimately, it's about practice and patience. At the very least, you should never let it defeat you. If you hate mapping, then design a game that doesn't need awesome mapping, or make your maps small so you don't need to spend that much time mapping.

All good points for sure, I haven't, and will not allow this to defeat me. it's just something that I will have to work on. For now I have actually had someone offer to make commissioned maps and very well may take them up on that offer so I can concentrate more on what I want to do in the upcoming portions of the extended Demo.

November 2014

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