How to have good ideas for maps

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How to have good ideas for maps

Postby natty dread on Fri Sep 17, 2010 8:54 am

Sometimes new mapmakers are struggling for ideas for a map, and getting frustrated when the ideas they have are "shot down". Here are some tips for all new mapmakers that can help them come up with a good map idea.

1. Originality does not guarantee quality

Just because an idea is novel, it does not mean it is good. Conversely, just because an idea is not that ground-breaking, doesn't mean that it is bad.

What I mean by this is that originality is not the main qualifier which you should hold your ideas to. Of course very original ideas can also be good, but what you should firstly be looking for in an idea is:

- how many people would really be interested in it? (sometime this can be hard to gauge, posting about it in the melting pot usually helps somewhat)
- how well could the idea be executed? (if your concept is very abstract or something that is fundamentally different from CC gameplay, you'll have to think how well can it be implemented in CC)

Those in my opinion are the main qualifiers, the main questions you should pose to each map idea you get.

2. Try to find ideas from things you like

Ok, this is obviously easier if you happen to be interested in historical wars or something that easily bends into a CC map, rather than if you're interested in, let's say, seagulls and their mating habits.

Still, you'll have a much easier time doing something you're familiar with.

3. Idea first, map later

By this I mean, first come up with an idea for a map. Then come up with a gameplay that suits the idea. Don't just draw a map and then try to adapt it to whatever idea you get later... the one thing that truly separates a good draft from a bad one is that it shows some planning, that there is a solid concept behind it.

* after some criticism & discussion, I'm amending this part somewhat: it's ok if you have an idea for an interesting gameplay first, and then come up with a theme that suits the gameplay. The important part is, that the theme and the gameplay work together and complement each other. However, for new mapmakers it is often still easier to come up with the theme first.

4. Pay attention to details

The details of the theme of your map are important. What is happening, where, to whom, and why, these things need to be answered by your map. In other words, your map should have a background story.

This is not a trivial thing. The story of your map should be one that could stand on it's own even if you wouldn't be making a map out of it.

5. Designing the gameplay

When you have an idea for a map, you'll need to design the gameplay based on the idea. I have always used Feudal war as an example of a gameplay that complements the idea behind it.

So let's say your idea is the one behind Feudal war: you have 6 feudal warlords fighting each other. Each starts with a castle, which is the warlord's stronghold, and the basis of his power, so the castles are starting points and give a hefty autodeploy. Then let's say that conquering the land around you secures valuable resources and manpower: thus, you get a bonus for holding all the land territories of your kingdom. Your castle being the stronghold of your kingdom, you can use it to bombard all the territories in your kingdom. And so on...

All these things together show a gameplay that is well integrated with the theme of the map. This is what you should strive for when adapting your idea into a CC map.

6. Don't be afraid to make changes

Or even start over, if you're stuck and don't know where to go... Making a map is a long process requiring lots of hard work. So even if you think you have done lots of hard work for your map, it's nothing compared to what is ahead of you. If your map requires a thorough change that will scrap all your hard work and force you to do it all over again, don't be afraid to make that change.

7. Listen to criticism

Of course, not everyone likes the same things, and you shouldn't try to please everyone because you never can. But if 9 people out of 10 have the same complaint, perhaps they are on to something... sometimes it's hard to see the flaws in your own work, when you get attached to it after working hard on it. In those times it's good to step back for a while and try to look at your map with "fresh eyes".
Last edited by natty dread on Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to have good ideas for maps

Postby Evil DIMwit on Fri Sep 17, 2010 10:22 am

natty_dread wrote:
3. Idea first, map later

By this I mean, first come up with an idea for a map. Then come up with a gameplay that suits the idea. Don't just draw a map and then try to adapt it to whatever idea you get later... the one thing that truly separates a good draft from a bad one is that it shows some planning, that there is a solid concept behind it.


I dispute this. It implies that a gameplay style can't be a real idea. If you ask me, theme is the secondary property: It won't affect players half as much as gameplay arrangement will.
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Re: How to have good ideas for maps

Postby natty dread on Sat Sep 18, 2010 10:08 am

Evil DIMwit wrote:
natty_dread wrote:
3. Idea first, map later

By this I mean, first come up with an idea for a map. Then come up with a gameplay that suits the idea. Don't just draw a map and then try to adapt it to whatever idea you get later... the one thing that truly separates a good draft from a bad one is that it shows some planning, that there is a solid concept behind it.


I dispute this. It implies that a gameplay style can't be a real idea. If you ask me, theme is the secondary property: It won't affect players half as much as gameplay arrangement will.


You're welcome to dispute. However my experience has been that a gameplay idea needs a proper theme before it can evolve into a proper map draft. This post was mainly written for the new mapmakers, and it will certainly be easier for new mapmakers if they have a solid concept behind their map before they start working on the gameplay.
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Re: How to have good ideas for maps

Postby natty dread on Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:58 am

I'm willing to amend my statement slightly...

You can come up with a gameplay idea first, then develop a theme that suits the gameplay idea. Or you can come up with a theme first and then come up with the gameplay. But either way, the gameplay and theme need to work together and support each other.

I still stand behind everything else I said in this thread.
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Re: How to have good ideas for maps

Postby MrBenn on Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:30 am

This is a good opinion-piece... I'm minded to move it into the drafting room as a guide...
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Re: How to have good ideas for maps

Postby natty dread on Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:45 pm

Wow, thanks Mr B. I have no doubt we'll still see lots of map drafts about spaghetti plates, but maybe now we'll get just a tiny bit more well-thought out, innovative map drafts... you never know ;)
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Re: How to have good ideas for maps

Postby Victor Sullivan on Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:13 pm

=D> Well done. I agree with EvilD about number 3, it's good you amended it. Just a thought - would this be more appropriate in the Melting Pot?

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