What makes a map "Good"?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by UNphiltered_khaos, Jan 5, 2016.

  1. UNphiltered_khaos

    UNphiltered_khaos Game Dev. Artist. Veteran

    Messages:
    1,730
    Likes Received:
    638
    Location:
    Montucky
    First Language:
    Americanese
    Primarily Uses:
    N/A
    I read a lot about good mapping and bad mapping, but I never see any real substance as to what makes a map either good or bad. So, I was wondering about the general mood of you, as players, what makes a map good? What makes a map bad?

    For me, I am only really picky about big maps with either A) a lot of random battles, or B ) not much content, (props or items).

    Put some pictures in spoilers, too, please! I am a visual person.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2016
    #1
  2. Beedoe

    Beedoe Villager Member

    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    4
    First Language:
    English
    Some things I can think of that make me like a map:

    1) layout that encourages/rewards exploration

    2) has a cool or unexpected visual theme

    3) good music

    4) surprises
     
    #2
    Allusion likes this.
  3. RocketKnight

    RocketKnight Broke with expansive taste Veteran

    Messages:
    503
    Likes Received:
    860
    Location:
    São Paulo
    First Language:
    Portuguese
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    For  me is:

    1) Details

    2) How it's will fits at all

    3) Visual impact

    Graphics are not important in the end at all, because if the "visual" don't have a good storyline behind it's equal a nothing.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2016
    #3
  4. AwesomeCool

    AwesomeCool Bratty and spoiled little sister Veteran

    Messages:
    2,877
    Likes Received:
    1,951
    Location:
    Behind you! BOOOO!
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    N/A
    It fits the games current situation in the plot (if it is a sad moment, the map should reflect such sadness).

    Otherwise care is needed (looks life effort was put into it) and perhaps details (and I do not mean just spamming doodads),unless it goes against your presentation style.

    Everything else that could make the map better depends on what the game is currently trying to set out to do with the map.

    Examples:

    • Some maps might want to have very little visual impact or wow factor in order to make the next map stand out better.
    • Some maps might not even want music to emphasize the current game mood.
    • Some maps might not want surprises or exploration options to keep the pace going at the proper pace.
     
    #4
    SoftCloud and Marsigne like this.
  5. Mihel

    Mihel Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    384
    Likes Received:
    45
    - Tiles that are consistent in style

    No need to explain why stylistical cohesion is important. Pixelart goes with pixelart, painted goes with painted. Desaturated hues need adjusting before being placed side-by-side with vibrant colours.

    - Harmony between "empty" and "full"

    Exploring unconstrained sandboxes, only dotted here and there by lone trees, feels unrewarding and aimless. Railroaded "exploring" feels dull. Thus the need to strike a balance between passable and unpassable space.

    - Not griddy

    Human eye tends to recognize patterns, and constantly seeing things that are variations of squares and rectangles becomes tiring after a while. Adding variations to grid-based mapping to soften the squareness can be more pleasing to the eye.
     
    #5
    SoftCloud and Wavelength like this.
  6. Milennin

    Milennin "With a bang and a boom!" Veteran

    Messages:
    2,155
    Likes Received:
    1,208
    Location:
    Fiore
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    Depends on what kind of maps we're talking about, but...

    -Needs consistency in graphical assets used.

    -Needs a clear main path.

    -Has the right balance between playability and looking visually appealing/realistic.

    -Allows the player to explore side paths or, optionally, take alternate routes.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2016
    #6
  7. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

    Messages:
    4,059
    Likes Received:
    3,386
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    With the admission that I am no map expert, here are a few things I think are important to making a good map:

    • Illusion: Particularly important for 2D games - Does the map successfully sell the illusion that the player is looking at a real environment rather than a literal map?  Good use of depth, perspective, positioning, and overlay (one object partially blocking another from view) are instrumental.
    • Interest: The map should invite the player to explore it - with their in-game character but also simply with their eyes.  No matter where you are on the map, there should be interesting things to look at which stand out from the background.  Smart use of paths and "weenies" (little collectibles, powerups, etc. that entice the player to move to certain places) can also add Interest.
    • Smoothness: Piggybacking on Mihel's point of "Not Griddy", it's important for maps to avoid predictable patterns and shapes if depicting a natural environment, and also important to use good transitions from one texture to another.  For example, a perfectly pressed shoreline that transitions from dry sand to deep ocean without a transitional boundary in between will look weird and unpleasing - as will a rigid square of snow in the middle of a dirt road.  Rounded corners and "shaky" (in the sense of natural, imperfect) tile edges help a lot.
    • Clarity - If it's not clear where a player can and cannot go on your map, throw everything else out the window - the map is bad.
    • Atmosphere - More of a creative consideration than a technical one, but no less important!  Do the use of space, color, perspective, objects, and visual interest combine to create the intended atmosphere for a place?  Can the map, together with the music, evoke emotions that don't require a single event or even a single written word to convey?
     
    #7
    SoftCloud and laaghisce like this.
  8. jaypee

    jaypee hobbyist Veteran

    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    NA
    First Language:
    english
    Most of the time I am relying on beautiful rtp premade maps for my game so I cannot give a proper explanation to your question but I do know what I want and need for my maps. In creating my game every maps has a function and not just for aesthetic purpose, the map should also be pleasing to the eye also avoid square and sharp corners as much as possible.

    I also believe in order to make the maps good and interesting there should only be one main focal point of interest for every maps for example like a grand fountain in the center of the town, a big old wooden oak table in the library this will serve as a  landmark or place holder that will help players remember your maps.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 7, 2016
    #8
    SoftCloud likes this.
  9. gstv87

    gstv87 Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    1,710
    Likes Received:
    725
    First Language:
    Spanish
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    a good map is the one you don't stop to try and figure out.

    that's a good map.
     
    #9
    AwesomeCool and mlogan like this.
  10. BigToastie

    BigToastie Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    312
    Likes Received:
    162
    Location:
    The Kingdom of Britania
    To me a map needs a fair few things to actually be 'good' and many may already have been listed but:

    * Use of appropriate background music to set an atmosphere (a jaunty tune for an happy little village, or a gloomy track for a dark and dingy swamp) a wrong track can ruin a map for me to be honest.

    * Use of sound effects for various things (water falls, rivers and sea aren't silent, so add SEs)

    ** Further to the above, progressive SEs are awesome but time consuming, as you move towards a waterfall, the noise gets louder etc.

    * Future Areas (caves that you can see but can't enter (you need a key or weapon etc to get in)) to make people remember the area to come back - it also leaves people curios to what's actually there

    * General Layout - none symmetry in forests, trees don't always grow in lines, put a lot of variation in the maps, flowers and such, but dont clutter it so much that it feels more like a picture than a place you can explore.

    * Multiple elevations if you have mountains make them feel like they are above the player (this requires placement of trees and such to help make it feel more elevated)

    * Out of the way areas, give people rewards for exploring places that aren't the way you are supposed to go.

    * Continuity - if you have the bottom half of a tree on a south map, if you enter the north map the other half of the tree is shown, I like this as it feels like you aren't skipping random parts of the map.

    EDIT:

    * NPCS having an NPC walk round that says "hello" from 100 different 'fillers' is quite tiring and makes the game feel very bland.

    ** Create conditional branches for various chat lines and information about the area 

    *** Make NPCS chat change as events in the game unfold----

    for instance

    A little village has just heard news of another village close by being raided, there normal HEY chat and general chat can be more concerned about others, this can be done with simple event switches as well.

    ^this makes it feel like your world is a world, as others react to events, rather than them only being felt in one town.

    **** you can also have certain npcs give potions or gold after you've done a main quest if you speak to them "I Heard you helped out such and such, I dont have much but take this to help you on your journey".

    Again its more reactive to events in the game! :)

    (I can provide screenshots of examples of what I mean if anyone finds this useful but my explanations are a tad uninformative :) )
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 7, 2016
    #10
    SoftCloud and Marsigne like this.
  11. txtk

    txtk Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    115
    Likes Received:
    35
    First Language:
    Vietnamese
    I think the basic concepts are:

    - No empty space.

    - Not too big, not too small. Have to be make sense.

    - Randomize the "nature" maps (forest, jungle, outside etc.)

    - The inside maps like Town, City, Castle, House etc. have to be neat, straigthforward and in order.
     
    #11
  12. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

    Messages:
    4,059
    Likes Received:
    3,386
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    Just wanted to sound in on this - it's actually one of my core game design philosophies to never, ever tell the player "you can't get in here now" because I feel it causes feelings of disappointment and frustration, and breaks the illusion of being able to explore a world.  However, a few people have told me that they don't feel the same way, and that being "teased" with things you can't access until later can build up curiosity and hype.  So I'm not sure what the answer is, but it's worth being careful about how you present such "future areas" - make up realistic, compelling reasons why the player can't go somewhere or do something yet.
     
    #12
  13. BigToastie

    BigToastie Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    312
    Likes Received:
    162
    Location:
    The Kingdom of Britania
    I agree with what you are saying.

    Having a cave and you cant enter or just says "cant enter" is pretty annoying or of a bland reason.

    For instance I have a cave on a map when you try to enter (it plays a wind SE and the cave's too dark, if only I had a torch)

    So rather than just a simple you cant enter, the player knows there is a requirement and will be more vigilant for light source items/spells to enter the cave :)
     
    #13
    SoftCloud and Wavelength like this.

Share This Page