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Old 09-09-2003, 19:03   #1
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Default Map Making Checklist

This checklist will be a work in progress. Please add comments or suggestions below and the map-mods will amend the list as appropriate.

Map-making checklist:
  • Terrain/bonuses: Amounts of different terrain types.
  • Landmass: Amount of landmass available to player. To an extent shape too, in that start position = palace. Also total landmass (60%/70%/80% ocean) is relevant in that less land typically means earlier contact and more fighting
  • Strategic Resources: Early strats are most critical, but all are important.
  • Luxes: No of luxes, and also amounts for trading.
  • AI Civs: Some are nastier than others, consider traits, aggression and UU. No of civs and distance(s) from player are important too. AI start positions are also relevant in that shitty starts may mean a weak AI, or may mean a visit from an AI civ looking for some good land/strats etc.
  • Start Position: The 1st cities position is particularly important, so apply all of the above criteria but with extra attention to detail.
  • Civ Traits: The number of civs sharing the same trait can be important. Lots of expansionist civs lessens the effect of the trait, lots of science civs speeds up the tech rate. As always proximity to the players is also relevant here.
  • World Shape: Continents and islands demand extra attention is given to balancing all of the above. If you are going to give players unbalanced access to or nos of luxes/strats/AI Civs/terrain etc. then think hard about how you redress the balance.

How to use the checklist:

The purpose of this list is as an aid to making maps. This is not meant to be a definitive list of do's and dont's, but rather a reminder of the most critical issues in balancing a map. Balance does not mean all things being equal, it means overall maps should strive to be fair. Therefore it's fine if players do not have equal access to strats and luxes, or AI civs, or terrain etc. as long as you the mapmaker have recognised the specific imbalance and redressed the balance somewhere else. An example might be one player having iron but no horses, and the other player vice-versa. Or one player having better start terrain and bonuses and the other having more luxes, in each case the mapmaker has to weigh up the pros and cons and try and give each player a fair start overall.

Also... maps will always inherently be unbalanced! I feel I have to say this so that players do not expect maps to be perfectly balanced. Hopefully the skills of the players and the RNG will be the deciding factor in games and not the slight imbalances that every map contains.
Whether maps are hugely unbalanced or not - or even if the map is dam near perfect, it is always useful for mapmakers to get feedback on our maps. This way we can continue to learn what works and what dosen't and improve our mapmaking skills.

I'm sure there's plenty more to add to the list, so chime in with opinions on what other points and/or descriptions would be useful.

I'm also not sure exactly how much description or discussion to give to each point. Short summarys are likely preferable to long discussions, maybe we should have a brief description next to each point with a link to a more in-depth discussion elsewhere?

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Old 21-07-2004, 09:05   #2
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The tool Map Tweaker has made map making a lot easier. We are now capable of making more balanced maps. These can either have equal landmasses or -with a bit of effort- similar landmasses with a couple of differences. This all can be done relatively easy. However, compared to the conventional way of mapmaking there are a few things that should be watched more closely:

-availability of resources: a simple copy/paste of landmasses will always result in an unbalance of the resource availability. Some resources may show up more while others may almost dissapear. Map Tweaker has an analyse tool. This allows you to check this out. Tip: check out how resources are spread in a normal map and compare this with your tweaked map. This makes it easier to normalise the map.
-distribution of luxuries/resources: luxuries and resources are very important trading goods. So I try to avoid spreading them over the globe too much, but at the same time I try to avoid that two or more tribes have the exact same types of luxuries and resources (especially the humans). I also want to avoid the placement of one type of luxury on different landmasses. On a generated map you will not find one tuype of luxury on two different islands. If I do distribute them otherwise, I will tell so.
-coast, sea, ocean. Tweaked maps often have a no sea squares between a coast and an ocean. This you will not see in generated maps.
-Desert in the north pole. Map Tweaker allows you to copy a desert island near the north pole and snow on the equator. I think that the players should be asked if they want to allow this.

There will probably be more items to discuss. Please do
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Old 21-07-2004, 11:14   #3
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quote:-coast, sea, ocean. Tweaked maps often have a no sea squares between a coast and an ocean. This you will not see in generated maps.
This is easily fixed while making the map. Just verify the coastal areas and adjust where neccesary.

In a couple of occasions the Civ3 editor crashed when a starting location was removed, I generally use MapTweaker for that.
That was a pretty good gamble. -- Scotty, The Galileo Seven, stardate 2821.5, Episode 14
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