Competitive Map Making Discussion

and what makes a good map

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OMnom
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Competitive Map Making Discussion

Post by OMnom » Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:01 pm

Continuing from the map pool discussion and the 1v1 map discussion and to create a resource for future map makers to draw from.

I thought it'd be an appropriate time to make this post with the map making contest voting period starting a couple of days. That being said, I'd like to ask for people to keep nonconstructive criticism or excessive slander of any particular map out of this thread.
____________________________

Creating a well-designed and a well-liked map is no simple feat. No one can seem to agree on what makes a decent map, and everyone has their own criteria as to what constitutes a good map. The following are just my observations and opinions on the features that make or break maps. For simplicity's sake, I'd like to focus on 1v1 maps and try to categorize the maps by 3 standards: size, money, and design.

Size : Large or Small. There is no well-defined "medium" sized map that people can agree on right now

It's clearly obvious you can change the size of the map by altering the initial dimensions and the amount of traversable area. However, I think one aspect map makers overlook are the spawn distances. Here are the spawn-to-spawn distances for a few maps:

Orelord: 43.84c
Sidestep: 51.7c
Sirroco: 63.32c
River Crossing: 70.0c
Pitfight: 80c
Shadowfiend: 87.81c
Behind the Veil: 89.87c

A lot of the more modern maps are using very long spawn distances, which generally favors greedier, eco-heavy style builds. At this stage, I think any spawn distances smaller than Orelord is too small, and anything bigger than Behind the Veil is way too big.

Money : High-eco or Low-eco

This is probably the most difficult aspect of creating a well-designed map. There are quite a few factors that affect if a map is high eco or low eco:

• Starting Resources: 10k starting resources + growth is barely enough to cover a 2ref SD opener with 2 harvesters...9.3k is used towards infrastructure, leaving around 700-1.3k for combat units until the mines are empty. In the interest of expanding the game rather than forcing players to build in a particular order, I believe that the minimum amount of starting ore should be no less than 11k for each player. Also, be wary of positional imbalances with the starting ore mines; for instance, a spawn with ore mines above it will be at a disadvantage versus a player who has ore mines south of their MCV.
In general, the lowest total resources tends to be around 50-65k with 10-12 mines, and the highest total resources is around 70-85k, with at least 12 ore mines. Several maps have been experimenting with 16 or 18 mines, which provides many options to expand to, but also runs the risk of diminishing the importance of economy management. 1v1s on Tournament Island and Roadkings are good examples of what happens when there is too much money available on the map.

• Ore mine: There is a lot of room for creativity here, and I think it'd be easier to list what I've found not to work as intended as opposed to listing where to place ore mines:

-Put the edge of the ore patch at least 20c away from the next closest ore patch. If the ore patches are too close, the seeking of the harvesters will cause them to wander when the ore mine is empty. It also makes it so that the harvesters more likely to go to a different refinery if its overcrowded.
-Middle, shared, and vulnerable ore mines tend to lead to snowball and stalemate situations. Too many of these will make the game one dimensional. Of particular note, the vulnerability of every ore mine should be controlled with intention. There are many maps that I've played on where the mine is completely vulnerable to any kind of attack, and I suspect several of these were not intended to be like that. I've found that these types of ore mines are either extremely dangerous and require the player to secure it immediately, or they're not worth the effort to mine from (easier and more effective to put a tesla/turret next to it rather than a refinery).
-Ore mines with little to no ore. Single ore mines with less than 5k+growth are not worth the time and money that goes into placing a refinery at that location. A single harvester can harvest 5k's worth of resources in around 2m. At this eco level, I've found it to be better to invest that 5k into more cost-efficient units such as artillery, aircraft, and static defense. These types of ore mines are also often placed strategically to make a particular location more attractive, but using too many of these ore mines creates a similar problem with the vulnerable/shared/middle ore mines.

Design: Circular, Mid-centric, Creative

Welp...if there are a lot of places that you could put the ore mines, there are even more ways you can design a map. Rexy's thread discussed a lot about the lane theory already, so I'm not going to go too in-depth about that. Basically, maps require at least 3 main lanes in order to allow for enough maneuverability and options for strategical movement. Circular maps with only 2 lanes and Mid-centric maps with only 1 lane don't offer a lot of strategical variety. In my opinion, some of these maps would include Winter Storm, Singles, Northwest Passage, Mountain Ridge, and Crucible. All of these maps are either too mid-centric or have no middle at all.

Personally, I believe Sidestep was a great map because it was Circular and Mid-centric at the same time. This allowed for a lot of different strategical options, and sometimes, we got to see players using 2 different strategies against each other. From a glance at the Map Contest, I can see that Showdown , Mountain Pass, River Crossing, State Highway 95, and Trapped sharing a lot of the same qualities as Sidestep. Mountain pass and Trapped, in particular, are interesting because they have different economic situations. Trapped has 16 ore mines and a lot more available eco, which makes all of the routes extremely viable, while Mountain Pass has extremely low and vulnerable eco. The former seems to have so much eco that it is nearly impossible to shut down a player's eco completely, and the latter seems to have the exact opposite problem. In my opinion, for a combo mid centric / circular map, it should have slightly safer eco than what Mountain Pass offers, and it should have less total resources than what Trapped offers. River Crossing seems to have an interesting map design with porous passageways to the middle, which is something Mountain Pass also features.

People are also making bigger and larger maps to accomodate for the current tank/infantry blob meta. Such maps would include Frontier Duel, Sirroco
, and Ó Ceallaigh. These maps are interesting in the sense that it highlights the pros and cons of having multiple armies versus 1 giant blob. In my opinion, I think Sirroco is the biggest a 1v1 map should be, in terms of ore mine to spawn distance. I don't really know how these maps are going to play out in the long run, but I would venture a guess that it would favor the multitasker since it forces players to move their screens.

Several new maps have implemented creative ways to prevent or to inhibit base pushing with neutral buildings/civilians debris, random ore tiles, and beach tiles. However, all of these aforementioned methods are also detrimental to a mobile army as well. Civilians, trees, and buildings force infantry to stack on top of one another, which makes A-moving through these types of territory ill-advised. Debris, ore tiles, and beach tiles slow down mobile armies, which means that infantry stays prone for a lot longer, meaning rifles/rockets are more likely to die before they start firing back. In short, trying to prevent an MCV from deploying at a particular location will also affect the mobility of an army. Of particular note, Apocalypse Now uses beach tiles to inhibit MCV movements and basepushing, but it also makes it much harder for a normal army to move. In essence, this completely negates the advantages of a tank/inf army and increases the power of a v2/arty based army.
--- As a footnote to this particular paragraph, I think implementing high ground/low ground vision or accuracy modifiers could be a potential avenue for map makers to explore if it were ever to get added, as well as larger bridges, roads, and the beach tile usage from Apocalypse Now.

Lastly, I have to give Monty Hall it's own category because it breaks every single rule of what 1v1 has been thus far. It has numerous yaml changes and the starting positions are on an island with broken bridges, not to mention the creeps and extra money being added in the latest revision. Is this type of map, one with pseudo-islands, yaml changes, and creeps, viable for a competitive format?
People describe it as "unique," but that does not necessarily mean it's a good for the RAGL. Much like how Apocalypse now has too many beach tiles, I think Monty Hall breaks too many barriers. The addition of the fenced-in creeps is pretty creative because a normal fence is too easy to break through, but a concrete wall is extremely annoying to break through. The creep basically functions as a health bar for the entire wall, which I thought was a unique addition. Plus, it follows the theme of goats behind the wall, which is appropriate I guess. However, this map might set a "bad" precedent for future maps if it kept the creeps and was used in the RAGL. The moral of the story though, is that this is not the only map-breaking change there is in this map, and maybe the map should be modified so it doesn't break all these barriers.
As for the capturable gem mine, civilian buildings, and tech center, I think mapmakers should start using these yaml changes more in their own maps. it creates new objectives in the early game and creates a different type of barrier to the late game. For instance, it might be wise to unlock the gem mines earlier so you have more resources later on, but your opponent may see this and decide to steal that spot from you before you can get there.

As a parting note, I think it's unfortunate that most players are practicing for the RAGL rather than going through the map contest maps...perhaps we could line up the schedules for next year?
Last edited by OMnom on Sat Apr 01, 2017 2:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Materianer
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Re: Map Making Discussion

Post by Materianer » Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:20 pm

OMnom wrote: That being said, I'd like to ask for people to keep nonconstructive criticism or excessive slander of any particular map out of this thread.
Damn i wanted to criticize that 95% of these maps are a bit boring because they are just mirror maps.
Not that mirror maps are fundamentally bad and for a balanced conditions you seem to need this at your 1on1 tourney but i prefer naturally looking maps.

It's an art to create a naturally looking map wich is good playable but if you get this working it will be a champion map.

Creating a just mirrored map is no challenge.

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JuiceBox
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Post by JuiceBox » Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:38 pm

Good read but you missed out the three lane theory by rexxy.
http://www.sleipnirstuff.com/forum/view ... 82&t=19973
*edit* my bad I didn't click the links :P

New titles to play with would be nice. If someone could set up a guide to creating some new stuff would be awsome. Some people like me are put off by the complexity that comes with making new tiles. I would welcome an idiot's guide
"I love the smell of JuiceBoxes in the morning"
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Apocalypse Now

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AoAGeneral1
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Post by AoAGeneral1 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:13 pm

In regards to the eco style of the map its shared both ways. Both from the gameplay and how the structures work to the map. Both of these share and if structures are changed/balanced out then that particular playstyle can work more so or be damaging on a map type.

One example being silos.

PizzaAtomica
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Post by PizzaAtomica » Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:21 pm

Allthough I'm not a competitve 1v1 player at all I would still like to share some thoughts on the state of the maps and the current meta.

When I make a map I try to make sure players will have many different options, that fully make use of the wide range of available tactics that RA presents. During the creation of a map I usually think things like "oh, this would be a good road for a sneaky minelayer", "this would be a good orepatch to harass with destroyers", or "you could totally land a demotruck on this beach here behind the enemy base".
I also try to make sure that there are obstacles that prevent people from mindlessly spamming massive blobs or plonking their buildings all over the map. I especially dislike it when after a little while the entire radarscreen is covered in buildings from two massive bases that are squeezed against the map's edges, and eachother.

In my mind, a match where people use a wide variety of units in original tactical ways is better than a match where people just basepush and spam massive armies into eachother.

Unfortunately, the current meta doesn't seem to agree.

Everytime I make a map where a massive blob of spammage gets hampered by a cliff I get comments that the map is too chokey. When there's water it seems to be viewed as a nuisance instead of an opportunity. And when there's a location on the map where you can't deploy your MCV, it needs to be flattened ASAP.
Because 1v1 maps, they need to be flat now. Flat, wide, open, and very, very, flat. Don't even get me started about what happened to Dual Cold Front TOO LATE YOU JUST GOT ME STARTED ABOUT DUAL COLD FRONT!

Dual Cold Front is a very big map by 1v1 standards. It has lots, loooots of room to expand in many different directions and try different tactics. It has always been a pretty popular map (and I'm not trying to brag, it was SoScared's wisdom that turned it into a great 1v1 map) and it was the second most played map in RAGL season 2.

But wait, what's this?

Image

"OH NO, A BRIDGE!!" the OpenRA meta cried out in horror.

"I can't place my MCV here! I can't easily squeeze my spamblob through here! I can't handle this shit remove that bridge!!11!"

REALLY? Dual Cold Front is 110x90(!) squares in size, and it allready had so much space where you CAN build bases and move massive armies. That bridge was really too much? Maybe it was, I don't know, but I would think the RAGL S2 popularity showed that it was fine the way it was. Now when I look at the new version of Dual Cold Front all I see is a map that is a lot more similar to all the other maps that were already there.

I think we need a lot more variety in 1v1 maps, but in order for that to happen we also need a change in mentality. People need to learn to think out of the box or atleast less competitvely. Yes, LESS competitively. We can have a 1v1 equivalent of Regeneration Basin with very high eco. We can have maps with water. We can have maps with rivers and bridges. Why not? Just because they play differently than we're used to? Then play them differently! Sneak that minelayer into the enemy ore field, send that transport across the sea with a demo truck inside. Turn on crates! Have some fun!

That's what us casual players are doing. ;)
Last edited by PizzaAtomica on Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Minotaur
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Post by Minotaur » Tue Mar 14, 2017 8:41 pm

One unit wide bridges are really annoying, try an modernization that is atleast 3 units wide, like those in later C&C's.

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Wippie
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Post by Wippie » Tue Mar 14, 2017 8:47 pm

amen, pizzaatommica, amen.

couldn't agree more. as a casual/competitive player I think the RAGL mappool has done a step backwards from lastyear. I likke some om the changes done on Behind te veil, for example the addition of water. What I dislike is the lack of character in the current maps. Singles if completely different, but has a load of character. Same for orelord. most 'additions' are the same game in a different jacket.

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Post by crlf » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:50 pm

By way of preamble...

The most important bit of work, I feel is to build up an understanding of what impact the different map features have on the game. So I'm really glad, OMnom, that you've got both the analytical ability and willingness to explain these from your experience.

In terms of finding establishing a consensus, an idea of what the 'typical' decent competitive map looks like is useful as a reference from which to deviate or make comparisons, but not, I feel, as a norm to aspire to: if we are too prescriptive and too opinionated about the identifiable 'attributes' of a notional 'good map' rather than being willing to observe and experiment, then we will become overconfident in a simplistic model which doesn't really reflect the reality of how games play out. And right now we're only just beginning to build up our understanding of these things.

DCF is a good example of a map which current wisdom, naïvely applied, says should be horrible. It is riddled with chokes. But as PizzaAtomica points out it has so many paths that there's often a way round. By the time they're all locked down, tech gives you options for pushing through (up to a point - allied turtle play can slow things down a lot). Yes, blobs are weak overall, and there are stalemates and frustrations, but it's one of the few 1v1 maps that are regularly played where tech is viable. (It's also very aesthetically pleasing).

OK, enough preamble; onto some detail!

"A lot of the more modern maps are using very long spawn distances, which generally favors greedier, eco-heavy style builds."

This rings true to me. I think it would be worth teasing out a bit how this happens and why this is a problem. There are two factors I can think of:

- Further spawn distance makes pure rushes quite weak. If you put 640 into 4 grens instead of your eco/prod, you want them to realise that investment and inconvenience your opponent as early as possible. Time spent traversing the map makes this harder. It also means the opponent will be further along by the time the rush gets to the base. Weakening rushes isn't necessarily a terrible thing, but it's important to understand this.
- Further spawn distance means it's harder to scout an opponent's greedy build. It's further for your own scout to travel so your scout arrives later; if your scout is killed, sending another one will be very late
- Further spawn distance means it's harder to react to an opponent's greedy build.

If there's no risk of greed being punished, then the right strategy is always some sort of greedy build.

One way map makers are countering this is by putting more derricks (and other gubbins) on the map near(ish) the middle, so that players who invest in more early map control get derricks instead of, say, a harvester hunting opportunity.

How this plays out depends on the map. For more open maps, this has a knock-on effect of making the early engagements highly significant. You're not just competing with two or three rifles for a bit of scouting, but 2k in infantry on each side seems to be something of a standard opener. Whoever has the better engagement is typically c1k up in assets; they also win map control, vision, and the derricks (usually 2 up, sometimes 3-4), plus they usually know they're ahead. Enough to make comebacks hard but not enough to win any time soon (because right now you just have a blob of rifles and it's a long way to the opponent's spawn).

Although there is some skill that can be applied to these engagements, it can feel a lot like luck - which player's forces happen to be moving which direction at the time when the blobs first meet, whether units happen to autotarget efficiently, etc.

Interestingly, Behind the Veil is not quite the same. The derricks are not too central so an aggressive player has a definite disadvantage if both max out on rifles, and because the derricks are distant (on foot, at least), it's hard to take, let alone keep, those on your opponent's side. Denying a derrick via aggression is a more proportionate reward here, and one which encourages players to consider their unit composition and position more carefully.

Finally, far spawns have the disadvantage that attacks on the main base are harder later on in the game - typically they necessitate a more linear layout. If you have 2-3 expansions en route to your main base, those will typically be attacked first (or will scout the blob first). Maps with close spawns where you can expand out rather than forward make for more unpredictable and dynamic games which require scouting (some, but not all, Sidestep games follow this pattern). A map with distant spawns that encourages outward expansion would have to be truly vast.
Last edited by crlf on Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Sire
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Post by Sire » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:53 pm

Just going to throw in my own thoughts about my process of making maps.

1. Objectives

The most important thing for me when making a map is to establish various objectives for the player to take on. Of course, the main objective is "Destroy All Opposition," but there should be "sub-objectives" for players to achieve that goal.

For example, Oil Derricks serve as an early game objective as they provide nice cash flow. To provide tension and to promote conflict, I try to place Oil Derricks in contested territory instead of "safe areas." I expect my Oil Derricks to be destroyed as the match progresses.

Another objective are Ore and Gem Mines, which currently is the most important "side objective" there is. Normally, each player has one "safe" or "default" expansion, and from there further placements vary on the map. Heavily contested Mines, such as those located in the middle, should have a draw for them so players can fight over control of these Mines. They should reward players for taking the risk and expanding there, but these "middle expansions" should be easily countered compared to other expansion types. The problem with middle expansions is making them lucrative for players to go there, but not too much so that the match becomes "claim the middle or lose." (The same could be said of any "side objective." We want them to be meaningful, but not be required to win.)

2. Pathways (Lanes, Routes, etc.)

Almost anyone worth their salt knows of the classic 3-lane method, each relatively balanced to each other with misc. areas outside the main lanes to promote flanking. This layout has been popularized with the original Defense of the Ancients for Warcraft 3, and has been used in almost every DOTA clone since.

However, what I think some map makers may forget is that not all routes need to be equal.

For example, there is the "Short Route" to the enemy base. While easily the closest distance in terms of travel time, normally this route is rather small and does not allow big armies to pass through easily. The middle in Side Step can be considered an example of this. || Then there is the "Normal Route," which may have an expansion or two along the way. Most battles take place within these lanes. || The "Long Route" is another lane example. This path is out of the way and will not see much conflict, but typically has some sort of incentive to actually expand there, such as being rich in Ore and Mines. Alternatively, the "Long Route" provides a massive flanking option.

Now, we go to the non-traditional paths, such as the "Air Route" and "Water Route." They can also be divided into categories based off of length, but I will just discuss their normal stuff here. || "Air Routes" are lanes traversable mostly by air, and most of the time, only by air. Mountain Ridge (a Map Contest Map) has a "Short Air Route" available, while keeping two "Normal Routes" land armies. It also has a "Gimmick" route in that small pathway leading next to the opposing Ore Mines, but I will not discuss Gimmick routes here. || Naval, or "Water Routes" is probably the most neglected route in OpenRA, at least from what I have seen from various streams and replays. For one, there are not that many water maps, and this may come from the stigma that "Allied Navy OP, screw Water Maps." That balance discussion belongs elsewhere, but it seems to me that players forget a water route even exists. If there is a 3 lane map but one of those is water, use the waterways if the opponent locks down the 2 land lanes!

3. Map Design

I recognize the more traditional balance designs, such as the various forms of symmetry (Horizontal, Vertical, Diagonal) as well as more complex ones ("X" Symmetry, Quad Square Symmetry, etc.) However, I also recognize "Letter" designs. Most of this is due to playing Renegade X and looking at their map concepts, even if said designs may not necessarily transfer well into OpenRA.

O - A circle design, with a base being on opposite ends. The outside is usually water or non-traversable while the middle is filled with misc. stuff. Mountain Ridge, Zepher, and Crucible are from the Map Contest are examples of the "O" design.

L - Uses Diagonal Symmetry, the "L" map features a single main route to the enemy base. Outside the "L" is misc. stuff, such as water or "dead end" expansions. Two examples of this are Frontier Duel and Portent from the Map Design Contest.

H - "H" designs are a little more tricky, usually leading for bases being at the top ends of the "H" with a short "base to base" route between them, while on the bottom "H" is a good expansion area. The middle crossing is where most of the conflict takes place. Twin Falls and Genocide from the Map Contest can be considered to be "H" designs.

U - Arguably the better version of the "H" design as it loses the "dead end" lanes, U maps have a single main route while the side areas are filled with miscellaneous materials. Field from the Map Contest is a "U" map. Also, I consider Booty Bay from Warcraft 3 to be a "U" map (I say that here because I want to get around to making an "OpenRA Version" of Booty Bay.)
* * * * *
As an aside, how much money is in a single tile of Ore or Gems? I understand the importance of monetary value on game length and progression, but not knowing the exact values per tile makes it somewhat difficult for me to figure out how to handle "map economy" without using other maps as a benchmark.

The values of Ore Mine regeneration and Gem Mine regeneration (maybe even Oil Derrick values) could also be useful for mapmakers.

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Post by SoScared » Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:17 pm

On the topic of bridges and map making there are some possible future implementations making naval/bridge map more viable: https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/issues/12874

@PizzaAtomica: Yeah one of the reasons I swapped out Dual Cold Front last minute was my bastardization of it (as I also regret pushing the version towards the official playtest - will attempt to rectify asap) and so I figured it better to bring another map on board instead.

The competition has been heating up fast the past couple of years and with balancing staying more or less the same in the same time period and so map design exploits have just kept accumulating, resulting in good games narrowing down more and more to 1-dimensional map formulas. For the official map pool this will never really be a problem however for the league, well, there's limited options, one of which involves changes in game balance.

To the point of using more variety of maps in competitive matches, I tend to agree, but it's also a matter of avoiding maps that now a certain class of players pretty much 100% guarantee their wins vs lesser players on particular maps, some of which was part of the RAGL:S2 map pool. This time I put my ass on the grill by chopping of hard BOTH the most meta friendly and a variety choke/naval maps for S3 but as explained in the linked discussion thread linked in the OP this was done deliberately for a specific purpose. It is also a temporary arrangement. One way or another a greater variety of quality maps will find its way back in to the pool.

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Post by OMnom » Wed Mar 15, 2017 2:14 am

I think we need a lot more variety in 1v1 maps, but in order for that to happen we also need a change in mentality. People need to learn to think out of the box or atleast less competitvely. Yes, LESS competitively. We can have a 1v1 equivalent of Regeneration Basin with very high eco. We can have maps with water. We can have maps with rivers and bridges. Why not? Just because they play differently than we're used to? Then play them differently! Sneak that minelayer into the enemy ore field, send that transport across the sea with a demo truck inside. Turn on crates! Have some fun!
I disagree with the notion that players should think "less competitively"...if the purpose of playing any game is to win, then players are going to figure out the best way to win. That being said, I think there's a difference between forcing players to use flashy or unorthodox strategies, allowing them to use such strategies, and catering to a particular strategy. Some maps, like DCF, have a diverse number of options, but in practice, there are only 2 or 3 locations you need to fight for in order to win the game. Others, like Sirroco or Patches, cater to a particular playstyle, build order, or meta, which makes it harder for other strategies or build orders to work.

I too, dislike maps that only have limited options and 1 viable build order/strategy on it. But unfortunately, the map maker can only control so much of that, and maps need to be revised to fix certain options. My goal is that future mapmakers can read this thread and see what happens if they introduce a certain idea. For DCF, we found that the side options were not viable because they were too slow/out of the way/not worthwhile/easily walled off.
Image

All of the action is focused on the two red circles, despite the number of other pathways...in essence, DCF becomes a "2 lane" map for the most part. If you were trying to go around the the sphere of influence by the NW or SE passage, it doesn't take very long for your opponent to relocate to cover those passages, especially with artillery units. By the time people start considering naval units as an option, there is typically not enough money left to do anything besides destroyers. Missile subs are ridiculously expensive, and transporting a decently sized army is not cheap.

In my opinion, a remake of this map should try to add one or two more of these particular junctions, not to replace the bridges with flat land.
What I dislike is the lack of character in the current maps. Singles if completely different, but has a load of character. Same for orelord. most 'additions' are the same game in a different jacket.
You guys also mention that you dislike "mirrored" maps and maps with no character (cloned maps)...By definition, a non-mirrored map is imbalanced to begin with, which means that players are forced to take a specific set of actions to offset that balance from the start, which contradicts the "big" idea of giving players multiple options. It's no surprise that a lot of maps are "clones" of each other, because people naturally try to base new maps off of preexisting maps that the mapmaker deems balanced.
"Water Routes" is probably the most neglected route in OpenRA, at least from what I have seen from various streams and replays. For one, there are not that many water maps, and this may come from the stigma that "Allied Navy OP, screw Water Maps." That balance discussion belongs elsewhere, but it seems to me that players forget a water route even exists. If there is a 3 lane map but one of those is water, use the waterways if the opponent locks down the 2 land lanes!
To be honest, it's not that water routes are "Allied OP", it's that naval units require a significant amount of attention and money to use. The UI, turn speed, and latency in this game are not very forgiving, so I have to spend quite a bit of attention waiting to issue command #2 after the unit has completed command #1. On top of that, how much money does it take for naval units to be worthwhile? $5k worth of transports? $5k worth of destroyers that require GPS or Hind for vision? Using these units consume valuable time and money that can be used more efficiently elsewhere.
As an aside, how much money is in a single tile of Ore or Gems? I understand the importance of monetary value on game length and progression, but not knowing the exact values per tile makes it somewhat difficult for me to figure out how to handle "map economy" without using other maps as a benchmark.
There is a money indicator on top that can be used to figure out how much money is in each patch. It's very rough, but it gets the job done. Oils generate $400/min, which is approximately the same thing as 1 harvester on an empty single ore.
Although there is some skill that can be applied to these engagements, it can feel a lot like luck - which player's forces happen to be moving which direction at the time when the blobs first meet, whether units happen to autotarget efficiently, etc.
For this reason, I think map makers should stop using centralized oil derricks as a feature in their maps. It doesn't force, but it certainly compels players to do aggressive 2ref openings; if both players do a 2ref opening, the game tends to snowball in the winner's favor.
Normally, each player has one "safe" or "default" expansion, and from there further placements vary on the map. Heavily contested Mines, such as those located in the middle, should have a draw for them so players can fight over control of these Mines. They should reward players for taking the risk and expanding there, but these "middle expansions" should be easily countered compared to other expansion types. The problem with middle expansions is making them lucrative for players to go there, but not too much so that the match becomes "claim the middle or lose."
For a similar reason, I would discourage map makers from using middle ore/gem mines as part of their integral map design. The current meta is to sort out your expansions into 2 categories : secured expansions or denied expansions. These middle/shared/vulnerable ore mines are easily denied and difficult to secure, which means that these ore mines are generally going to be prioritized over expansions that are easy to secure. I would say that DCF has 2 such locations as noted above, which causes the players to "tunnel vision" on these locations. If we want to improve the quality of the maps and diversify the options players have, we need to stop making these areas more valuable than they already are.
To the point of using more variety of maps in competitive matches, I tend to agree, but it's also a matter of avoiding maps that now a certain class of players pretty much 100% guarantee their wins vs lesser players on particular maps, some of which was part of the RAGL:S2 map pool....One way or another a greater variety of quality maps will find its way back in to the pool.
I don't think people should have a problem with cycling the maps, as every major RTS tournament cycles their maps nearly every season. I don't want to get too in-depth about the map pool because it'd probably derail this thread; I would like to keep it focused on what makes a map good, not on what constitutes a quality map pool.
Last edited by OMnom on Wed Mar 15, 2017 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Blackened
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Post by Blackened » Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:39 am

I think Omnom has brought up a lot of good points
several new maps have implemented creative ways to prevent or to inhibit base pushing with neutral buildings/civilians debris, random ore tiles, and beach tiles. However, all of these aforementioned methods are also detrimental to a mobile army as well.
I think factoring in mobility is also a big aspect of what makes a good map. )maybe even the most important part.) Mobility is also tied into the lanes theory. DCF for example does have a lot of alternative routes to take but your army is only as fast as your infantry which is super slow. Then there is sirocco where the sheer size hurts army mobility. I have a hunch that migs would be really good on that map if you could ever last long enough to get them.
I think implementing high ground/low ground vision or accuracy modifiers could be a potential avenue for map makers to explore if it were ever to get added
would be an absolute game changer and a wonderful tool for map makers. 100% on board for this.

Additionally more tile sets would be wonderful.

Bridges would definitely benefit from an increase in size. One of the biggest problems with their current size is that anything over 2 vehicles or 10 infantry will have bad path finding. That simply isn't enough to support a strike force capable of actually doing damage.

I also agree on the Monty Hall paragraph too. Something strange like that could work for RAGL or even just a competitive map in general but I'm not sure that map meets the standards.

I do think however, that more capturable buildings would be a benefit the game. Right now oil derricks are the only capturable structure. As omnom has mentioned before, often placement of oil derricks leads to snowball effects (like old warwind). It also limits strategies (like in agenda). Having something like the observation post provide vision or the command center provide building area. Maybe something that increased infantry speed by like 10%. Stuff that wouldn't be game ending if you lost or didn't go for, but would put you at a slight disadvantage

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Doomsday
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Post by Doomsday » Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:43 am

First I would like to point out that it is quite annoying when players use abbreviations for maps. I was able to figure out that DCF means Dual Cold Front but I have no idea what Omnom means with DNC.
The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
-Sun Tzu

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Doomsday
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Post by Doomsday » Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:00 am

I decided to analyze RAGL S03 map pool in map size. This is a list of current maps from smallest to largest.

Keep off the Grass 2 58 x 58 (3364 tiles)
Desert Rats: 70 x 70 (4900 tiles)
Northwest Passage: 72 x 72 (5184 tiles)
Patches: 87 x 74 (6438 tiles)
Behind the Veil 2: 96 x 70 (6720 tiles)
Rocky Ravine: 82 x 82 (6724 tiles)
Winter Storm: 89 x 82 (7298 tiles)
Pitfight: 90 x 90 (8100 tiles)
Agenda: 128 x 72 (9216 tiles)
Green Belt: 96 x 96 (9216 tiles)
The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
-Sun Tzu

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Clockwork
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Post by Clockwork » Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:43 am

I love all the ideas and the theory craft behind maps and I'm sure all of us have beautifull ideas to make however the problem is alot of people, including me, have no clue how to use the editor efficently. Like what Juicebox said I would love an idiots guide to doing roads or cliffs etc.

Basicly a map making guide thread similar to this one that was made for playing the game http://www.sleipnirstuff.com/forum/view ... 82&t=19845

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