Bad Map Design
- Before I begin on any maps in terms of design, I want you the reader to know where I am coming
- from in terms of logistics of bad/good map design; as I believe that there are currently 12 sins a map can commit that are crucial for a creator to avoid in order for the players to enjoy it to its fullest.
- | Map Sin #1: A map is too open / too closed in. |
- One of the first things you do when creating a map is deciding how open/closed in the map will be. In order for a map creator to create a good basic layout, he or she must not have an extreme of either big or small size. Maps like MMWTMWS and MM6MRX are very open maps, to the point where it causes rounds to last an eternity (very prone to stalling). On the other side of the spectrum you have MM5NAP and MM6FLA, which are too closed in which intern causes rounds to be lightning fast (basically, a jousting match). Having an extreme of either is not fun, and neither is it entertaining. Balancing the two extremes is the key to creating a good map, like how MM5DAR has a wide open area in its center, but it also is balanced out by areas which juxtapose the open area with small, easily traversable pathways.
- | Map Sin #2: One Spawn has more advantages than the other. |
- Either spawns shouldn't be better than the other, as it creates a coinflip within the game that determines whether or not the you lose. Maps like MM6WIN or MM6FLA create these sort of problems, as one side has height with control of the entire map, and the other has nothing other than a straight line to sides that are already controlled by the enemy team. Spawn balance is key for a map to be even remotely enjoyable. Spawns can have advantages over each other, but the advantages they bring should be middling where both spawns have aspects that are equally as strong as the other. Citing MM5DAR again, it has one spawn that allows for easy access to the tower area, but the other spawn is just a staircase away from the long open crossroads area that is on the opposite side of the map. These advantages do not interfere or disrupt each other until mid game, where even then one does not make the other useless.
- | Map Sin #3: Dead Ends within the map. |
- Now not all dead ends are bad, but the ones I'm going to refer to are borderline terrible. What kind of dead end am I referring to? Basically, pathways that lead to a "one way out" room. As an example, MMWTDW1 has a little moving platform outside of the flame area that leads to a single 3d floor. Only way out without any use of movement is back the way you came, the moving platform. Sure it leads to something in a normal buckshotless server, but on the very basic levels of play, it serves no purpose whatsoever. Another example of a bad dead end is MM6KNI's tower room. If the opposing player does not have the right class/weapon to flush out the camping enemy, then it's a ggs. There are ways to make dead ends work, where you can make it a shorter dead end that isn't too far away from the rest of the map. Thankfully, this is very uncommon within maps, so it shouldn't be hard to avoid; even on your first time mapping.
- | Map Sin #4: One spot within the map controls everything. |
- It's good to have some vantage points within your map (such as the competitive scene dubbed "God Corner" of MM7DW1, which is a corner where it watches over alot of sightlines over the map; but it can be flushed out with indirect combat/setup weapons), but not when it can't be taken down once a team bunkers up. It creates this minigame on your map about who gets to take control first and win, which simply is not fun to deal with. As an example, think of MM6FLA again where if you have the right spawn, you win the game. You have access to all the routes and high ground. This is usually also caused by another issue I'll get into later.
- | Map Sin #5: M E G A M A N S T A I R S . |
- "Megaman stairs" are stairs that you can not walk across normally with regular stepheight, and require you to continuously jump from step to step. Factors of Megaman stairs are usually being ever so slightly tall enough to lock out just walking up, with some Megaman stairs just being very wide and making you have to jump to cross one stair. Megaman stairs aren't fun and neither are they necessary to be put in a map. I've discussed with a tiny margin of mappers, and most of them say it is a way to slow down the pace of the game. Slowing down the pace should be handled by the gimmick of the map (new map MM10STR handles this well with the balls you shoot), and or ladders/jump pads. Megaman stairs also indirectly create rape pits where you cannot get out without going a certain direction (see MM6KNI outside). There are also "megaman stairs" in some maps like how MM9CON's pit is placed, where it is an escape route out of the pit. While I do not consider this a Megaman stair (because A. Too compact to be a stairway and B. You could replace it with a map gimmick or ladder and it won't change anything), it does keep the essence of "jump up to get to your destination" feel that they have. Please create normal stairs, thanks.
- | Map Sin #6: Map Gimmicks that control your fate. |
- Wrong place at the wrong time? You die. These are what bad map gimmicks are, where they shift the favor from you to the other player by the flick of the switch. Maps like MM5GRA, MM1TIM, MM3MAG, and MM8CLO all have these gimmicks where you're screwed if the changing variable in the map grabs switches into a unfavorable spot. You're no longer fighting just the enemy team, you're fighting the map too. Map Gimmicks should be kept to a minimum if they are to be used, such as the reverse gravity portions of MM9DW3. These areas are quite interesting as map gimmicks, but one's playthrough of this map isn't bogged down by these gimmicks as their placement is anything but unnecessary and overbearing.
- | Map Sin #7: Nonsensical/Disorganized room layout. |
- A disorganized room layout is when the map has rooms that feel scattered or out of place. MM8CLO comes to my mind when it discussing what is a disorganized map; especially with the teleporters and the inside spawn. The room layout doesn't have flow, and neither does it have energy. What do I mean by flow exactly? A good map like MM9DW1 has a certain flow to the map where everything in the map correlates well with the other areas. Nothing feels out of place or put in for lulz, its just a map with a fantastic flow. Compare this to MM8CLO where it has the middle room with cluttered entrances, exits, and """vantage""" points. Compare this to a very organized layout, such as MM2MET. Despite being small and a bit cramped, it has a room layout that connects and meshes well with one another. A healthy amount of routes for flanking, vantage points that are equalized, and a sniper window that helps both sides.
- | Map Sin #8: Linear Map design/Too many routes in the map |
- Another one of those extreme rules where you want a healthy balance between routes and linearity. Too linear and you indirectly create a vantage point where it's nearly impossible to crack when they're turtled up (This was the design that has an indirect creation of a vantage point as I said earlier). Another thing that linear maps indirectly create is weapons with high area coverage, such as Crystal Eye or Plug Ball, invalidating and shutting down that portion of the map; making it hard for the other team to move or do anything. On the opposite side of the coin, too many routes make it so no where is safe to setup a flank. This also makes it so that it is stupidly difficult to catch a runaway enemy. One of the most prominent and best examples to give on linear maps are the CTF ones, where there are no optional routes other than the ones given. As for too many routes map examples, think of MM7SHA or MM6MRX, where if they have any movement options, good luck catching them when they're on the run.
- | Map Sin #9: Retardedly placed teleporters |
- If a teleporter has access to the other side of the map without the necessary flow to enable it, then you got yourself a retardedly place teleporter. MM1ICE as an example of one where you just have a free ticket to the other spawn by platforming up to it. There is no rhyme or reason to it, nothing that the other spawn has over the one with the teleporter. It exists solely to screw you over for being at the bad spawn. A good teleporter would be like MM5DAR, where the teleporter is both a good and bad thing for the players going into/in the vantage point, which would be the tower. Like dominos, this also creates other problems within the map.
- | Map Sin #10: Eye Piercing textures |
- Welcome back to talking about MM1ICE. This one is plain and simple, don't make gamma 5 style textures where you'll lose all eyesight at the early age of 30 for playing on it for 3 minutes. A good and consistent color scheme is key to making pleasing to look at map. MMBAST is a fantastic map in this regard, because the way the texture's colors coordinate and combine together makes for a map that's pleasing to the eye.
- | Map Sin #11: Non-distinct rooms |
- Maps that have rooms where a new player to the map may think it's confusing is a bad sign. MM7DW2 as an example has nothing distinct in each of its rooms. Callouts and frankly movement in the map is slowed and/or halted, which causes unnecessary confusion of where you and your teamates are. Giving rooms certain looks or an actual distinct layout helps greatly with this recognition of the rooms; especially when it's a new map (Hi MM10NIT). While some map complexity is fine, simple room layouts helps tremendously with understanding how to move around the map. MM8DUO is a good example on how to make a very distinct room layout. Players are able to callout "He's outside" or "He's in the water pit of their spawn", which is because these rooms have these subtle things that help distinguish from the other rooms in the map.
- | Map Sin #12: Stage Hazards in general |
- MM7TUR, MM8CLO, MM9MAG, etc etc. No one likes stage hazards, and no one will. Why? Like life determining gimmicks, they are other variables that players should not have to be forced to be accustomed to. Frustration is a key word to these hazards, as they always come when you least expect them. If a mapper is so desperate on making a stage hazard, make it apparent by use of sounds or indicators.
- That's about it in terms of sins as of now, I'm certain the more we delve into this topic of map sins, we'll discover more map sins to help a newer creator avoid mistakes. But now that you know the maps sins, I will be referring to them constantly when I review over the new maps.
- Special thanks to Mendez the habibi himself, and Pr. Gibus (Street Name Lil Gibton) for helping me with this