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Heroes Community > Heroes 5 - Temple of Ashan > Thread: Your ideal map and balancing via mapmaking - a discussion.
Thread: Your ideal map and balancing via mapmaking - a discussion. This thread is 2 pages long: 1 2 · NEXT»
Pomo
Pomo


Famous Hero
The lone peasant
posted March 27, 2007 08:58 AM
Edited by Pomo at 08:59, 27 Mar 2007.

Your ideal map and balancing via mapmaking - a discussion.

There has been a lot of discussion about balance recently - which generally focusses on how different game mechanics can be tweaked. This discussion is all fine and good, but I thought it would be nice to have a discussion about balance from a different angle - given the current game mechanics, how can a map be designed to provide balance between the different factions. After all, many of the imbalances are generally held to be map related - i.e. Haven is likely to tend towards the overpowered on super-rich maps because training provides them with a way to utilise all the additional resources... Might factions in general have an easier time on 2+ town maps etc. I think this discussion is particularly relevant given the upcoming map design contest here. I'm talking particularly about multiplayer maps here of course.

Keep in mind also that much of the following discussion represents my thinking for a map that I'm working on - there will no doubt be varying ideas about what is 'fun', 'strategic' etc. That's part of what I'm hoping to hear from you guys - your opinions on what makes a good map

Balance however is not the only concern in mapmaking. Maps should also be a) fun to play (not very controversial obviously) and in my opinion b) encourage strategic thinking and play. I take strategic here to mean (and I'm awaiting the disagreements ) a) limited chance for randomness to determine the outcome in favour of player choices determining the outcome and b) really playing against the other player - not just exploiting neutrals faster.

In my opinion, the balance goal often conflicts with the fun and strategic goals. Why is this? Well to give an example - I personally like maps with multiple towns because it gives me much greater freedom to choose what creatures I recruit/build dwellings for, reduces randomness in the availability of spells due to possibility to build multiple guilds etc. Two town maps tend to favour might heroes however, due to the ability to accumulate large armies faster - attack/defence primary stats scale with army size, spellpower does not. As another example I also like maps where I am always busy - having to run for 3-4 days between fights bores me. The side-effect of this is however that I tend to like rich maps - which favour Haven and Academy (due to miniartifacts) particularly. Furthermore excessively rich maps potentially conflict with my desire for choice, because you can simply buy everything!!

I'll list here the characteristics that I ideally like in maps, and then discuss some ideas about how to try and achieve as many of them as possible in one map.

General goals
- Balance between factions (balance between players is obviously a given).
- Minimizes the role of randomness.
- Allows players to have a large amount of choice over different strategic options.
- Provides opportunity for many different strategies to be successful.
- Keeps players busy.
- Fun to play.
- Doesn't last excessively long (beyond month two is IMO excessive)
- Fairly quick start (I hate starting with a level two town basically just because it bores me )
- Discourage hit and run - but still give dungeon a fair chance to win (I regard repeatedly sacrificing 7 assassins/furies to cast empowered implosions as an exploit not a strategy).
- Looks good

Looking over the above list, there are some obvious conflicts between balance and some of the others - because basically most of the things that I think makes a map fun and strategic also favour might heroes and factions that have a way to use a lot of money/resources.  

How then to have what I want in terms of fun/strategy without sacrificing balance?? I have a few thoughts.

- Map skews primary attribute development in favour of defence over attack (this is to help Dungeon be capable of competing in battles with big armies without hit and run - relatively higher defence allows more hero actions -> more implosions, whereas a point of attack or defence doesn't really make a huge difference between might factions - just leads to longer battles)
- Allow very high potential to develop large forces and emphasise particular troops, but make the ability to do so contingent on outplaying (not just outcreeping) your opponent. Basically I think this can be achieved by a) multiple towns/external dwellings and b) shared gold and resource mines that force you to continually compete with your opponent for control of them. So if you can dominate the resource war then you will be able to develop truly mighty armies - if you allow your opponent to so will they. I think this will also help restrict the ability for might factions to accumulate ridiculous armies due to attrition and the ability for magic heroes to skirmish better.
- The central resource area also (I hope) encourages strategic play - do you play aggressively (risking troop attrition) and try to force your opponent out or avoid conflict by 'flag-and-run' tactics? How much troops can you devote to controling mines while still creeping effectively elsewhere?
- Restricts rushes: Sylvan sucks vs a rush, magic heroes/war machine specialists dominate in one - in combination with the above two ideas the hope is to remove the emphasis from having to rush against certain opponents and even out the chances in a long battle.
- Fixed (largely not entirely) reward packages - No 'player owned' utopias (I don't have a huge problem with shared ones), relics locations are fixed and dispersed so that you are forced to choose pursuing one or another in the knowledge of what you are getting. Again this is to enhance the strategy (choice) aspect of the game.
- Shared treasure areas that allow for players to fight one another.
- Allows many opportunities to obtain whatever spells you want - although not TOO quickly. Effectively this just means having a lot of mage vaults/pyramids/shrines on the map - as I've posted elsewhere I'd rather a system where you choose what spells you get when you build the guild but seeing as I don't have a way to implement that... Second best option is just to give access to almost everything - you can still only use one spell at a time.
- Shackles of the last man available to each player.

Anyway, as I've said, this is some of my thinking about making a multiplayer map that is fun, balanced and strategic (some of it is specific things that I'm thinking of for a map that I'm making) - given the current game mechanisms. I'd very much like to hear your feedback about my ideas specifically and how you think map design in general can be done in order to maximise these three goals. Also, post what you consider to be your 'ideal' multiplayer map!
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Doomforge
Doomforge


Admirable
Undefeatable Hero
Retired Hero
posted March 27, 2007 09:19 AM
Edited by Doomforge at 09:22, 27 Mar 2007.

shackles? Oh noes Bye bye sweet imploding.

Well, good ideas. I'd suggest some well-placed powerful artifacts guarded by powerful monsters, though. It always makes creeping more fun. And no dragon utopias, please. They are very cheesy.

And don't forget that many towns mean either annoying multiple town develpoment, or hordes of scouts taking the cities back and forth (hi heroes 3) which is INSANELY annoying and very, very annoying (artificialy prolongs the game which is bad)

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Pomo
Pomo


Famous Hero
The lone peasant
posted March 27, 2007 09:40 AM

Quote:
shackles? Oh noes Bye bye sweet imploding.


Well you can still have implosion - the idea is to provide enough counter-measures in the map (high defence to let you last longer, skirmishing which is likely to lead to troop attrition) to allow destructive strategies (and by implication dungeon) to still be effective in a big game without hit and run. I'm not thinking of making shackles available immediately either.

Quote:
Well, good ideas. I'd suggest some well-placed powerful artifacts guarded by powerful monsters, though. It always makes creeping more fun. And no dragon utopias, please. They are very cheesy.


Yes, there will be the powerful arties - the difference from most maps that I see is that the really powerful ones that everybody wants (ring of speed/staff of the netherworld/a few others) will only be available in fixed and shared locations - so you know what you're getting when you choose to send your main to treasure area A for example and it's not simply a matter of having one player get lucky with exactly which super powerful artie is in their area. On the topes, there might be a shared one - it's still random how good it is but either player can get it.

Quote:
And don't forget that many towns mean either annoying multiple town develpoment, or hordes of scouts taking the cities back and forth (hi heroes 3) which is INSANELY annoying and very, very annoying (artificialy prolongs the game which is bad)


Well the map will be set up so that scout's running back and forth re-taking cities is not really likely... On the multiple town development, personally I don't find it annoying - rather I see it as a strategic choice of what to build and buy - and the ability to do so will be dependent on beating your opponent in the resource war.
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TheDeath
TheDeath


Responsible
Undefeatable Hero
with serious business
posted March 27, 2007 01:20 PM

@Pomo: very nice points indeed. I especially agree with this part:

Quote:
a) limited chance for randomness to determine the outcome in favour of player choices determining the outcome and b) really playing against the other player - not just exploiting neutrals faster.


Quote:
I personally like maps with multiple towns because it gives me much greater freedom to choose what creatures I recruit/build dwellings for, reduces randomness in the availability of spells due to possibility to build multiple guilds etc.
That is also why I suggested the Multiple dwelling idea, so even maps with 1 town can be fun to play to allow you to choose what you want to recruit. Obviously the smarter you are, the better units recruited to counter the enemy's army.

Quote:
Two town maps tend to favour might heroes however, due to the ability to accumulate large armies faster - attack/defence primary stats scale with army size, spellpower does not.
That is also why I prefer multiple dwellings -- since they don't provide income as a town, only growth.. and unless you're swimming in gold with normal income, I don't see why you would have bigger armies with multiple dwellings.


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ZombieLord
ZombieLord


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that wants your brainz...
posted March 27, 2007 01:30 PM
Edited by ZombieLord at 13:32, 27 Mar 2007.

Great ideas Pomo

Quote:
limited chance for randomness to determine the outcome in favour of player choices determining the outcome

Agreed 100%.

Quote:
Discourage hit and run - but still give dungeon a fair chance to win (I regard repeatedly sacrificing 7 assassins/furies to cast empowered implosions as an exploit not a strategy).

Same here. I hate hit'n'run. Dungeon should handle and win even without the stupid retreat option. Why should Dungeon do this trick to win (and it's a little risky)? It's not even strategic...

Quote:
I personally like maps with multiple towns because it gives me much greater freedom to choose what creatures I recruit/build dwellings for

Yes, I also want to choose which creatures I want to recruit, not be limited by the weekly growth, and that's why I like TheDeath's Multiple Dwelling idea (to some limit...)

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Doomforge
Doomforge


Admirable
Undefeatable Hero
Retired Hero
posted March 27, 2007 01:39 PM

Not strategic? Ever heard of guerilla warfare, ZombieLord?

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Pomo
Pomo


Famous Hero
The lone peasant
posted March 27, 2007 01:47 PM

Personally my opinion of hit and run depends on what you mean by it. If you take half of your army and blow stuff up until they're nearly all dead and run - no probs - if you take 7 furies implode something and surrender I have a major problem with it because there's really nothing your opponent can do to stop you except in exceptional circumstances.

And guerillas don't have magic teleports back to their jungle hideouts

Anyway, the discussion of hit and run is a bit off topic - what I would really like would be your opinions on what makes a map balanced, fun and strategic and specific ways to achieve it via map design.
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ZombieLord
ZombieLord


Promising
Famous Hero
that wants your brainz...
posted March 27, 2007 01:48 PM
Edited by ZombieLord at 13:49, 27 Mar 2007.

Quote:
Personally my opinion of hit and run depends on what you mean by it. If you take half of your army and blow stuff up until they're nearly all dead and run - no probs - if you take 7 furies implode something and surrender I have a major problem with it because there's really nothing your opponent can do to stop you except in exceptional circumstances.


That's exactly what I was saying if you take half of your army it won't be hit'n'run anymore

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TheDeath
TheDeath


Responsible
Undefeatable Hero
with serious business
posted March 27, 2007 01:51 PM

Quote:
Anyway, the discussion of hit and run is a bit off topic - what I would really like would be your opinions on what makes a map balanced, fun and strategic and specific ways to achieve it via map design.
ehm.. the game has such poor modding capabilities.

About the map well I wouldn't know, never designed one (except the terrain ). I'll think a bit on this one

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Pomo
Pomo


Famous Hero
The lone peasant
posted March 27, 2007 01:56 PM

Quote:
ehm.. the game has such poor modding capabilities.


Yeah true, that's why I think we should have a discussion about how to manage it by proxy through map design...

Quote:
About the map well I wouldn't know, never designed one (except the terrain ). I'll think a bit on this one


Look forward to hearing what you come up with
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ZombieLord
ZombieLord


Promising
Famous Hero
that wants your brainz...
posted March 27, 2007 03:34 PM
Edited by ZombieLord at 15:36, 27 Mar 2007.

Well for now, I can give you one of my points of view of maps, maybe more will come later

The map has to be SPECIAL and unique. Because otherwise, all the maps would be the same and you'll get bored easily. The map must bring new strategies and a lot of fun.

For example, one of my maps has the rare resource mines isolated on their own island, far away from your town. This will make them harder to capture, but I think this will give an advantage to Haven
Anyway, the map has its unique strategies and that's what I like to see in maps

Also, my map is very important at sea movement, so Navigation may become useful A very little amount of maps benefit from this ability and that's what makes mine unique and fun


The only thing is that I don't enjoy creating maps with this editor (only when a map is done I get some fun playing it). That's why I don't create much maps

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executor
executor


Famous Hero
Otherworldly Ambassador
posted March 27, 2007 09:24 PM
Edited by executor at 23:51, 27 Mar 2007.

Quote:
The only thing is that I don't enjoy creating maps with this editor (only when a map is done I get some fun playing it). That's why I don't create much maps


I completely agree. This editor is a nigthmare to work with, compared to previous ones. I also agree that each map must be a special one indeed.

@Pomo:

Very, very good remarks. But personally (as you probably know from our previous discussion ) I often enjoy randomness, to some extent ofc. I personally don't like players' positions to be mirror. Yes it is much much harder to balance them then, but then the gameply is 'merrier' and more interesting .
I especially like idea of the 'goodies' placed in shared area, that's essential. I also used include a few shared areas, not one.
I like the multiply towns option, I used to include it myself.
I am not for the two-month limit, I like to play a bit longer, but if you like shorter games, let you please!

Let we all play good and merrily on spledid maps we like!
And live long and prosperous!
But we need a decent, efficient editor for it... and the one we have is not an efficient one by all means, as well as is a nuisance to work with.

Edit: From my personal expierience balancing a map always needs enormous amounts of testing, and it is not easy to be done while map making. Testing also reveals hidden minor errors, which I hate to see. I am a perfectionist while making a map - everything must be as I want it to be.
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TheDeath
TheDeath


Responsible
Undefeatable Hero
with serious business
posted March 27, 2007 09:44 PM

Now I've been playin' a bit with the map editor.. and generally I tried to include some scripts, which of course don't work in MP so the chances that I can come up with a balanced map are slim, though I'll still continue trying a bit

Quote:
Very, very good remarks. But personally (as you probably know from our previous discussion ) I often enjoy randomness, to some extent ofc. I personally don't like players' positions to be mirror.
I agree about the player's positions being mirrored, but I still prefer less randomness and more choices

Quote:
I am not for the two-month limit, I like to play a bit longer, but if you like shorter games, let you please!
Well same here. I tried to make large maps, but adding some restrictions to each hero and army (i.e so you should develop more heroes and more battles against the other player), where the game might last longer..

Quote:
I am a perfectionist while making a map - everything must be as I want it to be.
lol I am a perfectionist while making everything (programming, modelling, texturing, Heroes 5 map making, etc.), and some friends tell me I'm obsessed with the outcome being 'perfect' (though I must admit perfection is never reached, I always found the result still having slight 'imperfections'). somehow I feel guilty if I let something imperfect due to my lazyness (but note that when that 'something' is not apparent and I do not even know about it, I might as well ignore it not on purpose)..

ouch spammed with the last paragraph, haven't I?

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executor
executor


Famous Hero
Otherworldly Ambassador
posted March 27, 2007 11:19 PM
Edited by executor at 23:47, 27 Mar 2007.

Quote:
(though I must admit perfection is never reached, I always found the result still having slight 'imperfections').  somehow I feel guilty if I let something imperfect due to my lazyness


As if I had written this myself...

And your last paragraph is no spam, just half-offtopic .
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Pomo
Pomo


Famous Hero
The lone peasant
posted March 28, 2007 07:45 AM

Quote:
Well for now, I can give you one of my points of view of maps, maybe more will come later

The map has to be SPECIAL and unique. Because otherwise, all the maps would be the same and you'll get bored easily. The map must bring new strategies and a lot of fun.


Yeah I agree totally, maps should be very diverse and unique - but that uniqueness should not come from a tendency for one map to be 'rushy' and another map to be closed - that breaks the tactical balance between factions. So the thing is to try to include sufficient counter weights between the factions in each map - a hard task unfortunately and probably one we won't be able to do perfectly, but we might be able to have a pretty good attempt. Of course ideally the game balance would be such that you wouldn't have major factional imbalances between different types of maps - but at present that's unfortunately not the case.

Quote:
For example, one of my maps has the rare resource mines isolated on their own island, far away from your town. This will make them harder to capture, but I think this will give an advantage to Haven
Anyway, the map has its unique strategies and that's what I like to see in maps


Yeah I see your point - because Haven mostly wants wood and ore right? Not having seen the map I can't say really how you might tweak it to remedy that while maintaining the maps uniqueness - maybe you can just include things to buff the other factions a little bit by comparison? Like a low level (fixed) dwelling for all the other factions or something?? Keeping the map fairly poor is an ok way to nerf Haven - but buffs Necropolis at the same time.

Quote:
Very, very good remarks. But personally (as you probably know from our previous discussion ) I often enjoy randomness, to some extent ofc.


Yeah I agree that some randomness is probably needed in creeps and whatnot - partly to help replayability - partly because fixed guards are very likely to favour particular factions, and so they're a bit imbalancing.

Quote:
I personally don't like players' positions to be mirror. Yes it is much much harder to balance them then, but then the gameply is 'merrier' and more interesting .


Yeah I also don't like perfect mirror maps too much - in the sense of everything being identically placed down to the last movement tile - but I do think that it's probably a requirement for multiplayer maps to have equal starts - in the sense that all the same stuff is available to each player in their start area, even if not placed identically. I suppose if you had fixed towns you might be able to break that rule somewhat, but then that's getting into me as a mapmaker dictating tactics to the players, whereas what I'd like is simply to make the widest possible range of ways to win and let them go from there.

Quote:
I am not for the two-month limit, I like to play a bit longer, but if you like shorter games, let you please!


Yeah well I wasn't really meaning to impose any limit - like if you don't win by day X then... Just that the map shouldn't be designed so that you can't win in < 2 months - otherwise it really is incredibly slow - most 2 person multiplayer games will finish before week 6 I think. Anyway, like you say it's a personal preference thing.
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PhoenixReborn
PhoenixReborn


Promising
Legendary Hero
Unicorn
posted March 30, 2007 12:54 AM

This is a great thread!

I think Heroes 2 has some maps that are designed like this.  I remember one where there was a resource war going on because all the important mines (i.e. not wood and ore) were in the center.

-Balancing doesn't necessarily mean mirror maps, that is less fun, even though it's harder work on the map maker.

-Do maps need scripting?  One can build up a classic heroes 2/3 map without any scripts or quests at all.

-If some one is going to do hit and run, it can't really be prevented (well shackles I guess), it's really up to the player(s) to decide.  I prefer the strategic retreat option.

-I wish there was an orb/sphere of negation, or at least a magic dampening object.

@Zombielord which map is yours?
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ZombieLord
ZombieLord


Promising
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that wants your brainz...
posted March 30, 2007 03:52 PM

Quote:
Zombielord which map is yours?

I haven't uploaded my map so far because it's not finished, and I can't work on it right now...
Once it's finished (which won't be very far away) I'll share it with you

Oh yeah, the name is: Two Islands.

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Pomo
Pomo


Famous Hero
The lone peasant
posted April 17, 2007 03:47 PM

Hey I'll be looking for some people to playtest/give feedback on the map that I've been working on in the near future - my guesstimate is that it might be finished in about two weeks... Anybody interested? It's a two player map.

All feedback is appreciated
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ZombieLord
ZombieLord


Promising
Famous Hero
that wants your brainz...
posted April 17, 2007 04:22 PM

Hmm, I don't know. In the next weeks I'll be a little busy but I'll try to get some time to test your map Hopefully I will get it

However, 1) I'm not sure about that, and 2) I'm not a very good critique, so you'll probably hear only positive feedback from me (unless it has some really bad things in it but I don't think so)

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alcibiades
alcibiades


Honorable
Undefeatable Hero
of Gold Dragons
posted April 17, 2007 05:05 PM

That might be fun. Can it be played vs. AI or only online?

PS. Might wanna leave some feedback here later on my favorite kind of maps.
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