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Heroes Community > MapHaven Guild > Thread: Open-world map balancing out
Thread: Open-world map balancing out
Rakso
Rakso

Tavern Dweller
posted July 19, 2018 12:45 AM
Edited by Rakso at 18:58, 19 Jul 2018.

Open-world map balancing out

Hello!

I'm creating a map for HotA with the entire world and storyline of an other game: "Gothic 2: Night of the Raven". As the title is saying, the map is open-world which means that the player is capable of doing tons of side-quests serving simply as a hero power-up to uphold the main plot difficulty. The world is big(map size H) and mostly free to explore at any time - soon or later - depending on the player taste. But what's the main point?
All of the most decent storyline maps I've seen on the web are single line. I mean to say that they are set since the start till the nearly very end of how a player is supposed to move with their balance, and the map is being lifted through this path as much as possible. It's a very simple and problemless way of how to balance out a map leaving it challenging and not too easy.
Anyways my map is supposed to be Open World paced. Mostly difficult, but not on "sick" expert way of play like some of maps I've seen are working(yet my one also contains puzzles of it's own, or well... stolen XD). If anyone has got his own ideas or tips how would he balance out such a type of a map he can share his idea down on this topic. I must say I'm pretty smart and already have an theory "of how to balance it out" myself eventually, but I'm curious of the opinions, tips and ideas of pretty anybody who can give good ones, so go ahead and don't be shy HC user to share these ones of your own. Skilled mapmakers are especially welcome.
In the end I'm going to post some screenshots of my works, so anyone can know my experience with the editor:

















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Salamandre
Salamandre


Admirable
Omnipresent Hero
Wog refugee
posted July 19, 2018 01:50 PM
Edited by Salamandre at 14:02, 19 Jul 2018.

Well, I can only give some advice based on the screens you posted, and from what I see, it looks chaotic, moreover you use the brush for painting map, which is never going to raise the quality. Sure stories can optimize the map and they should do it, yet there has to be some clarity of the perspectives and each visitable object should blend in some unique background(as in your last screen, you nailed it pretty well). Of course, if you want to simulate a busy town you can stuff buildings the way you do, but looks to me it is your way of painting all map.

Give it some oxygen, larger spaces and visual details easy to remember and memorize.

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Rakso
Rakso

Tavern Dweller
posted July 19, 2018 02:21 PM
Edited by Rakso at 14:29, 19 Jul 2018.

Salamandre said:
Well, I can only give some advice based on the screens you posted, and from what I see, it looks chaotic, moreover you use the brush for painting map, which is never going to raise the quality. Sure stories can optimize the map and they should do it, yet there has to be some clarity of the perspectives and each visitable object should blend in some unique background(as in your last screen, you nailed it pretty well). Of course, if you want to simulate a busy town you can stuff buildings the way you do, but looks to me it is your way of painting all map.

Give it some oxygen, larger spaces and visual details easy to remember and memorize.


Hey. Really thanks for Your comment. Firstly I just want to say that I never ever use the brush option and surely never gonna use it. The map has an absolute 0% ammount of places where I used the brush tool. I think it's just my style as You have mentioned below that makes it look like that. I must say it made me feel pretty sad. haha As I placed every single one of these objects my own handed(jk with the sadness ofc). But yes, It's my style. I don't like places which use one type of mountains or one type of forest trees. I like obsessive diversity that's how I am.

I don't understand too much what do You mean to say with the oxygen and visual details easy to renember and memorize. Could You clarify it a little more please? At best with some screenshots examples. Maybe of Your own maps, or maps being your favourite which could serve as a good argument to Your words and a more clarified vision to me.

I'll answer how I understand it currently: I've made locations in my map, every single one as unique as I was able to in the question of decorative objects and functional objects aesthetics. I thought it's clearly visible, except for the mountains and forests which I made most of them rich detailed, but definately not unique in look, which should contrast them from the important locations.

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Salamandre
Salamandre


Admirable
Omnipresent Hero
Wog refugee
posted July 19, 2018 02:28 PM

Rakso said:
I must say it made me feel pretty sad.


Sorry for that, I know how difficult is to accept criticism when you spent tons of hours working. Time ago, I made a thread about mapmaking unique landscapes HERE, maybe it explains better what words can't.

As for map, I won't show mines to tell you what to do - yet you can get lots of screens in this forum, that would sound cocky, but I can recommend for analysis and inspiration The Empire of the World 1 and 2 (I see you already took some tips from it with the closed gardens you did) and some others from mapmaking golden age, you know, Andrew Tanzi, Kispalko and so.  

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phoenix4ever
phoenix4ever


Supreme Hero
Heroes is love, Heroes is life
posted July 19, 2018 02:32 PM
Edited by phoenix4ever at 14:36, 19 Jul 2018.

I hope it won't sound too harsh, but as a map-maker myself I pretty much agree with Sala.
Your map feels too crammed and with very little space to actually move and "breathe".
Visually it looks pretty good and I bet you have tons of quests, but to actually find your way around the map and finding a way to go, seems like a hassle. (Especially when it's a huge map.)
Also all those unreachable map objects seems a bit wasted to me, why place map objects, if there is no way to reach them?

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Drakon-Deus
Drakon-Deus


Legendary Hero
posted July 19, 2018 02:49 PM

I am not a map-maker but I am a player of the Gothic series so I am interested to play this map.

I think your idea is very ambitious and I hope you have success. Thank you very much for sharing with us.

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Salamandre
Salamandre


Admirable
Omnipresent Hero
Wog refugee
posted July 19, 2018 02:52 PM

phoenix4ever said:

Also all those unreachable map objects seems a bit wasted to me, why place map objects, if there is no way to reach them?


Thats debatable, some well placed objects can add a lot of immersion to the landscape. Also it remembers me an anecdote from Tew1 (2001) where in the middle of the map there is a seer hut giving 2500 archangels for 99999 gems. People sent years to analyze under microscope every pixel of the map to find how the hell one can fulfill that quest, they looked in every town events, checked ever monster, every bush.

Then they asked the mapmaker "ok how?" and Tanzi answered "oh it was plain desert area and I liked a lone seer hut pooping under the shadow of a coconut, with some dumb quest"

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Rakso
Rakso

Tavern Dweller
posted July 19, 2018 02:55 PM
Edited by Rakso at 15:02, 19 Jul 2018.

Salamandre said:
Sorry for that, I know how difficult is to accept criticism when you spent tons of hours working. Time ago, I made a thread about mapmaking unique landscapes HERE, maybe it explains better what words can't.

As for map, I won't show mines to tell you what to do - yet you can get lots of screens in this forum, that would sound cocky, but I can recommend for analysis and inspiration The Empire of the World 1 and 2 (I see you already took some tips from it with the closed gardens you did) and some others from mapmaking golden age, you know, Andrew Tanzi, Kispalko and so.  


Don't worry with my "It made me feel sad." It was just a joke or troll-like thing. It didn't made me sad, actually I consider it might be helpful. I consider this one up in a professional point-view and eventually change up from few to many things in my map.

Sure I'll take a look at the topic You've sent me. Thanks alot again.
About the inspirations I am not sure what You mean to say again about the closed gardens, but if You want to see some first-look visible inspirations:
- 3rd screen from downside: Stronghold town on top through-hills entrance to is an inspiration from Xiedu Rampart town somewhere in the top middle of the map.
- Last screen is an inspiration from middle top hilly surrounded by enormous walls castle on the map Rise of the Sun King.

phoenix4ever said:
I hope it won't sound too harsh, but as a map-maker myself I pretty much agree with Sala.
Your map feels too crammed and with very little space to actually move and "breathe".
Visually it looks pretty good and I bet you have tons of quests, but to actually find your way around the map and finding a way to go, seems like a hassle. (Especially when it's a huge map.)
Also all those unreachable map objects seems a bit wasted to me, why place map objects, if there is no way to reach them?


You mean the details I've put into making places like for example the snowy mountains? It's going to be possible to build a grail in a Tower City if ones decide to play as Tower. If so then the entire world map would be showed, so I decided I put details onto these as well.

The map is about to being played in 3 different ways depending of a player's choose. As the main character on the map appears in 3 variations and has different specialization and town at his disposal depending on the players chose on the main menu hero-chose window:

-Spec: Archery = Town: Rampart
-Spec: Armorer = Town: Castle
-Spec: Sorcery = Town: Tower

Gameplay for each of these should be in some sort different, and other quest avaible for each of those. Quests one of these has are unavailable to others etc.
The sorcery guy is the only one capable to obtain wisdom. The rest of the protagonist incarnations must use scrolls to cast higher-level spells, as they are capable only of learn level 1-2 ones.
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Rakso
Rakso

Tavern Dweller
posted July 19, 2018 03:11 PM

Drakon-Deus said:
I am not a map-maker but I am a player of the Gothic series so I am interested to play this map.

I think your idea is very ambitious and I hope you have success. Thank you very much for sharing with us.


Thanks for Your reply Drakon-Deus
If I get into the files of Gothic 2 english language version(I'm from Poland, so I'm doing the map for Poland language only right now) then the translate of entire map would took 1-2 days max, as it's basically nearly entirely a copy-paste from original Gothic 2 dialogues with very little difference(Constantino as a collector of rare stones instead of a flowers maniac).

I'm planning to do the translation to english for real tbh. Also together with 2 maps of my other friend. He already made a polish language adaptation of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. The map is called "Pan Zniszczenia" and 3 Youtube series of playing it can be found on YT. Currently he is working on a Diablo III: Reaver of Souls adaptation for Heroes 3, as his first map was an enormous success in Polish mapmaking community. I said I help him translate this one too, so all our 3 maps should be released in english versions a little while after we finish our two current big projects in polish language.
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Rakso
Rakso

Tavern Dweller
posted July 21, 2018 10:20 PM

Salamandre said:
Sure stories can optimize the map and they should do it, yet there has to be some clarity of the perspectives and each visitable object should blend in some unique background.

Give it some oxygen, larger spaces and visual details easy to remember and memorize.

Sup. Did I caught what You mean?
Space + Scenery:

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Salamandre
Salamandre


Admirable
Omnipresent Hero
Wog refugee
posted July 22, 2018 04:27 PM

I like it. One note tho, don't waste bonus locations as star axis for scenery purposes, as their number is limited.

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RoseKavalier
RoseKavalier


Honorable
Famous Hero
posted July 22, 2018 05:37 PM

Salamandre said:
I like it. One note tho, don't waste bonus locations as star axis for scenery purposes, as their number is limited.

Agreed. Some organization in nature can always look very pleasing to the eye.

Just to clarify Sal's comment - each hero can only ever visit 32 of the stat boosters. Every time you place one on the map, they get assigned an ID (0, 1, 2, ...) up to the number you've placed.

Then when the hero visits a Star Axis, the game gets that particular one's ID and performs this manipulation:

ID % 32 (module == get remainder of division by 32)

So if you have 33 Star Axis, the 33rd is the "same" as the first. And so on.

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NimoStar
NimoStar


Promising
Famous Hero
Modding the Unmoddable
posted July 22, 2018 05:46 PM

My point would be that the way to balance an open world map is trough A creatuyre stack growth or B increased power with "stages" for computer opponents.

The variable is time. The hero's power grows with time. So if you can't divide the world into neatly ordered stages, then the scenario should grow harder with time.

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Salamandre
Salamandre


Admirable
Omnipresent Hero
Wog refugee
posted July 22, 2018 06:07 PM

Also, as the map looks for hota, can't emphasize how annoying is to have 150 quest guards listed in papyrus but no way to find where is the one you need. I know how tempting is role-playing and quests every step, but without wog "seer huts" mods or RK's plugins, I expect an appropriate retaliation from players

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Rakso
Rakso

Tavern Dweller
posted July 22, 2018 09:39 PM
Edited by Rakso at 21:43, 22 Jul 2018.

Hello everyone. Allright then, slowly answering every one of your comments.

Salamandre said:
I like it. One note tho, don't waste bonus locations as star axis for scenery purposes, as their number is limited.


Don't worry. I got somewhere on papers listed:
- number of power-ups locations for each biome
- heroes listed with they real-identity, skillsets and player affilations.
- items for quest and items of bigger importance as imitation of Gothic 2 items. As exaple, the Titan's thunder being the "Beliar's claw"
etc.

Anyway according to Your tip personally I think it is a bit not in place. I counted and made an analize of all the power-ups in the game. They're so many that they are capable to boost the hero into 99 all stats on level 1 - definately more than enough. In the case seen on the screenshot the star axis serve as both usable and aesthetics, but I just clarify that these could serve even as simply aesthetics too. Anyways in any case these could be perhaps just rocks with texture code of a star axis as I'm using the unleashed map editor advanced properties option. Also I'm using some objects overlapping, copy-paste map, upload screenshot on map tool too. - Sadly I don't renember the autor name.

RoseKavalier said:
So if you have 33 Star Axis, the 33rd is the "same" as the first. And so on.


I guess it's an WoG option, so I don't even have a clue how to make such a thing. Haha As I'm using just HotA and definately I'm just going to make a whole campaign with 3-4 maps of the entire Gothic Saga for just HotA and I guess after then I'm getting to do a break out of mapmaking or leaving it for good after the whole project of mine shall come to an end. We will see.

Salamandre said:
Also, as the map looks for hota, can't emphasize how annoying is to have 150 quest guards listed in papyrus but no way to find where is the one you need. I know how tempting is role-playing and quests every step, but without wog "seer huts" mods or RK's plugins, I expect an appropriate retaliation from players


No worry. I changed seer huts and quest guards textures differently depending of it's affilation(example: City guard as pikemen, peasant as peasant, trader as black market, mercenaries as some upgraded Rampart troops), importance or map location, so these give a bit of "animation and life" to the world. Also simplify recognizance.

NimoStar said:
My point would be that the way to balance an open world map is trough A creatuyre stack growth or B increased power with "stages" for computer opponents.

The variable is time. The hero's power grows with time. So if you can't divide the world into neatly ordered stages, then the scenario should grow harder with time.


Thanks for the first reply about the actual balance of the map itself than "how awful the map is".
Currently that's what I did. Set the "grow with time" option for each creature. For now I've based the ammount of monsters with which creatures start the game dependent of the Acts(Gothic II has 6 acts) and acts define certain areas and plot advancement stage, so currently the monsters table on my map looks like that:
(Keep in mind that the first actually capable of being build-up town gets unlocked around 211 - 311, so the actual game starts around this period of time, while the list shows the monsters number since 111)

Let me know what You think about it, or anyone who is reading who can answer futher suggestions.

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Rakso
Rakso

Tavern Dweller
posted July 22, 2018 10:10 PM

This is the big project, but for now not even a single map yet finished. :/

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NimoStar
NimoStar


Promising
Famous Hero
Modding the Unmoddable
posted July 30, 2018 07:44 PM

I cannot balance so much "on paper" so it looks good at anything. balancing is done more by playtesting than by stats.


* * *

Also, for what it's worth I liked your scenery style and I noticed it was not brushes ;=)
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