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General mapping tips thread
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Barry
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:23 pm
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I have decided to start a "mapping tip" thread where I will post tips whenever I think of something. Feel free to post your own tips as well.

The first thing I want to focus on is preventing players from camping. I have played numerous mods where the author will set up a huge fight but the player will be able to camp right outside the door and will be able to get by without taking much damage at all. The player should have to strategize in these kinds of situations, especially if the area is important (like containing a key or elevator).

I myself like to accomplish this one of three ways. First, when you set up a room with a horde of enemies, give them multiple ways to reach the player. This can easily be done by doing double or triple doors instead of a single door. This way, the player will have to run and find a place to camp rather than camping directly outside the door. For example.

Instead of this:



Do this:



Another thing you can do is use static objects to make it more difficult for enemies to single-file out. This creates a much more intense situation with the same amount of enemies.



Also, if you have a three-tile wide hallway leading to a large room with a big fight, your best bet is either to place static objects on either side of the door, or double the door.

One thing I like to do is have a secondary room nearby with the same floor code as the main room that the player is about to activate. This way, the player gets a nice surprise from another direction. You can lock the door if you want to prevent the player from accessing the trap before you are ready for them to do so. Or, you can deaf enemies in the main room and keep the enemies in the secondary room undeaf, so the player can't trigger the main fight if they happen to go into the secondary room beforehand.

To me, it's amazing what these three tips can do for a map's gameplay. It's best to alternate though and come up with unique situations to accomplish this as overdoing any one thing will become predictable. In any case, the player should never be able to camp a big fight right outside the door.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:41 pm
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Guard Blockers come in handy with this sort of thing. I simply put "Guard Blocks" on certain squares so that the enemies can't be lured out of a room. But the mark of a good mapper - IMO - is to lay out the Guard Blockers in such a way, it *appears* as though the enemy could go a particular route, but he simply chooses not to. Smile
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:43 pm
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Tricob wrote:
Guard Blockers come in handy with this sort of thing. I simply put "Guard Blocks" on certain squares so that the enemies can't be lured out of a room. But the mark of a good mapper - IMO - is to lay out the Guard Blockers in such a way, it *appears* as though the enemy could go a particular route, but he simply chooses not to. Smile


Good point! I've seen situations where guard blockers are painfully obvious and that shouldn't be the case. When used properly, they can really enhance a map.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:48 pm
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I agree about the camping. Also try to avoid having rooms that are optional where the reward is not worth the fight necessary to get it. A player should benefit from dealing with an optional section.

The guard blockers work if not used too predictably but unfortunately those are only avaliable in the MMC as far as I know.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:24 pm
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Guard Blockers are also supported in my Base Of Operations demo, as well as Non-convergence and "Operation: Kill BJ!".
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:39 pm
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Honestly, guard blockers are so useful that it might pay to add them to the Wolf4SDL base source. I'll look into it.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 2:29 am
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My best mapping tip is to use floor codes wisely. You have plenty of floor codes to use, and you shouldn't need to use every single one for a single map, either.

Also position your guards in a way that their unpredictability can thrive. Make it so in certain areas, the fights will play out differently every single play-through. Though, you have to leave most of it up to the AI, you can manipulate it by making passages and objects block the guard off to have to go a different route to track you down.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 3:37 am
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Very good points gerolf!

I sometimes add boss blockers. This way I make the boss guards smart enough to not enter areas with a lot of health, or where I have put a healer, and where it would have been too easy to kill the boss guards. I may put other guards inside these areas from the beginning or there are reasons why I want other guards to be able to enter these areas. In cases like these I use boss blockers.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 6:29 am
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I have a "special" guard blocker that is removed when the player crosses over it. It does mean you have to write and read the second plane of the map in your saved games, but I don't have a problem with this. Smile
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:44 am
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If a map sucks, add an interesting ceiling color. Win.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:09 am
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@Tricob. A removable guard blocker is indeed a good feature.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:05 pm
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Thomas wrote:
If a map sucks, add an interesting ceiling color. Win.

Barry
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:25 pm
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Chris wrote:
Thomas wrote:
If a map sucks, add an interesting ceiling color. Win.



^^^ Like! Very Happy

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:07 am
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This color certainly fits the overall atmosphere better than a more subtle hue would.

The advice from the first post was really eye-opening, by the way. I was already using the "same floorcode in unconnected rooms for surprise ambushes" trick, but it didn't occur to me how much it changes to add more than one door to a room.

Still, I think deaf guards remain my favorite way of making interesting encounters, even if it doesn't offer a lot of replayability.

Of course, the important thing is to keep them from looking like they're literally deaf and stupid instead of being sneaky ambushers. The simplest way is to just keep their backs pressed against a wall, but more freedom is possible as long as the area in the back cannot be reached before being seen by them.



Deaf guards can be used for many purposes besides the obvious nook-hiding strategy. In my Merry Wolfmas 2016 level 2, the two snowmen in the final room only attack you when you enter, even though the final room can be seen from the starting room (below).



One thing I like to do to spice up the classic nook-hiding: Non-deaf guards obstructed by deaf guards. It tends to be necessary due to technical limitations, and it comes with a few interesting effects. Enemies like guards and SS may have a shorter reaction time (since they're already alerted), and they won't say their catchphrase upon seeing you, which can make it more surprising. And if you put a bullet sponge like the SS in the front, you'll prevent the player from simply entering the nook and stun-locking the enemy with the machine gun fire, since the guard in the back will have an opportunity to shoot them when they're busy doing that.



You could even make something like ambush dogs this way.



And something unrelated to gameplay: placing decorative textures in corners and T-junctions as an elegant way to make them only appear from one side. Maybe it's obvious to some, but probably worth sharing. Here's a room from March of the Army E5L5 that uses it a lot:

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:23 pm
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Military wrote:
One thing I like to do to spice up the classic nook-hiding: Non-deaf guards obstructed by deaf guards. It tends to be necessary due to technical limitations, and it comes with a few interesting effects.
In Level 5 of SOD, the path of the first group of non-deaf enemies was obstructed by a "deaf" guard. As long as you didn't get this deaf guard's attention, all the enemies would come from one pathway only. I wish I had figured this out the first time I had played the map; it was a royal pain for me to beat the first time around! Smile
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