Author Topic:  My Fantasy Map  (Read 3977 times)

31 Jul 15

Read 3977 times

Offline GMan129

  • Writer
  • Veteran
  • *

I've always been a little interested in world building (who among us doesn't want to live in their own utopia?) and building map theory is a neat little subset of that. So here's my attempt to lay out the basics of what is required for a map to be good, in this game. Keep in mind, this is a thought experiment, and several of these things could have unintended consequences, I would relish feedback (sorry I haven't been responding much in the past, I don't get notifications of responses which makes it easy to forget to check :X).

Visibility: I'm pretty outspoken on my feelings about visibility in this game (for reference, here's an NGNG thingy I rant wrote about it). As such, my first requirement is for the visibility to be unblemished. No fog, no glare, no floating particles, and no muddy colors. Darkness is only acceptable if it is in Frozen City Night's style of darkness (the sky is black, but everything is somehow lit from a non-existent source). This has a secondary requirement, because I think there is an obstacle to accomplishing these things. The draw distance must be set to maximum, and details cannot pop in as you close on them. Possibly the least likely bit of this whole thing...

Objectives: Each team's base on Assault, and I guess Gamma and Sigma on conquest should be in an enclosed area, where a ranged team would not be able to bring its full weaponry to bear. The main way I can see this being accomplished is by separating these areas and blocking their lines of sight past around 300, maybe bottlenecking them as well. Though they should be hard to assault people in there, the points should be easily accessible and kept within a reasonable distance of the fighting area, perhaps positioned decently inside from the borders of the map with several routes to enter the area. This could have the effect of making it a real target, but one which is defensible. In contrast, Theta should be pretty much out in the open, a base which can be captured via early light aggression or general aggressive posturing by a team that leaves it open to assault, and Epsilon and Kappa could be more on the wings, slightly separated from the rest of the map but not so protected as the spawn caps. The trick is to strike a balance between accessibility and protection, so that you don't get screwed too hard by being overextended, but you do lose out an advantage.

Rewarding Aggression: Camping is boring as hell. My fix to this would be to limit sight lines from potential camping positions. Make sure that any positions with long sight-lines are also necessarily vulnerable to attack from multiple angles. To support brawling and increase the vitality of scouting, try to create a couple bottlenecked paths (perhaps with height limits to only permit short mechs like lights passage) which can cross most of the map and another that is not so bottlenecked. However the whole map shouldn't just be about brawling. Tying in to the previous point, different areas of the map should be suited for different things. Theta should be clearly visible from long range, and Epsi and Kappa should both be assailable from mid range (500-700 meters?). And while the main caps themselves should be isolated, the routes to the entrances should be much more exposed.

Terrain: There should be no areas which are accessible to mechs only through a frustrating process of wiggling, no patgs which look passable but are mysteriously blocked off, no tiny rocks capable of tripping up 100-ton behemoths. So nothing like the stairs on Viridian Bog, nor like the I10 side of Alpine Peaks. Choke points should be limited to places that make sense to help with the general flow of the map, not just wherever seems cool.

P.S. No invisible walls or intangible structures.

These, along with several other things, are kind of painting a picture in my head of what I want in a map. And it's kind of turning into an underground, heavily modified version of HPG Manifold. Originally, I was going to try to make a mockup in photoshop but oh my GOD that did not work out well. I'm such a scrub. Anyways, I'll try to describe the major modifications I'd make:

http://i.imgur.com/giIjqZS.jpg
 My Fantasy Map


The first big changes I would make would be to really bring the areas in the outside areas of the map to be much tighter, putting the edges pretty much within the grids of F5, F4, F3, E3, and D3 for the Sigma spawn's side, and C4, C5, C6, C7, D7, and E7 for the opposite side. Next, I'd massively reduce the sides of the dividers on the outside (the ones in F4 and E3, as well as the ones in D7 and the general B6 area) to the point where they only really block site lines so you can't see from either entrance to the opposite entrance, or to the cap itself. We also really only want the distance from the wall between the inside and outside and the out of bounds to be a few hundred meters at most. The general area should be squeezed along the other way as well, tightening up the distances between each of the entrances and the cap, making it much more close quarters.

The next area to be addressed is the center. First things first, I'd put Theta up on top instead of in the basement, so you have to expose yourself to cap it (there'll still be some cover from the pillars, but it's riskier). I would move Epsilon and Kappa to the places marked E and K respectively, in a position where there would be a wall of cover between the point and the center of the map, but there would remain open lines for engagements along the verticals.

More importantly than the caps, I would add "tunnels" of sorts between the two outside areas, on each side. Passages a few mechs wide where you're stuck in them if you commit, but which can be used to flank (though it is of course a risky proposition). The rest of the map will also be divided up, not quite into a labyrinthine pattern, but with walls arranged as optional cover from mid range shots, similar to the current meaningless ramp structures but more pronounced. The basic intent is not really to block shots, but to break them up so that it is difficult to get a line going. The addition of a few little passageways for lights to slide through (such as the undersides of the ramps leading to the top of Theta) could help, and be scattered across the map, including potentially as entrances to the main cap points.

So yeah, that's my brief outline of what I want out of a map. What do you want? Any glaring flaws in my layout, or is it just goddamn perfect.



GMan129 is currently an officer of the Steel Jaguar competitive team, is the owner of and writer for MetaMechs, and recently begun writing at NGNG as well. He has been playing MechWarrior Online since the early days of closed beta, and has spent far too much time and money on this crap. If you're interested in supporting his self-destruction, consider contributing to his PayPal and Patreon accounts!
« Last Edit: 1 Aug 15 by Cattra Kell »

2 Aug 15

Reply #1

Offline jay35

  • Rookie
  • *

All this talk of bottlenecking, enclosing areas, making them hard to attack, and restricting movement, honestly sounds pretty terrible in light of the new collision model that prevents grouping up in a tight formation to burst through a chokepoint, on top of the existing fast TTK where a firing line of mechs can focus down one mech at a time with ease. Attackers would be forced to walk into a deathtrap one at a time, making them quick, easy victims, so the map would become a race to set up a defensive firing line in whatever position makes the most sense for control of the map. Whichever team managed to do this first would be rewarded with the victory because the attacking team has little to no chance to dislodge the defenders, given all of the advantages you've afforded them. Once players figured out this inevitable outcome, the map would become a camping contest with one team defending choice territory and the other team reticent to engage the superior defensive position. With the collision model going away, your concept might be okay, but if it ever returns, this map sounds like it would be a nightmare to play.
« Last Edit: 2 Aug 15 by jay35 »

2 Aug 15

Reply #2

Offline GMan129

  • Writer
  • Veteran
  • *

All this talk of bottlenecking, enclosing areas, making them hard to attack, and restricting movement, honestly sounds pretty terrible in light of the new collision model that prevents grouping up in a tight formation to burst through a chokepoint, on top of the existing fast TTK where a firing line of mechs can focus down one mech at a time with ease. With the collision model going away, your concept might be okay, but if it ever returns, this map would be a nightmare to play.

yeah that's a good point. and people just standing behind you...ugh...idk. though its less about explicit bottlenecks than it is about breaking it up. so having a lot of bottlenecks could serve, and they can be natural like the buildings on river city

2 Aug 15

Reply #3

Offline kageru

  • Elite
  • ****

One of my problems with unlimited sight lines is that when one or two extreme range snipers set up in a good position, he can dominate an inappropriately large area of the map uncontested.  Sure, there are counters, but none of them are cost-efficient in terms of either tonnage or time or both, when compared to one or two 'mechs.

- Strikes are a joke for an area denial tool, unless the target is already crit.

- LRMs ... just no, for so many reasons, no.

- Mid-Range harassing ... have to maneuver under cover and fire, probably with two or more 'mechs, to get in range.  Very likely will be spotted and either attacked by the sniper's teammates or insta-gibbed by the sniper.  Either way, it's likely that the sniper will get away unscathed (and now you've devoted a group of 'mechs to a futile maneuver).

- Short-Range brawling ... if you have great visual cover and can get within about 200m without being spotted, this can be glorious ... otherwise, it fails for all the same reasons that harassing fails.

- Counter-Sniper is probably the best ... he who trades best wins.  But this is time consuming and boring for everyone except the snipers.

Holing up in a sniping spot should have appropriate risk-reward balance ... and reducing visibility is one way to help balance that risk and reward. Honestly, though, one or two snipers isn't that big of a deal ... the problem really is at it's most clear when entire teams bring nothing but Gauss, CERLLs, etc.  As long as "kill all the things" is the most rewarding victory condition, and there are places where you can see strategic parts of the map clearly past 1000m, long range direct fire camping will be a viable strategy, and annoying as shit, and as you say ... boring as hell.

2 Aug 15

Reply #4

Offline GMan129

  • Writer
  • Veteran
  • *

One of my problems with unlimited sight lines is that when one or two extreme range snipers set up in a good position, he can dominate an inappropriately large area of the map uncontested.  Sure, there are counters, but none of them are cost-efficient in terms of either tonnage or time or both, when compared to one or two 'mechs.

unlimited sight lines? im talking about breaking up sight lines frequently. you talking about getting rid of any visual obstruction in terms of fog and crap?

i dont want it to be all about sniping. taking super long range positions should cost you map control and lead to you being easily flanked

2 Aug 15

Reply #5

Offline kageru

  • Elite
  • ****

I was not as clear as I could have been.

I agree that a well-designed map will have some spots where a sniper may have some lines of long range fire, but those spots should not be dominant.

One tool to reduce those spots' effectiveness, and to increase the tension on the battlefield, is to reduce visibility ... an Atlas spotted at 1500m is interesting, but not scary ... the silhouette of an Atlas' heat signature spotted at 100m should make you crap your pants.

As long as your Fantasy Map doesn't encourage 24-mech 1000m peek-and-poke trade wars and make the game more about he-who-gets-to-the-best-spot-first, then cool ... but please keep the game more about punishing poor performance at 500m and less, rather than peeking around the wrong corner at 1000m and more.

Long-range direct fire doesn't need any more help, and as you said, camping is boring.

3 Aug 15

Reply #6

Offline GMan129

  • Writer
  • Veteran
  • *

yeah i think sniping standoffs are dumb. not at all what i was going for. originally i was gonna say something like "make sure that there are no positions further than 300 meters from viable enemy cover" but then i was like, well then why take medium or long range. i think just making sure that any mid-long range positions are flankable in some way is important instead

3 Aug 15

Reply #7

Offline kageru

  • Elite
  • ****

I like the idea that mid-long range positions should be flankable, because it forces the sniper to keep looking over his shoulder or to bring a bodyguard, but ...

- flanking with 1-2 'mechs is also known as a suicide charge ... very high risk to the attackers, who may have to expose themselves to a significant part of the enemy team, with very little risk to the sniper (until the very end)

- flanking with 3-5 'mechs is also known as splitting your forces ... very high risk to both the main body and the flanking force, with very little reward (how many times has +SJR+ noticed a small group split off from the main force and subsequently crushed both?)

3 Aug 15

Reply #8

Offline [CW] CyclonerM

  • Elite
  • ****

Sniping should be viable.. But not as it currently is. Before rethinking map design, i would implement a cone of fire or targeting computer system to make sniping harder, so that it takes more time and skill (and possibly requires you to slow down or stop altogheter, making you vulnerable).

Bottlenecks should be present but not dominant, and some maps should have more of them and others less. Battletech is often all about movement of forces trying to gain a tactical advantage. You should think of it as medieval armies clashing, trying to gain an advantage on the enemy force, like making it collapse under a determined attack, closing off its path of retreat by putting a river behind them, setting up on a easily defendable hill..

So, achieving a better position than the enemy team SHOULD be fundamental.

In the same way, same maps should have clear visibility, but others should also have LOT of environmental effects. Smoke and particles in a vulcanic map, why not? Snow, why not? Hot water able to hide 'Mechs, etc. They should all contribute to the variety of maps and tactics. After all, in the novels 'Mechs fight in any and every possible environment, from country villages to swamps, from capital cities to icy mountains...

One big, last thing that i would put on a big sticky on the fridge at PGI's kitchen area is "Not all planets in the Inner Sphere are uninhabitable, alien places with gigantic plants or rock formations, very hot or cold. Actually, a LOT of planets are inhabitated, so most planets should actually feature Terra-like environment; with some difference, sure, but not alien. See MWLL maps for reference".

3 Aug 15

Reply #9

Offline jay35

  • Rookie
  • *

Sniping should be viable.. But not as it currently is. Before rethinking map design, i would implement a cone of fire or targeting computer system to make sniping harder, so that it takes more time and skill (and possibly requires you to slow down or stop altogheter, making you vulnerable).

Cone of fire is the antithesis of skill-based aiming. It is adding RNG diffusion, which inherently reduces skill and increases frustration because the player is no longer hitting what they're aiming at. If MWO hopes to retain the small competitive community it has, let alone foster a larger one, it should avoid introducing RNG elements to aiming/shooting.