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Fonz

The importance of random maps

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Hey all, Im creating a RTS at the moment and I want to know how people feel about random maps.. ie, whether or not they''re worth the effort. Generally larger scale games like Civilisation etc. include the option for random maps but in games like Warcraft 3 there are only fixed maps. Is this because of the "fairness" aspect? I know i''d feel ripped of if I got my first loss on battlenet because I only had access to one gold mine. Maybe if I made sure important items/locations such as gold mines etc. were located fairly. With terrain/landscape more randomised? ie, different choke points/rivers etc.. I feel that randomising my game maps is important, mainly because it adds to a players uncertanty. I dont know about everyone else, but I this its more fun playing a brand new game for the first time at a lan. (ie, where nobody knows whats going on). So let me know what you think! cheers, Fonz

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Random maps are very important in player-vs-player games. It means people have to learn to be good at the game instead of learning all the tricks you can do in each map and beating the opposition that way.


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Even better is to include the map editor with your game so users can create their own maps. You''ll notice that''s what games which don''t have a "random map" generator do (i.e. Warcraft III)...

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Go out to your local store and shell out $7 for Microsoft''s Age of Empire''s (the first one, it should be in the bargain bin) for "research" purposes. AoE has an excellent random map generator, I''ll see if I can dig up some articles on how it worked. You might also think about how random maps might help in saving space. The first RTS, Dune 2, actually used random maps (even though you couldn''t play a skirmish) and so for each level there was a seed value to generate the map, some corrections and placements for enemy units along with the mission objectives. In all each map only used a few hundred bytes of space.


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For random maps, you can always place some resources after creating the general terrain. Calculating distances from the initial starting locations, you can make sure that things like gold mines aren''t positioned all around one specific player.

I second the reccomendation to check out the AoE game, and if it''s cheap enough, get AoE:Age of Kings instead. I know the third Age game just came out or is nearing release, AoE:Age of Mythology, so the second should be cheaper.

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quote:
Original post by siaspete
Random maps are very important in player-vs-player games. It means people have to learn to be good at the game instead of learning all the tricks you can do in each map and beating the opposition that way.
Hmm, what''s wrong with getting better by knowing all the tricks in a map? It''s just different kind of "getting better in a game", and actually I quite like that. It almost quarantees you''ll get better just by playing, like in MMORPGs. If the game is all just about "pure skill", you may never get that much better reflexes or better aim, so you won''t feel like you''re improving.



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quote:
Original post by Hanz
Hmm, what''s wrong with getting better by knowing all the tricks in a map? It''s just different kind of "getting better in a game", and actually I quite like that. It almost quarantees you''ll get better just by playing, like in MMORPGs. If the game is all just about "pure skill", you may never get that much better reflexes or better aim, so you won''t feel like you''re improving.


well, it''s like going online for some counterstrike. when ever there''s a new map they are loosers again, but in dust they are gods. it''s all about knowing every trick of every thing (and every trick of every cheat), but playing? no. they can''t play. they just know more tricks to fool you than yourself, even while you''re good.

worms never gave you a chance to win just by knowing that "if i''m there, no one can catch me" or something like that. there you need to be a good player..

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quote:
Original post by davepermen
there you need to be a good player..
The problem is that everyone wants to become a good player, but it takes a lot of practice to become more skilled. Not many are patient enough for that. But gathering knowledge (about the map and the game in general) is easy and fast, everyone can do that. So by getting knowledge instead of real skill, you quickly become better. And who wouldn''t like that? It still leaves the gap for true masters of the game to shine, but they just have to know the maps too

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Random maps can be very dangerous in competitive games. The biggest problem is balance. Its not necesary or really a good idea IMO to always make maps symetrical, but they need to be fair. Each starting position should has several viable openings and mid-late game strategies.

You also lose a lot of the cool little tricks that people learn with each map. Blizzard RTSs are a good example of this. Yes, it does give an experienced player an advantage over a new player, but if you are looking to make a competitive game: thats how it should be. These cool tricks like chop-hoping, walling, and cliff trick do add a lot of depth and strategy to your game.

I dunno, they can be cool but I''d rather have well made and balanced maps that can be learned and mastered with time. I just think it adds some more depth to the game, rather than playing a similiar but random map each time.

RAtman

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hey all. Thanks for your replys!

I''ve played AoE before and it has got a good random map generator.

I agree that players that "learn" the map are/can be very good. I think that the little tricks people can use are also very cool and fun.

I don''t think however that these little tricks increase peoples overall enjoyment of the game.

(I think) Too often nowadays people are winning because they have played this map several hundred times.
It''s just plain boring rehursing out the same tricks for one map over and over.

I want my game to be map independent. Players should be able to adapt to any type of map. If they want to do their little tricks they should look for terrain thats "almost" what they want.

Hmm... well this is how I feel.

cheers,
Fonz

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A neat trick for a random map generator would be to have something like resource symmetry, so if a gold mine is on one end of the map, it''ll show up at the other end too.

Or, another really cool (but entirely useless) online trick would be to have a democratic map generator, where the map is generated and people vote on it (or suggest changes and vote on those).

Resist everyone

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An interesting idea is using fractal clouds to generate maps.

You can probably find some examples of fractal clouds in the eye-candy section

A fractal cloud basically generates a semi-realistic heightfield which is excellent for overworld-type maps: mountains, water, plains, etc.. The only problem is that maps are plain, ie, there are no rivers, no forests, no towns, etc.. Those can be added at random though (ie, choose x points on the map, make sure they are at least y units apart, and place towns there; select points and randomly scatter trees around those points for forests, etc..)

How'd those damn BBCodes work... I think this was the proper way to display a picture...

[img]http://www.geocities.com/NekoLancer/Landscape.txt[/img]

Edit: Oooooook, so that DIDN't work. ^^;

[edited by - RuneLancer on November 4, 2002 2:27:52 PM]

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Maps should never be completely random. For your RTS, the bases should be non-random - their positions and layout (resources on the base itself, such as WC3''s starting mine and nearby trees) should be a constant part of the level, created in the level editor. Then the rest of the map can be random. Otherwise, as you said, you get into the problem of some players starting off with an unfair disadvantage.

~CGameProgrammer( );

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quote:
Original post by Kylotan
RuneLancer, try HTML instead.

I''m moving this to Game Design as it''s not really about programming as such.


Well darn, I missed this thread being moved. Thanks for the HTML tip, I''ll try that.



Hopefully this works. If the algorithm to this interest you I can probably put up a link to the program I coded to do the effect. With a bit of tweaking, I''m sure it would be easy to make it tile-based or whichever format you want for your game.

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Well, to be honest, I just copied the algorithm from some QBasic program that did relatively the same thing, converted it to C++, and did some optimization here and there to take advantage of some things QB doesn't have that C++ does. But it's a universal algorithm used in many programs like this one.

Start by drawing a pixel in all four corners at random.
Draw the central pixel a color that is the average of the 4 corner pixels and perturbate that a little (by, say, ±2%).
This leaves you with 4 "boxes" of pixels. Move to the center of the first one and calculate the pixel's color the same way you did for the previous one, using the 4 corners of the new "box".
Repeat until the resulting box's corners are less than a pixel apart.
Move to the next box.

It's a bit hard to explain and uses a LOT of recursivity. Here's an example of how it'd be drawn...


_______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______
|. .| |. .| |. . .| |. . .| |... .| |... .| |... .|
| | | | | | | . | |.. | |... | |.... |
| | | . | |. . | |. . | |. . | |... | |... |
| | | | | | | | | | | | | |
|. .| |. .| |. .| |. .| |. .| |. .| |. .|
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
So forth... When I get back from college later today I'll post some pseudocode to do it. It might be more understandable...

[edited by - RuneLancer on November 8, 2002 12:13:30 PM]

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