Map Standards: Terrain Effects

Map Standards: Terrain Effects

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Warlord Zsinj
Imperial Winter Developer
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Joined: 24 Aug 2004, 08:59

Map Standards: Terrain Effects

Post by Warlord Zsinj »

I was reading up about aGorm's volcano map, and I noted that he had made the sand slow down vehicles and kbots, and the rock speed up vehicles very slightly.

I think this is an excellent advance in terms of how maps effect players; now people will actually have to take the map much more into account when travelling, instead of just "I can travel here, I cannot travel there; That is high ground, that is low ground". People might risk the travel through the sandy dunes, or might have to stick to the faster, but more predictable rocky outcroppings. A marshy landscape might force players to rely on the more intrepid kbots, and hovercraft will have much more use apart from just being amphibious; they would be impervious to most terrain effects, etc, etc.

However, the problem I foresee is that there is no sort of standard from map to map in terms of what units are affected, and by how much. This means that two maps may have very similar (or exactly the same) desert textures, but these might affect units very differently. The problem that arises from having variating differences from map to map is that players will not be able to compete competitively on a map until they know the map off by heart, or atleast, to a high degree. Players cannot simply "pick up and play" a map that they have downloaded; atleast not competitively.

For example, imagine a game between two equal players. They decide to play on a desert map by Mr. Y, which unlike Mr. X's desert map, reduce all vehicles speed by 60%, instead of 40%. The sand doesn't effect kbots at all in Mr. Y's map, but does in Mr. X's. If one player knew this in advance, while the other didn't, he would have an enormous advantage.

What I propose is that the map making community develop some standards as to what terrain does to what units and the level to which they effect said units. Now, this would only be for the stock standard terrain types, so that map makers could still make weird terrain types should they wish; but it means that all maps using similar terrain types would conform to a level of unit adjustment that would be immediately recogniseable to all. So that a player will come across a desert map and think "ah; a desert map. My vehicles will perform poorly in the sand areas, and my kbots will perform worse", or "ah; a marsh region. My kbots will not be hampered by this terrain, but my vehicles will be bogged down", etc.

Here is an example of how the standard could be structured. Note that the suggestions within are just that; suggestions. I am using them simply to aid my explanation. Any statistical values are completely pulled out of my head, and only a stab in the dark. Actual values would need to be arrived upon through testing and evaluating.

Grass
Vehicles: No change
Kbots: No change
Hovercraft: No change

Sand
Vehicles: 20% slower
Kbots: 30% slower (having less distrubuted weight)
Hovercraft: No change

Marsh
Vehicles: 50% slower
Kbots: 10% slower
Hovercraft: No change

Snow:
Vehicles: 30% slower
Kbots: 40% slower (again, less distrubted weight)
Hovercraft: No change

Shallows:
Vehicles: 50% slower
Kbots: 30% slower
Hovercraft: No change

Anyway, feel free to add and contest whatever you think. It isn't a complete list by any means, and the statistics are just ball park figures. Obviously they are just standards, so if someone wanted to have "long grassy terrain", or "deep snow" they could adjust it according to what they wanted (assuming they made such areas visibly different to normal areas).

Personally, I think that if you agree with the idea to standardise certain terrain effects, I think it should be done earlier rather than later. Firstly, because I think it needs to become ingrained into map makers that you follow the guidelines when making a map with a common terrain type, and secondly, so that more maps are standardised sooner.

What do you guys think?
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Storm
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Post by Storm »

I support the idea of standardisation in order to make all similar terrains act about alike. It would otherwise be pretty tedious to learn every map from scratch instead of just looking around and easily assuming the values.
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mufdvr222
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Joined: 01 May 2005, 09:24

Post by mufdvr222 »

I think its a good idea.
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SJ
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Joined: 13 Aug 2004, 17:13

Post by SJ »

Having a slowdown for shallows might not be so good since traveling in water already slow downs land units.

Also when you do this sort of thing its often better to slow down than speed up stuff since multiplier > 1 might sometimes confuse the pathfinder.
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Doomweaver
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Joined: 30 Oct 2004, 14:14

Post by Doomweaver »

I like the idea of creating a guide, which I suppose can be part of the Wiki, so whenever a person comes up with a new tileset, they can import their new values into there. Anyway, here's my two cents.

Rock/Metal
Kbot: Full Speed
Vehicles: Full Speed

Dry Dirt/Hard packed dirt
Kbots: Full Speed
Vehicles: 10% slower

Loose rock (i.e. gravel)
Kbot: 10% Slower
Vehicles: 20% slower

Mud/Snow/Sand
Kbots: 40% slower
Vehicles: 30% slower

Grass
Kbots: 20% slower
Vehicles: 20% slower
Hover: 20% slower

Ice should reduce maneuverability by about 50%
Metal should reduce maneuverability by about 30%
Loose rock should reduce maneuverability by about 20%

The way I see it, though, whatever we decide on is more a guide to the ratios than anything else. For example, say someone has an area that is halfway between Mud and Dirt, there is no reason make up new figures that realistically fit into the scheme of things.
So they might say.
Kbots: 30% slower
Vehicles: 25% slower

Or whatever. We'll make whatever we agree on a table of guides, which are a reference, rather than something that you are expected to match perfectly.

Anyway, I think this is a really good idea, and it also give more uses to hovercraft - they are now great for mudflats, snow, and sand (or whatever is decided) but still suck at hills. We might even need to make them a bit crapper in XTA.

Also, we may need to increase the average units speed to compensate. It would rather suck for the commander to take a minute to get between each metal patch.
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aGorm
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Post by aGorm »

OK, I can see what you mean about standerising it, but that could prove annoying. For instance, what if i din't bother to add sand to some small patches of sand on the map, and then someone just assumed, it looking sandy it would be.
Or what if that just ruined the balance of a map?
Whilest its ok to have a set of standards there should be no you must stic kt o this rule, if that ruins how the map plays.

I love pickin at ideas...

aGorm
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AF
AI Developer
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Joined: 14 Sep 2004, 11:32

Post by AF »

hhmmm, I dont see anyway to take advantage of these using AI without mapping them using many many pathfinding get path cost requests, which take up a lot of processing time, and that in turns means it crashes the engine if it takes too long.

However standardisation is a good idea. Add this to the wiki.
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Weaver
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Re: Map Standards: Terrain Effects

Post by Weaver »

Warlord Zsinj wrote: Grass
Vehicles: No change
Kbots: No change
Hovercraft: No change
Should grass be the best surface? I would suggest something like tarmac might be better all round. Other good surfaces Metal, smooth but not polished stone or concrete.

Sand can be loose and soft making a difficult suface for traction or damp but firm making almost as good as tarmac.
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Neuralize
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Post by Neuralize »

Do what you will, however, I will do what I deem best for the map on a per map basis. :D
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aGorm
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Post by aGorm »

Im with you Neuralize, lets start the FMMR!
(Free Map Makers Resitance)

I say, we will do our own thing. But it will prob be close to what your suggesting anyway.

aGorm
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zwzsg
Kernel Panic Co-Developer
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Post by zwzsg »

Weaver, speed multipliers can be greater or lower than 1. Having a 1 speed multiplier for all units doesn't make the grass the best surface, just the default reference surface.

But I think hovers don't perform well on tall grass. I read that somewhere in the other thread about hover speed.
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[K.B.] Napalm Cobra
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Post by [K.B.] Napalm Cobra »

As long as its in a reasonable range and logical I don't think we need exact values, not all marshes are the same...
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aGorm
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Post by aGorm »

I doubt no ones going to be stupid enough to put in a 0.1 for the speed adjustments... unless it was an area of sticky toffy pudding (were k-bot will clearly come to a standstill)

aGorm
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Samoa
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Joined: 10 Nov 2004, 19:12

Post by Samoa »

Just a suggestion, maybe simple, maybe not, but would it be possible for when joining a game or creating a game, below the minimap it could say the speed adjustment of the different types of terrain?

The new possibilities for maps are incredible, thanks to the SYs, I don't believe I've seen these kinds of possibilities for maps in any other RTS. But I totally agree with a guideline of standardized settings to promote the ease of learning each map. It would help new people more easily grasp the gameplay if there were a set of standardized settings. And sense the terrain type is more than simply aesthetic now, map makers will need to work with the terrain to help define the type of map, and gameplay that will be played on their map. Much more interaction.

On a side note, I believe there should be some value to give certain units so they are not effected by the changes in terrain types, hence the Commander is the "Commander" and shouldn't be effected much by changes in terrain.
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aGorm
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Post by aGorm »

Samoa, go and read my topic in te hgenral forum, that should deal with people not knowing this and let us use non standaredised values...

Oh and i agree the comander should not be so much effected... maybe atag should be added to teh fbi, with a percentage of how much teh percentage changes should effect the unit.

Also, maybe a tag to help you fake the class of a unit, ie pelican is a hover in reality, even though it looks like a k-bot. the engin will not be able to tell that unless you tell it!

aGorm
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Doomweaver
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Joined: 30 Oct 2004, 14:14

Post by Doomweaver »

[K.B.] Napalm Cobra wrote:As long as its in a reasonable range and logical I don't think we need exact values, not all marshes are the same...
I agree completely, but we definately need a guide. So here's what I propose. We make a utility to create the speed maps. It comes with all the materials that you need for an organic map - snow slows stuff down as we have defined etc.

Basically, you bind certain colors to a material. This also comes with defaults. So green is bound to grass, yellow to sand etc. However, you can edit the materials, create your own, and change how they are bound and too what colors. You can edit the final product (it would output a bmp or whatever), and if you wanted to you could still create your own like mapmakers do now.

This way, elite mapmakers still have no limit to their power, as is currently the case, but the n00bs are prevented (or at least detered) from making maps where kbots suddenly speed up on sand etc.

If a full map editor is made one day, then this could be incorporated into it, but for now, just a little utility would be nice. Should be damn easy to code, too.
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aGorm
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Post by aGorm »

Well, ask Buggi, is all i can say.

aGorm
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Warlord Zsinj
Imperial Winter Developer
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Post by Warlord Zsinj »

SJ: Whatever you think, I was just putting forward some suggestions, not any solid values.

----------------

Agorm:
For instance, what if i din't bother to add sand to some small patches of sand on the map, and then someone just assumed, it looking sandy it would be.
Firstly, I know you wouldn't do that, because you are a particularly good map maker. It isn't you that I am worried about, and it isn't you who the standard is for. I am worried about the map makers who aren't consciencous, and who don't put the effort into their maps. But even two good map makers could have noticeable variances between similar terrain. The only person who suffers from these variances are the players who are playing your maps.
That, and if you had a couple of sandy zones, I doubt anyone would notice that you hadn't completely done it; of course, that doesn't make lazyness any better ;)
Or what if that just ruined the balance of a map?
Evidently the balance is at the discretion of the map maker. I must say that the event that making sand slow units to the speed that is set in the standard completely ruins the balance is highly unlikely.

Sorry aGorm, but you haven't really provided any arguments against its implementation, only registering your dislike for it.

I think I should say this, now, perhaps:

I think the standards should not be set in the style "you have to do this otherwise we will not allow your maps", but "we think that all maps should conform to the following regulations for the sake of players".

I do not want maps to be constricted by the standards, they are only there to help players.
What is more important to get from these standards, I think, is that how each terrain effects each unit (ie: That sand affects kbots more than vehicles, that kbots perform better on marsh than vehicles, etc), and the level to which they are effected (hence the use of percentages rather than concrete values). Perhaps in the standards we should set a range, rather than an exact value.

Eg:

Desert Sand
Vehicles: 10-30% slower Suggested: 20%
Kbots: 10% slower than any value given to vehicles (ie: 20-40% slower) suggested: 30%
Hovercraft: No suggested change
Description*: The sand referred to here is the drifting sand found in deserts. Such sand is soft and unstable, and hence slows the movements of the units that make contact with it. Vehicles have difficulty with traction, and so are slowed by the terrain. Kbot's are affected much more than vehicles, because they have to slog through the sand in their feet; their weight is less destributed than vehicles, and so they sink much deeper, and the sand affects their gears and systems.

* I added a description to it, because I think having the reasons explained to people will have them respond more positively, because they aren't confronted with a bunch of statistics saying "do this", but "here are our reasons for this".

-----------

Has anyone considered the effect of using air/hovercraft transports to carry kbots over snow, etc? New strategies open up!

-----------

Oh, and the commander is in its own class; and I don't think it should be affected adversely by any terrain.
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aGorm
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Post by aGorm »

Ok, I can see what your saying. Its just some map makers will consider different things different trerain. Because map's dont use the same textures, sand will look different from map to map. Of course theres nothing to stop people hovering the mouse to find the name of the terrain, but if you want to be able to know things instinktivly then you would not do that.
As a forinstanmce, someone may have sand in there map which looks, to most, like wet sand, due to the lighjting. But the map maker may have put it down as dry sand (which lets face it acts nothing like wet) and then, confusion follows. were as if people expect to go into a map only knowing what the map maker has put into its synopise (crossing threds here, see genral descussion) then they wont make a mistake on what type of sand.

I dont mind someone clearing up roughly what everyone would expct from a terrain type, just as long as people dont try and set it into stone.

Thanks for the complament aswell.

aGorm
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Weaver
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Post by Weaver »

Warlord Zsinj wrote:Has anyone considered the effect of using air/hovercraft transports to carry kbots over snow, etc? New strategies open up!
Apart from sneak attacks and unit stealing I found I could not move enough units quickly enough in Old TA. Spring may have improved matters already I have yet to try the area load/unload feature.

What would hope for is to be able to transposrt units as fast as I can build them, which may be asking too much.
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