Part I: Terrains
Now that we’re close to releasing the Map Editor, we thought that you may need to know more about our map characteristics in order to create great playgrounds. In this first part, we’re going to speak a bit about map related settings, basic terrain types, rivers, and their most important in-game effects.
But first, we need to spend a minute on map types. The coming Map Editor will make it available for you to create geographical maps - it is for MMO worldsmiths to create MMO maps. For single- and multiplayer scenarios in private games, there will be many more options, such as placing improvements and creating political layouts (ie. distributing lands between players or AIs, for example), but for now, we’ll focus on the main game mode.
A map in itself has a few basic characteristics.
- Size: a game map may consist of X*Y tiles, from the tiny single-player maps of 10x10 (a humble 100 tiles total) up to 1000x1000 (that’s one million tiles to discover!). MMO maps will typically span between 100x100 and 1000x1000 - and may be able to dynamically expand according to the player count using 1000x1000 map schemes.
- Traversability: the map can be set to be either traversal on their axes (if you go “past the top tiles”, you’ll arrive at the bottom, and if you move “past the right edge”, you’ll arrive to the left and vice versa) or on none. By default, for MMO maps, it is set to be traversable in both directions to reduce maximum distances between players and to give them equal chances as everyone is surrounded by the same amount of rivals.
Tiles are the smallest distinct terrain elements on our maps both from the perspective of building and troop movements. Tiles are hexagonal, but in contrast to most games, our hexagons are vertical (flat topped) instead of horizontal (pointy topped) - you’ll see why in a minute. :) Each tile may have a terrain type that, in most cases, cannot be changed, and might have rivers on their edges.
(They can also host terrain improvements, armies and various other tokens, and can be organized into feudums, but that’s for another topic and article.)
Having vertical hexagons has a few - slight - UX and technical advantages. One is that for cultures with a horizontal natural flow - reading left to right or right to left -, it is easier to de-emphasize the straight lines of a grid - thus, a grid of vertical hexagons give a more natural look & feel (it doesn’t work for cultures with a vertical flow).
Another reason is that vertical tiles are wider than they are tall, which makes them more suitable for birds’ view with good-looking overlapping elements that gives depth to the scene (it’s much harder to create Y-axis overlapping with horizontal tiles).
A sketchy, overlapping Mountain on top and it's hand-painted tile variant at bottom.
A real armchair general knows that in most games it’s best to go "with the grain". it’s easier to hold defensive lines with the grain and likewise, it is also easier to break through with the grain of hexagons. Grain is the direction in which the straight rows of hexagons appear to run parallel to one another.
There are hardcore tabletop strategy games, such as some WWII Monster Wargame scenarios, where it is a deliberate design decision to mimic easier and harder fronts and dictate targets by using the horizontal or vertical layout appropriately.
For example, in a game that uses a horizontal grain Germans will have the easier marching routes towards west and east, and will face with difficulties once they start swinging to north or south, which should happen deep in Soviet territory (as the SU had a much bigger vertical size than Germany, or even Europe).
In another, post-‘42 Monster Wargame scenario, a vertical grain is used so Soviets and Germans would have a bloody fight for every hexes as the grain favours defensive lines all over the vertical frontlines.
Terrain types have a couple effects: they define the tile improvements that can be built on a specific tile and can alter the movement speed and strength of military units that are guarding or moving through the area. Terrain types may also give base yields for a feudum, and there are a few tasks for your population that also require specific terrains within the borders (such as wood-cutting). Each terrain type may have a couple visual variations and have seasonal appearances.
The game uses the following main terrain types:
Swamp or Wetlands
Lake or Sea
Terrain types can’t be changed, with the exception of forest, which can be turned into grassland if all trees are chopped (it can only happen slowly, by explicit user interaction). This is a persistent change though, which can’t be undone.
Rivers have their effect for both economy and war strategies.
For military companies, rivers provide an additional defensive bonus if they’re defending against a hostile company that is crossing the river to reach them; also, any company moving through a river is slowed down.
From economic perspectives, rivers are also important as they enhance the yield of farmlands, cities and castles that are placed next to them. Farmlands benefit from a better yield of food, cities get a population growth bonus and better commercial incomes, while castles gain extra coins for guarding and assuming toll duty on the river transit.
Discover the Game: browse for interesting topics in the FEUDUMS articles.