Mind the MapMelchett
: [giving a scroll to Blackadder] Farewell, Blackadder! The foremost cartographers of the land have prepared this for you! [Blackadder unrolls the scroll] It's a... map of the area you'll be traversing. [Blackadder inspects the apparently blank scroll] They'd be very grateful if you could just fill it in as you go along. Goodbye!
Aha! Now we get to a good bit.. maps!
There are three different ways of doing the maps that I can see (and these are not mutually exclusive, but can be combined):
1. Hand created maps. These were used in the original Laser Squad game - The advantages are that a map can be very tightly designed to control tactical situations and/or to make the map fit in with the scenario of the mission. Unlike other games, these kinds of maps can be played again and again because of the random deployment of enemies and AI logic. However at some point they will become too familiar.
2. Randomised section maps. These were used in X-com which featured 4 x 4 or 5 x 5 section maps, each section was selected randomly (or pretty much so) so that each mission was different. The advantages are that this means that maps are different every time you play, and more interesting, whilst still having clearly designed areas (such as the shops, ufo layouts). The disadvantages are that you need quite a large pool of designs to really make it work and it can look too mechanical with the square section areas. X-com actually had very few section designs, and I'm not sure why this was the case. Without having to do new graphics they could have added extra designs on disk relatively quickly.
3. Completely randomised maps. This would be the rogue kind of map - either nearly completely randomised (cave systems), or a section of rooms as in Rogue, Moira and Nethack. The advantages of these maps is that everything is new and unexpected when playing a map, and ideas that might never have occurred to a map design can be expressed. The disadvantages are that some maps might be great and others poor, and it could be hard to make it look like anything was done with a coherent design.
So, three approaches which could be combined into hand created areas placed at random and connected by random corridors and rooms. I intend to support ALL of these aspects in the game as I think that will make things much more fun. I especially think that having a map editor in the game so that people can make their own maps to play on with their friends (or just against the computer) would be really fun and cool. Imagine being able to share and download maps from the net, a greatly extended lifespan for any game.
With that in mind I will be designing the map structure and then starting work on a map editor. I already have some map tiles, enough to create a basic level. Once I have a map editor that is usable enough for everyone to use I can start to make those maps actually work by adding in the basic game mechanics.
There are so many possibilities in this kind of game, nearly untouched! This is going to be fun..