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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperDesignhow do you go about map design?
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Author Topic: how do you go about map design?  (Read 2480 times)
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« on: April 19, 2022, 03:44:48 AM »


I've been working at this game for a while. it's a mostly relaxing game about fixing robots by manipulating cables and modules. i set it in a 2d sidescroller because i wanted to tap into that feeling of getting to know a space, as well as having that melancholy of being a tiny guy in a big world. anyway, I've implemented the base features. now i want to design the overall world so that I can figure out where to place things, and figure out how I want to expand on the base mechanics.

problem is, I'm completely stumped.

I'm trying to think back to games that I've played that capture a feeling of exploration that I want to develop in my own. hollow knight, a short hike, and rain world came to mind. three very different games... with worlds of varying sizes. man, i have no idea how to approach this one. i want the overall look of the map to be symbolic of the game's themes, as well as give every robot (level) a home, and also pace the player well.

(levels are going to physically be a part of the main world, which is why i need to figure out the world before i design them. their shape depends on where they are within the world, if that makes sense.)

i have no idea if i'm overthinking this or not. am i supposed to make just anything at first? should i make a rough draft, then playtest, then redo it, over and over again until i'm satisfied? or is there some kind of effective world design methodology that I can learn?

« Last Edit: April 19, 2022, 03:52:31 AM by q1 » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2022, 10:38:13 PM »

Hi! I'm also working on a map for a new project and I am absolutely no expert so maybe just a few things to consider??

For one I think it depends on how much the map will be a part of the game. Like in metriodvanias like you said hollow knight or blasphomous the map displays every single room/section of the game since it is so neccessary for both exploration AND 100% completion since you use the map to see what areas you missed or parts you can come back to. Otherwise, games like Stardew valley have a more conseptual and less specific map as the world design is simple enough that after a while you rarely need to even use it to navigate.

So in your case maybe it seems like a more stylistic and relative map like stardew would be good? This way you could also design the houses/levels on the map in a more artistic and creative way than you could sticking to a strictly accurate map of your world. Ofc if that's not enough you could always have a more specific map of each level or something?

Anyways your post is from a while ago so maybe you've already figured it out but since I'm struggling with my own map layout I thought it might be kinda helpful to explain my own thought process with this  Shrug
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« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2022, 09:11:52 AM »

This is an old thread, but a thought of my own:

Another set of references that you might look at is the "big side-scrolling mansion" class of adventure (often horror) games. Things like the original Clocktower, or the more recent Whispering Willows.

In these the game-world can still feel somewhat large, I daresay--but perhaps less so than in the games previously mentioned. And yet I feel that they can nevertheless provide some enjoyable exploration of a space.

Thus they might provide a more-moderate approach to designing such a game.


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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2022, 11:27:13 AM »

If ever you don't know where to start when designing something. Just try anything. Go into it expecting it to be bad, or not the right thing right away. That's okay! Of course it's not! But it's much easier to say what is good or bad about something that exists and iterate on that, than it is to a priori come up with something good. All you need to do to be successful with this approach is
1. Be able to judge whether something works or doesn't
2. Not be afraid to throw things out after you've done them.
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