Games have always been my main interest. Mostly it's been all about playing games, but recently I've started to take interest in how to design games as well. The most important thing in a game? Definitely the story. A well written game can be almost like reading a good book, only that you are even more emerged into the environment when moving around in a game. I'm the kind of person that can be seen reading all the books in ES -Oblivion. Second most important thing would be the fun factor. Not all games are fit to have a story but can still be really good games none the less. It is important to explore both of those aspects when creating games to see what exactly fits your game idea. Games I recommend which have great story: Myst Series, Sanitarium, Pretty much any Squaresoft rpg, Any of the Lucas arts adventure games. Games I recommend with great fun factor: Serious Sam Series, MDK2, Earthworm Jim, Most of the Mario games, Marble Blast Gold
Creating maps for Celestial Impact isn't hard. It is just throwing out some dirt mounds randomly around with all kinds of different materials, maybe put a pillar here or there and voila, you have a map.
Well... that was the recipe for the chaotic kind of look that the maps tend to get after half an hour of game play without a restart and not that of a thought out and well structured map.
So how does create a solid map (by solid, I don't mean building using only indestructible terrain) that after some time of heavy deforming actually still have some parts that resemble the way it looked when it was untouched? To try to shed some light on the way I worked and what I was thinking when creating the official maps of Celestial Impact I'm going to post my map comments, comments that have already been available at our developer wiki for quite some time but only discovered by a few.
Since the maps sooner or later are going to be deformed into oblivion no matter what, I focus on making my maps as accessible and walk able as possible at the undeformed state. When I say undeformed state I mean the original state the map is in before any player deforming during game play takes place. This means that I make sure that sloped areas are actually walk able and that the positions of high walls and other structures are meaningful and help to mesh out distinctive areas of the map.
Finding one's way around a map is hard, especially on the spherical maps. The unfamiliarity of playing on curved surfaces combined with the frequency of the landscape being changed adds to the disorientation factor. To help counter this I try to vary which world materials is used on my structures and build unique shapes that help the player in knowing which side of an asteroid they currently are at. Painting roads is another thing that helps counter the disorientation. By using materials different to that of the surrounding walls one can carefully create distinct paths that wind around the asteroid thus helping the players make decisions at crossings. The roads also make it easier to determine what was once the original ground level of places that has been heavily deformed by the players.
Here follows the comments I wrote when creating the oldest of the official maps.
Fort began with me making a small fort entirely in the material "Chill" making it look like a snow fort. I then created a crater hole in the middle of the fort leading down to a cave just above the core. I created two paths passing by on opposite sides of the hole using "Crystal Blue". This looked really good with the white snow. I let the fort be open on the two shorter sides, one beeing walkable and the other side steep but with 2 bridges.
I dug up two big tunnels leading towards the cave at the core. For this map I used a really low core radius (2) so when you go down that cave your position turns alot making you feel quite disoriented the first few times :)
I started with a height on one side of the fort that turned into a tower with a walk-able slope twisting around the inside of the tower all the way up. Added a window halfway up that could be used for sniping over a small area without having to worry about the rear flank.
The second day of working with the map I woke up and started working on an old version of the map. Tired as I was, I didn't realize this until after 45 minutes of building new stuff. I estimated that the old version had about 1 hour of work missing so I decided to continue with the old version since I had done almost just as much new things that would otherwise go lost. Mostly paint job and blurring was lost but I had one small construction too.
Added some more twisting paths around the fort and made the main fort entrance be connected to 5 other paths to push some action into the inside of the fort. The middle crater proved to be an excellent escape route.
This map just happened. This was the first real CI map and it was made by both Henning and me at the same time in a forge server. We started on one side of the map each and built towards the equator. There was no overall design idea so when two structures met from each side we just worked something out. Somehow, the map turned out pretty good in the end so we decided to keep the map in the beta and later even in the official version.
This map was later remodeled slightly after some feedback from players. Several people complained about always getting stuck down in the big cave without knowing how to get back up. Once you were down in that cave you had to know how to use the dirtgun properly to be able to get out. Since alot of new players seemed to start with Hyper we found that it would be a better introduction to the game if they didn't get stuck down there all the time, so most of the cave was filled with dirt only leaving a smaller part that had atleast one walk able sloped exit.
Cross is the first bigger map that I've attempted. After building the first height I realized how much more area you actually see compared to the smaller asteroids where the horizon is pretty near you. I had to design the map in a way that you were not able to see too many open areas at a time since sniping would become way too easy that way. There are lots of small paths with walls creating sharp turns and most areas have 4 or more paths leading in and out of the area to spread out the players a bit.
I started the map with building 4 square heights positioned so that they formed a crossing of paths in between them and added bridges between each square and it's adjacent square, much like the battle map "Blocks" in MK64. I then created the huge tunnel and started adding small stuff around it.
Most areas in this map are mainly designed to have walk-able slopes so that you're not entirely dependant on having loads of ammo for the Dirtgun all the time.
This is the smallest maps we have and more suited for DM dueling than team CR.
I started with the middle room to have a well defined structure as starting point. Two openings were added to the room to raise the possibility of players facing eachother while heading through. The openings were added opposite of eachother but slightly offset to the side, so that players would actually have to walk into the room before beeing able to shoot towards the other opening. The angle when entering wasn't high enough to cover the other opening behind the horiszon, but I didn't want to move them more to the side, so I added a small wall in the middle that covered each opening from each side.
I started a path going around the walls of the room and made it follow the walls about 2/3 of the way. At one point I made a small turn, preventing a symmetrical look, to help players distinguish between which side of the asteroid they were on. I filled the rest of the asteroid with some lowered and some raised surface and tried to balance the amount of ways one could choose at a crossing. I also avoided too many straight paths since they disappear behind the horizon so quickly anyways with this small radius of the map.
The word agon is often used in litterature referring to a struggle between two people. Since the map was intended as a 1on1 dueling map I found the name pretty suiting.
That was it for part 1. Part 2 will take up the newer maps as well as some more general pointers.
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The developer team behind Celestial Impact. We are a group of friends from Sweden developing games as a hobby.
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