The Road to Edain 4.0: The Maps, Part 1
Greetings, companions of Edain!
Not only the factions got many reworks in the new version, but also all maps have been reworked.
Due to the BfME I building system much will be changed there.
What exactly is different?
Some points already have been stated, but I will repeat them, because they connected with this topic:
In contrast to the maps in Edain 3.81, there won't be any Outposts, Signalfires or Inns any more. Ship-Wrights will remain.
In return, at every starting point there will be a fortress or camp, and additionally outposts (the ones from BfME I) and settlements.
In contrast to the current neutral buildings, the expansion points will represented much more on the map and also more important, because they are the only way to build something outside your fortress and therefore to get some additionally resources. Also, in most cases the player gains access to special units, similar to the Inn in the current version.
But not only the neutral buildings have been changed:
Also the Creeps (the wild units attacking any player in their range ) have been reworked.
Sometime ago, we placed special units on some maps, acting as creeps – for example there were wild men of Dunland on the map Dunland, or wild men of Rhudaur of course on Rhudaur, and the mountains have been invaded by different kinds of Goblins.
In our opinion, this has been an important element to differentiate the maps and to make the map feel more like the region, it should represent. Nonetheless there were some problems:
First of all, they were noticable different from the standard creeps. The later had their lairs, the map creeps were only units placed on the map, without any reason why. Also the AI had massive problems with Creeps, most of the time the AI just ignored them, causing huge losses of troups, without any adventage.
In the new version, we created some new Creep-Lairs, so that there will be wild men of Dunland running around their hut, or Mordor-Orcs trying to defend their tent, just as different kind of Trolls and Wargs making the area unsafe on some maps.
In this way, we stanadrized the Creeps, which looks much better, as well as it improves the AI.
Due to the change to the BfME I building systems, maps may influence the game much more. In the current version, there were large areas, where the player could build anywhere, also only very few places on the map got guarded, those which gave special boni. Now, there are much more posibilities to change the resource supply for the players:
If a map should have only few resources, the mapper can place less neutral buildings, else he can place more. (that is not so easy in some cases, but the concept is clear)
Also, the mapper can decide how fast the resource supply will happen. If many settlements are guarded by Creeps, the player needs much more time, to build up his economy.
Nonetheless, it is important to follow a guideline for all maps. If a faction is strong at destroying creeps at the start of the game, it has an advantage on maps with more guarded settlements, because it can build up its economy much earlier than its opponents. But on other maps with very few Creeps, it will have a disadvantage.
So, a mapper is able to influence the game very much, but he has to pay attention that no faction will get to strong on this map.
1. Changes to existing maps
For an example, look at the map Gap of Rohan. There one might see that each player has access to two unguarded settlements at the beginning (below mid, above mid and the two in the middle)
One of them is quite close to the fortress, so it is very easy to defend. The other one is much farer away, so a player has to leave his fortress to defend it. Additionally, there are more settlements, which are guarded by creeps. Some of them are also easy to deffend, others in the middle of an open space. Therefore, for both players there are rewarding targets, which are not in range of the fortress, but if a player has already the map-control he has to attack settlements in range of the enemy fortress, to deny his enemy the access of any settlement. If you look at the map Arnor, you can see that this map has only camps, so the players have less protection and resources, and also hardly all settlements are placed between the two players, so there will be much more battles to conquer them. Each has two settlements, he can easily defend, but if does not conquer any other settlements, he will easily get a huge disadvantage!
Besides, there will be some changes concerning fortress-maps. Many fortress-maps like Minas Tirith don't have enough open space inside the fortress, for camps and castles. Therefore it will be the same system as in the campaign of BfME I:
Inside the fortress, there are some build plots spreaded, which the fortress player may without having to conquer them. You can see it here Minas Tirith.
2. Map Reworks
Over time, everyone learns more. Sometimes, only the mapping style changes, or one learns new tricks. Many of our older maps are far below the level of Edain and would make problems with the BfME I building system, too. So we started to rework some of them.
When doing a rework, the objective is to keep as much of the basic idea of the map as possible, so the players will recognize them, but still to imrpove them.
Today, I want to show you two examples:
Tol Morwen has been an island with various trees and few other features.
It has been reworked, due to many reasons:
On most maps, the first look is enough to determine where the map is in Middle-Earth, or at least similarities to other maps. On Tol Morwen, this has not been the case. When creating the map, I mostly used standard trees. But if an island is seperated for tousand of years from the mainland, it is very unlikely that a huge variousity of trees, shrubs and grasses exists there. Usually most of them will die and only very few will stay alive. Doing the rework, I based the textures and trees on other maps on the coasts of Middle-Earth, mainly Forlindon and the Grey Havens. The goal was to avoid using to many different trees and shrubs, but still creating a varied map.
Also, when I first created the map, I made huge mistake:
On the map there stands a memorial stone of Turien, Nienor and Morwen. It has been provephesied that this stone never be von Turin, Nienor und Morwen. It was foretold that this stone will never be destroyed or desecrated. But this sone was not even on the old map^^
Also, the island was unrealistic. Such a flat island as in the current version would be drowned at the smallest sea-level rise. Usually, small islands have some kind of protection against waves.
The last point was the build-system. Settlements are quite small, so it might happen easily that the player does not see them, when paying attention to other aspects of the game. Of course, it should be too easy for the player, but it can be really frustrating to notice afterwards that you had access to a settlement for the whole game, but did not see it. Also, it should be the difference between normal and good players that the good player knows the map by heart and so all the locations of the settlements. On the map there were very few visible marks, to identify locations for settlement, therefore much had to be changed.
This map has been in nearly all points in contrast to the criteria of a good map:
The map had bad textures, did not offer anything special, and there were already 2 other Mordor maps for 4 players: Mount Dum and Udun. The structure of the map was quite similar to Udun, and the variety of the map was boring.
The biggest problem were the two other and better Mordor maps, which would have stayed a problem, so this map got far more reworked than the other maps, changing it to a 5 player map.
Due to the fact, that at each starting point, there is a castle/camp, in 4.0 it is nearly impossible to play 2 vs. 3 on a 6 player map, because there will be a free expansion point, and much more settlements for one team. So the 2 vs 3 becomes a 3 vs 3 or even a 2 vs 4 (our testers can testify that^^)
Therefore, one problem was already solved. However, the plateau of Gorgoroth was a fissured area, inhabited by orcs. In the current version of the map, there is an orc camp in the middle of the map, which has been expanded. Also, there are much more small orc tents, making the map more alive but also more evil. Besides, the clipps have been expanded, so fissureness is more visiual present and the map does not seem to be a flat plaine anymore.
3. New Maps
There will be many new arreas to conquer. Most of them have been constructed to be fun in single-player, by offering much variety, as well as being a good choise for multi-player matches, due to the fact that all players have the same conditions.
Many people wished more maps for playing Arnor. We, wished that, too.
Particullary, the current 1 vs 1 map for Arnor (Icebay of Forochel) is quite small, so the player will have camps instead of castles.
So, a new map was needed! The question was: Which kind of map is the best for an epic battle Angmar versus Arnor?
The answer for us was that this fight has always been dominated by the snow. While the battlefields more in south have been plains or fortresses, Angmar was an area that advanced the winter. So, the objective for this new map, was to give the impression of a cold winter in the mountains. Both players start opposite of each other in a snowy mountain area, an area being enclosed by huge cliffs reaching into the sky, as well as deep valleys and small passes.
This map is for 4 players, a map I created a long time ago (at that time for another mod, which sadly vanished).
By now, I changed some things and adjusted it for Edain. This map is placed in the mountains, like the map the Mountains of Angmar, but in another region and without snow.^^
The source of Carnen is a huge source in the Iron Hills.
It is also a 2 player-map, being constructed to be fun, when playing multi-player.
We hope that you liked the first impression of the maps of the new version.