The Road to Edain 4.0: The Maps, Part 3
Greetings companions of Edain!
Today it is time for the third part of our map updates, and we will present you four new maps.
The Brandywine, elvish Baranduin, is a river in Eriador, separating Buckland and the Shire.
The map Brandywine, which already could be seen in the Beta Stream, is designed in particular for multiplayer games. Originally created for 3.81, the map will be included in version 4.0 with only small changes. The map is dominated by the river Brandywine.
Both players start at different banks of the river, but each player is near one of the big fords, one in the north of the map and one in the south, thus allowing the player to cross the river. Between the two players there are 4 wide paths, one at each bank of the river and at the edge of the map. In between, there hills separating the different paths.
Due to the fact that the map is point-symmetric, the attractivity of the different paths varies for each player, so it might happen easily that the both players take different ways to the enemy and walk past each other. While on other maps, you often end up with entrenched battle lines in the middle of the map because it is the direct path from one player to the other, on this map there are two equivalent ways between the two players.
This way, if a player dares to attack his enemy, then he has to pay attention that while moving towards the enemy on one path, the enemy won't use the other path and catch him unaware. But to prevent the whole game from consisting of two players constantly marching past each other and never clashing on the field at all, there are some additional points of interest.
In the center of the map, there is a small island in the middle of the map with a capturable settlement. This settlement can be reached from both paths at the river bank, and controlling this settlement makes it easier to control both paths. Also, each player has access to an outpost at the other side of the ford, guarding one of the outer ways and allowing the player to gain strength at this side. In particular, in the later game this leads to a dynamic gameplay, because there is a good attack path for each player at each side. A path which is backed up either by the own camp or outpost, thus allowing a retreat to gather strength, while it is not as easy for the enemy to defend this path.
If you wonder what these awkward circles on the map are supposed to be, these are mapping objects that define the positions of settlements, outposts and camps in the game.
An old city in the southern parts of Eriador at the confluence of Glanduin and Mitheitel. The Old North Road crossed the river Mitheitel here. In the year 2912, Tharbad was destroyed by a flood and never reoccupied again.
Tharbad is another rework version of an older map (Dorwinion) that can be found in the presentation board of our forums, but this rework was much bigger in scope. Every mapper develops over time, and the map Dorwinion was the first playable map that I ever have created, even before I knew about the Edain Mod. The first version with aedequate textures was finished three years ago. The basic structure of the map was a symmetric map for four players, intersected by many canals that could be crossed by different bridges.
Though, the mapping technique back then was, let us call it creative. The problem was not even that too few textures were used or that a texture was used for too large areas, but the opposite. A different texture was applied to almost every pixel, causing many problems like errors with the transitions between different textures. Furthermore, large parts of the map were created with the copy tool from the Worldbuilder, so the map had many textures but nonetheless looked the same nearly everywhere. Moreover, the bridges were a large problem, because they either collapsed in the middle of a battle or it was difficult to cross them.
Adjusting it for version 4.0, at first I tried to keep as much of the map as possible and only add some elements or make small changes. But due to the basic structure of the map this was not possible at all. No matter what I tried, the landscape looked just unrealistic.
What we really liked about the map was the basic concept. There are two different paths to each neighbour. One of these ways led to the start point of the other player, but did not offer anything special. The other way is slightly longer, but features two settlements and one outpost. That path also opens up into a wide plain, perfect for larger battles. Moreover, we liked the huge island in the middle of the map, which was well guarded by creeps but offered a good expansion option for all players.
So we attempted to keep these elements (the passability of the map and the place of the expansion points) for the update, but completely redo everything else. The first step was to remove any other objects on the map, to flatten the map, and to delete all the textures.
The most difficult thing was to find a fitting setting for the map. Of course every map needs a basic theme, usually a place somewhere in Middle-Earth. For this map we needed something instead of the canals which fits better in a natural environment, but does block the passibility like the canals did. Mountains or hills were not possible in general, because the quadratic structure of the map, was the opposite of a natural mountain landscape. The next idea were lava streams in Mordor. But that that wasn't ideal either, because lava streams still would need to be crossed on bridges, which we wanted to avoid.
The last possibility was to fill the impassible areas with objects to block the way. The easiest way to do so would be with buildings in a town. Also, this idea overlapped with the wish to create a Tharbad map, which should be filled with ruins and should be under the water levels in many areas. This map-setting had many advantages. First of all, it was possible to use rivers as well as deep floodings, being deep enough that it would be impossible to pass them, as natural barriers. Moreover, the ruin-complexes allowed to restrict the passability of the map, and to keep the basic structure of the map.
For finally building the map, we chose the Osgiliath as a theme for the map composition. Because, which is the first map any player remembers, when he hears name ruin-map. For the form of the finished map, it was important that the player got the impression that he is playing in the ruins of an old dignified town. Ruins should be everywhere, without blocking the passability at places where they should not. Also it was important that the player should be able to orientate himself on the map. So, the river is a good sign for the player, to estimate his actual position, as well as the design of the map itself.
When creating the map, it was on of the main goals to make the map versatile and varied. So the player in the south-west of the map, starts at a large square surrounded by ruins, but partly reconquered by the nature. In the north-west of the map there are rests of an old park and palace-complex In the north-east the player starts at an old road at the bank of the river, leading into town and in the south-east the player is on a plain outside of the ancient city. Each region of the map looks different, but nonetheless the situation for all the players on the map is the same. No starting position has any advantages, or disadvantages. And due to the many settlements in the middle of the map, Tharbad is very suitable for the Conquest-Mode, too.
Dor-En-Ernil is a region in southern Gondor, at the Bay of Belfalas.
The map Dor-En-Ernil is based on two different things. First of all on a study of the map Umbar, where I tried to acquire and improve the map-style as good as possible.
On the other hand, this drawing was a concept-art for parts of the map:
The map is the result of an alteration of parts of the map Umbar. So, the right border of the map corresponds with the left border of Umbar. Starting there, the map was expanded, trying to keep the map-style as good as possible, and after that the map was mirrored to get a symmetric map. Afterwards the middle of the map and the borders were created. Also, on the parts from the original maps, there were made several changes to adjust these parts to the newer parts of the map. The result is a map that is characterized by hills, cliffs and coves.
All in all, the structure of this map is quite unusual. The map is quite large, but the distance between the starting positions of the two payers is as small as on no other map for 2 players. Also it takes some time to get to certain parts of the map.
The result is a big position battle between the camps of the two players, Both players have a safe outpost, increasing their strength in battle, but the settlements get even more important.
For each player there is only one easy capturable settlement at the beginning, all the others are either guarded by creeps or they are too far away. So, if a player needs more resources than he can get normally, he has to conquer the Plateau in the middle of the map, offering 5 settlements which are nearly 50% of all the settlements on the map. Due to the fact that the main entrance to the plateau is near the battle field, many battles take place at the plateau, too. Also, the back entrance, which connects the outposts of both players might be extremely useful for surprise attacks.
Overall, the map offers a completely different ingame experience than most other maps, because the players will be permanently in combat, but nonetheless the map may be played in multiplayer games, too. Due to central places of many settlements in middle of the map, this is also a map perfectly working with the Conquest-mode. The player who manages to conquer and keep the plateau, will win very probably, as long as the enemy does not overrun his camp in the time.
The western part of Nurn extends from the Ephel Duath till the Shadow Sea.
Because, in Edain 4.0 6-player maps usually won't be suitable for playing 2 vs 3, it is necessary that the next version will contain some maps extra designed for this number of players. West-Nurn is such a map. Like Dor-En-Ernil, West-Nurn is a map-study, too, this time one of the map Mordor. Therefore, attentive viewers may recognize parts of the original map Mordor, at the right border of the map West-Nurn, as well as the sea. Nonetheless most of the original map has been reworked to adjust it to the new parts.
West-Nurn is a rugged land marked by dark rocks and barren landscape. In particular, at the left side of the map, the area between the different teams is separated by a gorge in the south and by hills in the north, so that there are only few possibilities to pass this area. Opposite, the east of the map is a large plain. Because, the 2-player team starts in the south of the map, this side offers relatively more settlements per player, to compensate the disadvantage. Also, each team has only one outpost.
The structure of the map, causes that the player in the middle of the 3-player team can decide which enemy he likes to attack, or even if he tries to break through in the middle and attack his enemies from behind.
On the last two images, you can see the transition between the original map and the self-created parts:
We hope that you liked the new maps, and we are looking forward to your feedback.
Also we want to thank everyone who has already voted for us at the MotY-awards, or will vote for us.
Your Edain Team