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Vvardenfell map - a year of lazy mapmaking: 12/15/2015 13:25:27

Level 50

I started working on the map last year - but I left Warlight for almost the whole 2015. Now I'm back and I want to finish my map and make it finally public.

I have played a test game last year and received a lot of comments. This year I tried to fix some issues of the map.

1. The map composition is too complicated for a strategy game, it can be played only in diplo games.
- Well, I did not invent the geography of Vvardenfell island. Still I added some more connections so that there are no more dead ends in the mountainous areas. But it is true, I am almost sure that the map is not suited for strategy games (of course I would be happy to be wrong). It is mainly made for diplo games.

2. The bonuses are too confusing.
- I simplified the bonus system a bit. Now the counsil system is the same for all three houses: each house has a "council house" territory in its capital which is connected to the councillor "seats" territories. Each councillor seat territory is a part of a bonus which also contains a territory that historically belongs to the councillor.
(Previously the three houses had three different bonus systems.)

3. The bonuses are not ballanced.
- I made the overpowered bonuses weaker. Anyway scenario makers will be able to change the bonuses themselves.

4. The ships are ugly.
- I know. They really are. But I can't find good ship shapes in the internet, and it is too hard to make them by hand (these ones were). So I will probably change the ships later if at all.

5. The connections are confusing.
- I tried to make them simpler this time. Previously there were several "tree-like" connections. I changed the pattern to a more simple one.

6. The Ghostfence provinces are connected by a white line but they are not connected.
- the Ghostfence is a wall surrounding the Red Mountain. I really do not know how to show it in the game. I made its color white, while the land connections are yellow and water connections are blue. And the line is much much thicker that the lines used for connections. I hope the players won't be confused.

Or should I simply delete it?

Still, there is one problem with the connections that is breaking one of the main rules of warlight mapmaking. The "councillor seat" territories are all connected to the "council house" territories, but they are not connected with each other. Still one could conclude from looking at the map that they are interconnected. I don't know what to do with this problem, for there is not enough space to draw separate connections. Right now I have 2 ideas.

1) Write in the map description, that the "counsillor seats" are not interconnected and hope that the players will be satisfied with that.
2) Make the "seats" interconnected.

I would like some advice on this matter. Should they be connected or not? I fear the connection pattern will become too complicated if I make them interconnected. Or not?
(Probably you have guessed that the "seat" system is something like the Small Council system in the "Game of Thrones - Westeros Diplomacy" map made by Dameon, though expanded a bit. The council territories in Westeros map WERE actually interconnected which allowed different councillors to attack each other...)

Actually the issue I have described above is the main one that prevents me from making the map public. When I press the "publish map" the game sends me dreadful messages about all the torments that it would inflict on me if I make a bad map, so I would like to be sure before making it public. :)

P.S. This is the old forum post of the map - unfortunately, I can't post there anymore, otherwise I would just continue the old thread.

P.S.S. Send a PM to me, if you want to take part in the testing game. It is quite hard to find enough people.

Edited 12/15/2015 20:37:47
Vvardenfell map - a year of lazy mapmaking: 12/15/2015 20:18:55

Level 56
First and most important of all, what an awesome looking map! Holy cow, it looks like it would be so much fun to play and explore. Personally, I really like complex maps with interesting/unusual linkages and especially unusual bonus systems. I think they make the game more interesting to play, and require players to think strategically about the *system* rather than just the troops on the board. Whatever you do, don't kill this map!

As to your questions/concerns:

1) Perhaps 1v1 strategy might not be viable (easily), but I bet you could play it FFA (non-diplo) or with teams NvN or NvNvN etc. I bet you could come up with some built-in distributions which could be played in an FFA way which were pretty balanced.

2) You speak of 'council house' and 'council seat' territories, but I couldn't place which terrs exactly you were referring to, esp. in reference to 'seats'. Could you make that more explicit here? Which terrs are the seats you're referring to? Perhaps using 'seat' nomenclature on the map would help (unless I just missed it)? Ok, wait, I think I see it now. Perhaps making names more explicit as to their role/use would help. E.g. Seat of Ules, instead of just Ules.

3) Just requires more play-testing, I would imagine.

4) Bah, they look fine. I didn't notice until you mentioned it. :-)

5) Again, I like complex maps. Tho I can understand why others wouldn't, and I can also understand why they can be somewhat 'unfair' for people unfamiliar with the map, so open games can be 'unfair' sometimes, depending on the distribution mode.

6) I think your colour convention is good enough. The only other suggestion I might add would be to make it more obviously part of the 'background art' by making it look more like a wall, as seen from an iso perspective. You might acheive that somewhat easily by drawing it with a Caligraphy style pen, though I'm by no means good or experienced with SVG art, so I could be wrong.

Seat/House connection issue: Here's one possible solution. I notice that luckily each house has six seats. Therefore, you could make a mini-mini-map specifically for the house/seat purpose with the house territory at the centre, and the seats all around it as a hexagonal pattern. The house territory in this mini-mini-map would be identical with (i.e. part of) the house territory in the mini-map, similar to how you have 'outskirts' types of territories (like Balmora Outskirts) belonging both to the large map and the various mini-maps. Since a hexagonal shape can be pretty compact, you could probably fit it in a simplified, schematic form pretty easily inside each mini-map. Also, would make it easier if the seat shapes themselves were simplified.

Is the message from Warlight automated, or is it given after a person reviews the map? If it's automated, what structural 'rule' is your map breaking? If you can describe any such rule precisely, I could help with coming up with a solution/workaround. If it's a human, then I think the hexagonal shape solution would be sufficient, if you keep the seats/vertices disconnected from each other.

[Tip: Add http:// in front of the old forum post URL to make it a link]
Vvardenfell map - a year of lazy mapmaking: 12/15/2015 20:29:44

Level 18
I find the map set up quite confusing, but I normally play on smaller scale maps, so other people may find it easier to understand.
Vvardenfell map - a year of lazy mapmaking: 12/15/2015 20:42:55

Level 60
I started working on the map last year - but I left Warlight for almost the whole 2015. Now I'm back and I want to finish my map and make it finally public.

im in the same boat XD

i dont even know what i was doing in some of my maps
Vvardenfell map - a year of lazy mapmaking: 12/15/2015 20:52:28

Level 50
Dear WCT, thank you for such a detailed answer!

I can answer to several points right now.
2 - you are probably right, I should change those names.
6 - I am also not good with vector graphics but you have just given me a brilliant idea that solves the problem completely! I'll simply use a dotted line for the wall. Thank you very much! :)

Seat/House connection: you are right, the best option is to change the placement of the minimaps to make some free space for the connections. Strange, but this idea never came to my mind.

It is the automatic message. The broken rule is connecting provinces that are shown connected.
Vvardenfell map - a year of lazy mapmaking: 12/16/2015 02:33:13

Level 56
Will the seat/house fix also fix the automatic message? If not, then how are 'connecting provinces' and 'shown connected' determined by the automatic validation system?
Vvardenfell map - a year of lazy mapmaking: 12/16/2015 09:25:45

Level 50
They are not - it is a general message sent to every mapmaker I believe.
Vvardenfell map - a year of lazy mapmaking: 12/16/2015 10:38:20

Angry Koala
Level 57
you map is interesting, I remember to have played one of your map once when you wanted to test it, I hope one day something like your map will be implemented but for the whole tamriel continent
Vvardenfell map - a year of lazy mapmaking: 12/16/2015 10:42:46

Dublin Warrior 
Level 49
i like your map.

and your efforts.

as for a relatively minor issue,

you are not the first to make ships,
so if you don't like the shape that much...

borrow from another map maker with ships more to your liking.

I would suggest asking permission...
but I don't think it would be a big deal.
It's not like you are making a profit;
indeed, all respectable maps provide a service to the community.

thank you for your efforts. :)
Vvardenfell map - a year of lazy mapmaking: 12/22/2015 12:26:37

Level 50

- 2 new ship models made by hand :D
- changed the placement of the seat provinces, their connections fixed;
- the Ghostfence is shown with a dotted line now, so I hope no one will think it is a connection any more;
- added a few provinces and changed a few connections to improve the general layout.

I am also playing a test game right now and I have found several problems with the distribution. I have already fixed that in the new version of the map, so I hope everyting is going to be ok now.

No missed connections were found in the test game.

I think the map is ready for publication. What do you think? Have I missed something?
Vvardenfell map - a year of lazy mapmaking: 12/23/2015 12:15:38

Level 50
Now the map is in "Pending public" mode.

I have set the minimum level to 35, since it is the level that unlocks the Gift card. I didn't want to set it higher, because, hey, I'm still level 33!
Vvardenfell map - a year of lazy mapmaking: 12/23/2015 17:55:26

Level 56
Cool! Bump this when it goes public.
Vvardenfell map - a year of lazy mapmaking: 12/24/2015 09:04:31

Level 50
So I had a message that this map still has 2 issues.

1. Not all territories are properly connected. I believe this referrs to the territories of Sharmat Dagoth Ur and I will surely fix that (not sure why haven't I done that before). I don't think there are any other cases of missing connections...

2. The main point is that the bonuslink layout is too confusing. Actually I feared I would receive this answer, but it is true. I hope this has nothing to do with the minimaps. Those bonuses on their right tab are not placed ideally though, I admit it.

There were several reasons why I put the bonuses on a separate tab.

1) Well, I simply wanted to place the symbols of the main powers on the map and thought it could be a good place for bonuslinks associated with one of the powers. But Morrowind players would have an advantage in understanding the map because they know about the factions of Morrowind.

2) I used a lot of bonuslinks on the main map so it got a bit overcrowded with them. So I thought a special tab for some bonuses could fix that. The minimaps serve the same goal.

3) Most of the bonuses on the right tab (though not all of them) represent bonuses that consist of several territories located in absolutely different (not connected) territories. So that was also an excuse for placing them separately. Though probably they could have been placed next to one of the territories anyway.

Right now I have a choice.

1. In order to finish this map I would have to change the main layout of the map, not only the bonuslink placement. Surely I can't move the bonuses and leave the empty space. But this is going to be a lot of work (that won't be nearly as simple as fixing the Sharmat Dagoth Ur connecction) and I do not have the vision of how the map will look like yet.

2. This is not my first attempt of making a Vvardenfell map (maybe you can find a link to the first attempt in the old thread) - and it is not the last one. I have gained some "mapmaking experience" so I can move forward. I mean I can put it on hold and make a third version of the map, a complete remake. In fact I have already started working on it, I have already drawn the map itself (only the bonuslinks are not included and the connections are probably not finished) and right now I'm in the process of territory editing. On the other hand it seems the third version is also going to have some complicated features - it seems I simply can't live without them :) (I'll place a link to the current state of the third map soon).

So what do you think?

Should I finish this map by making some kind of a global fix? Or should I simply forget about it and concentrate on the third version which will be the final one (I hope)?

P.S. This is the current state of affairs with the third version:
There won't be any bonus tabs in this version (almost - yep, almost :) - all bonuslinks will be placed right next to the territories they represent), but the map has special movement rules in Vivec and Molag Mar (Temple Holdings - you can see that tab in the right part of the map) plus it has some connections that are described in the "Transport" tab at the top. And it is a bit heavy with symbols, I mean territories with special form.
So do you think this version has better chances of succeeding? It well may be that this version actually has less chances if the connection rules are too complicated (and I'm not sure about that for I haven't shown the map to anyone yet).

P.P.S. In fact the new map also has a bonus tab - right at the bottom you can see the treaties with daedra tab. But it is not even nearly as large as the bonus tab of the previous map and it has only 7 bonuses not 37. If it is not good I can change it easily, though.

Edited 12/24/2015 10:43:22
Vvardenfell map - a year of lazy mapmaking: 1/6/2016 01:35:31

Level 56
I don't know about the rules for map acceptance, but I think the third version looks even cooler than the earlier one. I like the bonus links next to the territories they affect, although because they often include a distant territory as a 'switch' to activate them, there may be some cohesion lost that a bonus tab would provide, by gathering all bonuses attached to the same 'switch' in one place. Either way, it's going to be a bit of a challenge; though again, I like that kind of complexity, so for me it's good.

I really wonder if it will be balanced. The bonuses are quite complicated. If you can balance it (or if it's already balanced), I think it would be lots of fun to play.
Vvardenfell map - a year of lazy mapmaking: 1/10/2016 16:46:27

Level 50
Thank you for your replies!

By the way, sorry for making big posts - I tried to split this post in several different parts so that you can read only some of the parts if you do not want to read it all. :)

First of all, the map needs to meet several rules in order to be accepted. The two main rules include 1) easily understandable connections and 2) easily understandable bonus system.


As for the connections, the last, third version has 2 issues.

- First, the cities of the Tribunal Temple (Vivec and Molag Mar) have some special rules of movement - I tried my best to make them simple and understandable, but I am still not sure if I succeeded.

- Second, there is a "transport" tab in the upper part of the map that shows special connections. One is the so called "Silt Strider" net, connecting the "Silt Strider" territories (all marked by special "bug" symbol). The other is the so called "Propylon" net (though it is not exactly a net, it is a ring) - connecting "Propylon" territories, again marked by special graphics. Again, I am not sure if this "transport" tab is easily seen and if it can be easily used.


As for the bonus system, there are also several points.

There are still several bonus tabs (with the bonus links not located right next to the territories they represent).

- One is located in the bottom of the screen and is used for the 7 ruin groups. The ruins are marked with special graphics so they can't be mistaken with anything else. (Different ruin groups are marked with different colors.) I placed the same ruin symbols on the tab, so I hope this will not cause problems, even though the bonuslinks are not located right next to the ruin territories. The ruins are actually spread across the map, so I could not decide where to place the bonuslinks and thought that a bonus tab can solve this problem. May be I was wrong and the bonuslinks for the ruin groups can be placed somewhere else without making a bonustab? Somewhere closer to the ruin territories?

- Second one is the Septim Empire tab. It consists of 6 bonuses (one of them is the superbonus for the other 5). All 5 main bonuses include the main territory of this bonus group - the "Knight of the Imperial Dragon" territory, located in Ebonheart city. Ebonheart city is located right next to the Septim Empire bonus tab, but unfortunately the "Knight" territory is on the left side of the city, while the bonus tab is on the right side of it, so there is still plenty of space between the bonus tab and that territory. I hope it won't cause problems. I also could not think of a special graphical symbol for these bonuses. The players can find the territories of these bonuses only by looking for the bright red color (I tried not to use it elsewhere).

- There are several other little bonus tabs, but in those cases the bonus links are located right to the main territory of the corresponding bonus groups, so I think they won't cause problems.


The "switch" system is used widely, and I understand that it can make the map complicated.

1) Probably the most widespread "switches" are the "Blight" - "Dagoth" territories. Most of them are marked by a special "statue" graphical symbol. The "Blight of something" is a simple antibonus for each of those territories, while the bonus is always called "Dagoth something". I think it should be easy to understand that the "House Dagoth" tab is the place containing the "switch" territory. There are only 5 territories with the "Blight-Dagoth" switch system that are not marked with the statue graphical symbol, but they are located almost in one place, all very close to the Red Mountain, the center of house Dagoth. And anyway it is the only case of a bonus and an antibonus placed right one under another, next to one and the same territory. So I really hope this "switch" system is not too complicated.

2) Another widespread "switch" group is the "Seat" territories in the 4 main cities - Ebonheart, Balmora, Ald'ruhn (precisely in the Skar) and Sadrith Mora. Each bonus includes 2 territories - one in the city, another somewhere else on the map. I could not think about any means to simplify this type of bonuses - I fear the players will just have to seek for the second territory themselves by selecting the bonus and using the "more info" button. May be I should try to put the bonuslinks next to the "rural" territories in each case? I mean, since one half of the territories is concentrated in only 4 places while the other half is spread across the map, it could be easier to find the territories if the bonus links were located next to the "rural" territories. I am not sure if it will make this system easier... And it could make the map quite overcrowded with bonuses, especially considering the fact that most of the "rural" territories have a bonus of their own.

3) There are several stand-alone "switches", that can't be included in the 2 groups above. I understand that they do not simplify the map, but I still do not want to delete them without need. Do they really make the map too complicated? Will it really help if I deleted those bonuses or at least some of them?


P.S. As for the balancing, it is a different story. Balancing is not as important in diplo games as in ffa games. Anyway, I could not balance the map without multiplayer testing for the AI does not understand the concept of anti-bonuses. It takes the antibonuses very early, ending up with 0 armies per turn and stops playing after that. And that gives huge advantages to the neighbouring players (AIs). In spite of that I tried my best to balance it and I want to make it as balanced as possible. (By the way, some bonuses that include non-bordering territories from all over the map simply can't be taken in an FFA game in the early part of the game - if somebody takes them it means that he has already won, so there is no need to balance them at all, actually.)

Edited 1/10/2016 16:54:44
Vvardenfell map - a year of lazy mapmaking: 1/10/2016 18:41:21

Level 50
And by the way, if somebody wishes to take part in the testing of the map - PM me!
Vvardenfell map - a year of lazy mapmaking: 1/15/2016 14:50:35

Level 50
The testing game has started, so no more applications :)

Meanwhile, I made some changes to the map, which you can see here:

1. I played a game on this map and added markers of city entrances like the ones you can find there. https://www.warlight.net/Map/19019-Metreoque-LondonMoskva (Thanks, Paul.L.Fla!)

2. I simplified the Transport tab (deleted the silt strider pictures there). I hope now it looks better. I also added markers to the Propylon teleporting chambers on the main map (the teleports are also shown on the Transport tab) so that it will be easier to notice the teleport connections.

3. I deleted 4 bonuses that included non-adjacent territories to make the map a bit more understandable.

4. Minor changes like fixed connections, little graphical twitches etc.
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