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What Makes A Good Map?
This question has appeared in other previous posts within the QMap community over the years. However, lately, I have endeavored to concoct a proper definition of a "good map". My definition seems adequate but is perhaps not very concrete. Yet, while many people think talking of design is subjective, I believe that it is not. As sure as mathematical equations are absolute, so are principles and practices of design. Anyway, my definition for a good map is as follows:

A map may be deemed good if it fully defines and realizes its boundries of style, design, gameplay and theme.

Now, to break this apart...

Fully defined boundries: These are any such ideas or methodologies thoroughly developed.

Fully realized boundries: These are any such fully defined boundries thoroughly implemented in a map and used intelligently and creatively.

Style: Style is, to quote "The way in which something is said, done, expressed, or performed." This applied to mapping refers to the manner of construction and cohesion of a map. This must not be confused with the actual means by which an author builds a map. That does not matter. Here it refers to how the forms and objects in a map relate and exist in regard to each other.

Design: Design is the author's innovation and creativity that remains within the boundries of their chosen or created (and fully defined) style (be it of architecture, item and enemy placement, etc).

Gameplay: No, good maps don't just look pretty. They must play 'pretty' too. Gameplay is the problem(s) presented to the player(s) and all of the possible solution(s). So, it is a relationship of the 'physical' map layout (all areas where a player may travel) to the locations of all the items and enemies and any other interactive contructs.

Theme: Theme is the plot and the visual and interactive (gameplay) cohesion that affords a map continuity (however wild and imaginative that may be). To quote's third definition, "An implicit or recurrent idea". Theme must be considered on the macro and micro level. Overall gameplay theme is just as important as a texture set theme, etc. Theme and style are closely related.

Okay, that's the whole definition.

Lastly, in speculation, this definition may be put to some use as a map review rating system. Each of the four categories (Style, Design, Gameplay, Theme) could be graded on any relative review scale and then averaged for an overall score.

...or maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.

Any thoughts?
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2 More Things 
1. Examples of style would be Realism, as is aspired to in Counterstrike and so many of it's clones, or Arcade, as is aspired to in Quake 3 or Quakeworld or UNreal Tournament maps.

2. Gameplay is a relationship of the 'physical' map layout to the locations AND FUNCTIONS of all the items and enemies and any other interactive contructs. 
Isn't that like trying to define life? You keep trying and trying to find a simple explanation that includes this, but not that, and you end up just getting frusterated and go outside to kick over some ant hills or something. :) 
Don't kick anthills over...use WD40 and a zippo lighter. 
Yes, that works too. :)

nane: Sounds very complex but you've covered a lot of bases.

My method is much simpler. I just play the map and tell people what I did or didn't like about it. It may not be true or even very correct, but I'll give my opinion, and refer them to some other people as well.

Like Douglas Adams said, if you try to take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have is a non-working cat.

For me, maps are the same way. You can define all kinds of criteria, and a map can pass or fail them all and still rub you the wrong or right way based on some hidden factor you didn't think of (including the mood you're in).

Eventually, you just have to step back, look at your cat, and say "Hell if I know why, it's just alive!". 
To Answer The Question 
why didn't I think of that! 
Don't kick anthills over...use WD40 and a zippo lighter.

What makes a good map?
A good mapper. 
Sorry to be so rude, but this it bollocks.

You claim to describe an absolute definition, but most of the definitions are themselves ambiguous, or repetitions of the original definition. I like your descriptions of style and theme, but you're no closer to actually pin-pointing what makes a good style/theme, which is what you said you could do absolutely.

And I don't agree with applying the absolute nature of mathematical theories to everything. When I was at school I had to chose between a career in Engineering or English; I choose English because I preferred subjective analysis to absolute answers. Which personally I think is the case with level design.

Obviously its easy to agree that efdm12 is better than SPR, But I doubt a computer would know the better of zed and zed2, because beyond the obvious opinion is subjective...which makes us human, and not machines.

To end on a bizarre note, try explaining why some girls will let you fuck their ass and some don't like it, possibly resulting in criminal charges :( 
People have a tendency to over-analyse things. I wouldn't worry about it. 
You Chose English??? 
That's like choosing to be unemployed. 
and chives. 
To end on a bizarre note, try explaining why some girls will let you fuck their ass and some don't like it, possibly resulting in criminal charges :(

I just had to quote that... and then say wtf are you on about?

Oh and my thoughts, there is no definition. It�s a waste of time. You either like something or you don't. Its all a matter of opinion of what makes a good map and as someone once said "Opinions are like assholes, everyone has got one". 
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