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Age of Kings Heaven » Forums » Scenario Design and Discussion » Reposting my map design tutorial, will try to put it in AOKH University too
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Topic Subject:Reposting my map design tutorial, will try to put it in AOKH University too
Boosh
Squire
posted 05-01-06 11:37 AM CT (US)         
Land designing in AoK:TC’s mission editor:
By Boosh
Land design is one of those tricky things that all of us have to go through when we design campaigns or scenarios. It can’t be neglected, but it can’t really be passed off either. Whether we like it or not, the hardest work in a campaign isn’t creating the triggers, it isn’t placing the units, it is the landscape design in itself. How do we make convincing reproductions of the Earth. The Earth itself is a continuing, rolling landscaping project that has been ongoing for many billions of years. It seems impossible that we can build to its imperfect perfection. Technically, that is correct. Advanced as the AoK editor may be, we cannot simulate the Earth and Mother Nature. At best all we can do is emulate it.

Part 1: Emulating the Earth- a process 4.5 billion years in the making:
That’s right! Scientists believe that the Earth itself is 4.5 billion years old. So how did it all start? That hard stuff hundreds of feet below you is called bedrock. If you believe in the story of Evolution, the 9 planets of our solar system were created by asteroids in outer space smashing against each other at extreme velocity, causing the rock itself to melt and fuse to each other. As the years passed into millions of years, the asteroid got large enough to be called a planet, and a layer of ozone formed. Now, Earth is the only planet this ever happened to, but it started to rain. It rained for thousands of years, creating the oceans. Where did all the water come from? It was squeezed and condensed inside the asteroids. When it evaporated it eventually fell back onto the ground. From the process of evolution, supposedly, cells were created and lightning struck a surrounding area, bringing life to a supposedly inactive form beforehand. This single celled “thing” was the first life on earth. As the years went by it gradually became bacteria, splitting into multi-celled organisms, eventually plants and animals evolved. Where am I going with all this? Simply put, the Earth started from the bedrock up, and so should you.

First you must decide, on your specific patch of grass, no matter what size, how long it rained for in your scenario’s universe. The asteroids have already melted and fused, the plant life is all there, find out how long it rained for. If it rained for a significant period of time, say 10 – 15 thousand years, you’ll be dealing with huge oceans. But in my scenario, per say, I only have large seas and rivers. So maybe in my world it only rained for a few thousand years, let’s say between 5 – 7 thousand. As the rains slowly pelts the bedrock, just like the oceans hitting rocks created sand, the water basins formed. So you will play the part of God as you choose which parts of the “Earth” we are emulating get hit the hardest by rain. If an area got hit really hard in the 5 – 7 thousand years, we’ll be dealing with mostly medium depth water in AoK. The closer you get to shore, the more shallow water you should use. Remember that the shoreline isn’t constant, it is always shifting and changing. Make your water design reflect this. In spots, put a dab or two of deep water tiles. The Earth is an oddly shaped piece of rock, underwater even more so, so make the water tiles as interesting as the land. When you are finally satisfied with your shoreline(s), you must move outside the area of plankton and Amoebas.

Approximately 500 million years ago, living organisms are said to have moved out of the water and onto the land. So, this was the beginning of plant life, most specifically, the weed we all know and love, grass. First and foremost, where are you on this beloved Earth in the first place? Keep in mind that if you’re in a desert, you may not even have any water around you at all. You cannot just up and build your terrain and territory, you have to get a look at what you’re trying to emulate first. For this tutorial’s purposes, we shall use my scenario, Cupid’s Poisoned Arrows. When designing this landscape I wanted to emulate the land most seen at the end of the Winter months in Western Siberia, Russia, in the 900’s AD. Siberia is a cold, cold place at that point in the year. It’s beauty is only surpassed by its treacherous terrain. But at the tail end of the break of winter, the scene is a much more serene one. For the most part, the terrain is lush with new life. The rivers are mostly unfrozen. So in attempt to emulate this area, I decided that my principle terrain was going to be snow with grass patches. The next task was to cover all land textures with this terrain and work my way from there. The farther north, the colder it was going to be, so there would be more snow north, but the farther south you go, the warmer (though not much) the climate would be, so there would be a touch less snow. When land designing, you must take extra special care that no patch of land looks like any other patch in the scenario. The terrain must look accidental. This being the case, I used all sorts of terrain choices in the map to make it feel real. Not only was I using snow with grass patches, but also snow with dirt patches, dirts 1, 2, and 3, and grasses 1, 2, and 3. Along with several other terrains I did my best to make everything look like it had happened that way by chance, with real weather. Keep in mind that at this point, I am not adding trees, I am not adding roads, nor am I adding any form of eye candy. These did not exist 400 million years ago, so they should not exist yet in your terrain. As soon as you are very sure your terrain looks accidental and bordering on real, you can begin cliff design.

Cliffs are tricky things to explain, as there are many reasons for their forming. The most common reason has to do with the shifting of the tectonic plates underneath the Earth’s crust. Cliffs are part of mountains. Mountains are created several ways as well. As many of your living in high earthquake-risk areas will know, earthquakes are formed by the scraping of plates against one another on the places where one plate meets another. These are called Fault Lines. When earthquakes happen, especially on very forceful ones, the ground splits and forms chasms. But cliffs are also formed when these tectonic plates smash up against each other. The two contintental plates shoving up against one another force the earth’s crust upward, sometimes to heights of thousands of feet. This surge upward of the bedrock is what normal Granite mountains are created out of. In other parts of the world, there are other large rock formations, but they are not mountains. China and Egypt are home to some of the largest Limestone deposits in the world. Limestone is a hardened calcite rock that is softer than normal rock. It makes up 10% of the earth’s sedimentary rock and is found mostly in dried up lakebeds. If you’ve ever been spelunking you’ll know that caves are made of limestone, and so are the pointy things inside them going up and down, stalactites and stalagmites. Limestone rock is very affected by the passage of water near or through it. When water grinds up against limestone, or the calcite material that Limestone is made out of, Carbon dioxide gas is made in a chemical reaction. The limestone, over time, will dissolve based on how the water flows through the rock formations. Based on where we are in the world, the mountains and cliffs of Cupid’s Poisoned Arrows are granite. Granite rock is very hard and is only known to be cut by large blocks of ice called Glaciers. That being said, granite cliffs will be, most likely, farther away from water sources than limestone cliffs. They will also be a lot more populated with wildlife due to the fact that the roots tend to hold better into the bedrock’s soil than on limestone, which is more often bare. Coming back to emulating cliffs, again, it should all look accidental. Cliffs are not designed for the cities they inhabit, cities are designed around the landscape objects that they are on. So go wild with your cliffs. Decide which earthquake happened where, when, and how. Did the tectonic plates hit each other and force the rock upward sharply? If the land is an island in the middle of the ocean, is it built out of cooled lava or magma from an underground volcano? (Volcanic soil is EXTREMELY fertile, this will come in handy later during the eye candy part) Did the plates just grind and create an earthquake on a nearby fault line? It’s all up to you and your place on Earth. When you’re done placing your cliffs, try to add a bit of dirt to the top of them. Grass cannot immediately cover the top of a cliff because it’s bare bedrock. There needs to be soil on top of it first.

And now that our terrain and bedrock is set, welcome to 150 million years ago, when the first recognizable trees and bushes roamed the earth. These were conifers, plants like Pine trees who reproduced by dropping what we call “pine cones.” As the state of life advanced and more types of conifers were added to the pool, flowering plants also evolved. As you’ve guessed it, it is now time to put in vegetation. The grass and dirt is already there, so trees and bushes are our next step. Trees, like people, grow best in colonies since when have you seen only one tree standing in the middle of nowhere without any other trees around for miles. (not hand planted trees) Very much depending where you are in the world, you will have different types of trees. Palm trees don’t tend to grow in areas not having hot and somewhat tropical climates. Pine trees grow in colder climates, and although there are different species, they are almost all grown just about anywhere in the world. (They’ve been more than a few hundred thousand years in the making, they have the experience, definitely.) Oak trees and maple trees grow in much more moderate climates. So in my case for Cupid’s poisoned arrows, the trees I’ll be using most are Pine trees and Snow pine trees. In the same forest, especially at the near end of winter, we would have both types in the same forest, sporadically placed. There may be one area with less snow pines than pines, and the same is true for up north. As a rule the more you vary your terrain, the more interesting it is for the player. Again, every aspect of land design must look like it was there by accident. Think about how trees like Pines reproduce. The pine trees drop their pine-cones, which in effect contain seeds. The seeds get buried and fertilized when an animal drops its feces on them, the tree will grow. Taking this into account, forests will grow wherever an animal most often drops its feces. Animals don’t really have their own toilets, they drop their feces where they find it convenient. While a little put-off-ing, If you think in this way your forests will look accidental. Try taking it only a few trees at a time, find out as each tree grows where it will drop its pine-cones.

If you take all these into account, and do your best to make everything look accidental, you should have done your part in emulating the Earth! In your exploits so far you have spanned more than a few billion years, but your landscape designing is not yet over.


Part 2: Elevations- The Earth is not flat and was never meant to be!

It means exactly what it sounds like. The Earth is round, bumpy, wet, dry, but one thing it never has been is flat. Your emulation of the Earth should do its best to portray this.

Elevation plays a huge part in combat in Age of Kings. But you MUST NOT design for your scenario. Your scenario must be designed for the landscape! Therefore, you must take into account what you want to happen in each area of your map, but you shouldn’t overdo it. Remember where your scenario is located. If you design in the desert- It isn’t flat. Sand dunes roll on and on for miles. If you’ve ever stood in Egypt’s dunes and picked one out on the horizon you could walk for hours and it still would never seem like you got any closer to it. And especially on sand, every step you take uphill you lose half of one step. So it takes twice as long to reach anywhere. Emulate this! Desert scenarios should have larger maps, and high and low elevations. But dunes don’t go up to a certain point, they keep rolling and go to different heights. The valleys don’t drop to a preset height either, everything is very random, everything happens by accident. There are no patterns. One thing I like to say about elevation design is: There should be at least some elevation change every 3 tiles. A reminder- at this point you should NOT have any roads. Roads ruin map design at this stage, because you’re putting in man-made objects when man doesn’t yet exist. So elevation for roads is not a problem. That can be changed later. The key word here is “varied.” But the variations must be accidental.


Part 3: On Eye Candy- you cannot have enough until it is too much:

You can’t have enough until it’s too much? What in all hell does that mean? Well, the job of this section is to tell you. The rule stated basically states that there is never really a problem with “over-doing it.” If you have a path in the woods that you want to cover with “mud” by using objects path 1, 2, 3, and 4, then by all means do it. BUT don’t throw so much “mud” in there that it creates enormous lag. One huge helpful tool are the Rocks. Rocks bar pathways that you don’t want people to take and can be removed later, they also can spruce up streams and rivers. The “plant” object can be used anywhere and is great as crab grass or a sprout sticking out of the mud. Graves, of course, come in handy when anything else doesn’t. In terms of interesting inventions with eye candy, I’m all ears. Of course there’s the waterfall trick. Create two cliffs that don’t touch each other and put snow terrain between them and have water on both sides. But this is not an eye candy tutorial. You can find those anywhere on AoK heaven. The purpose of eye candy is to spruce up an area of a scenario. Judge it based on how much you need to make that area interesting enough to a player. Not every area needs Roman ruins and a stone head with graves. Sometimes only the stone head is needed. This is also where the “accidental” rule breaks apart. If the eye candy you’re adding is human built it must look like it was placed there deliberately. If it’s Roman Ruins, per say, they wouldn’t be out in the middle of the desert for no reason. But if the eye candy you add is natural it must look accidental. And now that we’re in the time period: Mammals do exist. We now have creatures like birds, deer, turkey, sheep, etc… all depending on where you are in the world. So add them! In Siberia there are Reindeer, so I added deer in a few places around the map. Birds are also common place. So add one Eagle or Macaw (depending on where you are in the world) at every corner on the map and a few others around the map itself.

Final words:

If you design by this you will eventually end up with a map that looks somewhat professional, but more importantly, bordering on real. This emulation is the whole point of a scenario map in Age of Kings. As for human creation, the rest of history is up to you and your triggers and players to decide.


"So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you."
-Gandalf
AuthorReplies:
Mashek331
Squire
posted 05-01-06 04:47 PM CT (US)     1 / 12       
Great job Boosh, you compare really well mother earth with the AoK editor. By the way, this is something that has puzzled me for about half a year now.

Quote:

ksrugi: Oh....my...God. Thank you for updating it. I love this scenario so much, it's my number two favorite.
(Sorry, but Boosh's scenario is a masterpiece).

This is a quote for one of my scenarios, so what is this masterpiece of yours?

[This message has been edited by Mashek331 (edited 05-01-2006 @ 04:49 PM).]

Scud
Primus inter pares
posted 05-01-06 04:49 PM CT (US)     2 / 12       
Welcome back Boosh!

Ah....that was back in ROID, when ks.whatever was testing Boosh's scenario, he's still working on it over half a year

Which reminds me, i still need to playtest the latest version you sent me the other day.


¬_¬ Scuddles: Rhymes with huggles© ¬_¬
"Scud: the man who could even make God feel foolish." - A Banned User
"Anyway, Scud's not mean, it's not in his nature...he is a bit eccentric though!" - Anastasia
Boosh
Squire
posted 05-01-06 09:16 PM CT (US)     3 / 12       
Hello again!
Mashek331:
The "masterpiece" Ksrugi is referring to is my "Cupid's Poisoned Arrows" campaign. I've just about finished the first mission, it just gets almightily confusing in the end, I think, and I need a way to refine it. I've only just started the larger 2nd mission, which is the total part of the project. In basic terms, it's a love story. But this particular love could result in the death of a nation. If you'd like to check it out just e-mail me here: (boosh at kbuch dot com) and I'll send it to you. Here's a picture of the map:

http://img71.imageshack.us/img71/4875/cpa5gc.jpg

It's a really small size. Again, if you e-mail you I can send you a more detailed picture with the campaign's background information.

Anyway, it seems that whoever I'm supposed to e-mail to put my article to AOKH's University has a full mailbox.


"So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you."
-Gandalf
Cesar Bernardi
Squire
posted 05-01-06 09:23 PM CT (US)     4 / 12       
Holy cow! Pretty screenie.
Stabby Slashy
Squire
posted 05-01-06 09:30 PM CT (US)     5 / 12       

Quoted from Boosh:

If you believe in the story of Evolution

I don't

Nice tutorial anyways.

[This message has been edited by Stabby Slashy (edited 05-01-2006 @ 09:30 PM).]

Super_Cell_51
Squire
posted 05-01-06 11:45 PM CT (US)     6 / 12       
I do not support the evolutionary theory either, but I loved your tutorial...I was going to write an artical similar to this, until I found out that your article existed. Well, you beat me to it.

Anyway, I would like to take a closer look at your map, if you don't mind that is...Email is in my profile.


___~ Super Cell 51 ~___
"Live every day as though it was your last."
JESUS SAVES!
Boosh
Squire
posted 05-01-06 11:54 PM CT (US)     7 / 12       
Okey dokey Super_Cell, check your inbox!

"So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you."
-Gandalf
Super_Cell_51
Squire
posted 05-02-06 00:01 AM CT (US)     8 / 12       
Wow, that was quick. Thanks, I'll take a look soon, and btw, the map looks great.

___~ Super Cell 51 ~___
"Live every day as though it was your last."
JESUS SAVES!
Boosh
Squire
posted 05-02-06 00:04 AM CT (US)     9 / 12       
Thank you, I appreciate the compliments!

"So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you."
-Gandalf
Mashek331
Squire
posted 05-02-06 01:16 AM CT (US)     10 / 12       
-Boosh-
Check your email.
ReIch
Squire
posted 05-02-06 01:29 AM CT (US)     11 / 12       
Most of the time i design a forest, or aplin, or nature, i take it from dreams i had.
yeah! well, works for me

--
Best regards

Balazs
Boosh
Squire
posted 05-02-06 10:02 AM CT (US)     12 / 12       
Got it Mashek, it's been sent back your way with the files. Enjoy!

"So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you."
-Gandalf
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