Mixman's SubSpace Map Making Guide
How To Make A Rockin' Map?
There is no exact recipe on how to make a good map, which everyone will just love to play. This article will discuss ways on how to build your new map, what to keep in mind while working on it and give hints on what a good map should contain.
What Do I Need To Make A Map?
In this article we will use ljc's SubSpace Map Editor (SSME) .7a, which I used to make the current warzone east map (16.6.97). SSME while still in its beta stages proved out to be a great tool for making SS maps. It has many features, which you will love and the program is still being developed to have even more. There is another map editor (excluding the one that comes with SS -which I do NOT recommend for mapmaking at all), SSLED, but I haven't tried it out personally and have heard quite a load of reports on how buggy it is.
Which Zone Should I Have My Map Made For?
It is important to choose one zone to begin making your map for. Each zone is so different that you might find out making a map, that really doesn't fit any zone. This is not good, as mapmaking takes a lot of time and planning. Lets see the differences between the zones we can develop a map for;
- Chaos No flags here, no bases needed, mostly pure vulching&turreting& fighting around. Lots of open space necessary and open structures.
- Running 16 flags, but no bases needed. Needs a very cautious and carefully planned approach, to make a map which would have qualities that rz'ers have come to expect from a well done running map.
- Warzone 8 flags, bases needed. Planning needed to make a fluid flagging zone. Needs a lot of attention taking note of different ships, bases and movement around the map.
- Speed 30mins timelimit to get high score. There should be a central place for fighting taking place, while still keeping the level easy to navigate.
- Turf Lot'o'bases. Not much else.
When you've set your mind on making that specific map for a specific zone, you should see the zones current maps and see how well they run and how you could better them. The aim for mapmaking is to have new great'n'playable maps, not just new maps.
Making A SubSpace Map
Here we are, having set our goal, gear and ready to spend some freetime on making superb subspace maps. Now I take it that you have read SSME's Help-file (quick read) and know how to handle the map editor (self explanatory).
Below I describe step-by-step, how I make my maps:
Having set my mind on a certain map and having new ideas in my head I hover to the drawing board and begin drawing a miniature of the map in my plans. It's really easy to make and helpful to have an A4 paper with the overall layout of the whole map (or parts of it) and begin creating them with the map editor itself.
The subspace map is on a 1024x1024 grid (i counted it, really), that is 1,048,576 tiles you can fit in it, so you REALLY need to stuff it with something and that is the challenge in making maps. How to fill it, yet not making it a disastrous maze?
Now that we have the layout (or what we believe is how the maps should be at the moment) we can begin on placing tiles on the map itself. I'd recommend beginning filling the map from the very center (J12?) of the map, to have more control over the place on where to place structures you have on paper.
Also as a hint, I used 1 tile (squareblock) for first making the whole map, then afterwards coloring it (= placing the correct tiling). This is just to have the map ready in its (maybe) final form. Then only coloring is needed to have your new map ready.
I might add here that coloring a map is one of the most boring and timetaking things to do. SSME should have a coloring feature in the next revision, which would do all this for you, but until then... do not stress yourself, those shrinks charge an awful lot for their services. ;P
Oh.... and to test the map, save it as local.lvl into your /subspace directory
How To Avoid Common Pitfalls
We know how to use the editor... We have new great ideas to better the current maps... We have the new map on A4 paper... (possibly a new tileset)...
... and are beginning to make the map, but are we yet ready?
By the time you start your map from scratch, you should be aware on how to use the grid with SSME. This is an important thing to master, as it will depend on the grid, how big your tunnels and spaces between structures in the game turn out to be in the game.
6 grids (upwards or sidewards) means that it's a tight tunnel where you really can't defend yourself at all. Chaos.
11 grids means that you have a well-sized tunnel, in which you can defend yourself well.
16 grids means that you can actually outmanouver your opponent and play with him like the evil veteran player you are.
When building your map, keep in mind the size of the tunnels, pathways, doorways and overall structures of the bases. Yes, you will find the map HUGE, but making it a maze is NO GOOD. Remember we are making a new great map, not just a new map.
EXTRA: new tileset
One of the most eye catching things in new maps is the tileset. If you're not graphically talented and have the time, I'd suggest "borrowing" a tileset from someone elses map (with possible permission) and using that in your new map. Just load up one of the maps in your subspace directory (with a different tileset), then use the Edit_Erasmap function and you can start using the different tileset. I'm not aware of any other way that this, to use a different tileset with SSME at the moment. Future versions should allow a menu, to select a new tileset from and possibly by not having to start your map from scratch. Until then, pick your tileset beforehand also!