Maps Nearly Finished

Well it’s been 3 weeks now and it’s just a little past mid-October (which is where I wanted to finish off all the maps), and I’m about 90% done with designing all of the maps for Shadow Quest. It took a little longer than I was hoping (was shooting for 2 weeks), but I was sick for about 4-5 days and lost a little bit of time due to that. Work has also picked up a little, so that’s been cutting into my time as well. Other than that, though, I’ve got the general layout of all 5 maps (debating adding a 6th right now, the Temple).

So my initial plan for the maps was to basically have a sort of zoomed out view of a map on which the player could traverse. On it, the player can access villages, ruins, towers and bosses. This is the primary area the player will spend most of their time and requires a fairly lengthy amount of time to traverse. The ruins and towers are generally fairly maze-like, although I wouldn’t describe any of them as extremely difficult. The hardest ones show up on the third level, the lake, where the player will be required to explore the ruins to find a back entrance to the castle and eventually enter the dungeon. I did my best to keep most of the map linear because I don’t want the player to feel lost or annoyed as they traverse the map. I’m slightly worried about the size of the maps because it might be difficult to keep a player motivated as they walk across the maps, but I’ll see once I can start running tests (probably 1-2 months down the road).

To make the maps I chose to go with a grid-like structure, kind of like the way Pokemon is set up. The player sits in the middle of a 9×9 grid (of 50×50 pixel size) and the map will move around them. Each of the spots in the grid is filled with something (whether it’s a village, boss, ruin, tower, tree, rock, water, grass, etc.) and the player is asked to navigate around these things to reach their objective. The first three maps are pretty large, covering about a 4000×2500 grid, which meant a lot of detail was poured into creating the maps. Since I would have died attempting to write out each specific grid spot (I mean 4000×2500 is 10,000,000 squares), I wrote up a little code that would record my movement into a text document as I moved a proxy character around the map. This basically allowed me to quickly and efficiently record hundreds of movements at a rapid pace and essentially finish off the maps far, far faster than I could have any of way (or at least any other way I could think of).

Since I could record the moves as I traversed the map, I figured I needed a general guide to make sure I wasn’t going way off course and completely whiffing in the construction of the borders (which take up most of the room). To do this I just drew a little sketch and placed it in the background of the game. This meant I could just follow along my sketch, recording my movements along the way. This allowed me to spit out a map in just a few hours (minus touch-ups and building the things inhabiting the maps and general testing to make sure everything worked), making my life way easier. I think I would have been stuck on this for at least another month otherwise.

Anyway, that was the major work I’ve been doing over the past 3 weeks. I’m gonna finish off the towers in the 5th map soon, then I think I wanted to work on implementing a start menu the player can access as they walk around the map to view their inventory and change equipment and use potions and junk. After that I was going to work on the talking system – basically what would allow the player to converse with NPC’s on the map. This, I think, will require a couple steps. The first would be to make sure the player is facing the NPC in question, then the player would need to press a button to start up the conversation. I’m hoping I can finish most of this stuff over the next few weeks, possibly by November (which would be awesome). After that, I’ll need to work on creating the bosses for each level (about 3 per level), implementing treasure chest drops, and working on some animation to kind of clean up the transitions and conversations (and probably more). After that I don’t think I have much more left to do, outside of finding an artist to make my game look all fancy and cool, so (with some luck) I’m hoping to be done, minus the art, by December. I’d be extraordinarily happy if I could make that happen. We’ll see. Anyway, I’ll leave some of the basic images and layouts I used for my creating my maps. Enjoy!