Sunday, October 9, 2016

Mapmaker, Mapmaker, Make Me a Map

No time for a proper post this week, as I’m hard at work preparing for National Heroscape Day 2016.  More links once I do my official battle report, which will most likely be in two weeks—next week, most likely, you won’t get a damn thing.  But, c’est la vie (and see la title).

What I mainly had to work on this weekend was nailing down maps.  Now, I’ve talked about Heroscape before, and I’ve talked about building maps before, and you may have gathered (if you were paying attention) that building maps is not my favorite part of Heroscape.  Most of the maps I talk about building on this blog are huge affairs which take forever to build, but generally last a long time because they’re big enough not get too bored with after a while.  On the other hand, NHSD is a tournament, where things are a bit more constrained.  You can’t just throw together any old map all willy-nilly.  Maps have to be “balanced,” meaning that you don’t have an advantage or disadvantage depending which side of the table you’re sitting on.  Quite often this is achieved by making the maps perfectly symmetrical.  They also can’t have too much height (because tourney games are quick games, so you can’t waste a lot of time scaling mountains and whatnot), or too much water (because then it’s a pain in the butt for the two armies to get to each other), or too many weird features that might be easily exploited by some units but not others.  In other words, tourney maps need to be boring.

Well, at least that’s my perspective.  Obviously not everyone feels that way.  There is, in fact, a thriving trade in creating maps specifically for tourneys.  Well, there used to be anyway ... there haven’t been any new entries in over 3 years at this point.  But still there’s quite a few out there, and somewhere along the way it sort of became my job to go through the maps and pick out what I think might be interesting ones to build for the tourney.  And that changes every year, of course, because what’s really interesting one year we may be sick of three years later after playing on it every year.  And perhaps maps that didn’t seem that exciting 3 years ago might be a bit more exciting in hindsight now that we’re looking for an infusion of something different ...

Anyhow, there’s more to it than just finding maps which seem like they’ll be cool to play on.  There’s also a paleontological aspect, which comes in the form of digging out what maps we’ve used for the past several years and seeing which need to be retired in favor of something fresh, and an engineering aspect, in figuring out how many of which terrain sets it takes to build a given map, and then a social aspect because only certain people want to bring their terrain and build maps, and then which people have enough to build these two maps vs those two? and if you can’t build that one, can you build this one instead? but then that means that whoever was going to build this one now has to build that one, and do they have the right sort of pieces for that?  And so on.  It can get quite complex, depending on how many maps you need to choose and assign, and how many people you have to assign them to.

So, being the programming nerd that I am, I naturally made a spreadsheet for it.  I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that it involves a lot of rows of maps and columns of terrain sets, and different tabs for each potential mapmaker, and turning numbers red when I’ve managed to assign someone more maps than they actually have enough terrain to build, and ... well, yes.  It’s a bit complex.  But of course that’s the sort of programming that I always find the most fun.

Anywho, all of this resulted in this post in our tourney thread about maps (don’t forget: I’m known as “Xotli” over there).  But then, while I was writing this post, I actually found some new maps to choose from, so now I may redo my whole list.  Or then again I may not.  But it’s keeping me busy anyway.

Until post-tournament.

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