Scenario Design

Cooperative Map Making

I noticed that many maps out there are solo efforts, and only a few are the result of a cooperative effort.

The advantage of working together is that one individual can make up for the weakness in the other. For an example, if you are not good at making a balanced map, find someone who can. If you are not interested in decorating your map, find someone who likes sprucing up maps.

And it is less likely you’ll run out of ideas when you have a friend with you.

Finding the partner

Naturally, you want someone whom you think you can work with. Much like real life, sometimes friends can end up becoming enemies after the project is finished. Unlike real life, if a serious conflict of interest crops up, the map is going to end up unfinished. Naturally, the one who came up with the map idea is the one who goes round asking for help. So the tips below are applicable to him/her.

When asking for help, state clearly what your idea is, what kind of map you want to make and what kind of role you want your partner to play. This is extremely important. You don’t want to send your map to other and find out that he/she has changed something that is crucial to the objective or idea of your map. This also means that you must know what you want to do in the first place.

In the same way, if someone comes to you and asks you if you would like to help out, make sure that you know how things are going to get done. Ask the other what he/she wants to achieve and how you can help. You do not want to change things he or she does not want changed.

Project on the Way

As the map that you are going to work on is going to get passed back and forth, be sure to make extra backups as you go along. There are at least three versions – the working map (the one that you are actively working on), the backup (which you don’t touch unless something goes wrong with the working map) and the test map (which is exactly the same as the working but playable). Also, once the map is playable, one of you can start playing on the test map while the working map is in the other’s hands. When the working map gets back into your hands, you can make the changes found while testing.

It really isn’t as tedious as it sounds. Just so long as everyone is aware of what everyone is doing.

Personal Experience

I guess I had it easy. All I had to do in my role, as co-mapmaker, was to write a background story for all sides, put up ‘signs’, activate text pop-ups and make artifacts and heroes. I had the freedom to co-decorate as well, but my friends (DIX and Elquein) were so good at it that I didn’t have to do much of it. They were also much better at balancing the map than I was. You could say that my role wasn’t major, but I had a lot of fun in helping anyway.

To me the ideal number is two mapmakers to one map, more than that, it might get confusing and difficult. We live across continents of each other. The main contact was via e-mail or ICQ. One person would typically handle the map for days or weeks, I would expect. But for me, I only got the map when it is just about ready for play-testing, so that I can start planning the storyline and give names to continents on the map, etc.

Feedback:

I’d like to hear what everyone thinks of cooperative mapmaking. Is it better to work with another or to do a map all by yourself? Or is it more time consuming to work with another?

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