Is Map Making Complicated?
Honestly? It is and it isn't. Like anything else that involves creativity, it takes a touch of inspiration and a lot of hard work. But let me tell you that once you get your map out there and it plays good, you will feel like you're on top of the world. It isn't complicated because the editor is in fact, pretty easy to use and understand.
If you need to see what a really good map looks and plays like, download a few maps from our map archives. It's also easier if you are very familiar with the game, so you know what different objects and units can do and affect the game.
There are a few things that needs thinking about...
Use all the tools and graphics that the editor has. Those trees, those flowers, those rocks, those cracks (in the underground levels). Does the map reflect what's happening in the world you created?
Does each side have a equal chance of winning? Resources, accessibility to cities, nodes, starting units, are just some of the things that can affect balance.
Is this map fun? Does it make someone just want to keep on going to see what you've got in store for them?
Balance is a particularly important issue when making maps designed to be played by a few people. The AI isn't perfect, so some CMMs give the AI more advantage by setting them to Emperor or King levels, or by giving it higher starting level or stronger starting units. There are a few more tricks used to make the AI more challanging - be sure to look into the Ultraboard Archives on this site for some very useful tips by the experts!
Not everyone thinks that having a story is important - but a good story helps the player understand what's happening and why he's fighting. Even though the story only appears at the beginning of the game, if the map "works" well, the story can tell itself. The epic unfolds during the gameplay. (of course, there are some story enhancing tricks...)
Well, there isn't any more than these. Nobody can tell you EXACTLY how to place the cities, the resources, the units - there's more than one way to make a really good map and everyone's got their own style. As long as the map is fun and playable, you've got your goal. Here's the MOST IMPORTANT PART!!!
You'll never know if it all works until you actually play the map you've made (and that's where you're going to learn stuff). So PLAYTEST, PLAYTEST, PLAYTEST!!! (This can never be emphasized enough). But remember to always HAVE FUN.
Short note: Some fans have created their own modified files and programmes for modifying rules and stats of units/spells/etc in the game. If you would like to try them out, be sure you've read all the documentation (if any is included) and clarified any doubts about how to use them with the authors before using them.