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Location: Home  Blogs  Map Design Advice - Height 
Map Design Advice - Height
Map Design Advice - Height24 Jul, 2012
  Lexino (5 comments, 1369 views)  
Height
also known as Z-Axis (actually Y-Axis in the SM (and TM1/2) editor, don't ask me why its Y instead of Z)

Making a map with lots of height variations would be much more fun for the player than a flat map. There are more distance that the player can go than he could on a flat map. For example I make a flat map, a 10x10 map, that's 100 blocks of distance you can travel, but if you use height, you are making a map thats more than 100 blocks of distance in a map thats still 10x10. You are making the map bigger without changing the dimensions. Even if you waste blocks using mountains or platform blocks to make height, you are still creating more distance. For example, a 10x10x10 map, thats 1000 blocks, and I use maybe about 400 blocks to create height variations, thats 600 of distance, a 500 more than a 10x10 flat map.

It helps the combat, people like to kill enemies from relative safety, they could do that from above, from a ledge, bridge, etc, they could drop down if they like to pursue close combat.

Also it allows for surprise combat. For example, I see an enemy, instead of going straight to him, I could jump on a ledge, move beside him, then drop down behind him, then eliminate him. This works because players rarely looks up or down.

And they make a good cover against vertical fire, either from above or below.

Also it makes for a element of danger, you could put offzone blocks below a bridge or whatever, that makes combat going on the bridge more risky as you couldn't jump off to escape.

So what blocks are good for making height variations? there's terraforming, the hills and mountains which allows for great or subtle height. There's underground, which add additional height to the map, those circle tunnel entrances are good. Platform blocks, the rectanglar and square ones can be placed at any height, and there are sloped variations so you can link to the blocks from the ground. There are jump pads which allows you to get on a higher ledge or places that's impossible by foot. This allows the map to be very varied.

Don't go crazy though, make sure your map is still playable, easy to navigate and most of all, fun
Comments
5 comment(s).
  niklas2011 writes ... 20, Jan, 2013  
Height is also Y-Axis in mathematics, it makes perfect sense. Z-Axis is the 3rd dimension (thinking of math)
  hageldave writes ... 22, Sep, 2012  
there is a simple reason why its the Y-Axis.
Because its allways been the Y-Axis. You dont add height when switching from 2D to 3D, no you are adding depth which would be the z-Axis ;)

Now ontopic: I also think that the 3rd dimension can rly enrich gameplay, it though is not easy to make it work speaking of ballance and accessability of the hights. but everyone should be encouraged to try it :d
  PapyChampy writes ... 27, Jul, 2012  
Indeed, but there is also the problem of "closing your map" so that players do not leave the main area. Heigh complicates even more this issue.

Playing with heights can be a very nice touch on a map. For beginner builders, i'd recommend to avoid it for the first maps.
  banjee writes ... 27, Jul, 2012  
Height can also be an issue in the map's scenery. Ridiculously high walls or blocks can make a map look cheap or not very well made. Make sure that your map is in proportion.
  MrA writes ... 25, Jul, 2012  
Its also good to consider height along with the weapon that a player will have or be facing.

A high position while possessing the laser is quite a strong combination especially if the height gives an overview of a lot of the map, this effects map balance.

Not suprisingly, if we turn that around, putting a player against the laser while he is in an exposed high up place can also strongly effect map balance.

If the mode is elite or heroes its particularly relevant to think of this due to the attack/defense team each possessing different weaponry.
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