Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Published on November 9, 2011 By Draginol In Elemental Dev Journals

One of the big but largely under-appreciated features of Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is the new random generation.

In Elemental: War of Magic, the maps were random but the continents were not.  This meant, after awhile, players knew “the lay out of the land”.

Now, having a random world generator is a non-trivial thing as those who have written them can tell you. Especially if you want a map that is “fun” (i.e. no one cut off, reasonably fair, and always interesting).

So here are 3 random starting locations to give you a taste of how different things are from game to game.

image

image

image

..

Now all this is only interesting if the worlds themselves are interesting. And this is a tough thing because interesting is in the eye of the beholder.

image

On tiny maps, we made the continents kind of square-ish so we could fit as much “stuff” on the map as we could. But as you get larger, the interesting shaped continents really come into play.  You will never see that world I just posted again because it was randomly generated.

At tradeshows I’ve talked to my friends at Firaxis (Civilization series) about the map generation “challenge” and it is one of the most programming intensive pieces of strategy game writing.

The philosophy of random map generation is different from game to game. Are we looking for “realistic” or “fun” or somewhere in-between?  For Fallen Enchantress, we focused on continents that are interesting and otherworldly that present a lot of opportunity for choke points and exploration.

Here’s another one you’ll never see again:

image

For those of you not familiar with Elemental, I’m using a cheat key to hide the fog of war (and yea, I’m gonna call it that because I’m lazy).  So it wouldn’t look quite like this in an actual game as you wouldn’t get to see all this at once.


Comments (Page 1)
on Nov 09, 2011

That last screenshot looks absolutely amazing.

on Nov 09, 2011

Yay! Something new and it is impressive indeed.

on Nov 09, 2011

The way the map looks on the minimap in the last shot, the rectangle-ish aspect of each section of the continent, that reminds me a lot of how Heroes of Might and Magic 2 maps used to look like. 

You know, I really should try to make a map of Xeen in the editor. That overlay feature I suggested a while back would help.

on Nov 09, 2011


One of the big but largely under-appreciated features of Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is the new random generation.

It's only "under-appreciated" because we haven't got our hands on it yet.  I, for one, will be over-appreciating this feature.  I loved the HOMM series and this was my biggest gripe (the lack of quality random map generation).  I love the Civ series because of it.  For bonus points, you could include all of the random map generating types that Civ has...

on Nov 09, 2011

Very very cool. Those are some nice looking worlds.

One small thing though is the purple seems a little glaring to me.

on Nov 09, 2011

Hooray for random maps!   I don't know why, but I love randomized things in games.   Those maps are looking good.   Is it beta time yet?  

on Nov 09, 2011

I also prefer randomised games - even if the balance etc is a little off.

on Nov 09, 2011

Things are looking great so far.  

on Nov 09, 2011

I for myself can insure you, that random maps are highly appreciated. 

Fourth and fifth screenshot looks great. And i like the little flavor texts in the first and second screenshot and the pictures too.

on Nov 09, 2011

Frogboy, I don't know where you got the under-appreciated part. I don't know many TBS players who don't appreciate random maps a lot. They are often downplayed by developers (understandably because they must be a *huge* pain to make), but the community usually cries a lot for them.

Anyway, about the screenshots. I repeat what Heavenfall said: the last shot is incredible... It's beautiful. Now, since everyone always has something they feel that could be improved, let mine be a hope of a way of adding variance to the shoreline. The blocky form the mainland has now is ok, but it would alwayd be better if the shoreline wouldn't be as gamey.

I know nothing about the random map generator, but if it's working with stamps (you mentioned about stamps some time ago, don't know if that system is still alive and kicking), maybe there's a possibility of checking if the stamp is on the edge of the map and if so, give the edges some variance. Most important thing would be to make the corners seem less artificial (doesn't automatically mean rounding; peninsulas are just as natural as round corners).

If anything like the above was applied, I guess it would also require for the stamp maker to be able to mark if the stamp's edge can / can not be distrubed. If the stamp is created so that there is some important stuff at the edges that should remain exactly as is, then it shouldn't be affected by this shoreline fix.

It's a secondary thing, but still if possible, make the worlds that much more soulful.

on Nov 09, 2011

Randomization is key for longevity.   This is a vital feature to me in determining whether a game is good or great.

 

on Nov 09, 2011

Man this game be lookin fun

 

"because interesting is in the eye of the beholder." - Sweet, their's gonna be beholders?!!!!!!!

 

 

on Nov 09, 2011

One thing I hated in War of magic is the cliff VS beaches. Cliffs aer annoying for various reasons:

- You cannot move on them

- You cannot build on them

This has the consequence of eating a lot of space from the map.

So to avoid this problem, you need to use terrain changing spells which created tons of bug with beaches.

My suggestion is that all square should be a full square of land like in MOM or CIV. If you want to have cliffs, place them in the sea square and consider this square to be a sea square. So the cliff would not be a terrain type but only used for esthetic purpose.

Else I manually manually hacked a map once to remove all cliff with beaches and it created good results.  So a beach only game is also another easy solution. Here is a sample picture

No Cliffs

on Nov 09, 2011

Randomization and I love it. Definitely can add months/years to playing. Thanks!

on Nov 09, 2011

Pic #4, bottom-middle, is this a winged/flyin creature?

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