Posted on 12/29/05 @ 02:20 PM (updated 03/13/06
A random map script for AOE3
Big Continent is a new random map for Single-player or Multiplayer use. This map is in response to requests from other players for 'bigger maps'. It is derived from my previous map, Island Continent, and it has been improved with many new features besides the size. This is version 3, upgraded to fix a few minor bugs, but also with some increase in variability in appearance of lakes and hills, of trade routes, and in 2-player game starting positions compared with the original script.
Big Continent represents an 'unknown' island continent with a wide variety of randomly chosen terrain patterns possible(20 patterns total), each with fauna, treasures, and decorations to fit the theme. The Native Americans also roughly fit the terrain patterns as well. Player starting positions will randomly vary a good bit, especially on 2-player games. The map is fully twice the height and width of Carolinas for a 2 player game, and about 1.9x the size of Carolinas for other player numbers. Doing the math shows that the area on a 2 player map is 4 times that of Carolinas!
The map is of a single large island type continent, with water on all sides, with a possibility of some cliffs, and a lake, mountain, canyon or hill in the center. On this map there is more variation in elevation than on the standard ES maps, and the above listed terrain features are not just included for appearance - their presence can influence gameplay by acting as natural barriers. Trade Routes randomly vary between 7 different types of routes, each with 2 possible patterns of Trade Post placement. For example, there can be a single long route around the periphery of the continent with 6 or 8 Trade Posts, or there can be 2 semi-circular routes following the same course, or a singe long route across the map dividing the teams. There are always at least 2 NA villages, but the number of variations in number and location of the Native Villages has been increased greatly(11 possible patterns). There can be as few as 2 villages, or as many as 6 in a 2 player game up to a maximum of 10 on a map with 8 players. These will be of one or two types per map. The NA villages can be placed one or two per player or at certain places along a map axis or per side of the map. This gives a great variety in possible map play and strategies.
The food resources on each map can vary slightly. There are always 4-5 'herds' of some type per player - the numbers vary randomly and types will vary per map theme. Most of the maps have sheep, cows or llamas, and those that do not have an additional group of huntable animals. Most of the maps patterns have some berries at the start area. All of the maps have a good supply of fish and some whales in the surrounding sea. All maps have 2 silver mines per player near the start area (though the second is just out of the starting screen), with an additional several per player further off. Forests are placed fairly and are scaled better than on the new large ES maps, and all players have 2 small clumps of trees near the start area to be sure initial wood access is equal.
Treasues or nuggets are placed in increased numbers and are keyed to the map type or pattern - a total of 6 per player per map - 2 of the easy ones nearby, and 4 of increased difficulty further off.
This map has an amazing number of randomly chosen variations possible - each of the 20 terrain patterns or 'skins' can have 2 lighting sets for a variety of appearances, 2 different patterns of fauna choices, and each has a few variants in the possible terrain features. Each map has the above-mentioned multiple variations in Native and Trade Route patterns, and the player starting positions varies unlike the standard ES maps. For 2 player games, there is even more variation in the player start positions, and the enemy may not be directly opposite you! Other features that have been randomly varied include the size and shape and height of cliffs, the size, density and underbrush of forests, the size and number of lakes, forested hills or elevation, and many other features.
In my testing this map produces extremely fair, balanced maps for 2 team play with a wide variety of possible strategies. Effective play involves scouting the various resources, Native types and locations, Trade Routes, map terrain, and of course, the enemy. Of course being a significantly larger map, rushing is changed and delayed slightly, affecting gameplay and causing the need to consider new strategies. It is much easier to take to the water for fishing in this map due to the lessened effect of a rush.
This map supports FFA play, and extensive tensting on the current version was without problems. My testing has not shown dropped player resources for larger player numbers, but on a more crowded map that could be considered a possibility.
One feature to consider for larger player numbers is that teammates starting positions are closer than normal for a map this size - there is some variability in this distance as well, but this is designed to help teammates work together to counter a doubling up attack on a player.
To play this map, the two files (big continent v3.xs and big continent v3.xml) must be placed in the folder: My Documents\My Games\Age of Empires 3\RM. I recommend deleting any previous version to prevent confusion. Please do not place them in the game's install folder - that will not work. When you start up a skirmish game in Single-player or Multiplayer, use the small blue 'Custom Map' button, which allows you to then select one the random maps in that My Games folder from the drop-down window; even though this is an updated version the name will still appear as Big Continent. The files will transfer in Multiplayer if your allies or opponents have not downloaded the files. Please do not edit the files or you will have compatability problems in Multiplayer.
The .xml file has been updated to show a map description at the startup screen.
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Great map! It's a bit like all normal random maps rolled into one. There is a lot of variation there, even though the map is not completely random but rather "patched together" from different pre-defined components. This makes it much more interesting to play than the usaul "random" maps which are rarely random at all.
One detail: The trade route placement is sometimes not properly executed, i.e. the circle does not close properly. But that's no big deal.
Really good Map, Lost of space, and the way the map is laid out it doesn't lend itself to "Turtling" strategy easily (which is the strategy I like to employ). Overall, really good map.
The one that I'm suprised no one has done yet is a California Map. I played through all the maps that came with the game, and they had all the way to the Rockies, but no California. It would be rally cool if you guys had a Calif Map. OR maybe a Whole North America MAp, or an All of US, or All of Canada map, hell, even an Atlantic Map would be fun to play. Just some ideas for you guys. Keep up the good work.