Author Topic: Labeled vs. Unlabeled Maps  (Read 17831 times)

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Offline snesmaster

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Labeled vs. Unlabeled Maps
« on: January 01, 2008, 11:33:23 AM »
What is the general preference when making maps?  I tend to like to put the enemies and items you collect into the maps.  However a lot of maps on this site leave that information out.  Is there a general preference?



I have made or am making maps for Actraiser, Soul Blazer and Lufia II on the SNES.  I create the maps using PhotoShop and have everything on layers, so it would be easy to turn off the layers showing the enemies, and labels for item locations and save out a version that is unlabeled.



It takes a lot of time and effort to go back after the back drop for the game is done to add items and enemy locations.  Leaving that information out certainly would speed up the time to produce the maps, however that is information I like to have.



I was just wondering what is the overall preference of most people who visit and post to this site.  If desired I could submit two versions of each map to make everyone happy, if there is a high enough demand for both versions to make it worth having duplicate maps with minor differences.



Thanks for any thoughts on this.


Offline JonLeung

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RE: Labeled vs. Unlabeled Maps
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2008, 12:44:02 PM »
I do think maps should have valid information whenever possible, however I also believe in being basic and concise.  For example, a platformer with powerups (eg. the Ninja Gaiden maps) should have the powerups revealed, but lengthy written gameplay strategies, while certainly not discouraged, I would probably never do myself.  I don't want to take a map in its pixel-perfection and risk grammatical or spelling errors, or even just saying things a certain way - but that's the obsessive-compulsive-perfectionist in me, and I think a lot of mappers have a bit of that.  Though, again, I wouldn't discourage it if someone did want to do it - but conciseness is nice.



(Keep in mind I haven't mapped in a long time, and I've never made a map that was even comparable to the best maps here.  But I can say what I like, even if I've never reached that point myself. :P)



As the guy who runs this site, I do not often reject submissions, however, on the rare occasion I have, and most of the time it is because the maps are redundant (i.e. another version of the same map when one of the two isn't necessary).  Some would say I should screen the submissions more, and some say I should screen them less (I may make a bad judgment call one day) but that's another can of worms.  In any case, it seemed your unlabeled Zelda II overworld map was desired by others here, so I put that up alongside the labeled one.  (I do enjoy unlabeled Zelda overworld maps too, *coughLightWorldofALinkToThePast* so Zelda II should be no different.)  Perhaps make use of the forum when making potentially duplicate maps, or any maps, really, as we are now.



If you consider what a map is, you would think of areas being labeled, and maybe some information about those areas.  Unless an area is particularly picturesque, I think the map should be able to convey at least some extra information, and in the case of RPGs, there usually is something there to point out.  I realize that makes it a longer process to finish what would take a very long time even without doing so, but I would think it would be worth it.  If you're lost in a game, like if you were lost in real-life, would you want a map, or a postcard?  Even if the postcard was a panoramic photo showing the entire area, I think a map would still be better (especially in these cases when you'd still be getting an image of the area anyway).



I do very much like what you've been doing with the Soul Blazer maps.  The descriptions aren't long, and they exactly convey the info one would expect to find on a map.  I would like to see more Super NES RPGs (and action-RPGs, and adventures, and any derivative of the genre) mapped at all, but knowing the treasure chest contents and warp points and info on how to progress makes them so much more awesome.  Please keep up the good work!

Offline TerraEsperZ

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RE: Labeled vs. Unlabeled Maps
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2008, 01:12:12 PM »
Well, I like both actually, but my preference for labeled maps are those that do so in an unobtrusive manner, without big text labels and arrows everywhere.



The best example is the Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons project I did with Revned. On the dungeon maps, keys were placed where they appeared when they fall from the ceilings, and weapons and items where placed over the open chests they were contained in. As for the overworlds, hidden stairs and seed patches where shown instead of the rock/bush they were hidden under, but cracks in mountains were kept instead of the cave entrances they become when blown up because the cracks are a big hint already. That's the way I personally prefer it, and it mostly has to do with the fact that I hate to hide even a tiny part of a map just to put an arrow, a text or anything really that doesn't belong there. But opinions vary, so when both a labeled and unlabeled version of a map exist, I think both should be kept provided they are both done well.



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Current projects: Mega Man Zero (GBA), Battletoads (NES), Sonic CD (Sega CD)
Current project that are on hold because job burnout :
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Offline Revned

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RE: Labeled vs. Unlabeled Maps
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2008, 01:17:46 PM »
It's a matter of personal taste. Do you like the look of the enemies on the map? Do you think they're a useful addition? I've never included minor enemies, only bosses, and I don't feel like I've left out anything important. Items are generally always shown, but some people prefer not to keep them.



As for word labels, that's different. I never hid the fact that I disliked mephea's style of writing a walkthrough on the map, for pretty much the same reasons Jon mentioned above. I think that simple place names or treasure chest contents, however, are useful and sometimes even aesthetically pleasing.

Offline Rew

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RE: Labeled vs. Unlabeled Maps
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2008, 08:35:15 PM »
I'm in a nobody here, but I'd still like to add my input on the matter.



Truthfully, I'm of two minds here, and I do agree with whoever said that it basically depends. For one thing, when it comes to Zelda games, I really love how snesmaster maps--with all the enemies, items, etc. fully visible. In fact, I don't think there's a 2D Zelda game where that wouldn't work. But I confess I'm really not a fan of labeling--i.e. putting text onto a map or even next to it. I think the only way it works aesthetically is to use text that's the same as the in-game font. Then it can work really well! I think Geminiman furnishes an excellent example of this on his Mega Man maps. And I also have to voice my general dislike of mephea's mapping style (I was looking at his Bubble Bobble map earlier tonight since it was recently released on the VC). He definitely puts a lot of work into it, but it looks so gaudy. But the visual walkthru can be helpful, though--I suspect that if I get stuck on Bubble Bobble at all, he's going to be the first one I check instead of GameFAQs!



Switching over to Mega Man maps, I think the MM maps work better without all the enemies placed in there. I like how generally on those maps, only items and bosses are shown. I'm thinking all the maps should show the larger enemies too (the ones whom you have to defeat in order to advance--like the giant mechanical cat in I think Wood Man's stage).



One thing that I'd really like to see, though, is map consistency. Going back to MM, look at the maps for Mega Man 1 on NES. Revned did most of those, and they look great--what little info there is at the top he deliberately did to make it look in-game. But MagnetiC's Cut Man stage isn't the same style--he has this gaudy red font at the start and end of the stage (and in his info) that doesn't look right at all, especially since his is the only contribution to the MM1 maps. ABStartSelect clashing with Revned in MM4 is another example.
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Offline Revned

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RE: Labeled vs. Unlabeled Maps
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2008, 12:56:44 AM »
mephea is a girl ;-)

Offline TerraEsperZ

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RE: Labeled vs. Unlabeled Maps
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2008, 02:16:51 AM »
Welcome Rew, and don't be afraid to contribute even if you're not a mapper!



My opinion is similar to you on many points. I usually only show bosses, mini-bosses and items on my maps, with exceptions for certain objects or obstacles which I think should be on the map for information or aesthetic purposes. The only maps I will include normal enemies on are for games where fighting the enemies is either the point of the game (like my Contra: Hard Corps map, and Contra is basically only about shooting stuff) or they are an important part of the game (my Prince of Persia maps).



As for consistency on the site, it can be a problem when a game is mapped by several people. Even though I also prefer consistency, I can see how unfair it would be to have your map refused just because it doesn't follow the same format/style as other maps done by some other guy you don't know.



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"With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censored, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably." [...] The first time any man's freedom is trodden on, we're all damaged. - Captain Jean-Luc Picard



Current projects: Mega Man Zero (GBA), Battletoads (NES), Sonic CD (Sega CD)
Current project that are on hold because job burnout :
-Drill Dozer (GBA)
-Sonic 3D Blast (Genesis)
-Naya's Quest (PC)

Offline JonLeung

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RE: Labeled vs. Unlabeled Maps
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2008, 01:30:54 PM »
Thankfully I haven't encountered too many issues (certainly none too serious) about duplication of maps.  The only time I received maps from the same game within the same week was when Grizzly and Geminiman both contributed maps for Mega Man: The Wily Wars, but they only sent in some, and there was only one actually duplicated map between the two of them; I think it was Crash Man's stage.



That worked out well because the two of them talked as they worked on the rest of it and came up with some consistence.  Like our Super Mario Bros. 3 project (and what we have so far of Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night), a little discussion can go a long way.  At least with regular mappers...



Of the many Mega Man games that are still unmapped, I almost wonder if everyone's wary about mapping them because they might feel like they will be stepping on, say, Revned's or Geminiman's toes, since they've done so many of them.  Whether or not I would actually reject them, they may already assume so.



Or it could be a more likely thing...many people don't want to start what they may not finish.  I would still like to have what has been done (ie. J.J. Maxx's Crystalis maps) but I wonder if a partially-finished project deters people who might be able to do it all.

Offline MagnetiC

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RE: Labeled vs. Unlabeled Maps
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2008, 05:26:16 PM »
That Mega Man map was my first try at mapping. At the time there weren't a lot of maps available for me to look at and compare with my own, so I just experimented a bit.



I agree with being consistent and unobtrusive, which I tried to be with my last SNES maps (using the game's font etc.). I also still have the original maps (with layers), so if anyone really wants to see them unlabeled I can always upload them ;)

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Offline Rew

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RE: Labeled vs. Unlabeled Maps
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2008, 08:18:51 PM »
@Revned: D'oh! I almost inserted he/she just in case but then thought otherwise. Blast. ;-P



@Terra & Jon: Thanks for your responses and experience-borne insights. I actually wish I was a mapper. I just have no idea how. I love dropping by here from time to time and looking, though--the Mega Man maps tend to be my favorites.



@MagnetiC: Oh, hey! Hehe. So that was your first map, eh? Sorry if my post came across too critical (looking back over it, I did seem a bit brash). I think it'd be cool if you replaced the red font with the in-game font off to the side of the map and maybe a Cut Man frame too (from stage select screen, which is what I think Revned and Geminiman do). Again, I feel a bit ironic giving advice like this when I've never mapped myself. =P
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Offline RT 55J

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RE: Labeled vs. Unlabeled Maps
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2008, 08:50:17 PM »
I agree with the general sentiment of the other people who responded in this thread. Just try to do what you think is the most aesthetically pleasing. I usually only include bosses, stationary objects and moving platforms. If possible, I think the text should look like it came from the game.



@Terra & Jon: Thanks for your responses and experience-borne insights. I actually wish I was a mapper. I just have no idea how.


It's pretty easy. For the most part we just splice images together. Of course there are other methods, but that's certainly the most common.

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Offline Maxim

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RE: Labeled vs. Unlabeled Maps
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2008, 03:12:18 AM »
I map according to the principle that what's on the map is what you see in-game - unless there's random enemies. So powerups only show if they show in-game in a deterministic way, enemies likewise. Enemy positions are less important but should be as close as possible to where they first appear on-screen.



Arrows are only appropriate if it's necessary for the map - eg. non-linear door travel - but should not overlap the map, and annotations are bad.



So basically, yeah, all are different and having options is good. Maybe an extra column, or multiple maps in the same table cell, where variations are worth keeping.

Offline KingKuros

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RE: Labeled vs. Unlabeled Maps
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2008, 06:31:51 PM »
When I label my maps, I make sure it is non-intrusive.  For the graphics, I include bosses, hidden items, and important NPCs.  As for word labeling, I use it for chest contents, hidden items, showing which passage goes to where, and a few other how tos.  Once again, keeping it non-intrusive.

Offline DarkWolf

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RE: Labeled vs. Unlabeled Maps
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2008, 07:39:51 AM »
I'm not big on putting textual labels.  Stationary items I will put in, but with enemies, it all depends.  If it takes a lot of time and effort to put them in and it really won't add anything to the map, then I don't put them in.

Offline Grizzly

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RE: Labeled vs. Unlabeled Maps
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2008, 03:10:36 PM »
I decide gameplay-wise. I usually try to put in all the important information for being able to succesfully master the game and leave out all the rest. For example normal enemies that can be killed without any big problems would never get onto my maps. But I already mapped games where I left all enemies in, for example the Amiga game Aunt Arctic Adventure, because you cannot kill the enemies and therefore they are a real threat for you.

And I count on the viewer's/player's talent to combine certain aspects, for example when I show a key on a map I won't tell where to use it except when it is not obvious. On my Dizzy map I put in a mini walkthrough because I thought it wasn't clear how to use the items correctly. But my Tomb Raider maps didn't have any help because I thought it was quite easy to combine things when seeing the map.



Although I have to admit that I am not totally consistent with these rules. Sometimes I just have an idea what would look nice and do it, for example I labeled almost everything on my Secret Of Evermore maps. But I don't think the maps were bad because of this.



But I do not have a special preference towards maps of you. I like many styles and do not mind something new. Although I hate incomplete maps, for example isometric view games that have stepped borders instead of diagonal ones.