Rasher’s Scenario Design Series

Chapter 2: Getting Started

Now you are finally ready to get to work creating your scenario. You are about to become a slave to your computer for as long as it takes to complete your scenario. This may be a matter of days, or it could take weeks. No matter how long it takes, much of your free time will likely be spent in front of the Scenario Editor. Why do we do it? Why do we make ourselves a slave to the computer? That is the sign of a great game. When it is possible to stare a monitor for hours on end, you know you are playing a truly great game. When you have completed your scenario, all the time spent on it will seem worth it. Believe me, there is almost no better feeling than releasing a scenario or campaign to the public. So, no matter how long it takes, you will need to get to work. It will all be worth it in the end.

Basic Landforms
The first thing you will need to do is place the basic land forms. If you are creating a geographically accurate scenario, I would recommend that you get a good Atlas, and use that to help you create the map. If you are making up a place or map, you will not need an atlas.

If you are creating a map that is mostly water, or it would be easier to start off with water, then by all means generate a blank Water map. Most of the time, however, you will want a blank Grass map.

Now, place the land forms. At this step, all you want is the water and grass (Or desert). If you are following an atlas, try to be as precise as possible. Later on you will to change some aspects of the map around to suit your scenario’s needs, but for now keep it as close to the atlas as you can.

If you are making up a map, keep your ideas in mind as you make the land forms. For example, if you know you will need an island in a certain spot, place it there. Also, try to make your map look as realistic as possible. In nature, you will not find perfectly straight shorelines. Try to make these look rougher and more natural.

Your map should look something like this, in terms of what terrain you have placed:

Important Locations
Once you have your land forms completed, it is time to place some important areas. Any rivers should be places now, as well as any lakes. Say that you know you want a mountain range that the human player must travel through. Now is the time to place it. Or if you have a certain puzzle in mind. Whatever your idea, you should probably place the most important elements of the map now. This should also include any areas necessary for the Victory Conditions, whatever they may be. For example, if you know that one of the goals will be to rescue an artifact, then you should place the artifact, as well as the area around it. However, don’t go overboard. At this early stage in your scenario, only the MOST IMPORTANT parts should be laid out.

Next, place any or all important units. You will probably want to create your starting units or towns, as well as any other important towns and units. For example, if you know you want a battle to occur at a certain place on the map, place the units that will be involved in the battle. Or, if you know where an important computer town will be, place it. As previously mentioned, do not go overboard on the placing of the units. The purpose of the this step is to establish important places and events, not to fill in all of the map. Remember as well not to pay too much attention to good map design. Keep your cities and terrain simple for now. Later on you will be able to go back and improve them.

Placing Simple Terrain
Next, place some simple forests in the areas you want them, but only in areas that are important at this time. For example, if you know that you want to have trees separating your town from the enemy’s, place them now. Or if you want to have an area of trees that you must chop through to reach your goal, place them now. Remember that the purpose of this chapter is not to fill the map, only to place the important elements.

One thing that I like to do at this stage is place the basic paths. If I know my units will have to move to a certain spot on the map, I make a path out of the desert tiles to it. Or if I know there is a path from the computer’s town to another town, I will make it now. Or if I know I will have to follow a path to reach one of my goals, I make a desert path to it. Placing your basic paths now will save time later, and will give you a good point of reference to work with. Please note that I do not use this technique all of the time. There will be times when it would be impossible to place the paths at this early stage, and there will also be many scenarios where you simply do not want paths. However, for scenarios that this technique would work on, it would be a good idea to use it.

By this time, your map should look somewhat similar to this, in terms of areas placed:


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