Some of you will hate this, but I still want to put this out there. This is for the maps targeting getting played in the current FAF custom games scene. Team match maker maps can be different IF the wait times for getting games is different.
First remember the primary rule of team map design. You want to get players to the middle game. Early deaths in team games ruin team games.
Here are some tips for team map design that I think are useful...
Choose large bases with a large surface area over expansions.
Use pools or some other device to allow coms to escape one another early on.
Use reclaim fields to give people something exciting to do early on... but remember that your goal is to prevent early com deaths because early com deaths ruin team games.
If the map is too turtley, and the games go too far into a late game scenario... consider making the map asymmetric. By building local advantages/disadvantages you should be able to shorten games in the average case (the advantages should mean that one side kills the other faster on average). Some people hate this, but most people will accept it.
Here's my justifications:
- Large bases are attackable and difficult to defend so players can't just turtle. It means that attacking is viable... which is important if you aren't making a pure gap/astro clone. The larger the base, the more spread the mexes the better... but you don't want expansions because expansions are an easy to see indicator of who is ahead and who is behind. People don't like playing from behind. Its difficult to get team maps to fill, and difficult to get people to host them, so give your map every chance you can and avoid making a map where one side feels the frustration of playing from behind.
Its also worth noting that people quit pretty often in team games if they seem to be going badly. Anything that proves to players that the game isn't going in their favor might drastically increase the number of games where a player drops. If you're making an 8 player map... it really matters.
Early com battles are fun, but games tend to essentially end the moment one player dies. With the amount of waiting required for a team game, this really isn't acceptable.
I think the primary use of reclaim fields is adding excitement to an otherwise boring opening sequence that everyone plays through over and over again on your map. Most team maps have this, its worth pursuing... but remember that you're playing chicken here. Bring coms too close together and you've ruined your map as every game ends in a com death at the 4 minute mark.
Sadly, the kinds of maps that make for good games emphasize safety, and that safety can mean that people will just sit in their bases and eco until they have a game ender. That does not make for a good map for many players - particularly higher rated ones. There aren't a whole lot of tools available to you to get around this issue. You MUST get players to the middle game safely, and that does conflict with the idea of having an exciting game.
Local map asymmetries in mex placement or reclaim placement can change this in the average game by giving players local advantages that can lead to won games. Consider carefully what kind of advantage you want to offer.
Your goal is to give one side an advantage that doesn't have a meaningful game impact until the middle game, so be careful when experimenting with this.
There are three primary means of creating meaningful map asymmetries:
- Mex positions
Terrain asymmetries can make your map more interesting, but at least in my experience probably won't be meaningful enough to change the meta of a map from turtley to scrappy. I think terrain asymmetries are best used in combination with reclaim or mex asymmetries.
When creating a terrain asymmetry with the purpose of changing how a map is played or encouraging an advantage for one player over another, go for a strong asymmetry.
Can you make a "one way valve" via terrain? Can you make it easy to place defenses such that one player can move units through a pass but another cannot? Again, in my experience small terrain asymmetries don't have enough of an effect to significantly shift the strategic meta of a map, so if you intend to use them for that purpose, really exaggerate the terrain advantage.
Reclaim can be immediately converted into an advantage either economic or military... but you have to delay it somehow if it threatens to promote strong early rushes (again... gotta make it to the middle game). You can make the area only accessible by air, but then you have issues of reclaim theft and requiring a complex opening.
Mexes are perhaps simpler, as they provide an advantage, but aren't particularly meaningful until they've "snowballed" into a significant economic and then significant military advantage... which might not happen until late middle game.
If I were to build an asymmetric map today, I'd use a combination of all three. Asymmetric terrain offering local imbalances along with secure reclaim that is slightly delayed - perhaps only accessible by air - along with a modest number of additional mex positions. Perhaps 1 or two.
Anyway, I hope you find these tips useful if you aim to make team maps, and I hope that perhaps these ideas will ignite a creative spark inside some of you that refuse to make these kinds of maps for one reason or another. The realities of lobby put a lot of constraints on team map design, but I believe there IS room for creativity if you're willing to make the effort.