these are my personal takes on my maps so far...
Binary/ Binary Black, Alpha, Aeon, Eve/ Eve100
short descriptions of my levels so far,..
Binary and Binary Black -
My 1st level! Really a venture into the unknown... I just wanted to make a map that took a little bit to complete, not too hard, but still needing a bit of a battle to win. I experimented with background colour waves and seedling flow.
Binary Black is the better version in, i think, most people's opinion. This is mainly because of the more simple background colour wave changes (not the the garish colours of Binary!). I'm very plesed with the way the starting position in this map makes you feel confined and in need of 'breaking out' into the world.
I obviously had no idea what i was doing but people seem to like Binary Black well enough for my satisfaction. Also recommended for the 'Best Of' maps, along with Aeon, which is nice!
After making Binary, it seemed to me that i had a few key, simple desires from my maps - keeping the colour changes simple but suitably dark/ moody/ weird/ interesting.., making the general overall aesthetic pleasing, experimenting with how starting position affects the whole layout of the planets/ asteroids, as well as how seeds flow between roids and how they travel/ fight, etc.
Alpha is a good example of greater concentration paid to starting position, scaling down slightly from Binary, and enemy seed numbers. I feel that i'm most interested in the non-codey side of designing, basically because i dont know code that well! Therefore i try to make well laid out levels that flow well; (a wonderful example is the map Nemesis (who made the map, credit due there ?)- i think this should be in the 'Best Of ' maps btw!).
My 3rd map. I find it very imposing, but not immediately so. This was a real attempt at making a long, epic map. I find it very hard/ long map to complete, weighing in at the 2 hour mark. It's challenging, but one interesting feature that i discovered while making it; at about the halfway mark i find the tempo swtiches into a more a serene, seemingly slower paced game. Seeds have to travel much greater distances as larger asteroids are discovered and with the numbers reaching into the high thousands, the aesthetic of seedling flow (espeically highlighted when sending all at once, 750+ seeds each from 3 large roids to a single roid above them) is worthy of a screenshot or two in my opinion. I'm pleased with this map because while making it in phases (you'll be able to tell when you can see the whole map later in the game if you look hard enough at the layout design!) it has a nice completeness to it, with a dash of ridiculousness due to the vast distances of the late game compared with the start.
Eve and Eve100 -
To date, my most recent map and as yet (August 1st 2010), unreleased! (due next week or so).
I think, my most realised map. A good combination of decent code and map size, quality aesthetic and playability. I am finding as i make more maps that i am paying attention mostly to what can be achieved by altering SendDistances, roid sizes, and AI difficulty in all its guises, as well the others things mentioned earlier. Also, how mines really help or hinder the early/ late game is worth noting.
I made Eve with the original intention of having a 3-pronged star-like shape and a simple playability- not overly long or hard, just a decent play and with the desire to have 2, maybe 3?, teams charge at each other towards the centre. Therefore, I originally had the player's starting roid as the 3rd from most southerly roid, but changed it to the larger centre roid with all the defence trees because it just made the most sense to me. This map echoes, but to a greater and superior degree, my like of feeling a little confined when starting off, a bit of confusion as how/ where to expand and the various chokepoints and expansion routes therefrom.
In Eve, the player is literally surrounded with lots of high quality roids and aggressive AI, with only limited time before the inevitable will happen... So, once i changed the starting position, i needed to up the seed count from around 50 to 100 or so. I then made nearly all other roids the Enemy (as opposed to the Grey's and the inferior AI i have for them) and had a play... I discovered that, for me at least, it was 'impossible'! So i upped the count to 200 starter seeds and maybe even a mine to help the early game. I completed that version after about 2hrs hard graft effort! I then thought that perhaps i'm just not good enough to complete the '100' version, but i wanted to see how other's got on, so i'm releasing both versions, the 100 and 200 seedling versions.
This map has in my view the best, so far, of what i want from my maps- pleasing visual aesthetic of both seed flow and layout (only topped by the epic-ness of Aeon), difficulty, time to complete, size of map as well as send distance ratios, and also that initial feeling of seeing the surrounding enemy roids and fearing them ever so slightly! I hope people like it...