It is currently Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:35 am

All times are UTC + 9:30 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 8 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: On Volatility in AW Maps
PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2008 9:12 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:34 pm
Posts: 3761
Location: Tennessee
I've been playing DoR lately, and I was thinking about AW. Then I had an interesting idea about maps.

Maps are, of course, critical to a game of Advance Wars. They define the individual match, what is possible and impossible. The map drives all of the other choices, from what COs are chosen, to what units are built, and where and when they are built and moved.

One of the major properties of an AW map is its volatility. High-volatility maps tend to be decided fairly quickly, in a few turns, and any time after that is basically cleanup. FTA is extremely important in such maps. Low volatility maps tend to long and boring battles, where each player is extremely difficult to overturn, and most of the fighting is just slow grinding with the enemy forces. You can see the battle lines form and move.

The ultimate low volatility map is one in which two dense bases with a good number of factories are in opposite corners, and the rest of the map is all mountains. Taking the enemy base is nearly impossible, so such a battle would probably be eternal.

The ultimate high volatility map is one in which each side has a base with 2 factories right next to each other, and the HQ slightly off to the side, and in the center is a huge number of cities with a handful of factories interspersed throughout (and perhaps something critically important, such as an airport or com tower, in the center). Any additional terrain is just roads. Small decreases in the efficiency of your capture phase can lose you the whole battle long before the enemy even reaches you.

Both of these maps clearly have major problems. In fact, anything even approaching them in volatility will be no good at all. The best is to strike a balance in between the two extremes.

The volatility of a map is determined by the interplay between two opposing forces. Attackers enjoy the ability to control areas of the map, which if they contain valuable properties, can give them a huge money advantage. They also enjoy the ability to cause severe damage to the enemy's industrial areas by placing units on them or capturing them. Defenders enjoy the ability to produce and transport their units to the front-line faster, and they generally enjoy better defensive terrain and defensive formations...not to mention their own cities and factories healing their units.

The more that a map favors the attacker, the more volatile it will be. Likewise, the more that a map favors the defender, the less volatile it will be. Keep in mind that there is no set attacker or defender, and each side will probably play each role at some point, but once one side starts winning, it will become the attacker pretty much until the end of the game (if they win).

In order to favor an attacker, a map should include many properties in between the two sides. There should be small intermediate bases that are easy to take over and control. It should minimize the travel time between production and front-lines (via easy to traverse terrain and bases near the front). There should be minimal highly defensible terrain and chokepoints. Main bases should be small and on flat terrain, with few or no cities and few production facilities.

In order to favor a defender, the opposites of the above will help. Few to no intermediate properties, no intermediate bases, heavy terrain between bases (aiding in defense and making transport difficult), lots of important chokepoints, highly defensible main bases with dense concentrations of cities and production facilities.

Of course, mapmaking is much more than just balancing volatility...but it's something that is good to think about when making your maps. A map that is long and boring with lots of heavy defenses and miraculous comebacks is probably not volatile enough, whereas a map that is intensely competitive early on, but ends fairly quickly in the majority of cases, is probably too volatile.

Also, what is the best level of volatility? Is it directly in the middle? or perhaps is it better to have it to one side? The magnifying effect that high volatility has on FTA seems to suggest that the optimum would be tipped slightly toward low volatility.

Any thoughts?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 10:17 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:44 am
Posts: 1226
Location: X, Y, Z
The best volatility depends on the type of game you're interested in. I personally have played mostly mid-low volatile maps, but I'm not sure if that's a preference of mine or if it's due to the community's views on respectable maps.

I notice in most of the maps I've designed will have some areas of low volatility and some other areas of high volatility; I'd put some lanes of plains or roads in some areas, usually with a wasteland or forest in the way, then have a pond or a large mountainous area that houses cities on some other part of the map, usually in the middle. Rarely do I ever leave any production properties in low volatile areas, as that would be bothersome (ref: Base in the middle of the forest on Moji Island). I also have a tendency to either leave Airports further back than other properties, in order to compensate for their ability to move over any terrain, or put Airports in an extremely compromising position. It's funny because I have a preference for using air units as well, so I find it sort of odd that I purposefully cripple air units in my map design.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2008 10:04 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:34 pm
Posts: 3761
Location: Tennessee
I would like to point out that volatility is a holistic thing. I guess you could characterize a region as volatile or stable, but it's ultimately the design of the whole map that determines volatility.

Even though certain terrains and configurations tend to promote or damage volatility, they are not volatile by themselves. For instance, a winding road running through mountains is heavy defensible terrain. However, if the mountains are next to a region of flat open space with many cities, commanders are going to prefer the flat open space, relegating objectives in the mountains to their secondary list.

Also, four other factors I thought of recently:
Larger maps tend to be less volatile, and smaller maps are obviously more volatile. This is because it takes more time to move units around on a large map. The size of a map should only include active areas, rather than the tile dimensions of the map. Also, larger maps magnify the effects of terrain and intermediate production properties, while reducing the effect of FTA.
More money from properties tend to make more volatile maps, and vice versa, though this depends on the configuration (contested areas create more volatility than easily secured areas, and having the properties to use the money is also important).
Airports tend to make maps more volatile, since aircraft can ignore terrain.
Having enemy cities that are easily capturable increases volatility by doubling the economic effect. In the case of vulnerable HQs, it generally makes the map a lot more volatile, since it can lead to a presently winning player's defeat.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:53 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2006 11:36 pm
Posts: 3547
yet another concept good players know about yet never mention


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 2:19 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:44 am
Posts: 1226
Location: X, Y, Z
It's mentioned plenty, just in forms such as "this map favors tank spam" or "this map is too chokey".


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:32 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2007 12:34 pm
Posts: 341
Location: Seven
I almost always prefer highly volatile maps... which usually means smaller ones ( though I'm not sure if this is because I like a game to end quickly, or because I like the style itself ).

However, as you have pointed out, such maps have one obvious flaw - the outcome is obvious after the first handful of turns.

With a machine opponent, this is no problem ( in fact, I enjoy it XD ), but when your playing another human... well, I don't think anybody likes to wait around for half a game watching their units get blown to smithereens. I mean, for the winning half, this is fine ( in fact, I enjoy it XD ), but the very nature of such a map kills the fun of the game for half of those present. I guess that's why IS included the "Yield" option.

[ *cough* ]


Last edited by HochDeutsch on Fri Jun 13, 2008 3:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 6:02 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:34 pm
Posts: 3761
Location: Tennessee
Q wrote:
yet another concept good players know about yet never mention
it seems like it's a concept that good players know about intuitively.

or perhaps in some cases knowing about it in a non-unified fashion (ex. recognizing individual elements, such as chokepoints, as troublesome)

HochDeutsch wrote:
[ and also for the French AW players ]
Ouch.

Keep in mind that we actually do have French AW players, like TTH.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:06 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2006 1:59 am
Posts: 179
... >_>;

And by the way, I no longer play AW. I always sucked at this anyway.
I think I'm gonna give up the translation. After all, who cares? I'm like the only French guy on this forum. There's still a French AW community... but they probably don't know that CW exists.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 8 posts ] 

All times are UTC + 9:30 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Blue Moon by Trent © 2007
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group