How can I make my map fun?


Lead and only designer of Mark of the Dragon here. You may have seen my project (but probably not) here on FEU. I don’t get a chance to update it often as I would like to, but yet I carry on.

In any case I am currently slightly stuck in the design of my chapter 7. Now, I’ve been looking forward to getting to this chapter for a while as it is supposed to be a bit of a mid story climax or whatever. My game isn’t supposed to be that long in comparison to many hacks/games, mind you. However, I’ve done a first draft of my map and am placing enemies and so on, testing and planning for events… but I’m not feeling it, and I’m wondering if I need to rethink my design a fair bit. But I’m really feeling stuck so I am turning to you for a fresh perspective.

Here is the first proper draft of my map.

First off, yes I know it is a bit big. I want it to be a bit big, but I also know that big maps come with their own big design challenges. More so than small maps.

But let me explain what I have got so far. Storywise this chapter represents our party finally having arrived at the capital while their country is being invaded all over. While waiting to speak to some high ranking noble, or perhaps even the Queen, a three pronged offense against the city starts, from the south west, the south and the south east. The main force in the south is led by Estevan. A handsome cavalier with a very mean streak. East and west are both led by enemies the player has seen before, if they are still alive. So potentially there are three bosses. Estevan means to torch the surrounding villages, and we can’t have that. So essentially we need to get to Estevan and defeat him before he does so. Defeat boss within turn limit is the goal here.

My thinking is fairly dense enemy placement, mostly varied infantry including armors, occasional magic and a fair amount of bows. Several cavalry units around the main boss and the odd ballista or otherwise long range enemy. Every couple of turns some wyverns will spawn in bottom right and pursue across the map. The recurring boss in the south west can be convinced to switch sides with a special event if he is still alive. And lastly I’m thinking several events spawning reinforcements depending on the routes the player takes. All in all a fairly interactive map is the plan. Also worth noting is that the player is bringing a big party of almost 20 units.

But I think the actual map is off. The flow is off, and I think it needs more routes, as well as needing to just be less open in general. Perhaps several cascading cliffs cutting areas off from one another entirely, forcing more dramatic and clear party splits, perhaps into many small groups. I could cut it down, but I found with one of my earlier maps that when large map is sectioned off it can become quite interesting.

All in all this is a truckload of text, but I am very thankful for any and all suggestions here.


EDIT: Also looking at it it just doesn’t look that good.

Open maps are great for “emergent game-play”. These play more like FE4 - assuming the AI is set up to charge - either within two moves or immediately. The challenge is in setting up your army for the eventual clash. What the AI does is down to what you do and your next steps will be based on the AI’s moves.
I think this could work, so long as the turn limit gives the player just enough (but not too much) breathing room to prepare for their encounter with the enemy forces. I think this would work best if the enemy were in larger groups that move together.

Having more closed routes, with towering cliffs will help you to control the encounters making them less random. I think if you choose that particular route, it would be good to plan three distinct paths. Perhaps something easier but slower, harder but quicker and somewhere inbetween - with the turn limit in-place that could make for an interesting dynamic.

I hope these ideas help.


They do help!

So what you mean with the more open style is to have blocks of enemies that trigger together, rather than having enemies be evenly spread out across the map?

Obviously not totally like this but small squads that start to attack when you reach a certain point of the map - a bit like chapter 21 of FE6 or any map from FE4.

Example Example 2

I think open maps work best when you give the enemy the tools and positioning to utilise the openness of that map too. Having to prepare for attacks from multiple enemies at once is one way to achieve that.


This is really helpful. I feel like one of my biggest struggles is often enemy placement, and specific examples like this really go a long way for me. Sincere thanks!