I’m already bad at map making. I’m halfway decent at outdoor maps (though still not really that good) but I just can’t for the life of me figure out how to make a good indoor map. Even FE Map Creator isn’t much help here. Tips and tricks would be greatly appreciated!
My best advice is: practice makes perfect! The more indoor maps you make, the better they will become! A good exercise for practicing map making: try to make a few maps with size 15x10 and in your case, try to do that with indoor maps. This will not only give you more practice because you make an extra map, but it will also teach you how to work with limited space, what to do with thrones and treasure and you will learn how to place pillars without overdoing it.
This is a bit of a long term advice though, so let me share some tricks that I use with indoor maps:
- Divide the indoor map into sections. Try to give each section a purpose. The throne room and treasure room are the best examples of a distinct section, but other section might include: prison cells, a courtyard, a section where reinforcements come from, etc. By splitting the map up in sections, you will prevent yourself from making a huge map with unnecessary spaces and corridors.
- Do not be shy to use pillars. Not using pillars makes indoor maps look quite empty in my opinion. On normal maps, you can use mountains, forests, forts and rivers to make a map more visually appealing. Indoor maps don’t have this and usually have a bright palette that changes the map in a colourful mush if only the standard floor tiles are used.
- Use different height levels by using staircases. Staircases can help you with splitting the map up into sections, as well as stairs are nice to see if they are done right. Remember that when you elevate a part of the map, you will have to keep the height levels consistant.
- If you choose to use stairs, you can also make use of elevated walls and bigger pillars. They might be tricky to use at first, but they look really nice when done right.
- An indoor map does not only have to be the insides. The entrace of the fort/castle can also be a part of the map. Using a bit of outdoor tiles in your indoor map can really help!
- Try to make branching paths within the indoor map, so that the player can choose where they go. This can increase the playability as well as the look of the map.
These are only a couple of quick tips I can think about. I hope you can use these tips
Indoor maps are hard. I think there are two big things that lead to indoor maps generally being harder to make / less enjoyable to play.
Symmetry. It’s common to see indoor maps have two identical paths with the same enemy layout on each side. Because it’s a man-made structure (typically) we tend to make it fit “realism” vs. using the tiles to make the most interesting map.
Use of space. I find indoor maps generally (and counterintuitively) require more space than outdoor maps to make work because of the way the tiles work. You typically need extra vertical space for walls and stairs to make indoor maps visually more appealing, which isn’t something that feels natural when outdoor maps traditionally cover more “space” in-universe.
My advice is to limit symmetry either by 1) creating multiple, distinct paths, or when it can’t be avoided 2) mixing up enemy composition and rewards on each side. Linear maps with minimal branching paths or mirror-image type maps generally aren’t strong, but it’s much easier to make these types of maps using indoor tiles because of how our brain thinks of rooms/buildings.
When map making, try to give yourself extra room to play around with wall structures and height to improve visuals and add flair/distinction to each path.
Hope this is helpful. XPGamesNL has some strong points above, too.
The thing that helps me the most (though not exclusive to indoors maps) is to sketch out a rough concept on paper before starting. Place down key features that you want to include, figure out a rough scale for the number of tiles being used by chunks of the map to get a rough idea of what the map’s dimensions are going to be, and then block those areas out in the map program and adjust as needed for tweaks, height changes, etc.
Try to picture the flow that you want the map to have and the path(s) that the player will take through the map. Study other maps to understand tile shadowing and height mechanics.