So after having a scuffle about game design with someone in the threads, I began to wonder about good and bad game design as a concept, and what makes something objectively poorly designed, it may seem like a simple answer to some but what may be seen as an abhorrent design decision by one may be considered a completely okay decision by another.
I decided to narrow the topic a bit to what makes a map specifically bad, not aesthetically, that’s something that a lot of us can agree on, I specifically wonder what everyone’s thoughts are on what makes a map specifically poorly designed to you.
Also this should go without saying but if you’re using an example for bad design it would be best that you use an example from official FE games and not romhacks as to not ruffle any feathers.
Well, i wouldn’t say objectively since it’s mostly a matter of opinion, but here are some stuff that when i see i just don’t wanna continue playing anymore:
Desert, forest, swamps, whatever. They all suck. Anything that reduces the movement most of the map sucks. Anything that makes the whole map have shitty FE6 hit rates sucks. And i don’t know why every FE game has to have atleast one such map.
A open Map with no gimmicks
Most Echoes Maps fall here, and many from across the series. It will be just an open field with maybe a single different tile or something.
Uninteresting formations of low quality enemies which the solution usually to is send your strong unit to solo em. Very prelevant in many of the Kaga games and it’s such a bore to face them. And just making them high quality while staying in the same formation makes the player turtly or slow. Bleh, not fun. High quality + dangerous Skills + interesting formation is a much better and fun challenge to face than those Kaga blocks.
Got em moments.
Be it Ambush spawns, non-Berwick Fog, or surprise events that are especially made to fuck players over without giving them a chance to react. Basically anything that involves hiding information from the player. Berwick Fog is fine because the Ai has the same limitations as the player.
That less on map design itself and more game balance, but enemy design, quality, formations and veriety is very important. Imo no FE does this right aside from Conquest and Berwick (well, most of the time, even they have maps with major flaws there). In most FE higher difficulties mean higher stats, and it’s especially bad if it’s enemy defences that gets increased leading to a slow map flow. Conquest Lunatic enemy stats are same as hard, but have more dangerous skills and positioning. Berwick also focuses on skills and weapons. No matter how interesting the map is, if the enemies are designed in such a way that my first thought is to solo a group with a strong unit or it slows the map flow to a crawl due to enemy tankiness imma be bored or annoyed to death.
Maps that discourage fighting
This one is here due to some Vestaria Maps i really really really hated, although some other FE have such maps as well. I don’t play FE to play pacifist, hostage or Metal Gear simulator. Leave that to their games.
Unlimited Reinforcements in non-escape/defend maps
Either they will make me hate myself as they slow the map to crawl, or i will just abuse them for exp. Generally FE doesn’t do reinforcements right. Conquest is probably the exception here (usually).
Begone. I hate them. Rout + reinforcements is something from hell (Hello RD part 4).
Big Maps + weak footie lord + Seize fiesta
That’s all folks… probably
I think, sort of abstractly, maps where there is kinda only one way to go about it with what you have at the time. I think early game maps suffer from this generally, cause they can be designed for the exact characters you have, and upping the difficulty here just makes it a tedious set of prescribed steps to finish the map (& just favoring characters where you can). Maybe a cool puzzle but zero replayability.
and a lot of what shrimperor mentioned, though I think dessert can be done well.
I generally don’t like fog, cause you either go in blind and it might as well be RNG, or you just check a map online/already know the map… but i like the vibe, usually fun. I think ideally, fog would be better if enemy units were visible the turn before they take their very first action, just a thought…
Dead Space. If there is 2+ turns of just moving units then that’s a problem map design wise. Whether it be that everyone guards doors and you move through hallways, or the maps are really big and it takes a while to move through it all.
Dead Space 2. Ideally there should always be a LITTLE bit of empty space on the sides and outer edges of maps to show that the world is bigger then this battle etc etc. But if there is alot of empty space that no unit would ever go to, that creates an issue. Basically it’s like, can I cut down on 4, 6, 10+ tiles in this direction and it won’t effect gameplay? I should probably do such a thing then.
Tight Corridors. It’s just slow, boring and that’s pretty much it. I can understand a short hallway with two doors on the side and archers firing at you, that’s fine. But just a normal hallway 2-4 tiles then it opens up into a large room, just to go into another 2-4 tile hallway is an issue. Same thing with outside maps, moving units through one space mountains, and possible hills+forests on it isn’t fun.
Same turn Reinforcments. Not once ever in the history of FE has some been ambush spawned, killed and then thought “wow that was good game design, I could have avoided that entirely with prior knowledge of the random event. Good on you game.”
Kinda different, but Player Units especially in early game. If you get a Lance user on Ch.1-4/5/whatever then they should be immediately useful in that chapter otherwise they are probably benched. EX: Radiant Dawn you get Fiona a lance cavalier unit. If I remember correctly, Radiant Dawn has a movement penalty to horses indoors, so they move at the same speed or slower then land units. Every chapter Fiona is in, is a Indoor map. The chapters that aren’t indoor, she isn’t in them. Not to mention she can’t kill or beat the enemies in her join chapter.
when your cramped in a small space mostly in the forest with a lot of enemies…
I don’t really look at things objectively (map flow never really was my strong point), but as someone who LOVES aesthetics, maps which have obvious visual flaws strike a chord with me that makes me want to redo them on the spot. See: almost any FE8 map involving peaks for maps where I have many, many problems.
this is the most annoying thing and it’s in a LOT of FE GBA maps!