Age of Wonders 2: Why no random maps?

I know Mark did some work polishing AoW2, so maybe he can answer this: why doesn’t AoW2 have a random map generator?

I’ve played around with the editor (which is really good), and it sems that if Kohan can generate decent maps, AoW2 should be able to as well. Random maps for 1P skirmishes are one of my favorite aspects of these games, and it’s my only real disappointment with AoW2. What was the reason that Triumph decided not to include random map generation, other than the fact that AoW1 didn’t have it either?

Because random maps suck! Seriously though, random maps in a “3d” environment like that are very difficult to do properly. You run into a lot of continuity problems and such. And, to be honest, only a small percentage of users would even want such a feature, though you might not know it by the amount of support you are about to get after I post this ;).

I think of random map generators as a must for RTS games, but I don’t see their appeal in a turn-based game that ships with a decent editor, to be honest. RTS games are typically quick affairs-two hours at the most with enough people playing on the map. Turn-based games generally last a good bit longer, and there’s less margin for error when it comes to resource placement-should one player get the boon and the other the shaft, the end result will be probably be much more pronounced in a turn-based game than a realtime game, considering the ability to make up for lack of resources through clever time management is to a large degree nullified.

I usually resort to fansites with ratings/re on their downloads for my skirmish map needs. A little more work, but the quality of a peer-reviewed map is generally going to be better than than that produced by a generator, and short investment of time up front is worth it for a 6+ hour skirmish game (large map, for example).

I can’t imagine Master of Magic with fixed maps, nor Alpha Centauri, nor any Civ title. Age of Wonders 2 is definitely trying to generate a MoM vibe.

I don’t see why 3D terrain the way it’s implemented in AoW2 can’t be handled by a random map. The interface for AoW2 is surprisingly simple and map-making is very easy; there’s no reason that given a good set of heuristics, a random map generator couldn’t work. The maps may not be balanced, but that’s half of the fun - the challenge. (Note that I prefer random maps for single-player skirmish, not MP.)

3D terrain? It’s still tile-based in AoW2. The tricky part is that the tileset is so huge, what with the various terrain types and all. Sure, it’s possible to make a random map generator, but making the maps look decent would probably be trickier.

Likely the corect apporach is to lay down all the land tiles, and then sprinkle terrain features on the map (e.g. mountains, trees), and then add resource points, and then overlay the terrain types (which automagically cause the underlying features to use the correct graphics).

Of course, easy to say since I’m not the one coding it. :P

  • Alan

Well, I was going to buy AOW2 but didn’t when I found out it didn’t generate random maps. I like random maps – the mystery of exploring them, and the replayability of games that have them.

I don’t understand the difference, as far as mystery goes. If someone creates a map, and you haven’t played it, you still don’t know what it looks like.

I would also say that AoW2 is NOT like MoM, and the comparison is unfair to both games. MoM was more of a Civ style game with magic and tactical combat. It was a great game, perhaps the best PC game ever created, IMO. AoW 1 and 2 are very different and don’t have the open-ended feel of that game. BTW, I have had to restart many a MoM game because of that silly random factor. I still play the game sometimes, though I haven’t tried it in Windows XP yet. I did play in Win98 a lot though.

Triumph wanted to include a random map option, but in the end they couldn’t fit it in. It’s not really an option for game developers to delay a game for single feature like this. I believe the game had already slipped one ship date, though don’t hold me to that.

Should Triumph continue the series, and I’m sure they want to but that’s the publisher’s call too, I’m sure something like this is at the top of their wishlist. I wouldn’t count on seeing it in a patch for AOW2, however. It’s a major feature to add.

I like random maps in games, but generally for a game like AoW2 I dont thnk its neccesarily important. Most strategy games with a random map option usually end up with bad maps anyway! The last game to have ‘good’ random maps was Empire Earth for me. I think a turnbased strategy game needs more aesthetically good strategic placements and planning to have a good map than a general rts map… so… what I’m saying is that an rts with a random map generator is more needed than in a turnbased game…

The only reason to have random maps is that they provide a new challenge… but isnt the reality that random maps provide the same gameplay? I mean, its not that much different than playing a non random map you havent played before. I guess people dont want to run out of maps to play…to play different maps forever I think.


I don’t know what I’d do without random maps. Yes, they are hard to make look “good” or “realistic”, but we’re not modelling the D-Day invasion for heaven’s sake. So the mountain range looks out of place - imagine smaller techtonic plates if you can’t get over it. Few user-made maps look really good, either.

Yes, the “gameplay” is the same random map or not, and most strategy games have a limited number of effective strategies no matter what the map looks like. But knowing generally where my enemy is is very different from knowing exactly where he/she is. Let alone knowing where the best resources are.

Age of Wonders Shadow Magic, the sequel, has random maps.

This is quite the thread resurrection for that bit of info, jellyfish.

Holy shitsnacks, what a necro.

I’m glad he posted, this is something that I’ve been wondering about for the last decade. Now I know. Now I know.

Now I need to go back and replay AoW yet again! Loved that series.

Jellyfish king of the necromancers, but good to know anyways (for those of us who don’t).

In other news: There is a mod out that lets you remove ‘YOU MUST GATHER YOUR PARTY BEFORE VENTURING FORTH’ from the BG games.