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November PC Gamer

September 28th, 2010 by Troy Goodfellow · 5 Comments · PCGamer

This month, just my Tactical Advantage column and I spend 600 words on stylized maps like the ones you find in Ancient Trader, Hannibal: Rome and Carthage in the Second Punic War and the global zoom in Victoria 2.

I’ve already spent a lot of time on this blog talking about maps. I did a long series last year on maps and game design and we did a podcast about them too. You’ll find lots of smaller posts, too, I’m sure.

I didn’t get into this in the column, but the thing I like most about stylized maps is that you get an eye into how the developers see the period they are dealing with. The pastel national colors in Victoria 2 (and in EU3 once the Divine Wind expansion comes out) speak to old atlases, of which I have too many, and that almost evokes the idea of history as artifact – the past is an heirloom as much as it is something that has molded the present. The tile art in Hannibal is beautiful, but also foreign – the map almost puts us at a distance from the subject matter.

Games with battlefield maps are another matter altogether, and I wonder if we could ever have a battlefield map that was useful and accurate and evocative. Board wargames have done that – can anyone think of a computer game that uses stylized battle maps to convey an era or attitude beyond accuracy?

This month’s PCG also has reviews of Starcraft 2, Civ 5, Making History 2 and Armada 2526.


5 Comments so far ↓

  • James Allen

    Speaking of Hannibal, have you gotten a chance to play the release version yet?

  • Scott R. Krol

    Have you played Bonaparte at Marengo? Your thoughts if you did.

    The rules seemed a little too dense for what appeared to be a game that shouldn’t be complex. I just skimmed them so they may not be so bad in reality, but the manual doesn’t give off a good vibe.

    I’d also recommend checking out the maps in Against the Odds for other designs that fit the bill of what you’re seeking.

  • Nate Homier

    I know it’s not really a battle map, but The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion game came with a really nice map in the case. It was real big and nicely detailed. It disintegrated from constant use. I would use it and pretend I really was an adventurer. I would use the map to decide where to go. Fun, fun.

  • Jimmy Brown

    I enjoyed your November column in PC Gamer. It made me wonder if a game could use a map that was *not* accurate, like those early medieval maps that would put the important city at the top or right in the middle with everything spread around it. Those maps definitely say something about the worldview of the people who drew them, and external representationalism was not among their cherished values. I thought about what kind of game could make use of such a map and what I would mean for the gameplay. Not being a designer, I haven’t come to any conclusions, but it has been an enjoyable, occasional reverie.