C&C Maps Staff Journal: Featured Map Review 2

Maps that are submitted to C&C Labs are reviewed by our maps staff to ensure that all maps being represented on our site meet a level of quality for our visitors. This also allows us the opportunity to teach new mappers some of the finer points of map-making so that their skills improve. It is our hope that when we review and return a map to the author, they would send the map back to us with the changes we suggest.

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Tournament Desert 4
The attached map was submitted with the following information:

Author: tom
Max. Players: 4
Game: C&C Generals: Zero Hour
Type of Map: Skirmish
Description: this map has 4 seperated platforms for building bases and a tech field in the middle. fight it out for the goods and WIN

Hello Tom,
Welcome to CNCLabs. As a map reviewer, my job is to ensure that maps being represented on our site meet a level of quality for our visitors. This also gives me the chance to teach new mappers some of the finer points of map-making so that their skills improve. On your map there are some things that must be fixed and I'll throw in a few suggestions as well. Let's get started.

You've got a fair symmetrical map started with a single entrance into each base and a tight choke point in the center with some tech buildings. This will definitely be a hot spot and I wouldn't expect those tech buildings to last very long. But this in itself is fine. It makes for a good fight.

Base Size
We really need to look at the base sizes. By laying down a TempBuildingSize object (Civilian/Structure), you can see that the bases are on the small size. This object represents the minimum recommended size of the inner perimeter area of a base. I've offset the lower objects just to show how much overlap there is. There also needs to be an outer base perimeter area that goes around this so you'll definitely need to move your bases apart.

If you've not resized your map before it can be a little confusing on what steps to take, so I'll run through this for you. First, under heading "View", be sure to have "Show Map Boundaries" and "Show Impassable Terrain" checked. You'll notice when looking closely at the border area, a blue band going around your map. This represents the total playable area of the map. When you change the size of your map, this blue band is what resizes.

After some resizing, we're close but not quite there. I'm showing you this image to point out where the Orange Border is located in relation to the new map size, which I mentioned is represented by the blue band. Notice it hasn't resized. We'll adjust this Orange Border next.

Adjusting The Active Map Border
Anytime you resize the map, you'll notice that the orange active map border doesn't resize, so this is something you need to do by hand. This border represents the active part of the map. In the game, the rest of the map outside this border is shrouded, so you'll want to drag this border out to match the blue band around your map.

In case you haven't adjusted a border before, I'll explain these steps. First, it's a good idea to rotate the map around (by holding you mouse wheel down... then right or left) so that you've got a good view of the upper-right corner of the map. Then do the following steps.

  • Click on the "BORDER" tool found at the right end of your toolbar.
  • Move your curser right over the corner of the orange border.
  • Left-click and hold the mouse button to grab the corner of the orange border and drag it out to match the blue band.

If you make another border by missing the corner of the orange active border, you can drag this new border to the lower left corner of the map to remove it. DO NOT remove the orange active border. You cannot replace it.

After resizing several times using different anchor squares to position things (Add a little to the top… a little to the right, resize the whole map etc.), I finalized this version at 260 by 310. I filled in back sides of all the bases at the elevation you had of 116 (72.5 feet) and resized your water to the new map size.

~ Ramp Adjustment
This might be a little picky on my part. But because I'm making a revised copy of your map while doing this review I thought I'd go ahead and fix this and besides, you might pick up some tips from this. My thought being, this a generally symmetrical map and the alignment of the ramps across the map don't look right to me so here we go.

I stretched a waypoint line from corner to corner to see where we are. Looking at what you have, it seems the ramps are about 150 off the centerline. This is fine and because the map is rectangular in shape I would expect it.

I used a wider ramp than what you had to cover over the ramps you had made. I remade the ramps by placing each end along the (150) waypoint line so they are lined up. After placing new ramps and smoothing things out a bit we now have this.

We now have bases that are big enough and ramps that are lined up. Whew, it's just a lot of steps to take and things to fix just to get to this point. I guess this is a lesson in making sure bases are big enough and things are lined up when you start a map.

Tip: Waypoint lines are great for finding the exact center of the map or dividing your map into equal areas. Each end can be moved to an exact location on the map by adjusting the X and Y coordinate.

~ Areas And Pathways
I reloaded your original map again to talk about areas and pathways. You're getting the concept of placing your pathway going from the CombatZone into the inner perimeter base area, but as you see in the image below these pathways are joined together in the CombatZone and thus the pathway labels are not labeled correctly for the base they're going into. These should be separate pathways with labels that correspond to the base.

It's actually interesting how you placed your outer base perimeters. This area is generally where the AI player will build their defenses and when an enemy enters this area, this is what triggers the player's units to react to defend the base. Based on this alone, what you have could work just fine. But I need to base my decision on how I learned these areas are to be placed and what is explained in our tutorials and the World Builder manual, and that is that the outer base area (outerperimeter) goes around the inner perimeter.

One other thing we're missing is an area that goes around the entire map called "SkirmishWorld".

I will add all areas and pathways to the revised copy of the map to show how I would lay these things out.

First I would zoom out and make and area around the whole map by clicking in each corner. We'll name this "SkirmishWorld". Once I've placed this area I would then zoom in at each corner and fine-tune the placement. I've seen mappers place this area at the very corners of the physical map, but as this area is referred to in scripting I like to keep it within the playable area of the map or within the blue map boundary line (blue band) we talked about.

~ The Base Areas
Which base area you place first on the map really doesn't matter. What matters is where and how they're placed. All map areas should not overlap one another and all should be within the map boundary line. So in the corner (not shown) we have the SkirmishWorld area... inside this is the outerperimeter and inside this is the innerperimeter. As I mentioned, the inner perimeter is where the AI builds their base and the outer perimeter is for defenses and trigger area. For the most part, I've place the outer perimeter area tight to the inner perimeter except for around the ramp area for building defenses and to trigger an invasion in progress alert. Notice also that I've placed the innerperimeter around the inside of the Oil Derrick. This will trigger the AI to capture this building right away. Repeat this layout for all bases.

~ Pathways
We talked about the pathways going from the CombatZone into the innerperimeter of the base. This direction is important as it tells the units which way to travel. As I mentioned, keep these pathways separate for each base. These pathways also must be labeled correctly for AI to recognize the name and apply them to their scripting. You did well at using the "Waypoint Path Labels:" textbox for naming your pathways. What we need to do is look at the names.

Note that the names have First Caps and no space between the name and base number.
(You used "flank 2" for example.)

The preferred names:

Alternative excepted names:

(X = Base Number)

Combining Pathway Labels
When there is only one way to get into a base, such as it is on your map, you can label one pathway all three names. You'll notice on the "Waypoint Options" window that comes up when you create a pathway, that there are three textboxes available in the label area. This is the reason for this. So on your map I would place one pathway and label it the three preferred names.

This ends the required changes that need to be done on the map itself.
Your map is great but look how nice this baby looks now.


We know that the bases are big enough, things are lined up from top to bottom and areas and pathways are placed and labeled correctly. The contrast and shape alone of this map should make this a very HOT download item!

~ Further Enhancement Suggestions ~
Using your Plus (+) Height tool you could go around the edges to break up those straight lines and hard edges then feather things out. Texture variations, trees and props would also give this map a more realistic feel. Spend an evening or two working on just the details. It will make a big difference.

If you wish, you can even fill in more around the ramps and hill areas to give the map a more natural look. You loose some of the cool shape by doing this and you would need to move your Oil Derricks as these areas were filled in as I've shown in this sample image below. I would definitely mound your edges, but whether you want to go this far is up to you. Add some nice textures plus some trees and props to your map and you'd really have something.

~ Map Name, Map Description and Readme file

Map Name:
We need a name for your map. You submitted the map as "tournament" and in the map file you used the name "tournament desert 4". You can call it what you want… even "Candlestick" as that's what the mini map looks like. But whatever name you decide upon, it should be consistent across files and folders. I would highly recommend using First Caps for your name so if you are going to use "tournament desert 4" I would save the map using "Save As" and name the map "Tournament Desert 4". This way the folder and files within have the same name.

Map Description:
We need a fun well-written map description to add the map to our site. The better the map description, the more people will be likely to download your map. It's as simple as that. Always use good grammar as in capitalizing the beginning of your sentences and check your spelling.

Readme File:
All maps should have a Readme txt file that contains the map name, author name and email, game type and map description. This file would be placed inside the map folder.

~ Conclusion ~
You have a great map that I would love to add to our site. Please go through and make the changes I've suggested and send the new map back to me directly at drummin@cnclabs. Be sure to save the map with the name you wish to use and include the readme file.

I look forward to seeing your revised map! Feel free to write me if you have any questions in general or about this review.
Warm Regards,

Reviewer Comments: The transformation of this map from where it started to the final map we loaded was amazing. A whole new texture theme was used and many trees were added to a resized map with all areas fixed. The name of the map was even changed to "Stuck in the middle with you". The map is doing very well!


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