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  • Game Design Challenge: Making Maps

    - Danny Cowan
  •'s Game Design Challenge is an exercise in becoming a game developer, asking you to look at games in a new way -- from the perspective of a game creator, producer, marketer, businessperson, and so forth.

    Every other Wednesday we'll present you with a challenge about developing video games. You'll have two weeks to brainstorm a brilliant solution (see below for how to submit your answers). After the two week submission period elapses, the best answers and the names of those who submitted them will be posted.

    The Challenge

    Design a game that requires the player to draw a map.

    Assignment Details

    In the early days of PC gaming, fans of first-person dungeon crawlers had to draw maps in order to reach the end of complex mazes. Player cartography was a requirement borne of limited resources and technological restraints; a lack of storage space meant that players saw countless identical walls, corners, and dead-ends as they navigated from a first-person perspective, making it necessary to draw a map by hand.

    Recently, the Etrian Odyssey games on the Nintendo DS and 3DS featured a mapmaking mechanic in which players drew maps on the console's touch screen. Though automapping had become a standard feature in many modern RPGs, many found Etrian Odyssey's mapmaking component to be quite fun in practice, thanks to its simple grid-based approach. Extending the mechanic beyond simple wall-drawing, Etrian Odyssey allows players to use an array of icons to denote in-game items, characters, and events within the game's sprawling labyrinth.

    For our latest Game Design Challenge, your job is to design a game that features a mapmaking component. To ensure entries are fresh and creative, your game cannot be a first-person dungeon crawler.

    When drafting your entry, think of how mapmaking would benefit specific genres. Imagine a survival horror game in which limited visibility requires a carefully drawn map. Picture a maze-like platformer in which players must track background elements and landmarks to proceed. When drafting your entry, explain how mapmaking would make your game fun and rewarding, rather than unnecessarily cumbersome. Good luck!

    To Submit

    Work on your ideas, figure out your strategy for coming up with a solution, and ask questions on the forums. When your submission is complete, send it to [email protected] with the subject line "Game Design Challenge: Making Maps" Please type your answer directly in the email body -- do not submit .pdf or Word documents.

    Submissions should be no more than 500 words and may contain up to three images. Be sure to include your full name and school affiliation or job title.

    Entries must be submitted by Wednesday, October 9.

    Results will be posted Tuesday, October 15.

    Disclaimer: is not responsible for similarities between the content submitted to the Game Design Challenge and any existing or future products or intellectual property.


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