Questions about map-making (Terrain)

Just started making a map for my game and the progress is slow so i have a few questions:
Should a template of the map be built then be filled in, or should the map be made slowly with each part of it being finished at a time?
How do i prevent it from being repetitive and boring?
What is a simple way to make a map fun to explore?

I personally don’t have much experience on map making so some of these questions could be a whole other topic.

Note: the map is for an adventure game so it will be on the larger scale.


Do you know what you want the map to look like? I always start with a pen and paper and draw a basic outline of what I want and then work from there. As to working with terrain, I always generate a base of grass and then build up from that since it doesn’t take as much time

Edit: as for making a map fun add in some caves maybe a mine, some secret areas, and nice visuals that draw the eye.


Here’s my take on these questions:

Question 1

It really depends on how you like to make things. I tend to create a relatively big section of land and then detail it before moving on. When working in a more professional environment it’s probably a good idea to start with a template as other developers might need to be able to see the big picture.

Question 2

Change things up! Your entire world dosen’t have to be boring plains. Wouldn’t it be interesting to stumble upon a enchanted forest or an island filled with nothing but volcanoes? As a developer it’s also your duty to create areas of interest.

The world above looks quite boring. Yes, it has a lake and a couple of trees, but there’s nothing a potential player would find interesting.

Now, take a look at this. In this picture we can find 2 major points of interest. There’s not only a little camp set around the lake but there’s also a small little interesting formation of trees in the bottom left of the map. These areas look more interesting to the player and they will most likely explore them and see what they can find.

If you’re working with a day-night cycle a great indication of an interesting area is lighting. Seeing a flash of light on the horizon will most likely keep your players working to get there. Lighting is also a good way of informing it the area has some kind of purpose. The small forest might look a tad boring in broad daylight, but seeing as it lights up during the night might indicate something is there.

Question 3

While the answer above provides a handfull of ways to make your world fun to explore, another great way is to award your players for exploring and thinking outside of the box.

Let’s say builderman over here tells you how he keeps losing his fishing rods when he throws them into the lake in rage. He says he’s tried to find them again, but it appears as if they’ve simply vanished! If you didn’t figure it out, this is hinting that something could be going on in the lake. If your player manages to find this connection, they might head deep into the lake in search of answers. If they actually do, award them! Perhaps they find buildermans fishing rod and when they bring it back to him he gives you a bit of cash and experience? The choice is yours!

On a similar note, add some secret areas around your map! If you add some loot into the area, some player will most likely feel really satisfied if they manage to find the place.

That’s all for me, good luck! :wave:


I touched a little bit on map creation in this post:

However for your more terrain-specific questions:

Good question, the answer is to always start broad and narrow in your focus by iterating over and over again. This way, you can dedicate more time to the high traffic areas without worrying about running out of time because you were placing blades of grass in an area one player will run through for five seconds :stuck_out_tongue:

Do the outline of the map first (as @LandofLee1620 correctly suggested), it doesn’t always have to be a sketch, it can be a rough shape made out of terrain or anything as long as you can see what the plan is. After that, moving onto what’s called a Graybox (also known as blocking out/boxing out a map) is like a more detailed shape of what the final map will look like. Now the last step is more something you repeat; keep getting more and more into the detail through this iterating until you’re happy with it.

Long example with visuals:

For example, say I wanted a small valley scene with a mountain. I’d start with a really blocky plan:

Add a bit more of a greybox (additional areas that are blocked out)

Adding a bit more

The grass is all in, time to do a bit more painting for detail

All finished with the painting, time to dress the set with assets.

All done - at least until I want to iterate or fix things later. Iteration is key!!

Edit: I was going touch on the other questions, but @0skarian made an amazing answer above as I was writing this one. You might as well give them the solution, there’s not much more you need to know besides practicing it :stuck_out_tongue: