Official Instructions and Standards for Making New Maps
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aeronautic wrote:
Head Cartographer: aeronautic
Cartographers: PsymonStark, naathim, The_Bishop, cbt711
Assistant Cartographer: Virtuosity98

Any player can make a map as long as they follow this guide and produce a quality map that is suitable for the site. Dominating 12 does not hire professional mapmakers. We rely solely on the community for new maps.

Expectations

Before any work begins on a map, the concept must be posted in the Map Suggestions thread. If there is enough interest, the Head Cartographer will instruct you to create a new thread for the map.

We do not accept maps that are only made to satisfy the mapmaker. We only accept maps that many players will want to play. We also reserve the right to remove a map from the site if not many players are using it. Our goal is to have a short list of popular maps so that new players can quickly find a good map without having to scroll through a long list of mediocre ones.

You should expect to have to make many changes based on the feedback you receive in the forum. It is required that you respond to every concern or suggestion whether you use the suggestion or not. If one of the site's Cartographers asks you to change something in order to be in compliance with the standards then it must be changed. Other comments by the Cartographers are just suggestions.

Not every map that is submitted becomes a playable map on the site. It may be the case that the mapmaker does not have the required skill to get their map up to the required quality no matter how many revisions are made and no matter how much help they get from other mapmakers.

Aside from quality, style must also be considered. The map has to fit with the rest of the maps on the site and also fit the design of the site itself. Extremely light maps don't work because the site's style is fairly dark. We only want maps that are considered by most to be beautiful. We have many maps with a deep blue ocean, more than we need, please use a different style on your map. Paper backgrounds are preferred over ocean backgrounds but you can also be creative with a background and make it neither paper or ocean.

First time mapmakers should start with a simple theme until they have enough experience to tackle a more challenging map. The Site's cartographers can help a little bit with the graphics on a map but if the map needs too much work then they will not have enough time to help.

Map Theme

If you are doing a map based on a real location, try to choose a place that hasn't been done before or at least choose a different time period for that location. Some themes, however, will turn out to be impossible to make into a proper risk map.

Geometric and symmetric maps are not very popular. The most popular maps are based on real locations that people are familiar with.

No cheesy maps will be accepted. If you can't imagine someone using your map to plan a real battle then it is probably cheesy.

Game Play / Strategy

This is the most important part of the map and is often overlooked since so much work goes into the graphics of a map. Players like maps where the regions are defensible. Regions don't even come into play unless they can be defended. The majority of the regions on the map should have 3 borders to defend. Maps with too many indefensible regions will be rejected.

Another thing to consider is how many territories the map should be. Each territory has to fit a territory circle and a label. This limits how many territories can fit on a map. 36-38 and 45-51 territory maps are currently not allowed because in many cases the player to go last has fewer troops to place on their first turn. For example in a 3 player game on a 45 territory map Player 1 gets 5 troops to place but if he takes a territory from Player 2 then Player 2 will only get 4 troops to place.

Maps should only have one type of special game play at most. For example on the Eld World map the special game play is the bonus for holding adjacent islands. On the Panama map it's the ports. On this site we don't want maps that are overly complex and require cluttering up the map with detailed explanations about special rules.

Getting Started

Before you do anything you must post your idea in the Map Suggestions thread to see if there is any interest in the map and so that other mapmakers can give you tips on how to make your theme work for a risk map.

You'll need a graphics program. Many of our cartographers use the free program paint.net. A more advanced free program that is much more difficult to use is The Gimp. The very best program is Photoshop but it is very expensive.

Image Format and Size

Maps are submitted in jpeg format compressed to about 300kb for a standard size map. The standard size is 1024 pixels wide and anywhere from 600 to 900 pixels long. The longer the map the less popular it will be however because players don't like to have to scroll to see the whole map. HD maps are also an option at 1366 pixels wide but HD maps tend to get played less because they don't fit well on laptop screens. A screen resolution of at least 1600 x 900 is needed to properly display an HD map. If you want your map to be popular then stick to the standard size.

If you want, you can future proof your map by making it HD and then resizing to the standard size when it's done as long as the resized version looks good. Unless you are using Photoshop then the text would have to be redone for the standard sized version and not just resized. Text does not resize well.

Where to Start

Outline

For a first time mapmaker it is a good idea to start with a black outline of the territories and regions. This outline should be on it's own layer. If you do not understand the concept of layers in graphics editing programs then you need to learn that first before you start anything. The outline should be no more than two pixels thick for territory borders and 4 pixels thick if you choose to have thicker region borders (3 pixels is better). Be sure to make the territories big enough to fit a territory circle and a text label. You can download the territory circle we use here:

Small Circles
Large Circles (only use the first 10 columns (the last 6 are experimental colours))

You also need to remember to leave lots of space for a title and mini map (see below).

Forum Thread

Start a separate forum thread for your map. Post an image of your outline with a brief description about the theme and any special game play. You can use an image hosting service such as imageshack.us. You must be careful with the upload settings on hosting sites to make sure that they don't resize or recompress your image. We can't give useful feedback unless we see the map at it's proper resolution and quality.

Start the thread right after the outline is done so that the game play can be evaluated and any problems with adjacencies can be pointed out. It has to be clear which territories can attack each other. The earlier you start the forum thread the less likely you are to waste time taking the map in the wrong direction.

Layers

Every element of the map should be in separate layers to make it easier to edit. Your map should have layers for the following at a minimum: outline, color, shading, texture, connection lines, text labels, title, mini map, and credits.

Colors

The color scheme is arguably the most important thing to get right. Certain colors do not look good next to each other. You may be asked to modify the colors many times before they are right. Try to avoid using bright and overly saturated colors. The more saturated the colors the more difficult it is to get them to match. Try to go with pretty colors over ugly ones. Here's a site that can help you pick colors:
http://www.colorschemer.com/online.html

Shading and Texture

Territories should not be one solid color; it looks fake. Nothing in nature appears as one solid color because of lighting and shadows. There will always be parts of the object that appear lighter or darker. You need a shading layer to make some parts of the territory slightly lighter or darker. Shading is a smooth gradient. Texture on the other hand is not a gradient, but it also makes some pixels lighter and some darker. These layers should be above the color layer. They are typically grayscale and overlayed.

Connection Lines

These are lines that connect territories that are not adjacent. For example the line from Brazil to North Africa on the World map. Connection lines can be any color or style as long as they fit the map and are clear. Bridges should either be detailed and artistic or extremely plain. Eastern Asia and Melee have good examples of acceptable bridges.

Text

Text must be clear and readable. The best program for text by far is Photoshop. You may need to ask for help from someone who owns Photoshop to get the text right. Text should have an outline to help it stand out and be readable.

Title

The map's title should be displayed on the map, that way when new players watch a live game they will be able to see the name of the map and find it later when they go to create a game. Try to be artistic with the title.

Mini Map

The mini map is a small resized version of the whole map that is used to let the players know what the region bonuses are. The mini map is typically placed in a corner or somewhere along an edge of the map. The mini map needs to be big enough to fit the region bonuses within each region. Preferably the mini map should also be big enough to have room for the region names. Sometimes mini maps look better with a thin 1 pixel box around them. Mini maps are a requirement. Legends can only be used with special permission.

Credits and Resources

Put your name on the map. It should be small and off to the side and not stick out too much. If you used a free image resource then please mention them in the first post of your map thread. You can edit the first post at any time.

Here are some free resources:
Fonts:
http://fontzone.net/

Textures:
http://texturez.com/textures/stone?page=1
http://texturemaker.deviantart.com/gallery/
http://mayang.com/textures/

Free Country and Region Outlines
Search wikipedia, also
http://d-maps.com/
There you can also find SVG files that you can open in Inkscape and remove the color and rivers to give you just the outline.

Impassables

Impassables are objects on the map that block the path from one territory to another so that the territories are no longer considered adjacent. The two most common impassables are mountains and rivers. Impassables are used to make regions easier to defend. They were not used on the original risk map so they can be confusing to new players. It's preferable for your map to not have any impassables. But if you must use them in order to get the game play right then they must be easily distinguished. It is also best to have an impassables legend like the one on the United States map.

Rivers

If your map is based on a real location then the river should be too. You can modify the river a little bit to fix game play issues but you should not be completely making up a river. Rivers should be no thicker than necessary to distinguish them from regular territory borders. 2-3 pixels thick is usually fine. An exception to this would be a map of a small area like a city in which case the river should be the correct proportion. The river should have a one pixel outline. To help your river stand out you can have a shading layer surrounding the river or try a reddish outline. The river should also be slightly lighter than the ocean.

Mountains

If your map is based on a real location then you can only put impassable mountains where there really are mountains. Mountains are the most difficult thing to get right on a risk map. Mountains should have a 3D perspective. Mountains with a top down perspective are too difficult to notice. An example of good risk map mountains is on the United States map.

Anti-aliasing

Sharp edges and lines should not look jagged. Anti-aliasing is required to make them look smooth. You'll have to research techniques for the program you are using to accomplish this. You can also ask the other mapmakers how they did it. Too much smoothing can make edges and lines blurry, however.

Map Coding, Region Bonuses and Capitals Positions

If the site's cartographers aren't too busy then they will input the map into the system for you. All you need to provide is the final jpeg. But if they are busy with multiple maps then they may ask you to make a list of all your territories. If you are familiar with spreadsheets then they may also ask you to make an adjacencies list. If you are good at capitals games and are an experienced player then you are expected to come up with the capitals locations. Otherwise we will ask for a volunteer to do them.

Guide for Region Bonuses

The standard formula that is used on the site to determine the Region Bonuses is taking the Number of territories /3 + Number of territories to defend /2.5. If this formula is hard to understand or if you are experiencing other issues with it then you can always turn to our cartographers for help. Whether you round up or down is determined by any other factor that you can think of that affects how easy or hard it is to hold the region.

Guide for Capitals Locations

Priority List:
  • All the capitals should be as equally far apart as possible.
  • Try not to have two capitals in the same region if possible.
  • In 2-4 player capitals all the capitals should be equally far apart and in 5-8 player capitals for each capital there should be 3 capitals nearby and the rest further away. The nearby capitals should be the same distance apart.
  • Take into consideration how many territories the capital is adjacent to. Remember that paths are an important part of a capitals game. Try to put the capitals in territories that have at least 3 adjacent territories so that there are many paths from one capital to another. Nobody likes to play capitals on a map where they are always blocked from killing the other players because there aren't enough paths out of their capital. It is best if all the capitals have the same number of adjacent territories.
  • If one capital is on a border then all the capitals should be on a border. If you can't space them out properly without using borders, then they should all be on borders and not just one. The only exception is if there is one capital that is obviously less preferred than the rest then you may consider putting it on a border so that all the capitals are equally preferable.
  • In 2-4 player capitals, try to balance the regions so that every capital is in a good region. In 5-8 player capitals the best you can do is to get the spacing as good as you can.
Use these templates for creating images to show us which capitals you have chosen.

Paint.net

Photoshop

Gimp

Numbered Capital Circles (for use with all programs)


You should double or triple the length of the canvas and have multiple copies of the map with, for example, 2-5 player capitals positions on one copy and 6-9 on the other.

Here is an example of how to make the image: Capitals Example

Please also include a list of the capital locations in your post because it's easier to input them into the database using a list instead of the image.


CARTOGRAPHER COPYRIGHT AGREEMENT
The author retains copyright on their work, and gives Dominating Twelve permission to use the image free of charge, for as long as Dominating Twelve sees fit on the Dominating Twelve website. Dominating Twelve cannot sell, lease, or lend the right to use the images to anyone else. The author swears that their map is their own work, or a legal derivative work and by submitting it, does hereby claim all responsibility for that being true. In submitting a completed map to DXII for free use, the author will be allowing the DXII staff to make alterations to the submitted map should any required gameplay or graphical inaccuracy be found at a later date or if the map is found to be no longer in fitting with the DXII website in its current design.
Hyd yn oed er fy mod Cymraeg , dim ond yn siarad Saesneg, felly yr wyf yn gobeithio y bydd y cyfieithu yn gywir.
The_Bishop wrote:
I'm working to make a map... I hope to do a good job!
I can't understand the ranges not allowed as number of territories. Can someone explain that to me? For example what's the problem in a map with 50 territories?
«God doesn't play dice with the World» ~ Albert Einstein
Vexer wrote:
Good Question. With a 50 territory map in a 4 player game each player will start out with 12 territories. Player 1 gets to place 4 armies instead of 3 because he or she owns 12 territories. If Player 1 attacks Player 2 and brings them down to 11 territories then they only get to place 3 on their first turn. And the last player to go is almost guaranteed to only get to place 3 armies. This gives too big of an advantage to the player who goes first.

The ranges all have to do with starting out with either 12 or 15 territories in 2, 3 and 4 player games.

Post your map idea in the map suggestions thread to see if players will be interested in the map and to see if they have any helpful ideas.
The_Bishop wrote:
Thank you Vexer. That's a good reason. I projected this map with 50 territories (and never realized it) to play with my friends. Usually we are 5 or 6 and the classic world map with 42 territories is a little bit small. I will love to consider every suggestion. Wanna show my idea to D12 as soon as possible but I need time.
«God doesn't play dice with the World» ~ Albert Einstein
Vexer wrote:
This has been added to the Expectations section:

Aside from quality, style must also be considered. The map has to fit with the rest of the maps on the site and also fit the design of the site itself. Extremely light maps don't work because the site's style is fairly dark. Ugly maps, no matter how high quality, do not fit. We only want maps that are considered by most to be beautiful. We have in the past accepted a couple maps that have a grunge style that I consider to be ugly but we will not accept anymore going forward. We have many maps with a deep blue ocean, more than we need, please use a different style on your map. Paper backgrounds are preferred over ocean backgrounds but you can also be creative with a background and make it neither paper or ocean. Also, no cheesy looking or poorly designed maps will be accepted.
Vexer wrote:
you need to upload a jpeg of what you are working on in to a image hoster then post a link to it in a new forum thread so that the community can comment on it.
-NoXoN- wrote:
Legend can only be used with special permission.

 Why and When?
Sometimes you dont have enough space to make mini map and sometimes looks much better with legend.
Vexer wrote:
The capitals section of the guide was updated to include template files for making capital placement images.

@Noxon, yes sometimes it looks better with a legend. But you should try and a do a mini map first and then if it doesn't work out then do a legend but show both versions to us so we can all decide together which is better and possibly come up with solutions on how to make the mini map better.

The reason why mini maps are the default and preferred is because it takes less time to find the bonus for the region you are looking at. While looks are important, being user friendly is more important.
-NoXoN- wrote:
Well when it looks better it is more easy to understand bonuses, but if map maker cant make clear legend that is another thing. Part of legend is also description that you have in some maps or i am wrong?

I just didnt understand why is needed special permission for legend.
jolando24 wrote:
If I wanted to get in on map-making, how would you suggest I start?

I'm a fairly good artist and I enjoy drawing maps, but I've never attempted a Risk-style map because of all the complications caused by territory quantities and connections and all that. Any help would be appreciated, I'd love to add to the map bank.

btw, I'm a new player
GenghisKhan wrote:
welcome jolando24 my suggestion would be to talk to Vexer on map making  ty for choosing d12!!
ronalchn wrote:
With the limits on territory numbers, wouldn't it be better if the system just assigned more neutral territories as required?

For example, 60 territories for 3/4/5 players, so 60-64 should also be disallowed.

On the other hand, 36-38 is only a problem for 2/3 players, 45-47 is only a problem for 2/3 players, 48-51 is only a problem for 4 players.

In these cases, you could just add up to 4 neutral territories.
marcoxa wrote:
"Format and Size

Maps are submitted in jpeg format compressed to about 300kb for a standard size map. The standard size is 1024 pixels wide and anywhere from 600 to 900 pixels long. The longer the map the less popular it will be however because players don't like to have to scroll to see the whole map. HD maps are also an option at 1366 pixels wide but HD maps tend to get played less because they don't fit well on laptop screens. A screen resolution of at least 1600 x 900 is needed to properly display an HD map. If you want your map to be popular then stick to the standard size.

If you want you can future proof your map by making it HD and then resizing to the standard size when it's done as long as the resized version looks good. Unless you are using Photoshop then the text would have to be redone for the standard sized version and not just resized. Text does not resize well."