Tanki X Map Design
Whenever you drive your tank around the arena or battlefield in Tanki X, you would have definitely noticed your surroundings. These are the structures, buildings, ramps, vegetation and other things that make up the overall terrain of the place or gaming arena.
Of course we just don’t call them gaming arenas but refer to them as maps, and there should always be a good number of them to choose from.
A lot of factors tie up into the making of a good gaming experience. It’s not only the actual tank designs, game play tactics or skill of the players, it’s also the map that contributes a huge portion into making the game as addictive as possible. This often leads to the popularity of some maps that players can’t seem to get enough of it.
Tanki X has it’s share of good and not so good maps, but even a mediocre map would still provide skillful players various terrain options that would still make the most of the game. However, creating the perfect map design is easier said than done. MMO players play games for varied underlying reasons, some for skill and many for fun. Some want tactical maps no matter what they look like while others would love to see a lot of good graphics and memorable things on the screen. Balancing between the looks and the actual design of the maps is a difficult thing to do. After all, as a level designer, you just don’t make maps, you create them. Game map designers are the Architects of the gaming world.
Making maps is a time consuming and tedious process. Though the steps may become simple overtime, the amount of effort that a designer has to put into it to come up with a fairly good map that contains the looks as well as the tactics and strategies that would bring out a good game…let’s just say it will really need a lot of patience.
In general maps are created using an app called a map or level editor. The closest thing to describing it in layman’s terms is that it’s a combination drawing, painting and design application that’s tied up to the game engine that the game uses. 3D game engines currently used today like Unity, Unreal or Source have their own specific map editors and these are not interchangeable. Tanki uses the Alternativa Map Editor as the game runs on the Alternativa Air platform. Being web based, the map files are saved in .xml format which the game engine reads.
Being a mapper for Tanki means getting to know very well if not master the editor app. It’s like studying and using 3D Studio Max or any other 3D creator like Blender or Maya. Alternativa uses 3d elements called props to assemble the maps. These are loaded into the editor app as libraries from where you can choose 3D objects to make up the terrain or battlefield for the tanks. Objects like buildings, fences, walls, ramps, obstacles among others are placed on a tiled grid where they are sort of snapped into place.
Some objects are made of Sprites like the trees and the bushes. They are sort of painted than actual 3D objects which are like illusions. This is done to conserve memory space for the map. Notice that you can drive your tank through those Pine Trees on the snow, they’re sprites.
Memory space is important for Tanki X maps although it really depends on the game engine used. The larger the map memory size, the slower the performance especially in online multiplayer.
Another aspect the designer has to deal with is textures. Likewise, texture libraries are also loaded and can be accessed via the settings menu. The 3D objects have to be painted with a texture. A road has to look like a road and a wall like a wall. Textures are either drawn and painted using graphic or paint programs while others are actual photo images.
Actual Photos are nice to look at but in case of Tanki, they cost a lot of memory space that the level designers of the game have optioned to use less memory eating textures with the maps in Tanki X. These are mostly artist drawn and used with Unity’s Normal Mapping technology which uses pixel shading to enhance otherwise flat images to conserve memory. Judging by the maps for Tanki X, it was done very well.
An added texture to Tanki X is water which wasn’t available with Tanki. Using Unity made the texture applicable in the maps. Compared to Tanki, the Tanki X textures have an enhanced feel and contrast on screen.
Currently, map development in Tanki X hasn’t taken off yet as there is still no available map editor that the community and public can use. An alternative would be to use the Unity Map editor itself but the developers would probably come up with a specialized one for the game.
Designing a map for Tanki X will require foresight on the part of the designer. The path a tank has to take to get to the objective and the twist and turns available have to be thought out carefully and provide an optimal effect for engagement or cover when it comes to the opposing tank forces. Choke points and bottle necks should be made available as well as positions of advantage. An example would be the tight alley ways and strategic locations of ramps and hiding places.
Tanki has over 76 maps available for use and a few have achieved popularity among the players. Maps like Sandbox, Massacre, Iran and Kungur are among the favorites that players keep coming back to for one reason or another. On a side note, you could also vote for the most breathtaking map in Tanki X on our site.
Hopefully, more maps will be designed for Tanki X as more are needed as the player population starts to increase and more and more players migrate from Tanki. Hopefully, the developers will take the queue from other successful MMO shooters that rely on community developed maps to continually expand the game and grow its player base.
Community development tools for the game are a necessity as well as good facilitation for user/gamer developed content. Keeping the growth and further development of the game to a developer only status, might end up detrimental to extending the lifespan of the game as well as limit the growth in the long run. Examples would be the Asian MMO shooters whose developers prohibit user contributed content and operate under a strictly limited flexibility of views. This is quite disappointing for a gaming community and will eventually loose support.
As of now, let’s wait for the developers to release the tools needed for the community expansion of Tanki X and continually create that user friendly environment which has made other old time MMO shooters popular up to today. Again, may the best tank win!