Three Moons – Map Design


This is the main thing holding me back at the moment. I have about eight regions planned for this map, a maximum of 256×256 tiles to work with, & I want to get a mid level design figured out before diving into the World Editor.

High level layout of the map

High level layout of the map

I’ve managed to figure out a basic high level layout that maximizes the use of the entire map, giving most regions a size of about 80×80, & I’ve got a basic layout for the Ziggurat subregion, found in the Isles Overland region (I finally figured out a name for “(Middle Realm)”, so simple). I’ve drawn a couple other regions on grid paper as well, though the only camera I have is on a smartphone & I cannot access any files on it through my computer (seems my phone is only smart at draining my prepay). I’ll recreate these with better detail via GIMP.


The Ziggurat Region

Before coming up with these designs I did a bit of analysis on the melee maps created by Blizzard (WARNING: map analysis/ramble ahead. If you don’t like this kind of thing skip to the next horizontal line). I’ve come up with the following makeshift guidelines; I define major areas as places like base locations & minor areas as places like small creep camps:

  •  Major areas have a radius of about 8-10 empty spaces; for player bases, this space would include the gold mine & be bordered by trees. Minor areas have a radius of about 5-8 spaces.
  • Paths to the heart of major areas are typically about 32 spaces long & 8-12 spaces wide; paths between minor areas are about 16-20 spaces long & 4-8 spaces wide. This is short enough for creeps to pursue your units for most of the path but just too far for them to reach your base as they tend to retreat right at the border of those areas.

I want to space out the encounter zones in a similar way. If we go with some constant values (encounter zones = 16×16, paths between = 16, regions = 80×80), & assume all encounter zones have paths between each other in a square grid format, most regions would fit about nine encounter zones.

At first this doesn’t seem like much to work with, especially in the Overland regions where most of the action will be. But after working on the Ziggurat design, I started thinking, maybe these constraints are a good thing. It means that players don’t have to travel very far to reach common destinations, like the Village & region entrances. It also forces me to be more creative with how I design the regions. The only downside that crops up in my head is that there wouldn’t be much of a sense of exploration as I can easily see players treading the same paths over & over again. Maybe I could sneak in some secrets somehow, we’ll see.

I’d like to end with a non-standard method of making design documents I recently recalled & would like to try out. Instead of writing a thick design bible that only the designer reads, the entire design is done on one big ass poster, or one-page design document. There’s a powerpoint about it that explains it better than I can, the video presentation is available somewhere on as well if you’re a member.

So, next step: finish the map designs, make a one-page design doc out of them, & actually put up that page listing the units I forgot to publish.


One thought on “Three Moons – Map Design

  1. Sounds like you’ve done a lot of research to support your design here. Always a good place to start.

    I’m excited about what secret/hidden areas you could sneak in. When I played Warcraft 3, those were the areas that I loved the most and I’d explore the whole map just in case I missed one.

    And that design-doc idea is great! I’m tempted to try it myself now.

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