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 Post subject: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:45 am 
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With the news of 4 new maps due out this fall, and the method in which Wizards of the Coast has decided to package them, I fear that the importance of custom maps just plummeted.

Just a few months ago, some custom maps were being haled as better than Wizards standards, and some were looked at as possible maps for tournaments.

Obviously a lot of this was desperation and frustration with WOTC because they were sitting on the fence for so long about new maps, and the 2 we've received, while excellent rpg/scenario maps, and have way too many issues to ever be considered for tournament gaming or casual competitive gaming.

Enter Armoredgear7, and 2 of his wonderful maps. AG7 not only shows us how beautiful a map should be, but that they can be balanced. And not only a distance to gambit balance, but a balance for melee and shooter, huge pieces and small. For the smugglers base, we see a beautiful map with winding caves and an enclosed gambit area, and a map I’ve seen more than one being used for RPG encounters at several LGS. Yavin4 is a map that almost looks like the aerial view of a paintball arena, and all the fun of one as well. In many ways this map is the quintessential Star Wars miniatures map, artistically there’s a nice blend of the mystic and the modern, nice dense coloring, and rich tones. It is perfectly balanced on both sides and no matter what size your character is, it’s going to get to the center of the map like anyone else. You left your blaster on the ship? Don’t worry, hide behind any wall, and you'll be able to be safe until your enemy is within striking distance.

And no one can deny the terrific work of Chris Preksta. Cpreksa initially didn't focus on competitive play, but of course the "godfather" of custom mapping was making maps when the game was still in its infancy, and there wasn't the focus on competitive play that there is now. Chris's contribution was making maps that people at home care about, a Giant Death Star, Jabba's palace, and An Echo base. He also focused on the big picture, making maps compatible with other maps. He also had the courage to do an EWOK VILLAGE. :D Cpreksta makes maps for the rest of us, not getting caught up in competetive play, gambit awareness, and shooting lanes. HE knew that most of us were going to be playing at home, with Themed squads at home.

And then there were my own projects, while my maps were not quite as strikingly beautiful, they were competently made, and more or less professionally done. But what’s most important about my maps is that they show that there is a way to make a map for all seasons, maps that not only had scenario and RPG potential, bit could also be used in competitive play. My biggest contribution has been the map pack, which I will risk sounding conceited, has been revolutionary. Not only have I taken custom mapping to a new level, I have done everything in my power to make this a project for the Star Wars gaming community, and by the Star Wars gaming community. 6 maps for 35 dollars have never been done before as far as I know.

If anyone here is old enough to remember the legendary concert promoter Bill Graham, well custom map makers have our own bill Graham, by the name of Jason Tanner. NO ONE else in the World has put as much effort into making any kind of map available to the public, and with a map bank of almost 150 maps, and some tiles, the Holocron has become the most important sources of variety in all the game or any of its community. While the big convention players haven’t reaped the benefits of these maps, a very large population has. Not to mention SW RPG game masters everywhere who now have a HUGE variety of locations to choose from.

You can deny the possibility of these maps ever being sanctioned by DCI, but you can't ever deny how important custom maps have become in the past 2 years. They really have kept the game fun for the casual player, and for the local competitive scene.

But is this all coming to an end? I hope not. I know I won't stop using custom maps, but I will say this. For about an hour last night I thought, "maybe I will stop making maps, maybe my work is finished'. Maybe AG7 and Cpreksta feel the same way, maybe they don't.

With 3 new map/miniature combo packs and a new starter set in the works, the slim possibility of the Mapmakers' of the community ever having there worked recognized with he highest honor of DCI legality just went from very slim to almost nonexistent.

The Second JediCartographer map pack in the works right now just went from being highly anticipated to really cool, but perhaps unnecessary. All I can say is I'm glad I got one of these packs out as soon as I did, because If I waited one more month, It may never have happened.

In conclusion, custom mapmaking will always be around, in all games, not only SW Miniatures. But its always going to be a hobby, and It's never going to be as vital as it was in the last several months of the game. Although a huge part of me rejoices at the possibility of new maps, a small part of me is sad.

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Last edited by Jedicartographer on Fri Mar 21, 2008 10:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 12:18 pm 
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I don't see any reason to stop using custom maps. Regardless of how many official maps eventually do come out a fun and balanced custom map will still be fun and balanced. Plus an official map is on about the same level as a custom map until its made DCI legel anyway.

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 Post subject: Re: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 12:49 pm 
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Wow JC. Very deep, man. ;)

Gotta agree with homer though. New official maps from WotC don't mean anything different than new custom maps, until they are made DCI legal. Even then, gaming groups are ALWAYS going to be looking for new locales and new maps to mix up the games at their store. If we get to a point where we have enough maps, instead of having days where there is a 'theme' challenge for squad building (like use all OT characters or something), we can have theme days centered around maps: whatever map you use has to have snow on it; or, maps used tonight must have buildings and interior rooms; or, maps used tonight must have trees; or, not only does your squad have to follow a theme itself, the theme should match the map you're using as well.....all sorts of neat ideas.

At the very least, groups like those I play with are REALLY looking forward to your custom map pack just for the option of having more things to play on. That's 6 new maps. Even between now and when the Clone Wars stuff comes out in the fall, that's a LOT of time to enjoy your maps. And by the Fall, we might be ready for some new ones to rejuvenate our play group. But, then again by maybe next spring, we'll start getting tired of seeing those new WOTC maps all the time, and we'll be ready for more custom maps again.

Maps are just as important to this game as the figures are. Even if WOTC were to stop making the figures, they could completely alter the meta of the competitive level simply by which maps are legal. Even if it was done on some sort of a rotating schedule or something, where every year, a couple maps are shifted off the list, and different ones are brought in.

On top of all that, the more GREAT custom maps that are available out there (like yours, AG7's and CPreska's) the more and more likely it is that WOTC will eventually take notice of them and include them in an official capacity.

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 Post subject: Re: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 12:51 pm 
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Well said. Once again WotC holds the ball so long that we the players take matters into our own hands and then they throw the ball so hard it breaks and we are left with egg on our face.

Oh well.

I'm glad they are making new maps and I'm glad their timing didn't interfere with what you were trying to do but I also don't think it should ever have been your responsibility to do that.

I am glad you did, and that you wanted to, just that you shouldn't have had to.

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 Post subject: Re: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 1:25 pm 
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I for one always look forward to new custom maps. The ability and dedication from the guy that do these in their "spare time" is incredible. We use them all the time in our local group. Then if I do a DCI event, the 'official' maps are available and actually something I haven't used in a while. I love to use a map that is somewhat themed to the squads being used - especially when we play our friendly games. And the custom maps are the only ones to really use if you want to use huges.

I don't think one source could possibly keep up with the demand for new maps. I like the idea that we are getting lots of new maps from wizards throughout the year, but honestly am more excited about the JC map pack.

I would hope the custom map makers would utilize the upcoming WotC maps and make ones that connect to them. There are still many more locales and even new maps of the same locales to be done. As long as you enjoy doing the maps and don't feel obligated, I look forward to many more custom maps as well as the Wizards ones.


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 Post subject: Re: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:16 pm 
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Boris wrote:
Well said. Once again WotC holds the ball so long that we the players take matters into our own hands and then they throw the ball so hard it breaks and we are left with egg on our face.

Oh well.

I'm glad they are making new maps and I'm glad their timing didn't interfere with what you were trying to do but I also don't think it should ever have been your responsibility to do that.

I am glad you did, and that you wanted to, just that you shouldn't have had to.



Amen!

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 Post subject: Re: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:46 pm 
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JC, your maps are high quality, playable, balanced, and relevant to the Star Wars universe. That is all we as players could ever ask for. There is no way having more maps out there available is irrelevant. I honestly don't think that Wizards putting out a few maps in a year compares with your putting out six in a few weeks, with possibly eight more afterwards in a short time frame. Your work is excellent, and we don't want you to quit now while you're on a roll!

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 Post subject: Re: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:59 pm 
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I will always support high quality custom maps...


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 Post subject: Re: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:44 pm 
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I tend to play solitaire, so more maps are never, ever a bad thing.

Looking forward to your second map pack!

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 Post subject: Re: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 4:32 pm 
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Custom maps will always have an important place. My first 2 years of gaming all came from Holocron maps. Yes, there are 6 maps( if 3 double sided ) coming out Nov. 21st. We know there will be another map for KOTOR. For all we know these are more Korriban and Ossus maps. Some of these will no doubt become DCI legal. For me, the custom maps are the only ones that have satisfied all types of game play. Rigid, Huge, Melee, Shooter, Gambit, and multi-player and I don't see anything changing that. To me it has no bearing on the custom map back being I want these now and the next map won't come out til August. Maybe it means you won't be able to do 300 map pack 2's without significant risk, maybe not. I don't think it makes sense to worry about that until you have sold all the first ones anyway. No matter what nothing can take away from the raging success this first endeavor was. JC, you will always have made an impact on this community and gave us a rallying cry against status quo and for that I thank you. :boba:

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 Post subject: Re: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 7:18 am 
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JC,
You and your fellow mapmakers have made an incredible important contribution to SWM gaming. Don't let the flurry of excitement over maps everyone will be complaining about bring you down.

Your maps bring variety and freshness to the game. I'd rather play on customs maps while playing for fun, because the official maps are tired and boring, especially since I also play DCI.

The bottom line is we WANT more maps from all sources.

Keep up the good work.

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 Post subject: Re: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 2:41 pm 
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It doesn't matter that these map packs are coming out. Having customs enriches the game because it brings more options. Now if all goes well and we end up with 25 legal maps in a few years then it might be approaching saturation, but right now we're nowhere near that mark. I only say 25 maps because a number of the existing maps from WotC suck and don't count :)

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 Post subject: Re: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 10:17 pm 
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The more maps, the better. I have some of CPreksta's maps, including Jabba's palace and the night version of the Ewok village (both of which are two of my favourite pieces of work from him) and all of AD7's maps (they all look fabulous, and you gotta support a fellow Canadian, :)).

I'm looking forward to WotC's new maps, but I'm also eagerly awaiting the ones in your map pack.

I play mostly at home with my friends so it doesn't have to be DCI Legal. The most important aspect of the maps for us is location, location, location. If we didn't have access to map packs then so many places that we'd want to recreate would be unavailable to us.

We have so many figures out now that make it much easier to recreate any theme in the Star Wars universe, it's always a shame when you don't have the map to match. So I'll be getting the WotC map packs when they come out, but I know I'll want to get your second map pack as well.

For all intents and purposes, maps by you three might as well be WotC issued with the quality of them...


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 Post subject: Re: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:22 am 
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Thanks for the praise you guys!

In general, I would agree that more custom maps can only be a good thing. In my opinion it's a bit iffy to have Rob (and now West) design all the maps. More map designers, nevermind artists, can only lead to a greater variety of balanced maps. Sure, we have a few balanced ones from WOTC but we also have alot of unbalanced ones.

The fact is that JC's maps have a different feel to them than stuff designed by CPreksta and stuff I designed. Each one of us has our own design style (not just artistic, but that's part of it too) when it comes to map layout. The fact that each of us has made our fair share of playable maps should be proof enough that more custom maps can only be a good thing for this game.

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 Post subject: Re: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:46 am 
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Besides, they come out with these three map packs now, but who knows when we will see more. Could be three or four years before the next set of maps are put out by WotC.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:50 am 
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ChonChuuk wrote:
Besides, they come out with these three map packs now, but who knows when we will see more. Could be three or four years before the next set of maps are put out by WotC.

I wouldn't be surprised if there's another gap of that size. Bring on the customs!!

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 Post subject: Re: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:16 am 
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Pretty awesome response by Mapmaker on the official site to JC's essay. Nice one from ArmoredGear7 as well. 8)

Mapmaker wrote:
I think there will always be a desire on the part of fans for custom maps to keep this game rich and exciting. Variety and choice are wonderful things, and more options can only make the game better.

I'm delighted to be working on SWM maps again and determined to keep producing them for as long as WotC will let me, but I don't think the plans for more official maps detracts in any way from the contributions of independent mapmakers. Your investments of time, talent, and enthusiasm just go to show what a worthwhile and vibrant game this is, and inspire the creators to stay invested in it as well. You wouldn't put your passion into the game and the community if it wasn't rewarding, and your obvious dedication to the game does a lot to support it and keep it fun and worthwhile for all concerned.

When fans first started making maps, I got nervous. I thought to myself: "What does WotC need me for if the community is making its own maps for free? Some of these are pretty darn good..." It took me a while to get used to seeing fans simulating the style I created for the SWM poster maps, much the same way I modeled my early cartography work after maps I admired. I came to realize, though, that this was not a threat to my career, so much as a challenge to keep improving. You guys clearly enjoyed the original maps enough to want more like them, and your emerging talents forced me to keep trying to raise the bar...or at least my own illustration quality.

So anyway, long story short: custom mapmakers have done a lot to push the Star Wars Miniatures Game to new heights, through the variety of their own contributions, their obvious passion for the game, and the quality of the work they bring to the table. I think the game will always benefit from your efforts. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:06 am 
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Custom maps will always have a need. If for nothing else, then to put pressure on WotC to keep producing maps themselves. Custom maps just will not be DCI legal, DCI games are only a VERY small part of this game. I still enjoy busting out Nar Shadda and the big Death Star map to play some RPG levels or team games or just play on something different. I am looking forward to getting your map pack so we have new places to play on.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:21 am 
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emr131 wrote:
Custom maps will always have a need. If for nothing else, then to put pressure on WotC to keep producing maps themselves. Custom maps just will not be DCI legal, DCI games are only a VERY small part of this game. I still enjoy busting out Nar Shadda and the big Death Star map to play some RPG levels or team games or just play on something different. I am looking forward to getting your map pack so we have new places to play on.

I agree. DCI is a very small percentage of the gaming i do. and I love playing the Nar Shadda map. Getting super excited about this map pack. Almost as excited for it as I am for the new set.

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 Post subject: Re: Are Custom Maps Irrelevant? an Essay by JC.
PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:18 pm 
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Found this thread while looking for something else today.

Really interesting to see how things have turned out versus the way we thought they would.


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