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  1. #1
    Studio Production Manager Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd's Avatar
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    About the Map Studios

    The MajorCommand Map Studios

    Here at MajorCommand our goal is to develop the highest quality maps of any online gaming site, both in terms of play features and design. We've put together a crack team of developers and artists to create new maps, but we will also be relying on our game-playing community for fresh ideas and feedback.

    We know that the best map ideas are going to come from those who spend the most time with the game: our players. Any member of the MajCom community may present a new map idea for review and discussion in the Map Studios. You simply need to create a new thread, and follow the steps and standards below. It will then be up to the community to provide feedback, suggest changes, and weigh in on the potential popularity of the project. Projects that (1) are original in theme and design, (2) go through a period of thoughtful review and development, and (3) win the support of both the community and our CentCom team will be assigned to a member of our design team for final production.

    RjBeals and WidowMakers have been appointed the Senior Graphic Designers of the MajorCommand Studios, and I'll be helping to oversee the process as the Production Manager. Together we will take the community's raw materials and create a playable image worthy of inclusion at this site. Community members whose maps reach live play will be credited on the map, and be showered with accolades and rewards.

    Want to make a map? Read on!
    Last edited by Shepherd; 06-10-2012 at 07:28 PM.
    When sorrows come they come not in single spies, but in battalions.

  2. #2
    Studio Production Manager Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd's Avatar
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    How to Propose (and Develop) Your Own Map Idea

    Alright, so you want to create the next great MajCom map... now what? Well here's what, in eight easy steps.

    1. Acquaint yourself with the lingo and the special map features used here at MajorCommand. As a map developer you'll want to have as many tricks up your sleeve as possible and be able to fully engage in map development discussions, so you should get to know what we mean when we talk about auto-deployments, breakouts, killer neutrals, ranged assaults, etc. The best place to start is the MajorCommand Wiki.

    2. Read and acquaint yourself with our Map Development Standards, below.

    3. Come up with an idea. Your idea should present something original in terms of its theme and layout. If you give the community something to get excited about you will get more feedback, and in the end create a better map.

    4. Come up with an image. It doesn't have to be worthy of inclusion in the Prado (remember, you aren't the final artist), it just has to be good enough to convey to the rest of us how the map will play. Together with your description, this image should help communicate the locations of regions and borders, the bonus commands and their values, and the areas affected by any special play features or rules that this map will use. Keep in mind that the community will make suggestions and ask for changes, so we advise that you create an image in a format that you'll be able to make changes to. Photoshop or GIMP are excellent programs for creating easily manipulated images, but you may use whatever you are comfortable with.

    5. Post your image in a new thread here in the Studios. Provide some background with the image: what was your inspiration, what will the theme of this map be, etc. And clearly explain the basic play features that we should be aware of: number of regions, value of commands, and any special rules we'll need to be aware of. The more information you provide, and the easier it is to read, the better the discussion will be able to proceed.

    5b. If for whatever reason you are unable to provide an image with your initial post, we'll cut you some slack. Please start the title of your new thread with the tag [IDEA] so we know it's an idea-only thread. It may well be that somebody comes along and loves the idea and helps you out with some graphics.

    6. Check back regularly to see how the community is responding to your idea. Remember - you'll need community support for this idea to move forward, so you'll need to listen to the community, consider suggestions, and thoughtfully (and politely, please) respond to feedback.

    7. Make changes! Nobody gets it right the first time (or the second, third, or fourth), so be willing and able to re-post your map with changes based on the community's feedback. MajCom's current maps all went through dozens of versions before we came up with what you see today.

    8. Finally, if and when you've nailed it and been given the green light by the Production Manager (Shepherd) we'll assign a member of our design team to the project. You may be asked to dialogue with our designers about the intended theme and style of the map so that we fully capture your vision, but the final image will be in the hands of the assigned designer.
    Last edited by Shepherd; 03-07-2012 at 02:18 PM.
    When sorrows come they come not in single spies, but in battalions.

  3. #3
    Studio Production Manager Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd's Avatar
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    Map Development Standards

    1. Map ideas that may be in violation of copyright laws will not be considered.

    2. Map ideas that are not the intellectual property of the community map developer will not be considered unless the developer can produce proof of permission to use said property.

    3. Map developers who ignore, dismiss, or reject public comments and suggestions, or who otherwise fail to engage in the community's discussion about their project, will not see their projects advance.

    4. Decisions made by the MajCom Team regarding new map projects are not subject to public review, and the Team reserves the right to lock threads for any reason including, but not limited to, violation of site rules or failure to meet studio standards/follow the studio process.

    5. Major Command retains ownership of the final images created by the MajCom design team; map designers or other community members may not use MajCom images for non-authorized uses.
    When sorrows come they come not in single spies, but in battalions.

  4. #4
    Studio Production Manager Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd's Avatar
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    Tips, Suggestions, Traps to Avoid

    We know your time is valuable, and we want you to make the most of it. As such here are some tips from seasoned mapmakers.

    1. Be creative. We've already got maps of the world and the continents - from our users we are looking for some out of the box map ideas. Come up with something that will get our attention and you're going to go far. And a map's theme can involve more than just the location; we love maps that tell a story or somehow set players in that world. Plus, it's a lot more fun for our artists! Likewise, here at MajorCommand you can get creative with the gameplay. Don't limit yourself to the rules that exist in our current maps; if your map would be even better if Region X receives a bonus of ten troops on days when there's a full moon, write it into the plan!

    2. Keep it (relatively) simple. While we want to see out of the box ideas and new gameplay devices, users ultimately have to play it. Don't overwhelm us with dozens of new rules and long lists of gameplay features that take up half of the map to explain. The best map is one that you can sit down and play with a minimum of research, but complex enough to reward experience and careful study.

    3. Consider the broader appeal. While the park down the street from you may be absolutely perfect for a MajCom map, you must keep in mind that 99.9% of our users have probably never been to your town or ever heard of that park. In order for a map to get through the studios it needs the support of our users and the MajCom staff, and the best way to do so is by coming up with a theme that is universally appealing. While we aren't ruling out the possibility of such a map being successful, we discourage users from drafting maps of their state, city, county, backyard, stains on their favorite T-shirt, etc.

    4. Don't even think about using copyrighted works. We don't have permission to make a Star Wars, Hogwarts, or Middle Earth map. Don't waste your time. I agree, it would be really cool, but it won't happen. No, really, don't bother.
    Last edited by Shepherd; 11-29-2011 at 07:28 PM.
    When sorrows come they come not in single spies, but in battalions.

  5. #5
    Studio Production Manager Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd is a name known to all Shepherd's Avatar
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    The following was written by Widowmakers, and is intended to give users a glimpse at the process of starting a new project.
    ================================================== =========================

    Gameplay and Graphics.
    Gameplay and Graphics.
    Gameplay and Graphics.
    Gameplay and Graphics.

    These are the two main things that define a map here at MC. Here are definitions for those two main parts of a map. Now you may disagree with my definitions below, but whatever.
    Gameplay: The logical controls that define actions players can take or events that take place due to those actions.
    • Examples of gameplay are: attacking, bombarding, auto-deploy, bonuses, override Bonuses, territories in multiple bonus groups, variable armies per territory allocation, and many more.
    • Examples of gameplay styles are: Classic, Conquest, resource-building, complex and simple.
    (I am positive there are many more style and categories. There is no way we will all agree on style type or gameplay. But where is the fun in everyone always agreeing?)
    Graphics: The representation of data in a way that includes images in addition to or instead of text.
    • Examples of graphics here are: All of the maps we have. Duh!
    • Examples of graphics STYLEs here are: detailed, realistic, modern, simple, old, and many more.
    Style: The combination of distinctive visual features that determine the way in which an idea is expressed.
    (ref and a bit of my own words too)

    (Once again, I am positive there are many more graphical styles. But I cant name them all because I dont know them all and even if I did, I still wouldnt name them).

    We all know that both graphics and gameplay are equally important and required for any map.
    Each person here has different roles and abilities in both facets.
    So even though I just said that both are very important and that one cannot live without the other,
    I am going to direct my attention for the rest of this piece to the discussion of graphics and style.
    And by direct my attention I mean basically explain why and how I do what I do for my maps.

    My Motivation

    Just a little background history about me, I learned 80% of my Photoshop abilities while making maps.
    I knew the basics before, but the skills and techniques I have now have been developed while making maps.
    I find that developing a skill, most of the time, requires a need.

    My goal as I make maps is to learn new ways to make then. And also not to make a map that looked like any other map I had already made.
    So I always try to approach each map with a clean slate or open mind.
    I dont want my past experiences or techniques to limit my future but to enhance it and allow for more technical growth.
    So in my head, before I start a map, I tell myself that the visual theme of each map will be different.
    Sure the glow of the font or the borders line might share some similarities.
    But the overall style/theme of each is very different. Well, this did not happen accidentally.

    How I Tackle a Project
    With each new project I started, I had to decide what I wanted to do. Now pay attention. Did you see what I just said?
    I had to decide WHAT I wanted to do NOT HOW I would do it.
    I did not let my current knowledge determine the level at which I would design. I set a visual goal and set out to do it.
    The philosophy of Decide WHAT you want to do, then figure out HOW to do it is how I approach all of my maps.
    Not only does in free your mind to think beyond what you know, it then challenges you to try and get there once you decide to take the trip.
    For instance, did NASA say, Well we dont know how to make anything that can break earths gravity and go into space so lets just forget about it and keep making planes.?
    NO! They said, Hey, we want to go to space. That sounds like a good idea. Great, then it is settled.
    We want to go to space so lets figure out how to do it then! And then they researched and developed rockets and the rest is history.

    How to get better
    There have been times that people have asked me how to do something or how they can get better.
    I know there are people out there who think they cant get better or that they cant even get started. Maybe they dont know how to start.

    Below is a list of things I did and suggest that everyone else do if they want to increase their skills and techniques.
    (And this does not just deal with graphics. Most areas of learning deal with these principles in one way or another).

    -FIND Tutorials, READ Tutorials, DO tutorials. If someone already did it, learn from them. This is very important if you are just learning the software or starting out your artistic development. It is much easier to learn from others than try to learn everything by yourself.
    -Look at the world around you. Watch TV, look at signs, advertisements or bill boards and then try to recreate those images. Or you can just visualize and idea you have or image you want then, try to then create that image. This gets right back to the Decide WHAT you want to do, then figure out HOW to do it philosophy.
    -Dont be afraid to try something new. There was a time when everyone was a noob. Some people had parents who taught them, others have 4 year college degrees in Graphic Design and some are just self trained. Either way we all started off knowing nothing. Only by challenging yourself and trying new things will you grow and develop.
    -Dont be afraid to FAIL. There is also nothing wrong with failing. We all learn from mistakes and grow from them. By trying a technique and failing you have learned one way not to do something. And sometimes by trying a technique and failing, you might actually develop a new technique that you never were looking for in the first place.
    -LISTEN to others. You dont know what you dont know and you dont know everything. There is always a person that has more knowledge than you about something. The techniques you use might not be bad, but there might also be a better way. Just look at how many versions of a map people go through. Is that because the initial version was bad? Or was it because the map was not as good as it could have been? There is a BIG difference. By listening to others and looking at their direction and opinions, you not only gain their knowledge and understanding, you gain a person who will potentially be there for you later when you have other issues.
    -Be patient. An immense amount of time is required to learn and develop skills. You wont get 3 maps quenched overnight on your first try. And once you get a map done, that does not mean you know all there is to know.
    -Have FUN, FUN, FUN!!!!! I think this is self explanatory. There is no point in doing all of this if you dont like it. Not everyone is the same and not everyone can do all of the same things. Dont stress out about what you cant do. Understand what it is you can, work with that and slowly it will become easier. Then after that you can learn more and have fun at the same time.
    Planning the design of a map
    Well now you have the skills, the talent, and techniques to create a graphical masterpiece. What are you going to do with them? Well, you say I am gonna make a cool map!
    That is fine but there still is one problem. What style should your map have? We touched on what style is before but the pure definition of style does not really help you pick one.
    To best decide what style graphics to use, one must understand the purpose of the final piece.
    Here are some questions that you can ask yourself before you make a map. They will help you focus you ideas and design.

    Who are the characters in the map? (backstory .i.e. why is this map significant or a cool story)
    What is your map about?
    Where does it take place?
    When does it take place?
    Why are the events taking place? (again backstory)
    How will the events unfold?

    Do you see where I am going here?
    As the artist you are drawing a visual story.
    You are the connection between the gameplay and the end user.
    Lets answer these questions for a hypothetical map.

    What=Futuristic Space battle
    Where=On an alien world
    When=year 3,579
    Why/How=Humans were attacked by alien 500 years ago and they have sent troops to kill them on their home world.
    Now based on these answers you would not think to use bubbly font or rainbow colors.
    The font would most likely be more contemporary, exact and precise.
    The colors would be colors of war (greens, darker blues and reds, black).
    The visual stage would be that of war.
    Space ships would need to be made and there would be two styles (humans & aliens).
    There would also be an alien world or worlds to create.

    Do you see what I am saying now? By thinking through the ideas before jumping in, you can focus on what it is that you need to achieve to convey your idea.

    Before you start a map you need to understand why you are doing it (theme, gameplay).
    Ask yourself the questions I presented.
    Challenge yourself to explore and investigate ways to improve.
    Ask for help when you need it and dont be discouraged if you mess up.

    This is a long journey not an overnight trip. Depending on what you wish to learn or on what you hope to achieve, your journey/mileage may vary.
    But one thing is for sure, that if you truly wish to continue to develop and grow, your journey will have no end.
    The things you cannot do or understand now will become easy and part of your mental design process in the future. Enjoy the ride and have fun.
    When sorrows come they come not in single spies, but in battalions.

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