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Gandalf's Giant Random Land Map
A random map script for AOE3
Gandalf's Giant Random Land Map is a new random map for Single-player or Multiplayer use. This map is in response to requests from other players for 'bigger maps'. This map represents an 'unknown' land with a wide variety of randomly chosen terrain patterns possible (20 patterns total), each with fauna, treasures, and decorations to fit the theme. The Native Americans also roughly fit the terrain patterns as well. Player starting positions will randomly vary a good bit, especially on 2-player games. The map is fully twice the height and width of Carolinas for a 2 player game, and about 1.9x the size of Carolinas for other player numbers. Doing the math shows that the area on a 2 player map is 4 times that of Carolinas!
The map is of a large contiguous land area, with a possibility of some cliffs, and a lake, mountains, canyon, hills or river in the center. On this map there can be much more variation in elevation than on the standard ES maps, and the above listed terrain features are not just included for appearance - their presence can influence gameplay by acting as natural barriers. Trade Routes randomly vary between 10 different types of routes, each with 2 possible patterns of Trade Post placement. For example, there can be a single long route around the periphery of the map with 6 to 12 Trade Posts(depending on player number), or there can be 2 semi-circular routes following the same course (or a variety of other patterns).
There are 15 possible patterns for the number and location of the Native Villages. There can be as few as 2 villages, or as many as 10 on a map, and this is sometimes partly dependent on player number. These will be of one or two types per map. The NA villages can be placed one or two per player or at certain places along a map axis or per side of the map. This gives a great variety in possible map play and strategies.
The food resources on each map can vary slightly. There are always 4-5 'herds' of some type per player - the numbers vary randomly and types will vary per map theme. Most of the maps have sheep, cows or llamas, and those that do not have an additional group of huntable animals. Most of the maps patterns have some berries at the start area. For the maps with a lake or ponds there may be a few fish at most, but never enough for a good dock boom since the focus of this map is on land. All maps have 2 silver mines per player near the start area (though the second is just out of the starting screen), with an additional several per player further off. There are always more total mines than on the standard maps. Forests are placed fairly and are scaled better than on the new large ES maps, and all players have 4 small clumps of trees near the start area to be sure initial wood access is equal.
Treasures or nuggets are placed in increased numbers and are keyed to the map type or pattern - a total of 6 per player per map - 2 of the easy ones nearby, and 4 of increased difficulty further off (always there are per player one level 2, one level 3, one level 4 and randomly one either level 2 or 3 treasure).
This map has an amazing number of randomly chosen variations possible - each of the 20 terrain patterns or 'skins' can have 2 lighting sets for a variety of appearances, 2 different patterns of fauna choices, and each has at least a few variants in the possible terrain features. Each map has the above-mentioned multiple variations in Native and Trade Route patterns, and the player starting positions varies unlike the standard ES maps. In standard 2 team games, teams are opposite, but can start in any of the 4 quadrants, at a variety of distances from the map edge. The distance between players on a team can vary significantly, causing the need to consider different strategies for teamwork and mutual protection. Sometimes teammates will be relatively close together for such a large map. For 2 player games, there is even more variation in the player start positions and the enemy may not be directly opposite you! Other features that have been randomly varied include the size and shape and height of cliffs, the size, density and underbrush of forests, the size and number of lakes, forested hills or elevation, and many other features.
In my testing this map produces extremely fair, balanced maps for 2 team play with a wide variety of possible strategies. I have tried to eliminate any 'map screws' as much as possible; fair maps are one of my main goals, achieved through use various types of map symmetry and testing to eliminate dropped resources and features. Effective play involves scouting the various resources, Native types, Trade Routes, map terrain, and of course, the enemy. Scouting is a much harder task on this large map, requiring a longer time to find the nearby and distant resources, features and the enemy. Of course being a significantly larger map, rushing is changed and delayed somewhat, affecting gameplay and causing the need to consider new strategies.
This map supports FFA play, and extensive testing on the current version was without problems. My testing has not shown dropped player resources for larger player numbers, but on a more crowded map that could be considered a possibility. Early in the project I encountered rare instances of Trade Post or Native Villages not placing, but not in more recent testing of the final version.
To play this map, the two files (Gandalf's Giant RLM.xs and Gandalf's Giant RLM.xml) must be placed in the folder: My Documents\My Games\Age of Empires 3\RM. Please do not place them in the game's install folder - that will not work. When you start up a skirmish game in Single-player or Multiplayer, use the small blue 'Custom Map' button, which allows you to then select one the random maps in that My Games folder from the drop-down window. The files will transfer in Multiplayer if your allies or opponents have not downloaded the files. Please do not edit the files or you will have compatibility problems in Multiplayer.
A couple points about the startup: first, the map area is 4 times larger than the Carolina or similar ES maps and the map script is 4-5 times larger than the standard ES map scripts so it takes longer to load - be patient! Second (in response to a question), on the map startup screen the random map screenshots which appear as the map is loading do not predict what the loading map looks like - they are just decoration, for 'show'.
The .xml file has been updated to show a map description at the startup screen.