There was an interesting dev blog posted over the weekend by the crew of Sandbox Interactive, detailing how a map in Albion Online is put together. It’s a process that entails several steps and about 35 total hours of work — which is honestly quite a bit less than I’d have expected, even for a game with a relatively simple aesthetic like Albion.
An Albion Online map starts before any code is written, with a design document giving the basic overview of what the map is and how it fits into the greater game. Next, a basic layout is achieved, indicating major landscape features. From there, it’s on to detail, detail, and more detail, as roads, trees, rocks, resource nodes, and other, more specific details are added.
Then it’s time to put in the mobs, encampments, villages, and other marks of “civilization.” Every step gets several passes, and once done, the map is assigned its spot in a 2-D grid of all the maps in the game, to make sure everything connects the way it’s supposed to. It’s a neat process, and one that should be required reading for anyone interested in MMO world design.