Making a minimap and a tactical map for Gaia Canyon has been an ordeal. Initially, I simply followed the instructions in the TFE Editor documentation. Sadly, during the playtest (thanks to all who took part, by the way - I appreciate it!) it became clear that Gaia Canyon's complex layout meant that the minimap needed to give players who hadn't played the map before (both veterans and new TFE players) more help to navigate the level.
So, I set to work and created the improved minimap for the [2021 - 06 - 29] version. Take a look at the screenshot below:
Sadly, even though the resolution for this minimap was the medium-detailed version, 2048x2048, it still wasn't terribly clear for the player. For starters, the routes shown by arrows and dots weren't always contrasted enough with the greenish landscape. It also wasn't very helpful in showing the player all the places in Gaia Canyon that they could go.
Then, I made this minimap:
Oh, this one was beautiful. The routes were clearly defined - blue routes had arrows showing the directions blue players needed to take in order to get to the centre of the map; green routes had arrows showing the directions players needed to take in order to get to the outposts. Smaller white arrows were used to show where players needed to jump. Overall, I thought this version was fantastic and looked the most professional.
Sadly, I had two problems. First of all, my graphics card, the GTX 980 (4GB VRAM), ran out of video memory while I was 'capturing' - or generating - the minimap. That's why the landscape lacked detail in 3/4 of the minimap (compare the detail of the landscape of screenshot 1 and 2). Actually, I preferred the way the landscape looked with fewer details, so that problem seemed to solve itself. Sure, the one remaining quarter of the minimap would be detailed and look strange, but I figured I could live with that.
However, the second problem was too big an issue to ignore. For this minimap, I had chosen the maximum suggested resolution from the TFE Editor documentation: 4096x4096. And oh boy do those circles look circular! For all the detail and beauty 4096x4096 afforded, it came at a great cost. The file size for the map grew from 302MB to 792MB!
So, I went back to the drawing board:
This time, I knew adding arrows and dots for routes wouldn't work. I needed to use the minimum resolution to keep the file size as low as possible. I also wanted the minimap to be as clear as possible. Instead of making dots and arrows which wouldn't really resemble dots and arrows in-game, I decided to black out the areas which were not navigable. I also hid the landscape and replaced it with a flat, light grey texture; any area onto which you must jump or can only jump over (i.e. jumping down a small hill) was dark grey. Any elevated areas (inside towers and on the bridges) were white. I also went through the painstaking effort of retexturing every object in the game and replacing it with the dark grey texture, just to add clarity.
So, the final version of the map is 180MB with a very readable minimap. I look forward to hearing feedback 🙂