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Posted (edited)

My suggestion here is quite simple: what if we had a better, clearer, more readable map?

Many of us have noticed that the current in-game map looks like an aerial snapshot of the terrain, with very few tactical information displayed on it, and that noticeably hinders operation efficiency, both for squad leaders and for the troops. We think a better map might greatly improve movement planning, communication and overall awareness.

Here is what a standard Squad in-game map looks like:


Squad_map_layout.jpg

 

The terrain is drowning in unnecessary graphical clutter, and a lot of relevant informations are missing or barely visible.

For those who are familiar with real-life military maps, or maybe the Arma series (not trying to compare Squad to Arma here, just using it as an example), here's what a map looks like in Arma 3:

 

xpvtac.png

 

EDIT: I can't find how to link a properly sized picture, so here's a direct link to it. https://imgur.com/a/DdVWFwD

 

 You may notice a few key differences:

 

- Topography: The map displays the peak elevations of the terrain (those dots with a number), and grading lines allow for quick readability of its features.
 Those informations can be used for better movement, as squads now know exactly if a given position is higher or lower than their objective, and might be able to plan their approach in order to use ridges and such as cover; but also for communications, as the peaks can be used as landmarks (Ex: "Be advised, hostile .50 Cal on Hill 75, facing south.", with Hill 75 being the dot 75 on the map, peaking at 75 metres above sea-level).

 

- Planimetry: The map displays clearly any man-made object or infrastructure. Urban areas are recognizable and individual buildings easily identified. Roads are perfectly visible (whereas in Squad, some roads are almost invisible on the map), and some major landmarks are marked, such as churches, or gas stations.

-Vegetation: Heavy vegetation is clearly identifiable on the map (those green areas).

 

-Grid: This might be a bit more controversial, but the grid is displayed in metric units. In Squad, the smallest grid square is roughly equivalent to 33m.

-(Bonus) Markers: I'll be posting another thread for this one, but Squad leaders should have access to a wider variety of markers, and more flexibility in their use.
For more about this, see: 

 



Now, I know that the maps in Squad are smaller than in Arma, so too much intel might clutter the map. There might be no use for too many landmarks, and topography information might need to fade away when zoomed out, to keep a good readability. I am aware that this might mean reworking the map system as a whole, to transition from a static image to a dynamic tactical display, but I honestly think this would be a great Quality of Life improvement, and that most players would welcome it.

 

 

 

Edited by Kiwik

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"What if?"

 

Kiwik, that's a really cool idea you've got there. That said, the current maps in Squad are first generated inside the Unreal Engine SDK, exported and then some additional post processing is done in a photo editor as far as I can tell.

 

Needless to say, in order to create the maps in standard topographic format you'd need to actually draw them by hand inside some kind of vector art program. So yeah, until you or someone else in community with hundreds of hours of spare time on their hands does this then I'd imagine it will never happen.

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8 minutes ago, Zylfrax791 said:

"What if?"

 

Kiwik, that's a really cool idea you've got there. That said, the current maps in Squad are first generated inside the Unreal Engine SDK, exported and then some additional post processing is done in a photo editor as far as I can tell.

 

Needless to say, in order to create the maps in standard topographic format you'd need to actually draw them by hand inside some kind of vector art program. So yeah, until you or someone else in community with hundreds of hours of spare time on their hands does this then I'd imagine it will never happen.

I know, this means some wok needs to be done. But I am sure it can be done, maybe with the right modders. I myself am only a texturer, so i wouldn't know where to start, but I'm sure we can find someone who knows their way through such a task.

I'm thinking of joining the Modding Discord server to see if anyone's interested.

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I've been thinking of this exact thing for a few months now and I believe this style of maps would be perfect for Squad. I don't think they would be that hard to make either, the maps we already have could be used as a template since they're already top-down representations of the actual landscape, the only thing that might be a bit more difficult would be topographical markings.

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I think a more detailed map as this would be great! +1

 

However... (gotta play devil's advocate)

 

Considering SQUAD aims to have more of a 'gentle' learning curve than ARMA for example, I can see why such a suggestion could potentially be harmful for new players of a Battlefield demographic let's say. If OWI's objectives with this game is to convert those players over to play SQUAD then some sort of a common ground might be more beneficial. Perhaps the ability to switch over between the normal map we have now and a second map (double tap "M") to bring the topographical layer on top of it? Or for the sake of communication (calling out targets and the acquisition of those targets) give squad members the ability to "ping" a location on the map for a brief moment so the squad knows which direction to pay attention to as well as give the SL a much quicker way of marking stuff on the map. 

 

^ surely less realistic and more 'arcade' -ish in nature but just a thought. 9_9

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9 minutes ago, CptDirty said:

I think a more detailed map as this would be great! +1

 

However... (gotta play devil's advocate)

 

Considering SQUAD aims to have more of a 'gentle' learning curve than ARMA for example, I can see why such a suggestion could potentially be harmful for new players of a Battlefield demographic let's say. If OWI's objectives with this game is to convert those players over to play SQUAD then some sort of a common ground might be more beneficial. Perhaps the ability to switch over between the normal map we have now and a second map (double tap "M") to bring the topographical layer on top of it? Or for the sake of communication (calling out targets and the acquisition of those targets) give squad members the ability to "ping" a location on the map for a brief moment so the squad knows which direction to pay attention to as well as give the SL a much quicker way of marking stuff on the map. 

 

^ surely less realistic and more 'arcade' -ish in nature but just a thought. 9_9

I don't see your point. To me a topographical map is way easier to understand, even for the supposed BF demographic that the devs are also, supposedly, trying to convert.

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2 minutes ago, Vegetal said:

even for the supposed BF demographic that the devs are also, supposedly, trying to convert.

but can you say that with 100% confidence? I remember vividly trying to convert some of my online buddies from BF4 over to ARMA III at the time and (among many other things) they weren't very receptive to the map and it's functions. 

 

Just looking at it from a different perspective that's all. 

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I'll be honest that i am not a fan of these maps, i simply don't understand them, while in the current Squad maps i see everything perfectly fine.

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13 hours ago, CptDirty said:

but can you say that with 100% confidence? I remember vividly trying to convert some of my online buddies from BF4 over to ARMA III at the time and (among many other things) they weren't very receptive to the map and it's functions. 

 

Just looking at it from a different perspective that's all. 

I see your point, but truth be told, Squad still has a learning curve, and i'd say that the map wouldn't be the hardest thing to master. 
Players coming from Battlefield will have to master shooting, kits etc... before they fully get into the game.
After all a map with topographic data wouldn't really be that hard to read - if you don't know what the numbers are for, just don't read them. On the other hand, it would be greatly helpful for those that actually want to use the map to plan their strategy.

What i'm trying to say is that Squad isn't Battlefield, and that there are a lot of features in the game that might not appeal to a more arcade audience, but that isn't a good reason -in my opinion - to disregard them.

9 hours ago, Guan_Yu007 said:

I'll be honest that i am not a fan of these maps, i simply don't understand them, while in the current Squad maps i see everything perfectly fine.

I read you, but honestly I don't see why is that. What's so hard to read on the map I posted? You have all the buildings and the roads, plus you only need to understand how grading lines work to also know how the terrain is made.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Zylfrax791 said:

At one time there was somebody in the PR community making topographic versions of those maps:

 

https://www.realitymod.com/forum/showthread.php?t=31270

I stumbled upon this (I think that's the same guy you linked about): http://www.cartotalk.com/index.php?showtopic=2916
So it might be doable. Although his attempts still lack the peak elevation markers, which are quite important in my opinion (makes the whole thing a lot easier to read).



But even if we managed to figure out how to make some maps, it might be great to have some contact with the devs to see if they can help us out.

Edited by Kiwik

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2 hours ago, Kiwik said:

I stumbled upon this (I think that's the same guy you linked about): http://www.cartotalk.com/index.php?showtopic=2916
So it might be doable. Although his attempts still lack the peak elevation markers, which are quite important in my opinion (makes the whole thing a lot easier to read).



But even if we managed to figure out how to make some maps, it might be great to have some contact with the devs to see if they can help us out.

"The contour data is gathered from a script that analyzes the heightmap that the level designer creates while making the level."

 

There you go, that's the key right there. Find the person that made this script and see if you can get help creating your map mod.

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I'd really like this. I agree at the moment that the maps contain too much irrelevant detail - they are pretty much "satellite" images, which is great as a representation, but makes them too hard to read quickly and clearly. And doesn't help you read the terrain very much. I like the idea of just having the important details as per the OP - buildings, elevations/contours, topography/vegetation and roads. Not only would it help when playing as an SL (something I do rarely, given how difficult I find it), but it would make navigating a vehicle easier too; at the moment, some maps are a nightmare to drive on, Chora and Kohat being a great example.

 

A big +1 from me :)

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I like the proposal to improve map And step away from satellite only view

, Brought this up a long time ago but everything was under dev. back then.

especially nice to see objects and altitude which are critical prior to movements, and a bit more real.sim.

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5 hours ago, Kiwik said:

I see your point, but truth be told, Squad still has a learning curve, and i'd say that the map wouldn't be the hardest thing to master. 
Players coming from Battlefield will have to master shooting, kits etc... before they fully get into the game.
After all a map with topographic data wouldn't really be that hard to read - if you don't know what the numbers are for, just don't read them. On the other hand, it would be greatly helpful for those that actually want to use the map to plan their strategy.

What i'm trying to say is that Squad isn't Battlefield, and that there are a lot of features in the game that might not appeal to a more arcade audience, but that isn't a good reason -in my opinion - to disregard them.

I read you, but honestly I don't see why is that. What's so hard to read on the map I posted? You have all the buildings and the roads, plus you only need to understand how grading lines work to also know how the terrain is made.

I guess i don't like the art style. I want to see what the actual terrain looks like.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Zylfrax791 said:

"The contour data is gathered from a script that analyzes the heightmap that the level designer creates while making the level."

 

There you go, that's the key right there. Find the person that made this script and see if you can get help creating your map mod.

I'll see if there's any way to contact this talented guy. Or maybe we have someone in the community who'd be able to replicate the script. :)

 

1 hour ago, Guan_Yu007 said:

I guess i don't like the art style. I want to see what the actual terrain looks like.

Well, another possibility would be to completely follow Arma, in that the in-game map has 2 different versions that can be toggled on the fly (as you can see on this vid, at 00:38)

 

 

Users could then toggle between a topographic map and a satellite view (sort of).

Edited by Kiwik

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3 minutes ago, Kiwik said:

Users could then toggle between a topographic map and a satellite view (sort of).

+1

 

 

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Oh my god! Yes! Yes, a thousand times. You have basically posted exactly what I came here to post but much better presented than I would have. I think I back every point made in the OP.

 

My main thing though is contour lines. It would completely change the way I could play as an SL or any individual role. I think it would change the way battles unfold. Properly representing vegetation and structures would be the icing on the cake. It looks like the current maps are more or less a shaded screenshot, top-down on the terrain. It is very confusing. One of the worst offenders is Kohat, the topography is very hard to infer and the roads and river beds look almost identical.

 

I find it astounding that Squad doesn't have contour lines and a more ordinance survey style of maps. Surely most people playing this seriously would be perfectly capable and familiar with using this kind of additional tactical data. Without it, it kind of kills the feeling that it is really milsim at all in terms of interface, if nothing else, but it would also really compliment the tactical approach to playing this game.

 

The second thing I am keenest on is more markers for SL. Particularly placeable markers that only the squad can see, ideally either numbered or representing classes, for things like setting up complex perimeters, ambushes, and crossfires... or just herding newbies in a Squad.

 

Regarding the suggestion about a dynamic vs static maps, I can see that this would be a pretty big undertaking, but I don't see why practically all of this couldn't be achieved with a static map. You could render it in layers so visualisations (like contour lines) could just be switched off for those that don't want them. A lot of height map generators let you quite easily denote contour lines or abstract the data for just that use (I thought there were a few plugins for doing this from within the Unreal engine) so hopefully, you could at least get contours generated automatically when exporting the map image. I realise I might be talking out of my arse about this bit. ;).

 

Please consider Kiwik's suggestions, I think they are all in keeping with the design and feel of Squad and would very much enhance the experience.

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8 hours ago, Llamageddon said:

Care to elaborate? Are you just being pessimistic or has it already been shot down by the devs?

Yes. That map should be simple to create and it didn't come for 3 years now. What makes you think they will do it? They won't. Start looking into Post Scriptum if you want Project Reality/Squad style gameplay. No rallies, weapons feel amazing and maps are 100 times better than in Squad. Also there are ALOT more vehicles in PS, and they look amazing. You can tow anti-tank guns with vehicles aswell. To wrap it up Post Scriptum even right now looks and feels miles ahead of Squad in every department.

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On 27-7-2018 at 12:03 AM, Rainmaker said:

Yes. That map should be simple to create and it didn't come for 3 years now. What makes you think they will do it? They won't. Start looking into Post Scriptum if you want Project Reality/Squad style gameplay. No rallies, weapons feel amazing and maps are 100 times better than in Squad. Also there are ALOT more vehicles in PS, and they look amazing. You can tow anti-tank guns with vehicles aswell. To wrap it up Post Scriptum even right now looks and feels miles ahead of Squad in every department.

Except it doesn't. The only reason why they are more 'complete' is because they don't have to create the code from scratch for their stuff, mostly at least.

Their maps are better because they're taken directly from historical maps. As for rallies, their MSP is way worse than what Squad has. It promotes no teamwork from what i've seen in the tests and beta and fobs are more useless than in Squad.

 

Anyways kind of off-topic here... I like the way the map is right now. I want to actually see the terrain directly without having to estimate stuff based on lines and numbers and stuff like that.

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3 hours ago, Guan_Yu007 said:

I want to actually see the terrain directly without having to estimate stuff based on lines and numbers and stuff like that.

Except you don't actually see the terrain. You see an aerial view of it, with no indication whether one point is higher or lower than the other.

Sure, some might argue that, since the maps are not that big to begin with, and experienced leader will know approximately how the field is shaped.
But I still think we need  that added layer of realism/tactical intel.

And, as I said, ideally we'd have a toggle between satellite view and topographic map, so you'd still be able to see the 'actual terrain'.
Finally, no one is asking you to 'estimate' anything. If you only put the smallest effort and learn how to read a topographic map, it is way easier to understand than a mere picture. Conventional armies across the globe wouldn't use those only for show, would they?

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All i'm saying is that i do not like the way those maps look. It's pretty easy to see the elevation of the terrain for me. Even when a new map releases.

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