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Marn

Determining appropriate map length

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In addition to using an inefficient room-by-room process to design my maps, my maps tend to get bloated to absurd sizes because, since I know where everything is, there is far less exploration factor.

Is there a one-size-fits-all a method for determining how long a map really needs to be, or is it best to go with an assumption of what routes the player will or will not immediately see and estimate how long they will take to reach the exit based on that? What are some factors I should take into account besides the possibility of player death, how an unfamiliar player might approach certain encounters, what the player already knows, etc?

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Not all people agree with me, but I prefer my maps pretty short. I've asked myself this question a few times and my personal sweet spot is 3-5 minutes without monsters and 5-12 minutes with monsters.

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Imo the length itself is almost never a problem, unless the map is some 20 seconds long maybe. Usually what's more important is whether it feels like the length is "justified". Like, are all areas really needed or perhaps some of them seem like filler that exists just for the sake of making the level longer? Some 1 minute maps have a very "complete" feel: everything in them is necessary, all parts add to the overall picture and make it great. Other times you have 20 minute maps with like one or two memorable things in them. So you just need to make only cool stuff and then any length will probably be OK.

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It entirely depends on the map!

It's not about length, it's about pacing. A map of any length should have the right combination of hectic moments, quiet moments, explorative moments etc. etc. to keep the experience interesting.

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