EDIT: Affinity is now officially released. Read the full description w/ video and screenshots or just click the link below and download it, recommend it, like it, tag it, share it, and copy to your fileshare folks.
Maps are works of art. And like many works of art a certain amount of polish can exponentially increase the value of it. When deciding between two similar houses for sale that are about the same price, one thing to consider is how cleaned up and well kept it is. Polish can give your consumers a sense that you take pride in your creation and have spent extra amounts of time to ensure that it satisfies your customers.
Attention to detail
Applying polish to a map requires a certain amount of dedication. Polishing requires one to think about minor details that may not be recognized by all players, but still has the chance to affect opinions of the map. Have you ever seen a tree that is slightly floating above the ground or a rock with terrible lighting? While these are extremely minor details, fixing these will help improve the quality of a map even if it is minor. Sure it is a small detail, but a lot of small things will add up. Fixing minor details like this is kind of like collecting change. While that penny isn’t worth much on its own having an entire gallon of pennies could result in a meal for two or more. So taking the time to find minor details to perfect can greatly improve the quality of your work of art making it much more valuable to those partaking in its greatness.
Finding things to polish can actually be a fairly difficult task. You have to look beyond the obvious. Try looking at textures that are used in your map. Are there obvious lines on it? If so do all of your textures align those lines with each other so they appear to be connected? Is an object not being properly lit? Try moving it around a bit or adjusting lighting to make it more believable. Are objects on your map properly colored or are there any colorings of details on objects that don’t make sense? Try out several different colors to find the one that fits what you are going for. Is there a slight gap in between objects that could easily be fixed? Fine tune it to fit just right. Every little bit of change can add up to a dollar. Trust me, it makes cents. ;)
For better, not for worse
Polish doesn’t have to only apply to aesthetics. It can apply to game mechanics as well. Would an incentive be slightly more visible in a player’s perspective if you were to adjust its position? Would a spawn perspective be that much smoother if you were to tweak it to the left or right a couple degrees? Would movement be smoother if you removed a minor bump from a ramp to a floor? Would a holder for an object make more sense if it were to be rotated a certain way? Taking the time to polish your map can help improve its cohesion and help the immersion that causes your players to play your map for days, weeks, or maybe even months or years. You never know when a player is going to find a minor discrepancy in something so cleaning it up is a much better solution. Take the time to observe every little detail of an object. Would the texture of it make more sense inverted? Sure one could say at this point you are being nit-picky and that minor tweaks like this aren’t needed. I disagree. When learning to be the best that you can be at something it pays to take the time to take every step possible to bring it to the perfection state that it deserves. It’s your masterpiece, treat it like one.