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Modding Index | Map Making Tutorials

The following isn't exactly a tutorial, rather it is information to help aid your map making process. In that regard, I felt it fit in the tutorial category more than any other.

I'm not done with my map yet, but I wanted to pass on the most important thing I've learned so far in the hopes it will help others.  I’ve been extremely distracted while making my map. While working one thing, I would notice 50 other things that needed fixing and in the end get nothing done.  It has been rough and despite my best efforts to remain focused, I felt like I was losing so much time, but didn’t really understand why.  Recently, I attended an annual training seminar for operators of the power grid in Texas.  One of the topics, I was able to directly apply to making a map in Giants Editor. It was on multi-tasking.  While listening to the session, everything just clicked, and I’d like to highlight what I’ve learned.   Basically, the brain cannot multi-task unless two requirements are met: Only one task requires conscious attention AND the task requiring attention can be stopped immediately without consequence.  For example, we can chew gum and write an email because we can stop writing the email if we start choking on the gum, as that would then take conscious attention. The science of it, is that there is no such thing as multi-tasking.  Scientists prefer to call it by the proper name, task-switching, because that is what you really do.  Attention is a measured, limited quantity. Things that demand attention cannot be performed simultaneously.  Every time you switch tasks the following happens:

  • You lower performance speed, tasks take 1.5 to 3 times as long.
  • Chances of making mistakes grow significantly.
  • IQ temporarily drops 10-15 points (worse than no sleep, doing drugs or drinking alcohol)
  • Bodies show signs of stress by increased blood pressure, salivary cortisol and heart rates.

To further put the above numbers in perspective: When driving and talking, you are both a worse driver and a worse conversationalist.  It doesn’t matter whether hands free or not.  You are 4x more likely to be in a accident.  React slower to brake lights.  Drivers are involved in more rear end collisions. Drivers also speed up and slow down slower than intoxicated drivers with Blood Alcohol Level of .08. Drivers are more forgetful about what is discussed and you struggle to maintain conversation, especially when more complex.  It should be noted that talking to another person in the same car, or listening to radio/audiobook do not have these same negative effects.  This is most likely due to only 7% of face to face communication being due to words, the rest is voice tone and body language, at 38% and 55%, respectively.

It is estimated that $650 billion a year is wasted in the US business sector due to multitasking.  With all these negatives, why do we still insist on multitasking?  It is exciting and has addictive components.  More dopamine is released in the brain when trying to multitask.  The brain can also physically change shape.  Prolonged multitaskers tend to have smaller anterior cingulate cortex.  That means the part of your brain responsible for empathy and mental/emotional control is smaller.

Once a task is learned, like walking, or chewing gum, you can then do it while performing another task, like walking and talking.  Specifically related to our industry, our control center has numerous screens all displaying different information in relation to our local grid in Texas. While for a new operator, this would constitute task switching, every time he looks at a different screen. However once learned, scanning becomes subconscious and they all morph into one task as you learn where everything is and what to look for.

This is applied in a similar manner to map making.  For a new map maker like myself, virtually everything was unfamiliar.  So something simple to an experienced map maker, he may be able to do without thinking, however, to me, nearly everything was task switching.  You know your own abilities. If you can fix something without thought because you’ve seen the problem before, then you aren’t really task switching.  Tougher tasks like adding soil mod, while not very difficult when following directions, they are unfamiliar. Don't interrupt tasks that demand your attention for other ones that do.

The best advice that I’ve found is to start a notebook.  Whenever you feel the need to switch tasks, just write it down and come back to it later. Don’t get distracted, just write it down and come back to it later. It will save you much wasted time and frustration.

I’m afraid this last section wasn’t as long as I wanted it to be.  However, if you understand the above science on multitasking, then you can make your own plan to not get distracted. You know your abilities better than anyone else.  

One last note, almost everybody overestimates their ability to multi-task. Statistically, there is about 1% of the population that actually performs slightly better when multi-tasking. Don’t kid yourself, you are not in that 1%.  At best, if you are in that 1%, you will perform two tasks in roughly the same time, maybe slightly faster.  At worst, you will be about 2-3 times slower, like the rest of the world. Don’t kid yourself.  Make a plan so you don’t try fixing the thousands of things at once on your map that you know need done.

PS  One other interesting note (really, this time), even in power, Texas is truly the Lone Star State.  We have our own grid.  Sure, we are connected to the eastern and western interconnections (grids), but the ties are not capable of sustaining really anything.  Texas must generate what it consumes.  It is no mistake when I talk about THE Texas power grid.


I often find myself distracted by a small issue when I had originally been going to do a bigger task on my map. I find listening to certain kinds of music can really help you focus and enjoy doing some of the more tedious tasks map making. ~BulletBill83

I also have found a notebook most handy, whether working on the mod or not… Sometimes a thought comes, and if I don't write it down, there's no guarantee I'll remember it later. I think it also helps with developing good habits modding-wise, especially when it comes to making maps. I did a LOT of work on a map someone else created… before realizing that I wasn't keeping any records at all as to where or who I was getting parts from. As such, even if the original mapper would allow me to release an update to his map… I can't do it, because I didn't take enough notes to give proper credit/attribution! Tongue I've also admired the change-logs some have with their mods. But if one doesn't write stuff down… a change-log will never happen on its own. ~akuenzi

I started using my cell phone's journal app. It helps when I get into the details of mapmaking after getting all the zones and fields laid out. I'll take notes of what I want to add to a particular zone or what I have tested and need to fix when errors pop into the log. It is really helpful during tests to capture minor tweaks or things you find you need that are not incorporated into the map. ~JDMFarms

I plan to use Trello to plan and organise building my map. It should make it easy to keep track of everything I need to do without getting distracted with doing it when I think of it. ~Trek88

Original Author: flatlander84 | Date: May 12, 2016

Modding Index | Map Making Tutorials