The Daily Grind: What makes an MMO map amazing?


I love maps. Love love love maps. I spend a stupid amount of time exploring the world on Google Maps, and no, that’s not a typo. Not Google Earth, Google Maps. I love following roads and seeing how places are tied together.

I love MMO maps. Love love love MMO maps. You could show me a random MMO map and I could probably instantly tell you what game it’s from. There are many styles of maps, from the ugly to the beautiful, from the technical to the hand-drawn, and some work better than others. I feel that a truly great map marries functionality with aesthetics.

What makes an MMO map amazing for you?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Clarity. It’s surprisingly rare.

Ardra Diva

The best map is in Second Life. Anywhere you click on, you can teleport there. Or be invited. Or invite someone. You can also make a bookmark/map pin there and forever have it in your list of bookmarks for quick return. It is not limited to waypoints, stables, hubs, etc. Anywhere you click (as long as it’s not a private parcel owned by someone who doesn’t like the pop-in visitor) you can go to quickly.


Tell me what’s there without telling me everything that’s there. Make it load instantly, allow me to put pins in the map with notes. Let me align it as I see fit. Let me organize the legend and pick and choose what I want to see.

IronSalamander8 .

I really liked the maps in CoX, with the different colors for the blocks to denote the higher and lower end of difficult of the zones and all the icons to show you where stuff is. Easy to read, can put waypoints as needed, can turn icons on and off, excellent maps for sure.

Kickstarter Donor

I am also a Map freak – ever since I was the appointed navigator on family trips with the good old Rand McNally in my lap looking for the nearest KOA campground.

For MMOs, I almost always have a 3rd party map up on the 2nd monitor to navigate. I’d agree that GW2 & ESO have great maps. LOTRO probably has the one of the better stylized maps. Yeah, I know it’s not terribly specific, but I do like the visual appearence.

But what makes a MMO map good?

a. Clearly showing where you are.
b. Having easy to toggle/choose indicators for quests, key NPCs, travel points, etc.
c. Recognizable terrain/biosphere. From little trees to indicate a forest to white jagged mountains, these details elevate a map to a MAP.
d. Easy scaling. Being able to drill down into details and then scale out to big picture is really key.
e. Expands full screen or just the nav window. Those maps that cover part of the screen or fade are a big no-no. BDO is a big offender here. Really confuses me (like pretty much everything else in their interface).

Ardra Diva

This is the biggest problem with maps in Moria (LOTRO). It’s very difficult to tell what is a path or road and what is a barrier sometimes.


1) Hand drawn and not just a screenshot of the world from 10,000 feet above ground.

2) Revealed only in increments while you explore the world.

BTW: maps are one of the features that were implemented very well in vanilla WoW and contibuted to its magic, but were foolishly neglected by almost all the WoW-clones. (seamless world being another)

Dug From The Earth

1. Easy to read.
– It shouldnt be hard to open a map an immediately know where you are at, as well as being able to easily see where it is you want/need to get to.

2. No performance loss
– All too often when you open a map in a game, there is a stutter or framerate drop, or all out freeze for a moment. This is bad.

3. Preferably not something that fills the entire screen.
– Lack of in game awareness is a big no no, and if all you can see is the map, you have no idea if enemies are near, or your friend/group took off without you.

4. You should be able to keep moving while looking at the map
– Being able to still move and navigate with the map open is a huge deal. Often the point of having a map is more of a GPS situation, and if you have to stop and reopen the map every 20 feet to get your bearings, it just becomes super frustrating

5. Configuration options
– This is more quality of life. Being able to set map transparency levels, remove/add map markets, set custom map markers, allow group members to see your map markers, link locations in chat, adjust the size of the map, etc etc are all big bonuses and at this point in game, should be standard features.


I wish they were all like the red DeLorme Gazetteer maps. So detailed, so handy.

I like any map that remains open, fades out and lets me autorun and turn while navigating the map.

I hate LotRO’s map, due to it’s wild inaccuracies. I can’t think of a worse map off hand. FO76 map is pretty close to being as awful.


I loved LOTRO’s old maps, in part due to their inaccuracies. Made you feel as if you were using an actual map of a fantasy world.


Yeah, I guess there is that.

Jon Wax

Same thing as an English muffin:

Nooks and crannies


GW2 and ESO both show everything on the map from quests to points of interests, but I think ESO has the better maps because it has a better quest tracking system.