The old map system was based on tiles and depending on complicated tilesets created by hand. While this offered quite big artistic freedom, it also required a lot of manual work to create the tileset art and the transitions.
The new map system will follow a different approach, using regular ground textures, simplified (semi-realistic) lighting and height blending. To make working with this as easy as possible, a map editor is currently in development for it.
Here is an early example of it:
As you can see, the ground looks somewhat realistic, as it has access to lighting and height informations and is rendered accordingly.
This approach doesn't only look interesting, it also gives map creators some freedom for blending multiple textures together, to create a dirty road for example, or to add some details near rocks or other objects:
As you can see on the screenshot, cracks inside high textures like cobblestone can be filled with lower textures like sand or dirt.
Another nice side effect of the new systems height-based approach is a highly requested feature finally getting implemented: water depth. Your tank will soon be able to drive through water, and to drown of course.
Sadly this requires additional height information for every tank (which to add is a lot of work), as it would look quite weird otherwise. But here is an early preview image, showing the hull of a Tiger tank with height informations added:
The water depth for every tile (1m²) can be choosen freely between ~0-5m by the map creator.
And there are still a few more things worth mentioning:
The map editor lets you edit the parameters for every individual map. You can change the texture tiling scale, water color, spawn positions and capture zone sizes however you like.
Map objects received a visual overhaul and can be placed manually or generated automatically, in case you need a lot of grass or trees for example.
Every map type (forest, desert, winter, town) will get its own texture set and object visuals, leading to more variety in the game.
The map format is fully custom and highly optimized, making map files only a few kilobytes in size. This makes downloading them in realtime possible. (in case custom game rooms will be added later)
The current plan is to publish the map editor somewhen after the next update release, so people can start experimenting around with own maps.
This will probably lead to some kind of map submission program where everyone can submit own maps to get integrated into the game, most likely with a compensation in ingame currency (gold/premium time/DLC packs).
Another feature idea is the implementation of singleplayer missions, maybe with Steam workshop integration.
But while this all is totally possible with the new system, nothing has been decided yet, as it's still too early to do so, so stay tuned...
As always with devblogs, please keep in mind that all changes shown here are not final and subject to change. The devblog series only exists to keep you updated on the latest development work and ideas without any commitments.