Damion Schubert, principal lead systems designer for Star Wars: The Old Republic, has posted a new developer blog over on the game's official site, and in it he discusses the map making process.
There are also some shots of some of the game's maps in the post as well.
According to Schubert: "In general, throwing maps into an MMO is easy. On the other hand, making maps that are comprehensive, accurate and useful to the player is much harder than you might imagine.
"Luckily for us, it was an area that we realized was hugely important very early on," he said.
Schubert said in the post that the team designed maps based on the objects that exist "inside of any zone in the game world."
"To start off, a designer draws a trigger box around part of the world, and then designates which map that trigger box belongs to," he explained. "He then uses a tool which effectively renders only the objects that are inside of that particular trigger box. This gives us a basic map image. After this, he runs a Photoshop tool which applies a filter that makes the resulting image look techy, holographic and vaguely architectural (if indoors) or topographical (if outdoors).
"Finally, an artist does a cleanup pass, removing visual artifacts and other noise that might have crept into the process."
It's a very interesting post on what could easily have been a subject which would have bored the reader to tears.
You can, and should, check it out here.