StarCraft® II

The REAL problem with Custom Maps (detailed!)

I get asked all the time how to create a custom game. Most people find it hard to understand there is no simple solution. The ONLY way you can host a custom game is if one of the following is true:

    -The map is one of the top 50 most popular maps
    -You recently joined someone else’s game who had the map
    -You published the map yourself


There is no other way to host a custom game. The maps in the top 50 are played plenty, and undoubtedly they will end up in your recently played list where you can host them. That is fine. The problem is the only way to get new maps that are not on the popular list is to publish them yourself.

To publish a map, you must exit the game, open the desired map in the map editor and click file -> publish and set any last settings (more on that later). Now the map will be uploaded to Blizzard’s server, and if there are no errors, you can exit the map editor and restart your game, then create the game from ‘Your Published Maps’ list. Unlike Warcraft 3, or SC1, when people join your game lobby, they will be downloading the file you uploaded to Blizzard's server, not directly from your computer.

There are a few problems with publishing:

    1. On the last step of map publishing settings that I mentioned earlier, you can rename the map to whatever you want. This makes it very easy to steal someone else’s work. Or you could just turn their map name into an advertisement. Also, when you publish that map, everyone on battlenet will see your name as the author, not the person who actually made it. If you don’t believe me go try it.

    2. You can only publish 5 maps at a time, which means for someone like me, who had over 4,000 custom maps in Warcraft 3, I have to plan out what I am going to play before I play it, and then keep my friends waiting while I waste a lot of time exiting the game, publishing each one, and re-entering the game.

    3. Because there is no way to locally host maps from your computer, it means the publishing system will be used for temporary map hosting. Let’s say I wanted to try out 25 cool-looking new maps in a given night with my friends, I would need to exit the game, publish 5 at a time, play them and then remove them, repeating the process until I ran out of maps to try. This is not what the publishing system was designed for, but this is the only way I try out maps that are not yet on the popular list.

    4. Due to the common practice of renaming other people's maps that I mentioned earlier, and the use of the publishing system for temporary map hosting, many duplicate copies of a map will be republished. Each time someone republishes a map, it will be under their name, and slightly different from every other version out there! The reason Blizzard claims to have removed the ability to create named-custom games was to prevent 100 different DOTA games – well they succeeded, except now there will be 100 different DOTA maps, each with a different author or map name. You can already see duplicates in the popular list, but this will get much worse once as soon as publishing abuse starts (more on that later).

    5. Compared to the rest of the game, publishing a map quite difficult and is not intuitive. The typical user has no idea what the map editor even is, much less how to publish a map. Past Blizzard games have trained people that if they download a map and put it in the right folder, they can host it – nowhere in Starcraft 2 is the user told that this is no longer the case (or why the decision was made).

    6. There are other problems with publishing, like the 10mb map limit. I will not go into those here, but I would encourage checking out the threads by IskatuMesk, and SCLegacy, both of which are excellent in-depth write-ups. (http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=127066) (http://sclegacy.com/articles/730-battlenet-20-concerns#Map%20Making/Editor%20Issues)


These issues taken all together bring us to a larger problem: because it is so difficult to host custom maps that are not already popular, most people simply will not bother hosting new maps at all. This leaves us with only the popularity system, which, as Blizzard poster Xordiah explains, it should work fine for discovering new maps:

I saw some concerns in this thread that you guys are afraid that a map that is published maybe five months after release but is really good will never get any attention. I don't really share this concern, because of the awesome sites out there that will start promoting good content. I mean, even today, when map publishing is still doing its first steps and while there is still quite a bit of work ahead of us, I have seen so many great maps that are featured on sc2mapster, on TL.net and many other community websites. There will always be a map making community like the Hiveworkshop were map makers will find support. And though all these sites, through the forums, through casters like Husky and especially through word of mouth good maps will be spotlighted and players will find them and make them popular. If a map is good, make a youtube video of it and it will spread if players think it is cool.



By this line of reasoning it is up to the map download sites to promote maps. While Xordiah is correct that sites have thousands of custom maps, he fails to understand that users have no way to play the maps they download, except by publishing. As if the limitations and difficulties of publishing were not bad enough, there is a good chance that by publishing you would be creating a duplicate and just adding to the popularity system’s problems, since any map author lucky enough to be featured on a site has probably already published. Further, without a good way to host unpopular maps, popular maps stay popular. With fewer people publishing, it easy to game the system, making maps popular that should not be or simply injecting fake maps in the popular list.

This is a nightmare for custom maps, but what can we do?

There has been much uproar over the lack of chat, lack of cross-region play, and lack of LAN support. Blizzard acknowledged all of these, but has remained quiet on custom maps. As SCLegacy points out, Blizzard knows the game-finding experience is not what was promised at BlizzCon 2009. Unfortunately the interface won't change the fundamental fact that you cannot host a downloaded map without jumping through ridiculous hoops.

Many of the people who are complaining about the custom maps are mistakenly focused on naming games or the popularity and filtering systems – none of that matters if you can’t easily play and host the maps you download.

Blizzard has some of the best modification tools and community of any game out there, and I am confident they can fix this. Please join me in helping to make Blizzard aware of the problem in whatever way you can.

(This was taken from http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=139745
I felt it so well written it needed to be posted here so that it would actually matter. I did not write this, the original poster was "luxx")
Edited by TheUprising on 7/31/2010 7:13 AM PDT
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Agreed
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Jesus christ , I only now just studied that picture, it seems to incorporate the games CURRENTLY happening, allowing you to name them, and still uses the popularity system. Whoever was the retard that scrapped that and released the current system needs to be fired...
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Jesus christ , I only now just studied that picture, it seems to incorporate the games CURRENTLY happening, allowing you to name them, and still uses the popularity system. Whoever was the retard that scrapped that and released the current system needs to be fired...

I agree that the system in the picture is way WAY better than what we have, but you have to understand, the stuff at Blizzcon was NEVER in ANY build of SC2. Those are basically concept pictures made by the web designers (and they actually did say this at some point), so it may have been a time limitation that caused them to go with this awful system.

Also, user star ratings are SUPPOSED to show up in a later patch, but uh...so is every other basic feature that should have been in at launch. DO YOU REALLY WANT TO PLAY CUSTOM CONTENT?
Edited by Truhan on 7/31/2010 7:25 AM PDT
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I'll be honest here, the ability to host custom maps will probably never happen, no matter how much we bash into that door, simply put, blizzard decided that's it's more cost effective to host peoples maps than deal with the ungodly amount of pseudo-pornographic maps and griefing, for whatever reason they decided to tone down from Mature to Teen so they won't really open the door when they can control the content, and naming games would fall in that category as well, but at the same time, I don't recall the need to do custom names in SC1 (Maybe WC3 but I never played WC3 online) since everyone would just open games with the map name anyway.

But in all fairness, the system itself is very good, even though a lot of people disliked, the concept behind having the maps on the server removes all that insane amount of kicking players for not having the map you wanted to play, let's face it, while there's a brick ton of community sites dedicated for map making, the average Joe player don't frequent then, or even know that they exist, the problem is that while the system is good, is at the same time flawed, as you can't choose what games you want to join or the latency, I'm assuming the game chooses the best one for you, but that's another story altogether.

As for the popularity system, as far as I understand, it's just a guideline for new players to check what's hot on the map community, you can still search for a map even if it's not on the popularity list, so I think it would be wiser to just add a new option when making maps, to add a Type for the map, like Turret Defense maps are grouped in the TD type, would make it easier to discover maps you don't know.

Anyway, that's just my two cents on it, while I do agree that a lot needs to be improved, others are just a matter of perspective and getting used to.
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I'll be honest here, the ability to host custom maps will probably never happen, no matter how much we bash into that door, simply put, blizzard decided that's it's more cost effective to host peoples maps than deal with the ungodly amount of pseudo-pornographic maps and griefing, for whatever reason they decided to tone down from Mature to Teen so they won't really open the door when they can control the content, and naming games would fall in that category as well, but at the same time, I don't recall the need to do custom names in SC1 (Maybe WC3 but I never played WC3 online) since everyone would just open games with the map name anyway.

But in all fairness, the system itself is very good, even though a lot of people disliked, the concept behind having the maps on the server removes all that insane amount of kicking players for not having the map you wanted to play, let's face it, while there's a brick ton of community sites dedicated for map making, the average Joe player don't frequent then, or even know that they exist, the problem is that while the system is good, is at the same time flawed, as you can't choose what games you want to join or the latency, I'm assuming the game chooses the best one for you, but that's another story altogether.

As for the popularity system, as far as I understand, it's just a guideline for new players to check what's hot on the map community, you can still search for a map even if it's not on the popularity list, so I think it would be wiser to just add a new option when making maps, to add a Type for the map, like Turret Defense maps are grouped in the TD type, would make it easier to discover maps you don't know.

Anyway, that's just my two cents on it, while I do agree that a lot needs to be improved, others are just a matter of perspective and getting used to.


Did you actually try to play an unpopular map yet? I think the biggest flaw in the popularity system is that it also shows maps that NO ONE IS PLAYING. Thus blocking out the guy who made a godly tpv rpg because he doesn't even show up in the top 50 (it doesn't matter if only 5 of those top 50 maps have people in them)
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A couple of things I want to point out in your post...
I'll be honest here, the ability to host custom maps will probably never happen, no matter how much we bash into that door, simply put, blizzard decided that's it's more cost effective to host peoples maps than deal with the ungodly amount of pseudo-pornographic maps and griefing, for whatever reason they decided to tone down from Mature to Teen so they won't really open the door when they can control the content, and naming games would fall in that category as well, but at the same time, I don't recall the need to do custom names in SC1 (Maybe WC3 but I never played WC3 online) since everyone would just open games with the map name anyway.

There are quite a few router and internet issues that prevent most players from hosting maps in WC3. THIS is why naming was damn near necessary in WC3. Blizzard hosting maps on their servers makes it so ANYONE can host, no port forwarding required.

But in all fairness, the system itself is very good, even though a lot of people disliked, the concept behind having the maps on the server removes all that insane amount of kicking players for not having the map you wanted to play, let's face it, while there's a brick ton of community sites dedicated for map making, the average Joe player don't frequent then, or even know that they exist, the problem is that while the system is good, is at the same time flawed, as you can't choose what games you want to join or the latency, I'm assuming the game chooses the best one for you, but that's another story altogether.

This was mostly just an issue with stone-age 56k dial-up internet users (HEY! I was one of them for quite a while because my mom is a dumb dumb for not realizing it's CHEAPER to get high speed AT&T DSL over AOL dial-up) and people in the Australialand that have a POOR connection to the US East servers, as opposed to the awesome US West server (which is now DOA for most map communities). Also, many fail to understand that internet connection means little to nothing on the WC3 peer-to-peer system. My old ass Dell from 2000 was able to play WC3 on some fairly high settings and, again, with 56k internet, I NEVER lagged up a game unless some prick instant messaged me. It was more about having a solid computer than connection. Unless you're from Australia.

As for the popularity system, as far as I understand, it's just a guideline for new players to check what's hot on the map community, you can still search for a map even if it's not on the popularity list, so I think it would be wiser to just add a new option when making maps, to add a Type for the map, like Turret Defense maps are grouped in the TD type, would make it easier to discover maps you don't know.

Anyway, that's just my two cents on it, while I do agree that a lot needs to be improved, others are just a matter of perspective and getting used to.

Map searching is ONLY for the Create Game list. This is backwards on so many levels I cannot even begin to put it in words. If ONLY one of the features could use a search function, the Join Game function is by far the neediest. It's literally impossible to play some of the games on the Create Game list simply because they AREN'T ON THE JOIN GAME LIST. This isn't perspective. It's incredibly poor design.
Edited by Truhan on 7/31/2010 7:49 AM PDT
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I did said the system was flawed, it does need a wider range of options, specially when joining games and searching maps, but my point was and still is that most people are (Not specially TC's case, I actually agreed as stated with some parts) simply saying "This is broken, Fix it" and no matter how concise they are saying, some things are just business decisions, and others do make sense, they just need improvement, not completely overhauls just because people are not happy with it.
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While the custom game scene is entirely broken I'll doubt they will fix it, if at all, until the next expansion.
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I did said the system was flawed, it does need a wider range of options, specially when joining games and searching maps, but my point was and still is that most people are (Not specially TC's case, I actually agreed as stated with some parts) simply saying "This is broken, Fix it" and no matter how concise they are saying, some things are just business decisions, and others do make sense, they just need improvement, not completely overhauls just because people are not happy with it.

I think it DOES need to be overhauled, but that's mostly because the entire system is so vague. Never once is it explain how maps are made popular (though those sexy fiends at SC2mapster discovered that one game played by one account per hour adds 1 to the popularity of a map, so popularity spamming is fixed). Too many beta testers figured this system would be overhauled before release because of how bad it is. But here we are, after launch. And now those same beta testers are banking on some magic patch that will come along and fix everything. Though I do agree - we need less "this is broken" and more "here's how I think you can fix it," even if Blizzard doesn't care.
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The system is just worse than the original SC or WC3 in just about every way. It makes me not want to play custom games


have an option to host your own maps, not dependent on uploading them to Blizzard
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I must say it has given me a chance to play the campaign and league matches. I must agree with several posts here and say the system is just difficult to enjoy. I've even tried to start games that were just a page or so down (You know "Show All" button at the bottom) and end up waiting well over 5 minutes before even one person will join. Not to mention the lack of naming, and the lack of rematching (RM anyone?) You'll be lucky to play with the same people again. I've had countless UMS maps in SC:BW where we all join up again. This would be possible IF someone were to add everyone, or is there another way?

Needless to say if there was one feature from SC:BW that should probably have been ported over, it was custom games. Name your game, put it up. Done. Initially sort by time created, allow users to then choose sorting (So you can sort by popularity if that's your thing).

Which brings me to my final point, I've always hated popularity contests...
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Yep, I wrote it, but I am glad to see people spreading this. I would encourage checking the original thread as there were a few points there that I missed, such as ReketSomething:

And after you publish the map and create a game, no one can join because its not one of the most popular maps. Also, recently joined game of someone else publishing a map means that it must have been in the top 50 for you to join in the first place. Meaning, you can only play the map if its in the top 50.

http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=139745
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So, to sum up things, at least in part:

It's overly cumbersome to play on Custom Maps, with map creators being forced to Upload said maps to Blizzard, then pray they hit the Top-50.

Whereas if you -want- to play on Blizzard Official maps, everything is all fine and dandy. There's even talk of Premium Maps in the future, which of course we will all have to hand out more cash for, even though we just paid $60 USD for the game itself. Moreover, according to the EULA, all maps we create instantly become the sole property of Blizzard-Activision. If they choose to sell them tomorrow, without crediting the original author or giving him/her a cut of the profits, since we all "signed" that EULA, we forfeit all say in the matter.

@Truhan - I applaud your debunking of the "they made the custom game system this way due to internet lag and computer issues" theory.

Except in very rare cases, hosting games today is far less problematic than it was in years past. Blizzard, ISPs, and Router MFGs, have made considerable strides towards improving functionality for gamers, including the reduction of lag. Another tidbit many people fail to consider: Not all routers/modems/ISPs are equal. You start mixing different router/modem brands, speeds, and computer hardware, and all that complexity -will- generate more lag, and packet routing issues.
Blizzard can't factor in -every- possible hardware combination....nobody could.

- - - - -

Just to be clear though: I am not against a system where I can publish my maps for the world to enjoy. I just want to also be allowed to have a "C:\Games\Starcraft2\Maps" folder, which I can drag-and-drop maps from websites (or friends) into, without the publishing system, and just host up a game and my friends download the map from me. Or, if LAN was included in the game *cough cough*, just transfer said map(s) ahead of time to my friends.
I fail to understand why Blizzard is now, suddenly, so against this. Unless a system of absolute control over players matters more to Activision/Blizzard than gameplay freedom does... /ponders

I'm still enjoying the game somewhat, thusfar. Though I do agree with previous posters here, that we can be as loud, and at the same time, precise and creative as possible, in terms of how we want Blizzard to change the current Custom Game system. But for now, "Riding the Cash Cow" ,and keeping the game under their absolute control, matters more to Blizzard than the feelings of their customers.

Excellent discussion folks. Thanks for posting this info!

--DKnight
Edited by DKnight on 7/31/2010 12:53 PM PDT
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This is one of the biggest problems with the game thus far. Chat rooms, cross realm play and lack of lan pale in comparison to this basic, fundamental functionality. I'm sick of the maps in the top 50, I want to see all the other wonderful and new creations that people put a lot of hard work into and will never, ever get recognized for with this system.

It's such a shame for all the mapmakers out there that they have to cross their fingers and hope their maps get recognized regardless of how good they actually are.

As seen in SC:BW, if you can host custom games then the most popular maps will be the most prevalent by default, except good maps can get popular much, much, MUCH more quickly than with the current system. I really don't understand Blizzard's logic behind what they did, it's severely limiting the depth of the game right now.
Edited by Meta on 7/31/2010 3:29 PM PDT
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Wow, thanks for the post. Maybe I should just fall back on SC1 to play maps out of the top 50, and that nobody is hosting. :\
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Jesus christ , I only now just studied that picture, it seems to incorporate the games CURRENTLY happening, allowing you to name them, and still uses the popularity system. Whoever was the retard that scrapped that and released the current system needs to be fired...


Out of a cannon, into the sun.
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I liked this.
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