StarCraft® II

[Guide] Getting Started with Map-Making

Have a new and exciting idea for a custom map? Just want to get to know the SC2 galaxy editor? This thread is intended to help beginning map-makers get started on their custom map projects by providing some tips and tricks to guide them through the map-making process.

Overview

Edited by Khalanil on 12/18/2012 8:30 AM PST
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Concept and Design

This is where map-making begins. In order to make a good map, you’ll want to have some ideas about what kind of gameplay you’re going to create. Keep in mind, your plan will change over time, especially once you reach the testing phase.

Play other maps

Want to create the next big Tower Defense map? Before you begin to construct your map, you should play every tower defense map you can possibly find. Playing other maps which are similar to your concept will provide three things:

    1. Beneficial gameplay features used in similar maps
    2. Detracting gameplay features used in similar maps
    3. The knowledge that the map you’re planning hasn’t already been made by someone else.

While playing these maps, make a mental (or physical) list of all aspects that you felt made the map better or worse. Based on your list, think about whether it would be best to include some of the more fun gameplay features. Also, think about the aspects which hindered gameplay. Perhaps you feel that you can implement a particular aspect more effectively than another map; maybe it’s best just to leave that feature out. The more maps you play, the more informed your decision-making will be while planning out your new map.

Elements for a successful map

Over the course of the map-making process, there are several fundamental elements which should be important factors in making any design decisions. Make sure that you keep these goals in mind at all times, from concept to testing. While there are always exceptions, a successful map can generally be described as:

  • Fun – This should be a top priority for designing a map. If players don’t enjoy playing the map, they are unlikely to ever play it again. The best way to gauge whether a map is fun is to have other people play it, preferably people who aren’t your friends and won’t feel compelled to tell you how amazing your map is.
  • Intuitive – Regardless of the difficulty level of your map, players should be able to figure out how to play without too much trouble. Many players get frustrated when they don’t know what to do. Often, frustrated players will leave the game; this will affect gameplay and create unsatisfied players who are unlikely to play your map again.
  • Replayable – Fun is good, but maintaining the fun over multiple games is better. Successful maps will generate a following. If players tire of a map after playing it once or twice, it will be difficult to maintain any sort of player base.

The article “Ten Things Every Game Needs”, linked below, provides a detailed discussion about more specific elements. Regardless of whether you think your map needs all “ten things”, it’s a good read and will possibly give you some additional insights into the map design process.
    Part 1: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/mm/166
    Part 2: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/mm/168
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Map Construction and Implementation

Getting Started

As a beginning map-maker, the SC2 Galaxy Editor probably looks very intimidating. Without any experience, it’s difficult to even know where to begin. To start off, I recommend visiting Blizzard’s “StarCraft II Maps and Mods” page ( http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/game/maps-and-mods/ ) to get a general overview of the three main editor modules:


After you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics, you’re ready for some more specific help in implementing your map. Along with the official SC2 Custom Maps forum, there are a number of unofficial SC2 custom map-making sites.

  • Official Custom Maps forum:
  • SC2Mapster:
      http://www.sc2mapster.com/
    • 2500+ maps and mods
    • 300+ assets for map-making
    • Map-making wiki
    • Map-making forums and tutorials
  • Broken Alliances:
      http://brokenalliances.com/forums/
    • 20+ maps
    • 20+ assets for map-making
    • Map-making forums and tutorials
  • Staredit Network:
      http://www.staredit.net/
    • 20+ assets for map-making
    • Map-making wiki
    • Map-making forums and tutorials
  • Unconfessional Design:
      http://www.udmod.com/forum.php
    • 10+ assets for map-making
    • Map-making wiki
    • Map-making forums and tutorials
  • The Hive Workshop:
      http://www.hiveworkshop.com/forums/news.php
    • Map-making forums and tutorials

Starting off, I recommend looking for tutorials for whatever you’re trying to do. There are a wide range of tutorials available which cover almost any aspect of custom map-making you can imagine. Below are a few lists of tutorial.


Solving Problems

At some point, you’ll probably run into a problem and have no idea how to solve it. The first thing you need to do is search for previous discussion of that problem. Odds are that someone (or multiple someones) has had this problem before and another map-maker has told them how to solve it.

First, take a look at the Galaxy Editor FAQ thread ( http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/189279023?page=1 ).

If that doesn’t help, searching through the available community sites will almost always lead you to a solution. Below are a couple of links which will aid in searching for map-making solutions (replace the word “actors” with key words describing your problem).

Edited by Khalanil on 9/30/2012 9:08 AM PDT
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Testing (Beta phase)

Once you’ve build your map to the point where people can play it, it’s time for testing. A newly-made map will never work exactly the way you imagined it. The best way to iron out problems is by playing it with other people. This will give you direct feedback as to how enjoyable your map feels to others (see “Elements for a successful map”) as well as revealing trigger and data bugs. If you’re having problems finding other players to play your map with you, try the following:

  • Arcade chat – There are generally plenty of other players who are interested in playing custom maps. Some of them will be happy to try out something new and give you feedback on your map.
  • Custom mapping channels – Several channels exist which cater to map-makers. These channels are a good place to seek other map-makers for feedback; map-making channels include SC2mapster and SEN (Staredit Network).
  • Friends – Make friends with other players and fellow map-makers. If you’re looking for testers, ask them if they would like to join you in a game. Also keep in mind, if you’re willing to provide feedback on other map-makers’ maps, they will be more willing to provide some perspective on your own map.

Along with playing your map with other players, watching replays is a great way to find issues with your map. Replays give you the ability to see exactly what other players are seeing and doing, allowing you to more easily see any bugs that they experience, as well as any interface-user conflicts which may occur.

If you publish your map publicly, players can play it even when you’re not around. This will allow you to gain additional feedback through your map’s reviews on the Arcade.
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Iterative Design (Release and beyond…)

Successful custom maps are never created in a single attempt. In order to make an enjoyable map which other people actually want to play, you’ll probably need to go through many design iterations.

Obtaining feedback from other players is the best way to inform changes made with each iteration. You might envision that your original, never-seen-before gameplay elements will result in the next DotA map, but these new ideas could be infeasible in practice. Feedback from other players is the best way to know what aspects of your map are successful and which are not. You shouldn’t to adjust your map to meet every single player’s wants and desires, but knowing when to listen to the players will help you in the long run.
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Fifth.
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And once more for good measure.
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Don't Forget brokenallianes.com

Its got more premium projects hosted than any other site.
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Don't Forget brokenallianes.com

Its got more premium projects hosted than any other site.

Added. I'll be updating that post with a bit more site-related information at some point.
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Added more information about map-making sites based on browsing them all. Let me know if I missed anything.
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I was refering to the fact it hosts 2 of the 4 premiums I know of.
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06/28/2012 12:23 PMPosted by FockeWulf
I was refering to the fact it hosts 2 of the 4 premiums I know of.

Ah. I thought you were referring to the "hosted projects" section.
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For greater visibility.

Also, if you feel I should expand upon any aspects of map-making in particular, let me know.
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Bringing this back up again.
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Like the OP if you find the information useful.
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07/08/2012 10:10 AMPosted by Khalanil
Bringing this back up again.
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06/27/2012 06:10 PMPosted by Khalanil
SEN Tutorials - http://www.staredit.net/topic/13437/

Hey just wanted to clear this up. The thread you linked to on SEN is for SC1 terrain tutorials. All of SEN's SC2-related tutorials are on GalaxyWiki.net
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09/28/2012 02:31 AMPosted by DevliN
SEN Tutorials - http://www.staredit.net/topic/13437/

Hey just wanted to clear this up. The thread you linked to on SEN is for SC1 terrain tutorials. All of SEN's SC2-related tutorials are on GalaxyWiki.net

The link has now been updated.
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Shift this thread to the tutorials forum, please.
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HAHAH, I thought this thread said [Guide] Getting started with Map-Hacking =o Wupps ! Cool guide though thanks a bunch!
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