StarCraft® II

Dear Blizzard: We need to talk about maps...

Posts: 104
Hello!

For those of you that may not know me, let me do a little introduction. My name is iCCup.Diamond and I am the CEO of iCCup TV. iCCup TV is the largest Non-Korean E-Sports live streaming networks in the world. We have a staff of over 20 members and output over 50 hours of casting minimum a week., almost exclusively in Starcraft II. Our events are of the highest quality, and we work hand in hand with some of the greatest minds in the SCII on a day to day basis. We have a wealth of experience in everything from pioneering new rules to running the first ever Starcraft II league with the ITL.

That being said, Starcraft II is the best game I have ever played, and I LOVE being a strong part of the E-Sports community. Starcraft II is remarkably balanced for being such a new game, and I think you guys did great on everything but one thing.

MAPS

While Blizzard has always been a step above and beyond every single other game publisher there is one area you have lacked in. Map making. Now I cannot blame you for this. When you release a game, the maps are bound to end up being sub par in the long run. You don't know all the variables of play and how people will abuse the map features.

For those that do not know, one of the very main things that made Starcraft Brood War have such a long life cycle was the maps made for it not from Blizzard (http://wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft/Maps). In Brood War they were made by KESPA. And there was A LOT of them (http://wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft/Category:Maps). It allowed the game to remain fresh and was one of the things that brought ME in when I first started following the competitive scene. I was amazed by all these cool and unique maps. I had been staring at maps like Lost Temple for the better part of 8 years at that point, and if games were still played on these maps I would have been NO WHERE near as interested in BW as an E-Sport.

However with Starcraft II the situation has slightly changed. Starcraft II was born as an E-Sport from day one. Within hours of the beta going live people were already figuring out the best build orders at the time, or cool micro tricks (such as when Louder created Sentries force fielding their own ramps to buy extra time). This game has been pushed to every single limit besides one since March, maps.

Blizzard maps are very creative, but it is obvious they were designed when the game designers had no idea how games would play out when mass distributed to all the players across the world. They just don't hold up anymore. They are GREAT for newer players, but to push Starcraft II forward as an E-Sport it is time to start catering a little bit towards the competitive scene and a little less towards the casual scene.

The E-Sport side of Starcraft II has already grown to the proportions that it needs your attention. I realize that in a recent interview you have said that Patch 1.2 will be the "E-Sports patch" but I have a feeling that is mainly entailing ladder seasons and chat channels. As great as both those things are, the current map pool threatens to stifle the growth of Starcraft II.

Why?

The maps promote a dangerous and risky style, and have positional imbalances that favor spawning at certain locations. They punish expanding, a core part of the Starcraft experience.

For example in ZvZ on Scrap Station the player that spawns on the right needs an extra creep tumor for their creep to reach his ramp for Spine Crawlers and for mobility, this also extends to Xel'Naga Caverns (http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=155163#1) . They start the game essentially behind by spawning on the right.

For Protoss, on Steppes of War the bottom base is much harder to attack with Colsi then the top base due to a difference with the cliff structure (http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=155101#1). This is most evident in the PvP match up where the mid to late game entails mass Colsi vs. mass Colsi. One player gets an advantage for free.

Blistering Sands highly favors certain match ups like PvZ, and always punishes expanding.

Delta Quadrant has too many possible exposed attack paths for Reapers, and Protoss can warp units right into the opponents main base. Also the cliff above the in base expansion can be abused with more then Reapers. Tank and Thor drops become death to a Zerg player in most situations.

Lost Temple's cliffs over the natural expansions make Tank or Thor drops almost unstoppable. It's a damn good map, but at this point the cliff has become a highlight flaw in the map.

Metalopolis is a great map but at this point is OLD. I've been playing that map for like 7 months now, it's just so blah...

Jungle Basin and Shakuras Plateau are both too new for me to pass judgment although I don't think these will work out well based on certain map features.

Am I saying pull these maps out on the street, burn them, and destroy all record of their existence? NO. They are VERY good for new players.

But the problem is these are the same maps the professionals ladder on. Most tournaments will only run ladder maps. That being said these maps are not fair for the professionals to play on. They CAN and HAVE abused every single thing mentioned above. A LOT, in high profile games.

We need a map system for the professionals and in general the higher level players. We need something different that promotes fair play (as Baishok has admitted previously is not what you are offering currently with the current map pool). I will quote two of the best players in the worlds opinions on the subject of the current map pool:

IdrA: "tournaments should definitely be moving to custom maps as soon as possible. thorough testing or not they'll be better than the blizz maps, which certainly haven't been tested with balance and game quality in mind. "

Liquid`TLO (asked about the custom map scene in Korea): "Hmmm, not have heard about. I only know that the Koreans here are in agreement with the fact that many of the current maps are quite horrible. I'm pretty sure some people are already working on new maps somewhere though. We'll just have to be patient and wait for good maps!"

There you have two of the very best and brightest minds in Starcraft both talking about there being problems with the current maps. It's not a problem for a couple bronze league players somewhere, these are two of the people that made it into the GSL, a tournament Blizzard had a great hand in making possible and was one of the largest E-Sports tournaments of all time and had over 2,000 players qualify for one of 64 spots in the main tournament. Of those 2,000 people IdrA made it in the Top 32 and TLO made it in the Top 16.

That being said PLEASE consider rotating some of the community made maps into the higher leagues of play through introducing them as ladder maps. Even if they are diamond level and above, adding just a COUPLE of these maps would be gigantic.

We at iCCup TV have hosted hundreds of games on these maps and no major glaring problems like the above maps have been documented. Our average game length has actually gone DOWN on these macro maps, and the players enjoy them. On top of that the FANS want them. I did a poll about if iCCup events should go to all custom maps (on TL), and received a 94% approval rating into rotating out most Blizzard maps from over 1500 votes. The voice is there, the fans want to see something new.

There are already several growing map making communities including our own iCCup Map making team. Look at their work, it is SO good.

We love your game Blizzard, we want to see it grow into the biggest E-Sport ever, but it's things like this that will only stunt the growth of this sport.

Sincerely,

iCCup.Diamond
Edited by iCCupDiamond on 10/7/2010 4:32 PM PDT
Posts: 3
Yes, please introduce iCCup maps. I think basically everyone who plays this game is in agreement here.
Posts: 16
iCCup.Raelcun here let me say something.

This is in no means saying bring in JUST iCCup Maps. Just bring in custom maps we of course believe the iccup maps are great but even if you bring in custom maps and our maps dont get as much attention as we want FINE as long as they're good well thought out and designed maps. Our map team and pool is only trying to advance map making as a whole and by no means saying we're the definitive and only option out there. Just trying to advance the sport by closing up the major weakness the maps.
Posts: 5
Chiming in myself to say that I absolutely agree with this thread, introducing more custom maps is something that will help this game grow. A lot of the Blizzard maps are neat, and I even really like a few of them but I think we need more variety in the map pool.
Posts: 12
I wholeheartedly agree... blizzard maps are not the answer. Metalopolis is a good map, and to a lesser extent I think XC and LT are ok too (although those do have their issues as mentioned above)... the other maps though are quite bad imo. I think the iccup maps are clearly better than what we are laddering on now, and would love to see some of them make it in (for the record, I like their original maps so much more than the bw ports... stuff like starlight breaker, orbital divide, sandshorn mists, enigma, etc. are so much more fun to play).
Edited by Spaceball on 10/6/2010 10:12 PM PDT
Posts: 83
I fully support this message, and hope to soon be able to ladder on balanced and interesting new maps; not stale maps that were taken out of the pool months ago and shuffled back into the rotation.
Posts: 2
It was impossible to foresee all the abuses that would arise on maps in the ladder pool. But it is possible to asses which map features allowed for those abuses and account for them in future maps. We know more about the game today than we did three months ago, and that means that we have the ability to adjust the maps in the ladder pool to ensure balance. Whether those balanced maps come from Blizzard or a third party (I love the iCCup maps), it has to happen. With GSL 2 about to start, the sooner the better.
Posts: 2,357
How would blizzard go about deciding what community maps to add into the game? and how would the community go about submitting maps to blizzard to be added to the game?

It seems like they would be swamped with requests to be added and never be able to fairly judge them all. There is no fair way to just accept iccup maps either. Just because they have a title and some form of organization doesn't put them above anyone else in the community.

I still think it would be easier to continue to give blizzard map suggestions and let them handle it themselves.
Posts: 125
Throwing my full support behind the iCCup map making team. As Diamond said though, it's not just about the iCCup maps. The ladder needs new, well made, larger macro maps. One of the great things about the BroodWar pro-scene was that new maps, created by very talented and knowledgeable map makers, were regularly rotated into the map pool. I absolutely believe that played a big role in what made BW last so long.

I would understand Blizzard not wanting to bring untested custom maps into the ladder pool, and I understand how they might not have enough people playing at the top level to frequently test new maps. However, iCCup has done the leg work in that regard. The only complaint against these maps that I ever hear professional players is that they simply aren't in the ladder map pool.

Blizzard has said, since day one, that SC2 was built to be an e-sport. I think Blizzard has succeeded in that in most every aspect, but I think a dedicated team (or teams) of map makers is one of the areas in which they didn't. These teams exist, and won't cost Blizzard any thing besides a bit of time discussing with the likes of Diamond or other teams of map makers.
Posts: 52
There is no reason why the ladder map pool has to be the same for every division of play.

If Blizzard wants to make the argument that larger, more technical maps like the iCCup maps (not all of them are SO large) are scary for newer players, there's no reason why they can't only be put into the ladder for the diamond brackets.

There is also no reason why maps cannot be discussed with the community more. Mapmaking is one of the big things that Blizzard has, through the editor, allowed its community a hand in helping out with.

When I heard that Jungle Basin and Shakuras Plateau were added to the map pool, I was happy and I want to test them out. But the idea that this wasn't talked about in some sort of community update is mind boggling to me. A lot of the people on Team Liquid think Crossfire is a great map, and we'd like to be able to say so before two other maps are rotated in.


There is also no reason why the existing maps cannot be edited to fix some of the positional imbalances that exist on them. This is even something the community can do. If Nethaera were to make a thread and say "Hey guys, play games on Jungle Basin and tell us what you think of it" I bet there'd be a lot of feedback. And I bet a lot of it would be good feedback.


I want to see more maps, and I want to see the maps rotated more often. But what I'd especially like to see is more communication between Blizzard and the community in regards to the one thing the community can actively help out with. It's been somewhat distressing to see Diamond's team creating literally dozens of excellent maps, stream hundreds of games on them, only for Blizzard to not make any comment about them at all, and then go with a completely unannounced map rotation.


If anything, iCCup and their mapmaking team could be a valuable resource that Blizzard could exploit for zero cost, if just given a tiny bit of direction as to what Blizz will and will not do in regards to maps.
Posts: 5
How would blizzard go about deciding what community maps to add into the game? and how would the community go about submitting maps to blizzard to be added to the game?

It seems like they would be swamped with requests to be added and never be able to fairly judge them all. There is no fair way to just accept iccup maps either. Just because they have a title and some form of organization doesn't put them above anyone else in the community.

I still think it would be easier to continue to give blizzard map suggestions and let them handle it themselves.


Considering they already have a system in place for Popularity of custom maps and the like, I can't think it would be extremely difficult for them to weed out what maps are being played and are the most Popular for 1v1 Melee. And even after that, they can do some looking into it themselves and see what they like - popular maps would get looked at and BGH v5.6.4.3.2.1 by RandomGuy probably wouldn't even be brought to their attention.
Posts: 3
I would just like to express my complete and total support of the iCCup maps being added among other custom maps to the ladder map pool. If there were more quality maps in the ladder map pool I would spend much more time laddering. I love all of the iCCup maps and I feel that they are well balanced and well designed, I'm happy to see this post and am seriously hoping this request will be taken seriously by the good folks at Blizzard
Posts: 1,043
How would blizzard go about deciding what community maps to add into the game? and how would the community go about submitting maps to blizzard to be added to the game?

It seems like they would be swamped with requests to be added and never be able to fairly judge them all. There is no fair way to just accept iccup maps either. Just because they have a title and some form of organization doesn't put them above anyone else in the community.

I still think it would be easier to continue to give blizzard map suggestions and let them handle it themselves.


There are already iCCup maps posted all over TL that have gained thousands of games. Day9 is attempting to promote them, and with the help of other popular casters like Husky/HD it wouldn't be much of a problem.

Blizzard could simply take the most popular maps played and introduce them into a ladder revolution, maybe 1-2 weeks each, and see if people like them. If not, people can just block them out or something.


They NEED more maps. They need better maps. And they need to hire new people for this stuff, or at least take in the great maps already provided (for free?) by Diamond and his team
Posts: 414
iCCup maps were some of the most balanced maps in BW, hope something like this happens. Right now the only map that feels pretty balanced across the races is Metalopolis.
Posts: 49
100% agreed. Looking forward to a response from Blizzard that isn't along the lines of "We appreciate the concern but we have no plans of adding custom maps to our map pool".

Edit: I don't think people on the US server realise that Kulas Ravine and Desert Oasis are being replaced by even more imbalanced maps, perhaps you should explicitly state that in the first few lines of the OP?
Edited by youngminii on 10/6/2010 10:24 PM PDT
Posts: 129
It's clear that 95% of people who support Iccup maps haven't actually played them. A lot of them are just straight ports of BW maps with minimal conversions besides making center resources gold (which is a horrible move.)

Iccup maps basically expect the maps to translate flawlessly to SC2, which they don't. Most of them have huge empty, dead space that goes unused. Most maps make poor or completely no use of Xel Naga towers to promote map control, movement and positional awareness. Instead the center is just a huge space for Brood War style skirmishes, as the Iccup map makers have not heard of unlimited unit selection.

One of the maps, Match Point, actually has an expo with minerals only. Do you guys even play SC2? Give one gas or a rich gas, but at least pretend to give a damn about SC2 mechanics instead of waving around your maps because they were played in BW.

So yes, bring in custom maps, but not these crappy Iccup ones.
Posts: 2,026
COMPLETELY agree. I am getting SO sick of the map imbalances, even though I play T and most of them don't effect me. It just doesn't FEEL right.

I support ICCUP being implemented ASAP.

Everyone like this thread, get it noticed.
Posts: 125
How would blizzard go about deciding what community maps to add into the game? and how would the community go about submitting maps to blizzard to be added to the game?
How does Blizzard decide what maps to use now? I don't think the suggestion is to let any one and everyone submit maps to Blizzard. Rather, for Blizzard to find pre-existing map makers who the community has already approved of.

To some degree, I'd see it working a little bit like the MVP forum posters. People (or map makers) who are established in the community, whose maps are generally accepted and considered well made. Every month or so Blizzard could look through the maps made by these MVP map makers and select two of their maps to rotate in.

I can't imagine something like that would take much man power or money on Blizzard's side. The maps are there, they've been tested. We're not asking for a complete overhaul of the ladder pool, just to occasionally rotate in some well made custom maps.
Posts: 486
I "liked" this thread and everyone else should too.
Posts: 1,115
On the plus side, at least Blizzard has listened to some feedback for maps.

Example: remember that silly map in the beta on the lava world template that basically made Terrans unbeatable?

One other note: chokes. So. many. chokes.


It's clear that 95% of people who support Iccup maps haven't actually played them. A lot of them are just straight ports of BW maps with minimal conversions besides making center resources gold (which is a horrible move.)

Iccup maps basically expect the maps to translate flawlessly to SC2, which they don't. Most of them have huge empty, dead space that goes unused. Most maps make poor or completely no use of Xel Naga towers to promote map control, movement and positional awareness. Instead the center is just a huge space for Brood War style skirmishes, as the Iccup map makers have not heard of unlimited unit selection.

One of the maps, Match Point, actually has an expo with minerals only. Do you guys even play SC2? Give one gas or a rich gas, but at least pretend to give a damn about SC2 mechanics instead of waving around your maps because they were played in BW.

So yes, bring in custom maps, but not these crappy Iccup ones.


This man makes an excellent point, though. The one game I saw on Match Point (via Day[9]) was pretty meh. Overall, it looked like an extremely poorly thought out map for SC2.
Edited by Chirality on 10/6/2010 10:20 PM PDT
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