Monday, December 6, 2010

Your First Melee Map

Hello again.

In my previous post I showed how to properly place resources and starting locations in Starcraft 2's map editor, but didn't cover how to make a full map from there. Now, however, I will cover the rest of making your first melee map. So without further adieu, fire up the map editor, click file, click new, and follow my lead.

Our map today is going to be significantly larger than that last map we made. As I'm sure you discovered, 32x32 is hardly large enough to place even one starting location, so we're going to start this one off at 96x128.

It is important to have an idea of how you're going to lay out your map so you leave room for everything you want to include. For this map, we're going to make something very basic, with just two bases, one in the top left, one in the bottom right, we're going to have one natural expansion for each base (top right for the top player, bottom left for the bottom player), and we're going to put a Xel'Naga tower in the middle of the map.

We're going to start with the top left players base. Most starting points are going to be on raised ground compared to the rest of the map, so lets open up the Terrain Toolbox (Hotkey: T) and select the Cliff Brush, also known as "That button with a picture of a cliff looking thing with a green arrow." Now a series of options appears labeled "Operation." Select the Raise Cliff choice, which has the same icon as the Cliff Brush. Take note of the options we have here. There are some buttons under "Type", a slider labeled "Size", and some more buttons for "Shape." All of these are pretty self explanatory. The types choose weather you want the cliff to be a structure, or a natural cliff, the size dictates how big your brush is, and the shape dictates the shape of the brush. We're going to use the natural cliffs, the largest brush possible, and a circle, as our starting brush.

One Size 16 circle is not large enough to build a base. Sure, you can squeeze a Starting Point and some Resources on it, but keep in mind that when you're playing, you're going to need room for the rest of your buildings. For the basic design of this base, i'm going to start off with an inverted L shape made of three circles, one in the top left, one to its right, and one below it, as follows:

Notice I still have the Unit Placement Grid on. Toggle it on / off with Ctrl+Shift+H

Now go around with a smaller brush and touch it up as you'd like, unless you like this weird segmented look. Note: Once you have a cliff, its often easier to sculpt the rest of the area by using the "Same Level Cliff" operation ("That button thats just a green square") under the Cliff Brush. You can now click-drag outwards from your cliff to raise ground, or click-drag inwards from ground level to cut into your cliffs.

The last step to making our first base, we're going to switch the operation one more time to Add Ramp, or "That button that looks like a ramp." Now, on the top right of the base, we're going to add a ramp. Just brush it in there. Now you can go ahead and place your resources and starting point as I showed you in my last post. You should now have a single base that looks something like the following...

To create the second base, just repeat everything you just did, except in the bottom right corner of the screen. This part should be pretty simple.

We're close now. Technically, this map is now playable, however its ugly, its bland, and theres no expansions. We're going to start fixing this with the terrain, and the rest will be a cakewalk. Its important at this point to notice that the majority of Blizzard's Melee maps have the entire border of the map at a lower level than the rest of the map, so I'm going to carve down the rest of the map and build the rest of the terrain up from there. Take the Lower Cliff tool, and drop down the entire terrain except for your two main bases, and the area just outside of their ramps. Now, we will start building up the rest of our map from here. I built a path going from the entrance of each base, and put a Xel Naga Tower in the middle of the map. Then, I built some small expansions in the two empty corners, and connected them to the rest of the land. Your terrain should now be taking form, and look something like the following image.

Notice that I included separate paths from the expansions. I did this for one reason, and one reason alone. Without any chance of variety, a map is very boring, and has no replay value. If there is only one path to take, the game becomes incredibly linear. While it's not revolutionary, and it wont on its own make your map the greatest map since Big Game Hunters, not including a chance for variety will leave your map dead in the water.

There we go. Now you have your first functional Melee map. Obviously, this map could still be improved upon significantly. It has no doodads, the overall look is a little boring because everything is the same shade of green, and its kindof small. All of these will be taught in later tutorials.

Peace and Love / Happy Gaming.

Edit: I Just realized I forgot something you need to do for this map to actually run. You need to activate the players.

This step is simple. Just open the Map menu at the top of the screen, and click Player Properties. Since our map is two player, we only need to activate the first two players. Player 1 is activated by default, so we only need to activate the second player. Click, on the second player, and then go to the pulldown menu on the right labled "Control" and select user. Tada.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Basic Resource Placement

Alright, this first tutorial for the map editor is going to be super super simple, but its going to cover a few things that can be annoying to figure out on your own. Today we're going to cover a few galaxy editor hotkeys, and show you how to place minerals and how to place vespene geysers.

First, open up the map editor by clicking start -> programs -> starcraft II -> starcraft II map editor.

Once the editor is open, we're going to click File -> New, or press Ctrl+N to open up the New Map Dialogue. Here you will choose a bunch of settings that help generate a basic map file. For now, all you need to really worry about is the size, and make sure that you uncheck the "Add Random Height" checkbox. While you don't have to disallow random height, it has caused me a slight bit of trouble in the past when it comes to placing water, and has also been known to cause deformations when it comes to building buildings ingame. You can select any tileset you want, and whichever tile within a tileset you have selected will cover your newly generated map with that texture.

For this tutorial I made a ridiculously small map (32 x 32) because I'm only going to show how to place a start location, and place the appropriate resources around it. Keep in mind, that when counting game units, your starting building (Nexus, Command Center, or Hive) are 5 x 5. This makes a 32 x 32 map impractical.

Notice that you are viewing the map at a slight angle. This has its pros and cons, however when you're dealing with large portions of the map, or placing certain elements, its much more convenient to view the the map from more of a "birds eye" view. To do this, all you have to do is press Ctrl+Right Click, and pull the mouse towards you to until you reach the desired view.

Note: If you want to be viewing the map "perfectly up and down", Ctrl+Right Click as before until you see that the little yellow trapezoid in the minimap is a square (or rectangle if you have a widescreen monitor.)

Tada! You should now see something that looks like this.

Now, we're going to place a starting point for our first player, and set up some resources for them. The first part is really easy; just press the P button to open up the "Points" toolbox, and select the second button at the top of the toolbox (it should look like a circle made out of arrows) and place it wherever you would like your players startpoint to be. Now we're going to place a our resources around it... but we're going to have to do something else first.

You know how in the game, it wont let you build your main building too close to resources? You don't really have a guideline at the moment on how close is too close, you just have a big chunk of land with a random circle on it, however, we can mark it up by Showing the Placement Grid, by pressing Ctrl+Shift+H, or clicking the button for it under View -> Show Placement Grid. Now, as long as you have "Show Near Resources" enabled (check under View - > Show Placement Grid -> Show Near Resources) the game will show you, as the name of the tool implies, the placement grid. Red Squares are already in use / cant have units placed there, yellow squares are the space needed between resources and main buildings, and green squares are vacant.

It looks almost exactly like the last screenshot, but if you don't see a grid that looks like this one, you're doing something wrong. You should also have a start location somewhere on there, but I'm to lazy to make another screenshot.

To place resources, we first have to select them. To do this, open the Unit Toolbox by pressing U, and select the bottom of the four pull-down menus at the top of your toolbox and select "Resources", and select the tile for Mineral Field. Notice how now you have squares turning yellow around the resources, designating the space needed between resources and the main building. Keep in mind the yellow squares can not intersect the 5x5 square that is not your start location, if you goof and they overlap, don't freak out, we'll fix it in a minute. A standard melee map has 8 mineral fields and two vespene geysers. To place the geysers, just select them from the Unit Toolbox that you got the minerals from.

Now presumably you have made some form of small mistake placing the resources. Either you made them too close to the start location, or too far, or you made too many, or you just don't like the way you have them placed. To fix all of these, the solution is very simple. Pressing the space bar will toggle you into and out of a selection mode. You can now click on your resources and move them around until they are placed to your liking.

We're almost done now creating our first little base, but theres a few things you should check at this point to make sure you're not making one of a few beginner mistakes. It took me several maps to get this part right, but usually your base has some kind of an edge behind the resources, be it a cliff, or a shore, or some elaborate series of doodads, you're going to more than likely have the back of the base closed. Make sure that you leave enough room for Missile Turrets / Photon Cannons / Spore Crawlers between the resources and the edge of the base. Generally speaking, 2 squares is the bare minimum amount of space your going to want between any mineral field the back of the base, and you're probably going to want at least 3 squares at most points. The second mistake you're going to want to watch out for is bunching your resources. If you bunch your resources too close together, you wont leave room for workers to get behind to build towers, or worse: trap them between a tower and a mineral field.

What you should now see with the placement grid.

What you should now see, without the placement grid.

That's it. Congratulations, you've finished your first base. Unfortunately, your map isn't ready to run yet. You only have one base, and on a 32x32 map, theres not really the room to build an opponents base, theres a few settings that need to be changed

Edit: I almost forgot! Since I'm still really new to the blogging scene / online tutorial scene, I'm still learning this whole system, which brings me to the following:

1) Please pardon my dust.
2) Is something unclear in my post? If so, please publicly bitch me out in a comment on the post.
3) Please feel free to share any stories about your first blog / building up your following in your early days.
4) Any suggestions to get my name out? Digg? Bloglists? Anything?

Hello World

"Hello World", and welcome to the Starcraft Mapman blog. This blog is dedicated to every aspect of Starcraft II's custom maps. We will be covering reviews of different Custom Maps, tips, tricks, and even articles on map production using Starcraft 2's galaxy editor.