Staredit Network > Forums > General StarCraft > Topic: Custom maps design discussion
Custom maps design discussion
Apr 16 2017, 1:06 pm
By: FlameViper  

Apr 16 2017, 1:06 pm FlameViper Post #1

From 15,000 maps there's a lot to talk about, the editor has allowed to create a diverse amount of genres and sub genres for SC1's UMS maps.
Let's start off with the RPGs first, which I find them to be the most detailed and interesting to discuss.
I have played Death Knights 3, Spellsword, LightsOut, RV RPG, Zalirea, After Earth, Balin's Tomb and most Lord of the Rings maps
The Seven Swordsmen and Labyrinthos RPG(probably the most trigger-intesive map created).

Death Knights 3

Probably the best in the "Final Fantasy/random encounters" genre.
An atmospheric map with a vivid world design. It implemented the day/night cycle which interacted with the gameplay mechanics.
If you went out at night in specific areas then you were a goner because of the randomly patrolling ultralisk and dark templars in the first and third area or the black colored/elite units.
I enjoyed the first town immensely, it's full of life. During the night you can get attacked by thieves inside the town. If they get near the light/lamp then they die, a very nice touch.
There's a flying command center hunting for the ghost ship which you can later enter if you have your dropship. There's a proper barricade at the entrance of the town which allowed me to farm and escape the ultralisk boss a few times. I think the ultralisk had a nordic or celtic name of some sort, can't remember what it was, but it wasn't generic like "water dragon, ghost ship" etc.

Being able to buy 4 disposable mercenaries which level up together with me was a huge advantage, especially for body shield. I would have had a much harder time without them.
After you destroy the antagonist's outpost and the zerg vespene geyser walls are destroyed, the map turns into an open world rpg. You get a dropship and are free to explore the whole terrain for secrets. You don't always control it, only within radiu, so the dropship always returns to you even when it's out of range.
There's tons of mineral chunks hidden in corners which I liked.
Really loved the secret bosses in it like the water dragon(guardian) in the cave, the ghost ship(carrier) appearing during the night and the ultralisk which always killed me during the first area.
The final boss was a Dark Archon named Darius. He wasn't a pushover, but not that grand either. Still he was harder to bring down than the hidden bosses because of his shield regeneration. At least from how much I remember. The problem with these types of final bosses is that you either end up getting lucky and killing them instantly or you get insanely unluckily and die every time.

Terrain and world building wise it's isometrical jungle, the typical tileset used throughout all rpgs, but it's made in Staredit Xtra Special.
My only complaint for it is that it starts off strong but gets downwatered along the way. After the first big town there's only 2 more towns which are incredibly tiny and without any life, secrets, additions. They even lack some shops.
The second and third jungle areas+(2nd and 3rd towns) last very shortly and there's no reason to come back to them or linger around. Maybe at the third area for farming purposes on the vultures, but there's not much to explore, the temple doodad doesn't do anything and the terrain is flat. Level design could have been more inspired and interesting with more landmarks and reason to return to them. Instead the islands, northern hilltops+the cave were: challenging, full of secrets and actually gave me exp and powerful monsters to fight.
Still the gameplay is very enjoyable. It also doesn't require your full attention and skill level, which makes the gameplay feel very comfortable.

Spellsword RPG
In contrast to Death Knights 3's comfy gameplay, this one will have you on the edge of your seat trying to survive. You have more chances surviving in a We Are Friends map than Spellsword if you dare to play it on hard. A very challenging rpg and the difficulty options make it obvious, so does the fact that half your spells are for self-defense purposes.

I really would love to see Spellsword's mechanics and user interface applied to different maps, it's just that good. Instead of using factories to build units for spells, it uses the bring X unit to location A to activate your spells and sets a burning building as a cooldown. In my opinion it's an improvement(at least gameplay wise and not technically) because you can hotkey all your spells from 1-9 to 0 and activate them more intuitively than through buildings. (Still for those heavily used to WeAreFriends and Naruto you might find building units for spells to be easier). The crafting system was also and intuitive. Simply put a bunch of units in the mixer and pull the lever to get your new sword or armor. Simply use the transport to load and drop units into the other player's inventory. Unfortunately this system uses up a lot of units which will kill off half your monster roster, and so far no map maker felt comfortable enough to leave the units unnamed or add two nouns sapphire/skeleton in the name.
The armor in this game was more than just armor, it was enchanted armor each with their passive abilities and bonuses, such as fire damage, chance to dodge, extra dropping chance, less cooldown, longer lasting spell abilities. The lightning spell with the mutalisk felt like the most powerful, next to the battlecruiser.

I think I loved the fire castle area the most. There were these groups of low-dmg cloaked siege tanks dealing constant damage which made it look like you were on literal fire. The way the castle was shaped, was especially favoring the tanks.(just wish my hero unit would learn to stay still while being attacked). That cracked tile/hidden hole in the wall was a very nice secret.
Making 2 units for the boss(air and melee) was a decent enough method of ignoring that the dark templar's attack is only melee. The dragon and its heart(battlecruiser and cerebrate) was a very nice boss, I remember that you had to kill the cerebrate about 10 times, each time respawning with lower health before you actually killed the dragon permanently. I'm glad it didn't bug out and it worked seamlessly. (could have used a burrowed unit or any invisible on hold position) It is a little sloppy looking to see 2 units posing as 1 and pretending they're different body parts.

Aesthetically wise it's weird that he chose a space tileset over the usual jungle. But this being Starcraft (a rpg in space) I find some allure in it.
(Still kinda weird to see the Excalibur and hear swords clashing sfx in the middle of space on a rusty old metal platform against aliens)
The ice valley area where you have to destroy the crystals, was a complete clusterfuck, to be honest. You'd be genuinely lucky if you came out of that alive.

Now, I really enjoyed the combat mechanic and user interface, but the overall gameplay had some glaring problems, intentional or not.

First of all the map is just 128x128 sized, so.. the map creator crams everything, he creates all these narrow passageways and tiny areas, resulting in enemies body block you 3/4 of the times.
Enemies would constantly spawn on top of you and kill you instantly if you didn't have any defensive spell on you. Sometimes just outright body blocking your 1 unit completely.
In the starting area 3 hero units are especially going to have problems fitting through the narrow passageway to the warp beacon.
The ice valley zone was the best example of what's wrong with the level design and spawning mechanic. A huge amount of enemies pop out of nowhere in a tiny area and often times your escape route is blocked, it's enough for 1 unit to block the exit and you're dead. (That area made me feel like I was playing Special Forces or Crash rpg)
Because it's a small map, the creator made it so you gain xp at a slow rate, slow enough that you can only beat the map in 4-6 hours rather than 1-2.
You also have to keep farming for specific items(keys, jewels, fire ring, macguffins) in order to advance to the next zone.
So you're stuck in the same location farming over and over again the same things. You can also easily die if you're not skilled enough to manage your defensive spells and unlucky enough to get caught by a spawn on top of you while your spells are on cooldown.

I believe the level design requires a rework and so does the needless longevity of the map.
If the spell and item system wasn't as incredibly fun as it was then the level design would have completely killed any enjoyment I had of the map.

Then there's Nightmare rpg, A Hero's Path, Open Page rpg, A Call for Help.
They're very simple, very classic RPGs without: spells, interesting world building, mechanics, fancy terrain design. Just mindlessly chop through enemies in a linear way. But they still have their charm, regardless of how simplistic they are.

Instead of a general thread I'm thinking of making maybe a max of 4 discussion threads, but I'm not sure how to categorize them, there's simply too many genres/themes/ideas.
Still I'd prefer we have at least 2 threads if we want to thoroughly discuss 1 map at a time instead of briefly going through them and forgetting to say 90% of the things worth mentioning.
Rpgs(Any map involving journeys with a unique unit)
General competitive maps (nexus wars, cat n mouse, defense maps, income defense, diplomacy, civilization, zombie maps)
General genres and sub-genres maps (Bound maps, screenmover maps, sniper maps, naruto maps, horror maps, the thing, impossible scenarios, volcano run, final fantasy, onslaught/survival, special forces rpg)

Unique maps/very rare genres (Super Mario SC, Mario Kart Battle 2, Siege Dyne, Pirate Dyne, Mini-Game Party, Final Requiem, Lost Technology) (this is going to be a headache of what's rare and what's not)
Unexplored ideas/untapped potential maps? Harry Potter, Aliens vs Predator, ant wars, farming maps, Grand Theft Auto, Pokemon, basically almost non-existent maps or a genre without good maps.
Optionally unfinished maps, maps in alpha/beta. But I don't think it's worth making a unique category for them unless we are to reboot or finish them.

And for campaign discussion here's an overview of Stellar Forces.


Apr 16 2017, 8:09 pm Pr0nogo Post #2

I used to have a very purist approach to SC and RTS in general, in that if the engine itself was built for RTS gameplay, I tended to avoid any maps or mods that deviated from that without introducing proper mechanics. I don't really hold this same mindset to a tee(ony), but seeing things like walls made out of structures or mechanics where you have to build a unit or unload a unit in order to interact with something are examples of limitations of the engine that really destroy immersion for me. This is why I was never much for RPGs and never got into them, even though I've had a number of (in my opinion) compelling ideas and plots for RPG maps. That I could never execute those concepts without using clunky workarounds in SC's engine was always a dealbreaker for me.

I'm very much singularly interested in campaign maps, though I played a number of bounds and tower defense maps back in the day. I've mostly moved away from those as time has gone on and really haven't bothered much with multiplayer maps in any capacity since ~2012 when I made my last co-op map (that I remember, anyways). I still enjoy the co-op campaign-style experience, with two or more commanders fighting against a common enemy, usually with macro involved (though micro-only co-op maps can be interesting and enjoyable in many ways). I would be interested in seeing more of these out there.

As for campaign discussion, I've already created a thread more or less for that express purpose, which can be found here.

Jul 15 2017, 10:27 pm FlameViper Post #3

About those 2 rpgs I reviewed up there. What did all of you think of them?

Quote from Pr0nogo
I used to have a very purist approach to SC and RTS in general, in that if the engine itself was built for RTS gameplay, I tended to avoid any maps or mods that deviated from that without introducing proper mechanics.
I find SC1 and SC2 incredibly boring as an RTS, even Warcraft 3 is boring as a stand alone RTS without its powerful editor that allows for save states. I much prefer Red Alert 2 as the superior melee RTS which allows you to enter buildings, create defensive lines, quick-paced scripted events, very interesting ideas like the spider drone, the mirage tanks, the chain-prism towers, chrono legionnaires. And because it actually balances your artillery vs infantry so it doesn't turn into Empire Earth where you get killed because that guy is 1 tier above you. EE wasn't melee thank god. Stronghold Crusaders and Stronghold 1 was also an incredibly fun economic-based combat RTS, you need to play it to understand how unique it is.
Sadly quality sci-fi real time strategy is lacking. There are some(a lot), exclusively taking place in space, but those are incredibly dull in terms of gameplay and gameplay-driven world design(Legions Of Iron, Star Trek Armada, Offworld Resource Base, Stellaris) There are very very few sci-fi rts, which are still badly balanced, like WH 40k Dawn of War, AvP Extinction on PS2 and aren't that great. Most RTS games like the ones listed above and even Empire At War, Dawn of Fantasy, Battle Realms blow Starcraft and Warcraft's attempt at story and gameplay out of the water.

It seems like the most talented and serious game developers only target serious ideas like 21st century wars and historical medieval wars. They don't have time to focus on fantasy and sci-fi.

Post has been edited 1 time(s), last time on Jul 15 2017, 10:45 pm by FlameViper.


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