Starcraft Mapmaker's Guide by Renolan email@example.com History of this FAQ: 8/06/01 Initial version. 8/13/01 Reorganized a few of the sections so that they are slightly more readable, added a few new bits here and there. 6/26/02 Added a few more sections Contents: Part I: Frequently asked questions Part II: Tips and aesthetics Part III: Type-specific Part IV: Special utilities This is a guide to using the starcraft campaign editor to make your own maps. It covers how to use it in order to make a map, but it also discusses what it is that makes a 'good' map (yes, I know that's a loaded and opinionated word, but bear with me =P). I've tried to avoid the technical stuff because MPeyrard's FAQ already covers that pretty well (and more thoroughly than I would have the energy to do besides) except for some specific questions that seem to come up a lot. This focuses more on how to make the map look interesting, not how to make the map functional (if that makes any sense). Finally, if there is anything in this guide that annoys you, it is probably an opinion, and as such is not worth getting annoyed about, since very few (if any) people will care if you do... although there are definitely some exceptions to that rule. Part I: Frequently asked questions How do I use different tilesets? When the editor starts it always gives me the badlands terrain. To use different terrains, or to resize the map, go to new, and then select the size and tileset that you want. Why is it that whenever I tell it to place a certain terrain, it puts some other terrain around it? Some types of terrain require certain other types - for example, on the badlands tileset, the structure terrain type can only be placed over asphalt. If you try to place it over ordinary dirt, the editor will create a section of asphalt, and put the structure over it. There's no way to get around it (except maybe with a special utility). That's just the way it goes. Why can't I place structures? Different types of terrain may or may not be built on. The entire installation tileset is unbuildable - no structures are allowed unless you are using a special campaign editor. (more on that in the special utilities section) How do I change a unit's starting health, shields, and stuff like that? To edit the properties of units - % of HP, energy, whether they are invincible, etc. - right click to turn the unit into a cursor, then double click on the unit(s) that you want to edit. You can use shift and/or dragging and drawing rectangles to select multiple units. You can also delete units by selecting them and then clicking on the 'x' on the toolbar, selecting clear from Edit, or simply by pressing delete. Properties of units can also be edited using triggers - any of the 'modify' type triggers will work. What is the purpose of the starting location? Starting location is what part of the map the player first sees when the game starts. In a non-use map settings game, it is also where the player's command center/hatchery/nexus starts. Random start location means that the starting location for each player within a force is picked randomly from among all the players' starting locations within that force. Why don't any of the units I place show up? This is probably because you are not playing in use map settings mode. The only units that get carried over into normal melee, free for all, top vs. bottom, or whatever, are mineral fields, vespene geysers, critters, and starting locations. How do I get doors and floor/wall traps to work in installation maps? Use the 'set doodad state' trigger, and put the location around the doors/traps you want to affect. An enabled door is one that is closed, and a disabled door is one that is open. A left door is one that starts low on the left and slopes upward to the right. A right door is one that slopes upward to the left. A pit door is one that is over substructure, and part of the substructure doodad set. An upper level door is one that is over a normal floor, and part of the wall doodad set. Enabled guns and flamethrowers attack anything hostile, disabled ones don't. I made a map with a computer player in it, but it doesn't do anything. How do I make it gather/build? If you're making a map with computer towns, use AI scripts. This is one of the most common mistakes. In order for the computer to gather or build, you have to define the location for its base first. It doesn't have to encompass the whole base, just the hatchery/nexus/ command center and maybe a few paces around it. Then, use the 'run AI script at location' trigger, select that location, and then the script that you want. Obviously, you want it to be the same race as the computer player in question. If you want it to use brood war units, the script has to have 'expansion' in its name. Expansion here does NOT mean the script for an expansion into a second resource node - it means the brood war expansion pack. If you want it to gather but not build (like in an expansion, gameplay terms) then make sure the script has the word 'town' in it. Using the 'town' script on a main base will mean the computer will never build anything, so don't. Wonderfully intuitive, isn't it? How does elevation for locations work? Basically, anything that can block line of sight for a ground unit is considered an elevation change. That means dirt to high dirt on the twilight tileset is an elevation change, while sunken ground to crushed rock is not. The lowest elevation possible on a map is considered low elevation (surprise), and it goes up through mid to high from there. When I start a map I made using map settings in a multiplayer game, the briefing displays but it acts like I hit start and ends right away. Why? Actions in a trigger inside a briefing or the game itself happen right after another. You need to put in 'wait' triggers to make it so only one thing executes at a time. Why don't the computers attack each other when I put them in separate forces? Computers are allied by default in all game types except free for all. You have to use the 'set ally status' trigger to make them enemies. What's with 'modify resource amount' and 'modify hangar count'? Resource amount is used for mineral fields and vespene geysers only, it sets the resources remaining in them. You cannot set it to 0 and eliminate it, but you can set it to 1 and it will give about the same effect. You can also you it to make sure certain resource patches never run out. Hangar count is for carriers and reavers only, it modifies the number of interceptors/scarabs it has in storage. What is the 'in transit' property? Check this box on a terran building's properties to make it start the scenario flying. Why do my triggers only execute once? Triggers are by default one-time only happenings. If you want the map to continue checking the trigger, you will have to include 'preserve trigger' in the actions part. What are switches? I've seen this question asked *a lot*, and part of the reason for that is that it's hard to explain to someone who's never used them. I'll try to go in order of decreasing coherence, so you can just stop whenever you want to and be no worse off for missing anything. A switch can have one of two states: On (set) or off (cleared). Think of it as a light switch. 'Toggling' a switch flips it to the opposite state. If it was on, toggling turns it off. If it was off, the switch will be turned on. 'Randomizing' a switch picks one of the two states randomly. Think of it as a coin flip, with set being one side and cleared the other. There are three main reasons why you would use a switch. 1: Randomness Switches are the only way of using randomness on a map. Just use it in the way explained above. If you want to have more than 2 possible outcomes, you'll need more than 1 coin flip. Using two randomized switches gives 4 possible combinations (Set Set, Set Cleared, Cleared Set, Cleared Cleared), using 3 gives 8, 4 16, etc. If you're at all familiar with binary, this is a similar thing. If the number of possible outcomes is not a nice power of 2, use all any remainder combinations as 'reroll triggers' - just randomize the switches and check again. 2: You want the map to 'remember' something. Trigger conditions can only depend on what's happening in the present. You can say, 'Player brings at least 1 unit to location', but not 'Player brought at least 1 unit to location within the last 5 minutes.' Switches can help keep track of this information for you. A common application of this is setting the difficulty level. A lot of maps ask the player to select a difficulty at the start of the game, typically by moving a unit onto one of several different beacons. The rest of the game is determined by which beacon was selected. One way of doing this would be to create a certain number of units in a blocked off corner of the map, and refer to that as difficulty. Condition: Player brings at least one men to easy Neutral brings exactly 0 men to 'difficulty level' Action: Create 1 unit for neutral at 'difficulty level' Condition: Player brings at least one men to normal Neutral brings exactly 0 men to 'difficulty level' Action: Create 2 unit for neutral at 'difficulty level' And so on. You could then check to see how many units are at 'difficulty level' every time you did something that depended on it. But there are a lot of problems with this. You might want to use that corner of the map for something else, for instance. Switches are a much cleaner way of doing things, and since there are 256 of them you're not likely to run out. Condition: Player brings at least one men to easy DiffSet is cleared Action: Set 'DiffSet' Set 'Easy' Condition: Player brings at least one men to normal DiffSet is cleared Action: Set 'DiffSet' Set 'Normal' 3: Reusable triggers If there's one particular trigger that you're using again and again, but with different conditions each time, you would have to copy that trigger once for every condition you had. This is redundant, annoying, and ultimately unnecessary. Instead of copying that trigger, you can just set a switch. Then the real actions take place inside a different trigger, one that simply checks to see whether that switch is set. If you've programmed before, this might sound familiar. These switches are being used as simple functions. (Void and parameterless, but still functions) Let's say you wanted to 'heal' a player's units every time he brought a unit to a certain spot, but also every time his enemy loses a unit. In addition, you want to heal the units to a different % of HP depending on how much ore he has. (I know this is convoluted as hell, but it's also the only time I can think of where such a thing would actually be useful, so skip if it's not making sense.) Using normal methods, you would need to use the same ore conditions twice - once for the 'bring' condition, once for the 'death' condition. All triggers are preserved. Condition: -Player brings at least one unit to 'heal' -Player accumulated at most X ore Action: -Set HP for all men owned by player to 70% Condition: -Player brings at least one unit to 'heal' -Player accumulated at least X+1 ore Action: -Set HP for all men owned by player to 100% Condition: -Enemy suffers at least 1 death of unit -Player accumulated at most X ore Action: -Set HP for all men owned by player to 70% -Modify deaths for enemy: Subtract 1 for unit Condition: -Enemy suffers at least 1 death of unit -Player accumulated at least X+1 ore Action: -Set HP for all men owned by player to 100% -Modify deaths for enemy: Subtract 1 for unit The same thing, using switches. Condition: -Player brings at least one unit to 'heal' Action: -Set 'do heal' Condition: -Enemy suffers at least 1 death of unit Action: -Set 'do heal' -Modify deaths for enemy: Subtract 1 for unit Condition: -'Do heal' is set -Player accumulates at most X ore Action: -Clear 'do heal' -Set to 70% Condition: -'Do heal' is set -Player accumulates at least X+1 ore Action: -Clear 'do heal' -Set to 100% It doesn't really help here, but if you have a dozen or more situations where you'd want to call the heal trigger, it really does add up. The only time I can think of where you'd have to do that is in an RPG, so if you're not into those, byte me. Part II: Tips and aesthetics This part contains general tips on how to make your map function well, and look interesting. Terrain and doodads: In order to make your hills or temple walls thinner, create one, then set the brush to its 'parent' terrain - whatever it is that the higher ground sits on. Then, put that terrain one square away from the hill or wall. It will remove one half of that wall and replace it with the lower ground. This is nice if you want to create a maze-like feel, or if you just want thinner walls to accomodate more buildings. Units will be unable to move on top of it, but they won't be able to move through it either. Using this, you can even create 'pillars' where 3/4 of the hill/wall has been shaved off by surrounding terrain. Of course, you could just use a doodad pillar instead. If you want your map to have a lot of detail, don't use the infernal ash world tileset. High ground and the fog of war blend into one black mess, and it is hard to distinguish anything when you are on low ground surrounded by cliffs. If you want to have something going in a straight line (say a walkway) do it on a diagonal. This may be somewhat inconvenient for you, but it is much better for the person who has to look at it and play on it. Because of the way the editor is set up, terrain running straight up and down or to the side will take on a squiggly, and, in my opinion, ugly look. There is a utility that lets you place terrain nice and geometric, but it does this by sacrificing edges and making everything look generally uglier and artificial. If you have too many of those straight lines and are doing something other than a space or installation map, you should stop it. You want your map to look like a real world, and nature does not use nice and straight coastlines or hillsides. Don't make your map predictable - that's one step away from boring. Make terrain boundaries slightly irregular, and vary the terrain types. If you're doing space or installation, it's somewhat more excusable, since this is manmade stuff we're talking about, but you should still use different types of terrain even if it's not necessary to make it work. Doodads work the same way. Scatter them over the map, even if you don't need them, and don't use a whole bunch of the same type in one area. Don't make so many that it would block buildings or units, though. Mission briefings: It's hard to estimate how long it will take text to scroll. Keep testing different wait times until you find a speed that you like. You do not want it to go too slowly, or the players will get bored, but you do not want it to go too quickly either. If it's any consolation, few people ever read mission briefings anyway, even if it's their first time playing that map. Some people like to put long waits at the end of their briefings, others like them to just end when they end. There are pros and cons to either choice. If you put a long wait then a player who isn't ready to start yet isn't forced to press start until he is ready, but if you don't put in a wait at the end at all then it's impossible for a player to screw up the game by never pressing start or by dropping out in the middle of the briefing. Put useful information in the mission objectives - don't just say 'made by ____'. Tell the player what they have to do to get to the next stage, or to win. If you have space, also put general gameplay information in there that they can refer to - even if they do read the mission briefing they probably won't be able to remember all of it. Keep anything you say short and to the point. One of the things I've noticed on many maps is that the creator will spend the first 10 seconds of the briefing doing a little ASCII-based animation to introduce the map in style. This severely pisses me off, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. People read briefings for information, not to watch text-based movies. If you must put these in there, at least have some consideration and put the goddamn movie in the mission objectives box *while* the rest of the briefing is giving useful information. You might think that forcing people to look at something will make them like it more, but anyone who has had to deal with popup ads while surfing the web will know that this is NOT the case. Triggers: i. Style Name your switches, and comment your larger blocks of code. Not only does it make it easier to understand, it also saves space. Comments are lines of text that appear in place of the trigger body when you're in the triggers menu. Organize your code well. Put triggers that have something to do with the same thing (like, say, handling a player's level ups in an RPG) in the same place. It makes it easier for you to find things and harder to forget about crucial triggers that you haven't seen because all your triggers are in obscure places. You might even create blank triggers (using the 'never' condition) with comments saying what each set of triggers does. Example: Condition -Never, Actions -Comment: Triggers for controlling Mrs. Claus (that's from one of Blizzard's old holiday maps). This is the only real use for the 'never' condition, actually. One thing to note if you are into writing really long text messages is that the editor does have a string limit. This means that there is a limit to the amount of text you can put in a map. You should not run into it unless you're making a large or trigger-intensive map, but if you are, it is sadly the comments that are the first things to be ditched when you run up against a wall. So don't count on them too much. ii. Streamlining Don't use long wait triggers, they may be convenient but they have the potential to screw up every other trigger on the map by keeping them waiting. Only use them in mission briefings or in-game cutscenes, where everything is scripted and always does the same thing. For gameplay triggers, use alternatives instead: Original trigger: Condition: -Player brings at least one men to 'start' Actions: -Wait 30,000 milliseconds. -Do X (yeah, this is major pseudocode) Method #2: Countdown timer. The game keeps track for you, but you can only have 1 timer running at a time. Modified triggers: Condition: -Player brings at least one men to 'start' Action: -Modify countdown timer: Set to 30 seconds Condition: -Countdown timer is at most 0 seconds. Action: -Do X Method #3: Patrol counter. Have an invincible, neutral, and preferable invisible unit patrol between two points. When it comes back to its starting position, resolve the trigger. Modified triggers: Condition: -Player brings at least one men to 'start' Actions: -Create one observer at 'patrol start' for neutral -Order all observer at 'patrol start' owned by neutral: Patrol to 'patrol end' -Set 'patrol' Condition: -Neutral brings at least one observer to 'patrol start' -'patrol' is set Actions: -Clear 'patrol' -Do X Method #4: Unit counter. This is a bit more complicated than the others, but it's my personal favorite because it lets you keep a more precise track of time than the patrol thing without having to use the countdown timer. The drawback is that it doesn't adjust for the game speed, since triggers will always take exactly the same amount of time to preserve. But that's not really a problem since 99% of all games are played at the fastest setting. It goes something like this: Modified triggers: Condition: -Player brings at least one men to 'start' Action: -Set 'start counter' Condition: -'start counter' is set Actions:-Create one burrowed, invincible, neutral zergling at 'counter' (via 'create unit with properties') -preserve trigger Condition: -Neutral player brings at least 30 zerglings to 'counter' Actions: -clear 'start counter' -remove all zergling for neutral at 'counter' -Do X Yes, it is complicated. But it works. The computer checks triggers about once every second, so it will come out to about 30,000 mils. This concept is similar to the for loop in programming. Method #5: Custom score clock This is probably the best method in the group. The only reason it's not my favorite is that I find burrowed zerglings funny for some reason. It's a very similar concept to that of the zerglings, and allows you to create a universal 'clock' that all other time-based triggers can refer to. It requires that you have at least one player (usually a neutral) whose custom score you are not going to refer to in any way except in these types of triggers. It goes something like this: Condition: Always Action: Modify score for neutral: Add 1 custom. Preserve trigger. Condition: Neutral player custom score is at least 30 Action: Modify score for neutral: Set to 0. Preserve trigger. That sets up the clock. Now here's an example of how it might be used. Condition: -Neutral player's custom score is exactly 15 (Any number between 0 and 30 will do) Action: -Create 1 unit at 'spawn'. Preserve trigger. Note that this method does not do anything that burrowed zerglings cannot. The only reason why I put it in is because on large maps you can sometimes run up against the unit limit, and it's nice to have something that will always work even if you've already created the maximum number of units the poor game can support. Whenever you create new units at a small location, you should check to see if whatever you're placing will fit. Usually, locations for structures are the same size as the structure itself, so even one unit can make it unplaceable. So, if you wanted to place a bunker somewhere: Condition: -'Place bunker' is set Actions: -Move all men owned by all players at 'bunker' to (somewhere else) Or, you can use: -Remove all men owned by all players at 'bunker' This is somewhat more cruel, but it works too. Then, just place the bunker: -Create 1 Bunker for current player at 'bunker' Another thing to note about building placement is that the triggers are very finicky. The exact center of the location has to be clear - anything less, and the building won't place. For this reason, placing more than one building at a time at the same location will *never* work. It's usually best to create a separate location for each structure. However, you can't always do that. Say you want to create a building next to the player's unit. If you center a location on that unit (via the move location trigger) and create, the unit will naturally be right in the middle of the spawn location and the trigger will not work. The easiest way to get around this is to put a wait trigger of a second or two in between the centering and creating. This gives the player time to move the unit out of the center of the location before the building comes in. Problem is, there's still a chance that some unit will still be there, leaving the player with a 'Warning! Unit unplaceable' message and nothing else. The safest way to get a structure next to a moving target it to create it somewhere else first. Choose some clear, isolated spot on the map that nobody ever goes, wall it in, and place a location over it to act as the original spawn point. Then: Condition: (Whatever triggers the creation of the building) Action: Create 1 building at 'Original spawn' Condition: Player brings at least one building to original spawn Action:-Center location labeled 'final spawn' on target unit owned by player at 'anywhere'. -Wait 1000-2000 milliseconds -Move 1 building at original spawn to final spawn for player -Preserve trigger iii. Special effects Part 1: Explosions Yes, everyone loves explosions. They make a map look cool and spice up those dramatic moments. To simulate an explosion, choose a unit with a rather explosive death sequence (like the archon or dark archon) and create them and kill them at the same time. Spider mines also work well. It looks something like this. Condition: -Player brings at least one men to 'Explosion activation' Actions: -Create 1 Exploder at 'Explosion area' for player -Kill all Exploder at 'Explosion area' for player You can create fog or mist using a similar effect - create a hallucinated unit via the 'create unit with properties' trigger and then kill it immediately afterward. Some maps create some pretty graphic displays of blood by killing marines/medics/zerglings/whatever. One of them kills a whole string of medics, spelling out the word 'DIE' in white suits and red blood. Part 2: Rockets, Death spikes, and other fun stuff This is an extension of the explosion concept. Say you want a projectile to shoot towards a certain destination and kill anything that it touches. (All triggers are preserved) Condition: -'Do Fire' is set Action:-Center location labeled spawn on shooter controlled by Player at anywhere -Create 1 Bullet at spawn (Bullet should be a flying unit, preferably small and fast-moving. Scourge is a good choice.) -Center location labeled spawn2 on target controlled by enemy at anywhere -Create 1 Target at spawn2 (Target should also be flying, and invisible so it isn't completely obvious. Observer is a good choice.) -Order all bullet controlled by neutral at spawn - move to spawn2 -Clear 'Do Fire' Both 'Bullet' and 'Target' should be neutral and invincible. Condition: -Neutral player commands at least one bullet Action: -Center location labeled 'kill' on bullet owned by (you know) -Do explosions at kill -Kill all men owned by non-neutral players at 'kill' Condition: -Neutral player brings both 1 bullet and 1 target to kill (ie the bullet has reached its destination) -Kill all bullet and target for neutral player at kill You can use other variants, like setting all the HP of all units in blast radius to 1% instead of killing them outright. Part III: Type-specific There are many different maps on Battle.net and elsewhere, and more are created every day. They vary a lot, but there are some map types that pop up again and again. This section deals with tips for *some* of those specific types of maps. Melee This is the standard 'build up and kill your enemy' map. General tips and style: If you are going for even matchups (i.e. humans vs humans) then you should try to make the map roughly symmetrical. No player should have access to more resources than any other player, and no player should be able to drop tanks on an opponent's ledge when their own base lies on the high ground. In other words, you want it to be fair. Use Blizzard's maps as examples. Don't go too heavy on the doodads or rough terrain, part of the fun of the terran race is being able to plant fortified outposts wherever you want. If you are doing a human vs. computers map, you should give the comps more than the players... unless you want to create a newbie map or something. Give them sizeable starting forces and nice little choke points to defend themselves. Putting extra minerals or vespene near their starting positions also helps. If you use the lower level AI, (easy or medium) give the computers plenty of starting buildings and resources, or else they will spend the entire game in a drunken stupor doing essentially nothing. If, on the other hand, you use hard or insane AI, you should do the opposite, since they will build fast and you don't want them to hit the players until they are ready. Blizzard's Endurance map of the week (back when they were still doing map of the week and not trigger map of the month) is a good example of how to handle different AIs to create a challenge that is tough, but not impossible. Keep in mind what type of map you want while you create it. If you want players to have a lot of minerals, you should scatter the map with expansions or maybe go the big game hunters route. If you want the whole game to be a desperate scramble for resources, you should limit the expansions and put those in heavily contested areas like the center of the map for some fun. Most maps are somewhere between the two. Similarly, you have to decide how easy it is for players to attack each other. Do you want winding paths and high ground protecting each base, or the cutthroat, no-holds-barred feel of hunters? It's up to you to decide. Madnesses This is a map type where players get unlimited men and have to destroy their enemies' bases. General tips and style: You should put in some anti-rush mechanisms here, because maps like these can see the tide turn very quickly. Using a bunker or other defensive structure as the spawn point is a good idea. Give the structure a lot of health and armor. (Go to scenario in the menu, then unit and hero settings) Keep in mind your unit counters. Don't make one side so horribly unbalanced against everyone else that they always lose. In other words, don't put vultures in the midst of dragoons and goliaths. Don't make the map too big. The whole point of a madness is for things to happen abnormally quickly. Don't force the players to go on a long hike to reach the others' bases, unless all the units are fast moving. Even then, you want to keep the map size down somewhat. Don't feel like you have to ignore terrain. Keeping the map small doesn't prevent you from placing high ground to be used by the skillful player. Do something that makes it unique. There are so many madnesses out there that are essentially the same thing: a bunker as a spawn, and players getting infinite units out of it. Add upgrades. Give them an SCV, drone, or probe so that they can build. Make it so that they get cash for kills. Changing the names of your units to the names of characters in a popular game does NOT automatically make it as good as that game - none of the final fantasy madness maps I've seen come anywhere close to living up to their namesake. Actually, in my opinion, it is impossible to make a madness unique, but you can certainly try. Streamlining: Find out how many units can fit in a spawn point, then set up a block so that it stops producing units when it hits that number. Madnesses are infamous for creating WARNING! Unit unplaceable(Name, x, y) messages. Conditions: -Player bring at most X units to 'spawn' -Player commands at least one 'Bunker' (Actually, it can be any structure, but I'll just use bunker because it's the most common.) Actions: -Create 1 (player's unit type) at 'spawn' -Preserve trigger Because players will be controlling so many units, it helps to have a 'mass assault' option of some sort. Either place beacons representing different parts of the map, or create an invincible, non-damaging flying unit for each player and keep a location centered around it, like this: Condition: -Always Actions: -Center location labeled 'target' on 'Observer' owned by current player at 'main game area'. -Preserve trigger Note that in order for this to work you have to make sure the player has only one observer in the main area. Then, give the player a unit that s/he can move to a certain location to start the assault. Conditions: -Player brings at least one 'Civilian' to 'Mass assault' Actions: -Issue order to all men owned by current player at 'main game area': attack to 'target' In this case, 'target' is either a specific location on the map, or the location that is being kept centered around a unit. RPGs These are maps where each player controls one powerful unit that has to defeat an array of lesser enemies. Actually, the definition of an RPG is so fuzzy that there are a number of ways of doing any particular thing. As a result, this guide will end up making certain assumptions. I have nothing against trying something new in map making - I'm all for it. But it's hard to predict the unpredictable, so you'll have to bear with me here. General tips and style: Because these maps generally involve little building, you can go overboard with the doodads and terrain types. If there is any patch of ground that looks too plain to you, just throw some doodads on it or brush on a different terrain type on top of it. An RPG which consists of one long, winding dirt road that is separated off by one-block length dirt walls is very boring. (And you would surprised to know how many RPGs are like that) You should put in alternate paths for the player even if they don't lead anywhere except more enemies or minor treasure. You want to give the players some choice in things. In general, you want to give the players plenty of opportunity to heal. Put it in the town or main base, or somewhere that is easily accessible. There are some RPGs that do without this entirely - The Nearly Impossible RPG is one example, and a quite fun one at that. Give the RPG a gentle learning curve. Don't force a player to do too many unfamiliar things at once. The first few battles, dungeons, stages, whatever, should be winnable without the players having to use special spells or stuff like that. Don't bombard the players with text - phase in gameplay or plot information one block at a time. Update the mission objectives each time the plot advances so the players can remember what it is exactly that they're doing. It's easy to lose track of things in the midst of monster bashing and leveling. Keep the players balanced. If you plan on giving each player a different unit, make sure those units are of relatively even strength. Don't just look at numbers, think about versatility, speed, and special abilities as well. Two units you should perhaps avoid using entirely are the marine and zergling. These units have a fast attack, normal damage, and can get incredibly powerful. They are much better off being computer units. If you do decide to give them to the players, limit their damage and damage bonuses. A lot. Disable special abilities like spawn broodling or stasis field. You don't want the computer casting it on the players, and you don't want players casting it on enemy bosses. To disable units, upgrades, or special abilities for a specific player, go to player in the menu, then settings. Whether you decide to get rid of lockdown, parasite, and other less harmful abilities is up to you. You should definitely give the players the ability to get medics and restoration if you leave lockdown enabled. If you allow the players to upgrade their units, make them take as little time as possible. You want the players to spend as much time as possible actually playing, not sitting around waiting for a green bar to advance. One interesting thing to note is that you can make units inside a stasis field killable by using the 'modify unit invincibility' trigger. Rather fun. Stasis field becomes like an evil maelstrom. You have to have the trigger executing all the time to make it work, though. Experience handling and level ups: Many RPGs involve giving the player money for kills. Doing so is relatively simple. It uses the kills score (or the kills and razings score, if you'd rather use that). Every unit in Starcraft already has a point value, used in calculating the scores in games. You can also take advantage of it in your maps. Condition: -Player kills score is at least 50 Actions: -Modify score for current player: subtract 50 kills -Modify resources for current player: add 5 ore. -Preserve trigger Unfortunately, doing this is rather slow. In large battles, the player will end up with a much higher score than 50 and this only exchanges 50 every 1.5 seconds or so. You'll have to add in some others for larger amounts of kills. You will have to use the 'score' type condition and action, and then select the score type. Note that kills score is different from kills - kills is just the number of kills the player has for any type of unit, regardless of their point value. Condition: -Player kills score is at least 250 Actions: -Modify score for current player: subract 200 kills -Modify resources for current player: add 20 ore -Preserve trigger Condition: -Player kills score is at least 1250 Actions: -Modify score for current player: subtract 1000 kills -Modify resources for current player: add 100 ore -Preserve trigger And so on. If you want, you can even modify the score value of specific units. For example, the hydralisk ordinarily gives 350 points when killed. However, by using this trigger, Condition: -Player kills score is exactly 350 Actions: -Modify score for current player: subtract 350 -Modify score for current player: add 500 custom -Preserve trigger the hydralisk now gives 500 when killed. This is one of the many uses of the custom score. This is risky, though, because the player might end up getting 350 by killing a combination of lesser units, or could skip over 350 altogether by killing a mass of hydras at the same time. In most RPGs, player characters improve as the game goes on, and they usually use experience levels to represent this. One method for keeping track of experience levels is vespene gas. It is extremely convenient to do it this way because then you can set all upgrades so that the player needs to be of a certain level to use them. Conditions: -Player kills score (experience) is at least 1000 -Player kills score is at most 5000 Actions: -Modify resources for current player: set to 2 gas (2nd level) -Preserve trigger, so that it keeps the gas at 2 when it is spent. Then, you can just set your upgrades using scenario -> upgrade settings. If you want it so that the player can upgrade his/her weapons at levels 2, 7, and 12, then set the initial gas cost of the weapon upgrade at 2 and make the factor 5. In addition to weapons/armor, you usually want to allow the heroes to gain HP. There are a couple of ways of doing this. The easy way is to give the player a completely different unit at certain exp intervals. For example, you could start him off with a zealot, then go on to a dragoon or archon. Each form would have successively higher HP, and it would be easy to handle healing since no matter which form he's in it will be setting his HP to 100%. Still, this can get a little annoying. No two units in starcraft are alike, and a player who has just gotten used to playing with one unit type might be thrown off if you gave him a different one, especially if the second one suffers from poor AI or inferior firing rate. At the very least try to keep the unit upgrade types the same - if the original was protoss ground, the successors should also be protoss ground. A second way of handling HP is to give the starting unit a fraction of its full health. Then, each time the player levels, the unit's HP will go up by a little, until at the highest level it will be at a full 100%. This way you don't have to worry about switching units or upgrades - it'll always be the same. It makes healing complicated, though. You have to check for the player's level and write in a trigger for each. So: -Condition: Player commands exactly 1 exp level Player brings at least one hero to heal Action: -Set HP for all hero owned by player at heal to 15% -Preserve trigger -Condition: Player commands exactly 2 exp level Player brings at least one hero to heal Action: -Set HP for all hero owned by player at heal to 20% -Preserve trigger This gets tedious rather quickly. Another drawback is that the player will know right at the start what his final hit point total will be. Special Effects: Some maps allow the players to use spells or special abilities that are different from the ones in normal starcraft. These effects are entirely trigger-driven. Usually, there is an area off to the side of the map where the player has a unit and a set of beacons the player can bring the unit to. Each one of those beacons represents a spell. Let's take a common example: A player moves the unit to a beacon, and an infested terran appears at his hero's location. A message appears on the screen saying 'fireball cast' or something like that. If you are going to use spells, you will need something to keep track of mana or the number of spells the player has left. You can't have the players constantly using their spells with no penalty. Most maps use vespene gas to represent mana, and subtract from it every time a spell is cast. To keep the mana recharging: Condition: -Player accumulates less than 200 gas Actions: -Modify resources for current player: add 1 gas -Preserve trigger To keep track of where the hero is: Condition: -Always Actions: -Center location labeled 'hero' at (whatever unit the hero is) owned by current player -Preserve trigger and to do the actual spell-flinging: Conditions: -Player brings at least one selector to 'spell beacon' -Player accumulates at least 50 gas Actions: -Move all selector at 'spell beacon' to 'spell ready area' (this is so the player doesn't inadvertantly cast the spell more times than s/he wants to) -Modify resources for current player: subtract 50 gas -Modify energy for all units owned by enemy at 'hero': set to 0% -Modify energy for all (hero) owned by current player at 'hero': set to 100% -Display for current player: "MP Drain cast" -Preserve trigger -Comment: 'Cast MP Drain' This is only an example. You can make whatever spell effects you want. There are a number of times in an RPG where you might want to create cutscenes where you just show the players something without them doing anything. To prevent players from trying to do anything during these, either give their units temporarily to a neutral player, or create barriers that block movement like rows of crystals or invincible neutral dark templar. The downside is that by doing this, you are now forced to make those cut scenes interesting, or else the players will become annoyed and bored. Part IV: Special Utilities You might have to do some searching around to find these. I suggest http://www.google.com/. StarGraft: This tool lets you edit tech trees, unit dependancies, create new commands, stuff like that. StarDraft: Lets you modify unit graphics, properties, (like having a hunter killer with cloaking) etc. Both StarGraft and StarDraft were created by Camelot Systems. I have not used either, so do not know much more about them. Emerald StarEdit: This special version of staredit allows you to place units of all three races for a single player without having to use the create trigger. It also introduces a whole bunch of new units and AI scripts, including target nuke and recall. Some versions also allow you to ignore building placement restrictions and have up to 255 upgrades. Map Colors: Allows you to color the text in mission briefings, unit names, and trigger messages. Simple, yet neat. Hexedit (Actually, I'm not even sure what the name is): This lets you make terrain so that it goes in straight lines up and down, allowing you to create a checkerboard feel, or to make a map with long, straight corridors that go up and down instead of diagonal. I've never used it, so I don't know how exactly it works. Examples of maps that use it are Zone Control and Chess. As you can probably tell, my experience with special utilities is extremely limited. You'd be better off asking someone else if you really want to take advantage of them. Disclaimer: If there is any disparity between this guide and another of the same name and author, the one at http://www.gamefaqs.com/ takes precedence. This is due to reasons of laziness only. This guide was written by Carl Morita August 2001. You can copy or excerpt it as much as you want, but give credit where it is due, and do not give credit where it is not due.
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