Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thoughts on Map Design (pt. 2)

This is in response to "Starcraft: Survivors - a Single Player Campaign": by GnaReffotsirk

From this thread:

The campaign itself is mirrored here:


When I first opened up this campaign, I had a bad feeling. I thought it was going to be a simple "build base and kill stuff"... but when I actually played it I found it much much more, and much more enjoyable.

Part of what appeals to me in GnaR's campaign is his interest in using triggers instead of a full custom mod. Trying to achieve spectacular effects and new gameplay with triggers alone is a challenge that nevertheless retains maximum accessibility.

This is the type of experimental triggering that reminds me of my favorite campaigns: "Doodan Episode 4" - 20 missions you could get (if you could access SEN) here:

On the other hand, Starcraft Survivors suggested it might try to accomplish something very different from Doodan. In Doodan, I was a little annoyed by how simplistic Buddy Knee and Doodan were as characters, but on the other hand I can still remember both of these characters by name years after playing the maps, so obviously something was effective. In Doodan, there was minimal real 'plot' and minimal character development.

In Starcraft Survivors, there still isn't really a lot of character development (it's 4 missions, come on)--but the plot is very interesting, and *suggests* more than shows. This allows for a rich, imaginative experience.

In this way, it is actually closer to another of my favorites, Space Madness, which I got from here:

Experimental mapping style and somewhat surreal plot elements--actually means a fun time.

That being said, there is still a lot to learn from some challenges in this campaign.

First, updating Mission Objectives is good--but it shouldn't be at the expense of explaining what to do.

Many campaign editors won't frequently update the "mission objectives." So, a lot of people I think just won't check it, or if they do, it will be only be as a last resort. I would definitely put any information that you only have available there in either the Mission Briefing: Objectives section, or as a Tip right at the start of the map.

Despite this minor problem, I liked how it had an upbeat feeling, where more and more groups of zealots were joining your cause in a well dramatized fashion.

Mission 2

This mission is where your imagination is most challenged, since you enter the mission with little context or explanation. Mystery is good, but there needs to be a little bit more transition here in the mission briefing.

However, the experimental gameplay control was fantastic. In this mission, the overlord gains controls of bases by flying over them. This feature is fantastic. The only problem is that if you lose one base, such as the only base with a hydralisk den, and you're kinda f'd.

Overall, a very cool map with some great triggers.

Although this mission also brings up a minor tick I have:

-Why so many static units around the bases? It draws out the map a fair amount when I'm raiding one base and I lose a pack of hydras to 12 scouts that are just chilling. Static placed units in a big map often make for a more dull experience.

Mission 4

Once I actually started hitting the beacons, this map seriously kicked ass. It was very amusing seeing the trigger effects go off.

But again little things:

-The Carrier should definitely be a carrier hero. I think that if it's going to be plot-significant and act as a hero, it should be a hero.

-I would go ahead and boost the health of it too... When I played, the zerg started massing scourges for it. Seriously, there were like 24 coming a minute + queen's ensnare on the carrier.

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