Starting a New Map: When sitting down to create a new melee multiplayer map for competitive game play I start with one thought, what do the fans want to play? What will make this map stand out differently compared to all the previous maps we have created? The Warcraft III editor has boundless options for the creator to create unique melee maps for the fans to have a fun filled adventure, while punking down their competition. Here are a few things I think about as I create a new competitive multiplayer melee map…
Getting Started: The first thing I do is chose the map size and the tileset I want to work on. The map size really depends on the amount of start locations I plan on placing. If I decide to create a 1v1 or 2v2 player map, I select a smaller map size and if I decide to have more players such as 3v3 or 4v4, I will increase the size of the map. Generally, our smaller maps are more popular than the larger maps we create, so moving forward, when I add more start locations I try to keep the size of the map as small as possible. But you must be careful not to cram the map with too many creeps or neutral buildings; this can clutter a players gaming experience. The tileset I choose is based on what is being played on Battle Net, typically I try to add a tileset not being played so that the fans are exposed to the whole world instead of just a few sections of Azeroth. Each tileset also has its own creep list and adds much more variety to the AMM list. You will find that a map will play differently just based upon the creep you chose to protect neutral buildings and goldmines, but I will go into more detail about this later.
Map Layout: After I have chosen the amount of players, the size of the map, and tileset I begin placing start locations. When placing a start location it's very important to have equal distances from each player's base to the next. This is to ensure equality and balance, if you are creating a team based melee map, then it's important to make sure that allies are the same distance apart from each other as your opponent's bases allies are from each other. The reason why this is so important is you want to make sure that everyone on the map has the same distances to travel to defend their base, their allies' base, or just to reach an expansion goldmine. Each start location should have equal distances to travel to and from. In competitive gameplay the game can be decided just by how far a peon has to travel to reach their destination, so be as precise as possible.
Another thing to think about when creating a start location, make sure each player has enough room to build a full base. You can check this by placing buildings in the editor around your start location to gauge the amount of room each player will have. When you start placing trees near the start locations, check the distance it takes for a peon unit to travel from the town hall to the closest tree. If the distances are not the same for each start location, some races will have an early advantage on resource gathering, so make sure all start locations have the same distances for your workers to gather resources. It is better if the distance is a short distance to travel since the Night Elf Wisp does not need to return their cargo.
When creating an expansion area for the players to expand, you will want to keep the same rules as the main start location. You can never determine what the player will do so it's best to leave lots of room for any area you think a player will build a base. So once again make sure everything is equal between all locations and expansion areas, places you feel the player will build a base. Once this is accomplished you will have tackled the most important part of creating a competitive melee map… equality! Now let's move onto some major game mechanics that you have control over when creating a Warcraft III melee map.
Core Melee Game Mechanics: Now it's time to think about all the different options you have as the map creator to distinguish your Warcraft III map from other Warcraft III maps…
- How easy should it be to defend a base? There are a few options you can go with, will your start location have one entrance or two? As long as all the start locations have the same amount of entrances, you can even have more entrances to an opponent's base than one or two. Also you can place the start location or expansion areas on high ground. This helps the player's ability to guard his or her base. If you decide to place the build area on high ground then you should make sure an opponent has ample room to path up the ramp to the high ground. A small ramp makes it hard and less exciting when attacking a base. In addition, you will want to place the ramp some distance from the main base area. Since high ground hinders line of sight, you will want the player to have some room to access the plateau before they siege an opponent's base.
- What type of neutral buildings will you place on your map? The placement of neutral buildings is the most important game mechanic you can add to your multiplayer melee map. Unless the map is very large (Not recommended) then you won't have enough room to place every neutral building type available to you. So make a hard decision and stick with two or three different types of neutral buildings. Here are some neutral building options and how to properly place them on your map.
Remember you can use whatever neutral building combination you want but the one thing you need to be aware of is the distances traveled from start location to neutral buildings. Each player or team should have equal access to all buildings; sometimes you can add two of the same type of building so that everyone has equal access. That is the important thing when creating a competitive map and I cannot it reiterate enough, everything, whether its neutral buildings or goldmines or lumber, you need equality between all players.
- The Goblin Merchant neutral building is a favorite; this allows players to access different items in their crusade for utter map domination.
- Another neutral building widely used and liked is the Mercenary Camp, depending on the tileset you have chosen this opens up a variety of new units that can mix well with your army.
- The neutral buildings that you want to be careful when placing are the fountains of Health and Mana. If these buildings are not placed at an equal distance from all start locations you may find that these buildings will change the game play dramatically. These buildings are best used as a center piece, allowing all players to use. If placed close to a base you will find an opponent rushing or harassing with lots of success.
- Another building to think about is the Tavern. This neutral building allows the player to choose a different hero outside the hero options for the race you choose to play… It's best to place this building somewhere where all players have equal access and same distance to travel too.
How many creep camps should each player have to harvest experience, gold, and items? The meat and potatoes of Warcraft III maps are the creep you kill for experience and items. Creep camps can range from green, orange, to red. This is the total level of the entire creep camp, green being the easiest camp to kill while the red camps are the hardest. This is how we break it down; levels 1 to 9 are considered a green camp or what we like to call gimmies. Camps that range from 10 to 19 are considered orange camps and levels 20 and up are red camps. When selecting the type of creep it's better to use the preset creep from the tileset, sometimes we will use other creep from other tilesets for a theme like Turtle Rock; we used turtle creep that the Lordaeron tileset does not support.
When creating the creep camp you will want to make sure that the creep are tucked away from the main roads on the map. When the player is moving around the map he or she should never accidentally agro a creep camp unless the player chooses to engage the camp. It is frustrating for a player if the creeps are always attacking their army when the player is not trying to engage them. Also, you want to make sure that all creep not guarding a goldmine are set to camp mode as this helps prevent the creep from attacking the player unless attacked. Creep that guard goldmines should never be on camp mode because players will be able to fast expand or build towers near the camp without the creep attacking the constructing building.
The overall placement of the creep should be gradual, meaning that there should be an easy camp near the start location and as the player moves toward the contested parts of the map the camps should progressively get harder. The idea is to allow the player to do things in the early game, there should be options to rush, harass, or CC (Creep and Conquer). Another thing to consider are the creep that guard neutral buildings, how early do you want the player to reach the building, unless it's a game breaking neutral building like a fountain I generally keep the creep in-between the 9 to 15 level range. Red camps can be tricky, we generally felt it was cool to have a big camp somewhere on the map that dropped a real cool item but we realized after watching what the players do that red camps are seldom engaged, so now we try to make the camps easy so the player can roll over them and not worry about having their army beat up after the encounter.
The items we place on each creep camp is set up for consistency, when a player plays a Blizzard Entertainment map we feel they should be able to gauge what type of item will drop just by looking at the camp. The formula that we use is as follows…
Generally, we don't create a creep camp larger then level 23 but every once in awhile its fun to create a 'super' camp. We don't expect most players to attack the camp but the option is there for you to make that choice. The last piece of advice for creating a creep camp is diversity. The creep camps should have a nice mix of range, melee, and spell casting. If you create an all range creep camp a human player will be able to research defend and blow through the camp and if you create an all air camp then some races like Night Elf will have an advantage since their basic units are ranged. So try different combinations for the best game play for all races.
- Levels 3-8: Level 1 permanent or power up.
- Levels 8-11: Level 2 permanent, charge, or power up.
- Levels 11-14: Level 1 permanent or power up and Level 2 permanent, charge, or power up.
- Levels 14-17: Level 1 permanent or power up and Level 3 permanent or charge.
- Levels 18-21: Level 2 permanent, charge, or power up and Level 4 permanent or charge.
- Levels 21-23: Level 2 permanent, charge, or power up and Level 5 permanent or charge.
- Levels 23-26: Level 2 permanent, charge, or power up and Level 6 permanent or charge.
- Levels 26-29: Level 1 permanent or power up and Level 3 permanent or charge and Level 7 artifact.
Play test again and again. Now that you have all the tools and knowledge to create a Warcraft III multiplayer map you will want to play test your map to find out how it plays. Sometimes things sound or look good but until you play the map a few times and make adjustments you just won't know how good it really is. If you have friends that play Warcraft III ask them for their opinions and listen to what they say, don't fall too much in love with your first pass. The more you adjust and take advice from others the better the map will play. Thanks again for reading my journal and I hope you have found this useful for sharpening your map making skills, good luck and I hope to see your map on Battle.Net soon.