Starcraft: Brood War

StarCraft Maps

StarCraft maps are about as 2D as RTS gets. They're made from 2D tilesets, and thus make for very small files. A game server can disseminate them to all players in a netgame in moments. They come in two formats: .scm for the original game's maps, and .scx for the Brood War expansion's. StarCraft maps are utterly undeformable and completely flat. That is, the physics of a StarCraft map is identical to that of a tabletop board game; there's nothing to differentiate between different levels of terrain other than some arbitrary rules used in the game engine. There's about four or five altitudes you can use, but there's no virtual environment or nothing remotely three dimensional about them. While the map looks diagonally isometric, there's really only a primitve grid defining its foundations. Layers, ramps and bridges don't overlap. Bridges are basically bits of land; they can't be demolished and you can't go under them. Water is impassable and an obstacle to all ground traffic, and apart from that, strictly decorative. Any discrete objects, like trees, rocks or fossilised skeletons - collectively known as Doodads - found in the map are also decorative, indestructible obstacles. Doodads are simply there to make a map interesting and provide props that force units to walk around them - or more accurately, trip each other up on.


The StarEdit interface This is StarCraft's own bundled campaign editor. Its intuitive, colourful, and makes good use of windows and icons. There's a huge swag of features, but hard core mappers and campaigners always rail at its perceived lack of them. Actually, I think I had more fun cobbling together my own "mad maps" that played themselves instead of actually playing the game. StarEdit can produce all types of StarCraft maps and campaigns, provided you stick entirely to the existing game elements and limitations. However, StarEdit does not give you access to all areas of the game mechanics. Some of the triggers and tricks found in the official single player campaigns rely on hidden features unavailable in the editor - hence the frustrations by many seasoned modders. StarCraft doesn't seem to use an all-purpose, standalone thinking AI like many other strategy games; it relies entirely on a script that choregraphs the computer players into looking like they know what they're doing. Some custom maps simply have the AI running on rails, acting out a string of little "cut scenes"; many are used to pre-place units around the map or conjure up an ambush while an AI base goes through its shopping list of builds (based on how "hard" you set the AI script in your map.) While you can allocate AI scripts to a computer player in a trigger driven map, you cannot edit the actual AI profiles themselves.

While it won't let you stray outside Blizzard's branding, StarEdit is nonetheless an excellent editor. Its fairly easy to use, letting you delve into the guts of the game to manipulate triggers and map zones to produce a wide variety of effects and game responses. There's no internal testing mechanism; you have to load the map into the game and see how it plays - something that can become time consuming for a big map. Producing map terrain is a snap, and detailed multiplayer maps can be easily produced without too much fuss. You can change all the unit names and stats and add your own sounds, but editing the graphics and deeper structure of the game engine and AI are strictly off limits.

Check out some single player action in the Scenario section of your Starcraft Maps folder for some trigger maps that completely change StarCraft. StarCraft just uses a straight up system of simple triggers - while the types of triggers are fairly extensive, there's no structured programming; and triggers can go off in the game at any time in any order when you play it. If you want to produce a sophisticated scenario, you'll best be served splitting it up into a string of small campaign maps.

Map Types

StarCraft maps come in three major forms. Scenarios, Campaigns and Multiplayer maps. The most basic map is the Multiplayer map, which is literally just an inert map with some starting positions, all carefully arranged to give a balanced netgame. Unit stats and behaviour are unmodified, and everything you may have read about unit stats and rules on fan sites and Blizzard's StarCraft Compendium will hold true. The game plays with "standard" rules, and players pit themselves against other humans or computer players, either singly or as teams.

The single player version of all this is a Melee game, where its you versus a number of computer opponents, or a slight variation, Free For All (FFA) where you and all the computer players fight each other. Both single player melees, FFA's and regular netgames all use the same basic map type.

Scenarios on the other hand, are maps with predefined locations, triggers, dialogue and special rules and objectives. Quite often they follow a very linear plot path peppered wth small skirmishes or a series of objectives that have to be achieved whilst dealing with several AI players. Some Scenarios have been reworked into very un-RTS variations, and most usually try to tell a story. Stringing a series of related Scenarios together produces a Campaign. (e.g. the original single player Missions that shipped with the game). To run a scenario as its author intended, you have to set the game to Use Map Settings (UMS) to enable the special triggers and unit mods, dropping the standard AI unless the map expressly triggers it. UMS triggers are hardcoded into the map file and not seperable from it. Keep an eye out for UMS Maps out there - they can sometimes be surprising and quite original, although many seem to be used to produce a sort of bastardised form of the Role Playing Game.

Often, a UMS Scenario is a single player game, but on rare occasions you can come across multiplayer versions. Its difficult to find enough players online who are willing to participate. Examples would be StarCraft Fortress, Paintball and Capture the Flag. There's a less frequent and more frivolous map type that's appeared in recent years: the Movie Map. These aren't played so much as watched - its an automatic scenario run entirely by its own triggers from beginning to end, often staging a giant battle or running a "cut scene".

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StarCraft Mapping Sites
If there's one thing that StarCraft is good for, its a lot of maps. There's only about a squllion of 'em out there. Here's some of the more notable mapping sites. Unhappily, a lot of them seemed to have carked it since the last big RTSC link update...
Starcraft Compendium StarCraft Compendium Map Archives: mindboggling good start for any budding StarCraft fan. Every official multiplayer and "Map of the Week" map ever produced, courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.Back
Campaign Creations - gone
Basically, Campaign Creations should be your first port of call for any StarCraft campaign.Back
Custom Creations Unrelated to Campaign Creations, this is another campaign and mappers' site with a large indexed list of StarEdit tutorials, sorted into simple, advanced, specific techniques and a tutorial on how to run StarDraft, for newcomers. Their selection of maps was rather small, but the extensive tutorials make up for itBack
Files, sounds, maps and tutorials for StarEdit. Hellss Site: modest map site, and part of a small school of communally minded StarCraft map sites. This is currently in the process of moving, and offers scenarios, UMS maps, RPG (roleplaying) maps, campaigns, and various map editing files, tutorials and sounds for any would be editors. Site missing!Back
Omega Entertainment weblink Omega Intertainment has a number of Campaigns and Maps for both StarCraft and WarCraft III. Site suspended!Back
StarCraft Bunker weblink StarCraft Bunker's Maps Section: a nice assortment of multiplayer Skirmish maps for your perusal. Also check out their huge game Replays Section as well. Site missing!Back
An original oldie, but a goodie. StarCraft.Org's old Maps Section has pages and pages of nicely sorted Scenarios, Campaigns, and multiplayer maps.Back
Star Alliance Star Alliance: A sizeable website devoted to StarCraft mods, campaigns, articles and fan faction and supporting the people who build them. They host a number of campaigns, with some in development. Their Maps section plays host to a number of "Madness" style UMS and RPG multiplayer maps.Back
Starcraft Legacy
Another fantastic old site, harking back the Da Good Ol' Days (circa 1998-99). StarCraft Legacy's SCX/SCM Maps Section complement's StarCraft.Org's nicely.Back
All-purpose site with a sharp layout StarCraft Millenium's SCM/SCX Section: This was an old 2001 page showing off SCM's wonderful old web layout before it got nerfed into the anonymously hideous greyish thing it is today. SC:M is barely a shadow of its former self. This was the sort of quality styling that a lot of old fan pages used to sport in more idealistic times. (Try browsing the Wayback Machine's old archives of this site) This contains a large sorted database of submitted and staff made multiplayer maps, as well as a complete, downloadable archive of everything to peruse at your liesure. Oh dear - page gone!Back weblink is one of the bigger and livelier StarCraft mapping and resource sites out there, packed with downloads, utilities, editors, and tutorials. This is an excellent mapping and resource site for any seasoned StarCraft player. Actually, it's probably the biggest thing out there on the subject now, and well worth your while to check out. Its Downloads sections sorts maps by Melee, Campaigns, RPG, Experimental, Defence/Offence, Bound (obstacle course type maps) and Movie. Unusually for a StarCraft editing site, it doesn't appear to be part of the tournament circuit or that huge, temperamental community: a real breath of fresh air! strives to improve StarCraft mapmaking, and tolerates no hacks, peer pressure or newbie bashing. An excellent first stop for normal human beings!Back
StarSite's weblink StarSite's a recent addition to the StarCraft scene, but it contains a lot of nifty little sections containing a lot of tutorials, strategies, tips, game replays and maps.Back
Supreme StarCraft
Supreme StarCraft is a more recent mega-fan site, so it doesn't have as much in it or the history as some of the old veteran sites like SC.Org or SCLegacy. Nevertheless, its Maps Section is still worth a good peruse, sorting its maps into Melee, UMS and Pro-Gaming groups.Back

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Last modified Sat, Feb 26 2005 by Lindsay Fleay