Friday, August 27, 2010

On Power at a Price (and the Starcraft II Editor)

Call me crazy, but I think this thing may actually be *too* powerful.

I've been poking around the Starcraft II Editor a bunch recently, and I have to say, I've been impressed and somewhat terrified.  Clearly, it's been made with the extensive mod community in mind.  You can fiddle with everything - and I mean everything.

On the other hand, I feel like I should only be using the thing with a manual open in my lap, a Youtube tutorial loaded up, and somebody who knows what the f*ck they're doing within arm's reach.

I used the Starcraft I and Warcraft III editors pretty extensively (if very casually - I never did get around to publishing any maps, but I had fun on my own time).  While there were certainly plenty of hiccups and tricky problems (particularly with triggers), I was able to muddle my way through, mostly on my own, through trial and error.  If you wanted to make a new unit, you hit the 'Unit Editor,' and so forth.  It was vaguely intuitive, and the vocabulary was mostly shared with the gameplay.

Not so for the Starcraft II Editor, where it took me five full minutes to figure out how to make a new unit, and I only got there by blindly stumbling upon the 'Data' tab.  Gone are the artificial (but helpful) categories of 'unit,' 'ability,' and 'doodad with Chris Metzen's face on it' - it's all in 'Data' now.  Additionally, the number of factors that go into making a 'Zealot' a 'Zealot,' for instance, has gone from probably 3 and change (change being stats and color balance) to six or so subcategories, each with a wealth of attributes that go right over my head.

Now, I have two worries regarding this change.  The first is small and selfish, which is that this gigantic machine of data coordination scares me sh*tless.  I'm sure I could learn to use this program, if I really wanted to, but just learning to use it would have to compete with schoolwork, workwork, DMing, actually playing video games like Starcraft II itself (and WoW), apathy, and laziness.  And that would be before I could actually even start to make custom maps.  In other words, the barrier to entry is probably just too high.

The second is slightly more relevant: don't all serious modders just hop straight to the code anyway?  And, if that does hold true (and perhaps it doesn't, or won't now that this new utility is available) and the serious modders are doing their modding from within the code anyway, who exactly is this monster of a map editor supposed to help?



  1. I opened up the editor after reading this post, and I agree that it did seem rather daunting. I haven't messed with either the SC1 or WC3 editors, but I have gone through the Sins of a Solar Empire and a couple other editors, which were far simpler.

    In terms of the second, I think (I could be wrong) that many of the popular mods for WC3 were done with only the editor, in that all the changes seemed small enough that they could be done with the official editor. I feel like if it wasn't major enough for a code edit, they wouldn't. Of course that's just my guess, since I'm not that tapped into the mod community.

  2. Yeah, the editor looks terrifying, and good tutorials (at least at first glance) seem difficult to come by. That said, I've been strongly considering busting into the SC2 modding scene if I can just get past the learning cliff ("learning curve" does not suffice, I think. XD)

    My plan is basically to keep the same game as SC2 currently is, but to add even more differentiation to each side via adding a "C&C Generals" type of promotion system, which gains in power as you kill more things.

    Also I'm totally going to add optional autocasting Spawn Larvae/Chrono Boost/MULE into the mod, it'll be great, you'll love it. :D :D :D

  3. Autocasting Chrono Boost will be exceedinly difficult, because unlike Mules and Spawn Larvae you have many choices to choose from (any production or upgrade building). You could however reduce the length (either recharge or time active) and make it apply to either all production buildings within a radius of a Nexus, or even perhaps all buildings in the area of a pylon? I dunno.

  4. Actually, my idea there was just to have it autoboost the last thing it targeted (mind, this'd be something you could turn off.) If you hadn't used it yet, it would go on the Nexus.

    Assuming, of course, I can get the editor to work. 0_0

  5. In response to the first comment, it's true that many of the popular mods (Tower Defense, Footman vs Grunts, basic Hero Arenas) were done with the editor itself. But the REALLY popular Mods (DoTA, Tides of Blood, All other DoTA clones) were done by directly changing the code, I believe.

    Yeah, Autoboost would be tricky. You could just take the expected value of having an optimized Chrono Boost rotation and then reduce all Protoss units' build times accordingly. If you can make the recast ability work, that could be good, too.

  6. The problem with recast is that you're rarely using Chronoboost efficiently if you're only using it on /one/ building. For instance, I'll have 3 Starports up and use 3 boosts to make 3 Rays quicker, and maybe even throw in an extra boost on the CyCore for the next upgrade (this is assuming I have 2 Nexi at this point). Even assuming both Nexus autocast, you're still only boosting 2 of the 4 buildings I'd be boosting, and to get around that you're back to microing your macro, which defeats the purpose.

    I think a blanket speed boost (like I said before and kind of like what Max suggests) is still the best option, speaking as a Protoss player. Even a sort of emergency "hit this button to speed up all production by 50% for 20/30 seconds" would be both easier to implement and likely more useful. But then again I'm not a modder.

  7. Herp Derp, duh, I just thought of the solution.

    Remove all of the economy-boosting abilities, and then buff production speed, etc.