DotA, Legacy of the Confederation, Wanderers of Sorceria, Armageddon Onslaught. These are all projects generalized by custom content. Python, luna, Heartbreak Ridge, these are custom content as well!
Previously I talked about Starcraft 2 as a game and the Editor and how I feel they could be improved - http://www.teamliquid.net/blogs/viewblog.php?topic_id=123080
Although it has been mentioned several times already in posts I'd like to, again, bring to light the view of an individual who is a major modder (not a mapper, exactly) and custom content producer as well as get all of the facts into one major place.
- There is NO local hosting on battle.net 2.0 and probably won't ever be.
- You can only have 5 maps or "mods" (which aren't even mods) on Battle.net, anything else you've got cannot and will never be multiplayer unless you sacrifice an existing project.
- You have a 20mb global limit across everything and a 10mb limit individually.
- The editor censors whatever Battle.net censors and refuses uploads. "Suicide", "God", and "Blow" are amongst the words that - even if only contained in editor-related strings - will prevent you from ever playing your map online. Starcraft 1 was rated M on release and Sc2 will be rated T on release. Blizzard was not liable for any obscene content on custom projects until they introduced this system. Hot Coffee, anyone?
Now, hold up. Before I begin tearing this apart I'd like to establish some basic concepts for you.
First of all, what entails a "big" project and why am I so concerned?
"DotA" is not a big project. At least not in the content sense - it's had a long development life, is advanced, and has a lot of fancy new data and triggering systems. But its graphics are, for the most part, kitbashes, and its custom sounds are largely stolen from Unreal Tournament, of which there is only a handful. Despite this, DotA is already 6.8 megabytes in size!
Only in campaigns like those I produced privately would custom asset content breathe freely in.
In warcraft a unit has one texture (usually). You can call multiple textures if you want to, like for particles, and you can get by. People skirt around this size limit by producing extremely ugly, low-poly low-resolution garbage that looks TERRIBLE. You can't do what RCX does and use custom textures for all of your new shit. But wc3 only has ONE texture per unit that is mandatory - diffuse, and they are often very low resolution. You CAN go higher res (I used WoW graphics in LoL) but most people are too petrified of it.
In a new engine, let's say Sc2, you've got more textures to worry about. Oh, and they're DDS, so they've also got mipmap data as well.
They often have other maps, too. For example, the Carrier has a second set of custom maps for its short death animation. Their resolution is also much higher - easily going up to 1024x1024. This is STANDARD and has been for many years.
In order to make any significant project you would have to abandon custom graphics as a whole or reduce your custom graphics to such a low point in quality that there is no point in even having them. In wc3 I consider WoW graphics the minimum level of quality of custom content I want to be adding into the game - I want the game to look BETTER, not WORSE.
Additionally, voice acting. Any "big" project will have fully voice acted dialogue and unit responses, but these will never make it onto battle.net. Blizzard's "mod" system is not a real mod system as it's still dependent on maps and it is STILL restricted by the 10mb limit, making it utterly pointless. What about custom music? Even as low-quality mp3s, which grate the ears and destroy your project's sense of immersion, still take up significant space when your quota is so tiny.
I used to compose music. If I ever wanted to try to run two sound cards at once, I could potentially compose music once more. But I would never be able to put this music in a multiplayer project.
You and I both know that custom sounds can take a lot space, especially if you want full-blown dialogue. Better luck in another game bro, half of 10mb is easily going into map data BEFORE any custom content.
In Wc3 I had a map that was 120mb. I used an external exe to hold all that data, and individuals had to download it separately (it was a private project so this was fine). This will no doubt be necessary in sc2, but no way would I ever make a multiplayer project in this game.
Sc2's maps will be considerably larger than wc3. The terrain mesh is extremely large, and the trigger data is also larger. The void that you will be able to fill with custom content will allow very little, and from what I've read...
Also I tried something : Made a 32x8 map, just changed a race thingy or two, saved. On drive, it takes 23 KB then publish it privately ... 500 KB.
The maps also integrate patch data.
But, whatever, right? I can still probably use external exes or, as long as Bluzzard doesn't enforce CRC checks, I can even replace the patch mpqs and externally load my assets, leaving the map small. This problem can be worked around.
But the lack of local hosting is absolutely dumbfounding. Who the hell comes up with this shit? I have yet to play or hear of an RTS that doesn't allow you to host your maps. The fact you are REQUIRED to publish your maps, and thus REQUIRED to adhere to the 5 map limit and censorship, will no doubt massacre all those hoping to remake sc1 maps or get into melee mapping at all. And if you delete a map, it's gone, as is the name. In fact, on release you can just publish and delete maps to reserve a plethora of general names, cockblocking everyone else! No doubt many people will be fighting to do just that just so they can keep their project's name. If Blizzard allows users to have non-unique names why not maps, too?
Furthermore, why can't you name games? What the hell, mang? Where's the DoTA -sp -em names, or will the host have to TELL everyone what the settings are when they join? The logistics of this are truly brain damaging.
A lot of people are bitching about Battle.net after patch 13 but this is a bitch about battle.net as a whole. Everything from the lack of LAN to the lack of local hosting clearly paints a picture of Blizzard's desire for complete and total control, control with greasy, gnarly hands soaked in the blood of those who wanted to make content for this game but ran face-first into the spiked walls that is Blizzard's restrictions. The entire point of custom content is to break past restrictions, to exceed and push into new things! Only now are people realizing they've been getting screwed all along, but people like me have been bitching from the very start and nothing has been done besides make the ui slightly more shiny. Oh come off it, Blizzard.
I don't care about "Casuals". That term isn't even used properly. Casuals are a stereotype Blizzard has employed so they can ignore the fanbase as a whole and strike up deals with Facebook. Everyone blames this on the "Casual" player but in reality we are all casual players unless we are those slanty-eyed heroes in booths throughout the OSL or WCG.
I am a Casual Player. I spend every waking moment of every day contributing to an overall overarching gameplan of modmaking and custom content, or working on my novel. I have been producing custom projects for 10 years. I am still a casual player because I am doing this for my own enjoyment and nothing more. The second you turn away from that and start thinking about your wallet instead of yourself you aren't casual anymore and you have lost sight about what this entire devotion is for.
The fact is, is that Blizzard is not "catering to the casual player because they want to make money". The fact is, is that they are unwilling to provide basic, fundamental features to us because they want control. Total control. I am sure that by release these restrictions will alleviate to a degree but I doubt local hosting, game names, some things CRITICAL to the growth and progression of custom content will ever make it in.
Blizzard has handed you a powerful editor that has the most disorganized and haphazard layout possible, and is riddled in so many restrictions and strings that the majority of projects will never make it to the mainstream regardless. The censorship ordeal is one of the most mind-numbing things I have seen come out of this trainwreck and, believe me, I'm privy to a lot more information that you may think. I know they are still working on the editor and I know there are two different teams at play here, and the battle.net team is in dire need of being fired all-in and rebuilt from the ground up. As much as I hate Browder, he is not responsible for this.
I am concerned. I am deeply, deeply concerned. I am concerned because I have been waiting for this game since it was announced, and now I have seen before my own eyes the failure that it has become. From a modder's standpoint this is a worst-case scenario, exceeded only by ZuxxeZ, the creator of E2160, restricting the editor to who it deems right. With sc2 we have the editor but scarcely the means to express our projects.
I have done, and said, all I can do. I have had my words brought into the very dev team of the editor themselves, and that I believe was responsible of the addition of tabs in the data editor's ui in patch 13. This is a step forward. One of many we must take to bring this game to the glory that is Starcraft 1. But this here, this is a whole different ball field of stupidity.
I have no good things to say about Battle.net 2.0. The interface and the functionality are insults to me. I have used a lot of awful services, from Gamespy, to GPG.net, to Westwood Online, to EA's services, to Windows Live! For Games. But you know what? I'd take any of those over this. They did not go out of their way to screw me in the ass with a piledriver. They did not do their damndest to censor my maps for the doe-eyed eight year olds who might see "Captain, they're blowing up our generators!" as some kind of reference to cheap blondes in ghettos.
I'll close this with one final quote. A quote from a WoW dev, actually.
One the first things I was told when I got into this business* was that game designers have to learn, if you'll excuse the expression, to be able to kill their babies. We thought the old design was starting to hold us, and you, back.
There is no greater time than the present to make right your wrongs. To say to yourself, "Yeah, I fucked up", suck it in and move forward. Dragging along this dead weight hurts us all for every step forward when what Blizzard needs to do is change. The refusal to change and accept that they've done something wrong will hurt us all more than you can possibly imagine if the game goes into release with limitations like these.