It’s the first original map since 792 days; this is SK Telecom Starcraft II Proleague 2016 Season – 3rd Round new map, New Gettysburg.
'New Gettysburg' is famous for being a core region on Tarsonis of planet where Sara Kerrigan was taken by the Zerg, and ‘Gettysburg’, a motif of 'New Gettysburg' was a ferocious battlefield of the Civil War.
Later on, Gettysburg became the watershed of the Civil War. This map is named as such to hope for great matches reminiscent of the cutthroat battles of the Civil War.
I release production note of ‘New Gettysburg’ for the first time. I want to show the processes and intentions in making an official map. Perhaps, a map may seem very simple but it needs constantly thinking and improvement to complete it.
This Column may be heavy, I write to ease understanding at most. I hope to be interesting for Starcraft II officials, community users and map freaks.
#1 Understanding the map-meta.
Acting as an official map creator, I have made many maps to show for new and fun match. But not all maps were good. Among the maps, I recently made ‘Sky Shield’ which is also hard to be remembered as a good map.
Record of Sky Shield’ used by 2016 GSL Season 1. It is bad balance except for ZvP.
Upon this problem, I need to think more about ‘Legacy Of The Void’’s map.
Recently, Blizzard has used large maps such as ‘Lerilak Crest’ and ‘Dusk Towers’ in ladder pool. Early in LOTV, we couldn’t watch smooth games. On ‘Lerilak Crest’, players used aggressive strategy, since natural was wide open, ‘Central Protocol’ was the same. But ‘Dusk Towers’ showed different results.
Early in LOTV, the Starcraft II map community didn’t prefer the map liked ‘Dusk Tower’. Large map is hard to do SimCity and to arrange troops. But as time went by, it showed a good balance and varied matches. I thought it was suitable for LOTV to analyse a few maps for my next map.
#2 Analysing ‘Dusk Towers’
First, through analysing ‘Dusk Towers’, I focus on showing more stable and fun matches. Its core level design elements are as below.
- The natural of ‘Dusk towers’ is large like that of ‘Lerilak Crest’, but not unstable. It has the backdoor natural. When player gets the natural, it is enough to produce troops.
- But the natural must not large in maps where player has to get the natural first. Otherwise, it thickens the aggressive tendency as ‘Lerilak Crest’ showed.
- Central outpost expansions have been used. In other words, It is bad balance, since for Terran it is easy to defend and to attack. However, ‘Dusk Towers’ also has central one, but it is away from main battlefield. So it is hard to act as outpost.
- It is actually close direction, you have to across narrow path if you go to the shortest distance. In late game, it is tough for large-scale troops are to cross the shortest route. Thus, it has an effect that troops bypass by way of wide path.
- Being close in late game, player uses wide path frequently. Therefore, player can attack and defend expansions are located outline naturally. Map being used widely is indication of good flow.
- Player can secure next expansion selectively after getting the natural, and there is made to be advantage and disadvantage for each. Central expansion is close to defend easily from the natural but it adjoins to a harrassable hill. The other is farther from the natural than central one but it is farther from enemy than central one.
- Extruded terrain to the enemy’s main direction on rich expansion is probably to encourage using Swarm Host.
(‘Rogue’ introduced it : [SPL2016] Rogue(Jin Air) vs Dark(SKT) Set1 - 11:50~)
- It is important to spread units due to the addition of the Liberator, Disruptor, Lurker, etc. that can range attack in LOTV. So ‘Dusk Towers’ is designed to be a large battlefield.
- Large fly zone behind the natural gives a chance for the opponent to harrass the backdoor natural. This design prevents boring matchs where players just get the natural and the third to concentrate on gathering resources.
#3 Analysing ‘Ulrena’
I think the only remaining season 1 ladder maps, ‘Ulrena’, along with ‘Dusk Towers’ also needs analysis. Generally, many strategic games through the short route occurs in this map, and so it presents another fun aspect where small troops fight each other fiercely.
- Since aggressive play occurs at high frequencies due to short rush distance, the map is designed such that players can easely defend their expansions. The natural and the third are close together, and afterwards there are series of expansions.
- If troops of medium-size attack the enemy through the rush route, they’ll be destroyed one by one. So ‘Ulrena’ encourages the players to use the terrain on the right side after the mid game. Also, players can block the short distance perfectly by building cheap buildings such as ‘Supply Depot’ and ‘Pylon’.
- Xel`Naga Tower on the rush route highlights the importantance of the short distance in the mid-late game. When player secures it, he or she can detect enemy troops in the short air route.
- Most of all, we can watch dynamic matches not seen in other maps.
‘Ulrena’ showed many strategic games to suit its concept, but couldn’t avoid a few negative results.
- Because of its short rush distance, aggressive strategies were frequent. Thus, many players couldn’t defend the enemy despite the fact that they knew about the attack. So this map was stressful for some.
- The island expansion has rich mineral fields, but it is structured such that players can’t secure it in practice. It is very close to enemy’s main and player can see the creep of hatchery in it though the Xel’Naga Tower.
- Troops of mid-size or more use wide path, not short one. However, players only used the middle path after destroying the destructible debris, instead of using the east of this map. This is bad because only part of the map was used.
However, like ‘Dusk Towers’, ‘Ulrena’ is pretty successful map . It demonstrated which map design is suitable. Currently, Blizzard has a policy of using maps of various styles, ‘Ulrena’ is suitable for this.
#4 From the Player’s Point of View
While some like new maps, other don’t, because of excessive concept and imbalance, it is hard for players to adjust through normal play styles. For example, in the recently excluded ‘Korhal Carnage Knockout’, If a player isn't familiar with the map, he or she would not know the starting position of the enemy. Rock tower and shared main to main base also confuses players.
Map creator may think that the general player can easly adjust to a concept map, but not everyone is professional about map design. Some may say that ‘This map is very complicated’. Not all Starcraft II players are ‘diamond’, ‘master’ and ‘grand master’ rankers; new and novel map may require a lot of time to player to adjust to it. We play game for fun, not to study. Even progamers need time and lots of games to familiarize to the maps.
So I made goal for my next to be to 'reflect the existing elements well'. If novel element is added in the map, I think they should be intuitive to players and clear. However, existing elements should be maintained.
#5 Participating TLMC (TeamLiquid Map Contest)
Some maps of TLMC Finalist are selected as ladder maps. The 7th TLMC was the first map contest of LOTV. In other words, It was an opportunity to have the first ladders maps for LOTV.
I had been making tournament map for progamers. However, this time, I participated in TLMC to make the ladder map that all Starcraft II players enjoy.
Process of Making ‘New Gettysburg’
Early Version of TLMC#7
Personally, ‘Ulrena’ is very appealing, but it gives negative experiences to players. Since it has a very short rush distance, its positive elements are forgotten. For example, the army movement in the early game created a tense atmosphere which is enjoyable for payers and viewers alike.
To complement these disadvantages, I decided to apply the advantage of ‘Akilon Wastes’. In HOTS, this was the map which set an example as a late game map. So, I applied the advantages of ‘Ulrena’ and ‘Akilon Wastes’ to ‘New Gettysburg’.
Strategic Element of ‘Ulrena’
- Close distance between The Naturals: Closer than a macro map, but farther than 'Ulrena'. This induces nail-biting games.
- Island Expansion: Used four island expansions (Now two.). Used 'Air-Blockers' for ease of defense.
- Fly Zone behind The Natural: Allow for more strategic playstyles.
Economic Element of ‘Akilon Wastes'
- Connected Expansions and Large Battlefield: Applied to allow for easily securable expansions and effective battles.
- Simple Rush Path, Easy Defence: Intruduce general elements to be familiar for player. Easy defence induces the stable flow in both strategic and economic games.
- Elements for Prolonged Games: Secureing the third induces economic game, since it is harder to harrass the natural and the main base.
I used a new element : ‘Air Blocker’ to make island expansion easier to defend and to encourage strategic use. To make it easily recognizable, I paint them red to highlight that it is not passable. When I applied them, I approach the island expansion to patch its disadvantages so that player can easily adapt to it.
#6 Change of View
Explanation of ‘New Gettysburg’ introduced 'TLMC7 Finalists Announced'
‘New Gettysburg’ entered the finalists of TLMC. The total of 15 maps is chosen by four categories (Macro, Rush, New and Gold)
Chosen 15 maps were used in the Map Test Tournament by BasetradeTV to test their balance through Starcraft II Progamers. This is arranged so that map creators could watch their map played and to alter balance or bugs before the final vote.
The best match of ‘New Gettysburg’ shown by Lambo(Z) vs. Beastyqt(T)
When the finalists are opened, ‘New Gettysburg’ was seen as a failed candidate. Looking at the overview, it looks monotonous, and a simple economic map. People thought that players wouldn’t take the island expansions. But through 9 times games in ‘New Gettysburg’, it was shown that the island expansion with ‘Air Blockers’ was not only enough to become a strategic element but also was able to show ecomomic games.
From the overview, it looked bland, but many people recognize the possibility of ‘New Gettysburg’ through Map Test Tournament and…
#7 Win the Map Contest
‘New Gettysburg’ won the map contest by the 7th TLMC opened.
#8 Closing the Column
Later on, ‘New Gettysburg’ was altered to reduce boring elements and it was chosen to be used as SK Telecom Starcraft II Proleague 2016 Season – 3 Round map. Starcraft II Balance Team also seem to view the map positively, so I look forward to the map in the future.
Through this map making process, I got the foothold about element of LOTV’s map in the future and it becomes a good opportunity to be recognised by others.
Actually, it was possible to suggest several candidate maps internally to become an official map. Yes, if an official map creator did not even place in the contest, his or her status will nosedive. But I thought that familiar and comfortable environment would make me lazy. if I want to make better maps. It becomes valuable experience to be for a 1st-generation Starcraft II map creator to be recognized even till now.
Finally, I would like to sincerely thank the Starcraft II balance design team, Rifkin, and KeSPA MisoPri(Donggu). Also, I want to also thank the voters and foreigner mapmakers who saw the possibilities of my map voted for it.