Sup fellow mapsters, how do you make your maps? Like idea generation and actually creating. Do you terrain first, paint, then doodad? Data first? Where do you get ideas?
For me, I've got scores of unfinished maps that seemed like good ideas until halfway through the execution. The ones that actually work end up being based on a music piece. I'll come across some music (usually from another game) and I use that as a base for a map. Music paints a picture in my head, and I try to evoke that feeling through gameplay.
Example: . This is where the map Rising Tide from Marauders came from. I got a picture of enemies slowly walking up to you while being imposing.
Example 2: It's extremely heroic sounding, so I had the idea of a small team absolutely obliterating scores of enemies, and Team BAMF was made.
As for creation, I do data, cliffs, doodads, paint, pathing, points/regions, triggers, custom art (loading screen, wireframes). Almost always in that order.
Let me preface that my current arrangement is somewhat unsual.
I work as part of a team. I'm a programmer by hobby and by profession. I occasionally submit ideas for consideration to my designer and we do talk about things and discuss concepts. However, I primarily do the game logic and implementation. I've implemented the UI, according to mockups, data and triggers. I created a template for my designer when creating classes and enemy units so that he filled out the necessary details. The designer implemented the terrain. All custom model work is done by a 3rd person.
As for ordering, there really isn't one for me, I simply have a specification and implement it accordingly, while giving feedback on technical difficulties or concerns while implementing things.
Since I'm horrible with regards to data: I just let the pros deal with that mes, and I just worry about the terraining aspect.
I generally do it as so: little bit of terrain, vague tileset brushing, throw in every doodad that I think I may need in one of the corners of the map, select a few to get an idea/feel for the map, continue with terraining till satisfaction (I reframe from using cliffset). Additionally: continue with doodad placement till I feel confident with adding more tileset bushing, add the final touches of aesthetic doodads, and then final touch ups with tileset brush.
I've had maps that I've nearly completed, then completely scrapped since the final idea wasn't appealing enough to share.
I work as a team also. The team has to agree on the story line and make changes accordingly. Then ones the story is layout we proceed to write the abilities and passives and so on. Then the terrain get the layout as well as what tilesets that can be use. Last is the terrain. When all is set and done. Then Triggers, Data, Terrain, UI and Cinematics get assigned to the team members. Last is the bug finding then is the Test face last we give them to Jayborino.
I typically create unfinished maps of trigger and data concepts. Terrain is the last thing i do. UI is done as I need it, and i've never used cinematics :(
When i create my triggers, I try to use modules and my library of convenient functions as much as possible while always making it multiplayer friendly even if it was originally intended for one person.
I make all of my maps based on a technical idea. I just want to see if something can be done with the editor, and the editor is powerful enough that most of the time, it can be done. And its very fun to get a technical idea working. A lot more fun than actually playing it.
For example in my last few maps. I made a Time Wars map, the idea is to be able to click back in time and replay the current battle from that moment on. It was an incredible triggering feat to pull that off, pretty proud of it.
Also had another idea about playing on a 3d Earth map instead of flat 2d. Made a simple Risk boardgame gameplay for it. The technical aspect is pretty immense. The map uses a lot of art animations and triggering to pull off the 3d map.
Also had an idea of a 3d ship game like Dreadnoughts. Also used a lot of combined art and triggering to get it working. The ship moves in 3d with height adjustments. And each turret has its own arc of fire and can rotate to track the target. Pretty neat.
Also just finished another map a few days ago. Its based on the idea of using real images as terrain. It was first used in World War 3, but I thought of an improvement for it. Instead of just one image, why not combined multiple hi-res images into one gigantic map? The end result is awesome. One giant map made up of lots smaller images.
Even my early maps are all based on some technical idea. Kingdom Rush was actually based on the idea of recording achievements in game and display them with the tooltips. It was one of my first maps that was made a few months after WoL release. Back then, it was quite an achievement to be able to do something simple as that. :)
I got tons of technical ideas and its so fun to get it working and see it in action. I release most of my maps once done, but they don't get played so usually I just remove them awhile later.
I devise a gameplay idea, add details till it work in my head. I can literally close my eyes and play the game as if it was already done.
Then I work on programming aechitecture. Again, I'm thinking through each detail from high abstract scale to the functions and variables.
Then I just implement everything, in order of independency. If a system requires no other systems to work, I start with it. Because independent things are easier to debug, so they become reliable, and safe for other systems to depend on them.
So, terrain usually go first. Then data. Then triggers and ui.
This way I created 6 big maps, zero of them are unfinished. The same way I go while creating standalone games with Unity. But code architecture in case of Unity is more important, so before starting to code, I create a bunch of lityle prototypes of subsystems, and pick the best way to code for each peace of functionality.
What is the most important thing to guarantee the map/game won't be abandoned halfway? Being obsessed with the gameplay idea. "This is a fun mechanics, I wanna try it" - may motivate for a week. You need an idea of "fuck, this is so perfect and ginus! I want it to be done si had!" - this may keep you motivated longer.
So, it may have a sense to collect a bunch of ideas until you come up with the one. Instead of rushing into the first one you got.
1) I find a story with enough scenes that could be turned into playable maps, preferably with a story I like.
2) I divide the story into sections that will make up the playable maps and also come up with general gameplay ideas for each map and the theme for the entire campaign. I don't really go into details for any map until I start with a map. I rarely move on to another map until I am done with a work-in-progress map.
3) Work on data and triggers until I have a playable prototype with very basic gameplay, but lets me test all basic ideas.
4) Work outside the editor: Come up with content and the map design. Lately I use photoshop more and more for the map layout. Come up with mission objectives and create a transscript for all cinematics, loading screens and other text. This does not include ingame transmissions or tips that are only there to teach players how the map works.
5) Work solely on the gameplay inside the editor. I work iteratively, meaning I constantly change elements of gameplay and map layout until I am satisfied. I try to get others to play the map.
6) When the gameplay is finished I work on terrain and cinematics.
7) I repeat steps 3 to 6 for all maps of the campaign. Once they are done I continue to finetune each map until I am exhausted and fed up ;) (In theory I could work on any map for decades and still not be 100% satisfied).
Bonus) I take a very long break, gather feedback and then update the campaign. I prefer few big updates over many small ones, as I believe they are a better incentive to re-experience a campaign. The exception is when I find very annoying/game-breaking bugs.
I start by developing a map idea and I see where it goes from there but most of the time I'm focus on how the game will play through and making further adjustments there. My maps usually are built on the base defense map Idea scheme. The Terrain is always a work in progress and when I see a problem with it I make further adjustments. I usually work on a lot of quick trigger ideas and use my map to see what I can do with them. I prefer building triggers for the Ais and this is where its gets fun because I've seen the Ai do some badass moves with its units but on the other hand the Ai can just sits around like a bees hive (doesn't attack until disturb). I've been exploring the use of random attack wave triggers and objectives with my Terran moon base map and in my first map with Protoss I made in WOL era I've been improving it with LOTV and added more Heros to it along with corresponding units :D.
As Wargirl mentioned, we've got a whole team that works on maps, so our process is going to be pretty different from a lot of people's.
We started Thoughts in Chaos with a story treatment, which we then turned into a full-size script. That script has a fair amount of direction for the action, so we use it for initial design sketches of the layout. Once that's solid, we built out the terrain, usually in a pretty spartan way. That's when we do triggers, using the script as a guide. Invariably, we discover that the mission needs more text than we expected, usually to explain in-game effects that we add. This step tends to be where we discover that the mission isn't flashy enough and start adding content. Once we've got it all triggered, we pass it over to one of the terrainers to build out into something gorgeous. Then we get to work testing, which can take quite a while...
I don't make maps, but I do make something so I have several thought processes similar to everyone here, just not as technical. I think the most important things you need to plan for are fluctuations in motivation. Odds are, when any of us start making whatever it is we're making, we are super motivated and excited. Utilize these high points to plan for the inevitable dips of when you'll feel like not doing anything. For me, it's quite easy because I have a schedule and there are people who expect certain types of videos on certain days. I've found it's very easy for inspiration and motivation to slip away if you succumb to that first big dip of "Nah, not today". Obviously, not having time is one thing, but it you're very bored, but still lack the motivation to keep working on a project you were very excited about a week ago, you'll need to think hard on if you want to just completely abandon it and not stress yourself out months later as you realize you've gotten nowhere. Otherwise, setting milestones for yourself helps a lot - mine are easy to follow with an upload schedule, but mapmakers would require more robust objectives that I'm not really well-versed enough to make.
Next, don't make promises to people you can't keep. I have not fully fallen into this trap, but have come very close. Luckily, pretty much all content creators here are very friendly and understanding, but be wary of expectations set on you by others, especially if you are part of a team. It's good to set those milestones, but don't over-commit to something that you can't complete within a reasonable time frame for a hobby of yours. In fact, set your own milestones according to your own schedule of free time and be transparent with others. This sets their expectations and will incentivize you to keep working!
For example, I occasionally get miscellaneous asks to make videos for things. Rather than saying "Sure, I'll do it eventually", or just never responding, I will try to explain my Monday, Wednesday, Friday upload schedule, why it's important to not upload more than that per week due to long term limited content, why I need more time than the day after a map is released, and give at least a general time frame in terms of weeks (give or take) of when they can expect to see their stuff. You can set these expectations for yourself, or for the team you are on. Anyway, I hope this wasn't too off the rails!
I've only made one map, and this is the process I used: Make a document file, create core trigger systems, make very basic terrain, make functional data-work, continue work on data & triggers, make first gameplay prototype, polish data & triggers, polish terrain, and lastly put final touches.
Of course, there were quite some flaws I made in my process (such as not thoroughly thinking some things in my documentation and many times deviating from it). I think my process would be much smoother now, after having finished my first semester in college. Learned more about software engineering, which can be applied here.
Though I don't think I'll be making any maps in the near future, so I probably won't be putting my new process to practice anytime soon. :P
It's fun to read and see other styles of mapmaking and I hope you enjoy seeing mine just as much as I enjoyed seeing yours.
The fun of mapmaking for me, and this counts for any kind of project I work on, sc2 or not, is I love to come up with the core concepts for a project. These ideas can honestly come from anywhere but they often come to me whenever I see other projects or games and I like to adapt some of those ideas and apply them to my own standards and develop them from there. There are some days where concepts flood in and they don't stop and other days I like to just figure out more details on concepts I came up with previously. However, there is the rare occasion where I get an idea that I feel is vastly superior to all the others even though it might be equally as good or maybe not even as good as some of my other ideas. This kind of idea is what gets me inspired to actually build something and from there I start getting serious and I begin planning the details of how I'm going to build it.
The next thing I think about is what platform I'm going to use; sometimes, that's the sc2 editor. The platform really depends on the strengths of each platform and what kind of project I want to build. I usually come to the sc2 editor whenever it's something that is either an rts, something more story related to sc2, or involves some kind of mechanic that I want to test out quickly as I can build almost anything in the editor very rapidly. If the best platform turns out to be the editor, I then go for data first and get all of that set up. If it's going to involve multiple maps, I set up a mod first and get everything working in there. It's rare, but sometimes, when there are art assets to add in, those usually go in at this point or, if they're not finished yet and it's low priority, they get put in later down the line, probably during the beta phase.
From there, if it's a map, I usually do the cliffs first just so I can get a good layout set up. The layout with cliffs is the most important part to level design, is the easiest part to edit, and also helps set up your borders so you know where to texture and place doodads. Once the layout is set up, I move on to triggers and get the triggers all set up and able to run independently (without needing units) before I place the units. If positioning does depend on doodads for whatever reason, I set up the important doodads first before I set up the triggers. From there, I can call it a beta, as it's feature complete and is ready to play. Finally, I place the doodads, textures, and I polish up any remaining bugs and it's done. Along the way, sometimes previous features are sometimes adjusted as I go along as some things are not always planned, some things may end up not working out the way I wanted, and sometimes new ideas come in, so I often end up going back to triggers, data, or even terrain to make adjustments along the way.
I've especially loved doing campaigns with the sc2 editor as it usually tends to take every skill in the editor to make a campaign really successful. Terrain, level design, unit design, story writing, script writing, triggering, data, sometimes voice acting, and sometimes art assets. You really need a wider game plan, and often a team, in order to build it within a recommended amount of time. I'm able to fill most of these roles alone, but it's fun to have help from others who also provide motivation just by being there as they can cheer you on and you have a sort of expectancy to fulfill.
I hope at least someone out there found my ramble a little interesting.