Custom Incredulity: Starcraft II’s Map Cleverness

So Blizzard’s Starcraft: Ghost action game might not have seen the light of day, but it seems you’re going to be able to build your own third-person shooter within Starcraft II anyway. What? Yes, the editor is super-flexible, and is even going to support mouselook. Building a third-person shooter inside the RTS editing suite is going to be a possibility, as Blizzard demonstrated with their proof of concept at BlizzCon. Video of it in action below. The scrolling shooter is also acceptable. Cheers to sub edii for pointing out this link.


  1. Mike says:

    Wow. That’s very LBP. Cross-genre mod tools aren’t so common.

  2. ulix says:

    Pretty amazing.

    Makes their intention on making customers pay for content created by mod-makers much more understandable.

    Quality control will be the crux.

  3. Aldaris says:

    Well, even if the game itself sucks, this means that the custom levels will still be awesome enough to buy the game.

    And with a nickname like mine, I’m really happy about that.

  4. Mike says:

    I think the whole idea of regulating UGC is backwards though. You need to leave it to the community to filter it, I can’t think of many cases in which developers have been very good at it. TF2’s selected maps are often pretty ‘meh’.

    Sporecasts are probably the best balance. EA oversees it, but it’s the community doing the pickin’.

  5. StalinsGhost says:

    Finally something to be genuinely excited about with SC2. I think it might just be a day 1 buy for me now.

  6. James Benson says:

    Jesus christ that is amazing, it’s so worth blizzard taking their time to facilitate this stuff. The mod community is going to have a god damn field day. Wow

  7. ourdreamsoffreedom says:

    Everyone is expecting SC2 to be some sort of orgasmic rapture, but when I look at the videos it seems really daft.

    I didn’t even like SC1, and now they’re re-making the exact same game in 3D. Am I missing something?

  8. alset says:

    Blizzard (abloo abloo) Starcraft 2 (abloo abloo) ripoff…

    And with that out of the way, I can’t be more excited about the mods that are gonna come from this game. Starcraft and Warcraft 3 had some pretty amazing custom maps. Everything from full blown RPG’s to tactical shooters to puzzle games. That alone is worth the asking price and no other developer but Valve even compares to what Blizzard gives to its community.

  9. Vandelay says:

    This all looks amazing. Some of my favourite parts of the original Starcraft and Warcraft 3 were the custom maps, so this gets me really excited.

  10. Vandelay says:

    @ourdreamsoffreedom – You’re shocked that a sequel to a game you didn’t like doesn’t appeal to you?

    I await the inevitable parade of people who demand that Starcraft 2 be exactly like Dawn of War 2.

  11. Skinlo says:

    I don’t really get Starcraft, it just seems like a rush fest, which gets very boring very quickly.

    Saying that, the 3rd person feature is nice.

  12. Azhrarn says:

    O.o that was pretty impressive, it would have been a day 1 buy anyway, but dang, that makes it even more awesome.

  13. Sagan says:

    This proves that John Carmack was wrong, when he claimed games get too complicated for modding.
    I’ve said something similar in the forum discussion about this: Looking at Half Life 2 or Unreal Tournament 3 is the wrong direction. Those games did get too complicated. All the exciting modding stuff since Half Life 1 has happened in Warcraft III. Entire new genres have sprung out of that editor. And this looks like a very natural evolution to the Warcraft III editor. Custom UI and mouse control are things that were always wanted.
    And you can bet that Starcraft 2’s modding community will again be much larger than anything Rage or Left 4 Dead or whatever can assemble.

    And if they follow the Warcraft III model, with super easy scripting, and super easy mod sharing, then you can bet that will again be overrun by mods.

  14. greenB says:

    …and then, a couple of years in, when there really are some stellar maps and many good ones being played all the time by a sizeable community, they’ll patch it in a way that destroys most scripts and forces mappers to do all their awesome stuff all over again, from scratch, in a new system.

  15. Sports Gambling Review says:

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  16. Howard says:

    Carmack didn’t say modding was too hard for non-pro’s, he said modding id Tech 5 was too hard for non-pro’s. People really have got that quote stuck in their craw…

  17. Tei says:

    @Sagan: FPS engines tend to make crappy RTS mods, and RTS engines tend to make crappy FPS mods. If you are happy with a subset of tools, I suppose mapmaking + LUA scripting is your friend. But what If you want^H^Hneed a custom particle engine?

  18. OKami says:

    @Sagan: Carmack hasn’t stated that games themselves are getting too complicated for modding. As far as I know, he was talking about id’s own engine and that making their tools accessible to the community wouldn’t really be worth it, because the required workflow, skills and tools are beyond most modders.

    There’s a difference between modding a tileset/height map based lofi rts like Starcraft 2 and creating assets for an ultro high tech shooter like Rage.

  19. Orta says:

    bah, I had been tempted to boycott due to the LAN stuff, but after that, no wai. +1 for the Mac day 1.

  20. ourdreamsoffreedom says:

    @Vandelay: I’m just at a loss as to what makes SC so worth being enamored with. It’s ridiculous how little the RTS has evolved since Warcraft 1.

    If you wanted to describe SC 2 to someone who moved to Mars in 1994, you’d just have to say “Warcraft in Space with a 3D engine.” The said hypothetical person would probably say “Oh. Sounds kinda boring.”

    Meanwhile any games that tries to push RTS forward, like Supreme Commander, gets ignored completely.

  21. LionsPhil says:

    So, yes, it’s got flexible modding. And that’s good. But, erm, is that a reason to buy it? There’s nothing there the UT games couldn’t do, but they had the advantage of being FPS-born and supporting enough multiplayer players to give us the likes of Air Buccaneers. Also, very good, very mass-popular games in the first place, so an excellent chance your friends also had the game upon which to play the mod.

    The TPS, in particular, is only impressive because you’ve set your expectations for “RTS mod”. As a TPS, it’s terrible—the camera even clips straight through a wall!

  22. StalinsGhost says:

    Better than not having that ability though right? Starcraft/Warcraft III spawned numerous excellent proof of concept type mods. Would we have had Demigod without them for example? Producing FPS engine mods takes a lot more effort than whacking down a few units/tiles etc and tying them together with scripts.

  23. OKami says:

    @LionsPhil: There’s the entry level barrier. It’s quite easy to learn tileset and heightmap based editors and it only takes some practice in order to create decent looking maps with them. The WC3 scripting tools were also really easy to learn, even if you had no clue about programming and I expect it will be the same for Starcraft2.

    Of course brush based FPS editors like Hammer and Unreal are more flexible and more powerfull. But they’re much harder to learn, you need bigger teams and have longer development cycles for your mods.

    Can you create something like Air Buccaneers with the SC2 editor? Most likely not. But there will be an absolutely huge amount of mods and maps beeing churned out for SC2 by thousands upon thousands of modders, who’d never even think about opening the Unreal editor.

    Of course most of this stuff will be complete and utter bullshit. But expect to find some real gems among that.

  24. diebroken says:

    “Meanwhile any games that tries to push RTS forward, like Supreme Commander, gets ignored completely.” I think you can chalk Metal Fatigue up with that statement (sort of… *stares at Stormrise*)

  25. Sagan says:

    Alright maybe I got Carmack’s quote wrong. But during the discussion here on RPS the dominant notion was definitely, that games in general are too complicated for modding now.

    And the reason for that is, that FPS developers don’t look at Blizzard. And FPS mod developers don’t look at Warcraft III mod developers. Because if you don’t make custom models, and custom AI or a custom particle system, then you can still easily make mods. And If you look at the amount of quality mods for Warcraft III as opposed to the amount of quality mods for HL 2, I would argue as well that you can make better mods.

    If Rage would automatically download mods upon joining a new server, and if that was guaranteed to always take less than a minute, and if Rage shipped with a level editor that only allowed you to use the default assets, and had very easy scripting, and would not allow you to mess with any code other than the scripting, I bet it would be the greatest FPS for modding ever.

  26. Rinox says:


    I can’t say I was ever a HUGE fan of Blizzard’s games (tho I did play and enjoyed all of them up until WC2), but now that they’re one of the only developers of AAA games left that don’t bend over for the multiplatform madness and its subsequent loss of quality they’re increasingly falling in favor with me.

    This mod tools presentation is one of the best illustrations of how superior a PC only title can be compared to its console brethren in terms of user-created content and longevity.

  27. NewName says:

    @Tei: Then you write one. There are even custom physics engines for Warcraft 3.

  28. Über Nerd says:

    I demand Battlezone:Starcraft.

  29. Heliocentric says:

    Now i have a reason to buy the game. Custom maps were always the best bit of wc3. I wish coh, wic or mow had first/third person combat. Men of war had direct fire, but you are not inside the vehicle.

    But yes, whee, battle zone . I hope they can model ballistics to make hull down and flanking matter. Or there’ll hardly be any point.

  30. Gap Gen says:

    I think Starcraft was better for tactics than Warcraft 3, which was almost entirely based around who had the best micro strategies and build order. That said, I played Starcraft far more and with people closer to my skill level, so I dunno.

    As for SupCom, I think it’s a little too clinical for a game that involves giant robots nuking each other. The interface is pretty great, but it does miss some of the joy of TA – if you’re zoomed out, a million robots exploding looks rather like one robot exploding closer up. Then again, SupCom is all about economy, and revels in base-building where other games are trying to eschew it.

  31. Fenchurch says:

    @Über Nerd

    Oh good gravy, yes. :-3

  32. Freudian Trip says:

    I see people questioning Starcraft. You’d think with an 11 year old game people would get it or give up on getting it.

    Some people don’t like Godfather I & II, that doesn’t make them poor but it doesn’t mean the people not liking it are wrong either.

    Different strokes for different folks people.

  33. Jayt says:

    cool bananas

  34. Tupimus says:

    Oh, Christ.

    So, this is basically a hugely improved Warcraft 3 engine. Which by on it’s own, has spawned… let’s see… two worldwide competitive games and a HUGE community that has managed to get sooo much out of such a simple editor (They’re custom maps, not mods! Almost everyone gets this wrong, gah).

    I’m calling this the second coming of Christ.

  35. subedii says:

    Gap Gen: Really they’re different styles of game in both scope and intent. Although from what we’ve seen of SupCom 2, it looks like they’re really trying to make things faster paced whilst still keeping the massive scale that we (well, fans of SupCom) love, which is something I can get behind. So a bit less emphasis on economy, more on strategy.

    You hit it right saying that Starcraft focussed more on “tactics”. Most modern RTS’s focus in that direction, emphasising smaller scale skirmishes. That’s why I love the fact that SupCom goes in the opposite direction and instead tries for grandiose strategy with battles sprawling across what are basically entire continents. If you’ve ever been engaged in simultaneous ground, air, and naval battles, you’ll know how awesome that is. There’s less emphasis on micro in the SupCom series, given that for example, none of the units make use of “spells” or activated abilities that you need to time.

    Anyway, back on topic, and I’m sure tower defence will be amongst the least of the creative ideas spawned from this one.

  36. Mike says:

    “Meanwhile any games that tries to push RTS forward, like Supreme Commander, gets ignored completely.” I think you can chalk Metal Fatigue up with that statement (sort of… *stares at Stormrise*)”

    SupCom was ruined by the T4 units, if it were actually about huge numbers of units then it would be fine. Metal Fatigue? wow, been a while since I had to think about that train wreck. that game was the classic case of great ideas, terrible execution. throw Universe at War in that category as well

  37. Nimic says:

    I was never any good at Warcraft 3, but I considered myself quite good at the custom maps. I only played regular WC3 online a couple of times, and didn’t really fancy it. On the flip-side, I played a lot of custom maps.

    Aaah, Helms Deep… :D

  38. rob says:

    That took SC2 from my ‘maybe’ list to my ‘oh hell yes’ one.

  39. Swiv says:

    Makes their intention on making customers pay for content created by mod-makers much more understandable.

    I heard from a friend of mine watchin’ the streams the next day that they later clarified that mod-makers could still upload the maps on different websites.

  40. CMaster says:

    It looks like this might let people take SC2 off in some really interesting directions, which is more interesting to me than SC2 itself. (I played and loved SC1. I don’t feel any particular urge to play the same game again now).

    On a similar topic, has anyone seen the kind of things that have been done with modding Civ 4? People have made it into pretty dramatically different games.

    I actually found SC demanded annoying amounts of micro, seeing as friendly units would quite happily bombard other friendlies, and also units would sit and shoot a hillside while taking damage rather than move. You had to babysit your huge armies of moronic robots to an alarming extent.

  41. Tei says:

    I repect the W3 modding community. And I agree with Sagan last comment.

  42. Zyrusticae says:


    Someone needs to make a Starcraft clone of Tyrian, ASAP.

  43. LionsPhil says:

    SupComm’s biggest failing in not avoiding micro was that individual tanks were still individual tanks, and the thick buggers would sit there and be picked off one-by-one by an AI enemy sitting in the periphery of range. Ridiculous micromanagement could also win you fights through focused fire with appropriate splits to avoid overkill (low ROF units like submarines are a canonical example, I believe).

    Needs more of a Dawn-of-War squad-level arrangement, methinks—particularly so I can click on an enemy squad, not have to shift-queue a whole bunch of individuals, or just march into range and hope for the best. And unit AI which can effectively co-ordinate fire by itself. Not very sexy features, but would really help let you focus on the strategic end.

    (Re: actual topic, yes, OK, I can see the barrier-to-entry point to some degree, but genre-bending by modding the wrong game is still sort-of-cool daftness rather than an actual good idea. Like fitting an afterburner to your street car.)

  44. JKjoker says:

    this would be nice if they hadnt shot the custom community in the foot with the bnet only crap and the “map marketplace” BS

  45. LeFishy says:

    Starcraft not exactly my thing. This, exactly my thing. Insta purchase from me.

  46. Alaric says:

    StarCraft was an excellent game. Unfortunately I never got to play Brood War… so I went and bought it a few weeks ago. I must report that I am on my third Zerg mission at this time, and having a lot of fun playing.

    Can’t wait for StarCraft 2!

    As to the mod tools, I rarely play a game past the original single player story, and maybe an occasional multiplayer match. Still, it is very cool that the ability to create such varied custom content is there. A lot of people are going to spend many enjoyable hours both creating and playing.

  47. Turin Turambar says:

    J.Carmack was referring not to the general modding scene, but the big Total Conversion mods from the Quake 2-up-to-HL2 age, which were almost equivalent to a commercial game, that era is over. And of course he was speaking about fps mod scene, not rts or any other kind of game.
    I mean, it’s a bit different the time needed to make a doom 3 level in comparison with the time needed to make a Warcraft 3 scenario.

  48. Vandelay says:

    @ourdreamsoffredom – You thought SupCom was ignored? I thought that it had been overrated myself.

    I agree with Gap Gen’s assessment that it was far too clinical. Having said that, I think it would have been a great game if they could have sped it up a bit. Having to spend about half an hour building the awesome units, which has already taken about half an hour to reach an economy and tech level where they are accessible, didn’t make for a very interesting game for me personally. Which was a pity because I liked the core concept of the game, just would have preferred it if they had of cut down building times by half right across the board. It also suffered from exceptionally bland maps and lacking any diversity between the sides, something which Starcraft excels at.

    As for Starcraft’s micro managing, I agree that Warcraft 3 had much more focus on microing your units and spell usage was much more important. Remembering hotkeys was much more essential. One of the main problems Starcraft had in this regards was the poor pathfinding, which meant watching units became much more important, in case they did something stupid. For some reasons, Dragoons seemed to be particularly susceptible to this and it could be pretty frustrating. Hopefully, this won’t be an issue in the sequel.

  49. Big J says:

    Just to be clear, from what I understand, maps only need to be paid for if the map developer chooses to make it that way. Blizzard doesn’t make maps pay-only.