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. subedii says:

    @ Turin Turambar: I think it ultimately comes down to the tools and how intuitive they are. Most FPS level editors are NOT build with the home user in mind, and as such whilst they are capable of doing everything the devs did, they require a serious investment of time to get anywhere.

    Compare that with something like the Crysis level editor (or Far Cry 2, which is even simpler and designed specifically around the home user), and it’s so intuitive to use that you can literally knock up a quick level in maybe 15 minutes. It won’t be good, but hey, it’s more than what you’d manage in Hammer.

    This SC2 editor falls into the later category of something built with the home user in mind. No programming knowledge necessary, and I’d be willing to bet a very intuitive interface. It takes time and resources to create something like that, and it’s not really worthwhile for all developers to try for it. If Blizzard were instead to ship the development tools they likely use in-house, odds are it would be far too complex for the average person to get to grips with.

    Carmack was right that total conversion like mods are really out of the question for casual modders today. Given the amount of polish expected and the escalating workload it’s a lot tougher to get something passable out there. But it’s still a very important route into games development, and more and more you see that the professional looking mods are actually being built by teams either looking to get into the games industry, or more likely, start their own studio. A professional product can be a very promising incentive for publishers to look at when you go to the asking for funding for a commercial project.

    I think casual modding will still be around, but either it becomes smaller in scope, or it depends more on 3rd party tools and support from developers making intuitive and comprehensive editing suites like this.

  2. Psychopomp says:

    @Uber Nerd

    I would be my pants so much. So many memories of mine are attached to that little masterpiece.

  3. Vinraith says:

    I’m not surprised, considering WC3, but I’m very pleased to see that Blizzard (unlike certain other developers, *cough*) still understands the value of cultivating a mod community around their game.

  4. Psychopomp says:

    That was, um, supposed to be “pee my pants.”



  5. Shalrath says:

    I’m torn here. I really want this editor, but I don’t want the game, or frankly to put money towards the studio anymore.


  6. Anthony Damiani says:

    Supreme Commander didn’t try to push the genre forward, it was a barbaric throwback to the bad-old-days of Total Annihilation.

  7. Gap Gen says:

    No, I think Total Annihilation fulfilled an interesting niche of games that concentrate mainly on economy, and rather than being small and focused as most other strategy games, is vast and sprawling. I think that it’s an interesting thing to do – sure, people work better focusing on one thing, but the interface in these games is good enough to allow you to pull it off.

  8. R. says:

    @Shalrath – what a peculiar thing to say. Why is one studio less deserving of your money than another?

    Anyway, yeah, I’m not an RTS fan but I saw the panel the other day and when they got to the map editor bit I was pretty much blown away. Sure, the draw distance was poor and it was very basic but the possibilities are pretty exciting.

  9. Jahkaivah says:


    It’s nice to stick to roots sometimes, Half Life 1 was more impressive than Doom, but that doesn’t mean we want to forget the “just shoot them” style games otherwise we wouldn’t have Serious Sam or Left 4 Dead.

    There are alot of sub-genres that have formed, such as seen in Defense of the Ancients, Dawn of War 2, or the Total Wars games.

    But like those and SupCom I can see some perfectly good reasons to prefer the staple resource-fighting micro-managing sub-genre Starcraft was a part of, and Blizzard are devlopers who can provide the quality-assurance fans of that sub-genre want.

  10. Railick says:

    Something else I’ve noticed recently about Supreme Commander and it’s expand-alone that was lacking is that sometimes you have so many units moving at once your computer can’t relay the new commands to your units (i had this happen last night when I was trying to command 5 or 10 units to attack , they just stood there and did nothing until they were all destroyed O.o In my mind it was because I had 240 other units moving around at the same time and it couldn’t command them all or something O.o )

    I like a lot of complaints about Supreme Commander can be fixed if you just play Supreme Commander :Forged Alliances. The build times for some of the giant units is MUCh shorter (and they are weaker I believe) and everything is much faster paced than the origonal game. The 4 sides are very diffrent in their strengths and weakness but you’d have to actually PLAY the game to see the difference since most of the units themselves are almost the same across the diffrent races. (The differeces are more on a grand level than on an individual unit level. For example Cybran players do well to use their stealth technology to their advantage and strike at enemies and also have fantastic tactical missles compared to the other races. Their tactical missles fire faster and when they are destroyed they split into several smaller missles instead of just disappearing ;P)

    I like it is like other people said above, this games fill a niche and players want sequals to the games they like. That is why we’re seeing a Supreme Commander 2 and Starcraft 2 along with the newer RTS games like Dawn of War 2 and so on.

  11. JKjoker says:

    @Big J: yeah, the map fee is “optional”, but then, who is going to post anything they spent more than 5 minutes on without asking for a fee ? plus its pretty likely any “free” maps worth a damn will be buried under a pile of dung and if, by any chance in hell, any of the free maps becomes popular it will turn into nonfree, anyway i doubt the system will be in place as they described it for long as it would clog with the amount of crap that will be uploaded by idiots, so expect changes

    and i doubt Blizzard went out of their way to put this system into place while forcing bnet down our orifices so that they could release “free” maps, so you can expect anything from them for a fee except maybe a few promotions or demos

    and after reading that press release about the maps im starting to worry about the ability to transfer or download maps, they might make that bnet only as well

  12. LionsPhil says:

    @Railick: Yeah, they did a real hack-job on the supposed multithreaded engine; they distribute across threads by task, rather than by batch of units, AFAICT. This can lead to the hilarious incident where the UI is silky-smooth, but the units are all crawling about at half-speed, because the simulation thread is totally overloaded, and the other processor cores are twiddling their thumbs waiting for it. Yaaay.

    Thing is, though, if you don’t have at least a proper Computer Science degree, you’re not going to be able to write nontrivial multithreaded code that works without either intermittently locking itself solid, or just silently trashing your game state all the time (read: hilarious bugs, nigh-impossible to track down and fix, and lots of them).

  13. army of none says:

    Very cool. The customs on Wc3 (And no, not DoTA! All the other RPG’s and zombie maps!) consumed roughly 500 hours of playtime, so I’ll be buying SC2 solely for the customs. Awesome.

  14. Caiman says:

    I must admit, this news item has finally convinced me to get SC2. I’m sure the game itself will be fun for a while, but the mod potential here is much more exciting. Just imagine the epic RTS / FPS / RPG / 2D hybrids…!

  15. SwiftRanger says:

    Looks cool, if it’s really that easy as Blizzard says it is then we might see some beautiful things although it probably won’t come close to the detail and underlying systems of making such a mod with a shooter engine.

    I’ll probably prefer SupCom 2 gameplay wise over the standard SCII game though. Or I’ll play Forged Alliance v3603 (yes, beta has just launched peeps!). Don’t make any misunderstandings about it: SupCom did much more for the genre control and scale-wise than StarCraft ever did and StarCraft II will ever do. I think that’s the tragedy surrounding Chris Taylor’s RTSs (and the likes of Dark Reign/Homeworld): they do everything to improve one of the most key parts of a strategy game (controls) to make room for more complicated stuff which doesn’t rely on who is having the fastest click but in the end people stick with a big name which just swaps some units for new ones and barely brings the UI to a standard level. It’s literally as if people would want a remake of Quake 1 with no mouse-look.

    Praise to the polish, the new campaign mechanics, mod tools, art, and features but SCII itself can’t excite my RTS heart as other, less polished titles do.

  16. JohnC says:

    “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.”

    People are enamored with SC because of how deep the game is competitively. Its been evolving for 10 years, has an enormous global competitive scene and it takes literally years to learn all the strategies and creative tricks. You won’t beat anyone by spamming zerglings, try it if you don’t believe me.

    Whereas I can play SupCom at the top level just by spamming T1 tanks and artillery, SupCom is a great game but competitively? Its degenerate.

  17. Jim Rossignol says:

    It’s fair that people are judging SC2 on the basis that it looks like an old-school RTS. However, I think when it’s played we will realise the difference between Blizzard’s massive over-investment, and their rivals. It’s going to be beyond-slick.

  18. Heliocentric says:

    I judge starcraft 2 based on the masters they serve. The koreans will not accept massive change, if they did they would have other more progressive games as smaller e-sports. Thus they are actually serving the need to stagnate, nothing to do with its visual style.

  19. SwiftRanger says:

    “Whereas I can play SupCom at the top level just by spamming T1 tanks and artillery, SupCom is a great game but competitively? Its degenerate.”

    Dunno which top level you’re talking about but spamming alone hasn’t saved anyone in SupCom’s top ranked matches (nor FA’s, where all the action is now). Its main focus on macro is its biggest strength, focusing on both micro and macro, mostly through UI loopholes and deficiencies as a sign of ‘skill’, would be a fine example of ‘degenerate’.

    So no, you won’t beat anyone of equal skill by spamming T1 tanks and/or artillery in SupCom/FA.

  20. JohnC says:

    Might be off-topic, but I beg to differ. Watching top SupCom players play on QuadV its just T1 spam and T3 air to end it. I follow the pro scenes for both games so…