General - Melee Maps like the Professionals

Tutorial By Killfest2

Here are two tutorials I made on the art of making a great melee map. As many people are making very shotty melee maps and playing them on Bnet, this should help all those people increase their map quality and decrease the comments like "this map is shit" etc.

Note: These tutorials were designed for Maps'n'Mods (, so some points may be a little out-of-whack, especially about the Submission, but still handy if people ever submit their maps there, which I hope will be the case.

Killfest2's Ten Tips to Make Your Maps
Look Professional (Or at least not Noobish)

1. Unguarded Tavern
We all want our maps to follow on from the Ladder maps, right? And one prerequisite for a Ladder map is that it must have an unguarded Tavern. This just doesn’t mean it must be unguarded around the immediate area of Tavern, but the path from any Start Position(s) that you intend to have access for that Tavern should also be free of creeps.

2. Balance
Anybody who has played any RTS game should realise that it’s only fair that all players should have access to all things equally. This extends from build space in their base to access to Neutral Buildings to gold in the Start Mines – the list goes on an on. One way to alleviate this problem is to make a map symmetrical, however as long as all players are given equal access to everything, things should be fine and dandy.

3. Appropriate Creep Path
There is no point in having to fight a dragon and a bunch of powerful ogres first, right? Make it so that there are green or weak brown creeps near the base areas so that players can level up before taking on the monstrosities that lie in the middle of the map.

4. Tileset
I’ve seen people use Hydras in Ashenvale, and Infernals in Northrend – make sure you don’t try to mesh two totally different tilesets, or things look out of place like white as a funeral. This also applies for doodads, and also the ‘Modify Tileset’ feature – common sense fixes most problems.

5. Attractive Name & Description
Generally, a name like ‘Hilltop Defence’ or ‘Melee’ will attract less attention then ‘The Star of Kalimdor’, just because of the originality of the name. This also is applicable in your description too – a mysterious or intriguing description will often create interest in a map because it’s the first impression given to a player of a certain map.

6. Item Drops
This same point in my previous tutorial discussed the advanced ideas of item drops; however, to be able to implement them, you have to add them in the first place – I’ve seen numerous maps that have just left them out entirely, either by mistake or they just didn’t realise you did that.

7. Keep it Pure
If there is one thing that screams ‘Noob’ t you, it’s when people make the map non-melee, either by placing player units other than the Start Positions, adding triggers, or editing units – just don’t do it, or you’ll end up with a rating below 2.00 most of the time, unless you re-submit it as Altered Melee.

8. Resources
As basic as it sounds, it’s amazing how many maps either don’t put enough gold or wood to last the whole duration of the game, or don’t even have it at all. I remember 2 maps in the previous 3 updates – one didn’t have gold, and the other had no wood – that’s an auto 1/5 from most voters.

9. Variation
A map with no variation is a map doomed for failure – unless you are trying to make a new style of play (which is hard to do, especially as a new map maker), having nothing going for your map is a bad idea – provide some neutral buildings to fight over, some alternate paths to reach places, maybe even a variation in travel (eg. Waygates, Goblin Laboratories [Zepplins], Goblin Shipyards etc.).

10. Submission
A map isn’t going to get downloaded if you don’t describe the map in your submission – here is a list of things to do and not to do in your submission:-

o Include a minimap
o Provide a description of the basic ideas incorporated in your map
o Highlight appropriate team formats for your map
o Say anything that is unique about your map which may encourage downloads
o Proof-read your submission for grammar mistakes

o Say it’s your first map in the hope you will receive sympathy in voting/comments
o Be ‘up yourself’ in your map - eg. Don’t say ‘Best map ever’ or something like that
o Not provide a description at all
o Highlight the bad things in your map
o Say ‘all comments/recommendations please send to…’ – no-one will bother

Killfest2’s Ten Essential (But Often Overlooked)
Tips For Perfecting Melee Maps

1. Gameplay First
This is a big one, which seems to be overlooked by many – melee maps are designed to play, not to look at – yes, a map that is aesthetically pleasing is always good, however you should never compromise gameplay simply for aesthetics.

2. Balanced Start Positions
I wish I had a dollar for each time I’ve seen unequal start positions in a melee map, yet it’s so easy to avoid – make sure that there is close to equal space for build, that the same gold is in each mine, each base is as easy to defend as another, and that’s about it, however it’s amazing that these things aren’t equal in many maps.

3. Creeps at Start Positions
Add creeps to all start positions, so nobody gets a free expansion, as this ruins balance – just place the creeps close to the start positions, and the Default Melee Initialisation trigger will automatically remove them for you if that space is being occupied.

4. Tree Walls
Try to avoid using trees as walls, especially near bases, as people will eventually cut their cover away, and this is very annoying when enemies can attack you from 360 degrees – use cliffs or water, as they have the same effect, except that they are permanent, unlike tree walls, to prevent certain access points to areas.

5. Creep Acquisition Range
Don’t forget to turn your creeps on to ‘camp’ mode – this avoids creeps running in and killing your peasants/peons etc. when you are just starting, and this avoids early drop-outs, and low ratings when people come back and complain about the map being a failure.

6. Item Drops
This is essential for good balance – there is no good in giving a green creep camp a drop of a level 5 item, when a brown or even red drops a lower level – here as some hints:
- Use item tables and the colour-code for the camps to determine item strength & value (if you have TFT)
- Make green camps drop only 1 item, but make brown and red camps drop 2 or 3
- Use appropriate items eg. Make a Golem drop a Stone Token etc.
- Always have at least one set of creeps designated to drop tomes
- Try to avoid having one creature drop 2 or 3 items – maybe have 2 or 3 of the creatures drop 1 item each, so people fight to the end, instead of killing one creep and running away with the items
- Have a good balance of Power-Ups, Charged and Permanent items, so you don’t end up with super-strong heroes, or so many Spawned creatures on the map at once.
- But above all, remember balance is they key, and always use common sense when assigning item drops – that rules out most major problems

7. Environmental Doodads
Yes, your terrain may be Blizzard-quality, but it is not capped off until you add some well-placed, relevant doodads. Maybe some treasure around a Goblin Merchant, or some cages near dangerous creeps; however, misplaced doodads can wreck a map – some examples of this are Torches used in snowy tilesets, cages in the middle of no-where - again, common sense (and a bit of thinking) is what’s required for success with these.

8. Natural-Looking is Best
Wherever possible, make your terrain look as natural as possible (make sure you remember Point 1, though) – for instance, adding grassy dirt around your worn dirt-path is always a good thing, and a bit of rough dirt here and there enhance on this again – this is only one example of the terrain feature in the World Editor, there are many more designs which look great, however make sure you don’t go over the top; good terrain combined with good doodads (read Point 7) create a very aesthetically-pleasing map, and this is a bonus for everyone.

9. Pathing
This a major problem for many new map-makers – always check the pathing before submitting any map – make sure all areas are accessible the way you would like them; make sure all of your pathing blockers have no holes in them; make sure paths are wide enough to hold all the units you’ll need in that area. There are two ways to check out the pathing in your map: a) test it fully with all units (easily the preferred option) or b) use the pathing feature in the World Editor (activated/deactivated by pressing ‘P’) - this only shows degrees of pathing, and is only recommended if you don’t have the time to test it fully.

10. The Fun Factor
Hey, isn’t that what the game is all about – having fun? Make sure you enjoy making and testing your map, and make sure the design is too difficult so people don’t spend ten minutes learning the layout – use basic ‘pointers’ such as:
- Colour-code the pairs of waygates, to enable easy identification of its destination
- Use paths as subtle hints on basic directions to major features (shops, expansions, other bases etc.)
- Try to keep things flowing – avoid making things dart back and forth; instead have them flowing in circles, so it is easy to navigate & negotiate
But still see that your map looks natural, and has a creative feel to it.

[highlight]Any suggestions to make this tutorial is much appreciated.[/highlight]

- Killfest2

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