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Mapmaker's Guide by Renolan

Updated: 06/26/2002

Starcraft Mapmaker's Guide
by Renolan

History of this FAQ:
8/06/01 Initial version.
8/13/01 Reorganized a few of the sections so that they are slightly
        more readable, added a few new bits here and there.
6/26/02 Added a few more sections


  Part I: Frequently asked questions

  Part II: Tips and aesthetics

  Part III: Type-specific

  Part IV: Special utilities

This is a guide to using the starcraft campaign editor to make your own
maps. It covers how to use it in order to make a map, but it also
discusses what it is that makes a 'good' map (yes, I know that's a
loaded and opinionated word, but bear with me =P). I've tried to avoid
the technical stuff because MPeyrard's FAQ already covers that pretty
well (and more thoroughly than I would have the energy to do besides)
except for some specific questions that seem to come up a lot. This
focuses more on how to make the map look interesting, not how to make
the map functional (if that makes any sense).

Finally, if there is anything in this guide that annoys you, it is
probably an opinion, and as such is not worth getting annoyed about,
since very few (if any) people will care if you do... although there
are definitely some exceptions to that rule.

Part I: Frequently asked questions

How do I use different tilesets? When the editor starts it always gives
me the badlands terrain.

To use different terrains, or to resize the map, go to new, and then
select the size and tileset that you want.

Why is it that whenever I tell it to place a certain terrain, it puts
some other terrain around it?

Some types of terrain require certain other types - for example, on the
badlands tileset, the structure terrain type can only be placed over
asphalt. If you try to place it over ordinary dirt, the editor will
create a section of asphalt, and put the structure over it. There's no
way to get around it (except maybe with a special utility). That's just
the way it goes.

Why can't I place structures?

Different types of terrain may or may not be built on. The entire
installation tileset is unbuildable - no structures are allowed unless
you are using a special campaign editor. (more on that in the special
utilities section)

How do I change a unit's starting health, shields, and stuff like that?

To edit the properties of units - % of HP, energy, whether they are
invincible, etc. - right click to turn the unit into a cursor, then 
double click on the unit(s) that you want to edit. You can use shift
and/or dragging and drawing rectangles to select multiple units. You
can also delete units by selecting them and then clicking on the 'x' on
the toolbar, selecting clear from Edit, or simply by pressing delete.
Properties of units can also be edited using triggers - any of the
'modify' type triggers will work.

What is the purpose of the starting location?

Starting location is what part of the map the player first sees when
the game starts. In a non-use map settings game, it is also where the
player's command center/hatchery/nexus starts. Random start location
means that the starting location for each player within a force is
picked randomly from among all the players' starting locations within
that force.

Why don't any of the units I place show up?

This is probably because you are not playing in use map settings mode.
The only units that get carried over into normal melee, free for all,
top vs. bottom, or whatever, are mineral fields, vespene geysers,
critters, and starting locations.

How do I get doors and floor/wall traps to work in installation maps?

Use the 'set doodad state' trigger, and put the location around the
doors/traps you want to affect. An enabled door is one that is closed,
and a disabled door is one that is open. A left door is one that starts
low on the left and slopes upward to the right. A right door is one
that slopes upward to the left. A pit door is one that is over
substructure, and part of the substructure doodad set. An upper level
door is one that is over a normal floor, and part of the wall doodad
set. Enabled guns and flamethrowers attack anything hostile, disabled
ones don't.

I made a map with a computer player in it, but it doesn't do anything.
How do I make it gather/build?

If you're making a map with computer towns, use AI scripts. This is
one of the most common mistakes. In order for the computer to gather
or build, you have to define the location for its base first. It
doesn't have to encompass the whole base, just the hatchery/nexus/
command center and maybe a few paces around it. Then, use the 
'run AI script at location' trigger, select that location, and then the
script that you want. Obviously, you want it to be the same race as the
computer player in question. If you want it to use brood war units, the
script has to have 'expansion' in its name. Expansion here does NOT
mean the script for an expansion into a second resource node - it means
the brood war expansion pack. If you want it to gather but not build
(like in an expansion, gameplay terms) then make sure the script has
the word 'town' in it. Using the 'town' script on a main base will mean
the computer will never build anything, so don't. Wonderfully intuitive,
isn't it?

How does elevation for locations work?

Basically, anything that can block line of sight for a ground unit is
considered an elevation change. That means dirt to high dirt on the
twilight tileset is an elevation change, while sunken ground to crushed
rock is not. The lowest elevation possible on a map is considered low
elevation (surprise), and it goes up through mid to high from there.

When I start a map I made using map settings in a multiplayer game, the
briefing displays but it acts like I hit start and ends right away.

Actions in a trigger inside a briefing or the game itself happen right
after another. You need to put in 'wait' triggers to make it so only
one thing executes at a time.

Why don't the computers attack each other when I put them in separate

Computers are allied by default in all game types except free for all.
You have to use the 'set ally status' trigger to make them enemies.

What's with 'modify resource amount' and 'modify hangar count'?

Resource amount is used for mineral fields and vespene geysers only, it
sets the resources remaining in them. You cannot set it to 0 and
eliminate it, but you can set it to 1 and it will give about the same
effect. You can also you it to make sure certain resource patches never
run out. Hangar count is for carriers and reavers only, it modifies the
number of interceptors/scarabs it has in storage.

What is the 'in transit' property?

Check this box on a terran building's properties to make it start the
scenario flying.

Why do my triggers only execute once?

Triggers are by default one-time only happenings. If you want the map
to continue checking the trigger, you will have to include 'preserve
trigger' in the actions part.

What are switches?

I've seen this question asked *a lot*, and part of the reason for that
is that it's hard to explain to someone who's never used them. I'll try
to go in order of decreasing coherence, so you can just stop whenever
you want to and be no worse off for missing anything.

A switch can have one of two states: On (set) or off (cleared). Think of
it as a light switch. 'Toggling' a switch flips it to the opposite state.
If it was on, toggling turns it off. If it was off, the switch will be
turned on. 'Randomizing' a switch picks one of the two states randomly.
Think of it as a coin flip, with set being one side and cleared the

There are three main reasons why you would use a switch.

1: Randomness
Switches are the only way of using randomness on a map. Just use it in
the way explained above. If you want to have more than 2 possible
outcomes, you'll need more than 1 coin flip. Using two randomized
switches gives 4 possible combinations (Set Set, Set Cleared, Cleared
Set, Cleared Cleared), using 3 gives 8, 4 16, etc. If you're at all
familiar with binary, this is a similar thing.

If the number of possible outcomes is not a nice power of 2, use all
any remainder combinations as 'reroll triggers' - just randomize the 
switches and check again.

2: You want the map to 'remember' something.
Trigger conditions can only depend on what's happening in the present.
You can say, 'Player brings at least 1 unit to location', but not
'Player brought at least 1 unit to location within the last 5 minutes.'
Switches can help keep track of this information for you.

A common application of this is setting the difficulty level. A lot of
maps ask the player to select a difficulty at the start of the game,
typically by moving a unit onto one of several different beacons. The
rest of the game is determined by which beacon was selected.

One way of doing this would be to create a certain number of units in
a blocked off corner of the map, and refer to that as difficulty.

Condition: Player brings at least one men to easy
           Neutral brings exactly 0 men to 'difficulty level'
Action: Create 1 unit for neutral at 'difficulty level'

Condition: Player brings at least one men to normal
           Neutral brings exactly 0 men to 'difficulty level'
Action: Create 2 unit for neutral at 'difficulty level'

And so on. You could then check to see how many units are at 'difficulty
level' every time you did something that depended on it. But there are a
lot of problems with this. You might want to use that corner of the map
for something else, for instance. Switches are a much cleaner way of
doing things, and since there are 256 of them you're not likely to run

Condition: Player brings at least one men to easy
           DiffSet is cleared
Action: Set 'DiffSet'
        Set 'Easy'

Condition: Player brings at least one men to normal
           DiffSet is cleared
Action: Set 'DiffSet'
        Set 'Normal'

3: Reusable triggers
If there's one particular trigger that you're using again and again, but
with different conditions each time, you would have to copy that trigger
once for every condition you had. This is redundant, annoying, and
ultimately unnecessary. Instead of copying that trigger, you can just
set a switch. Then the real actions take place inside a different
trigger, one that simply checks to see whether that switch is set. If
you've programmed before, this might sound familiar. These switches are
being used as simple functions. (Void and parameterless, but still

Let's say you wanted to 'heal' a player's units every time he brought
a unit to a certain spot, but also every time his enemy loses a unit.
In addition, you want to heal the units to a different % of HP depending
on how much ore he has. (I know this is convoluted as hell, but it's
also the only time I can think of where such a thing would actually be
useful, so skip if it's not making sense.) Using normal methods, you
would need to use the same ore conditions twice - once for the 'bring'
condition, once for the 'death' condition. All triggers are preserved.

Condition: -Player brings at least one unit to 'heal'
           -Player accumulated at most X ore
Action:    -Set HP for all men owned by player to 70%
Condition: -Player brings at least one unit to 'heal'
           -Player accumulated at least X+1 ore
Action:    -Set HP for all men owned by player to 100%
Condition: -Enemy suffers at least 1 death of unit
           -Player accumulated at most X ore
Action:    -Set HP for all men owned by player to 70%
           -Modify deaths for enemy: Subtract 1 for unit
Condition: -Enemy suffers at least 1 death of unit
           -Player accumulated at least X+1 ore
Action:    -Set HP for all men owned by player to 100%
           -Modify deaths for enemy: Subtract 1 for unit

The same thing, using switches.

Condition: -Player brings at least one unit to 'heal'
Action:    -Set 'do heal'
Condition: -Enemy suffers at least 1 death of unit
Action:    -Set 'do heal'
           -Modify deaths for enemy: Subtract 1 for unit
Condition: -'Do heal' is set
           -Player accumulates at most X ore
Action:    -Clear 'do heal'
           -Set to 70%
Condition: -'Do heal' is set
           -Player accumulates at least X+1 ore
Action:    -Clear 'do heal'
           -Set to 100%

It doesn't really help here, but if you have a dozen or more situations
where you'd want to call the heal trigger, it really does add up. The
only time I can think of where you'd have to do that is in an RPG, so if
you're not into those, byte me.

Part II: Tips and aesthetics

This part contains general tips on how to make your map function well,
and look interesting.

Terrain and doodads: 
In order to make your hills or temple walls thinner, create one, then
set the brush to its 'parent' terrain - whatever it is that the higher
ground sits on. Then, put that terrain one square away from the hill
or wall. It will remove one half of that wall and replace it with the
lower ground. This is nice if you want to create a maze-like feel, or
if you just want thinner walls to accomodate more buildings. Units will
be unable to move on top of it, but they won't be able to move through
it either. Using this, you can even create 'pillars' where 3/4 of the
hill/wall has been shaved off by surrounding terrain. Of course, you
could just use a doodad pillar instead.

If you want your map to have a lot of detail, don't use the infernal
ash world tileset. High ground and the fog of war blend into one black
mess, and it is hard to distinguish anything when you are on low ground
surrounded by cliffs.

If you want to have something going in a straight line (say a walkway)
do it on a diagonal. This may be somewhat inconvenient for you, but it
is much better for the person who has to look at it and play on it.
Because of the way the editor is set up, terrain running straight up
and down or to the side will take on a squiggly, and, in my opinion,
ugly look. There is a utility that lets you place terrain nice and
geometric, but it does this by sacrificing edges and making everything
look generally uglier and artificial.

If you have too many of those straight lines and are doing something
other than a space or installation map, you should stop it. You want
your map to look like a real world, and nature does not use nice and
straight coastlines or hillsides. Don't make your map predictable -
that's one step away from boring. Make terrain boundaries slightly
irregular, and vary the terrain types. If you're doing space or
installation, it's somewhat more excusable, since this is manmade stuff
we're talking about, but you should still use different types of
terrain even if it's not necessary to make it work.

Doodads work the same way. Scatter them over the map, even if you don't
need them, and don't use a whole bunch of the same type in one area.
Don't make so many that it would block buildings or units, though.

Mission briefings:
It's hard to estimate how long it will take text to scroll. Keep
testing different wait times until you find a speed that you like. You
do not want it to go too slowly, or the players will get bored, but
you do not want it to go too quickly either. If it's any consolation,
few people ever read mission briefings anyway, even if it's their first
time playing that map.

Some people like to put long waits at the end of their briefings,
others like them to just end when they end. There are pros and cons to
either choice. If you put a long wait then a player who isn't ready to
start yet isn't forced to press start until he is ready, but if you
don't put in a wait at the end at all then it's impossible for a player
to screw up the game by never pressing start or by dropping out in the
middle of the briefing.

Put useful information in the mission objectives - don't just say 'made
by ____'. Tell the player what they have to do to get to the next
stage, or to win. If you have space, also put general gameplay
information in there that they can refer to - even if they do read the
mission briefing they probably won't be able to remember all of it.
Keep anything you say short and to the point.

One of the things I've noticed on many maps is that the creator will
spend the first 10 seconds of the briefing doing a little ASCII-based
animation to introduce the map in style. This severely pisses me off,
and I'm sure I'm not the only one. People read briefings for information,
not to watch text-based movies. If you must put these in there, at least
have some consideration and put the goddamn movie in the mission
objectives box *while* the rest of the briefing is giving useful
information. You might think that forcing people to look at something
will make them like it more, but anyone who has had to deal with popup
ads while surfing the web will know that this is NOT the case.


i. Style
Name your switches, and comment your larger blocks of code. Not only
does it make it easier to understand, it also saves space. Comments
are lines of text that appear in place of the trigger body when you're
in the triggers menu.

Organize your code well. Put triggers that have something to do with
the same thing (like, say, handling a player's level ups in an RPG) in
the same place. It makes it easier for you to find things and harder to
forget about crucial triggers that you haven't seen because all your
triggers are in obscure places. You might even create blank triggers
(using the 'never' condition) with comments saying what each set of
triggers does. Example: Condition -Never, Actions -Comment: Triggers
for controlling Mrs. Claus (that's from one of Blizzard's old holiday
maps). This is the only real use for the 'never' condition, actually.

One thing to note if you are into writing really long text messages
is that the editor does have a string limit. This means that there is
a limit to the amount of text you can put in a map. You should not run
into it unless you're making a large or trigger-intensive map, but if
you are, it is sadly the comments that are the first things to be
ditched when you run up against a wall. So don't count on them too much.

ii. Streamlining
Don't use long wait triggers, they may be convenient but they have the
potential to screw up every other trigger on the map by keeping them
waiting. Only use them in mission briefings or in-game cutscenes, where
everything is scripted and always does the same thing. For gameplay
triggers, use alternatives instead:

Original trigger:
 Condition: -Player brings at least one men to 'start'
 Actions:   -Wait 30,000 milliseconds.
            -Do X (yeah, this is major pseudocode)

Method #2:
Countdown timer. The game keeps track for you, but you can only have 1
timer running at a time.
Modified triggers:
 Condition: -Player brings at least one men to 'start'
 Action:    -Modify countdown timer: Set to 30 seconds

 Condition: -Countdown timer is at most 0 seconds.
 Action:    -Do X

Method #3:
Patrol counter. Have an invincible, neutral, and preferable invisible
unit patrol between two points. When it comes back to its starting
position, resolve the trigger.
Modified triggers:
 Condition: -Player brings at least one men to 'start'
 Actions:   -Create one observer at 'patrol start' for neutral
            -Order all observer at 'patrol start' owned by neutral:
             Patrol to 'patrol end'
            -Set 'patrol'

 Condition: -Neutral brings at least one observer to 'patrol start'
            -'patrol' is set
 Actions:   -Clear 'patrol'
            -Do X

Method #4:
Unit counter. This is a bit more complicated than the others, but it's
my personal favorite because it lets you keep a more precise track of
time than the patrol thing without having to use the countdown timer.
The drawback is that it doesn't adjust for the game speed, since
triggers will always take exactly the same amount of time to preserve.
But that's not really a problem since 99% of all games are played at
the fastest setting.

It goes something like this:

Modified triggers:
Condition:  -Player brings at least one men to 'start'
Action:     -Set 'start counter'

Condition: -'start counter' is set
Actions:-Create one burrowed, invincible, neutral zergling at 'counter'
         (via 'create unit with properties')
        -preserve trigger

Condition: -Neutral player brings at least 30 zerglings to 'counter'
Actions:   -clear 'start counter'
           -remove all zergling for neutral at 'counter'
           -Do X
Yes, it is complicated. But it works. The computer checks triggers
about once every second, so it will come out to about 30,000 mils.
This concept is similar to the for loop in programming.

Method #5: Custom score clock
This is probably the best method in the group. The only reason it's not
my favorite is that I find burrowed zerglings funny for some reason.
It's a very similar concept to that of the zerglings, and allows you to
create a universal 'clock' that all other time-based triggers can refer
to. It requires that you have at least one player (usually a neutral)
whose custom score you are not going to refer to in any way except in
these types of triggers. It goes something like this:

Condition: Always
Action: Modify score for neutral: Add 1 custom. Preserve trigger.
Condition: Neutral player custom score is at least 30
Action: Modify score for neutral: Set to 0. Preserve trigger.

That sets up the clock. Now here's an example of how it might be used.

Condition: -Neutral player's custom score is exactly 15
           (Any number between 0 and 30 will do)
Action: -Create 1 unit at 'spawn'. Preserve trigger.

Note that this method does not do anything that burrowed zerglings
cannot. The only reason why I put it in is because on large maps you can
sometimes run up against the unit limit, and it's nice to have something
that will always work even if you've already created the maximum number
of units the poor game can support.

Whenever you create new units at a small location, you should check to
see if whatever you're placing will fit. Usually, locations for
structures are the same size as the structure itself, so even one unit
can make it unplaceable. So, if you wanted to place a bunker somewhere:

Condition: -'Place bunker' is set
Actions:   -Move all men owned by all players at 'bunker' to
           (somewhere else)

Or, you can use:
-Remove all men owned by all players at 'bunker'
This is somewhat more cruel, but it works too.

Then, just place the bunker:
-Create 1 Bunker for current player at 'bunker'

Another thing to note about building placement is that the triggers
are very finicky. The exact center of the location has to be clear -
anything less, and the building won't place. For this reason, placing
more than one building at a time at the same location will *never*
work. It's usually best to create a separate location for each structure.

However, you can't always do that. Say you want to create a building
next to the player's unit. If you center a location on that unit (via
the move location trigger) and create, the unit will naturally be right
in the middle of the spawn location and the trigger will not work. The
easiest way to get around this is to put a wait trigger of a second or
two in between the centering and creating. This gives the player time
to move the unit out of the center of the location before the building
comes in. Problem is, there's still a chance that some unit will still
be there, leaving the player with a 'Warning! Unit unplaceable' message
and nothing else.

The safest way to get a structure next to a moving target it to create
it somewhere else first. Choose some clear, isolated spot on the map
that nobody ever goes, wall it in, and place a location over it to act
as the original spawn point. Then:

Condition: (Whatever triggers the creation of the building)
Action: Create 1 building at 'Original spawn'

Condition: Player brings at least one building to original spawn
Action:-Center location labeled 'final spawn' on target unit owned
        by player at 'anywhere'.
       -Wait 1000-2000 milliseconds
       -Move 1 building at original spawn to final spawn for player
       -Preserve trigger

iii. Special effects

Part 1: Explosions
Yes, everyone loves explosions. They make a map look cool and spice up
those dramatic moments. To simulate an explosion, choose a unit with a
rather explosive death sequence (like the archon or dark archon) and
create them and kill them at the same time. Spider mines also work well.
It looks something like this.
Condition: -Player brings at least one men to 'Explosion activation'
Actions:   -Create 1 Exploder at 'Explosion area' for player
           -Kill all Exploder at 'Explosion area' for player

You can create fog or mist using a similar effect - create a
hallucinated unit via the 'create unit with properties' trigger and
then kill it immediately afterward. Some maps create some pretty
graphic displays of blood by killing marines/medics/zerglings/whatever.
One of them kills a whole string of medics, spelling out the word 'DIE'
in white suits and red blood.

Part 2: Rockets, Death spikes, and other fun stuff
This is an extension of the explosion concept. Say you want a
projectile to shoot towards a certain destination and kill anything
that it touches.

(All triggers are preserved)
Condition: -'Do Fire' is set
Action:-Center location labeled spawn on shooter controlled by Player
        at anywhere 
       -Create 1 Bullet at spawn
       (Bullet should be a flying unit, preferably small and fast-moving.
        Scourge is a good choice.)
       -Center location labeled spawn2 on target controlled by enemy at
       -Create 1 Target at spawn2
       (Target should also be flying, and invisible so it isn't
        completely obvious. Observer is a good choice.)
       -Order all bullet controlled by neutral at spawn - move to spawn2
       -Clear 'Do Fire'

Both 'Bullet' and 'Target' should be neutral and invincible.

Condition: -Neutral player commands at least one bullet
Action:    -Center location labeled 'kill' on bullet owned by (you know)
           -Do explosions at kill
           -Kill all men owned by non-neutral players at 'kill'

Condition: -Neutral player brings both 1 bullet and 1 target to kill
           (ie the bullet has reached its destination)
           -Kill all bullet and target for neutral player at kill

You can use other variants, like setting all the HP of all units in
blast radius to 1% instead of killing them outright.

Part III: Type-specific

There are many different maps on Battle.net and elsewhere, and more are
created every day. They vary a lot, but there are some map types that
pop up again and again. This section deals with tips for *some* of
those specific types of maps.

This is the standard 'build up and kill your enemy' map.

General tips and style:

If you are going for even matchups (i.e. humans vs humans) then you
should try to make the map roughly symmetrical. No player should have
access to more resources than any other player, and no player should be
able to drop tanks on an opponent's ledge when their own base lies on
the high ground. In other words, you want it to be fair. Use Blizzard's
maps as examples. Don't go too heavy on the doodads or rough terrain,
part of the fun of the terran race is being able to plant fortified
outposts wherever you want.

If you are doing a human vs. computers map, you should give the comps
more than the players... unless you want to create a newbie map or
something. Give them sizeable starting forces and nice little choke
points to defend themselves. Putting extra minerals or vespene near
their starting positions also helps.

If you use the lower level AI, (easy or medium) give the computers
plenty of starting buildings and resources, or else they will spend the
entire game in a drunken stupor doing essentially nothing. If, on the
other hand, you use hard or insane AI, you should do the opposite,
since they will build fast and you don't want them to hit the players
until they are ready. Blizzard's Endurance map of the week (back when
they were still doing map of the week and not trigger map of the month)
is a good example of how to handle different AIs to create a challenge
that is tough, but not impossible.

Keep in mind what type of map you want while you create it. If you want
players to have a lot of minerals, you should scatter the map with
expansions or maybe go the big game hunters route. If you want the
whole game to be a desperate scramble for resources, you should limit
the expansions and put those in heavily contested areas like the center
of the map for some fun. Most maps are somewhere between the two.
Similarly, you have to decide how easy it is for players to attack each
other. Do you want winding paths and high ground protecting each base,
or the cutthroat, no-holds-barred feel of hunters? It's up to you to

This is a map type where players get unlimited men and have to destroy
their enemies' bases.

General tips and style:

You should put in some anti-rush mechanisms here, because maps like
these can see the tide turn very quickly. Using a bunker or other
defensive structure as the spawn point is a good idea. Give the
structure a lot of health and armor. (Go to scenario in the menu, then
unit and hero settings)

Keep in mind your unit counters. Don't make one side so horribly
unbalanced against everyone else that they always lose. In other words,
don't put vultures in the midst of dragoons and goliaths.

Don't make the map too big. The whole point of a madness is for things
to happen abnormally quickly. Don't force the players to go on a long
hike to reach the others' bases, unless all the units are fast moving.
Even then, you want to keep the map size down somewhat.

Don't feel like you have to ignore terrain. Keeping the map small
doesn't prevent you from placing high ground to be used by the skillful

Do something that makes it unique. There are so many madnesses out
there that are essentially the same thing: a bunker as a spawn, and
players getting infinite units out of it. Add upgrades. Give them an
SCV, drone, or probe so that they can build. Make it so that they get
cash for kills. Changing the names of your units to the names of
characters in a popular game does NOT automatically make it as good as
that game - none of the final fantasy madness maps I've seen come
anywhere close to living up to their namesake. Actually, in my opinion,
it is impossible to make a madness unique, but you can certainly try.


Find out how many units can fit in a spawn point, then set up a block
so that it stops producing units when it hits that number. Madnesses
are infamous for creating WARNING! Unit unplaceable(Name, x, y)

Conditions: -Player bring at most X units to 'spawn'
            -Player commands at least one 'Bunker'
(Actually, it can be any structure, but I'll just use bunker because
it's the most common.)
Actions:    -Create 1 (player's unit type) at 'spawn'
            -Preserve trigger

Because players will be controlling so many units, it helps to have a
'mass assault' option of some sort. Either place beacons representing
different parts of the map, or create an invincible, non-damaging
flying unit for each player and keep a location centered around it,
like this:

Condition: -Always
Actions:   -Center location labeled 'target' on 'Observer' owned by
            current player at 'main game area'.
           -Preserve trigger
Note that in order for this to work you have to make sure the player
has only one observer in the main area.

Then, give the player a unit that s/he can move to a certain location
to start the assault.

Conditions: -Player brings at least one 'Civilian' to 'Mass assault'
Actions:    -Issue order to all men owned by current player at
             'main game area': attack to 'target'
In this case, 'target' is either a specific location on the map, or
the location that is being kept centered around a unit.

These are maps where each player controls one powerful unit that has to
defeat an array of lesser enemies.

Actually, the definition of an RPG is so fuzzy that there are a number
of ways of doing any particular thing. As a result, this guide will end
up making certain assumptions. I have nothing against trying something
new in map making - I'm all for it. But it's hard to predict the
unpredictable, so you'll have to bear with me here.

General tips and style:

Because these maps generally involve little building, you can go
overboard with the doodads and terrain types. If there is any patch of
ground that looks too plain to you, just throw some doodads on it or
brush on a different terrain type on top of it. An RPG which consists
of one long, winding dirt road that is separated off by one-block
length dirt walls is very boring. (And you would surprised to know how
many RPGs are like that) You should put in alternate paths for the
player even if they don't lead anywhere except more enemies or minor
treasure. You want to give the players some choice in things.

In general, you want to give the players plenty of opportunity to heal.
Put it in the town or main base, or somewhere that is easily
accessible. There are some RPGs that do without this entirely - The
Nearly Impossible RPG is one example, and a quite fun one at that.

Give the RPG a gentle learning curve. Don't force a player to do too
many unfamiliar things at once. The first few battles, dungeons,
stages, whatever, should be winnable without the players having to use
special spells or stuff like that. Don't bombard the players with
text - phase in gameplay or plot information one block at a time.

Update the mission objectives each time the plot advances so the
players can remember what it is exactly that they're doing. It's easy
to lose track of things in the midst of monster bashing and leveling.

Keep the players balanced. If you plan on giving each player a
different unit, make sure those units are of relatively even strength.
Don't just look at numbers, think about versatility, speed, and special
abilities as well. Two units you should perhaps avoid using entirely
are the marine and zergling. These units have a fast attack, normal
damage, and can get incredibly powerful. They are much better off
being computer units. If you do decide to give them to the players,
limit their damage and damage bonuses. A lot.

Disable special abilities like spawn broodling or stasis field. You
don't want the computer casting it on the players, and you don't want
players casting it on enemy bosses. To disable units, upgrades, or
special abilities for a specific player, go to player in the menu, then
settings. Whether you decide to get rid of lockdown, parasite, and
other less harmful abilities is up to you. You should definitely give
the players the ability to get medics and restoration if you leave
lockdown enabled.

If you allow the players to upgrade their units, make them take as
little time as possible. You want the players to spend as much time as
possible actually playing, not sitting around waiting for a green bar
to advance.

One interesting thing to note is that you can make units inside a
stasis field killable by using the 'modify unit invincibility' trigger.
Rather fun. Stasis field becomes like an evil maelstrom. You have to
have the trigger executing all the time to make it work, though.

Experience handling and level ups:

Many RPGs involve giving the player money for kills. Doing so is
relatively simple. It uses the kills score (or the kills and razings
score, if you'd rather use that). Every unit in Starcraft already has
a point value, used in calculating the scores in games. You can also
take advantage of it in your maps.

Condition: -Player kills score is at least 50
Actions:   -Modify score for current player: subtract 50 kills
           -Modify resources for current player: add 5 ore.
           -Preserve trigger

Unfortunately, doing this is rather slow. In large battles, the player
will end up with a much higher score than 50 and this only exchanges 50
every 1.5 seconds or so. You'll have to add in some others for larger
amounts of kills. You will have to use the 'score' type condition and
action, and then select the score type. Note that kills score is
different from kills - kills is just the number of kills the player has
for any type of unit, regardless of their point value.

Condition: -Player kills score is at least 250
Actions:   -Modify score for current player: subract 200 kills
           -Modify resources for current player: add 20 ore
           -Preserve trigger
Condition: -Player kills score is at least 1250
Actions:   -Modify score for current player: subtract 1000 kills
           -Modify resources for current player: add 100 ore
           -Preserve trigger

And so on. If you want, you can even modify the score value of specific
units. For example, the hydralisk ordinarily gives 350 points when
killed. However, by using this trigger,

Condition: -Player kills score is exactly 350
Actions:   -Modify score for current player: subtract 350
           -Modify score for current player: add 500 custom
           -Preserve trigger

the hydralisk now gives 500 when killed. This is one of the many uses
of the custom score. This is risky, though, because the player might
end up getting 350 by killing a combination of lesser units, or could
skip over 350 altogether by killing a mass of hydras at the same time.

In most RPGs, player characters improve as the game goes on, and they
usually use experience levels to represent this. One method for keeping
track of experience levels is vespene gas. It is extremely convenient
to do it this way because then you can set all upgrades so that the
player needs to be of a certain level to use them.

Conditions: -Player kills score (experience) is at least 1000
            -Player kills score is at most 5000
Actions:    -Modify resources for current player: set to 2 gas
             (2nd level)
            -Preserve trigger, so that it keeps the gas at 2 when it is

Then, you can just set your upgrades using scenario -> upgrade
settings. If you want it so that the player can upgrade his/her
weapons at levels 2, 7, and 12, then set the initial gas cost of
the weapon upgrade at 2 and make the factor 5.

In addition to weapons/armor, you usually want to allow the heroes to
gain HP. There are a couple of ways of doing this. The easy way is to
give the player a completely different unit at certain exp intervals. 
For example, you could start him off with a zealot, then go on to a
dragoon or archon. Each form would have successively higher HP, and it
would be easy to handle healing since no matter which form he's in it
will be setting his HP to 100%. Still, this can get a little annoying.
No two units in starcraft are alike, and a player who has just gotten
used to playing with one unit type might be thrown off if you gave him
a different one, especially if the second one suffers from poor AI or
inferior firing rate. At the very least try to keep the unit upgrade
types the same - if the original was protoss ground, the successors
should also be protoss ground.

A second way of handling HP is to give the starting unit a fraction of
its full health. Then, each time the player levels, the unit's HP will
go up by a little, until at the highest level it will be at a full 100%.
This way you don't have to worry about switching units or upgrades -
it'll always be the same. It makes healing complicated, though. You have
to check for the player's level and write in a trigger for each. So:

-Condition: Player commands exactly 1 exp level
            Player brings at least one hero to heal

 Action: -Set HP for all hero owned by player at heal to 15%
         -Preserve trigger

-Condition: Player commands exactly 2 exp level
            Player brings at least one hero to heal

 Action: -Set HP for all hero owned by player at heal to 20%
         -Preserve trigger

This gets tedious rather quickly.

Another drawback is that the player will know right at the start what
his final hit point total will be.

Special Effects:

Some maps allow the players to use spells or special abilities that are
different from the ones in normal starcraft. These effects are entirely
trigger-driven. Usually, there is an area off to the side of the map
where the player has a unit and a set of beacons the player can bring
the unit to. Each one of those beacons represents a spell. Let's take
a common example: A player moves the unit to a beacon, and an infested
terran appears at his hero's location. A message appears on the screen
saying 'fireball cast' or something like that.

If you are going to use spells, you will need something to keep track
of mana or the number of spells the player has left. You can't have the
players constantly using their spells with no penalty. Most maps use
vespene gas to represent mana, and subtract from it every time a spell
is cast.

To keep the mana recharging:
Condition: -Player accumulates less than 200 gas
Actions:   -Modify resources for current player: add 1 gas
           -Preserve trigger

To keep track of where the hero is:
Condition: -Always
           -Center location labeled 'hero' at (whatever unit the hero
            is) owned by current player
           -Preserve trigger

and to do the actual spell-flinging:
   -Player brings at least one selector to 'spell beacon'
   -Player accumulates at least 50 gas
   -Move all selector at 'spell beacon' to 'spell ready area'
(this is so the player doesn't inadvertantly cast the spell more times
than s/he wants to)
   -Modify resources for current player: subtract 50 gas
   -Modify energy for all units owned by enemy at 'hero': set to 0%
   -Modify energy for all (hero) owned by current player at 'hero':
    set to 100%
   -Display for current player: "MP Drain cast"
   -Preserve trigger
   -Comment: 'Cast MP Drain'
This is only an example. You can make whatever spell effects you want.

There are a number of times in an RPG where you might want to create
cutscenes where you just show the players something without them 
doing anything. To prevent players from trying to do anything during
these, either give their units temporarily to a neutral player, or
create barriers that block movement like rows of crystals or
invincible neutral dark templar. The downside is that by doing this,
you are now forced to make those cut scenes interesting, or else the
players will become annoyed and bored.

Part IV: Special Utilities
You might have to do some searching around to find these. I suggest

StarGraft: This tool lets you edit tech trees, unit dependancies,
create new commands, stuff like that.

StarDraft: Lets you modify unit graphics, properties, (like having a
hunter killer with cloaking) etc.

Both StarGraft and StarDraft were created by Camelot Systems. I have
not used either, so do not know much more about them.

Emerald StarEdit: This special version of staredit allows you to place
units of all three races for a single player without having to use the
create trigger. It also introduces a whole bunch of new units and AI
scripts, including target nuke and recall. Some versions also allow you
to ignore building placement restrictions and have up to 255 upgrades.

Map Colors: Allows you to color the text in mission briefings, unit
names, and trigger messages. Simple, yet neat.

Hexedit (Actually, I'm not even sure what the name is):
This lets you make terrain so that it goes in straight lines up and
down, allowing you to create a checkerboard feel, or to make a map
with long, straight corridors that go up and down instead of
diagonal. I've never used it, so I don't know how exactly it works.
Examples of maps that use it are Zone Control and Chess.

As you can probably tell, my experience with special utilities is
extremely limited. You'd be better off asking someone else if you
really want to take advantage of them.

If there is any disparity between this guide and another of the same
name and author, the one at http://www.gamefaqs.com/ takes precedence.
This is due to reasons of laziness only.

This guide was written by Carl Morita August 2001.
You can copy or excerpt it as much as you want, but give credit where
it is due, and do not give credit where it is not due.

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