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-Spooky-’s StarEdit: Terrain Part I

The following is a column written by one of our map makers on the forums, -Spooky-. He has been around since 2007 (formerly as XxBloodRedxX) and has been helping members and posting maps. He currently holds 3 wins in Map Making Contests on CreepColony Forums. The content below is unedited aside from some small formatting issues.


Hello! And welcome to the first weekly CreepColony map making article. Your author this week is none other than the 4 time map making contest winner and over all egotistical jerk Spooky! (AKA me)  This week’s article will be about the most basic part of map making, Terrain! In this article I will be going over some basic terrain information, such as the palette, terrain qualities and custom terrain. I will also be giving some tips on how to properly create terrain for all of the most popular map types as well as some good and bad examples each. (If allowed I will also include download links for each example with no intention of embarrassing or advertising specific authors. If a map you created or are familiar with is included in the examples and you would like it taken out please let me know and I will do so gladly)

If you are interested in a specific topic discussed in this article feel free to use this basic outline along with the search hotkey (ctrl + F) to quickly find the topic. You can also click the links here to jump down.

Basic Terrain Information

a. Terrain Palette

b. Terrain Qualities

c. Square Terrain

-How to place

- Null Terrain

-When to use

d. Custom Doodads

-Brushes

Basic Terrain Information

a.    Terrain Palette


Circled in red is the map editor’s terrain palette. Hopefully you already know what this is and how to place terrain, if you don’t, well, just use this. Basically, this box holds in it all the terrain for whatever tileset you chose for your map. Included here is the “badlands” tileset.
NOTE: I NEVER use this palette; personally, it is far easier for me to use the sidebar to the right, as each terrain is labeled, which is very helpful when you begin to think about the different qualities of each type of terrain.

(The Staredit sidebar, with the terrain section highlighted in red)

b.    Terrain qualities

-All Terrain for every tilset have specific qualities that every map maker needs to be aware of in order to effectively create any kind of map.
-The most obvious qualities to be discussed are visual (yes this is very important)  hieght (low, medium or high), whether or not the terrain is “walkable” and whether or not a builing can be built on it. The higher the terrain is, the farther units will be able to see and the better advantage they will have in battle against units lower than them.
-The most basic unit of terrain is the tile. Each tile is a rectangular 32×32 pixel image that has the properties mentioned above.

c.    Square terrain

Square terrain(AKA Tiles)  is a style of terrain placement used in many types of maps, usually UMS, in which single blocks of terrain are placed to create different effects, based on the style of map created.
(Each square in this Picture is one 32×32 pixel “tile”)

How to place

While the most care free method to placing Square terrain is to use Map making programs such as Starforge, ISOM and SCM draft 2,  it is possible to place square terrain in the basic Staredit map maker. The method to doing such is described below.
-Select the tileset of the map you DO NOT wish to use, as well as the dimensions of the map. (You can get to this section by using the “New Map” selection under “file” at the top of the editor.)

-Next, Left-Click and HOLD your click on the previously chosen tileset, highlighting it. While holding your click, drag your cursor over the tileset you DO want and, while still holding your left-click, press enter.

(If done correctly, something similar to this effect should occur.  Notice that the editor is under the “Ash World” terrain, but the “Badlands” terrain is selectable.)
-When placing terrain in this map, of done correctly, the terrain should be placed as small squares.
NOTE: It is possible that this “glitch” has been eliminated in recent updates to the Staredit program.

Null Terrain

Null terrain, as pictured above, is any solid black tile in the master terrain palette and is usually a direct result of square terrain. The null terrain tiles to the right of the creep tiles are walkable in most tilesets.  Walkable null terrain can be used for various things; it’s really up to your imagination.

When to Use

Square terrain is used most commonly in UMS maps such as Defenses and RPG’s. Usually this style of terrain placement is used to accurately create evenly distributed building areas, smooth defense lanes, more open “indoor” areas in RPG’s and more tightly constructed “menus” for defenses and RPG’s.
-Square terrain is also commonly used to create what is known as “extended terrain” or “blends”. The most common types of extended terrain are backwards ramps, double cliffs and custom doodads.

(Basic “double cliff” blend)

(An example of a “backwards ramp” in the jungle tileset.)

(An example of square terrain being used in the map “Stacked Cannon Defense 10 way” In order to create balanced and smooth lanes in which the player can defend. Notice the layout of the lanes in the mini map highlighted in red.)
-Square terrain can also be used to create custom terrain such as the “castle” effect created in the “Heavens last defense” maps.

-This terrain is created by fusing the different sections of various doodads and terrain.  This is known as “blending”.

d.    Custom doodads

One step up from square terrain is constructing custom doodads using the same methods as above. Doodads themselves are actually 2 different types of “terrain” in one (the actual “terrain” aspect, which keeps units from passing over it, such as boulders and trees, and the “sprite” aspect, i.e. the leaves of the trees and tips of the large boulders.)  Using this information to your advantage can help you create some very cool visual effects for your maps.

This article was written by –Spooky- strictly for use on the Creepcolony Website. Please do not post this article on any other website without my direct permission. If you are wondering why this disclaimer is arbitrarily slapped into this random spot, note that if anyone steals this, 9 times out of 10 they won’t remove this. =)

By using editors such as Starforge, one can open the terrain palette by clicking on the “layer” tab at the top of the screen, then choosing the palette tab in the left toolbar. Once open you can scroll down the palette menu and select the doodad you would like to place.  (All of these selections are highlighted in red)

-Using the master Palette one can use pieces of different doodads to create totally new terrain and doodads.

-This style of placing terrain can be used to create some very cool visual effects, though it does take quite some time to master.





Brushes

The tool that will be more helpful than any tool available to you for making “blends” is the “brush” tool.  Using this tool allows you to not only copy and save your own custom brushes, so that you don’t have to remake them every time you need to use then again, but also other peoples custom brushes, which you can download at almost any Starcraft mapping site.

Creating a brush is very simple. First you must build the brush out of the terrain you want from the terrain palette. Then, click and drag your mouse over the terrain you want included in the brush, and then right click. It should look something like this.


(The “create brush” tool in Starforge)

-From here, choose “create brush”.

-Clicking the “create brush” tab will bring up this menu. From here, name your brush in the space provided then click the save tab.

-After saving, click on your brush in the space to the left and click ok.  You should now be able to place your brush anywhere you want.  If you wish to change brushes simply choose the “custom” tab in the left sidebar or use the same method mentioned above to bring up the brush menu.

I personally use brushes pretty much every time I make a map. And, based on what kind of map you are making, I suggest you do the same. Brushes make the map construction process much faster, even in melee map making, as you can use “backwards ramp” brushes and custom cliff brushes make their placement process much faster and smoother than normal.

NOTE: Square terrain can have some negative effects on maps. Be sure to note what kinds of terrain you are placing, making sure not to give specific areas high ground advantage where there should not be, as well as being careful not to overload the map. Placing numerous pieces of “high” terrain around numerous pieces of “Low” terrain is a good way to overload the map and create the infamous “Too many nooks and crannies” error that crashes Starcraft.

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