Two threads in the gosugamers.net Starcraft forum have sparked an active debate concerning the balance of the map called "R-Point". The debates have, for the most part, have become impotent and sunk to the level of "nit-picking".
That is largely because two things have not been clarified. Since this site has been producing such excellent, interesting, and enjoyable maps, I thought it would be appropriate to pose the two questions to you, O mighty mapmakers (^_^).
1. What is a good definition of map balance?
2. Where can one obtain accurate and objective statistical data to confirm the quality of a balance of a map?
Any serious input would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
the most popular basics would be something like "every race should be as strong as the others. disadvantages and advantages should neutralize each other ingame in EVERY matchup. assuming to have (in theory) two players with the exact same skill in each possible matchup, then those players should have the result of 500:501 in a best-of-1001. And one of the games is a draw where one player just leaves because he doesn't want to wait for the other to leave.
As this is a very theoretical approach, and perfect balance is as possible as a perfect human being, a balanced map should try to erase all general inequalities as good as possible- often just by using different aspects to equal other "flaws". so if you look at every MU, and give the race "1" a "+" for the things that favor it in this specific MU, and a "-" that disfavor it, then the result should be zero. If this works for all races in all matchups, the map is balanced.
However, the last part of the definition is a very practical part which serves in the practice of mapmaking, while the beginning (including the theory about those 2 players) is the actual theory behind "balance" and should thus be clear and logical.
1) First off, you have to split it in 2 categories: positional and race balancing. On most pretty symmetrical maps positional balancing is very good, like on R-point too, so the main focus is on race balancing.
A good balanced map has to be balanced in every matchup. That`s why I don't like comments like "terran map" or "zerg has no chance" that don`t take into account that the matchups all play very differently.
There is no formula to map balancing, plus the level of play can be a big factor. When I play some friend on my level, R-point is surely not imbalanced pro -terran, because terran needs some intense macro to use those expansions to it`s fullest, something I can't do that well, and even if I could, I would probably not chose the perfect time for my attack.
2) PGT, if they fix their stats and have win/loss ratio for each _matchup_. Until then, we have ne reliable source.
You cant get any statistics 100% perfect. YOu can get "pro-gamer" statistics, and you can get "average-gamer" statistics and so on, but many maps play very differently on different skill levels.
However, personally, i do understand the ones saying R-point is a bit imballanced (favoring t if i remember correctly) that because it has easy securable expos and quite tight paths (though many).
A good definition of map balance.. hmm well, if there is a map with 'perfect' balance, i havnt seen it yet. There are several features which can be seen as advantages for certain races and MU's, like a cliff promotes terran and a wide center generally promotes zerg. To achieve a good balance a map should contain features like these to promote all races in some way. That is the best way of acheving balance which i know.
Terran needs tight map vs Z
Zerg needs open map vs t
however protoss need a tight map vs z
and an open map vs t
and this collides with the initial two race setups. You cant really make a modestly open map which is both tight enough and open enough at the same time. Therefore features as the ones described in my first post should be used to even it out.
And in the end, map balance is very, very good on most maps unless it's near-progamer level. Skill is really the most deciding factor to get the winner of a game. Remember adapting strategy to a map is also a skill, not only clicking fast. So if someone beats you on a map you didn't practise much, it has not to be imbalance...