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MOTM 03.200813 2008f April 2008 02:34 AM
Posted by:Nightmarjoo
textTime for the third MOTM for 2008! We've had a good year so far as far as mapping has gone. We've had an influx of new mappers, and our old mappers have been getting better.


Speaking of old mappers getting better, this month's MOTM winner goes to Ptar, who has been around here for a while now. Ptar has certainly come a long way; specializing in smaller maps (smaller than 128x128), most of his maps are either 96x96, 128x96, or 96x128, he has focused on making relatively standard maps into different small layouts for two players.

Visually stylish, conceptually standard, strategically brilliant, overall a unique but comfortable map: I give you Ptar's (2)Square!
This map is fairly standard, but isn't a clone of any map. You have a standard main, then nat, but your nat is also on the highground, giving it defensive properties and advantages. One disadvantage of 2 player maps is direct main2main path, and an often linear feel. The highground nat offsets the direct path somewhat by giving players an easier time defending their nat.
This won't result in turtling gameplay, because the direct path alone encourages more aggressive play, and the third base being fairly easy to take makes it difficult for a player to survive while staying in his nat.
The area just outside the nat is narrow, making contains difficult to setup, and allowing the multiple paths of the map really take in to effect, creating an ease for flanking and for general unit movement, which might otherwise have been hampered by the map's size.

The small map avoids linearity through making use of every inch of the map, which larger maps are often unable to do, and by creating many useful paths. You are not stuck taking one path, you have the option to take other paths, and these paths aren't just there to give a second path, but also exist with its own gas expo, making it important.
Past the nat is your third base, a min only with a large area. The large area just past the min only, on the highground, allows for plenty of room for fighting. The middle itself is not very open, as it is constrained by the map's size, so this min only area creates for additional battlefield space, and creates physical conditions which force the players to think more strategically about their battle decisions (the altitude differences).
Despite the large area past the min only, the area immediately around the mineral only expo is small enough to make it comfortably defensible, but open enough to allow comfortable unit movement and flanking.

In the map's corner, behind the min only area is a small tight gas expo. Its tightness makes it quite defensible, but the very open area in front of it (the area past the min only) makes it more difficult to defend the base, as does the altitude advantage of attackers, and the two viable paths into that large area make turtling a less viable option.

In the map's lowground middle, next to both mains are gas expos. They are critical strategic locations, as they are closer to the player than the corner gas expo, but are the most open expo in the map. Three paths, two being very large and open, lead to this expo. This expo is fundamental to the map, because all of the other expansions can be taken with a single push in a single direction. That expo layout alone is comfortable for most players, but can easily lead to turtletastic, static gameplay. This expo, being outside of that linear push, then helps create a more balanced pathing orientation for the map. It punishes the defensive player, rewards the aggressive player, and makes the alternate paths even more useful and meaningful to the map.

The mains' formations' position, having its back facing the rest of the map, is a fairly nonstandard concept. In most maps, the main formations are incredibly well-protected, giving stability to the map. In this map, the sl's formation is incredibly vulnerable to virtually all forms of harass. On many maps, that feature could lead to instability, but in this map, the general defensive quality of the other expos offsets this, and sustains stability in the map. Specifically, the difficulty of harassing the nat offsets the ease of harassing the main from behind.


I likely sound incredibly incoherent in analyzing this map. The greatest thing about this map is what makes it so difficult to give any final word on. The map simply has strategical balance. It's open here, tight there, but the open place isn't too open, and the tight place isn't too tight, it's a macro map but not a turtle map, it rewards the aggressive player but helps the defensive player, etc. For every feature, there exists an equal and opposite counterfeature in this map. I think Sir Isaac Newton made this map or something -.-

Play the map, I reccomend it. It's a nice and simple map, and allows all forms of standard gameplay. It isn't one thing or another, it's all things, but in a simple and standard form, preventing the concept from being overwhelming.

Spam the map's thread here, download the map here, and there apparently is no obs version currently. Perhaps ptar or another mapper will make an obs version, and I'll update this post to include it.



In a very close second place, I give you the map that was neck and neck with Square for most of the competitiion: LostTampon's (4)Prophecy!



LostTampon is a great mapper who has been around here for a long time now. His brilliance created the 2006 Experimental Map of the Year, (4)Avatar. This map is no exception of LostTampon's mapping genius.

If you've played any popular map in the last eight or so years, you'll know that in most maps, you have a natural expansion just past the main's choke, where the minerals are against a cliff or edge, and are usually pretty out of the way, and defensible by land, however somewhat open to harass by air, or maybe from an overseeing cliff. Well, in this map, you have a standard main with the nat just past the main's choke, but instead of the minerals being out of the way against the edge of the nat, the nat's minerals face the path that leads out of the main, with the gas placed where you might expect the minerals to be.

The unique placement of the nat's minerals forces the nat choke to be larger than usual, which would normally make it less defensible. This also means that a zerg hatchery's creep cannot defend the nat's choke with sunks, not without waiting for the creep to extend all the way, then increasing the creep with an initial creep colony, then creating the defensive sunken colonies with the new creep, which is slow and is not a viable method of defending yourself given a competent opponent for both zvp and zvt, but especially zvt, and even somewhat in zvz. However, LostTampon gets past this difficulty by placing a neutral sunk just past the nat, which creates enough creep to be useful for defense. However, not only does this allow zerg to defend himself, it also allows zerg to offensively use sunks, should the opponent not destroy the creep colony in time.
Minerals close off the choke somewhat, making the large choke manageable. You can remove the minerals if you need, or offensively remove your opponent's minerals to open their choke for attack. If you leave a mineral on the creep, it prevents the creep under it from going away, even if the creep colony is destroyed. This further allows offensive sunking, as well as allows zerg to make a defensive sunk should his opponent manage to kill his neutral creep colony before z has time to use the creep.


The map doesn't stick with just one unique feature, past the nat is a third expo like normal, except the expo is neither a min only or a gas expo. It's a semi island expo. The minerals go from cliff edge to cliff edge, enclosing an area where the geyser is. You can mine the minerals from both in the island and outside of the island, but you must be inside the expo to mine the gas. The expo works as an island, but you can choose to mine just the minerals if you want. A cliff overlooks this expo, allowing easy harass, to offset the short distance from nat to this expo, and the normal defensive properties islands have, also making static defense less effective, in general making the expo more vulnerable, which is manageable because of its close proximity to the nat.

Outside of the main, nat, and the semi island expo, the only other expo in the map is a clump of minerals in the very center. Because of the shape of this clump, and the lack of any singular choke or direction to defend, I don't know how viable an option it is to mine this under normal circumstances, but given the general lack of money (compared to most currently popular maps), it certainly could make the difference in a game.

The map's middle is open and very comfortable to fight in, with the middle being tighter, making it a strategic choke, as well as pushing more fighting to the sides of the middle.

The map is fairly solid, with some "experimental" features, which do effect gameplay. The map probably made it in second place over first place, because of its more different gameplay. However, it isn't terribly different, and is easy to adapt to.

Spam the map's thread here, download the map here, and get the map's obs version here



In last and least place (least place in MOTM is still good of course), we have protoss4ever's Tepolzolan! I say least, but in all honestly, Tepolsomething was actually not that far behind the other two in votes for most of this competition.
Protoss4ever has been around for a fair time, and has had some good contributions to the site, including getting his map Shine into the iccup mappack, and winning 2007's September MOTM.

Visually incredible, conceptually innovative, and easy for gameplay, I give you Protoss4ever's (4)Tepolzan!



The map has a lot of standard features: a standard general layout and fairly standard expo layout. The min only is a little farther from the nat than in a lot of modern maps, but it's still fairly close, and defensible. The nat has a cliff, the min only has a walled-off pit it can be cliffed from, so the map definitely has some features making harass easy. The 4th base is in the top middle, and bottom middle part of the map, and has 2 2500-gas geysers. It is fairly open, and a very strategic feature thanks to its double geysers.

Many maps have rotational symmetry to increase distances, but this map has simple x and y symmetry. It creates fairly direct pathing, especially between vertically opposite bases, however the openness and non-linear expo layout counters this.

The map's middle is very unique: Most maps have a symmetrical middle, or just a big open area, but this map has a non-symmetrical middle, like that of Un'Goro Crater. This creates a more natural feel to the map, and can make battles feel unique as they have to worry about different obstacles and buildability (fuck that's a sweet made-up word).

So what do we have so far? The map has a standard main, nat, and min only. The nat and min only are both cliffable, but that's nothing special. The 12/6 expos have double gas, and by being in between the players makes it a nice neutral expo to fight over, but still nothing terribly unique. The middle is undoubtedly unique and can make gameplay interesting without greatly effecting it. Visually the map is stunning, but these days great visuals is nothing special, given that flothefreak, testbug, protoss4ever, crackling, ptar, and many other active members can create this level of stylish beauty.

So, from just this, the map is good, unique even, but not special right? Wrong! The map's biggest and most unique feature sits in the middle of each main, and only exists for one minute and fifteen seconds! Right below each starting location are ten stacked and way-too-close-to-the-sl (fastest map style) minerals. Most importantly, they are hallucinated! The ten minerals you can mine very quickly for a fast boost in minerals will VANISH after a minute and fifteen seconds! What does this do? It speeds games up! It radically alters timing! The biggest complaint about fastest-style minerals is that there's "no strategy involved", that you just mass and attack: the structure of the map often makes no difference, which removes a lot of strategy, you just make buildings, units and attack. These minerals fucking dissapear, leaving you with 8 100% normal minerals to mine! Imagine what all you can do with that 75 seconds of fastest minerals! You can rush your opponent, you can expo and set yourself up for a longer macro-oriented game, you can pick from a much larger variety of openings, you have a LOT of freedom of what to do! This feature completely changes the gameplay. But once the minerals are gone, the rest of the game will play just the way you would on any other map, only adapting to the different layout, and given a start you give yourself.

Editor's note: In hindsite I (Nightmarjoo) feel that this map deserved first place for MOTM, but I never looked into the map carefully because Crackling never had me play it, until I was writing up this analysis. The map really is unique. The concept mirrors the breakthrough LostTampon gave us with Avatar, with spells in maps.

Spam the map's thread here, download it here, and grab its obs version here




So here we are with three fantastic maps, with the first two being very close in votes, and the third place map being pretty close behind the other two in votes. Crackling's Insomnia wasn't too much behind in fourth place either. We got a lot of votes this motm, showing decent site activity and participation. The maps here really are getting freaking good. Everyone is getting better, the average map quality, concept, and execution has gone up so much. I feel as though we're really coming close to the site's older userbase, where mappers like Starparty, trcc, Antares, Nastymarine, noname, Travin, LGI, Flothefreak and others were constantly making new and outstanding maps. Mappers who might in the past have been laughed out of the thread, Morrow, LML, Lancet, and others, have really gotten better, and are making decent and even good maps. Forum and map comment activity has dropped a lot imo, but the mapping quality has gone up a lot. This site is really doing well, thanks also not just to the great, active, always improving, and often even helpful members and mappers, but to of course Panschk, who despite being fairly inactive still updates the site, improving it, and working on the new site Mapcraft.net for Starcraft II's release. C'mon guys, we don't even have a lot of flaming anymore, applaud eachother and yourselves, for making this site really kickass.

Congratulations to Ptar, LostTampon, and Protoss4ever! And anyone who made it this far reading without having their eyes bug out of their head, fall asleep, have a seizure, etc.
Comments:

Lancet
Now, these are the type of posts I like to see from you, bloody brilliant Nightmarjoo, congrats!

Also congratulations to Ptar, LostTampon and protoss4ever, great maps!
Nightmarjoo
lol you just like it because I said something nice about you in it.
illisid
i swear, just reading your analysis of these maps makes me a better player and mapper. i keep learning new things to watch out for and try.
Lancet
LOL! I did notice that "rarity", but no I mean it. You remind me of those livestock judges I have seen at the county/state fairs. They can go on and on talking about an animal and describing every little microscopic detail that makes it unique and special and different from other animals while what the rest of us see at the most is that one is brown and the other is black.
Nightmarjoo
lol thanks

I can do it with any map really, and I can do it to any map and make it look like shit too :)
Nightmarjoo
Upon reading my newspost, I feel like I didn't write enough. I'm serious :(
Nightmarjoo
Oh I see, I wrote a lot about square, but there really wasn't much to write about Prophecy, and I was deliberately brief in describing tepolsomething to really how big the stacked minerals concept thing was.
LostTampon
grats to ptar and p4e!

nice maps and nice writeup :)
gj nightmarjoo, i like your desriptions, especially when you are using more paragraphs :P
Nightmarjoo
lol yeah I tried using paragraphs more :)
testbug
"isn't a clone of any map" you should check this one: Map id: 2782
nice write up! i used to Love Lost Tampon when he was inactive :P but now i'm with nighmarjoo xD
testbug
oh congrats ptar and p4ever too!
sorry but nightmarjoo's write up looks/sounds like he is describing my map :P

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