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(Campaign) Any tips for a new campaign maker?

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 4:10 pm
by Comfr
Hello there. I would like to have any tips(Or things among those lines) on making a campaign. After all, I've been wanting to make my own campaign, And I'd like to see that it is at least competently made, so any tips for me would be appreciated.

Re: (Campaign) Any tips for a new campaign maker?

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 9:42 pm
by Revolta
There are different elements of a campaign (or any game really) that you'll want to pay attention to if you want your project to be 'competently made' like you say. There hasn't actually been a competently-made campaign ever produced, so there's nothing for you to go off of, which means we'll have to get creative with our examples and most of it will be 'what not to do' as opposed to 'what to do'.

My best advice for you is to plot out your story before you seriously devote time to working on the maps. If you're trying to mull some concepts over or just looking to do some sporadic terraining that will help you visualise important locales or what have you, go ahead and open up scmdraft, but otherwise I would refrain from devoting hours of time terraining and detailing your setting if you don't even really know what your story is or where it's headed. So here are a couple of tips for you when you're sitting down to write your story.

1. Write what you want to write
Pretty self explanatory but this gets people more often that you think because of how frequently ideas change. You might really like the direction a story is headed but run into writer's block or come to the unfortunate realisation that the only way to make your story make any logical sense involves changing some part of it that you don't want to change (or you don't like the alternative, etc). This is why planning your story is so important. If you don't get the details down now, you'll be forced to get them when you've already devoted hours and hours to the project, doing scriptwriting, gameplay design, voice acting/music creation if applicable, etc. only to find out that maybe you don't even like the story anymore, in which case you're basically forced to either suck it up and release it anyways or abandon it altogether. Neither of those feel good and neither of those lead to well-rounded projects so we want to avoid that if possible.

2. Ignore the lore
That's blizzard lore, not your own lore. Blizzard actually released REALLY shitty singleplayer experiences in all of their games, notably sc2, but even in brood war their missions were boring, involved systematically eliminating the map of enemy dots more often than not, and when they differed from that general outline they were just gimmicks. Worse than all of that, however, was the fact that their story blew dick, even down to the fundamentals. Protoss are these unimaginably intelligent beings... but they're hung up on space catholicism and xenophobia? Yeah right, take a hike. Xel'naga are just old god cliches with no depth to them, zerg are space insect tyranid clones from warhammer 40k (and Alien, and Starship Troopers), terrans are from Wh40k and ST as well. There's really no originality but even looking past that the stale bullshit they put into the game is actually bad to begin with. People who fell in love with the story as kids (or maybe discovered it as kids and are still kids now) don't really see through that just yet but it's cognitive dissonance to think that sc2 is garbage but scbw is some fucking godlike flawless immaculate story. There are a lot of problems and a lot of plot holes and it's better to just eschew it entirely and put your campaign in a galaxy far far away from the koprulu sector. Or you could try salvaging the original story (or part of it not shown on screen, e.g. genesis of protoss or zerg, guild wars, etc) and just fanconning and rewriting a lot of the existing material. Your commitment should be to quality, and if it is, ignore blizzard completely and write your own damn story.

3. Focus on yourself
This extends to pretty much everything about your project but it also builds on the first point, about telling the story you want to tell. This is your campaign, you should make it for you. You should be your own biggest 'fan' or whatever, you should like your own content. If you're spending literal weeks or months or even years working on fan campaigns and other custom content for games and you yourself don't enjoy playing it, you're doing something wrong. Ultimately most people seem to think that you should be making content for the community or for some shot at fame or praise but don't kid yourself, there is basically no scbw community anymore, and just because I personally might play your campaign or some other nameless person who you have no connection to might play your campaign doesn't mean you should be developing your campaign for other people. Put your own wishes first and look to produce something you really want to experience yourself, and you personally enjoy. Otherwise there's no reason doing it in the first place, at least in my opinion.

I have a lot to say about gameplay design and scriptwriting and every other element of campaign/game making but I don't really have any more time to write right now, so you can ask more specific questions if you want more specific answers or you can just wait until i can do a longer writeup on another topic. Hope this was helpful, and remember that this shit is just my opinion too so do whatever you think is right.

Re: (Campaign) Any tips for a new campaign maker?

Posted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 5:35 pm
by Ricky_Honejasi
By the way, it's more for a SC2 Campaign he's asking than SC1.

Re: (Campaign) Any tips for a new campaign maker?

Posted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 6:52 pm
by Revolta
All of this applies to sc2 too, but he didnt specify that at all in his opening post so i wasnt sure.

Also why have all my posts required moderator approval

Re: (Campaign) Any tips for a new campaign maker?

Posted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 2:17 am
by Fey
Hey there, Comfr.

To create a new campaign is to bring ambition to fruition. A good campaign is engaging in a variety of ways, but I will tell you of my design philosophy for gameplay. I see Revolta has already covered stories. Bear in mind that this is my own approach; you may find that there are other ideas you associate with more closely than the ones I will present.

To make an engaging map, you have to balance familiarity with original concepts. Resources with taxes. Consider the ways anything you add will impact the gameplay. If you give the player two barracks at the start, will they be inclined to play more defensively and build more bunkers? If this mineral field is only lightly guarded, should there be some trigger-spawned enemy forces to counter its benefit? If there is an optional objective during the map, what will it ultimately accomplish? Does the benefit warrant the effort?

A good map or mod takes these factors into account. To engage the player, their survival must be uncertain. Make it too easy, and it'll more likely be boring. Make it too difficult, and frustration will drive players away. Think of it like this, if you will:

Minerals and Vespene are your resources in Starcraft. They are required to build up your forces, construct your base, and therefore survive in Starcraft.

Enemy forces - and their tech, how their AI affects your objective, like being aggressive or defensive, etc - will generally have the most impact in taxing those resources.

Difficulty settings (those exist in SC2, right?) and tech counter that tax.

Resources, tax, and temper. An ideal setup with these things in mind would be giving the player enough tech to survive what the enemy throws at them, and enough resources somehow to fund the production of that tech. Give the player something to work towards, something to think about, very often.

I'll give you a few examples from my own redone SC1 campaigns (so far) to give you an idea. They may be imperfectly implemented at this juncture, but the idea is there!

TM07: show
In Biting the Bullet, there are three phases to the map. The first involves saving four Terran bases full of civilians from the Zerg, and then attacking a hive. The second phase is the shortest, you simply hold the line against the Zerg until the Protoss unexpectedly arrive. The third involves taking out the rest of the Zerg.

Not only are resources somewhat scattered around the map, but rescuing Terran bases gives you minerals and vespene to spend on repairs, upgrades, or if you want to activate the Zerg AI early, the construction of your own base. You capture buildings like academies or engineering bays in a few rescuable bases, enabling you to make those upgrades. This keeps a player engaged and gives them something to look forwards to - and even in the latter stages of the map, the fact that resources are spread around in general enables the Zerg to strike where your forces are spread thin.

ZM02: show
In Egression, the Protoss are split into two - one with an "insane" AI, and another with an "easy" AI. The easy AI trickles units at the player while the insane AI builds up and causes trouble. This creates the need for a constant defense while challenging the player here or there with larger waves. You do have an ally, though, and resources are pretty much okay from the get-go. So, the variation in Protoss attack patterns makes this map more interesting.

PM03: show
There are barely enough resources on this map to wage a fight against one Zerg base. However, there are multiple potential expansion locations that are guarded by Zerg. This forces the Protoss player to secure intersections across the map and invade enemy territory if they want to keep up the fight, using resources to build units to get more resources.

Hopefully this perspective has been helpful to you. Good luck!