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  How To Edit Terrain In StarCraft 2 Editor - Articles
  Posted by: dreadlord12 on 08-22-2010 @ 17:18 - Source: Ross Lincoln (FF.com)
This News Item has been viewed 5,451 times

It seems like there’s always something new with StarCraft 2 that seems designed to make the Blizzard fan community ginormously frustrated, and today we’ve got a big one for you: Once you’ve created your very own StarCraft 2 mod, welcome to survival of the fittest. Your map is only playable online. That’s right, no practicing in Single Player, you’re going to have to submit your map to the judgment of your peers if you want to do anything more than test it.

Well, if you want to have any hope of escaping the mockery of your merciless fellow players, you’ll need to create a map with varied terrain, plenty of obstacles, and some cool scenery for your SCII soldiers to MDK each other in. In part one of our series on modding Starcraft 2, we showed you the basics for making your own map. Today, we’re going to dig down deep, deep, deep into one of the trickier aspects of making your custom map really stand out, and show you how to really edit your Terrain.

Side note: By now, we’re assuming your computer is up to speed and you have everything you need. That said, if you must know minimum specs and equipment, click here.

Difficulty: Moderate

Table Of Contents

Step One: Know Your Modules

Step two: Terrain Editing Part One: Water

Step Three: Terrain Editing Part Two: Height

Step Four: Doo-Dads

Step Five: Textures

Step Six: Final Touches

Additional Resources

Know Your Modules

First, you should already have created a new map. If you don’t have one saved, just quick-start: go to your file menu, select “New”, and in the window that pops up, choose “Map”, “Melee”, and Agria (jungle). If you like, shrink the map (we went with 160X160), and leave everything else default. Click OK.

For this how-to, we’re going to concern ourselves with 3 of your Editor’s Modules (the options you choose from along the top of your window, or by selecting from the relevant Function keys):


This is where you’ll be spending most of your time today. Here, you’ll be able to edit practically any aspect of the physical environment you’ll be setting your scenario in.


Doo-Dads are as integral to creating your map as the Terrain editor. They’re the special Terrain options, such as rocks, bridges, specific building or vehicle types, even lava geysers(!!!) or organic stuff like bushes and trees, that you’ll use to add personality and depth to the terrain once you’ve god-ified it. If the Terrain editor is your factory, Doo-Dads are where you get your aftermarket add-ons.


We’ve dealt with units in greater detail in our most recent How-To. We won’t be creating a Custom Unit this time, but we will be adding a few additional landscape options that are only available from the Units menu.

Terrain Editing Part One: Water

This being our first real attempt at a detailed map, we decided to commemorate the upcoming College Football season (and our own college days) with a map that seeks, in an ever-so-clumsy way, to recreate one college ball’s bitterest rivalries. NOTE: Recreation will NOT be to scale. However, it will be awesome.

First up, since it’s one of the trickier – at least, it’s damned un-intuiative – options in your Terrain editing toolbox, we’re going to start with adding Water. Your first impulse is going to be to simply click the water tool and start adding water to the map. DON’T. If you do, you’ll notice nothing shows up! That’s because liquid water works in StarCraft kind of like it does on Earth, which is to say it doesn’t float. You’re going to have to dig some place for your water to flow in order for it to show on the map.

So, first stop – the “Height” tool!

After you’ve selected Height, you’ll see a list of available brushes that allow you to do considerably fantastic things to your map. We’ll review them as needed; right now, hover over them until you see “Lower”, and click that brush.

(NOTE: All brushes work by hovering your cursor over the spot you intend to change, and left clicking. Holding down the mouse button automates the function.)

Now you’ll be able to dig your river. We decided to give our two factions their own (approximate) halves of the map, so we carved out a windy, diagonal river to separate them, grilled-cheese style.

As progress was made, we decided it was time to start adding water, just to make sure it worked, and we know you’ll want to as well. So head back over to your left-hand side, and select the Water box, like so:

Then choose the “Add Water” brush. Now fill that shizz holmes.

A little back-and-forth between the “Add Water” and the “Lower” tools and ta-da! You’ve got yourself a river. Now it’s time to add some literal depth to your map with the “Height” tool.

Terrain Editing Part Two: Height

Click back on the “Height” tool, and this time, select the “Raise” brush.

We’ll start by adding some character to the upper right section of the map, like so:

Uh-oh! Plate Tectonics!

Now that’s some geological looking terrain right there. But we need to create a space for one of our factions to base. That’s where the “Uniform” brush comes in. Head back over to your options on the left and, still in the Height tools, select the “Uniform” brush like so:

The “Uniform” brush is really handy for smoothing out your map’s geology. It’s like God’s do-over button. Hover the mouse over any square on the map, then click – and hold down – the left button. Whatever the height of the square you’re in, that becomes a new default that you get to smear around the map until you can’t smear no more. Smear. SMEAR! Like so:


And then this:

Finally, we have our first base-worthy zone:

Meryl Haggard unavailable for comment.

Now, next up, let’s create base-worthy zone number 2. Ditch the “Uniform Brush” and go back to the “Lower” brush. Now, watch as we carve out a place so terrible even Satan himself wouldn’t choose to live there:

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty: Oklahoma Versus Texas. You’re Welcome.

But we’re not finished yet. Before we can even think about adding units, and managing our Triggers, we’ll need to add some Doo-Dads to really flesh this thing out.


This is where things get really interesting. Doo-Dads offer the player a huge number of options; you can make practically every single tile on your map entirely unique. Don’t worry, we’re not going to force you to do that – though you should really spend a long time doing so after reading this tutorial – but we are going to have some fun making the map pop, and the zone between our two bases fraught with peril.

Select Doo-Dads from the menu atop your window. Now look over the the menu on your left. To keep you from going blind with choices, we’re going to suggest that you stick with Doo-Dads associated with whatever basic world your map is based on – like so:

Now, we’ll star by adding some debris to stymie the efforts of the units we might put into the map.

We’ll put some of these all over the map, and then? Why not add some shrubbery:

But mundae, I-can-see-it-from-my-house Doo-Dads are good and all that, but this is SPAAACE. Let’s add something appropriately ominous and space-like:

The words you’re looking for: Hell yes.

But Char Spires need something to credibly char them. Something like:

That’s do pig. That’ll do. But before we go, let’s give our bases a little color. Nothing says “Grizzled Veterans” like brunt out beaters in the front yard, so let’s add some wrecked autos:

Now that we’ve grizzled up the map, let’s play around with “Textures”, and get rid of the monochromatic decor.


Now back to your left, select the “Textures” button. Below that the “Textures” brushes will open. They do a lot – and we definitely recommend getting the hang of the “blend” brush once you’re comfortable, but for now we’ll concentrate on “Add Texture”. Then choose the Texture you want to add. We went with Agria Foliage.

It’ll take a while, but when you’re done, you’ll notice that changing the texture will have absolutely no effect on your Doo-Dads. They’ll still be there, burninating the countryside.

One last texture. To give our other base a little indigenous geology of their own, we chose “Agria Rock”:

Which looks like this:

Final Touches

We’re almost done. We just need to add some final details that might make things easier on your units; Let’s give them some roads, and some stuff in their bases worth defending:


First, let’s add some roads to connect the Sooners with the Longhorns. This will simply the march of destruction you’ll be bring down on Texas. So select “Roads” from your tool options, and below that, choose “Add Roads”:

We did this in our first how-to, so we won’t belabor the point. We added some roads:

We brought out the “Uniform Tool to smooth out some land so we could bring the road to the river:

We eventually brought the roads down to Texas base. As you can see, it’s a pretty versatile tool:


There’s still one problem. SO far as we’ve been able to find out, it’s not really possible to build a bridge that traverses a gap like a ravine, or a river, so we cheated. We used the “Raise” tool to bring up some ground, and then the “Uniform”tool to smooth it out.

And scene.


Last but not least, we wanted to give our bases just a teeensy bit more personality. So click on the “Units” tab. Now let’s add some buildings to each base:

Which led to:

Awww. It’s kind of like the first 2/3 of a Stephen King Book, while it’s still small-towny but not yet boring.

And with that, our map was complete. Please welcome OU Vs. Texas to the world.

Now your map looks awesome. Too bad we’re not ready to fight just yet. Next time, we’ll discuss management of your Triggers. For now, bask in the Soonertastic glory.

Additional Resources:

First and foremost, Mozared’s guide to Terrains on SC2Mapster was REALLY helpful. They went in a different direction than we did, but they’re definitely better.

As always, Garden of Auir has is a great place to start.

There’s also a vast array of Youtube guides.

          Next News Post 08-23-2010 @ 09:45 - FileFront Network Insider #158
          Previous News Post 08-22-2010 @ 17:12 - How to Make a StarCraft 2 Map

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