Blizzard has shipped a number of editing suites alongside its RTS games. With each new release, the capabilities of the tools increased, broadening the opportunities available to its community. It was this long process of development and refinement that led to the StarCraft II Editor we have today. This article will give a brief history of those editors, many of which are still in active use, in an effort to provide a better understanding of the StarCraft II Editor.
The WarCraft II Map Editor was released in 1995. For the first time, players had the chance to step into the developer tools and create their own maps, both for melee matches among friends and for custom campaigns.
Notable New Features
- For the first time, users could make custom missions for a Blizzard RTS with an Editor.
- Terrain could be built using seven elements, on various sizes of maps.
- All of the game’s major resources could be placed on a map.
- Use any units, buildings, and campaign heroes, and assign them to up to eight different player sides.
- Configure the map to one of four available tilesets.
- Edit upgrade costs, starting resources, and unit properties.
- Assign each of the eight player sides to various AI controllers.
Under the WarCraft II Map Editor, all of a map’s custom settings are configured through five property windows, pictured below.
There was no support for any custom logic, objects, or similar with which map creators could diversify a project. Still, there are many unique maps that make use of creative terrain and unit placements to build interesting experiences.
The StarCraft Campaign Editor was released in 1998. With support for triggers, a type of scripting logic, the options available to map creators broadened enormously. The new Battle.net also allowed players to connect and share maps far more easily, leading to an explosion in the audience for custom creations.
Notable New Features
- Now included a custom logic system through a Trigger Editor.
- Pre-mission story mode sequences could be built using the Mission Briefings Editor.
- Tilesets could be decorated with a layer of diverse, environmental doodads.
- Fog of war data could be painted into a map.
- Custom sounds could be imported and used for narrative sequences or other effects.
- Locations that react to player input and drive triggers could be built onto the map.
- Units and heroes could be renamed, giving map creators the ability to style the map to new imaginative themes.
The appearance of the new editors for mission sequences and trigger logic broadened the editing experience immensely.
Mission Briefings Editor – Trigger Editor
Thanks to the combination of an engaged online community and the extended tools, a wide range of new game types and stories were shared. Many innovations made with these tools led to developments in the the broader gaming world.
The WarCraft III World Editor was released in 2002. In an effort to accommodate the move to 3D and the demands of WarCraft III, the Editor grew to such a level of versatility and scale that it was broken up into separate modules. The tools had become an editing suite, something that offered its users controls for all the major disciplines of game development.
Notable New Features
- The Editor was now composed of eight modules: Terrain Editor, Trigger Editor, Sound Editor, Object Editor, Campaign Editor, AI Editor, Object Manager, and Importer Manager.
- Entirely new units, objects, upgrades, abilities, items, and heroes could be created in a map’s project data.
- Custom cameras could be set up and then used dynamically during gameplay.
- The trigger system was extended to offer significant game-time scripting.
The extension of almost every tool’s capabilities resulted in the Editor’s growing into a modular toolset.
Object Editor Module – Trigger Editor Module
At this point, the RTS editing tools had blossomed into a robust game development suite. With a community that remains active today and a long history of released projects, the WarCraft III World Editor remains a favorite among students of design, hobbyists, and players.