Warcraft III Multiplayer: Comparison to Blizzard Ladder Maps
Comparison of Neutral Buildings
Neutral buildings offer players alternate strategies, and the combination of available buildings on a map is a major part of the map's identity. I did a comparison of my new maps with some of the Blizzard ladder maps to avoid too much overlap.
My Shifting Gardens map uses random sets of neutral buildings to offer an unknown but managable setup every match. Notice that it is the only map offering the Dragon Roost--I assume this neutral building has some dicey effects on race balance because it does not appear on the smaller Blizzard maps (I admit I don't know exactly what abuses are possible, but taking cues from Blizzard certainly can't hurt). However any building in the random sets on this map has only a 33% chance of appearing so players cannot effectively count on a Dragon Roost.
Twin Kings is intentionally minimalist with neutral buildings. The focus of this map is on the expansion locations, where the four expansions are placed so that none are clearly a natural expansion for one player or the other.
Of my melee maps, Mt. Kamao has a set of neutral buildings closest to the current Blizzard ladder offerings. The layout, though, is what makes this map unique--the starting locations are in the northern corners of the map on a high altitude, and there are several "steps" down going south. The idea is that players who venture south for expansions and neutral buildings are more likely to find themselves on the lower end of a ramp when making contact with the enemy.
Chasm has an unusual assortment of neutral buildings, most notably Way Gates. It was an unsuccessful attempt to make a fuzzy symmetric map where two sets of Way Gates connected differently shaped continents.
Comparison of Gold and Creep Levels
The amount of gold in mines on a map clearly effects whether games may run long like on Lost Temple, or if they are constrained like on Echo Isles. I compared my maps with the ladder maps to get a rough estimate of their place in the continuum--I could shoot for the play style I was looking for without being able to play test en masse.
A total level for all creeps on a map also works into the play style of a map, although I think the particular combinations and locations of camps is much more important than the total. Still, this comparison is also included.
Comparison of Item Drops
I used the Blizzard guide for item drops:
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