I want to begin by thanking you for checking out this thread. I hope you find it interesting and worthwhile reading!
Allow me to introduce you to LatiAs - the Korean ASL map maker who created the two beloved maps: Neo-Sylphid and Eclipse!
I conducted an interview with LatiAs about his experience as a professional map maker and would like to share the transcript with you. Let's get right into it!
(Q)uestion: Beginnings are important. So tell us, why did you initially get into map making when most SC lovers never do?
LatiAs: At first, I became interested in map making when I saw a progamer show a great strategy using the features in the map 'Monty Hall'. After that, I worked hard to create an official map that pros could use, until ASL started. Even now, just like my map Sylphid, I make maps for ASL that I think are loved by many people.
Q: You mentioned Neo-Sylphid, your first successful map. Can you tell us about the process involved in making it?
LatiAs: Sylphid was produced in 2015, and took about a week. I was mapping maybe 5 days or a week before its creation. Since then, whenever I think of it, I have modified it every few months. Since there was no ASL at the time, it was simply one of the maps released to the community. It was later submitted to ASL S5 Map Contest, and that's why the first version of ASL Sylphid was 1.6 instead of 0.9 (beta). After several tests, many parts have been modified and it used since ASL S6.
Q: You also made another successful map called Eclipse. Can you tell us about the process involved in making that?
LatiAs: Eclipse was very improvised. It was produced the day before the final of the ASL S9(April 26th, 2020). So the production period is maybe only a day or two. After that, it became a candidate map for ASL S10, and after several tests, it became the official version. I will upload gif files that simply show the process I made and edited Neo-Sylphid and Eclipse.
Neo-Sylphid's illustrated development
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Eclipse's illustrated development
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Q: Do you have a favourite progamer match on Neo-Sylphid and Eclipse that you enjoyed watching a lot?
LatiAs: Neo Sylphid - Rain vs Last (ASL S7 semi final) & Eclipse - Soulkey vs Snow (ASL S10 Ro.24)
Q: I heard a lot of foreigners complain about Neo-Sylphid being removed from the current ladder pool after being featured in ladder pool seasons 5, 6 and 7. How did you feel about it being removed and replaced with less popular or preferred maps?
LatiAs: As a map maker, it is sad. However I agree that the ladder pool needs to be constantly updated. I've always opposed FS and CB being fixed in the ladder pool, so I shouldn't talk the opposite about Sylphid.
Q: How do ASL map makers go about testing or revising their maps? Could you elaborate about that as much as possible please?
When creating an ASL official map, feedback from progamers is received, but of course not all comments are accepted. We don't care as much about the public’s response, but the ASL map makers actively exchange opinions.
Most of the corrections are judged by the map makers directly observing the game of progamers through broadcasting. Because most of gamers tend to talk only about the disadvantages of their own race. This didn't look good to viewers, and there were a lot of offensive opinions about the pros in the Korean community. So these days, pros are reluctant to give public feedback. It's unfortunate.
We accept serious feedback that is not related to balance (such as bugs). But for other balance related feedbacks, we compare our observations and modify the map by at the discretion of each map makers. So these days, I think the ability of the map maker is the most important for correction the balance of map.
Example, with purely my own thoughts, I delete mineral-only in the early version of Eclipse, because Terran mecha took too much advantage from that location. So I believe the balance of TvP has been properly adjusted because of this modification.
I thought that Neo Sylphid and Eclipse are the best maps I have ever made, and that they're fine compared to other people's maps. I'm just happy that I've gotten the opportunity of ASL that many people haven't received. This may be lucky, but I think I got a chance because I was passionate about map making, even when many Korean map makers gave up on BW before the start of ASL.
Q: Can you tell us about your newest map?
LatiAs: I recently made ASL map Ascension because I thought it was a great idea to make the concept of Blue Storm into a map for three or more players. When I asked EarthAttack if I could remake his map, he gladly accepted it. Considering the limited size of 128x128 and the size of Blue Storm's hill, I concluded that a 3player map is the most suitable size. The concept of the narrow road changed because of position balance, but I am satisfied that it seems that the remake was done properly.
Q: Are there any maps that you made in the past that you still want to get accepted into ASL? For example, any of your following maps: Leningrad, Viper, Neo Noah's Ark, Oh Jang Won, Rendezvous, Neo Aiolos, Largo, Salamander, Battle of Gwando, etc?
LatiAs: Rendezvous. It is a UMS map using triggers with doors that open and close periodically. Of course it is not easy to use maps that are not available in melee in League. But melee's features have reached their limits, and I think we need a new experience. I want Blizzard to add as many new elements as possible in melee like SC2, such as Xel’Naga Watch Tower, entrances that change in size, and areas where air units cannot move.
Q: Do you know how Blizzard selects ladder pool maps? Does ASL maps influence ladder map pool at all? Can you share any information about relationship between ladder and ASL map pool selection?
LatiAs: What I know is that Blizzard has decided to use the entire ASL map as a ladder map pool after end of KSL. It seems that there is a high possibility that it will no longer put a new map on their own. I think it was the result of the dissolution of the BW/SC2 team, but it's hard to guess.
Q: How long do you typically spend developing one map? Is there a method or process that you have for starting a new map?
LatiAs: I usually have two ways. One is to design the shape of the terrain before creating the map, and the other is to create some terrain somehow and fill in the appropriate elements left.
In the former case, examples are Ascension, Aiolos, and Largo, and the latter are Sylphid, Demian, and Camelot. Eclipse is a mix of the two.
If map is already designed, the creation of the terrain itself does not take long. I can complete it in 1 day if it is short and 2 to 3 days if it is long.
Q: Do you have any opinion to share regarding the differences between 2 player, 3 player and 4 player maps?
LatiAs: The balance formula is different for each number of people. In detail, I will not write it here because it is too complicated.
Maps are square, so you need to be very careful when making a 3 player map.
I like 3-player maps the most, but it's hard to say that it is a good map because of the differences in each location. It is the map maker's ability to minimize that difference.
Q: Do you have tileset preferences? Any tilesets you think are best or bad?
LatiAs: Like most map makers, I am comfortable with jungle tilesets. In my opinion, the tileset that best reveals the creator's ability to decorate the terrain is Twilight. Ice and Ash are not used well in league maps due to visibility issues. (Players don't like it.) So they're tilesets that I don't use very well, and I really admire the people who handle their terrain well.
Q: Do you have any advice for new map makers?
LatiAs: Studying other people's maps a lot is most important. I first saw foreigners' maps on BroodWarMaps.Net when I was not good at making maps 8 to 9 years ago. I learned how to decorate the terrain, which was very different from the Korean community, and it made great progress by combining it with my own ways. Do not simply use excessive features such as neutral buildings and neutral units. If you want to use these features, consider whether they are essential to your map. Play on your map. The map shown in the editor and shown in the in-game are quite different.
Q: Do you have any advice for map makers who want to create a standard map that is loved by players like Neo-Sylphid and Eclipse?
LatiAs: Arranging resources and paths is of most important. Resources shouldn't be too crowded or spread out, and paths shouldn't be too complex. Especially focus on the relationship between nat and 3rd base.
Q: Any advice for foreign map makers who wish to have their maps in ASL?
LatiAs: Unlike KeSPA, ASL maps have close communication between players, map makers, and tournament officials. It would be nice if you could freely exchange opinions with us. I think that foreign map makers are also great.
Q: Do you feel watching progamer games is very important for map making in Korea?
LatiAs: If the map makers don't watch the match, they won’t know what needs to be fixed. Also, in pro-level games, the trend changes quite often, and it can be different from the common knowledge of balance as we know it. This can be understood by the map makers only by watching matches. So yes, it is VERY important.
Q: Do you think there is a big difference between creating maps for ASL (Korean progamers) and creating a map for foreign players?
LatiAs: Many foreign map makers already have the skills necessary to adjust the balance. What matters is how to use it in what proportion. Even I can't get a good balance as soon as I create a map. The detailed opinions of the top players are very helpful in modifying the map.
Q: In Korea, are map makers known by players and viewers? Because in the foreign community, most players and viewers do not know (or sometimes even care about the) names of the creators of maps.
LatiAs: In my case, because I was active in the community, more people know about my map and my name than I thought. But in most cases it is similar to what you said.
Q: Who are your favorite map makers from the past or present?
LatiAs: Achernar. He is not an official map maker, but he is a legend in the Korean map community. Because intothemap.com is gone, we can't easily find Achernar (or other people's) maps anymore sadly. But I have some images of Achernar's maps. I'll give you some. I think these maps were made between 2008~2011 (except Leviathan), I'm not sure... I didn't know about making maps at that time
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(3)Galaxy_0.93 (LatiAs's favourite map by Achernar)
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Before SC:R, you can find that many Korean amateur map makers used right style ramps, not left (basic style).
Because they are made by Achernar, so we call them "Achernar Style Ramps".
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You can find them on Sylphid too lol
Q: Anything you can say about the Korean map making community in terms of its size or activeness?
LatiAs: Currently, there is no active community only for map makers in Korea (except for UMS maps). I see the BW community (Ygosu), but I rarely do community activities these days. It doesn't seem that there are more people making maps than before. Map Contest also does not happen much. However, ASL map makers are talking and cooperating with each other very much.
Q: Do you or Korean map makers have any opinion about foreign map makers?
LatiAs: The maps of foreigners seem to be somewhat weak in balance issues because it is not easy to access the opinion of the Korean progamer. Conversely, I think they are very creative. They make an attempt that I can't often do with my anxiety, so I have often been impressed with their ideas.
Q: Do you play Starcraft much? If so, what is your race and MMR?
LatiAs: I played a lot in the past, but nowadays I only enjoy it occasionally. My races are Terran and Protoss, and my best MMR is 2100, A rank.
Q: How much progamer content do you watch?
LatiAs: When I edit the map, I watch almost every match on my map. I also see matches on the other map makers' maps and give them feedback. Usually, I only watch important games or watch some games on YouTube.
Q: May I ask your age? You mentioned to me once that you were still in school, yes?
LatiAs: I am 25 years old. At the age of 20, I entered the university's School of Mechanical Engineering. I am currently in the third grade after taking a 2.5 year leave of absence due to the mandatory military service of a Korean man.
Q: How long do you plan to continue map making?
LatiAs: As long as the StarLeague lasts, I think I will continue to make maps.
On behalf of BroodWarMaps.Net, I want to thank you LatiAs for your time my friend. This was a real treat for us.
For anyone interested, other maps that LatiAs has designed and shared with the public can be accessed HERE