Area / Size - The total number of Cells in a map (width * height).
Cell - A single 1x1 tile according to the editor's Small Grid.
Cells per Base - [ width * height / bases ]
Resource - Each mineral and each gas is equal to one resource. Mineral Fields by default have 1500 resources each, and Gas Geysers by default have 2500 resources each.
Resources per Cell - [ resources / (width*height) ]
Saturation - The level of resource density on a map (i.e. Resources per Cell).
On the new [M]elee Map Thread Outline Guide, I recommended that people add the level of saturation [[ resources / (width*height) ]] to their maps' threads. Perhaps you have heard a map being called "over saturated" before. It might have been.
I won't pretend that I know everything there is to know about saturation, but perhaps this thread will give others some further insight. Please understand that very little in here is black and white, we're dealing with some very grey areas; when I say something should be a certain way, I probably don't mean that it should apply to every map.
I have compiled a list of 42 maps and entered their corresponding saturation data into a google doc.
Included are all maps ever in the ladder, all maps ever used in GSL, and 13 more notable community maps. I personally think this is a fair sample set, and I will point to it as evidence to support some of my claims. But do not be mistaken, I do not really believe that the way things have done are necessarily the way they should be done, but as a whole this sample set isn't too far from it).
SPECIAL NOTE: As you look through these graphs, pay particular attention to how most of the dots seem to stay in a particular area even though a select few will stick out.
Size : Resources
According to these graphs, the bigger a map gets the more resources it can hold. Pretty straightforward.
Size : Bases
These graphs show that the bigger a map gets the more bases it can hold. Still nothing new, but notice how most of those dots are below the 15 bases line, and notice how slightly more than half of the dots are on the 10 and 12 lines (hint: you really don't need to have a lot of bases to make a good map, 38% of these maps have 10 bases or less).
Size : Resources per Cell
And now we get down to the fun part and what this thread is all about: Saturation aka Resources Per Cell.
This graph doesn't really tell us too much. But it does tell us something very important: bigger maps do not need proportionately more resources. If you add 3 servings of size you usually shouldn't add more than 2 servings of resources.
The other thing it tells us is that we really only know of 1 way that an otherwise normal level of saturation can be bad: A big map with a high level of saturation.
I see small maps with low saturation.
I see small maps with high saturation.
I see medium maps with low saturation.
I see medium maps with high saturation.
I see big maps with low saturation.
But I do NOT see big maps with high saturation (or even medium/big with high saturation (other than Artemis ^^)). And I really believe this is how it should be.
Size : Cells per Base
If the Resources per Cell is confusing to you, then Cells per Base might be more intuitive. It is a little less accurate. It is also inversely proportional to Resources per Cell: higher Resources per Cell indicates higher saturation, higher Cells per Base indicates lower saturation.
Cells per Base : Resources per Cell
If all bases had the same number of resources, *I think* all of the dots would line up perfectly. (note: each dot represents a map, not a base).
The formulas are incomplete.
I believe the Resources per Cell and Cells per Base formulas should be something more like
Resources per Cell = R/(w*h(p-0.5(1-p)))
Cells per Base = (w*h(p-0.5(1-p)))/B
R = resources
B = bases
w = width
h = height
p = percent of pathable area on map
What these revised formulas do is makes air/dead space count for 1/2 of what it did before (cell per cell air/dead space weighs in at 1/2 of what pathable space does).
I don't actually know how to fully explain this It has a lot do to with how pathable space gets used more often than air/dead space.
Unfortunately, the only practical way to tell the "percent of pathable area" on a map is to use a computer program; there is no computer program that does this right now (I am hoping the Map Analyzer can do it some day ^^).
Generally, higher saturation tends to mean that the map should have higher openness (particularly at choke points, and especially on small or medium maps). Basically, higher saturation means that the player's armies will usually be bigger when they engage, and it is logical to conclude that these bigger armies (for all 3 races, but yes especially zerg) can handle higher levels of openness.
Higher saturation also means the map will tend to be macro-oriented and therefore should probably have things like more vulnerable(harassable) bases, longer rush distances, more starting positions, etc. For clarity, higher saturation doesn't mean the map should have all of these things, but it does mean that it probably should have at least a little bit more of at least one or two of them.
It's actually pretty difficult to understand this theory, let alone trying to explain it's reasoning; props if you do understand it. If you disagree with it, unless you are sure you understand it almost fully, I advise against arguing with it, as I am quite sure that time will prove it right (and btw you heard it here first ^^).
Why can high level of saturation (particularly over 13 Resources per Cell) be bad?
I think the problem is only indirectly related to the saturation level (though very closely related). In fact there isn't really any problem per se, it's more of a stylistic choice for your map (but like many advanced stylistic choices you should really understand what you're doing before you push the boundaries).
Basically, you should pay close attention to what level of tech the players will probably be on and how big the armies will probably be in relation to what area of the map is being focused on. In most cases, it doesn't make a lot of sense when there's maxxed armies of ultralisks, brood lords, infestors, battlecruisers, vikings, tanks, and thors running around when half of the more interesting bases aren't even taken yet.
Why can a low level of saturation (particularly under 6.5 Resources per Cell) be bad?
Much for the same reasons a high level of saturation can be bad, but the opposite.
Basically, in almost every map you really don't want the players to be fighting for the last few bases on the map when they're still on tier 1 struggling to reach tier 2; this While the micro-intensive fights it produces can be fun to play, it can seriously lack strategical depth and can therefore be quite boring to watch.
note: These are only mere examples in a very profound idea. Do not get me wrong, there is actually a great deal of reasonable flexibility; but at the same time there are some (relatively poorly defined) lines that should rarely be crossed.
FUN FACTS ^^
- Kulas Ravine and Slag Pits both have the same area (19040).
- Searing Crater, Backwater Gulch, Desert Oasis, Metalopolis, Crevasse, Artifice, and Shattered Temple all have the same area (19600).
- Xel'Naga Fortress and Artemis both have the same area (21904).
Resources per Cell:
- Hysteria and Odyssey both have the same Resources per Cell (9.761904762).
- Metalopolis and Shattered Temple both have the same Resources per Cell (10.1020408).
- Searing Crater and Backwater Gulch both have the same Resources per Cell (11.8367347).
Cells per Base:
- Crevasse and Artifice both have the same Cells per Base (1225).
- Searing Crater, Backwater Gulch, and Delta Quadrant all have the same Cells per Base (1400).
- Hysteria and Nerazim Crypt both have the same Cells per Base (1452).
- Desert Oasis and Shattered Temple both have the same Cells per Base (1960).
IMPORTANT/INTERESTING LADDER RECORDS:
- Smallest Ladder Map: 108x140 = 15120 (Jungle Basin)
- Biggest Ladder Map [that was made by Blizzard]: 160x154 = 24640 (Scrap Station)
- Ladder Maps w/ 8 Bases: 3 (Blistering Sands, Jungle Basin, Incineration Zone)
- Ladder Maps w/ 16 Bases: 2 (Delta Quadrant, Tal'Darim Altar)
- Ladder Map w/ Lowest Total Resources: 130000 (Blistering Sands)
- Ladder Map [that was made by Blizzard] w/ Highest Total Resources: 260000 (Delta Quadrant)
- Most Saturated Ladder Map: 12.9233512 (Antiga Shipyards)
- Ladder Map w/ Least Cells per Base: 1282.28571 (Antiga Shipyards)
- Least Saturated Ladder Map: 6.53409091 (Scrap Station)
- Ladder Map w/ Most Cells per Base: 2464 (Scrap Station)
TOTAL SAMPLE MIN/MAX
- Cells/Area: 12740 - 30976
- Bases: 8 - 18
- Resources: 130000 - 284000
- Cells per Base: ~1216.89 - 2464
- Resources per Cell: ~6.534 - ~12.966
CURRENT LADDER MIN/MAX
- Cells/Area: 17360 - 30976
- Bases: 10 - 16
- Resources: 164000 - 272000
- Cells per Base: ~1282.3 - 1960
- Resources per Cell: ~8.502 - ~12.923
TOTAL LADDER MIN - MAX
- Cells/Area: 15120(108x140) - 30976(176x176)
- Bases: 8 - 16
- Resources: 130000 - 272000
- Cells per base: ~1282 - 2464
- Resources per Cell: ~6.534 - ~12.923
TOTAL SAMPLE AVERAGES
- Cells/Area: ~19357.4 (~139x139)
- Bases: ~12.3
- Resources: ~203107
- Cells per Base: ~1601
- Resources per Cell: ~10.6
CURRENT LADDER AVERAGES
- Cells/Area: 20650.4 (~143x144)
- Bases: 13
- Resources: 220800
- Cells per Base: ~1601.44
- Resources per Cell: ~10.85
TOTAL LADDER AVERAGES
- Cells/Area: ~19447.8 (~139x140)
- Bases: ~11.7
- Resources: ~195591
- Cells per Base: ~1696
- Resources per Cell: ~10.2
Special Thanks to SmashHammer for collecting much of the non-ladder map data.