I've noticed something about Blizzard's melee maps. Actually, a couple things. The first, notably, is that they're not very good at it, according to, well, everyone. I happen to disagree. Why?
Back in the earlier days of Map of the Month, maps were rated on 3 factors: gameplay, aesthetics, and perhaps the weirdest of all, intangibles. My focus in this thread is going to be primarily on that last one. What are intangibles? I think it was MotM's way to try and put a fix on something that can't be described, something you just can't put your finger on. That "X factor" that makes something unique, that gives it a distinct feel, a personality, or even a soul. However, many months have passed, and the rating of maps for MotM has changed drastically, going from specific criteria at times to simply which one was the judges' favorite at others. The criteria of intangibles has been long since removed from the judgment of a map, I think correctly so. However, they were on to something very important, so although it's somewhat unreasonable to try and gauge something you can't really measure/compare, and use that to determine which map is best, it is absolutely crucial to think about and consider it. This is sort of where my thoughts about Blizz come into play.
Blizzard has gotten a lot of criticism/flaming for the melee maps they create, because from a strict viewpoint of balance, sometimes they mess things up, even though they're the creators of the game(I just feel a horrible sense of entitlement coming from anyone who says this sort of thing). However, once you delve into their philosophy on the games they create, the way they go about creating melee maps makes a lot more sense. They focus, almost solely sometimes, on that intangible factor, producing maps that just have this something to them. The way they go about things, from the creation of maps for SC2 to the creation of SC2/D3, and in fact every game they've made thus far, focuses on being bold, and having fun with it, and coming up with something that just has this awesome feel to it, yet at the same time also has a feel to it that you don't notice consciously. Looking at their maps, like the most recent creation Entombed Valley, you can see what I'm talking about, sort of(you can't really, but you sort of can, I know it's weird). It doesn't focus on being ostentatiously beautiful, nor does it focus on being strictly balanced(oddly though, it does have very nearly 50% winrates overall), but it's still one of my favorite maps, which probably sounds weird to a lot of you. Lots of people seem to have something against this map, but I don't necessarily understand what that is.
Then again, I can't exactly explain what I see in it either, but that's sort of my point. There's always this feel, this air, to a Blizzard map, that stands out and makes it immediately identifiable as Blizzard's own creation, but it's difficult to explain what it is a lot of the time. Even a map as old(and perhaps outdated) as Metalopolis, has something to it that just gives it an awesome feel. I just feel that there's this facet to Blizzard's mapmaking process that few of us actually comprehend, and I'm trying to delve into it myself. We as a community cannot actually replace Blizzard's mapmaking, nor should we try to. That said, there is one group of mapmakers that's come closer than anybody else to seizing what it is that makes a map truly special, and that group I believe is Team Crux.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately, as you can tell, and it's probably going to change the way I make maps forever. Slowly but surely, I'll be attempting to capture this magic myself, to try and create the coolest maps out there. I hope whoever reads this considers my idea and tries to do so as well. It might sound odd, and if it does then it probably is, but I think I'm onto something here. Feel free to share your thoughts, whether I'm insane, a genius, or somewhere in between(I like to think it's that last one), and whether you agree, maybe even why you agree/disagree.