We are extremely pleased to announce that the Team Liquid Map Contest has returned for its fifth iteration to once again give community mapmakers an opportunity to contribute to the competitive map pool. The contest has a proud history of getting some incredible maps onto the ladder, such as Ohana, Frost, Habitation Station, and the most popular map of all time, (according to #Dreampool votes) Cloud Kingdom.
Blizzard have committed to including at least two of the finalists in the Season 2 ladder pool. This speaks to the quality of maps that the community is capable of producing. This is the first season where we have been guaranteed places in the ladder pool and this shows just how far the community has come since the first iteration of the contest.
This season, we will not be considering team maps for the contest. That means we are only looking for maps designed for 1v1 play. We've made this decision so that mappers spend their time focusing on delivering high quality and polished maps for competitive use to give Blizzard as many options as possible for next season. We still strongly encourage people to post their team maps (and FFA maps) on the forums. Getting visibility for your team map is the first step towards getting it considered!
How to Enter
Please PM your map file(s) to TL Map Contest with the following format before Thursday, Feb 12 4:59am GMT (GMT+00:00).
A picture of your map
Main to Main distance: (in-game seconds using a worker from town hall to town hall)
Natural to Natural distance: (in-game seconds using a worker from town hall to town hall)
Any relevant analyzer images (optional)
A download link to your map
In the ten months that have elapsed since the last TLMC, both experienced and new mapmakers have created some of the most interesting, innovative and impressive maps in the game's history. This means that there is presently a huge back log of high quality maps that demand attention. We don't want to force mappers to choose between more unconventional maps and more standard maps when submitting their entries, so we will be accepting three 1v1 entries per mapmaker. We want to see everyone's best works, and this will hopefully encourage mappers to present more diverse maps.
- We recommend that maps follow the following design restrictions:
- Normal bases are always 8 normal mineral patches and 2 normal geysers
- High yield bases are always 6 high yield patches and 2 normal geysers
- Don’t change values on Neutral units. For example:
- Don’t change Xel’Naga watch tower or destructible rock graphics
- Don’t change values on mineral patches, geysers, or rock health/armor values
- Don’t resize mineral patches or rocks
- Map sizes should be sensible; use the current map pool as a guide.
- - Avoid excessive use of water
- - Avoid weather effects like falling snow, snow drift doodads, etc.
- - If using the Ice tileset, avoid using the CliffGlacier* doodad series
- - Avoid excessive stacking/overlapping of doodads in concentrated spaces
- - Excessive use of decals, custom decals
- - Excessive use of doodads that produce dynamic shadows
- - Doodads under the terrain
- - Clusters of large/complex doodads
Any maps which are selected/considered for the final shortlist may undergo changes which the judges request for balance purposes. Any maps selected for use in WCS/ladder will undergo an extensive QA process by Blizzard. If the QA guidelines above are not followed it is possible that your map may not be considered for use!
Update 01/27: Psione dropped by to give some insight on how they test for performance issues. Please keep this advice in mind when designing your maps!
On January 27 2015 09:20 Psione wrote:
One of the biggest issues we run into with community maps is getting performance to a reasonable level. I think it’s no secret that many map makers spend a lot of time making sure their maps look amazing. And while the maps usually look great, the increased focus on complex map art can cause performance issues. I’d like to offer some insight into how our performance testing works, as well as offer some tips to help keep performance at reasonable levels.
In both Blizzard and community maps, we start the performance passes once we receive a map that has received final art. This testing involves an automated process where we ensure that a map reaches a minimum FPS value (40) across various systems and graphic settings. Beyond testing on high-end machines, we make sure to test on medium and lower-end machines that are currently supported. This is a major point to remember. Offline tournaments can control the hardware being used at the event (usually very high-end), but the ladder must support a wide variety of hardware from the entire player base.
During this automated process, a FPS heat map is also created. While we look for the total average FPS to meet acceptable levels, we also ensure that no single section of the map has significant issues. For example, the map may have an acceptable average FPS but have performance issues in the middle of the map where a large cluster of doodads reside. Using the heat map, we can pinpoint a problem area like this and make adjustments to alleviate the issue.
However, despite our ability to pinpoint problem areas, getting performance to appropriate levels can be difficult at times. Part of this is due to our desire to alter community maps as little as possible. So usually it’s a balance of trying to make big performance gains while also trying to keep the look of the map intact. While it would be easy to improve performance by gutting the art on the map, we respect the time put into the look of the map and try to stay true to the original vision.
Each time changes are made, the map tests are run again. This is where you find how much was gained from the changes. Making map adjustments and re-testing can take a good deal of time if the issues aren’t improving through small tweaks. If performance issues persist, at some point we’re forced to make more drastic changes to ensure it meets minimum requirements.
A few points to help keep performance reasonable. Try to avoid the following:
Hidden effects or doodads
- Stuff like doodads or water under the terrain can cause issues.
Excessive splat usage
- Splats used to create a snow covered effect on doodads can be difficult to optimize
- A series of small splats used to create a “signature” can also be very difficult to optimize
Excessive doodad usage
- We’ve seen extreme doodad stacking in the past where several doodads are used to create something “new”. This is fine in most cases, but it can also lead to excessive use of doodads on the map, which definitely impacts performance.
Excessive weather effects
- Adding a lot of wind or snow can lower the performance quite a bit.
Excessive use of water
- Used sparingly or on a map with few doodads is usually fine. When used excessively it can cause performance issues.
Excessive use of “expensive” or large doodads with terrain materials
- More commonly used “expensive” doodads would be the Ice Cliff series. Additionally, cluster of doodads that cast transparent shadows, similar to the minerals or the crystal on the top of the Nexus.
- More commonly used large doodads with terrain materials would be Xel’Naga Torn Plates
There isn’t a magical formula that makes performance great. We know it can be difficult at times, especially if you’re trying to push the look of your map to the limit. But if you keep these things in mind, hopefully it will help you make choices that can keep the look right while also keeping reasonable performance.
Once the maps have been submitted they will be checked for quality and the remaining maps will be passed to representatives from the Team Liquid Strategy team for judging. As the staff members who spend the most time thinking about strategies and the metagame, we feel that the strategy team is the perfect group to decide the best maps. They will also suggest tweaks for the finalists to correct any minor balance issues. We will announce the finalists as soon as possible.
Once the finalists are announced the public will have the opportunity to vote on which map they like the most. Progamer input will have an influence over the final placement of maps. The precise details regarding scoring will be communicated closer to the polling period. Everyone will have at least one week to cast their vote for the contest.
Prizes for the winner(s) will be announced in the near future, so stay tuned!
Q: Do I need to send my map file, or will an image or a link to my map on Battle.net be enough?
We want the map file for this contest, so a link to Battle.net is not sufficient. There will be a huge number of maps to choose from, so we will need to open many of them up in order to check for details that we can't find otherwise. To send your maps, upload them to a file hosting service such as Mediafire or Dropbox and include the link in your entry.
Q: I want to enter a team map/FFA map into the contest.
The Team Liquid Map Contest has traditionally allowed team play maps to be entered and evaluated separately from 1v1 maps, and some of these submissions did eventually reach the ladder map pool. Unfortunately, this season we will not be considering team play maps submitted to the contest. If you're really passionate about making high quality team play maps then we strongly encourage you to post your work in our Maps and Custom Games forum.
Q: Will the winning map automatically be included in WCS?
No. A list of the top maps will be submitted to Blizzard for consideration for use in WCS/ladder. At least two of the shortlisted maps will be selected for use on the ladder. It's possible that the winning map just isn't what Blizzard is looking for next season, and may decide to choose another map.
Q: I'm also submitting a map to Mapximum Season 2, can I submit the same map?
Absolutely! We at Team Liquid are really grateful for the work put in by the Korean mapping scene and the fact they are reaching out to our community with Mapximum. Indeed, if you're preparing a map for TLMC we encourage you to also submit your map to Mapximum. We look forward to seeing the similarities and differences between the maps selected by our respective competitions!
Q: How crazy can my maps be?
Maps need to be ladder appropriate. This means that features requiring specialist knowledge (rising lava, geysers used to block ramps, etc.) will not be accepted. If your map passes that test and complies with the guidelines above then your map is acceptable! Of course, if you are concerned that your map may not be suitable for ladder then please PM Plexa or The_Templar and they will tell you whether or not it is appropriate.
Q: I’m interested in the contest, but I’m horrible at map making. What can I do to support the mappers?
Post in their map threads and give them support, encouragement and replays on their maps! Giving your favorite mapper support will be much appreciated by the mapper. Replays are especially valuable as it helps the mapper align their design goals with the map with the reality of how people play their map.
Q: What are the prizes for this contest?
At the moment prizes beyond being considered for WCS/ladder use have not been confirmed. Once we receive updates on this we will communicate this information.