Warcraft 3 and StarCraft sparked a remarkable custom map community. One would assume that StarCraft 2 would continue this legacy by kicking it up a notch as they’ve done with several of their RTS elements. However, that’s not the case. There are some serious problems.
In WC3 and SC you created a game and it appeared on a list that people saw when they clicked on the “join a custom game” button. Your game was on a list with every other game out there and newer games would appear on the top. This made it rather easy for someone to create a new map and host it because people would see it right there on the top of their list.
The problem is that Blizzard changed how SC2 map hosting works. You upload your maps to Battle.net and then you create a game. However, your game doesn’t appear on a list. When someone wants to join a custom game they are presented with a list that is sorted by MOST POPULAR games.
See the problem? The popular games get pushed way to the top and in order to find any other game you either have to press “See More” and keep pressing it and browse games (again, in order of popularity) or do a specific search for the map.
Custom Map Makers raise a very valid point by asking “How is my map ever supposed to get popular if people do not know it exists?” Aside from praying that lightning strikes for you and you earn some kind of efame, there isn’t a real solution to this problem
The custom map list is full maps that aren’t even necessarily good. In fact, it’s full of games being hosted with the WRONG SETTINGS that break the custom maps. Why? Because they were the first customs to be hosted and people joined and suddenly Bnet considered them popular.
Hopefully there is a solution in the works in the form of an alternate custom map selection screen or a return to the old way of joining and hosting custom maps. Bottom line: The system doesn’t work as it stands now.
Originally there was talk about Blizzard monetizing their custom map system. Perhaps this is just a placeholder until their able to implement this vision. Still, it feels like a failure right now and it definitely overshadows, along with other frustrations like no chat channels, some wonderful things in Battle.net 2.0.
Custom Maps extend the life of Blizzard’s RTS games for me. Long after I stopped playing Warcraft 3′s ladder, I was still playing the custom maps for years. The community definitely has my support. If we find a good custom map you can bet we’ll share it with our readers and forum community.