Warcraft III World Editor
Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion The Frozen Throne shipped with a world editor that took customization farther than any other Blizzard game had up to that point and while dreams of a World of Warcraft editor are tantalizing, it seems that Warcraft fans will have to settle for this for a while.
The editor allows users to create custom games that mostly range through the RTS and RPG genres. There is somewhat of an assumption that the game will be a RTS level, since this was the campaign editor used by Blizzard while creating the game and its expansion. Even so, sending the scenario in the direction you want is more or less straightforward.
The bulk of the world creation is done using a simple and intuitive point and paint style tool panel. Using this interface, the user can place and edit any finished terrain, units, buildings, regions, cameras, and what they call doodads (trees, rocks, bushes, skeletons, fire pits, etc.).
A large circular brush is raising the ground level.
In terms of cinematic capabilities, the editor excels. The camera palette allows the user to create pre-made view points and the trigger system allows them to be manipulated. Everything one might expect a camera to do, the editor can do it.
A pre-set camera focuses on an NPC.
Speaking of the triggers… What are they exactly? Triggers define reactions to specific events in the game. Unit deaths, attacks, map initialization, region interactions, item collection, etc. can all activate triggers. Then, if the conditions are met, the trigger will run the set actions. The events, conditions, and actions are wide in variety and you can find more or less whatever you need. Rarely, custom scripts must be used for changes in basic gameplay. For this, the user must apply JASS, the world editor’s proprietary language.
Triggers program game behavior with a large library of preset events, conditions, and actions.
If the built in models, units, AI, abilities, etc. are not enough for your creation, they can all be edited and custom forms can be created. Changes in color, size, speed, strength of units, duration, area of effect, behavior of abilities, and things of that nature can all be manipulated. The spreadsheets may look daunting, but if the user is familiar with the nature of Warcraft III, almost every cell is self explanatory. For the others,there is community support.
The spreadsheets are easier to understand than they appear.
The World Editor is fairly intuitive for anyone who is familiar with the game, but may prove to be a challenge otherwise. The trigger system makes basic functionality easy to implement and manipulate, but changes in basic gameplay require knowledge of their proprietary language. Unfortunately, working with triggers often takes a considerable amount of time.
For single player RPGs and simple multiplayer games one could quickly dive right into creation and come out with something decent, but for larger multiplayer experiences there are leaks to consider. Leaks are memory hogging temporary units, regions, effects, etc. that are no longer being used, but which the game does not know to destroy. This can lead to lag, slowdown, and disconnections. Fortunately, there are community resources that can explain leaks and how to get rid of them in more detail.
$40 as part of the Warcraft III Battle Chest. An older, less functional version comes packed with the original Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, which retails at $30.
In terms of RPG and RTS style games, this editor provides an extremely high amount of customization. All the many models and effects used in the game are available for use by the editor and can be utilized in a wide variety of situations. Want to attach a swarm of flies to a character’s weapon? You can do that. Want to have mortar teams shoot primitive airplanes at people while getting struck by lightening? You could do that too.
However, those are abilities that one might find in a (strange) iteration of one of the genres listed above. Creating completely unique forms of gameplay would require extensive use of JASS (their home grown coding language) or very clever use of triggers and custom units/effects.
When to use it
The Warcraft III World Editor is great for showcasing or honing your abilities in scenario and quest creation, world building, level design, dialog writing, character design (in terms of personality and abilities more than in appearance), organization, or even voice acting.
You shouldn’t use it if you’re looking to create completely original gameplay. There are mods out there with somewhat unique gameplay, but efforts might better be spent with a different creation tool when deviating far from the RTS and RPG genres.
Huge library of models, effects, and abilities
Cheap (you might already have it)
Mostly limited to RPG and RTS style gameplay
Heavy changes in basic gameplay require coding
Could be faster (higher end quest and dialog creation would be nice)