Written by John “SigmaFiE” Emerson & Nicklas “Scorp” Hansen
Atlas, as titanic as its forebear’s name, is one of the few Western designed maps chosen for use in major competition. Atlas bears the weight of map makers’ and players’ hopes and aspirations to evolve Starcraft II into the titan of eSports. The forging of their dreams began with authors such as Superouman and IronmanSC, culminating in the most recent adaptation of a young mapper.
Designed by Dane Nicklas “Scorp” Hansen of the Dream Forge Mapmaking team, Atlas is the successor to four player maps. With all spawns enabled, a unique center, and additional balance elements like destructible rocks, Atlas creates exciting ballets of battle. Recent success in the IPL Map Tournament 2013, lifted Atlas to the shoulders of the GSTL Pre-Season, IPTL, and Assembly tournaments.
With aspirations to touch the sun, “Scorp” had one impossible goal: “I wanted Atlas to be the perfect four player map, maintaining a base progression different for every direction”. However, perfection was not enough, thus “Scorp” devised a second goal: a dynamic middle. Together these 2 objectives propel Atlas from humble beginnings as its predecessor, Sacred Sands, to a titan of modern mapmaking.
Scorp states: “I clearly remember the easy process of making Atlas, as I got the layout right on the first shot”. With the layout complete in one go, a rarity in map design, Scorp quickly moved from the terrain design to its aesthetics. However, he emphasizes that if his plan was not prepared, many iterations and changes likely would have occurred.
Scorp has a philosophy to his maps; while the layout makes the map, its visual look is what makes it a pleasure for spectators and players alike. Referring to one of his previous maps, Tainted Underworld, Scorp exclaims the virtue of letting his aesthetics set the mood, from dances in the sun on Atlas to the depths of the soul’s underbelly on Tainted Underworld, these maps do not lack character. Not every map is successful in its first version, and Atlas is no different.
Releasing what was previously Sacred Sands from private tests, Atlas’ beginnings were immediately utilized in minor tournaments. Scorp remained unsatisfied and unrelenting in self-critiques, “I was not entirely happy with the map after it was released. This lead to massive visual updates and improvements to the gameplay”. Striving through many hours in the editor, disaster would strike just as success was within reach. Scorp’s editor broke and the map file was corrupted, leaving him unable to continue his work.
Undeterred, Scorp remained optimistic that Atlas should rise. Months later, the file was restored, and he was finally able to finish up what he had begun. After countless hours and criticisms internally by his team and community, Atlas was born with a world of aspiration already upon its shoulders. In use by the GSTL Pre-Season, IPTL and Assembly, Scorp and his team, along with the rest of the map making community eagerly await the awesome power of players’ dances upon Atlas’ shoulders. This begs the question: is Atlas the next major tournament map, or will it crumble under the weight set upon it? Either way, Atlas is a major step forward for Western map making being represented in major competition. Heart of the Swarm has exploded a renewed interest in community maps and now it falls on Scorp and map-makers like him to bear the burden of Atlas.
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Tune in this weekend to watch Atlas & Silver Sands in GSTL: