Creating an Instant Effect Ability

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The Ability - Psionic Focus

This ability is going to be 'based off' of the Marines Stimpack. What I mean by this is, we are going to pay close attention to how the Stimpack ability, and all of its related Effects and Behaviors operate. And them copy this (by making or own Ability, Effects and Behaviors...) to make a new ability.

The lay-out of this tutorial is fairly straightforward. I am literally going to list down what you need to do, to create this first ability. Then afterwards, I am going to explain just how each step fits together. Feel free to download the Sample Map to see what this looks like.

Hopefully after reading this tutorial, you can now begin to create your own Instant Effect abilities to achieve anything you want!

First Steps - Creating the Ability

    • Create a New ability - call it Psionic Focus (or whatever you want, but remember it). Hit Suggest.
    • Good practice involves - giving your new ability (and anything you create) an Editor - Prefix and Editor - Suffix field.
    • I used: Tutorial - for my prefix, and (Ability) for my suffix.
    • Make the ability cost something - Cost + add a new field here, and I made my ability cost 25 shields.
    • Flags: open up this field, and tick the box that says Transient. I'll explain why we do this later.

Next Up - A Shiny new Button

    • Create the New button - call it Psionic Focus (or whatever you chose to call your Ability...) make sure its the same. Hit Suggest.
    • Prefix & Suffix - this is really a good habit to get into... Tutorial - and (Button) respectively.
    • Alert Tooltip - put in a nice little descriptor of what the ability does. I used: Creates a well of Psionic Focus boosting attack speed and armor for a 15 seconds.
    • UI - Icon & Alert - Icon - here we choose what our button looks like. Pick anything you want that has BTN- as it's prefix. I used Detector Status.
    • Hotkey - I used F. Use whatever you want, but typically avoid A, M, P, H and S.

Back Tracking - Returning to the Abilities Layer

    • Making use of our Prefix... - In the Search toolbar, you can just type in Tutorial -, and everything related to our project map, will be shown.
    • Combat - Commands + - We'll want to link our new button to our Ability. Open up this field and edit the Execute - Default Button field to whatever our new button was!

Now on to the Fun Stuff - The Behavior

    • Create a New Behavior - We'll want to call it Psionic Focus (as always), and it's going to be of type: Buff.
    • As always... good practice - You know the drill. Prefix - Tutorial - and Suffix - (Buff).
    • Behavior - Modification - This field defines what our Buff will do. Select the Unit sub layer, and find Shield Armor Bonus, I set mine to 5.
    • Behavior - Modification - Yet again, but this time, we'll want to use the Combat sub layer, Attack Speed Multiplier, I set mine to 2.

The Effect to cause the Behavior

    • Create a New Effect - Call it Psionic Focus, and this time it will be of type: Apply Behavior.
    • Good practice... - Can you guess what you should do now?
    • The Method to the Madness - The field called Behavior - Behavior SHOULD already be filled in with Tutorial - Psionic Focus (Buff). If not, fill it in.

Back to square one. Return to Abilities

    • Effect - Effect This field, as above, should already be automatically linked with Tutorial - Psionic Focus (Apply Behavior). If not, fill it in.

Finishing Touches... Unit Layer

    • I used an Archon - Find any unit that has shields and open up it's Combat - Abilities + field. Add our Ability, Tutorial - Psionic Focus (Ability).
    • Combat - Command Card + - We'll simply add a button to the units command card, and link that button to our Ability. That's it. All done...

The Theory - Advanced Learning

What we did. And Why

Those of you with keen observational skills will have noticed that we just created 4 objects in the Data Editor and they were all called exactly the same thing. Psionic Focus. We created an Ability which is pretty standard, then we made a Button to go with our Ability. Once we had the Interface part finished properly (Ability + Button), we went to work on the Mechanical part of our Ability. This involved creating the Behavior - which modified our units Shield Armor & Attack Speed. Then we created the Effect, which literally Applied our Behavior to the unit which used the Ability.

It is often best to create things in reverse when using the Data Editor to create something completely from Scratch. In this case, I decided what I wanted the Ability to be called, how much I wanted it to cost and what I wanted it to do. So, I started off in the Ability field, and set it's cost. The reason we edited the Flags field, and ticked Transient is because this is what allows our unit to use the ability, without pausing. Much like the Marine can run, attack and use Stimpacks at the same time.

We then went on to work on what the ability actually did. This involved creating a Buff, and changing it's Modification field. The only reason we create our Effect, is that this is how the Buff (Behavior) is triggered through the Ability. An (rather poor) analogy to think of this is like so: imagine the Ability as a fine-dining Kitchen, and all it's staff and chefs. The Buff is the amazing food that you inevitably come to this Restaurant for. But, without the Waiters (the Effect) to take your order, inform the Kitchen, and bring you your food - the two things are completely separate...

The majority of abilities in Starcraft 2 trigger some sort of Effect. In our case, all our Effect did was apply the buff to our casting unit. But, the purpose of this tutorial is to get you to look further than just Instant - Effects.

Create Unit, Apply Force, Damage, Launch Missile, Create Persistent, Remove/Apply Behaviors are all very useful effects which I can only suggest you learn by experience.

How I made this Tutorial

I created this tutorial by comparing the Stimpack Ability and it's related Effects/Behaviors. I simply created an Ability, and looked at the Stimpack Ability alongside it to compare what fields were important and which were not. I repeated this process for the Behavior. The Effect itself is the simplest part of this ability, yet is so crucial to making it work.

This is how things have always been done. Blizzard create a game, with all of its features, units, abilities, effects etc and we look at these and try and create our own and implement them in new ways.

You could look at the way in which a Raven creates a Point Defence Drone. Take note of the Behaviors which are applied to the Drone itself (Timed Life). And then delve into looking at the cool way in which the Raven actually shoots (Launch Missile) a Drone at a target location, and that Drone stops being a missile and becomes a unit through a (Create Unit) effect that triggers at the Missile Impact location.

A simple way of transferring the knowledge you (hopefully) gained from this tutorial. Would be to recreate the Queens - Transfusion ability. It is an Effect - Target unit, that triggers an effect which restores 125 hitpoints. It has valuable information in the Validators field (such as, the units life must be less than 100%).

Anyways, happy map making!