Reflections on Starcraft 2

April 29th, 2010, Starcraft 2

As some might know, I have the Starcraft 2 beta, which is quite fun. However, for the last couple of days, I have been feeling a rising frustration with Starcraft 2 and Blizzard.

It all started when they removed what is called “wireframe spellcasting”, the User Interface feature where you are allowed to target spells and skills by clicking the unit icons in the bottom bar. Now that it is removed, you must actively find your unit, and click on it on the map. They removed a feature I loved and used, which for me destroyed part of why I was starting to like the game. Instead of improving the interface like they have done for so many parts of the game, they are now hampering the interface to force some kind of ideal playing style on players…

The strange part is their stated reason for doing so: to increase the time spent away from the battle to increase the “feeling of actually managing their base”. They say this, while at the same time allowing casting spells and skills on the mini-map. Effectively, I can still be away from base and manage it, but way more cumbersome. This is not a game design philosophy I can agree with.

For some years, I have been somewhat following the Korean Starcraft scene. Then today, I learned that Blizzard had stopped negotiations with KeSPA, the Korean esports association, regarding broadcasting rights for starcraft 2. I don’t care about the legal situation, but it made me contemplate whom of them is in what position. Would I have been following the korean e-sports community if the RTS they played was not starcraft? Or is it in fact KeSPA and the pro gamers which is the reason I’m following Starcraft? I’m unsure, but Blizzard seems to be 100% sure its their game, this to me is incredibly arrogant towards the work and effort put down by the pro gamers and KeSPA. As I see it, Blizzard seems to think that Starcraft 2 is the only game that will be interesting to watch. I for one, would have no problem watching my favourite pro starcraft 1 gamers duke it out in some other rts.

Battle net has been getting increased value through rankings, achievements, friend systems and so on, to the paying, b-net connected customer. This is great, because it makes the paying version more attractive than a cracked one. However, as some of you may know, Starcraft 2 will not support LAN play. And the stated reason for this is, among other things, to: “safeguard against piracy”. As I’m confident hackers and crackers will manage to enable LAN play for themselves, I’m amazed that Blizzard can take this standpoint. To me, it feels like promoting piracy rather then safeguarding against it. Sure, its not that black and white, but why basically give the cracked version a bonus feature? To me, it makes no sense, and I hope they enable LAN play the second crackers manage to add it.

The last point is about the actual game. For some time, after losing or winning a game in Starcraft 2, I have felt a sort of apathy, a sort of indifference. Up until yesterday I could not identify why this was. I then found this article which basically explains the concept of the “moving shot”: In Starcraft 1, some units, most notably air units could attack and retreat without having to stop in-between. This might sound trivial, but as the article explains, it has some rather grand consequences for the dynamic of a match. If you don’t feel like you want to read it all, basically, it made it possible for a smaller force to get off pot shots on a larger force occupied with something else without risking getting hit itself. This has huge implications and is one of the biggest reasons why pro gamers could get so good in starcraft 1. It made it possible to bridge gaps in unfavourable rock-scissor-paper situations, do comebacks from failed tactics and execute otherwise seen as impossible strategies. In Starcraft 2 I have yet to experience something like the mentioned scenarios happening. It makes me wonder.

Before all this, I was confident I would come to like Starcraft 2 and that it would be a great game. Now I’m not so sure any more. I even had thoughts of boycott going through my head, but I finally decided that writing about it was much more constructive. Thank you for reading!

/thewreck

5 Responses to “Reflections on Starcraft 2”

  1. Kinten :

    I just can’t believe they’re backstabbing the one organization that has helped make Starcraft the most successful spectator game of all time.
    Amazingly poor business thinking there. I guess that’s what you get when you have too many employees with too little to do and too many asses to kiss up to with “smart ideas”.
    Wow.

    This is just too much fail I can’t believe it hasn’t reached “Fail blog” yet.

  2. Jesse :

    I would love to see KeSPA on Sins of a Solar Empire or Dawn of War 2

  3. lupodw :

    I always loved blizzard games… i was a sucker for warcraft & starcraft all the time. And i am one of the biggest fans of diablo and diablo 2.

    Now there are two heards beating in my chest – the one that says: “i hate what they do – because warcraft 3 is pure crap. What is it with those heros? i want to build up massive armies and have a real battle not a fight one on one…”
    and the other one that says: “they make good programs and there is a reason behind the success of all their games” and the create everything for Mac. (which is a BIG THING for me)

    I see starcraft 2 as i would see the diablo 2 thing. diablo 2 was graphically a step backwards if you have seen the nicely rendered pictures from diablo 1- but the game gained so much depth with all the changes and i still play it, allthough i was shocked when i heared about the plans for diablo 2.

    Now the same happens with starcraft 2 and diablo 3 – but i see that still a lot of real good gamers and a lot of developers that have their heard on the right spot work extremely hard to make the best game possible.

    Id like to know more about the game – play it myself once – but i couldnt get a hand on a beta for my mac. And as speaking for the korean front – who knows what was spoken bihind closed doors. you’ll might never know the real reasons for this decissions.

    anyways – i share your concerns… i share your skepticism.. but starcraft 2 is still a beta – a thing that might change a lot till it is released.

    i for one – still hope that it will be the best starcraft game ever.. and i still hope i can kick some ass at spawndefensegames – the only gamemode i was ever good at :)

    just my 2 cents,

    d.

  4. Spwns :

    What a surprise to come to the site after I remembered about Jet engine Nights and see a post about SC2. And not only SC2, but about some of the topics that interest me the most.

    I’m also an avid Progaming follower, and I’m also very disappointed with SC2. There are a TON of things that are terribly made. Too many to list them. And the worst is that it’s going to be released in 2 months, even if it’s not finished. That’s Activision for you.

    SC2 is not a true sequel to SC1: It’s made by different people and with different ideals.

  5. StarCraft 2 Guide :

    Activision is bringing Blizzard down. :/

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