Rush Hour: Starcraft 2 Beta First Impressions

By RPS on February 23rd, 2010 at 4:25 pm.


Kieron: RIGHT! The Starcraft 2 beta is out. We’re all in, except John, who doesn’t want to be in. Is it the most anticipated RTS ever? Yeah, on the mass-cultural scale, probably. We’ll almost certainly be writing a load more down theline, but we thought it’ll be an idea to get those first impressions down. Does nothing compare to Starcraft 2?

Alec: I was going to say “I wonder if we can do this entire thing without using the words ‘nothing’ or ‘compare’. We have already failed.
Kieron: Just to make clear how inexperienced we are, how much have you guys been playing?
Alec: I have played four matches.
Kieron: I’ve done about 5 battles against the PC to learn some shit, and a similar number of online games. Maybe a tad more.
[A long pause]
Alec: Somebody wake up Rossignol
Kieron: Already have.
Jim: Sorry, i was talking about sexy men with Leigh
Kieron: Christ, Jim. We’re into Terrain. Not the lovely terrain of a man’s inner thigh
Jim: I like ‘em butch, I realise.
Kieron: How much Starcraft 2 have you played, friend Rossignol?
Jim: A handful of games now I went straight in with a 1v1, won. Then did some 2v2s with Tim [Edwards, of PC Gamer fame] as a wingman, where we got thrashed, and I mean THRASHED. I got like 20% of the output of the winning top dude. It was hideous
Kieron: My first win online was that first 2vs2 we just played.
Alec: The thrashing is fascinating. It’s not as though the game’s counter-intuitive to any extent, but there’s so much learning involved.
Kieron: I think coming to it a few days later has made all the difference. The difference in play between where Alec is and where I am is pretty steep.
Alec: I’m a complete novice, yeah. My bottom has been soundly spanked… but, having been playing Supreme Commander 2 this week also, the difference is enormous
Kieron: Care to elaborate?
Alec: You can at least see why you’ve failed in Supcom 2, to a reasonable extent. In Starcraft 2, the armies others can raise seem like superhuman feats. If I lose a SupCom 2 match, it’s about inefficiency. In Starcraft 2 (so far), it’s about not understanding. At all. Despite every unit and building have a very obvious purpose.
Kieron: It is that sort of robust thing where x leads to y leads to a flying Z which destroys your enemy if they haven’t prepared for it
Jim: Starcraft’s MP is interesting because pace *really* matters. I mean it matters in all competitive RTS, but this massive tech-tree building process has to be really fast and efficient. It’s almost a physical challenge.
Kieron: It is. This is totally old school.
Alec: Yes, the actions per minute are all.
Kieron: This is going clicks per minute. To do well, you’re going to have to scout at the same time as managing an economy
Alec: And I still find myself in periods where there doesn’t seem to be anything I can immediately do. And i get awfully tense then, because I know full well that means I’m doing something fundamentally wrong.
Kieron: I said a while back that how they’re going to balance it between the evolution of the genre – which has got rid of a lot of the really raw micro – and what its fanbase (i.e. the nation of Korea) like, which is a tricky thing to pull off.
Alec: Yeah, they have to consciously ignore what’ happened in the last 10 years. On a less personally whiny level, it also means you can’t really watch battles, because you have to go do something else, which is a shame.
Kieron: Nah, I agree. It’s a shame. There’s some lovely detail in there, like with the Protoss bisecting a marine with a slice of their combat weapons.
Jim: Yeah, that move to pure actions, rather than spectacle, is interesting. It feels diametrically opposed to, say, Dawn Of War 2, where so much of the game is in the fact that these battles play out visually.

Alec: I’m quite sure I can learn it. The question is whether I want to.
Kieron: As Alec says. To me, it feels a lot like rock-paper-scissors, but it takes 20 minutes for you to make your rock only to discover the opposition has created paper.
Alec: and the third guy has made MEGA-SCISSORS
Kieron: The question which nags is, as Alec says, whether I want to learn it. It’s like Street Fighter 4. Yeah, I see the craft. I’m not sure I care.
Alec: I wonder if some of this is games journalists. We’re not good at giving ourselves fully to one game, because we have to see more. Unless we’re Jim, in which case we play Eve forever.
Jim: Yeah, Tim and I were discussing this. Is it worth becoming masters? I mean I do pick up a game to master occasionally. I did it with Quake 3, then Eve and i guess a bunch of other stuff when i was younger – Speedball 2, GoldenEye. I’m not sure I have that competitive burn for this kind of game though
Alec: I’ve never got much of a kick out of believing myself to be hyper-skilled at something. I crave experiences, not refinement.
Kieron: It’s not even about being hyper skilled. It’s about being acceptable. As in, being able to play the game and not be the twat in poker who keeps on betting on the wrong cards and annoying everyone else
Alec: …which is an attitude that’s a big part of the discincentive to learn.
Kieron: Though it really is doing everything to help people who do want to be really good. I mean, the timelines after the game, showing each build action of each side. Tom Chick was making jokes about “Oh no – I lost a second in building my pop-cap-increaser”, but that’s totally what some people will be doing
Alec: Yeah, it’s important to note that this hasn’t been made for us.
Jim: Yeah, i mean i have been there with games. Pruning back Quake 3 visuals to create highest performance settings but this is an odd model for me. Speed-strategy
Kieron: Yeah. It’s very retro
Jim: It doesn’t feel physical in the right way
Alec: It’s good that a game has been made specifically to cater for those guys, rather than trying to be all things to all men.

Kieron: It’s innovative by default as no-one does trad RTS any more (Which is another chick observation, to give proper credit.
Jim: it’s neither properly grand strategy, nor really personal.
Alec: It sort of frees up yer Dawn of Wars et al to try other things
Jim: it’s the solidity of it that i can’t quite get over though, it’s disgustingly slick. Like, even the menus leave you PUMPED. It’s the perfect kind of cocktail of engineering and bombast.
Kieron: I think Alec is overstating how much this is made for the hardcore.
Jim: Well yeah – the skirmishes show you could play just an easy game and the single player is probably going to be deliciously different in pace and structure
Alec: Yeah, the singleplayer will be key, and typically laden with Blizz polish
Kieron: Yeah – without the SP it’s hard to make a real opinion on its accessibility, but even as a MP game… well, it’s not any number of the really mental games. It’s very fast. Games are over in 15-30 minutes. I never played Quake 3 to master it… but I played it obsessively in a social group. If I play this, it’s going to be like that,
Alec: That’s a good point, actually. It will do the trick for groups of four or six friends of roughly the same skill. Boardgame Night mentality. But the multiplayer isn’t interested in catering to people who don’t already play online RTS extensively though. There is skirmish vs easies, but they don’t feel satisfying because it’s so obviously gimped.
Kieron: This is the Beta, man. The first week of the Beta. With only very easy AIs. We can’t make a statement like that, surely?
Alec: I’m making it, not you.
Kieron: Yeah, but it’s mental. What’s actually so alienating about the game?
Alec: I’m thinking of the poll I did a while back, about RTS accessibility. Overwhelming people said they were tough to get into. This isn’t going to change that.
Jim: Yeah, they really are distancing, more than any other genre, i think. Once you are in there it’s fine, but you have to learn them. When i played the first build of SC2, there was no pop-up information on any button so i had literally no idea what anything was or what it could do. This is like three years ago at the preview, of course, but it was really something when I didn’t know my shit, and others did.
Alec: I’ll be interested to see what stuff’s in the full game, in terms of tuition and even how the singleplayer guides you into core concepts but when you read something on a forum that says “don’t ever have all 5 build slots filled” but if you haven’t read that and you’re looking a list of 5 slots… you fill them. I’m not saying people aren’t going to learn, but it doesn’t seem big on natural ways in.
Kieron: So, are you seriously saying the game would be more accessible if you couldn’t queue your units?
Alec: No, and stop being Captain Snark.
Kieron: That’s what you just said!
Alec: I’m saying crucial stuff is a long way from obvious, and only learned from a lot of experience and research. This is why it’s alienating. Your mistake is to think I’m saying that’s necessarily bad. I’m just saying it’s alienating.
Jim:That’s perhaps purely down to the environment of mutiplayer beta. If you’d played six hours of tutorial SP it’d be different
Kieron: How is “don’t tie up money you don’t have to?” that obscure? It’s the interesting choice they make though when queueing – there’s two mechanisms you can go with a game. Either you pay when you queue or you pay when the queue reaches that point. The latter reduces micro at the expense of having to balance your production or having half your queues just fail. The former maximialises the possible efficiency of the system. Assuming someone can ride it. Blizzard went for the former.
Alec: This Have and Have Not mentality. Kieron’s bascically saying “noob” here. It’s fascinating how quickly that can take hold, which is a big part of why I fear people who are interested in Blizz games but not RTS vets are going to struggle to find a way in here. People who get it lack the language and empathy to explain it to people who don’t. And, again, I’m very keen to see how Blizz are going to tackle that – because I’m entirely sure they will, in tutorials, in SP, in trainng matches…
Kieron: Yeah. And the Multiplayer beta, going to people who are big fans, mainly, almost certainly punishes people… vut let’s put this another way Alec. Would you rather you were competitive when all the other 3 players were much better than you? As in, we’ve learned much more than you have because we’ve played a significant number of games?
Alec: And, in that short time, you’ve lost all sympathy for those who haven’t.

Kieron: I haven’t, as you can see earlier that I was agreeing with you.
Alec: It comes back down to do I want to bother to learn more, when it leads to thinking like that? Y’know – I do. I’m keen to get a better handle on it. But that’s down to bloody-mindedness rather than the game inviting me in.
Kieron: I just think you’re going too far in your comments about it. Coming off the back of being thrashed twice by better players, understandably.
Alec: You’re misreading my intent – I’m fascinated by how RTS is trying to respond to its inacessibility, so coming to one that isn’t interested in that response is journalistically interesting. I really don’t care that I was beaten – I entirely expected to.
Kieron: Yeah, which links back to the whole dilemma of it being the most popular competitive RTS of all time, when there hasn’t been a serious competitive RTS in years anyone’s given a damn about.
Alec: Again – for that reason, I’m very glad this exists. No half measures to cater for everybody and anybody. It’s giving the people exactly what they want.
Kieron: Anyone got anything else before wrapping up?
Alec: I like that the Terran Ghosts can drop Nukes. That’s my favourite thing so far.
Kieron: A game with nukes is always > a game without nukes. I find the oddest thing about it is that the Protoss are by far the most accessible of the 3 armies to learn. Terran are just… odd.
Jim: I think I get on with the Terrans best. Lots of little men + turrets. That seems like a strategy game to me. Also: tanks!
Alec: Basically: the multiplayer beta is exactly what I expected it would be. I’m pretty sure the SCheads will feel exactly the same way, which means Blizzard have probably triumphed.
Kieron: Yes. Starcraft 2 is definitely the most starcraft2ian game I’ve ever played.
Jim: Hooray!
Kieron: Oh – and, as promised, I had to say that Tim E is the best.
Jim: He sure is. But only at Starcraft 2.
Kieron: Though he over-grows his economy unnecessarily, frankly. You heard, Tim. You heard.
Quinns: If I end up getting me beta access after all I think I want to get really good at the Zerg. Like, Competent. I do want to get my head around the terran, but the lure of an easier race is strong. I really like the idea of the creep.

More impressions as and when we get them. Stay tuned to see if Jim will keep his tanks, Alec and Kieron have to be separated by their mums and whether The Creep will be the new Iron for Quinns.

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167 Comments »

  1. Tim E says:

    I’m the best!

  2. jsutcliffe says:

    My god, that sounds horrendous. My every fear about online RTS has been not only confirmed, but writ large across the Interweb. Yike. However, I must say I liked Quinns emerging from his burrow at the end — it’s nice to get in character.

    I hope the single-player is worthwhile. I rather miss RTS games with stories, and StarCraft had one of the best.

    • ManaTree says:

      Well, sure. But remember that this is only a small beta testing only the game.

      There’s still much to be had with custom content and SP (which does sound like it’ll be pretty good). Likewise, I liked the story in it. It was basically my first introduction to that kind of lore (bugs! aliens! humans!).

  3. AndrewC says:

    ‘Kieron: How is “don’t tie up money you don’t have to?” that obscure? It’s the interesting choice they make though when queueing – there’s two mechanisms you can go with a game. Either you pay when you queue or you pay when the queue reaches that point. The latter reduces micro at the expense of having to balance your production or having half your queues just fail. The former maximialises the possible efficiency of the system. Assuming someone can ride it. Blizzard went for the former.’

    That entire paragraph is entirely obscure to me. You are cold and sympathy-less, Kieron.

    • Cooper says:

      I am cognate that the language which is being used is the one I am most familar with, one which I have a good grasp of and which I know, even when used in obscure ways, I am able to garner meaning from.

      Yet this commentary leaves me reeling. I -know- that this is English in which you are communicating, the words are there, in clear type, there is a recognisable sentence structure, there are verbs and there are subjects. Yet the meaning is far beyond my grasp.

      I find discussion of ‘hardcore’ RTS games a lot like I find commentary of foot-to-ball matches. Oddly disconcerting, uncanny and dissonant.

    • Thants says:

      I suddenly feel bad that I understood exactly what he was saying.

    • PixelCody says:

      I’m very familiar with this concept from Sins of a Solar Empire. The game’s a bit of a minefield in that regard, with a million and one different queues available to tie cash up in (multiple research queues, an upgrade queue for each planet owned, build orders within each planet’s gravity well, build orders for unit production).

      It makes complete sense to me as a design decision, but damn am I lazy/inefficient when given the option to queue things up.

    • bbot says:

      >wah wah I can’t understand this

      This is not hard, you guys. Here, let me use short sentences and bullet points.

      You can either:

      1.) Pay when you queue up a unit.

      2.) Pay when the unit is actually built.

      If 1, the queue aborts when you run out of money, and is generally ugly. If 2, then you can achieve maximum efficiency through micromanagement, but nobody likes that, except for the Koreans, and also Kieron.

      >wah wah poorly written

      It’s an informal first look, the writing is not going to be polished. Plus, it’s Kieron talking, and you really can’t expect much from him.

    • AndrewC says:

      bbot: For some inexplicable reason I am reminded of this clip:

    • Jeremy says:

      Think of it like a reverse credit card: Either you pay now, and get the unit later, or pay for the unit when you need it.

      bbot, saying “wah wah” at any point in conversation negatively impacts your credibility and is mostly annoying. Nobody is crying, certain people just don’t like to play RTS competitively.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Bbot: I didn’t actually say anything about liking it or disliking it. I merely described them, noted the implications in terms of gameplay of each and said which one Blizzard went for, which is an example which shows their their (current*) priorities.

      KG

      *It is beta, after all.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      (Rather than the revrse credit card, I’d say the two systems would be “Pay on ordering” versus “Pay at the start of construction.)

      The latter does create a few other problems, mainly what do you do when you have no resources, and how games solve it also changes stuff. For example, AI War does the pay during construction model – however, if multiple constructor units are being held back on resources, the one with the cheapest unit takes it as soon as it is available. Which reduces the resources and since they’re quick to make, may actually then be also waiting on more resources by the time it arrives. In other words, the expensive stuff literally never gets built if there’s not enough resources coming in, unless you pause all your cheaper build-queues. In other words, micro from the other way.

      KG

    • Thants says:

      There’s also the slightly different third way, as in Total Annihilation/Supreme Commander, where you pay the cost of a unit in a trickle as it’s being built.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Thants: That’s really a way of implementing the second method rather than the first. It’s a variation on “pay at construction”.

      EDIT: And I’ll admit, it’s one of my favourite solutions.

      KG

    • wiper says:

      Thants/KG:

      Not that it really matters, but I thought it was interesting that Thants brought that in as the ‘third way’ exemplified by the TA series & legacy, and KG described it as an alternative to the pay-at-construction method, when in fact if anything it’s the /first/ way – it’s the system Westwood used in Dune II and the C&C’s (though, of course, they utterly lacked queuing until… Red Alert? Tiberian Sun? I can no longer remember), and the other systems were a variation thereof introduced with the Warcrafts and other C&C clones.

    • Chris Park says:

      Incidentally, the current resource model of AI War (since all the way back to 2.0 or so) is also the pay-as-you-go approach of SupCom/TA, rather than paying at the end only. We did that in order to even out economic outflows and to prevent some exploits with queuing expensive things you can’t afford, then pausing them, and having them “on tap” at any time, etc. That sort of flows mechanism seems like the best approach to me at this stage, having looked at the problem from a variety of angles.

      Anyway, interesting read in general. I, too, am glad this game exists though I doubt I’ll ever play it. It’s diametrically opposite from where my interests lie, but it’s cool to see that it’s a true sequel to the original, and not something that is coming out into the rest of the genre to be generic and vague and leaning purely on its name for sales. That’s really gratifying to see.

  4. Fitzmogwai says:

    Man. Best of luck to Blizzard with this and all, but this is so not my bag. Roll on Diablo 3.

  5. Rinox says:

    Nice write-up guys. I think I’ll stick to the singleplayer and some skirmishes with friends though. I’m too old (and don’t have enough time) to master the superfast clicking RTS fest for no other reason than, well, the feeling of being good. Still looking forward to SC2 though.

  6. Clovis says:

    There’s a lot of discussion about how this will not welcome new players into the MP. It sounds like Blizzard is playing to their fanbase on MP, so new players will skip it. Is this so bad? Wasn’t there a poll that a very large number of buyers never (or almost never) touch the MP? If the single player campaign is fun and inviting to new RTS players then this thing will sell huge and be a big success. Who cares if only the hardcore play MP?

    Personally, I don’t think I’d even like the SP. I’m always humiliated by how bad I am at RTSs whenever I try them. And I keep trying them …

    (oh, to be clear, the beta is MP, so this is obviously what you would focus on. I’m not complaining about the article; it was very informative. I will not be playing this MP)

  7. Selachii says:

    Nice read, I’m especially curious how this develops with Alec playing both SC2 and SC2, *harhar*, Supreme Commander 2 and Starcraft 2. Not in the interest of drawing overzealous fanboy attention, mind.

  8. Meatloaf says:

    Well, this has confirmed what I expected about SC2: It’s a harsh, calculating place that’s full of stress on skill and efficiency and lacking in enjoyment. However, I didn’t like SC1 for the same reasons, so I guess that’s to be assumed.

    However, I cannot express how excited I am for the map editor. Seriously. Holy crap want.

  9. Tom OBedlam says:

    I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, but only the single player. I’ve never been much cop at multiplayer RTS because I just don’t have the competitive streak you need to play, its too stressful. The main reason I play RTS is because I like the relatively sedate of it compared to FPS, in multiplayer I find myself panicking too much. “Argh… I need more vespene gas! Argh… I need more zerglings! Argh… he’s got a Yamato! Noooo!”.

    Unless its CIV, thats grand to play LAN

    • Paul B says:

      Glad I’m not the only one who lacks the competitive spark. For the same reason I shied away from PvP in Eve Online, and forsook PvP in World of Warcraft. Maybe I’m just lacking in testosterone, but I just can’t deal with the adrenaline rush, and stress, of anything but the most gentle multiplayer games.

  10. Ian says:

    This is firmly in my “I’m glad it’s there but I’ll never, ever play it” category.

    • Pani says:

      I completely agree, I enjoyed DoW2 too much to ever go back to a million-unit model again. My little brain cannot handle too many things at once. I am pleased for the RTS purists though.

    • Wulf says:

      This is precisely how I feel. I’m all for games being there for the niches that appreciate them, goodness knows I have my niches and I’d be very upset if they were taken away. …there’s something very wrong with that sentence, but regardless, this isn’t my thing. If I were to play it then I’d probably just get irritated at it for not being Dawn of War II, because that’s the height of this sort of genre for me. But there are purists who’ll lap this up. As someone who’s seen beloved genres die (and borne again, and then died again, and then in some sort of undead state in between where everyone was saying it was dead despite thriving), it’s good to know that there are developers making games for every sort of gamer.

      RTS on, Starcraft types!

  11. SuperNashwan says:

    Sounds like this is shaping up to be the frantic click-a-thon I’d feared. There was a movement years back in RTS games that started to push more towards allowing you to set up rules for your units to follow if you couldn’t directly control them, freeing you from a lot of micro, whatever happened to that?

    • Wulf says:

      I’d genuinely love to see a return to that, and I remember the sort of games you’re talking about. They were considered very experimental at the time because computers just weren’t up to it. But they are today! They have been for quite a while, and probably even an indie dev cold fulfil that niche and bring something fresh to the RTS field.

      It’d be particularly fun if it allowed micromanagement versus creating rules too, so the player could see whether their AI coding techniques create opponents which are smarter than a human player. And as everyone should know, in a strategy game this is entirely possible, but rarely seen due to lazy AI programmers. Putting the AI rules in the hands of the players could result in interesting things indeed.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      Warzone 2100 has the most beautiful solution to that. You assign your units to a command unit, which in turn increases accuracy, let’s the units focus fire and can even call in artillery. It also means that you can select entire squads by selecting just one unit.

      Why aren’t we seeing this in todays rts? It was such a great concept. :(

  12. Rich says:

    Single player for me.

    What do we actually know, DRM-wise?
    Something like Steam or Relic’s online activation thing, I’ll be able to (grudgingly) handle.
    An Ubisoft style crash-to-menu-on-disconnect-o-tron? I will cry. Cry like a baby.

  13. the wiseass says:

    I never played any RTS online, but I’ve had great fun with playing with friends. You know, when all your competitors are more or less on the same skill level a lot of pressure is taken away from these kind of games. We often would agree to have a 20 minutes or so “build up time” before attacking each other or go by other self-imposed rules.

    So yeah, I’m kinda looking forward to this game but only for the single-player and to play with my friends only. I’m not a very competitive person (actually I prefer co op games), so I hope it will possible to play together against the computer. Siding up against the AI usually turns out to be more fun than destroying each other. Actually, what is the maximum number of players in this game?

    As for pace, I still think that AoE II is the best RTS out there. The balance between skill and fun is simply perfect. I do think that Starcraft always put too much emphasis on “rush tactics” instead of defensive play. I wish playing defensively would be as effective as rushing in.

    • Alaric says:

      I don’t think there was a single war in the history of mankind that was won by expert defense.

  14. Marshall says:

    This came hilariously close to sounding like the argument that led to a kid getting karate kicked off a Muni bus the other night. Calm, gentlemen, calm.

  15. Thants says:

    You know, I don’t really understand why people seem so intimidated. If it’s just not your kind of game that’s one thing, but there’s something about Starcraft that seems to make people really insecure. What no one seems to factor in is that there’s going to be a matchmaking system. It doesn’t matter how bad you are, you can play other people of the same skill level. Those Korean pros you’ve seen aren’t the people you’d be playing.

    It’s as though people saw a basketball game on TV, and figured that since they’d never be that good they could never play a friendly game themselves.

    • Shalrath says:

      If I may use a Starcraft (one) reference, it’s being intimidated at that exact moment when you ‘get’ why 4 Vultures with speed boost counters (infinite) zealots. Just knowing that X beats Y… unless Z. And if A happens, then B has to be used to counter, but if they add C, then you have to add D to B.. etc.

      It’s like rock paper scissors, only there are 20 of each, and they all counter different parts. This is an incredibly tough genre to get a handle on, ESPECIALLY in the Blizzard realm where everything needs to be micro’d at all times.

      Come on, we’re all played a LAN game of Starcraft and had ‘that guy’ ruin it all because he was able to retreat/fire with vultures when no-one else could.

    • Tim James says:

      Thanks for mentioning this. We’re not back in 1999 playing random pickup games. There is still a learning curve when jumping from single player to multiplayer, but after that you will be playing against people of your skill.

    • Red Avatar says:

      Well to be fair, matchmaking systems are still unreliable. Reality is this: when you lose a lot in a game, you’ll leave. When you win a lot, you’ll stay. Few people will want to push through the constant losing to maybe lose less quickly and then invest even more time to maybe win one game out of a dozen.

      I never liked Starcraft online because, to me, it was not a game about skills but rather about knowing how the game worked and about knowing what to build first. For me, a strategy game should be flexible, changing with every game. With Starcraft, you’d get the exact same start every game, the exact same rush to build that building first, etc. This is not a game I want to play.

    • Shalrath says:

      And how, Red. My record for DoW2′s WORTHLESS ‘matchmaking’ is like 16 wins and 57 losses, I think. Probably worse than that. I managed to get the ‘play ‘x’ number of matches as each race’ achievements for Space Marines, Orcs, and Eldar without a win.

      My average rank comparrison is ranks 1-10 for my side, and ranks 40-50 for the other.

      I have screenshots of 5 matches in a row where our highest ranked person was 1/5th their lowest.

  16. Heliocentric says:

    See… I always fall out with games a neural net can play better than me. But then, given enough generations and enough processing power neural nets win everything.

  17. Bowlby says:

    I can’t remember if it was either PC Zone or PC Gamer who did these discussion transcripts but I always enjoyed them, and the same applies here. Cheers, guys. :)

    As someone who really enjoyed StarCraft’s single player and played a little Warcraft 3 multiplayer, I’m really looking forward to this game. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say it’s my most anticipated PC release apart from Diablo 3.

    The stuff about the game’s perceived inacessibility doesn’t bother me, because that’s what the genre’s always been like, and, of course, it is going to feel a little inaccessable if you haven’t played the campaigns through first, as they traditionally form as introductions to the various units and strategies you might employ in multiplayer.

  18. DXN says:

    I think this is definitely the snippiest I’ve seen the RPS team get with each other!

    What we’ve learned is that SC2 multiplayer is scary and that some people like that.

    Also Kieron is a hypercompetitive robot and/or Alec is a big wet blanket.

  19. Kester says:

    From what I’ve been reading about this, the Street Fighter 4 comparison seems apt. Although that game is saved by the fact that you can very much enjoy beating up your friends in your front room even if you don’t know what you’re doing. Beating up your friends over the internet isn’t quite as visceral and I’m not sure I’d dare venture onto battle.net for opposition: it has to be one of the worst online communities in existence.

    • Dominic White says:

      While there are some comparisons you could make to fighting games, at least in SF4, you can always see exactly what your opponent is doing, and if you get your arse handed to you, you can see exactly what moves he used and when. There’s still a world of learning between newbie and pro grades, but even watching pro-vs-pro gameplay, I never feel lost or confused. Impressed, maybe, but not confused.

  20. Damien Stark says:

    Man, where’s Vinraith when you need him -
    Single Player! That’s where they “invite you in” and teach you how to play. You guys jumped into Multiplayer Beta – of any game ever – and expected it to invite you in, teach you how to play, at a calm pace? I’ve never played any RTS (hell, even TF2) that lives up to that.

    And didn’t you guys even run a poll that confirmed another site’s poll that most people just play RTS single player only?

    You seem to have reached the conclusion that SC2 is catering to the hardcore by… playing the hardcore mode against hardcore players…?

    • Alec Meer says:

      By playing against each other, in fact. The other issue with saying this beta is only for the hardcore is that anyone with a World of Warcraft account could sign up for it – it’s really not going to be exclusively filled with RTS vets.

      Moreover, it’s a bit of a reach to say that SP RTS teaches you how to play multiplayer well enough. They’ve been a very different discipline for a long time; the hard switch between the two is dramatic. From what I hear, though, SC2-final may be doing some stuff to ease the lead-in, as it happens – and if there is anyone who can finally pull that off, it’s Blizzard.

    • jarvoll says:

      The guy I know who’s been in this beta (and is among the crazies who actually do well in ladder competitions) once told me that the whole “play the single-player to prepare for the multiplayer” is a total fallacy. Instead, you have to just jump into MP, online MP, as quickly as possible, because it’s all about learning the pro strats from those who best play the game. This is why he payed $300 for a beta key on ebay in the first place: the super-serious can’t afford to miss the jump.

  21. Daniel Klein says:

    I want to sink my teeth into this so bad. I cannot wait to waste hundreds of hours (literally hundreds) to perfect my play, playing game after game after game. I did it for War3, reached a level that, if you squinted really hard, could be called adequate, and when I lost interest in War3 finally, nothing else has ever scratch that itch again.

    Scratch me, Blizzard. I want you to touch me in my special place.

  22. Wolfox says:

    I’ll pass on this one. I’m more of a TBS guy, and the RTS games I like are either slower and easier on micromanagement (Kohan, AI War) or light on multitasking by focusing on one area (World in Conflict). I have no interest in a game that will be decided by how many seconds you wasted following the steps in your cookie-cutter “build order”.

    Then again, no loss. I wasn’t interested in Starcraft 2 before, and I expected it to be something like this, so it makes little difference. Thanks for the first impressions, though.

  23. Ginger Yellow says:

    Jim: Starcraft’s MP is interesting because pace *really* matters. I mean it matters in all competitive RTS, but this massive tech-tree building process has to be really fast and efficient. It’s almost a physical challenge.
    Kieron: It is. This is totally old school.
    Alec: Yes, the actions per minute are all.

    And this is why I probably won’t play more than a handful of MP games. I’ll still buy it, because for some strange reason I love RTS campaigns, and I don’t begrudge them doing this – they’d be a bit insane to fundamentally change what made Starcraft so popular, especially in Korea, but it’s not for me. Give me something like CoH or Total War or even Sins, where it’s less about CPM and timing than it is about reading a tactical/strategic situation and adapting. I suspect, unless it turns out to be a complete disaster, I’ll be playing Ruse for longer than SC2.

  24. Chris D says:

    I think I’m with Alec on this one.

  25. Nihilille says:

    I just want to say that I’m glad to see another co-op wot-we-think thingie here since they’re one of my favorite things about this blog! The first article I read was the Borderlands wot-we-think chat-like thingie and that’s what got me hooked on RPS (which is now my go-to blog for pc-gaming news).

    More of these!

  26. Andrew C. says:

    The nice thing about that new match-making system implemented in the new Battle.net should cover the whole “don’t have enough time to invest in this” aspect by placing you against similarly skilled opponents.

    With a restricted pool of people in the beta, most of which I think are Starcraft fans, it’s hard for it to work properly but I have confidence that when the game is going to get released the playing field will level itself out.

  27. PixelCody says:

    I’m gonna echo something Alec said here, “I crave experiences, not refinement.”

    This is why I’m glad Blizzard are sticking with the traditional/harcore RTS dynamic though. I hadn’t discovered strategy games back when SC1 came out so I’m really looking forward to giving this a go. I won’t be aiming to master any of the races, I’d rather become competent at a low level and research around to grok what I’m missing out on then I’ll put the game down. Looking forward to single player though!

    Conversely I love trying to master DoW2′s multiplayer and have no interest at all in the sp portion.

    • archonsod says:

      Yeah, my problem so far is it sounds like I already had this particular experience ten years ago, and wasn’t particularly impressed back then. I’m sure the hardcore SC fans will like it, but I doubt it’ll really appeal to many beyond that.

    • PixelCody says:

      I’d probably be right there with you if I had played the original.

  28. IvanHoeHo says:

    Knife fight!

    Have you guys set a date yet, or are y’all just gonna get all stabby stab stab in the middle of a podcast?

  29. autarch says:

    This. With enough players (of which I am sure SC2 will have plenty), a good matchmaking system should be pairing you up against players of equal skill level.

    If the game is fun, it should be fun playing at lower skill levels with more-or-less equal opponents. Don’t over think it and worry about how many people are better then you, just play the damn game.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      “If the game is fun, it should be fun playing at lower skill levels with more-or-less equal opponents. Don’t over think it and worry about how many people are better then you, just play the damn game.”

      It’s not about how many people are better than you. It’s that, in order to get better yourself, you have to improve your CPM and the precise timing of your build order etc. That’s not what I personally want from a real time strategy game. I want a game in which self-improvement mainly involves learning the nuances of units, how abilitites complement each other, and how to read your opponent’s tactics – and then synthesising and deploying that knowledge in real time. Like I say above, I don’t want or expect Blizzard to make SC2 like that. Indeed, I’m glad there’s somebody making a really old school RTS but with modern tech. I’m just saying that’s why I won’t be playing much multiplayer.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      To give a briefer response, I want getting better at an RTS to mean making better decisions.

    • jarvoll says:

      I completely appreciate your RTS preferences (I all but hold the same myself), but at the same time, this position has always weirded me out a bit. The way I see it, asking for an RTS to do away with APM, or to agree upon a 20-minute no-attack period, or whatever, is akin to turning deathmatch FPS into wild-west-style duels. Sure, there’s a certain something about artificially restricting each contestant to a single shot fired from 20 paces after a 10-second countdown, but I think we could agree that it’d be a LOT less exciting than Quake 3. Speed is/can be tension and skill.

      The amazing thing about RTS is that it can have all the speed and frenetic rush of an FPS, but with decisions that are just *that* much more complicated. To be good at RTS, you absolutely need to know the ins and outs of every unit, you need to gather information on your enemy’s force, you need to make tactical decisions. Requiring a high APM simply asks that you do this *quickly*. Yes, there’s a barrier to learning this, but it’s no different in principle to an FPS or chess. Ultimately, most of your decisions (after having played for a while) will be ones you’ve made before, and so making those decisions becomes pattern-recognition. This is a Good Thing, as it frees your conscious mind to think about higher-level strategy, to deal with unusual situations, etc…

      Pro chess players can play speed games because they’ve seen most patterns on the board before, and instinctively know what to do when that pattern comes up. Minesweeper is similar: see a 3 beside a line of uncleared cells? You automatically know that all 3 are mines and flag them almost without thinking. An FPS is just a really basic version of this: see guy, is he on my team? no? shoot. yes? don’t shoot. It obviously takes a lot less time to reduce the decision process in an FPS to be automatic, which makes high-speed RTS *seem* impenetrable by comparison. As the RPS guys have said: the craft is there, you just have to be willing to invest the time to make it all automatic.

      But, just as chess or minesweeper, NOT having made all these decisions automatic doesn’t mean you can’t play and have a great time; far from it. As others have pointed out, SC2 will have a matchmaking system which will allow us mortals to play against others who are also slow and confused. I, for one, am very excited to think of being able to play a Starcraft game online without feeling dirty and ashamed afterwards.

      Also, complaints about build-orders strike me in the same way: who on earth would complain that certain enemies require certain guns in an FPS? (To clarify, yes, the first few buildings are usually the same, but it’s seriously JUST the first few… after that, it’s about realizing “oh, I need to produce X to counter Y; that means I need branch off to the strategy and build order that allows the building of X as fast as possible.”)

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      “Sure, there’s a certain something about artificially restricting each contestant to a single shot fired from 20 paces after a 10-second countdown, but I think we could agree that it’d be a LOT less exciting than Quake 3. Speed is/can be tension and skill”

      Sure, it can be. It’s just not what I’m looking for in an RTS. I certainly don’t want my RTS to be as “exciting” as Quake 3. I want it to be, for want of a better word, involving. With lots of pretty explosions. And I’m not talking about artificial restrictions, let alone a 20 min ceasefire. For all its faults, CoH achieves most of what I want in an RTS, and it does this by reducing the unit count to something manageable by mortals, giving units a decent but not unreasonable amount of survivability (except against their hard counters), using cover, and by building the economy around map control in a pretty cunning way. The map control aspect forces you onto the offensive, which ensures frequent skirmishes, but it also provides interesting tactical decisions like pushing for a cut-off vs consolidating your existing holdings. Certainly having good CPM helps, but it’s far from the be-all and end-all. Conversely, SupCom, which I also love but am rubbish at, goes in the other direction by making the economy fiercely complicated and flexible, giving lots of interesting optimisation possibilities.

      But, again, I’m not slagging off Blizzard’s choice – the strategy world would be poorer without a high quality, well balanced CPM game like Starcraft. But I’ve no desire to get good at it, whereas I’m totally addicted to CoH.

    • Kester says:

      @jarvoll: I’m not sure the wild-west-shootout-in-Quake 3 analogy is the right one. Quake strafe jumping/rocket jumping are probably more appropriate, as they’re things that weren’t intended to be a major part of gameplay but became so due to how the physics modelling worked. Similarly, I’m pretty sure that Starcraft was never designed intending that the person who could click fastest should triumph, it’s just a side-effect of imperfect AI. To pros they’re integral parts of the game, but to most people they’re, well, just silly.

      I find the evolution of competitive games pretty interesting, as most of the design is bizarre from a common sense point of view. If you sat down and tried to design a competitive RTS from scratch, I doubt it’d look a lot like Starcraft, as a lot of the skills needed to do well there aren’t ones most people are interested in. The design quirks tend to persist through later versions because the pro community doesn’t want the skills they’ve built up to be useless, and the developers generally listen.

    • jarvoll says:

      @Ginger Yellow: yeah, that’s totally fair enough. As I said, I’m pretty much the same in my tastes. I’m the really annoying chess opponent who takes way too long on every turn; I definitely have a natural leaning towards slooow, considered play. It just strikes me as odd that so many people (including myself), who are totally fine with FPS, cower in fear at the mere mention of a traditional RTS. It strikes me as odd that a community (including myself) that is usually ALL for more details, learning, skill development, and complication (see the whole sim genre, Deus Ex versus Invisible War complaints, &c…) can seemingly arbitrarily find the same thing in an RTS consumingly intimidating. Also, I would dearly love as many normal people to play SC2 as possible, so that I’ve got a better chance of having fun online, so I’m trying to explore reasons people are turned off from trying it out.

      @Kester: Yeah, you’re right, that *is* a much better analogy. I double-like it because I can still fit it in my thought process: how many people complain about the bunny-hopping, rocket-jumping, kiting, or circle-strafing in Quake 3? Almost no-one, and those who don’t like it simply play one of those military-sim games like Arma. I’ve never seen “oh, Unreal Tournament 4, that’s too intimidatingly fast for me and the bunny-hopping is ridiculous”, but that’s essentially the meat of this comments thread. It’s not to say their personal preferences are wrong, not at all, but just strange that things we crave in one genre can be so shunned in another.

  30. Zaphid says:

    Starcraft was always only for those who held on and kept improving, which gave birth to a community that lives on for more than a decade. Most of the serious players, as in: I want to get better at this, moved from battle.net to ICCup.

    Problem of RTSes is that you usually play alone or in very small numbers, if you are dead weight or not playing properly, you will get your ass kicked and there is 0 element of luck involved. No crits, no vehicles, no OP weapons, it’s just you. So if you can’t really unwind by playing that. Also many people fear the unknown that is your opponent, you don’t know when an attack is coming unless you scout properly, 5 minutes of you building your base might be for naught because you had insufficient intel.

    Which are those exact same things that made the progaming scene thrive. You can always play better.

  31. Henrik J says:

    “when you read something on a forum that says “don’t ever have all 5 build slots filled” but if you haven’t read that and you’re looking a list of 5 slots… you fill them. I’m not saying people aren’t going to learn, but it doesn’t seem big on natural ways in.”

    You dont actually have to know that, if you just want to play a casual game then you can, from what i can tell Battlenet is pretty good at putting people in the same league as people with the same skills. The main different between this game and many others is that it has a built-in pro scene, and so of course there are lots of tactics and build orders, but again they are nothing anybody needs to worry about unless they want to compete with the best.

  32. Philip L says:

    A lot of the comments here are suggesting they’ll not buy SC2 due to the hardcore nature of the multiplayer (either because they don’t like spending hours getting good, or they simply prefer singleplayer). That is, of course, fine. However, I put many, many hours into Starcraft, yet only played at most 25 actual RTS games of Starcraft. The rest I spent playing player-made maps that didn’t actually have you playing an RTS at all and were nothing like the base game.

    I will probably do the same with SC2 – although I am looking forward to playing this more than I did play Starcraft, I know most of my time will still be into the custom maps (tower defence, hero-centred games etc.)

    So, to summarise – people who buy it for the singleplayer and feel intimidated by the mutliplayer, I implore you to log on, and try some of the user made maps for something different.

    • Shalrath says:

      I was going to get it for the SP originally – then I found out the SP will cost 180 dollars, and said fuck it.

  33. Theory says:

    I find it fascinating that not only is everyone deciding that they aren’t interested in SC2 (as I am), but also that very few people are arguing otherwise. It’s very much like the average gamer’s reaction to Eve.

  34. Flameberge says:

    From what I’ve heard so far, I think I’m likely to fall close to Alec’s opinion. The whole micro-ing of RTSs is not something that particularly interests me at all, and it sounds like MP of Starcraft 2 is my idea of gaming hell. However, as has been pointed out, that’s not because it’s going to be bad, but because that’s exactly what Blizzard are aiming for, and that’s what the Starcraft multiplayer fanatics want.

    It’s intriguing that in the same way Western MMOs have attempted in various ways to leave the ‘grind’ behind, but conversely the grind is how Korea defines an MMO; that Western RTS’ have moved away from simple clicks-per-minute gameplay in general, mirroring the evolution of the MMO genre. Intriguing that Blizzard have created this throwback to the earlier days of the RTS, when their modus operandi on WoW is trying to remove the grind from as many areas as possible.

    Interesting that they took that approach, as I’m pretty sure it is going to alienate people from on-line play – but that’s true of nearly all RTS, despite what they try. I love Dawn of War 2, but until the Last Stand, didn’t even touch it online – I learned from Skirmish mode, which is normally my favourite mode in all RTS games, that the type of play in multiplayer was entirely not my thing.

  35. JKjoker says:

    sigh, this confirms my fears, they turned the game into a sportsgame, im sure someone will love this but its not for me, i am not willing to invest the kind of time necessary to make my base “1 second faster” like professional runners/swimmers train for weeks to reduce their time 1 millisecond, thats work, not entertainment

    maybe ill try it if the SP is worth it (i doubt the sp could change the nature of the sportsgame) but this game is now in the bottom of my watch list

    • MrMud says:

      It only has to be that way if you play other people who think thats the way the game has to be played.
      Considering how many people are likely to play this online (if the previous blizzard rts games are anything to go by) it seems very likely that there will be other people out there who also want to play casually. And with a matchmaking system you get to play those instead of the koreans.

    • JKjoker says:

      i dont think you can play it any other way, you cant have it both ways its either a game or a sportsgame

      scripted sp levels might actually be fun by changing the rules (like they did in war3) but then remember what they did to the campaign (chopping it into 3) and that they are setting up fanmade maps to turn into paid DLC though bnet2

      i guess well see once the real thing is released

  36. Anthony says:

    Yeah, this is pretty much what I expected. I’m glad Korea gets to spring a boner over the competitive aspect, but this old man can’t even keep up with the clickathon that is Starcraft, let alone the even more refined clickathon of the sequel.

    Besides, we’ve moved on a bit since the first, surely? I mean, this seems to be more or less the RTS equivalent of min-maxing, and I for one hate those guys. It’s all a bit cold and calculating, sort of sterile in an experience sort of way. And as mentioned, at least if you fuck up in SupCom you know why, whereas in Starcraft it’s because some aspie nutter has figured out the production curve to several decimal places and can click quicker than you.

    Not my thing, but doubtless millions will enjoy it.

    • ManaTree says:

      If you fuck up in StarCraft, you know where. At least I can tell when the pros mess up in pro matches. Honestly, I don’t get why there’s so much backlash. It all seems pretty unwarranted, given the conditions.

  37. Flimgoblin says:

    Played Starcraft a silly amount way back when, but was on a LAN with a group of friends mostly. Nothing since then apart from Dawn of War (first one) has really captured the obsession with mastering the units, build orders etc, and I ended up mostly playing that over t’internet with friends (rather than online matchups).

    Never got into DoW2 single player (got about 5 missions in and thought “I’ve got this terrible feeling of dejavu”) which meant haven’t bothered with the multiplayer (beyond a bit of Last Stand which is quite good fun).

    Not convinced I have the time to get into Starcraft2 in a big enough way to bother getting it, any RTS I’ve played in the past few years I’ve felt “been there, done that”.

  38. Pantsman says:

    “A game with nukes is always > a game without nukes.”

    Agreed. I just finished Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble the other day, and that was the one major thing I felt it was lacking.

  39. MrMud says:

    I dont understand the complaining about not understanding why you loose a game.
    Starcraft 2 does everything it can possibly do to show you why you lost.
    There are replays that you can mull over, you can even compare your build order with your opponents.
    If you dont know why you lost it is because you didnt try to find out.

  40. Anthony Damiani says:

    Man, am I looking forward to this. I’d prefer something like CoH that took the genre and expanded on it mechanically (cover, retreat. faction powers/doctrines), but I’m much happier with a highly polished oldschool game than I am with yet another arcade-style variant.

    I don’t hate DoW2, but it’s not as fun for me and I’ve already got it and, it feels like, a bunch of other games like it.

    • Flimgoblin says:

      Got CoH in the THQ steam bundle end of last year for silly-cheap and (shame on me!) have yet to play it. May have to give it a go if it’s different enough from DoW2 to be interesting :)

      Though I might have lasted longer with DoW2 had I had choice of a faction other than the bloody space marines to play in single player (Imperial Guard ftw!)

    • Anthony Damiani says:

      Flimgoblin:
      It’s pretty meaningfully different from DoW2– absence of heroes, more sophisticated resource system, ‘doctrinal’ subfactions, some base building, and most importantly– units are kinda squishy compared to the Space Marines.

    • Flimgoblin says:

      Hmm, sounds like playing Imperial Guard, I shall have to clear some gametime and give it a go :)

  41. Berzee says:

    @Kieron: The pay-at-queue-time method does not maximize the efficiency of the system. It is just so UNefficient that it forces you to maximize it yourself (by not clicking more than one unit). However, it does go a lot further towards letting you know how much you’ve spent so far.

    A good combination would be to go with the pay-as-you-build method (ala C&C) but show another figure telling you how much money you will have after everything builds.

    But I am used to the pay-up-front method because of Age of Empires, and I think I like it better.

    • Berzee says:

      By the by, I never played SC when it came out (because it had swearing and I was a Small Child, haha) … so mostly, this post makes me want to play AOE3. :P

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Berzee: That’s what I meant. It’s like manual gears on a sports car or something. They’ve made the system reward people who spend time on it and punish people who don’t, rather than weighting it in another way.

      KG

    • LionsPhil says:

      I’m glad that someone else remembers that the pay-in-trickles-as-you-build approach has been around since C&C. All other systems are silly and should be mocked.

      Dawn of War earns special hate for blocking you from enqueing things you currently cannot afford even though you would be able to by the time they reach the front of the queue. Dwarf Fortress earns double-hate for cancelling queued tasks rather than just postponing them (although the alternate [sigh] manager interface can work around this somewhat).

  42. bookwormat says:

    I do not see any “evolution of the genre”. Just many interesting and successful forks, which play very different from the classic real time strategy game.

    I see no game mechanic in any work from Relic,Massive, GPG or Ironclad that improves the mechanics in starcraft multiplayer without also taking something away from it. If there is a trade-of, then it is not an improvement.

    And I do not think it is bad for a game if you have to learn it to actually play it. Learning and improving can actually be very satisfying.

    I’m looking forward to Starcraft 2, and I find these greatly entertaining: HDstarcraft, diggySC and huskyStarcraft.

  43. Hybrid says:

    I would like Diablo 3 before SC… but yeah, not gonna happen.

  44. Chris Keegan says:

    SC is going to be a games development platform, it wont just be customising maps. Developers will be able to give away or sell there SC mods iphone app style. This could really boom. Warcraft3 had a great custom game section. And the mod/interface community that orbits around World of Warcraft is huge at the moment. Sites like curse have thousands of Wow mods and add-ons to download for example. I would speculate that with in a year of full release there will be playable games that are totally unrecognisable to Starcaft2.

  45. Radiant says:

    I really don’t want to build 50 million units and then find out I built 50 million of the wrong units.
    I don’t want to spend time doing the wrong thing through no fault of my own because I set out my stall incorrectly 30 seconds into the game.

    I essentially want Advanced Wars but real time.

    Give me a set number of units and let me lose via pure tactics and not because my old man fingers can’t click fast enough.

    • jsutcliffe says:

      Sounds like you want Ground Control.

      Advance Wars has always bothered me — it starts off all nice like a friendly turn-based strategy game, but every game in the series has descended into basically being a puzzle game, where every level basically has one solution and there’s no way to adjust your tactics partway through a mission when you see what you’re doing wrong.

  46. UK_John says:

    Why is this game not being compared to the original? As far as everything I have seen and heard this is just a Starcraft graphic upgrade, at a cost of $50 per campaign ($150 for the three) and it is just not worth that.

    But here is the start of the silly media comments we always get with these over-hyped games from over-hyped games companies:

    “It’s innovative by default as no-one does trad RTS any more (Which is another chick observation, to give proper credit.)”

    So because it copies Starcraft and all the other 90′s RTS’s, it’s ‘innovative’ – what a way to spin it! If it’s a traditional RTS, then it is a pretty Starcraft and I would rather stay with the original.

    Of course, the media will find anyway now to knock the classic Starcraft and point out it failings in to raise Starcraft 2′s standing, and I know,even if it’s true, not one media outlet will dare say ‘if you have the original, don’t bother with this’, which based on all the information I have garnered on Starcraft 2 at this time, is my opinion on the game.

    From the get-go, I never saw how Starcraft could be improved, other than with a graphic facelift. The AI was too sublime, the difficulty level too perfect and the three campaigns just too well laid out. I just don;t know how a camera that can no spin around and shinier sheen is enough for $150 spend. And even though it’s Blizzard, it would be nice if we had had a serious debate in the media about Blizzard’s decision for just one campaign for the $50 you spent on the original three campaign and network play game!

    • Nate says:

      First off, the “3 campaigns” vs. “1 campaign” comparison is disingenuous. It’s the same amount of content, 30 missions vs. 30 missions or so. Blizzard has repeatedly stated that the SC2 Wings of Liberty campaign will at least be as big as SC, and the missions sound a lot more interesting this time around.

      Also, where do you get $50 x 3? I would imagine the first will be full price with the other 2 being priced as expansions, then a BattleChest will be released with all three for a reduced price sometime after all 3 games are out.

      I’ve played a bit of the beta. The upgrades definitely seem warranted so far. It will take some time for me to get a handle of all of the changes, but so far:

      Much more accessible due to AI improvements and UI improvements (e.g., workers are much smarter about intelligently mining resources; they will maximize it themselves without you having to tell them exactly which crystal to mine. Units will automatically make way for you to let you use the shortest path when moving other units, building, etc. Several control group, queueing, etc. improvements)

      Economy is still a very important part of the game, but you don’t need to micro it to get it started. More focus can be used on building units and playing with your armies.

      Units have very distinct roles, but there’s also a lot of counters with the armor types and units/attacks that do extra to various armor types.

      The addition of Xel’Naga towers, blind spots, and destructible rocks also make for some very interesting tactical decisions.

      So far: it’s SC, with a heap more polish, nice graphics, a much improved (and more accessible) UI, much improved AI, more fun units, a bit more focus on the armies and less on tedious base-tending micro, and what looks to be the best matchmaking system I’ve seen so far.

    • Azradesh says:

      It’s the same yet very, very different. If you liked the first Starcraft, you will like this, a lot.

    • ManaTree says:

      I wonder when you’re going to stop trolling PC gaming, UK_John.

      I really do.

      The others in this thread have stated what I was going to say, but I just wanted to say the above tidbit.

  47. Patton says:

    Eh. I doubt I will play this game in MP. The fact is, I dont really like to play many MP matches inorder to be able to play this game online without getting my ass handed to me. I dont like to suffer. I just cant enjoy getting outright murdered because I havent memorized a certain build routine or a counter to some unit thats really powerful. I rarely play RTS games online because of this. Matchmaking systems are unreliable, and i doubt they will make the game more playable in MP for me. I will buy it and play the SP campaign, but thats that.

    I prefer games like HOI2 where you have to plan ahead well, and not just build units as fast as you can. You cant just memorize build orders to gain of an advantage.
    You have to take into account the amount of manpower (people you can use as cannon fodder), whether you should build factories, or should you just conscript troops instead, depending on your strategy and when you will start the war. Or should you try to invest heavily on research instead. You even have to take into account the weather when planning military operations. You have to make sure you can support that army you build. There is a lot more depth to it.

  48. Ben says:

    First time commenter here!

    I love the perspective in this piece. Nice job. One thing to note… just because the game is MADE for the hardcore doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t get into it. I’m quite content to do the MP thing and be a “semi-nub” that plateaus at a middling level with a 100-80 record or something. Just because I can’t play NFL ‘ball doesn’t mean that I can’t have some fun playing two-hand touch. Or for an analogy y’all will understand, just because I can’t ‘ball with Arsenal, it doesn’t mean that I can’t have fun in a rec soccer league with my buddies.

    In the same way, even though SC2 will be in every way a “hardcore” game, I can still have FUN with it as a newb :) I just need to know my limitations and accept the game for what it is….

    • ManaTree says:

      This. People are missing so many things about just gaming in general as applied to StarCraft 2.

      What the hell?

  49. yabonn_fr says:

    Seems like it’s going to be a pretty clickathon. Well, meh about that.

    Also no one ever mentions Age of Nations. Suppose it must have been me, then.

  50. Zwebbie says:

    Not my kind of RTS. I’d say the standard line about picking it up when it’s €5, but Blizzard games never seem to go below €15.

    As I see it, there are two ways to play Starcraft II; either you ditch the micro altogether and just make a bunch of guys and tanks and tell them to force-fire on stuff. This is how 95% of the people play any strategy game, though it’s obviously not going to do you much good online.
    The alternative is to accept micro, but then you’ll notice that there’s a LOT of it. SC has more micro than sane people can handle. Which, as mentioned in the impressions, requires you to spend a good deal of time learning the game, practicing micro and ignoring all the pretty fireworks.

    What I miss in this ‘traditional’ style RTS is the layer between no micro and crazy micro – when, in Company of Heroes, you tell a squad to hide behind a car so as not to take so much damage. It’s easy to grasp, it’s not something you do every second, but it’s oh-so important. Even the top CoH players didn’t need more than 50-100 APM.
    I’m lazy. I want to click *only* when that click conveys a decision on my part, and Starcraft requires way more clicks than that.