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. Danny says:

    Why isn’t there a RTS out there that captivates me like CoH did. I loved that game, and not in the last place because you could actually follow a fight, while still being busy making tactical decisions at the same time.

  2. manintheshack says:

    Amen to that. I gave up thinking I’d ever see an RTS as enjoyable as CoH when Relic release DoW2.

  3. Half says:

    keep in mind this is the CLOSED BETA WITH THREE THOUSAND PEOPLE IN IT.

    So your not going to be matched up with people near your skill level.

    meh. I personally like a game that has a competitive component. Its why I haven’t played any non-blizzard RTS extensively. Tried DOW, tried COH, the thing is, the entire game lacked so much depth once you were willing to get into it that multiplayer became a joke. And it lacked a game editor, so their was literally no reason to play it. And the single player campaign was shoddy, and downright incoherent with DoW.

  4. pistolhamster says:

    I am glad I read this preview. SC2 seems to turn out to be exactly the kind of MP-game I just can’t CBA with any longer. I don’t have the time left for it, and if I have to grind something for hours each day to go anywhere, I frankly prefer playing the piano.

    Perhaps if SC2 solo is great I might buy it.

  5. Mark says:

    The problem with SC2 is a lot of people know how infamously good players of the original are and how tricky and micro-intensive the game is.

    The article confirms blizz have really gone after SC1 fans with SC2 and aren’t trying to do anything especially different. This leads to something akin to people not wanting to start in an mmo 6 months after it’s been out, since you’ll have to spend time catching those that have played from the beginning. Will there ever be any great SC2 players that didn’t play SC1?

    Last time I played a RTS online was WC3, it was fun and I was slowly improving but being steamrolled by much better players that had created new battle.net accounts (win ratio was a factor in rank, sometimes giving and incentive for people to start new accounts rather than trudge on with lots of losses on another) became annoying.

    I’d be tempted to play if the matchmaking system worked well and there was a barrier to decent players creating new accounts.

  6. Frank says:

    Quake is mad inaccessible, too, but proper matchmaking (like that found on Quake Live) seems to solve that problem. If you’re playing with your buds (as journalists tend to do), and they’re much better than you, how is that any different than when you suck at Quake? I sure do suck at Quake.

  7. Evan says:

    I’m honestly surprised more people haven’t spoken up in defense of Starcraft. Are there really no fond memories to be had? Or is it that there are so few veterans in the audience?

    What I do hear is lots of fretting over the learning curve. I don’t think it’s a fair characterization when people say the game is won and lost by how fast you can click out your build order; certainly there is a very specialized micromanagement skill-set that becomes necessary at the higher levels of play, but where most of us dwell it’s really more a game of battlefield tactics and overall strategy (i.e. expansion vs. research vs. blitzkrieg). Speed matters, but I think not as intensely as people are making it out to.

    Further, it’s odd that people can agree that the game is both accessible and deep, and somehow come to the conclusion that this is a bad thing. It is in fact an ideal thing. What is daunting about it is the prospect of being matched against someone who is better than you are; it’s really that simple. But would you prefer a game where your skill plateaus because of simplistic design? Or one that opens up the more you play? The trick will be whether they can get the matchmaking to feel right — in fact, I predict it will be the make-or-break feature.

    One last point I want to make about what Alex said: Figuring out why you lost or won was honestly half the fun of playing with friends. In my experience, 25-minute games usually spawned at least 25-35 minutes of recap and post-mortem between us, full of observation, joking, and boasting. This game is a “sport,” yes. But sports are played by both professionals and by children, with each having an entirely different experience than the other.

    • Evan says:

      *ALEC, not Alex. Damn.

    • ManaTree says:

      This, as well. Lulz.

      I think the fact that many aren’t defending (I’m about to, but I also just got here) reflects something interesting. People are criticizing the hardcore part of the game, yet the hardcore make up a tiny, but vocal minority.

      I think that because that vocal minority is making a shit ton of noise, people here are assuming that that’s what the game will be like.

    • drewski says:

      But isn’t the evidence we’ve just read in this discussion supporting that? I read what Alec, KG and Jim are talking about and it sounds like a hardcore, high APM, inaccessble game. It doesn’t sound like the sort of thing I can play just on sheer gaming competance, like I can in something like Quake.

      The MP sounds like the second you lose ground in experience to another player, you’re done – you can never play that guy. Ever. There’s just no level ground in skill. I think one of the reasons games like Halo are so popular is their sheer accessibility – I went from being completely awful to vaguely competant in about half an hour, despite never having played a shooter on console before. My friends were all long term Halo players, and whilst I wasn’t dominating them, I was at least doing OK.

      I can’t imagine going against a group of decent, but casual, SC2 players and, within an hour or so of picking up the game, having any chance whatsoever of not being destroyed in six minutes, should someone choose to rush me.

      I have to take it seriously to be remotely decent competition, and I just don’t think i care to do that.

  8. madned says:

    I’m confused, what’s described is how the original starcraft operated.
    granted it only really became important for multiplayer.

    also you get the pay when constructed mechanic on the supply charges.

    pay when queued is generally superior for keeping the lines running and controlling army mixes.
    across multiple service centers with varying costs, hunting down the blocking condition is really time consuming. it’ll self-clear if you have lots of resources flowing in, but starcraft games often have players running on fumes. it’s a prime example of JIT efficiencies.

  9. zach says:

    so traditional it’s innovative by default? wtf?

  10. Alec Meer says:

    Just want to reiterate that no-one’s saying it’s absolutely inaccessible – just that it takes a lot of effort and dedication to get good at it.

    The dilemma (or, at least, my dilemma) is whether that effort’s worth it, or if I’d rather spend it on more briefly playing a clutch of other games.

    • Azradesh says:

      You just need to play those ten matches to get placed and you should then be playing with people as good or as bad as you. I’ve not felt outmatched since I started on the ladders.

    • Evan says:

      You’re certainly right that it takes a long time to get really good at it; I’d argue that it’s not all that long to become passable though. That is to say, it’s not that the basic rules and functions are in any way esoteric or overly complex, but that what follows from that foundation can get very complex the further you go with it.

      Maybe the problem is that the question is being framed as “Is this game worth trying on for size?” when what you’re really asking is “Do I want to wear only this game for the next year and a half?” I’m afraid some of the posters here are writing it off because they think it’s too much of an investment. But that’s like avoiding chess because you’ll never measure up to Deep Blue.

      Please note I’m totally using the first game to talk about the sequel, as I’m not in the beta. I think you all agreed in the article that the two were, for all intents and purposes, synonymous however. (Which, to me, is a much more valid reason for skipping the experience entirely.)

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Yes but it sounds like this game suffers from the same problem as the first one, in that you have absolutely no chance against much better players, either in winning or in even learning something besides how to defend against that one specific thing.

    • nichevo says:

      You were spot-on about “Boardgame Night mentality” I think. Play it with friends and learn it together. Once you reach a middling level of competency you should know if you enjoy the game enough to take on BattleNet at large. This is exactly what I did with CoH — my time as a clueless newcomer was fun instead of a demoralising series of losses and incomprehension.

      I think “Boardgame Night mentality” was big with Starcraft 1. Back before the internet was quite so huge groups of friends would LAN it up.

    • Kakksakkamaddafakka says:

      Why do you need to be good at it?

      I can’t seem to grasp your critisism.

      It’s somehow bad that it requires effort to be skilled at the game? This is totally a win-win situation for everyone involved. People like you will be matched with similarly skilled players at a lower level of play, and the ones better at it will be matched with other skilled players. Where’s the problem?

      … and saying it takes a large amount of time to grasp the basic rock, paper, scissors logic of it all is simply false. It does not. I haven’t played SC in years, and yet, SC2 took one try with either of the races against the AI, and after that I was playing against other people, crushing and getting crushed, on the basis of matching my strategy or failing to match my strategy against the opponent’s; basically what the game boils down to. This is fun, by the way, utilizing different strategies for the purpose of winning the game. Sort of what RTS games are about. Not building intricate bases, producing vast amounts of units, watching battles unfold or randomly sending units against opponents, hoping it will result in something favorable.

      In other words: I’m pretty sure you’re plain wrong.

  11. UK_John says:

    Well, I know right now, this will sell a lot less PC copies than the original. The original was just to good and some tiny little AI and UI differences as stated do not mean that much – and as to 30 missions versus 30 mission is still one campaign versus three – so not the same enjoyment.

    So I stand for the ‘innovation’ of the original, not the ‘innovation of a copy of 10,000 different RTS’s that came out in the late 90′s early 00′s!

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      No, it’s going to sell way more copies for one good reason:

      Custom map editing. I mean they’re gonna have support for shooters in it. Why not?

    • ManaTree says:

      You gotta be shitting me.

      How can you even qualify the experiences when they aren’t even out yet?

      And Christ, I certainly don’t mind design from the 90′s. There are tons of less-micro-y games nowadays (CoH, SupCom, DoW2, AI War, and that’s off the top of my head), and a new game that contrasts is always welcome in my book.

  12. Azradesh says:

    Have you guys played enough to be placed in a ladder? I am by no means good, in fact I think I’m awful at the moment. I think I lost my first 15 games, but once in the ladder I’ve never felt massively out matched, all my games have seemed fair.

    If you guys or anyone else in the euro want to team up for a few matches my Starcraft 2 name is Azradesh.logan

  13. Michael Hughes says:

    I don’t give two shits about Starcraft II, but this was still entertaining as hell to read. Kieron and Alec need to just give it up and make out with each other already.

  14. The Unshaven says:

    My solution to this will be to do what I did with SC/BW, which is to play with people I know.

    From my perspective, the drive to be ‘good’ at games like SC has long since sailed, because I am comfortable with my crapness. The fun I’ve had with friends in the same situation in Brood Wars as we savaged and gnawed on each other without 100% comprehension of the consequences of what we were doing was awe inspiringly fun.

    It frequently meant that there was a lot more give and take rather than the ‘once someone has started to win, it’s over’ thing.

    Like the time I build a Zerg base in concentric circles of defensive buildings peppered with Lurkers. It was stupid, it was turtling, it was glorious. And then a friend charged me with a vast army of Archons. They hit the lurkers, and tried to run past them. More lurkers. More panicked running, more lurkers.

    Eventually his army was reduced to two dudes sitting on the pixel each where nothing could attack them.

    Of course, I’d spent this entire time laughing at him while he build an air fleet and wiped me off the map, but it was a moral victory.

    - The Unshaven

  15. kyrieee says:

    As I understand it Blizzard’s way of solving the skill gap issue is through a good match making system. That requires you to lose for a bit until you get matched against other new players, and it also requires a large pool of players so that everyone has someone of a similar skill level to play against.

    Right now there aren’t a lot of people participating in the beta so that might be an issue, but when the game launches there’s probably going to be a ton of newbies who will get matched against each other and hopefully enjoy the game.

    I don’t know how Blizzard would be able to teach you the game as it will be constantly evolving. The only way to learn is to play against other people, and hopefully that won’t be a problem when the game comes out.

    I’ve followed a lot of eSports (and sports too for that matter) and StarCraft is by far the most exciting and deep one I’ve come across. The barrier to just being able to enjoy spectating isn’t all that high and I hope SC2 will bring many new fans in! Eventually you’ll come to appreciate Blizzard’s design and understand why it is the way it is instead of simply looking at it as arcane

    • Azradesh says:

      I believe the game will ship with a bunch of multi player tutorials to get people started.

    • Mattthew Walton says:

      As I see it, and this applies to other RTSes too, I don’t care if I’m not one of the top players. I don’t care if a top player can wipe the floor with me in thirty seconds flat.

      What I care about is that the online multiplayer includes a matchmaking system which can match me against people who are in the same ability range as me. If I can be happy in my own part of the ladder, I’m going to be happy playing the game.

      I hope Blizzard have learned how to do that, because in Warcraft 3 I almost always ended up against somebody who was able to win with virtually no effort.

      The other thing I hope they manage to come up with a solution for is people who disconnect when it looks like they might lose. The bane of my life in Supreme Commander multiplayer, on those rare occasions I’d manage to get close to winning they would keep pulling their network connection and forcing a draw that way.

  16. Gdog says:

    Im a starcraft 1 expert, hugely involved in the scene and this is really interesting. I wanted to see what you lot thought. Thankyou for the opinions, ive totally re thought my entire taste in strategy games from this thread. There was no doubt in my mind to play starcraft2 but now im thoroughly considering CoH and supcom2 instead.

    ive completed World in Conflict and like it overall.

    Question: is CoH similar, miles better, worth it still?

    • Azradesh says:

      It’s nothing like Starcraft I’d say. It’s a lot more random and more of a macro game I’d say. Although a loan squard of basic inf can beat a few tanks with some luck and good micro.

    • Azradesh says:

      and yes, it’s very good. :P

    • nichevo says:

      CoH is so cheap nowadays (on Steam) you can’t really go wrong.

      I think if you like Starcraft and you like World in Conflict you will probably like Company of Heroes. It’s almost a half-way-each game. You’ve got a little bit of base-and-defenses building like from Starcraft, and a whole lot of skirmishy-fighting like WiC.

      The best thing about CoH is that there are so many different strategies to use. I’ve played hundreds of online games and for every enemy I see doing a tactic that’s well-known and popular I see someone doing something totally unexpected that works. (This is especially true in team games.)

  17. malkav11 says:

    Sounds like exactly the sort of multiplayer I wish they’d branch off into its own box so that I could buy the part I want for less than $50 or $60 or $80002 or whatever they wind up charging.

    To clarify, I am saying this is the sort of multiplayer I want nothing whatsoever to do with.

  18. Rhygadon says:

    One possible angle on the worry you were all discussing: part of the problem may be that unlike, say, getting better at exploration or combat, getting better at building your economy just isn’t that *interesting*. The room for innovation and spontaneity is much smaller (by no means absent, but smaller), and so essentially what you’re doing is learning to become adequate at a chore that’s a precondition for the other, more interesting parts of the game.

    I’m overstating the point for clarity, and yes, this is coming from someone who never enjoyed MP Starcraft all that much. But I think gets at the heart of the issue. The barrier that a new player is facing is the prospect of being bad at, and then laboriously learning to be better at, a task that isn’t the fun part of the game. It’s like a toll you have to pay before you can play.

  19. ManaTree says:

    SEVERAL THINGS, PEOPLES.

    1) Beta. BETA, damnit. Complete with invite keys. That will bias who they’re going against.
    2) There will be a SP component too. It’s sounding good.
    3) Custom content. Ding! A winner here. The only reason I still remember WarCraft 3 is through DotA. This engine looks MUCH more powerful and exciting. The original StarCraft’s editing was strong but also limited. But this? Again, winner.
    4) Much of you seem to be railing against a nonexistent community. Competitive players don’t make up much of the playerbase, not to mention how many of the comments mention how bad we all are at this game. Well, judging from that, who do you think you’ll be going against, most of the time?
    5) Going off of the last point: Don’t hate. At least not without a solid reason. Most of the comments, to me, are hating something that doesn’t exist.
    6) StarCraft 2 is necessary in this history of games. Off the top of my head, macro-based RTSes: CoH, DoW2, SupCom, AI War. That’s a decent amount of games there, just from my head. StarCraft is one game. Just one. That’s why I also think it’s okay to throw out the RTS conventions of today for just this game.
    7) Why should you buy it? It depends, obviously. And there are also good reasons not to buy it. I’ll start with those. Money. No LAN. You just don’t like RTSes. That’s okay. I’m personally really peeved about the first two reasons, so I’m interested in what I’ll choose to do near release date. But otherwise, why? Because it’s a gigantic update, more than an expansion. It’s a freakin’ overhaul. Just think about it: graphics (animations as well), sounds, engine, Battle.net, NEW UNITS, new story (gigantic one too), new terrain types (minerals, rocks, etc.), map editor/modmaker and, well, nukes. Joking aside with the last one, because it’s Blizzard. They can’t run off of old games forever. Blizzard hasn’t failed to deliver a bad experience yet, and their pedigree assures me that they will continue to be excellent.
    8) And to everyone who seem (maybe I’m just inferring incorrectly?) to dislike competitive matches, I recommend watching them over actually attempting to do so. I can’t see why both competitive players and less insane players can get along. Competition is fun. So is just normal play.

    Whew. With all that said, I’m looking forward to watching matches and the map editor/mod engine thing. I feel like that might become my first foray into modding/editing. I’m supremely looking forward to custom content, however. That’s what keeps the first game alive for me still.

  20. Eoghan says:

    Holds up sign:
    Will trade my spare Half-Life 2 game for beta… :(

  21. Phil says:

    Meh! Traditional RTS is dead. Call me when the DOTA mod arrives for SC2.

  22. Nesetalis says:

    I loved starcraft… was my favorite game for some 5 years.. then warcraft 3 TFT became my favorite :p

    but through all that time I almost never played a melee game… a few team melees against the computer with friends..

    I was a custom gamer, I built my own maps, played many of the others. But the hard core gamer scene that alot of people swear by just was never for me.. some of the folks here summed it up well, No fun playing against much better players… though the endgame data looks like it would be a very good teaching tool.

    I am going to buy SC2, no doubt about it.. only sadness is that it doesnt have proper LAN support, a few years back I spent a summer without internet, most of our entertainment came from the house playing WC3 against each other :P I wont be able to do that with SC2

  23. luckystriker says:

    People seem to be under the mistaken impression that SC is all about perfecting build orders and having a ludicrously high apm in order to be able to pull out leet micro. It’s really more about knowing the terrain (understanding the complexities of each map), reconnaissnace (so that your armies can have the right unit mix) and control of key areas (to limit enemy options, fight on your chosen ground) than anything else.

    Although every game starts off the same with 1 base and 4 worker units, no 2 games ever unfolds the same way because of the practically limitless options of attack that each race enjoys.

  24. sigma83 says:

    I think part of the problem is a dissonance between expectation and the reality of the game. It’s that Blizzard is held to such a high standard that it _must_ be the second coming of everything RTS.

  25. Magic H8 Ball says:

    drewski said:I read what Alec, KG and Jim are talking about and it sounds like a hardcore, high APM, inaccessble game. It doesn’t sound like the sort of thing I can play just on sheer gaming competance, like I can in something like Quake.

    If you can pick up “something like Quake” and rock at it with pros, chances are, said pros are not as pro as you thought.

    What was the respawn time of red armor in The Longest Yard again?

  26. Nick says:

    I liked Quinns popping in at the end there.

    I will probably buy SC2, but only for the single player, though I can’t stand it I certainly don’t begrudge the hardcore online fanbase a game that caters to them by any means, god knows I have my own rarely catered to desires in gaming.

  27. sigma83 says:

    I harbor a deep desire to be proficient at this game. Not best in world, country, league, or even neighborhood. Merely proficient enough to have fun. You know, that kind of fun you get from being decent at something and playing with a broad skillset beneath your belt.

    • luckystriker says:

      I feel the same way completely. From the info I’ve been picking up on the new BNet finding similarly skilled players should be relatively easy.

  28. Butler` says:

    It’s shaping up to be awesome for sure. Watched a bunch of replays and it looks spot on. Can’t wait to get stuck in and learning all the hotkeys etc.

    More than anything I hope there’s a solid competitive scene in the UK. I really can’t see why there won’t be, especially with bnet2 having some really bright ideas (leagues, ladders).

  29. WorldWideReid says:

    Regarding Single Player: I hope they have something new thought up for the FINAL BATTLE each race will have to endure. In SC 1, they simply turned over an entire ginormo-map to multiple advanced enemies and let them thwack away at you. It was clear about an hour in that you would survive, and win, but that it was going to take another three hours of your life to get there.

    I only need one of those in the single player, thank you.

    • Gdog says:

      The thanks was aimed at the people who replied to me above, reply feature is confusing?

      Anyway, i agree with Rhygadon, luckystriker and ManaTree.

  30. The Great Wayne says:

    So, basically Blizzard succeeded in developping starcraft all over again, but ten years later and with a hundred time the budget of the first opus ?

    Also, you can’t be innovative by default because you bring back an old concept. You can be different, but not innovative, or god protect us from things like the return of the coal locomotive, the hula hoop or, don’t make me say it, another comeback of Modern Talking.

    • sigma83 says:

      ‘So, basically Blizzard succeeded in developping starcraft all over again, but ten years later and with a hundred time the budget of the first opus ?’

      What’s wrong with that? It’s StarCraft. It’s not Forgotten RTS 37.

  31. theSAiNT says:

    “drewski says:
    February 24, 2010 at 5:12 am

    The MP sounds like the second you lose ground in experience to another player, you’re done – you can never play that guy. Ever. There’s just no level ground in skill. I think one of the reasons games like Halo are so popular is their sheer accessibility – I went from being completely awful to vaguely competant in about half an hour, despite never having played a shooter on console before. My friends were all long term Halo players, and whilst I wasn’t dominating them, I was at least doing OK.”

    This is the reason why Halo is a ‘bad’ game.

    I really don’t see why ‘sheer accessibility’ is desirable in any way. You prefer games with a low skill ceiling so that as a complete newcomer you feel you can compete with veterans? So basically skill has no impact on the outcome of the game? Why bother? Might as well play ‘flip a coin and see who wins’. (Oh the graphics are no good? I’m sure an Xbox version will fix that.)

    There’s an easier and more constructive way of not getting bashed which has already been widely discussed: good match making.

    I’m not very good at chess. I’m never going to be good enough to compete at any reasonable level. It doesn’t make chess a bad game. Nor does it mean I can’t enjoy the game. I just play with people who are as bad as me.

    Part of the joy of a game is learning and improving. A great game is one which offers almost infinite scope for progress. I cannot be more happy to hear that SC2 is not like Halo.

  32. inf says:

    It’s pretty funny because SC2 is easier in all aspects than SC1, but it still is a daunting task to get into. There’s people who are fairly low ranked on SC1 up near the top divisions right now, so you can imagine the difficultly of getting into the original right now. You literally have to a huge amount spend time studying replays and practicing just to get to the D+ ranking on the private server ICCUP. So least its easier than that, but still there’s going to be effort involved if you want to play 1v1 at anything other than the lowest level. But for everyone else you still got custom games.

  33. The Great Wayne says:

    Well, you know, some might expect proper innovation, originality and – dare I say – some kind of guts from a company such as Blizzard… errr… who am I kidding, we all know those qualities left with the Blizzard North team dissolving.

  34. Swansandwich says:

    Wow, reading these responses is like sitting in a psychotherapy session, there seems to be some StarCraft PTSD floating around…

    There is something particularly scary about SC. It’s not like being badly outskilled in a FPS. Getting headshot out of nowhere every 2 minutes is no fun, but you can kind of accept your ecological role as a prey species. You respawn each time, and all your opponent gets is a tally at the end.

    A RTS involves a bigger psychological commitment. You spend 10 minutes building this intricate machine, you must make strategic commitments, and so on. SC is very intense – I think the best comparison might be playing in a jazz band, except in SC it’s like the Sax player’s melodic line is trying to kill you. It’s not just “skill,” but “intellect” that you putting on the line. SC strategy is largely fear-based: frenzied troop building and constant scouting for which of the 37 possible invisible lurking acid-spewing armies your Korean opponent is amassing. And then you get to watch as you little civilization is shown up for that sham that it is.

    Extended hyper-alertness + trauma =lasting damage, no?

    • Gdog says:

      Swansandwich, hahahaha, you should post this on the teamliquid.net forums and see what the fans there have to say about that, honestly very funny summary of starcraft1. Certainly an experience some have had. Im a huge fan of starcraft 1 but i nearly agree with you actually haha.

      Honestly please post this at teamliquid or give me permission to do so, it would be interesting to say the least.

    • luckystriker says:

      haha well put swansandwich =) Although losing becomes easier and easier to take after the first 20 or so (the realisation sinks in that it’s just a game after all and your civilization isn’t really on the brink of extermination).

  35. Melf_Himself says:

    Quite interesting to watch the different sides taken by Kieron and Alec.

    I have only played the original SC on Bnet a couple of times, yet I’ve played skirmish games and LAN games for many many hours. I suspect that most people that liked SC (perhaps, not most people that post on internet forums, but most *other people*) were pretty much in the same boat. I’m sure Blizz will fix up the AI, but even if they don’t it doesn’t matter – you just take on a larger number of teams until the challenge feels right for you, at least that’s the way I always approach skirmish mode in RTS games.

    I wouldn’t expect the multiplayer to be anything less than brutal, but I doubt the majority of people will get into it (outside their circle of friends) anyway. And don’t forget that the new Bnet is going to have a rating system, and the game is going to be hugely popular i.e. lots of people on at once. You’re bound to find someone who sucks as much as you do at any given moment.

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