StarCraft II vs Bejeweled vs L4D vs Iron Chef

By Alec Meer on April 6th, 2011 at 9:20 pm.

If my job was drawing saucepans on aliens' heads, I'd be a whole lot happier than I am

One of these days, we must take a long, hard look at ourselves. And also at the StarCraft II modding scene, to see how well it’s living up to the promise that the modkit could turn the game to whole new genres.

Blizzard themselves have now made good on that promise, releasing the final, public versions of three long-promised cheeky nods to other games…

The three custom map packs put out earlier today include StarJeweled, a competitive Bejeweled homage of sorts which has you summoning units as a result of successful jewel combos.

Left 2 Die is, despite the Valve-baiting name, more about building and protecting a safe haven from a rampaging Zerg swarm (not played it, but I’m guessing it’s based on the similarly-themed level in the SC2 campaign). It’s co-op based, hence that cheeky number 2.

Meanwhile, Aiur Chef is… well, it’s a cooking game. Specifically, a race to accrue recipe ingredients. But in space. Rightio then. Said ingredients are gained by killing mobs and grabbing pick-ups – so it’s basically a competitive WoW quest.

The maps have been in beta for a while, but their apparently improved final versions are now open to any and all comers. You can hunt ‘em down from within StarCraft II’s Join Game Interface. Oh, and there are new achievements to accompany ‘em, if that sort of thing shizzles your nizzle. I have no idea what I’m saying.

Oh, and speaking of Valve-baiting, a fourth map based on DoTA remains in the pipeline. What a war this shall be.

__________________

« | »

, .

40 Comments »

  1. Xocrates says:

    “Left 2 Die [...] (not played it, but I’m guessing it’s based on the similarly-themed level in the SC2 campaign)”

    it IS the similarly-themed level in the SC2 campaign. Just slightly altered in order to better accommodate 2 players. The only real difference is that killing stuff gives you points that you can use to unlock new tech.

    (at least that was the case when I tried the beta)

    • iHavePants says:

      They also added new “Special Zerg” enemies, the Hunterling and equivalents to the boomer and smoker that I forget the name for. There may have also been a tank clone but I don’t recall it.

    • Miker says:

      There is, it’s a massive Ultralisk-ish thing called the Stank.

  2. Gonefornow says:

    But it’s Blizzard doing these things, right?
    What kind of modding is that!
    If the developers do it, then surely it ‘s called free additional content or what not.
    Any “real” modders doing something?

    • Xocrates says:

      Well, they’ve made about a bazillion clones of Dota.

      But yes, there are LOADS of user made customs maps. Whether there is anything quite as extensive as these that have been release I have no idea

    • Lord_Mordja says:

      Well, Project Warfare’s looking pretty neat. http://www.moddb.com/mods/project-warfare

      Though I don’t actually own SC2 so…

    • Rhin says:

      It’s puzzling to me as well. My best guess is that Blizzard is trying to prod 3rd-party modders to create something other than DOTA-clones, push-type maps, and tower defense maps.

    • Gonefornow says:

      @Rhin
      If only it doesn’t have the exact opposite effect.
      Small-time modder:
      *Looks at SC2 mod page*
      “So only the guys at Bliz can muster up something else that DOTA-clones and tower defense maps.”
      ….
      “I’m not even going to try”

    • Xocrates says:

      Out of curiosity, I went and had a look at the current panorama.

      Interestingly enough, one of the most popular ones seems to be a card game and there are remarkably few Dota/Tower defense in view, so *shrug*

    • Gonefornow says:

      @Xocrates
      A card game!
      Hot damn!
      Now I have a real reason to buy SC2.

    • Ryz says:

      SC2′s 1.30 patch has helped bring in new game types quite a bit. It used to be full of DOTA/tower defense clones, but with the ‘Up & Coming’ and ‘Fun Or Not’ pages some of the creative ones have been moving up, like the card game.

    • Mo says:

      @Gonefornow: that’s pretty much the opposite of how modders, developers and creators in general think.

      There are some pretty good custom maps out there, and a lot of really awful ones. In time (and with the right rating/filtering tools) the good stuff will bubble up to the top.

    • Gonefornow says:

      @Mo
      Yes, those guys who know what they’re doing stand unaffected, but how ’bout them small-timers.
      Think of the small-timers, man!

      I’m only talking for myself here though.
      For some it’s an endorsement, for others an admonishment.

    • D3xter says:

      SC2 will probably not attract that much of a Modding community because of its closed-off nature and monetization scheme that is bound to come, WC3 was free-ish, open, had all those things from the start that made both modding, playing and distributing mods great, everyone had their chance to promote and get their maps played the same way etc. It went on to create and spawn new genres that went commercial and found great success e.g. DOTA –> LoL/HoN/Demigod; Tower Defense –> Defense Grid/Pixel Junk; SpellCraft –> Magicka etc.

      All I’ve heard about SC2 is how they restrict everything, for example 10MB max. for a map, 10? max. maps per account and a global limit of 50MB, they want to host and “own” the content, they delete maps they deem “offensive” and prevent maps with certain words like “god”, “fuck”, “suicide” or “dick” from even being uploaded in the first place, they constrict content on per Realm basis and last time I played it around Beta (and as far as late 2010) their content distribution system sucked donkey balls and only favored Top50 maps letting the others hang out to dry.

      Hell one of their uploading “rules” even prevents content that is Trademarked and/or owned by another company from being uploaded… I don’t know how much that rule is being enforced but I can’t begin to even count the number of maps based on things like Star Wars, Star Trek, Jurassic Park, Final Fantasy or whatever in WarCraft III.
      It’s not an environment that inspires and breeds creativity… it’s all too… Activision

      There’s been complaints about this from the start and they’ve done very little if anything about it:
      http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=127066
      http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2010/08/starcraft-2-the-latest-game-to-control-user-created-content.ars
      Personally I couldn’t even bother to get SC2 after the Beta.

    • AS says:

      @D3xter WC3 originally restricted map sizes to 4MB, it’s recently been increased to 8MB (iirc). Of course, there are multiple tools and techniques to ensure you can fit every piece of code, custom skin, and sound file into the more elaborate maps…

    • Shih Tzu says:

      I’m just waiting for the first visual novel.

    • Mo says:

      @Gonefornow: The two small-timers who made a little game called Counterstrike weren’t discouraged by Team Fortress Classic.

    • anonymousity says:

      They did the same thing with Wc3 and Wc3 frozen throne, also they’re not dota clones dota is an AOS clone.

  3. MajorManiac says:

    I quite like the idea of friendly jibes between large game companies whereby they parody each others property as free content. Can’t wait to see if Valve make something.

    • karthink says:

      You must have loved Duty Calls, then.

    • shoptroll says:

      Fully in agreement here. Despite the legal wrangling over the DOTA trademark, I’m sure Valve enjoys the nod from Blizzard. Hopefully Valve will reciprocate the notion.

      Aside from Blizzard/PopCap and Super Meat Boy, I can’t think of any other cross-company/cross-game references since the 90′s with 3D Realms inserting references to Doom, Tomb Raider, etc. in their games.

    • Daniel Klein says:

      That is one doomed space marine!

  4. MCM says:

    This post needs more STAR BATTLE!

    Star Battle is great stuff. No respawns, lots of lasers, missiles flying about, lots of booms and fights and LASERS!

    Great game. DotA-like without the respawns, doesn’t take as long to play, no confusing items.

    It’s good! Go play it!

    • MrBRAD! says:

      Is it on the SEA Server yet? Been dying to play it, but it’s just not there :’(

    • luckystriker says:

      Indeed, another shout out for Star Battle here. It’s so bloody great it’s stealing time away from my ‘proper’ SC2 playing time.

      @MrBrad, I’m also on the SEA server. The simple solution to this is to use your free access to NA servers. The lag is easily manageable.

    • Ovno says:

      MrBRAD, a much more amusing name in rhyming slang…

  5. AS says:

    Funny that this post comes the same day as the Robert Yang “Mods are dead” post, maybe no mod creators are left to do a full conversion of SC2 into something brand new? I’d hope Blizzard would do something brand new, but all I hear about are defense maps (tower, Helm’s Deep-type) and DotA-types. What about a remake of “The Thing” from SC1, or Force Majuere Vampire Hunters (FMVH)/11th Vampire or Warlocks/Hungry Hungry Felhounds from WC3. Asymmetrical combat maps were some of the best custom maps available.

    • BurningPet says:

      Havent read the post you mention, but even if true, Its not that mods are dead because of lack of creativity or skill, its because there are good and almost free game engines to work with now so taleneted modders of the past are really the indie developers of the present.

    • Mo says:

      Wot BurningPet said. I agree that Total Conversions are a dead end given the wealth of cheap/free game engines. TCs are a creative waste of time anyway, all that production gets in the way of actually making a good game. I hope mods continue to prosper, using the already-great, already-present assets to create mechanically interesting games.

      SC2 in particular has so much potential because strategy game engines are not common and writing one is not a trivial task. I’d love to see some strategy games come out of SC2 using wildly different mechanics.

    • AS says:

      @JKjoker: It’s how a lot of the maps/mods started out – fan productions wanting to fight their own Helm’s Deep, making a better “The Thing” game than what was commercially produced, and somehow evolving into some of the games we have today. If these maps are constantly being pulled down, there’s not much hope – although it did take at least a year for the maps to really shine.

      @ BurningPet/Mo: Actually, your argument is exactly the same as Robert Yang’s, it’s linked in the Mod post along with a somewhat spirited discussion. It’s very true that modders have been converting to being indie developers.

      As for new and interesting game mechanics… I’m not sure how much is left to be seen from Blizzard games. If all this censoring continues, why should serious modders continue to work with SC2? (Especially if they won’t make money for their work.) A lot of interesting mechanics with RTS engines have already popped up, there’s no reason they couldn’t/shouldn’t be done with a Relic engine, assuming they had access to it. Maybe Paradox could get one of their developers to release an engine for modding… disregardless of the huge mindshare advantage of SC2.

  6. Arathain says:

    Aiur Chef… how do the Protoss eat? They seem to lack mouths.

  7. Spider Jerusalem says:

    You should really brush up on your slang.

  8. mcwizardry says:

    I’ve tried them all three for a bit yesterday and they’re quite fun. Although the achievements seem to be really difficult for some reason.

  9. Baka says:

    Geeez, just checked the game’s price in battle.net. Still 60 Euro… looks like it’s still selling like crack, eh? Pity.

  10. trjp says:

    Today’s secret ingredient is……….. “BEER!”

    Let the battle begin!

    Blizzard + Cooking = world starvation tho surely – I mean they take years just to decide on the name of something…