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  1. #201
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    Quote Originally Posted by pkt-zer0 View Post
    I've no idea how the original B.Net worked, but I don't think it's that much of a stretch to imagine that tech from '97 wouldn't necessarily work well enough these days. (And that's aside from the obvious legal reasons, but maybe that could be circumventable in a less drastic fashion than a rewrite)
    Yes, because a chat and lobby system which was essentially an IRC client and a server browser, two things which have been in continuous use almost since the dawn of multiplayer gaming, wouldn't work in the year 2010. Even Steam itself is just a variation on that theme. I'm not saying that they shouldn't have updated the code, I'm saying that the functionality didn't have to change as drastically as it did.

    I'll give a rundown of how B.Net worked, looked, and changed over the years, since you say you're unfamiliar with it. I'll even include pictures.

    The original B.Net was, quite literally, an IRC clone that had a built-in server browser. It had a sidebar on the left with buttons for Channels, Create Game, Join Game, and Quit. The middle was a large area for chatting, and the left was a sidebar that showed all the people in your current channel with an icon that showed their class, level, and what the highest difficulty level that had beaten was. Clicking the Channels button gave you a list of the official Battle.Net chat channels and the option to type in your own channel to create/join for a more private chatroom that you could have just your friends join. Any channel you created would give you "Operator," or admin, priveleges which meant you could kick or ban people from the channel, but those channels were temporary and would close as soon as everyone left. The Create Game button brought up a menu where you could set the game name, a password, and what difficulty level you wanted it to be at. Join Game showed a list of active games, with the option to show only a certain difficulty level.

    This is the original look of B.Net. Granted, it's a private, modded B.Net as evidenced by the top banner, but the general look is exactly the same.

    With StarCraft and the Brood War expansion they made a few changes but the overall functionality stayed the same. The changes included an account-based login rather than just character based like in Diablo, the ability to create a profile for your account, simple stat tracking, a friends list feature, and a ladder feature. They updated the UI to include a button for both Friends and Ladder on the left sidebar, and the sorting options for the Join Game button became game styles, such as Melee, FFA, Ladder, and Use Map Settings, rather than difficulty levels considering the SC was an RTS rather than an ARPG like Diablo. Because SC was an RTS some other changes came as well, such as Create Game requiring you to choose a map to play as well as all the previous options, and switching games to a lobby system rather than drop-in/drop-out style joining like Diablo had. Also, when joining a game lobby it would download whatever map was being played if you didn't have it already. These maps were saved to your SC directory and became available to you for creating your own games using them so long as you didn't delete them. The icons on the right sidebar also changed a bit, becoming game-sensitive in what they showed. But still the means of creating and joining games was nearly identical in premise, with the only changes being those which were genre sensitive. WarCraft 2: Battle.Net Edition used pretty much the exact same version of Battle.Net as StarCraft and Brood War, just with theme-appropriate trimmings.


    The next game to come out was Diablo 2, which brought the most drastic changes yet, but it was largely a set of UI based changes. The right sidebar listing users in your channel became a footer, player/account icons became pictures of the characters themselves, and the contents of the left sidebar switched to the right side of the screen. The process for creating games was almost unchanged from Diablo 1, aside from giving the option of setting a level cap that could prevent players from joining. Joining games was, for all intents and purposes, unchanged as well. Chat still retained all of its IRC-like functions, the friends list was still there, and so was the ladder(though it changed from a point-ranking system to just being based on character levels and character age). The most drastic change was the switch and split to an "Open" and a "Closed" Battle.Net. Open functioned the same way as Battle.Net did in Diablo 1, with characters being stored locally on your computer so you could play the same character in single player as you were playing online. It also had the same shortcomings as Diablo 1 in that it was extremely easy to hack characters and items on Open B.Net. Closed, on the other hand, was more along the lines of what they're doing with Diablo 3. All characters on Closed were stored on the Blizzard servers and could only be played online. It was intended as a means of stopping hackers, but didn't really work that well.


    WarCraft 3 brought another UI update, and also introduced matchmaking for ladder play. The ladder matchmaking was generally lauded as a good thing, because it simplified ladder matches. For everything else, from casual games to custom maps, you could create and join games the same way as you did with all the prior games. You would still join a lobby and new maps were still handled the same way as they were in SC, with you downloading them and storing them locally. The UI update involved another rearranging of the screen. You were no longer dumped into a general chat channel automatically, forgoing that for a news page, but the "join chat" button was prominently displayed. Player icons for WC3 players would change based on their stats as well.


    Then comes SC2. Matchmaking is generally improved, splitting it into divisions and at least attempting to fix the problems with the WC3 matchmaking system. The game creation system sees changes that are half good, half bad. They make all games start as private, add in an invite option, and give you the ability to create a party of players that you can have immediately join any new game you create. I like this idea, as it removes the hassle of tossing around game names and passwords when you want to play with someone(s) else. However, the method of creating games beyond that took a nosedive, especially when it came to custom maps. You no longer have any maps stored on your local drive, so every map you play has to be redownloaded each and every time you play it. This means that you have to know the name or tags of a custom map if you want to play it. It also means that a map that you enjoy may someday disappear because the author may pull his map off of Battle.Net, or Blizzard may take it down for some reason. Then you get into the area of how custom maps are listed based on popularity. This makes it so that the visible custom maps list is dominated by TD maps and DOTA clones. Which is all fine and dandy if you like that sort of thing. But some of my favorite custom maps in SC were the various paintball, CTF, or RPG-ish maps which aren't represented much, if at all, in SC2's popular lists despite SC2 having far more tools to make those games much more complex than they used to be. It also makes it so that new maps have a much harder time being played, regardless of their quality, because the popular maps have already established their positions and so pull the vast majority of players in. I understand that Blizzard has put in a lottery type of system that players can opt into, where they get thrown into a random map and get to vote on it after playing, which is nice but it was put in at least a year after the game came out. It still doesn't help you if you liked the map and can't remember the name of it or the author decides to pull it. Yea you've got a "recently played" list, but mine doesn't always update and it seems to only keep a limited number of maps, so if you do that lottery thing often and then want to go back to one you played a month ago you won't see it there anymore.

    And then there's the chat. They took away the IRC-style chat and replaced it with an IM-style system. It makes it easier to keep track of conversations with friends that would have usually been handled over whispers/tells, and the private channels were replaced by party chat, but public chat areas are pretty much gone. Someone here said that they introduced channels again, but when I last hopped onto the SC2 B.Net before the D3 release I never saw any public channels. It sure as hell didn't dump me into a general channel like the old B.Net did. So maybe, instead of showing me a giant picture of Tychus Findlay's face and having a bunch of wasted space on the sides, they should dump you into a general chat with the chat box and sidebar listing players in the room there. Diablo 3 rectified that, I'll admit, but it did it in a half-assed way and now I'm constantly in the general chat rather than only being in it while I'm in the menus, so it's more like WoW's chat than B.Net's because it's inescapable. You can leave the channel, but as soon as you join a new game or leave your current one it dumps you right back in, whereas the old B.Net would remember what channels you were or weren't in. However, I will admit that out of all the changes that SC2 brought to B.Net, the chat system is actually something that I wouldn't mind the changes to if it weren't for the fact that they killed game creation at the same time. As it is it just compounds the difficulty in finding people to play new maps with.

    I'm linking the image of SC2's Battle.Net screen, because I'm over the 4 image limit, this screenshot was taken by me just a bit ago and so represents the newest incarnation of SC2's B.Net. - http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e133/gofclan/Screenshot2012-07-2000_27_40.jpg

    I'll admit that up until SC2 I was happy with the changes to Battle.Net because on the whole they added to the experience and made things better. And I'm even happy with a good few of the changes that SC2 brought with it. But overall I've found the changes to not be to my liking. Maybe I'm just too old fashioned, maybe I'm afraid of change, or maybe I'm seeing the past through rose-tinted glasses. Maybe it's even a mix of all three of those things. But the fact stands that I don't care for SC2's Battle.Net and Diablo 3's is even worse, but that's the least of D3's problems and isn't really relevant to this conversation. Hell, even talking about Battle.Net itself is only of tenuous relevance to the conversation on the demise/slow death of classic RTS games, but I'd say it gets a pass as it has a heavy bearing on my opinion of SC2 on the whole due to its almost complete integration into the game itself.


    Sorry for the giant wall of text and my ranting nature of this post, but I felt the need to explain the life of Battle.Net on the whole in order to get across why I don't like Battle.Net in SC2.
    Last edited by unruly; 20-07-2012 at 05:59 AM. Reason: Finishing my rant and adding screenshots

  2. #202
    Network Hub Bungle's Avatar
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    Demigod was only kind of mentioned once in this thread. It's an RTS game that looks to be slow as hell. Does it fit the bill?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IMYtpCkr8o

  3. #203
    Activated Node DragonOfTime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bungle View Post
    Demigod was only kind of mentioned once in this thread. It's an RTS game that looks to be slow as hell. Does it fit the bill?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IMYtpCkr8o
    It's more of a MOBA, like DotA or League of Legends, so not really.

  4. #204
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    A friend of mine just started up a kickstarter in the hope of completing an indie RTS game, Pursuit of Power 2. He just launched though and isn't doing to hot, I think mostly because the man is such a logic driven coder at heart and lacks the emotional punch you need to drum up for marketing.

    His idea for the game is essentially a mix of concepts from populous and heros of might and magic. He didn't want to mention any kind of inspirations for the game on his page for fear of legal repercussions.

    Well, let me back up and tell his indie development story. Several years ago he was caught up doing a job where he was essentially miserable, and he quit his job with all the money he had saved up just to work on his games, the original pursuit of power and birth of shadows (both at his site http://www.precisiongames.net/ ). He built the game engines from the ground up, raw socket networking, direct x calls, home grown pathfinding, particle engines etc. At the time he built everything, it was to be thorough and really just the lack of so many of the great libraries we have now a days for things. The man is really a coding animal, when he turns his mind on a difficulty problem, it get solved. period.

    Anyway, towards the end of creating birth of shadows, he ran into some legal issues over the trademark for the game, and basically ended up losing most of the money he had allocated for graphic improvements and a final sort of 'fun' polish pass over the game, and had to basically release. I think the lack of some of those things, and really that indie wasn't as big as it is now, drove in some poor sales and he had to go out and find a job again.

    So this is where I met him at work as the job he came to was at my company. So to be as honest as possible I'm just coming on here as a friend, because I really believe that if you are looking for a bit of a different RTS hes a really good guy to build it. I know his screen shots look bland with the older graphics, but everything underneath there is pretty god damn amazing, and I say this a developer myself.

    So, the game hes making now, I don't know if he did a good enough job describing it. Firstly, I believe he mentioned the game engine will be a 2d isometric view (xcom, age of empires etc), rather than the straight on 'RPG half tilt' as i like to call it. Second, because it is 2d, and is really optimized, the idea is to pump out a ton of units on screen.

    So really first think of the dawn of war/ total annihilation set up, a strong hero /leader units and several elite units, though in this they will be single people rather than squads. The leaders will have more abilities and combos than in dow though, also more than your typical MOBA hero, but not as crazy as say a MMO. Maybe guild wars/ guildwars 2 amount is probably the best description. Just enough to be interesting, but not overly crazy.

    The second factor are these small units. So you capture a point like in dow, and you get these hundreds of smaller units streaming out. You allocate a portion as people that stay in the fort to work/defend it, and another as a set of zealots. The guys that stick around working it are going to be indirectly managed, a bit like stronghold, or perhaps a bit like dwarf fort or prison architect. Not set in stone yet, but basically the idea is high level orders, either work on things, or grab their gear and defend the town. The idea is that you are able to focus on controlling the hero the most.

    The zealots are these MOBA creep like swarms of guys, but just MORE of them than you see in a MOBA game. The idea is also not to use them as agro cover, but in fact to keep them alive. They sacrifice themselves at different points for more of this secondary prestige resource. So initially you have them sacrifice right at the town they emerge from, later you point a stream to a second town and they get some more per sacrifice. Finally later in the game the idea is to siege someone elses fort by planting a rally flag for your zealots with your leader/units, who draw the agro from the town to cover the zealots so they can get in there and sacrifice for a larger bonus.

    The idea really is you basically are growing towns and indirectly managing this chaos of the little dudes going all over the map. Obviously if you get knocked out of someone's fort, there should be tons of little vulnerable zealot guys you get to mow down as your victory party. And part of the strategy will be trying to attack their zealot 'trade routes' to stop their resource generation while protecting your own.

    So, I think if you are looking for a little bit of an old school twist on the RTS, it really will be an interesting project to look into, though I think at its opening rate it probably doesn't look to good for it. Either way I know Mike, and when he says hes going to get something done, he'll get it done. I mean while we were both working together, doing his regular stuff, he was still creating schedules for upgrades to the game engine on his own time, and was keeping to them, over a couple years.

    Alright, as usual I went on longer than normal, but I really hope anybody looking for a different RTS than what we have been getting lately take a look over there at it.

  5. #205
    Lesser Hivemind Node internetonsetadd's Avatar
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    That doesn't sound half bad. I imagine the slow start could have something to do with the project's overlap with the Steam sale, and a general lack of eyeballs anywhere else (it probably hurt Skyjacker's chance for success). During the rest of the year, $15 for an indie is a reasonable deal. With the sale going, it becomes hard to compete with $2.50 to $5 AAA and indie titles. I'm guessing it will also have the lingering effect of people feeling overspent, so perhaps not the best timing. I've been a lot less active on KS lately, but I'll keep an eye on it.

  6. #206
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    Sorry to dig up an old thread again, but I thought it best rather than creating a new one for a minor question.

    Anyway, those who are SupCom fans, can you tell me does the campaign provide any interesting scenarios? I know the story itself is supposed to be rather weak, but does the campaign actually have most of the elements that make the skirmish battles fun or is there literally no point in playing it and sticking to skirmish? I like playing skirmishes, but it'd be nice to have some of the rules dictated by the game everyone once in a while.
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  7. #207
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sketch View Post
    Anyway, those who are SupCom fans, can you tell me does the campaign provide any interesting scenarios? I know the story itself is supposed to be rather weak, but does the campaign actually have most of the elements that make the skirmish battles fun or is there literally no point in playing it and sticking to skirmish? I like playing skirmishes, but it'd be nice to have some of the rules dictated by the game everyone once in a while.
    You are confusing me greatly. Skirmish vs. AI fun? Campaign should be like that? What?

    Try Burning Crusade or Emperor: Battle for Dune. Both are just Skirmish over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

  8. #208
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sketch's Avatar
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    I always enjoyed the skirmish battles, I'm not very good at RTS games so the AI not being super advanced is not really an issue for me. What I mean is, is the campaign bad because the mission structure is bad and doesn't include scale and scope of the skirmish battles that are fun to play or bad because it's got a week story? Because the latter wouldn't bother me.
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  9. #209
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sketch View Post
    Sorry to dig up an old thread again, but I thought it best rather than creating a new one for a minor question.

    Anyway, those who are SupCom fans, can you tell me does the campaign provide any interesting scenarios? I know the story itself is supposed to be rather weak, but does the campaign actually have most of the elements that make the skirmish battles fun or is there literally no point in playing it and sticking to skirmish? I like playing skirmishes, but it'd be nice to have some of the rules dictated by the game everyone once in a while.
    Original campaign was just a trip up the tech trees, but worth a bash. Low level combat can always be fun in that game.

    However, Forged Alliance does offer up some different missions to take on.

  10. #210
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    The campaigns aren't too bad. They don't stray too far from the core of building a base and wrecking some other bases, but I wouldn't say that was a bad thing. They tend to start you off with a small map and an objective, and completing that makes the map bigger and gives you another objective, and so on, which leads to a great sense of escalating conflict. Towards the end it falls into an annoying habit of hitting you with large attacks or super units whenever the map expands, which you couldn't have anticipated. It means that if your army just manages to bust the enemy defenses with severe casualties you tend to get unavoidably walloped immediately thereafter, which is frustrating when the previous fight was enjoyably close.

    Both SupComs make for mighty enjoyable skirmish games, I have to say.

  11. #211
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sketch's Avatar
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    Ah thanks guys, I'll give them a go then I fancied something with a little more structure than the skirmishes. Going back to SupCom after 2 will be pretty jarring, I imagine.
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  12. #212
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    It's a little strange to me how different a feel the sequel has from the original, given that they're mechanically very similar.

  13. #213
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    Its dat shrinky size console-small maps that makes supcom 2 feel different.

    The game was such an improvement yet such a fuck up at the same time.

    Big shame

  14. #214
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sketch's Avatar
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    SupCom 1 was Xbox too wasn't it?
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  15. #215
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    Quote Originally Posted by arathain View Post
    It's a little strange to me how different a feel the sequel has from the original, given that they're mechanically very similar.
    That's because they're not mechanically similar at all. SupCom and SupCom 2 are almost polar opposites.

  16. #216
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mickygor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arathain View Post
    It's a little strange to me how different a feel the sequel has from the original, given that they're mechanically very similar.
    They're not mechanically similar, though. They just happen to be set in the same universe.
    Itsbastiat, Dawngate
    Bastiat, Planetside 2, Miller NC
    Therin Katta, FFXIV, Cerberus

  17. #217
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    Not sure why you'd say they aren't mechanically similar. You start with a powerful commander unit, who explodes violently on death. You get metal from building extractors on shiny rocks, and energy from building power plants anywhere, and managing one's economy is more about getting use rate to match generation rate, rather than having a store. You'll build multiple unit producing factories, which can produce engineers; these can build stuff, but also speed up unit production. Military units can be land, air, or naval. Shots are modelled; rather than hitting automatically they can be dodged, and friendly fire is possible. Units leave wrecks when destroyed, which can be reclaimed for extra resources. Static defenses are powerful, and with resources limited only by time, can be spammed. There are shield generators which can cover a large area, but can eventually be taken down, or just driven under. You can build powerful nukes, and defense structures to shoot them down. You can build very large units capable of taking on large numbers of weaker units. The interface is designed to make queuing multiple build orders or continuous unit production easy, and has a lovely zoom on the mouse wheel that takes one all the way from up close to your units to a strategic view on which units are represented as icons.

    I could be talking about either game, and most of these features are emphasized in the SupComs in a way they aren't in other RTSs. I could keep going. Surely it's reasonable to say the two games are far more similar mechanically than they are different.

  18. #218
    Activated Node Tres's Avatar
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    Starcraft 2 is more of an arcade game than RTS. Strategy games usually don't require having monkey agility just to be able to play/spam clicks well enough for any sort of 'strategy' to matter.

  19. #219
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tres View Post
    Starcraft 2 is more of an arcade game than RTS. Strategy games usually don't require having monkey agility just to be able to play/spam clicks well enough for any sort of 'strategy' to matter.
    Now if only we could get enough people in one group to get publishers to take us seriously...

  20. #220
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    Quote Originally Posted by arathain View Post
    Not sure why you'd say they aren't mechanically similar.
    Beause one focuses on very hard tiers each containing about dozen of units while the other is completely tier-less, with only a handful of units which you then can upgrade.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tres View Post
    Starcraft 2 is more of an arcade game than RTS. Strategy games usually don't require having monkey agility just to be able to play/spam clicks well enough for any sort of 'strategy' to matter.
    So was Starcraft 2 your first RTS or something? The genre always required "monkey agility", ever since Dune 2.

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