A View From The Road: The StarCraft Dilemma

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Bravo John! Exactly what I was thinking. Innovations is an overused term these days. Why change something that was so good in the first place?

Also, I find the new units to be innovation enough. Nydus worms and Reapers to be very interesting new changes to basic their respective races..

One area to explore is how Blizzard as a company approaches a game. Did they innovate with the original SC? Did any WC title innovate? Blizzard's strength is in polished, user friendly experiences with a lot of depth. Easy to pick up, difficult to master. I'm not sure they are a company you look to for innovation but rather the source for refinement.

Depth can kill. Keep adding depth with every iteration, and pretty soon a game is just too dang complicated to appeal to anyone new. The base becomes insular. I think making small tweaks and minor adjustments is the way to go.

I was actually worried that they were changing TOO MUCH when I saw the battle report videos. At the time I thought, "Holy cow! They changed everything! This is a whole new game!" (It wasn't - they were just showing off the new stuff and ignoring the same stuff, which made the changes feel more radical than they were.)

Still, I won't be there on launch day. As someone who played only single-player and LAN, I want to see how well those things work before I dive in.

Great article. I agree mostly with what you said. Blizzard did the smart thing by not just ripping off of newer RTS titles like dawn of war or company of heroes. Some may argue that if you make a new RTS they have to have cover systems and area control and etc because that's what is hot these days. However that is pure and simple bullshit. If Dawn of War and Company of Heroes were chocolate chip cookies with caramel inside, Starcraft 2 is a yummy butter cookie. Just because everything these days has caramel and chocolate in it does NOT mean that every cookie going forward has to be chocolate and caramel. Let Starcraft be Starcraft, If you don't like it then don't buy it or play it.

Shamus Young:
Depth can kill. Keep adding depth with every iteration, and pretty soon a game is just too dang complicated to appeal to anyone new. The base becomes insular. I think making small tweaks and minor adjustments is the way to go.

I was actually worried that they were changing TOO MUCH when I saw the battle report videos. At the time I thought, "Holy cow! They changed everything! This is a whole new game!" (It wasn't - they were just showing off the new stuff and ignoring the same stuff, which made the changes feel more radical than they were.)

Still, I won't be there on launch day. As someone who played only single-player and LAN, I want to see how well those things work before I dive in.

I LAN'd a ton back in the day, but to be perfectly honest I haven't experienced any significant lag at all while playing on Battle.net (to be fair, I'm hardly a pro). Tonight we'll be doing a 2v2 from Chez Escape, and while that's hardly a stress test of any sort, if it holds up then I think the game might manage just fine without traditional LAN. Though I do want to hear more about the direct-enabled pseudo-LAN they have for tournaments and the like.

Agreed. Sequels would be better if they just stick to the original, fix only what needs fixing, offer new content, and update to new technology. Dawn of War 2 is a good example of how NOT to do a sequel. Not that it is a terrible game and not that it should not have been made, but it should have been called something else. Kudos to Blizzard for not making the same mistake.

That said, not offering camera rotation and better zoom seems a little behind-the-times. I'll leave commentary on the whole LAN/Battlenet 2.0 issue to Shamus.

Just finished downloading the client to watch replays; loving every minute of SC2.
When I think of great sequel games, I think of Jedi Knight II and Half Life 2; both of them perfectly captured their original games, updated their engines and streamlined the gameplay successfully.

Bad sequels I can think of are numerous.
Two games that I love, but are terrible sequels are the games that should have been expansion packs; games that are just slight upgrades to the original
Culprits of this are Left 4 Dead 2 and Jedi Knight 3: Jedi Academy, games that should have been left to develop more on their own instead of relying on slightly upgraded versions of the same engine and using resources from the original game.

Dammit I want my beta! No fairzorz! I can't wait till I get to play Protoss though.

TO be frank, what im looking foward in SC2 is an even better map editor (the first being nearly perfect imho), and to see where the storyline goes.

I dont actually like RTS games that much.

Just ran Starcraft 2 for the first time and looked at some replays (that's all you can do right know if you aren't in the beta as it hasn't been cracked yet).

Opening up the game for the first time was a magical feeling, like I just couldn't believe it was real.

Wait wait wait wait wait wait......how are you running SC2..if you arent in the beta? This has now gone into boggle my mind category.

Deofuta:
Where are you guys

dochmbi:
Just ran Starcraft 2 for the first time and looked at some replays (that's all you can do right know if you aren't in the beta as it hasn't been cracked yet).

Opening up the game for the first time was a magical feeling, like I just couldn't believe it was real.

Where are you guys finding the client? I'd love to watch replays as well!

Yah, I want to know that too!

Where are you guys

dochmbi:
Just ran Starcraft 2 for the first time and looked at some replays (that's all you can do right know if you aren't in the beta as it hasn't been cracked yet).

Opening up the game for the first time was a magical feeling, like I just couldn't believe it was real.

Where are you guys finding the client? I'd love to watch replays as well!

Twad:
TO be frank, what im looking foward in SC2 is an even better map editor (the first being nearly perfect imho), and to see where the storyline goes.

I dont actually like RTS games that much.

just if u didnt know they managed to make a fps out of it with the mod tools and classic arcade shooter style games. so if your into modding, sc2 is about to kick the modding community right into the next generation

Nah, I'm afraid I disagree. I'm the kind of guy that does want innovation, especially in RTSs. I played on Command and Conquer 3, and was fairly annoyed that after all this time, very little had actually changed. If the game is too much like the original, why make the sequel at all? Why should I pay good money for what is essentially the same game again? People probably won't be impressed by something similar to a decade old product, especially when they have played every other strategy game which has copied its style since then. It will just feel like a recycled experience.

Glad to hear it, this sounds to be exactly what I've been hoping SCII would look like!

Deofuta:
Where are you guys

dochmbi:
Just ran Starcraft 2 for the first time and looked at some replays (that's all you can do right know if you aren't in the beta as it hasn't been cracked yet).

Opening up the game for the first time was a magical feeling, like I just couldn't believe it was real.

Where are you guys finding the client? I'd love to watch replays as well!

Well I just watch videos uploaded by people on youtube. Some of them actually give good commentary and teach me strategies I would have never thought of in the first place.

Thanks for the article, I totally agree. I have seen some good series go to Crapville because they tryied too hard to be innovative.

Mortal Kombat. 1,2 and 3 were good and all similar, but 4 was utter garbage because they had to radically change a working formula. The violent fatalities don't hold up the gameplay without a intuitive control scheme and balanced characters. The ones after 4 were not much better because they were so gimmicky and the combos were all about juggling. Mortal Kombat/DC was suprisingly refreshing because they went back to the basics.

And how many good 2D games became crap going to 3D?
Flashback was great, but then Fade To Black destroyed my love.
Sonic the Hedgehog?
Megaman X7 flirted with 3D and it sucked. X8 said screw 3D and it worked out pretty well.

I'm totally with you. Polish and shine is a what sequels are for, maybe a bit of tweak for battle systems and mechanics, but otherwise, we know the original and how good it was, and we want another--maybe a little extra, maybe a little better, but hey--we know what we're gonna get. Major innovations aren't for every title, and there's quite a few that have been worse off for innovation. Tweaks are good, but re-creation is not.

John Funk:
snip

Funk, would you agree with me when I say that Starcraft 2 plays nothing like the first, while playing exactly the same?

I was a fairly competent player in the first game. But when I started playing the beta, I felt like I was playing a whole new game. I felt as though none of my strategies would apply anymore.

Did you feel the same way?

maninahat:
Nah, I'm afraid I disagree. I'm the kind of guy that does want innovation, especially in RTSs. I played on Command and Conquer 3, and was fairly annoyed that after all this time, very little had actually changed. If the game is too much like the original, why make the sequel at all? Why should I pay good money for what is essentially the same game again? People probably won't be impressed by something similar to a decade old product, especially when they have played every other strategy game which has copied its style since then. It will just feel like a recycled experience.

I'm sorry but it's a sequel... the story should evolve and there should be a handful of differences, but the core gameplay should stay pretty much the same. People buy a sequal because it is like the original, because it continues on. If you want something different you should try a new IP.

There is absolutely no-doubt in my mind that Starcraft II must have been hard to make. If it cam out in 98, the last time i remember playing was about 06. Thats almost 10 years of me playing and i loved it. I can only hope it is as good if not better than 1.

Part of my love originally for SC was the horrible graphics, of course relative to what i was playing in 06 they were horrible. I loved my alien folks, just because of the organic nature of their graphics even if it looks creepy on those big pixels.

After playing the C&C4 beta I'm apprehensive about Starcraft 2. Essentially the typical RTS has two layers; the base building/economic layer and the combat/strategy layer. C&C4 pretty much dumps the first layer in favor of the second, and it succeeds with it quite well. With the elimination of base building, the turtle strategy simply no longer works and you have to be offensive. Considering that I am a rush player I enjoy this because it means I don't need to worry about perfect harvester/resource ratios and can concentrate more on battlefield tactics.

Turtle players hate it and I can understand why. They're used to building impenetrable walls of defenses which no enemy can counter, then they win by default. Many games try to discourage this strategy with things like limited resources (hated by all) or defense-busting super weapons (which generally break the game for everyone else). The turtle strategy tends to be favored by players who can't be bothered to learn the ins and outs of the combat layer; they don't want to field an effective fighting force, they just want to spam tanks and space lasers until they win.

I can't remember how many games of Starcraft I joined labeled "NO RUSH NO ATTACK 30 MIN" and would Zerg rush the crap out of them, then laugh while they all rage quit. Zerg was built for rushing; would they follow a "NO BATTLESHIP NO CARRIER" rule? I doubt it.

Yes, that makes sense. Sometimes you want only new content, some new gameplay updates/additions to keep the game fresh and build on solid foundations.

New franchises can always be the ones to attempt to revolutionise games, without compromising franchises which already have huge fan bases.

It's always a tough balance.. and it really does vary from game to game. Sometimes all you want is a glorified expansion pack, sometimes you want something that takes the successes of the first and completes the package with altered/tweaked/brand new stuff. Personally, I'm always a little disappointed when a sequel to a game I love doesn't really change anything at all. I've also, of course, been disappointed when changes are made and the game loses what I liked so much about it in the first place (the Star Ocean series after SO2 for example). I guess I'll just never win. Hehe

Shamus does bring up a good point though. I'm a fighting game nut, but you only need to look at that genre for a concrete example. I can jump in and play almost any fighter released with a little adjustment period, and I scoff at games that haven't advanced depth wise much beyond SF2. At the same time, however, I realize that part of what made SF2 so popular was the appeal of it being something new that anyone could get into and play, maybe even stealing a win from a vet here and there. Add too much depth and complexity with each iteration and eventually you will make a game untouchable to the newcomer.

I think the lack of LAN is going to really hurt Starcraft 2. Anyone who's played on battle.net often enough knows how much it sucks. So, they're revamping the servers but how long will that last? I'm not interested in the same crap of being booted from a game every 5 minutes or so only to be faced with a Realm Down error that doesn't let you back in for a long time.

I don't care how much they've "improved" battle.net. This is going to come back and bite them in the ass. I was originally going to buy this game without hesitation but now I'm going to have to wait and see how long it takes before battle.net gets over choking to death on the flood of people who buy this game.

A balanced, polished to mirror shine multiplayer was always the first thing that came to mind after thinking "Starcraft". I did, however, enjoy the single player campaign as well. As much as I'd love Blizzard to cater hardcore players and Koreans in the multi by staying pretty much the same, I expected the single player to be innovative (to the franchise, not necessarily to gaming as a whole).

And you know what? After seeing the BlizzCon footage of the single player aspect of the game I got pleasantly surprised. With that in mind I wouldn't rant about SC2 being "not innovative at all" just yet.

Sequels are not the place to go innovation crazy, a new idea here or there maybe and serious polish. Unfortunately, it is far too lucrative to just do that again and again (NINTENDO!!!). I think Bioware was smart with what they did with Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Set up a trilogy you build up a fanbase and make some polished sequels. Afterwards they keep using the same universe to attract fans but with a new series of games have a chance to try something different. Ok so it's Bioware meaning that its gonna be dialogue and party combat without fail but in general the template is there to insure lucrative success (as long as the original trilogy worked out) while still having room to expand gaming. Stop innovating and we'll never know what we might have missed.

I think most of us consider ourselves casual fans of Starcraft, relative to tournament players and most of South Korea, so I think we take for granted a lot of the innovation in the game. Which, actually, I think may be intentional on Blizzard's part.

Looking through new units and abilities, I've been really wow'd by some of the strategies I see play out in my head. For many of us it feels like the same old Starcraft, but on higher levels of play this is going to be a COMPLETELY different game.

I think Blizzard may have achieved something really amazing in that sense. Of course, there's always the risk it could be too much of the same for most players and way too different for competitive players. It's possible, but I think it will end up going over really well with most fans, and do great in the competitive space if Blizzard acts quick in balancing strategies in the first year.

But I still want my freakin' LAN support damnit...

Yes. New IPs should be used to create new ideas, and sequels should polish the ones already available. The problem is that everyone considers new IPs "too risky" and the industry stagnates.

LordZ:
I think the lack of LAN is going to really hurt Starcraft 2. Anyone who's played on battle.net often enough knows how much it sucks. So, they're revamping the servers but how long will that last? I'm not interested in the same crap of being booted from a game every 5 minutes or so only to be faced with a Realm Down error that doesn't let you back in for a long time.

hmm maybe that's the starcraft one only then... when i was constantly on wc3 online i sometimes went for 8 hours and having to switch games quite a few times because they ended.(also custom maps ftw) I have never had an realm down error or getting booted back to mainscreen aslong as i still had internet and blizzard didn't have maitainance.
and this is for over 2 years on and off gaming (hell i occasionally jump on battle net now to see if there's a fun NON DOTA map going on.

I really want to play Starcraft 2 I thought for awhile there they were never going to make another one. I sort of forgot about all of it. After seeing that trailor I got excited. I even checked the website a few times last year and watched that demo video 10 times. I've never been a part of the flood that occurs when a game is just released. I just hope they release it during a holiday weekend and I have nothing to do. Because when it comes time to play the game. I'M NOT LEAVING THE HOUSE!

Ironic that this gets posted today - when I checked my mail this morning a surprise was awaiting me: "Hello good sir, you've been invited to the Starcraft II Beta!"
Yes, I had to bounce around the room a few times. Then I had time for one game before heading off to school, which resulted in me getting my ass kicked because I forgot to build air defense. My zealots were waving at the two warships that glided in over my base. Woooops.

I never really cared for RTSeseseses, but I was kinda wondering if they'd try and mess with the magical money formula of SC. Sounds like they didn't; Blizzard appears to be really really good at not biting the hand that feeds them.

Didn't get to read the entire thing, but i will when I get back from my classes. Started off good, but i consider Call of Duty 4 defining fps, but whatever to each their own.

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