A View From The Road: An Uphill Battle.net

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A View From The Road: An Uphill Battle.net

Battle.net 2.0 is slicker and more integrated than GFWL or Steam, which is its biggest weakness.

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Have you tried the new Steam UI Update? It's a crapton slicker than the original Steam.

behe101:
Have you tried the new Steam UI Update? It's a crapton slicker than the original Steam.

Has it been updated since, uh, Sunday? Because that was the last I've used it, and Steam is still really clunky for me. It's an overlay.

On the other hand, that blue sci-fi skin isn't going to look right with Diablo 3.

*cross fingers for game-specific skins*

behe101:
Have you tried the new Steam UI Update? It's a crapton slicker than the original Steam.

I am using it, and is it just me or does it also use a lot more CPU (But crashes less?)

John Funk:

behe101:
Have you tried the new Steam UI Update? It's a crapton slicker than the original Steam.

Has it been updated since, uh, Sunday? Because that was the last I've used it, and Steam is still really clunky for me. It's an overlay.

Its a Beta opt in thing, its kinda cool :D

ive heard that steam 2.0 should be slick (did i use that right?), and i must say im quite happy with the shift tab socializing tool, it was a pain in fallout 3 but other than that it works great, and i like that it looks about the same as it always have, and while the in game chat might seem well and all in blizzard games that require team speak and encourages socializing it would be awful in rpg, and i try and imagine my steam games with a built in chat and in most cases it would make it crowded and unpleasant to look at.

John Funk:

behe101:
Have you tried the new Steam UI Update? It's a crapton slicker than the original Steam.

Has it been updated since, uh, Sunday? Because that was the last I've used it, and Steam is still really clunky for me. It's an overlay.

Yeah, it's a Steam beta, you opt in with the Settings box. Take a look.

behe101:

John Funk:

behe101:
Have you tried the new Steam UI Update? It's a crapton slicker than the original Steam.

Has it been updated since, uh, Sunday? Because that was the last I've used it, and Steam is still really clunky for me. It's an overlay.

Yeah, it's a Steam beta, you opt in with the Settings box. Take a look.

I wanna see what this is like too! =D

Also, I tend to assign the Steam Overlay key to the Application Menu key. It's not exactly being used for anything else.

John Funk:

behe101:
Have you tried the new Steam UI Update? It's a crapton slicker than the original Steam.

Has it been updated since, uh, Sunday? Because that was the last I've used it, and Steam is still really clunky for me. It's an overlay.

It's just a UI update, buttons in different places, slightly different colour scheme and a clock has been added to the overly. Everything about responsiveness and the clunky parts you talked about here are all the same as before.

I find Steam to be un-intuitive and, as such, prefer battle.net. I am contributing to this thread.

Darktau:

behe101:
Have you tried the new Steam UI Update? It's a crapton slicker than the original Steam.

I am using it, and is it just me or does it also use a lot more CPU (But crashes less?)

Can't say I've found it any more intensive, although its a bit more flashy looking so I wouldn't be surprised if it a little. Its also a beta, so you know.

It is a lot faster, intuitive to use and with added features that are actually useful.

Steam is great, I love it. The problem with GfWL and everything else (bar the fact that most of them don't work) is that I don't want 500 of the fuckers using up my CPU when they all have to load at the same time.

Is it not possible to simply create a less intricate version for use in other games? Sort of a generic BN 2.0 app that works pretty much the same as Steam but interfaces perfectly with those games (aka Blizzards) that do fully support the system.

I'm hoping that the rumour I've heard about Steam coming to Mac turns out to be true as it would probably increases developers' interest in using the Mac as another gaming platform.

John Funk:
Let's be honest about Steam here: as convenient as it is for buying games, and as much as I love it, Steam is pretty clunky as a social tool. Its presence in any game comes as an overlay that you can theoretically bring up at any time with Shift+Tab (though it isn't as responsive as I'd like), and it never quite feels like a cohesive experience.

It's presence OUT of any game also works. Which easily beats Battlenet.

Then you have purchases, achievements, feedback, and ...

John Funk actually runs the StarCraft II beta through Steam, just to make his Steam friends jealous.

So it's clunky because you... use... it... all the time.

Which you can't with Battlenet... because... it's integrated....

Yet it's slicker....because....it only has to deal with....one thing...

image

StriderShinryu:
Is it not possible to simply create a less intricate version for use in other games? Sort of a generic BN 2.0 app that works pretty much the same as Steam but interfaces perfectly with those games (aka Blizzards) that do fully support the system.

Which would somewhat make it unfair for other developers since Blizzard games will have superior online integration specifically to their games.

The_root_of_all_evil:

It's presence OUT of any game also works. Which easily beats Battlenet.

Then you have purchases, achievements, feedback, and ...

John Funk actually runs the StarCraft II beta through Steam, just to make his Steam friends jealous.

So it's clunky because you... use... it... all the time.

Which you can't with Battlenet... because... it's integrated....

Yet it's slicker....because....it only has to deal with....one thing...

Nooooot that hard to understand, dude. I use Steam because I have no other option (and the new Battle.net 2.0 is only available in a closed beta, which means I don't have all my steam friends on it). What's hard to grok about that?

Pound for pound, Battle.net is better.

Ya know I'm surprised that the article was more about the UI and not discussing in-depth on the big question. Which big game company actually wants to be the host for online gaming because that is what GFWL, Steam, and B.Net are really fighting and possibly for a prize they really don't want.

The recent trend has drastically hurt the dedicate server community but with the atrocious setup for servers to host multiple games like GFWL is really not picking up the weight the community has done before.

In the end I think B.Net does so well because it focuses on the property they own and not try to be an outside host like steam and GFWL have been trying to do for other game companies. This would also explain why games like League of Legends is nice to play because of a dedicated UI towards its own game.

John Funk:

Pound for pound, Battle.net is better.

Battle.net's pound buys WoW and Starcraft.

Steam's pound buys over 1,000 games, other games that can be added and all the stuff MSN can do.

And all your steam friends can't use Battle.net 2.0....

I can understand your love for Battle.net, and I'mma gonna let you finish, but Steam has the most games supported in the whole world. And all those friends who might not be playing Battle.net.

The_root_of_all_evil:

John Funk:

Pound for pound, Battle.net is better.

Battle.net's pound buys WoW and Starcraft.

Steam's pound buys over 1,000 games, other games that can be added and all the stuff MSN can do.

And all your steam friends can't used Battle.net 2.0....

I can understand your love for Battle.net, and I'mma gonna let you finish, but Steam has the most games supported in the whole world. And all those friends who might not be playing Battle.net.

Which...

...is my point. Steam has more games (it doesn't help that Bnet is, y'know, a new service launching with a game that isn't *out* yet), but Bnet does it better. The only problem is, it requires more work, which means it probably won't achieve as much market penetration as Steam despite being much more intuitive.

When you say you have to tab out of a game to check a new Steam window, I assume you mean the Shift-Tab? Otherwise, you're doing it wrong. "Tab out of a game" to me holds a specific meaning.

I'd like to see Steam be more tailorable to specific games, something like the window system Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat and the like use. Taking AvP as an example, everything works just fine over Steam. I never have problems inviting people or joining friends' games or anything really. But it always seems like such an awkward combination of two completely different services even if the difference is just in the menus.

narcz:
Almost paid $300 bucks for a key on ebay I wanted this game sooo bad, but luckily I found a site where they are giving out some free invites. Mine just came in this morning, thought for sure this would just be a scam lol, the survey is pretty annoying too but its w.e. since I got my key now try it out tho!

http://freestarcraft2beta.blogspot.com/

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

Also why would you pay 6x the retail price for a BETA? I'm as anxious to get in as everyone but I'm not forking that much over just for a beta.

I've never seen more annoying spam surveys in my life. Not worth the beta key.

Battle.net 2.0 is bad. Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad.

Integrated is the crappiest thing. Just baaaaad.

"John Funk actually runs the StarCraft II beta through Steam, just to make his Steam friends jealous."
Well that's just mean.
No doubt that's what I'd do if I get the beta...

Uhm... aside from looking nice, which Steam will likely do when that new UI comes out of beta, what does BNet2.0 actually -do- which Steam does not? The overlay doesn't look amazing, but it works just fine. It has your friends list. Shows you what they're playing. Has all your chat windows. You can edit Steam-settings ingame. For me, at least, it's quick and responsive.

You said it's worse because it opens new windows to do stuff. I have a few things to say: firstly, Steam UI does that -in game-. You don't need to alt-tab to check your friends list; it's right there on the overlay. You can alt-tab, which is a nice touch for those who like windowed mode, but it's an option. Secondly, I prefer the option to move stuff around in my UI. Close bits I don't need. Bring forward or change the size on ones I do. Static, locked, single-window multi-pane or dropdown lists are pains in the ass. Steam's method is better.

From what I read, all it does which Steam doesn't is look shiny, and let you categorise your friends. ...I don't need either of those, and I'll take heightened functionality over both together anyday.

Oh, and don't get me started on the piece of abyssal crap that is Games For Windows Live. I hate that thing so so so much.

I care not about battle.net altho considering how stupid big the blizz fan base is if they really went into the digi distribution with sc2 it would probably set itself up big as a competitor for steam, glad it doesnt look like they are doing that, blizz/activision is big enough as it is

Icova:
If anyone is looking for a beta invite still, try this. Might still work. bit.ly/bWxzYi

That link doesn't look half-dodgy at all :\

I think a point missed in a lot of these articles is that this idea is hardly new. If you want to get technically Sony had all of it's games linked through chat a long time ago. It was possible to for example send tells and mail back and forth between games like EQ 2 and Star Wars Galaxies if you wanted to. The idea of being able to chat with someone playing Starcraft 2 while playing WoW through Battle.net strikes me as being no big deal overall.

The big thing with the idea of these "social services" is that they strike me as being a pointless gimmick. In general if your playing a game that is worthwhile multiplayer it's either a dedicated MMO and has all of the social tools you need intergrated into it, OR it's a multi-player action game where your either going to be playing regularly with the same group of guys and coordinating via Teamspeak/Ventrilo/whatever, or "pugging" it and thus nobody is going to be listening to anyone else much anyway other than to swear like 12 year olds. Yes, I am jaded and cynical, but this is also accurate.

Steam's success has nothing to do with it's social networking really, but with it's constant barrage of sales and deals. Simply put it succeeded by being cheap and actually delivering on the lower prices promised by digital download, where others were simply talking cr@p.

Oh surely, with popular titles, Battle.net is liable to have a lot of users (Blizzard is a monster) but I don't think it's exactly going to be any kind of genuine social center, at least no more than the games have always been.

I'll also be somewhat honest in saying that right now I think Battle.net and similar things are indications of a cancer that is strangling gaming. That is to say that everyone is so online crazed that every group/company/developer/etc... is creating it's own online service. All in hopes of luring people into their stores to buy games digitally (at full price usually) and tempt them with microtransactions. This ultimatly means that it's rapidly getting to the point where your going to need like 6 differant logins for six differant games in the near future. It also means that the potential you see in something like STEAM or Battle.net will never fully be realized or continue to evolve, at least not for a long time. The Escapist has had other articles talking about this kind of trend in the past.

For the most part all I can say is "meh". Besides, think of it this way. If your taking a night off from a raid with your guild to kick back and play some Star Craft, the last thing you want is a social system that let's them track you. Even if invisible there is always the chance that one group of people might run into the other group of people accidently and cause things to get really awkward.

The point being that a lot of people aren't going to want all their games to be linked for some reasons that I don't think developers are on to. Simple invisibility features are hardly ideal either since there are ways of pinging through that.

The clunky overlay isn't just easy to integrate, you can even automatically throw it on top of any game you play, Steam or not.

Wrote this a while back

This is the Basic Battle.Net Layout and the "Real-ID" and "Friends" Feature:

image image image

In the Upper-left corner you see that you'll need to create a B.Net 2.0 Account first and Log into it + Create a char before you can even get to the "SinglePlayer"-Button, then there's "Home" with a Welcome-Message, Patch-Notes etc., the "Replay"-Button where you can watch your 20+ latest Replays, "Ladder"-System that displays in which League you are, Losses/Wins and your Placement on the 1on1 or 2on2 Ladder and the "Profile"-Button with Personal Info and Statistics, Achievements, Points and all that crap.

As of now the "Social"-Tab is greyed out and there is no sort of Chat-System/Channels available InGame.

In the Upper-right corner you can gather a team of people to play together with e.g. "Invite" to team or "Leave" Team and you'll be teamed up against others.

Real-ID displays your "Real Name" (e.g. the one you have used on your B.Net 2.0 Account, it'll probably be required for Payment Information if you wanna buy maps & other stuff or already have a WoW Account bound to it), everyone you add to that can also see it and communicate to you, the normal "Friends" are IG-Friends.

Also the B.Net has InGame Voice, doesn't seem to work that well yet or I set up something wrong, can barely understand others cause of low volume.

No thoughts about associating your Payment/B.Net details with your games for people to see and Hack/Phish (remember Diablo 2 and the first StarCraft?... heck there's even an article about it on the main page) and no Opt-In/Out (like on Steam) for people to see how many Wins/Losses you have, what Leagues you are in, when you played, what you played and exactly how many points you made, Achievements/Statistics/History etc. for everyone that adds you to friends to see?

B.Net 2.0 is what I'd call a bit "over-enthusiastic" with a lot of features I don't want or like readily implemented and no way around it, while in Steam all you have to use is pretty much your Display name and Password and it isn't forced on you... one of its biggest strength (imo) IS that it isn't integrated with most of the games but just a Overlay you can display if you want...

Most of the features I really needed (or wanted for that matter) were already available in the "first Battle.Net" just /f add people, having a friendslist to see who is Online and who isn't, joining a Chat channel like on IRC to meet and talk to one another before and after a game and team up... most of the new stuff I either don't want or feels like an Overkill on information.

Does it have better voice chat than WoW?

It had better... grrr...

That's kind of the walled garden flaw - a problem a lot of platforms and applications share: Focusing on a consistent and highly integrated user experience with your product comes with a high adoption threshold for consumers and third parties alike. It can be observed in a lot of places, and it's precisely what drives me away from any browser besides Firefox - it's UI might start looking oldish, some of the competitors have higher perfomance, and pretty much every modern browser including IE 8 looks a fair deal better - but neither of them has Firefox's easy extension API and the crapload of amazing extensions it brings along.

Speaking of which, that's why I like what you describe as Steam's clunkiness. I like that I can tack it on whatever game I want to and works equally well. And here we part ways: I like the way the Steam overlay works, I find it (mostly) unobtrusive, easy to reach (I think it's still a long shot from actual Alt-Tabbing) and have no responsiveness issues at all.

Playing SC2 using steam...now thats just mean! XD Blizzard was pretty clear that they have no intention of ever using their battle.net for anything other than Blizzard products. Saw it in one of those Dev interviews on GT. maybe they change their tune 5 years down the line but by then i really would think it would be a moot point. plus y wouldnt they give the dev kits for the UI to third-parties whom want to release a game on B.net :P

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