Friday, October 17, 2008

Starcraft 2 at BlizzCon 2008

The reason for staying up all night watching the RTS stream from BlizzCon was of course the announced showmatch of Starcraft 2. It turned out to be Korean Yellow against Canadian Sonkie. Yellow had dropped out of the regular Starcraft tournament early, so I suppose he was available. The first game was on Lost Temple, which again has changed a bit since both Starcraft and Warcraft III. It is in two parts (part I and part II), and is fairly boring as it was over fast.

The second is slightly more interesting. Not because the game is closer, but just because it demonstrates more of what is new about the game (part I and part II).

These two games together with's 2nd podcast are currently the best source of knowledge about the game. My impression right now is extremely mixed. On one hand it is beautiful and I look so much forward to a for Starcraft with automatic matchmaking and a modern UI. The Observer Mode demonstrated in the above videos is very cool too. I hope they also include statistics about APM and so forth. That would be very cool.

On the other hand there are some game mechanics that I don't like. Most notably the fact that how you mine vespene gas is almost as annoying as upkeep in Warcraft III. That has to go. Other minor annoyances is Warcraft III'ish elements as the neutral observation towers that can be captured. Hopefully they will not be on many maps.

The game seems faster which I don't mind, but I am concerned about the unit animations and behaviors as well as the sheer number of units in the game. In Brood War the first confrontations is often with just one zealot against 3-4 zerglings. You seem to get units so fast in Starcraft II that, that phase of the game is non-existent. I can understand from the Teamliquid podcast, that unit animation is relatively slow so that turning a unit takes enough time so it prevents effective micro management. Especially when combined with the better path finding, that makes surrounding units so much easier. I would find it hard to swallow to accept that a game made in 2008-9 is not fluidly animated and full of visual effects, but game mechanics are more important. They have to strike a balance between making it look good and not distracting a pro-gamer from the details that decide the outcome of the game.

And while Starcraft ought to have huge battles with plenty of units, they need to keep the early game harassment in there too. Judging by the games above, this probably means that units should be more expensive. At least this is only a balance issue that can be fixed by adjusting the cost of the different units.


  1. Hey,

    You have inspired me to start my own blog and to get back into SC :) thank you

  2. haha Looks like someone else got inspired. Just setting themselves up for frustration :-)

  3. You are all very welcome :-) Humiliation in Starcraft awaits anyone who dare go back to the game...

    I want to play more myself, but where is the time?