Sunday, May 30, 2010

The 2.0 Discussion

I’ve been following the bnet 2.0 discussion too. I think what got it started was the teamliquid article, which again referred to As can be expected the discussion quickly became an all out flamewar. That is always fun, but I don’t really feel like I want to join in.

I just saw that had a way more balanced approach in their posting on the same subject. I think that my own position is more along those lines.

I am a software developer myself. I work on an application which delivers time critical data across the globe and I think I know a little about the challenges that you face when doing that. I also think I know something about the process you go through when you design a piece of software.

First of all: It is all about tradeoffs. I’m sure that on the list of priorities for the designers of Starcraft 2, then it looks something like this:

  1. Make a cool and fun game.
  2. Make it really hard to cheat.
  3. Ensure that games are smooth and free of lag.

While 1) can be achieved in isolation the two other items carries serious tradeoffs. For instance they have decided to route all net traffic through the servers rather than having it peer-to-peer like in Starcraft 1. This makes it easier for them to inspect the traffic and prevent tampering of data, but it also increases the potential latency by a factor of – at least – two! To counter that they probably gave up on having cross continent game play.

Just to give some numbers: The latency from Denmark to Asia is on the order of 2-300 ms. If you take a country like Singapore, that has a firewall around the entire country, that can easily add another 100ms. It varies from day to day, but imagine the worst case scenario you would have a 400 ms time of a message being send from Denmark to Singapore and back. That is obviously way too much for competitive play (and seriously annoying for casual as well).

The above considerations makes it understandable that they do not have cross realm play as a high priority, but still leaves me baffled as to why they would have not chat channels. I assume they expect a ton of players, so if the “new” chat channels were just a naive Starcraft 1-like implementation you’d probably end up in chat rooms like “Wings of Liberty US-196372”. That obviously builds no community.

We, who come from smaller countries, are in a different situation. Back in the days it was rare that there were more than 100 Danes online so we fit into about 4 chatrooms. It might be 10 to 15 when Starcraft 2 comes out. That is still small enough to give a sense of community. So I really want chat rooms back.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

EU is Down

No not financially like the New York Times writes, but much, much worse: the server for EU is down :-(.

I really wanted to write about the horrible content of Patch 13. Protoss needed a buff and – as usual – got a nerf. I wanted to actually play the game. I wanted to know when I could start practicing my Terran gameplay, but no. was down from late Thursday until this morning. Then it has been unstable as hell ever since.

I even managed to get in Silver in 3v3. 2 wins, 5 disconnects of which 3 counted as loss. People who managed to qualify for a league at all, must have ended up in totally random leagues. N00bs can get in Diamond League due to their opponents disconnecting and competent players end up in Silver or Bronze.

But while they are trying to fix this, they could consider some of the absolutely necessary thing they still have to fix in the game:

  • Terrans needs to be nerfed compared to Protoss. Not like the (small) buff they just got.
  • It needs to be made clearer where you are placed on the global ladder. Not obfuscated even more like Patch 13 did.
  • The friend-invite is right now horribly broken. I do not have a facebook account, nor do I want one. Sigh.
  • Chat channels. Give them back to us, kthnx bai.
  • Let a party online watch a replay. Make this a priority please!

I feel more and more concerned with the direction Blizzard is taking I hope something happens soon to restore my faith in them. All I really wanted was Brood War updated and available on iccup.

Friday, May 14, 2010


I’m a little bit in shock over patch 12. Not that I have tried it yet, but I don’t really want to either. Maybe there is something of which I am not aware? Roaches were no longer a problem as far as I know Michelle_16-patchand Protoss have serious problems with how late they get their technology enabling buildings.

Twilight Council, Dark Shrine and the Forge seriously needs to cost less and in some cases take shorter time to build. And yet the patch went the other direction! And while the roach used to be silly, the armor nerf was just fine. They just need to fix the marauder and reaper too!

I think what I like least about Starcraft II is the marauder for its concussive shell upgrade. A passive slow destroys game play as it makes it impossible to disengage in a battle. I know Terrans feel that the force field is insane too, but at least it is not a passive ability.

Slow feels like something belonging in Warcraft III, and even there they had the wand of negation to cancel it out (at least in Reign of Chaos).

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lost Confidence

I play a lot of 2v2s with a guy I know as Sklent. That is fine even though I think our cooperation is less than stellar. The games are still fun especially when we are winning.  Rarely do we play 1v1 against each other as it is subtly understood that I would win easy. That misunderstanding was corrected yesterday.


In a series of two games he took me down so badly that it wasn’t even funny. After the games I have been reflecting on why I lost.

One thing is that his Terrans are easily the race that gives me the most trouble, but I doubt that is the whole explanation. Maybe part of it is, that what set me apart from him in Brood War was my superior macro. Due to the way Starcraft II is different from Starcraft: Brood War, I don’t think I get the same out of that advantage :-(.

But I lost a whole series of games to Terrans that day. Either I didn’t get Collosi out in time, in which case Terran infantry tears up a Protoss ground army, or I got them out and then he had like 6+ vikings and it didn’t matter. I’m starting to lose faith in my ability to deal with Terrans in general.

Oh and last, but not least. When a terran lifts his command center on Metalopolis he will land at the high yield expansion when I am at 8 probes. Then he will mine with 5 SCVs at double the income to my 8. I find it absolutely crazy that a Terran can pull off a stunt like that and be ahead right away. And it only gets worse over time.