Complaints about balance has been an ongoing theme throughout the course of StarCraft 2’s development, and an element of that has always resulted in some hostility towards the developers and David Kim in particular.
This isn’t new. It’s been happening for years, but the StarCraft team and Kim have managed to be largely resilient to the consistent stream of attacks on forums and social media over the years. But the comments over the last week have started to really get to the team.
As he does every week, Kim updates the community with the progress the developers have made. These posts are also used to illustrate the thinking of the developers, where they stand on certain features, what new features players can expect and, sometimes, how certain units are performing.
But occasionally people get too eager — particularly when new content is announced. “We recognize that there is a temptation once we’ve talked about something new to want to see it in the game quickly,” Kim wrote. “The reality is that feature and content development often takes more time than even we expect internally – and as a result, we ask for your patience and temperance in your responses each week.”
“There have been some aspersions cast in various threads, alleging that our team is small, that our team is allocated to other projects, or that we delivered an incomplete product. None of these have merit, and frankly this kind of commentary is demotivating to the team. The entire development team from Legacy of the Void is continuing to work hard on StarCraft II – we believe we delivered a compelling scope in Legacy of the Void, and we are excited to have the opportunity to add even more content and features in the months ahead.”
Despite the better than expected release of Legacy of the Void, concerns over the future of StarCraft 2 have never abated. The game’s competitive element remains as daunting as it has always been, even with a substantial overhaul of the in-game systems, the inclusion of automated tournaments and better in-game social features. And that’s occurred amidst a shrinking of the game’s footprint in esports, with even the antiquated Brood War making a surprise comeback.
Some of the criticisms against the developers is understandable though. Blizzard developers have mentioned the StarCraft and Heroes of the Storm being developed by the same team in the past. It’s not the case now, but Samwise Didier told me in late 2014 that Team 1 (which worked on The Lost Vikings, as well as the original Warcraft and Starcraft games) the team was working on both projects at the same time.
“We’ve split into dedicated teams at this point around because it was, initially because we were the Starcraft 2 team and doing this Heroes mod, and as Heroes became its own game and its only right that we’re doing a different business model and that, it was clear we needed to acknowledge that and allow people to focus on what they needed to do,” Chris Sigaty, who was also present, added.
Obviously, that’s not the case now. But when you combine that initial messaging with Heroes’ ongoing growth — and the slow decline of StarCraft — it’s understandable to see where the anger in the SC2 community comes from. And that’s not even counting the usual frustrations with balance, concerns over the direction of Blizzard’s WCS tournament series and the rise of MOBA games at the expense of classic RTS titles.
Kim opened his latest missive by saying that a critical factor in SC2’s success would be “all of us working together as 1 team with the focus on making the game better”. It’s unlikely that the competitive community will suddenly start agreeing with the direction of the game following the developer’s comments, but hopefully for a small period it will reduce the amount of disheartening comments and threads the SC2 team has to sift through. Development never was an easy game.