Criticisms About The StarCraft 2 Team Is Starting To Get To The Developers

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.


Comments

    The problems of SC2 stem back to how they designed the game in the first place, which was around 1v1, aimed towards the esports scene. Not a surprise seeing how big BW was in Korea. However, literally everything was designed around esports to the point that APM actually became a measuring stick.. Your average player doesn't give a fuck about APM, they don't give a fuck about 1v1 serious mode. They just want to create an army of their favourite units and go smash em against another army of someone else's favourite units. A 1v1 esports environment can naturally be derived from this, but not vice versa. The majority of games in SC weren't 1v1 ladder, but custom and group games.

    Why have MOBAs become so popular? While low barrier of entry is one thing, it allows players to carry out their fantasy as the heroes they choose, something RTS use to do and until the genre gets back to that design philosophy and away from crafting the next BW, the genre will continue to stay in the pits with few exceptions.

      I think the issue is that MOBAs offer a large number of characters with a variety of possible strategies, which makes the televised matches far more varied and unique.

      On the other hand, SC2 has only three factions with only a handful of optimal strategies for each, and even less when you take the opponent into account. As a result, televised matches tend to often be a case of which player can smash out their strategy and cancel out the opponent's strategy the fastest.

      This is why I'm concerned that talk about tweaking SC2 here and there may be missing a bigger problem, that MOBAs may just be better to watch in general than RTSs. That MOBAs may just be better eSports than RTSs. I don't know if this is true or not, and I'm not predicting the end of RTSs or anything so dramatic, but it's something Blizzard has to address fast, because right now MOBAs are totally eating their lunch right now, and I don't know if they know how to fix it.

        big thin with mobas is that you only control 1 unit with 4 abilities as opposed to 200 units along with base production and units with upto 4 abilities each. that is what makes mobas so easy to get into

        esports is only one piece of the puzzle though. SC was popular and fun long before Korea turned it into the esports it became, because people could play as casually as they wanted, in a non 1v1 setting which was the majority of games. LoL isn't successful because of esports but because of the 99% of casual players playing the game. The original SC was aimed at the masses but organically grew an esports scene due to its balancing. LoL was the same, its esports scene grew organically. SC2 was pretty designed around 1v1 and Blizz tried to thrust it upon the esports world.

        Last edited 01/02/16 6:17 pm

    the biggest issue ive seen at the moment is the Protoss Adept unit. it just too strong against light units (zerglings,hydras,marines reapers etc) they are basically like the campaign version of reapers with bonus damage to light units causing them to two shot marines, lings and reapers while has greater range and force the opposition to chase after the clones effectivily spliting up the defending force.

    alsmot every game of Terran v Protoss that ive seen has been over in the the first 5mins due to either Adept harassment or an Adept all in. its very very very very rare to see a TvP gget to the mid game let alone Late game in LOTV.

    TvZ is around a 50-50 split with zerg having a slight edge, ZvP if adepts get shut down ends up at 50-50 split as well

      Adepts are just messy all around, but then a lot of the Protoss gateway units are flawed from the off.

        the speed or lack of when nerfs come out for certain races is also another point of contention as well. I remember the start of Wings and Zerg and Protoss players were complaining about Siege tanks being op for two key reasons, Maps with the ability to pop tanks on high ground uncontested and that siege tanks got smart targeting due to the new engine while still keeping their broodwar damage and fire rate statstook quite a while for them to be nerfed.

        Howver reapers and vikings were nerfed the moment a new tactic was found out like the old reaper rush which was OP (make 4 reapers and good bye Nexus/CC/Hatch along with workers and light units... wait that sounds rather familar doesnt it) and viking got their damage ground attack damage nerfed becuase terran started using their ground attack mode in a tornament.

        Then in HotS ZvP was stupily imbalanced for a veryt very very long time due to Swarm Hosts that were eventually nerfed into uselessness and still are in legacy along with Colossus and before that there was the over buff of the queens attack speed and damage that lasted until legacy

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