The Great Starcraft 2 Hotkey Debate

If you're lucky enough to be practicing your Roach Rushes and Double Hatchery strats in the Starcraft 2 beta, you might have noticed something odd about its interface.

Specifically, its non-customisable hotkeys. It's a feature all PC gamers have come to expect over the decade gap between the original Starcraft and now. And it doesn't take much time with the second iteration to really, really want to change those hotkeys. Not only do they range from one side of the keyboard to the other, common functions (such as making resource gatherers) require different keys for each faction. Once a father of RTS convention, is Blizzard now defying it?

While they've recently stated in a Q&A that they'd be looking into changing the issue, the debate rages on over the benefits of each direction.

There's certainly something to be said for a level playing field, and a hardcore section of the community (with time already invested in the current system, it has to be said) thinks allowing players to change the hotkeys will make the game too easy. Their argument is that, given the macro-intensive (organising your base, economy, and ordering units) element of Starcraft, hotkeys provide a somewhat dextrous side to the game, making them a "skill differentiator".

But surely if all players can customise their game, that's a level playing field too? Seeing as most units/buildings don't have more than four functions, what's so bad about hotkeys revolving around QWER, allowing the hand to rest in one place? Is it a question of hand-eye coordination vs tactical concentration? Unnecessary complication?

Removing one wheel from every car in a rally race would also be a skill differentiator. A level playing field, too.

Ladik has already made a simple mod that enables you to change your hotkeys against Blizzard's will, which is a definite advantage online - show up to a LAN though, and it's back to square one!


    Wait, is this the same Junglist as the one from Goodgame?

      I could have the name mistaken though, I'm bad with names...

        Looking at his other posts, I'm pretty sure it is indeed the real Jung.

          so it is..

            That's great - I'm glad he's back and writign good stuff too :)

    >show up to a LAN though

    Uhh... I don't think this is going to be an issue with Starcraft 2...

      Overseas, LANs aren't as strict on internet as they are here. Even locally, with more games requiring net authorisation to play (Steam,, SC2, anything Ubisoft, CnC4 multiplayer) events will have to look at offering tidbits of bandwidth.

    Yeah I bet the "hardcore" community all have macro keyboards anyway, which would explain their stance.

      Yeh gee macro keys are fantastic for making decisions on the fly and positioning your army.... This is not WOW, this is starcraft.

      The hardcore community is advocating it for one reason and one reason only: they see the mechanical side of SC as an integral part of the game (as Jung said, a 'skill differentiator'), so much so they would like the UI kept a similar level to SC1 so it doesn't 'dumb things down'.

      The question is, where is the line between raising the skill ceiling and not fixing SC2 in the gaming dark ages? Personally I think they've done pretty well with it, I feel like chrono boosting my buildings really puts some of the macro back into the game. It will become more apparent over time however, as people get better and better at the game.

      Why I think the SC1 elitists are wrong in this case is that it has nothing to do with spending your attention as a resource, but simply fighting against logic. Imho, grid keys are by far the most intuitive controls, and srsly if an EA cnc game like RA3 can get it right, Blizzard can too. The parity between the grid you see on the screen and how your fingers surf the keyboard... I just can't see how any other system using buttons could challenge that in efficiency.

      Also, great to see more of your stuff without having to pay for PCPP XD Keep pushing the competitive scene man!!!

    Just to clarify this a little, by 'changing the hotkeys' do people just mean changing existing hotkeys to work with different keys on the keyboard? If so, I don't see any reason to not allow this. However if you mean making the functions that the hotkeys carry out more complex, to the point of them being macros, then you might be able to argue some form of unfair advantage.

    It's the same argument pro-gamers (or wannabees) adopted when Blizzard wanted to introduce the ability to select multiple buildings.

    Basically, it makes the game less like an FPS and more of a cerebral affair. Skilled players are skilled because they know the game inside and out and counter appropriately. Changing hotkeys isn't going to change that.

    So people who claim to be pros at the game are whining that modernising the game will render their subconscious memorisation obsolete and make it harder for them to beat everyone in 3 minutes?

    Cry mich ein river.

    Not including customizable controls in any form is just ridiculous. For any game, on ANY console/pc/mac.

    Absolutely no excuses are valid for not providing your customers with basic control customization.

    Last time I checked, SC was an RTS. the 'S' stands for strategy. There is no need for this retarded elitist twitch-control mechanisms to make sure their decisions are beating the brains of others.

    Don't think faster, think smarter.

    *PS: Yes I am a turtle who likes clicking on the GUI

    Anyone who thinks hotkeys are an important skill differentiator is just a wannabe pro in my opinion. IMHO, hot keys are only a pediment to your gameplay if you aren't thinking about your macro level game and trying to rely on micro level advantages to make up for having bad strategy at a tactical level.

    Best comment up there-

    "So people who claim to be pros..are whining that modernising the game will render their subconscious memorisation obsolete...."

    They will have to put this in, and then I will laugh at all those that are not "pros" anymore, because simply playing the game on speed isn't good enough.

    All I want is to change their insensible shift f9 to 12 bindings to the more user friendly shift f2 to five. This is even justified to left hand keyboard use, which is what they were going with in the first place. The hell, blizzard?

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