Supple Think: Starcraft Vs Street Fighter, Part one: What Starcraft did right

Starcraft Vs Street Fighter, Part one: What Starcraft did right

by K1

Posted on Monday, July 16, 2007
Labels: , , , ,

Traveling to and from our semi-weekly excursion to panda (express), we were able to get going a good amount of topical discussion about games, which leads me to decree panda as the official discussion food of Supple Think. By the way, in case you haven't noticed, this blog is about games. Panda.

One thing that came as a bit of a surprising epiphany to me was how the Starcraft online infrastructure and pro gaming scene and it's successes were kind of like a parallel alternate reality to the current state of competitive fighting games.

When you think about Starcraft and all the popularity it has, it's pretty surreal: nationally televised tournaments with huge crowds, cheering on guys in crazy jumpsuits with their crazy Korean hair, with prize pools exceeding $100,000, Fallout Boy playing in the background and Pringles logos everywhere. Oh, what an enlightened age we live in. For the game to get to that point though, you have to look back into what the game did right. Well for one, it's totally freakin' sweet. Have you played it? So good. Hmm, I guess it would be better to articulate why it's such a good game, you know, writing and all. Oh hey, I'll even bold it just to drive the point that these fancy words show how much I know about game design, here we go:

For a game to be a good competitive tournament game, it needs to have engaging, in-depth gameplay at all levels of skill, from casual to the highest levels of competition, and it should be deep enough for the game to have a long lasting longevity. It should have a way for its players to gage themselves in how much they've learned and grown as a player, and have hints and guides as to how they can become better players. It should be accessible, both in the sense that the primary limiting factor in one player being better than another is their skill and training, and in the sense that opponents and venues should be easily available and not at all difficult to find.

So that sounds like Starcraft, right? It also sounds like Street Fighter, Magic: The Gathering, or even Chess for that matter. It's clear that these are all excellent games, so there's probably a little more to what really sets Starcraft apart.

Is it I say yes, especially considering the innovation it was at the time, but also in what it represents in terms of the company's commitment to the game. That right there, Blizzard's proactive commitment to the Starcraft community, is a key component to Starcraft's huge success. Not only does Blizzard maintain without monthly fees from its users, they provided a new map of the week for years, kept an online centralized ladder and player ranking system, and provided constant gameplay balance and feature improvement patches for YEARS after Starcraft and its expansion were released, and again without any need for users to pay for any of it.

Now, how fair is it really, to compare an online PC real-time strategy game to (mostly) offline arcade and console fighting games? I think it is perfectly fair, because it's not just the logistics of how a game is supported, it's also about the commitment and faith the developer/distributor has in its game and the game's player base. Starcraft put all the pieces together to become the phenomenon it is today: the brilliance of (auto-patching, ladder, player rankings, fostering player communities), and the faith that Blizzard had in it's own game to keep on supporting it long, long after the game was considered "old" and most other companies would have moved on.

So what did fighting games do wrong? I'll go over what I know, at least, in part two. Article Permalink



Decide Weapons

[Supple Think]

...and luck

© Supple Think. Powered by Blogger.