Supple Think: Starcraft 2: Some Pros Like It Hard

Starcraft 2: Some Pros Like It Hard

by K1

Posted on Friday, July 17, 2009
Labels: , , , ,
(Images blatantly stolen from the SA Forums Starcraft thread)

Starcraft 1 as a professional sport is one of those perfect storm scenarios where everything about it was just right to make it explode in popularity (in Korea). Among those factors, is how much depth the game had in extremely high level play due to quirks in the game interface. You can call them bugs, design flaws, technical limitations, whatever you want, but they gave players who could think outside the box enough of an edge to claim victory in a close match.

Also, they are awesome as hell to witness, giving SC the kind of "Greatest Plays"* clips you would see on a show like SportsCenter. It's so much almost kinda sorta like a real sport it brings a tear to my eye.
*In pro SC these are commonly referred to as Pimpest Plays, just do a search on YouTube and you can see a bunch of them.

Now Starcraft 2 is nearing release and of course Blizzard wants to retain that E-Sports craze. However, catering Starcraft 2 to the "Professional E-Sports" crowd raises many design questions, especially in regards to how if could possibly affect the mid to low skill players. Adversely affecting the casual market is more than likely a bad idea, considering how the vast majority of the game sales will be to (relatively) casual players.

The debate of Pros vs Casual has been fought over many message boards all over the internet for the past several years, the aspects of which generally fall into three design spaces:

- How much should the game play itself?
- How much information should the game tell the player? (As opposed to the player figuring it out on his own.)
- How much control does the player have over units, both individually and as groups?

I would like to explore each of these aspects of Starcrat 2's design in seperate articles, but let me just finish this article by saying this: While the sensible answer to this problem is to strike a balance between pro-centric and casual-centric design choices, what is better is to make design decisions that can benefit and encourage both types of players. It's not about being for one or the other some of the time, but both, because the game needs it if it wants to live up to its namesake. While a strong pro-gaming scene will keep the longevity of the game far past typical multiplayer vs games (just look at Starcraft 1), it doesn't matter if the game is so hard that nobody buys it in the first place. Just like baseball/soccer/basketball/football has just as much place on the playground as it does in the stadium, so does Starcraft 2 need to have the same mass appeal.

Yeah, that sounds pretty hard. Article Permalink



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