And here we go…
I’ve been trying to get back into Starcraft 2 lately. The game is so not fun. It is not fun practicing a build order over and over. What is so frustrating is that if you go outside or sneeze during a play session, you get a tad behind which ruins everything. “You expect to go outside and still perform your build order?” I mean Starcraft 2 is not a game you can play being a little tad tired or a little sleepy or anything like that. It also isn’t very social since the game revolves around 1v1. The original Starcraft never had this type of dreary experience.
I place some of the blame of Starcraft 2 on the so-called ‘pro-Brood War players’. Their approach has been to make unit behavior extremely APM intensive and timing sensitive. But the strategy gets left out. The only ‘strategy’ in Starcraft seems to either do something faster or multi-tasking more. Strategy, however shallow it is, only comes to play into Starcraft once you get APM at a certain level and can multi-task at a certain rate. Starcraft 1 was a much slower game as well.
Starcraft 2′s great innovation was the matchmaking where it sets you up to be able to win 50% of your games. That’s awesome for ladder play.
Starcraft 2 has failed as a social scene. People don’t hang out on Bnet like they did with Starcraft 1. Part of this might be due to other online avenues available. But does anyone like Bnet 2? Starcraft 1 was fun to get together for a LAN party. But there is no LAN and apparently no parties either.
Starcraft 2 has failed in its custom maps. I’ve done editing and modding with all of Blizzard’s RTS games, and Starcraft 2 is just not fun. It’s not that its complicated, it is that it is not fun. You don’t really see too much in the custom maps of Starcraft 2, and you likely never will because of the game engine. If I was Blizzard, I’d make another editor mode that is more Lego-like the previous editors.
Starcraft 2 has failed in its single player campaign. The story was awful, but I keep feeling like the other two campaigns are missing. RTS single player is fun because it allowed you to play as the bad guy. It appears Starcraft 2 will never give us this option. And who wants to only play as one race in one game?
What is strange is that these failures were caused by business decisions inside the company. Who decided that only one race campaign will ship with each expansion? Who decided that the editor would be as fun as eating chalk? Who decided that catering the gameplay toward ‘pro Brood War players’ was a good idea? Ironically, they are running around saying that Starcraft 2 is failing because the gameplay doesn’t revolve enough around Brood War pro playing. They weren’t saying that a year or two ago. Starcraft 2 is many things, but it definitely does revolve around pro-Brood War playing styles. Perhaps that is the problem.
I’ll buy the SC 2 expansions, but I think I’m done buying Blizzard games anymore. Blizzard’s games are overhyped and take forever to come out. When they do, everyone wants it to be as awesome as the last game, but it soon dawns that it isn’t. I’m playing games from GoG and remembering what fun PC games used to be. I’ve lately been playing Dark Reign (on sale this weekend), and remembering RTS without the bullshit. Remember when there were different perspectives to the single player campaign? Remember when strategy in RTS meant more than multi-tasking?
I’ve been ignoring many of the signs coming from Blizzard for a long while that indicate they are a company in decline. Part of this is because I didn’t want to believe it. Who wants to believe Blizzard is in decline? Some of the signs come from the people I know who work at the company.
In the old days, Blizzard would be like, “Let’s make a RTS game. Yay!” Or “Let’s make an action RPG. Yay!” Today, Blizzard is like, “In this RTS, let us create a system by which targets the psychological make-up of the players to keep playing more and to feel they are ‘leveling up’. Psychologists, get to work. Now let’s make another system where…” I’m playing something… but it doesn’t feel like a game. And the games seem to be losing cohesion. The ‘Everyone’s Voice Matters’ means the developers are bringing content ideas from home which is bad, very bad. It is like Mega Man 10 when ‘every developer gets to design a Robot Master’ and we get garbage like ‘Sheep Man’. “My creativity…” they moan. A significant part of the problem is that the universe of Blizzard games feel like they are falling apart, unraveling before our very eyes.
Gamers already know there is a decline at Blizzard. The question isn’t the disease but what started it? How did Blizzard do so well for so long until now?
I have an answer that I am very hesitant to share. I believe the problem is environmental… meaning the surroundings. Where is Blizzard located? Irvine, California. As a whole, the state seems to be falling apart. How should I say this? The people inside the company are becoming more and more ideologically charged. I think that is just a consequence of geography though. I remember following Jay Wilson’s twitter before Diablo 3 was released (Wilson was the director of D3) and scratching my head at Wilson tweeting that he is ‘detoxifying’ himself of meat (!) so he can become ‘pure’. He didn’t seem to have cancer, so I’m still not sure what he meant by detoxifying himself. But it sounded weird. It sounded fruity. The people I knew there are people I have problems relating to now. They’ve changed. So if Blizzard is melting, my guess is that it is due to cultural infections due to their location. I don’t know any other way to express it. And before people send me angry emails, look at the storytelling from Blizzard these days. People inside the company think it is GOOD and AMAZING. And it is not occurring in one game but in ALL the Blizzard games. It is something company-wide. How would you explain it?