Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 15, 2014

Why People Are Excited For Heroes of the Storm

The fun aspects of MOBA games are getting drowned in the hardcore bullshit. Blizzard has a history of taking a genre, removing the bullshit, and creating new market growth. World of Warcraft didn’t become the top selling MMORPG by being hardcore. Warcraft 2 didn’t become popular because it had ‘gritty, dark’ graphics. Starcraft 1 was an extremely simplified RTS compared to the more hardcore options at the time.

The purpose of a video game is to be fun. That is the job of the video game. The job of the video game to ‘enrich with culture’ or to ‘prove you are more skilled’ is a job for only a few gamers. It is a niche job. If you look at the employment of hardcore gamers, you will find many of them unemployed or in a leisurely job. All the ‘pro-gamers’ out there have the mushy look of a toddler, an easy life with little hardship. A weary salesman or a hardened laborer from the Eagle Ford oil shale are not going to be playing ‘hardcore gaming’ on their time off. They would rather dedicate their free time to their families and to other enjoyable things than throwing it into a stupid video game all day.

I was watching Day[9]’s video stream of Heroes of the Storm, and I was getting excited for the game. Day[9] isn’t a terrible player. He knows how to play Starcraft well. The game does many things that I’ve been wanting MOBAs to do. I love, love, love the emphasis on the maps. I like the emphasis away from items and other bullshit.

I cannot tell whether the DOTA fans are freaking out or if some of them are Valve Corporation’s marketers. It’s hard to tell the two apart! DOTA players are some of the stupidest gamers I’ve ever seen. They are the illustrative hardcore gamer. Always screaming, always screeching, and they are always ‘right’.

The problem is that DOTA players don’t even understand DOTA.

Much of the ‘design’ of DOTA, which was made by the Warcraft 3 Community (which includes Master Malstrom) and wasn’t designed by Icefrog, was solidified into place by hard barriers of the Warcraft 3 engine. I was there. We tried to do many other things with the Warcraft 3 engine. But the game engine could not handle many units at all. The game would start lagging. This is why Blizzard had the ‘upkeep’ in the main game as to encourage players to not make a ton of units (and it is also why the Starcraft 2 engine was designed to have a TON of units. This reason was literally elaborated on Starcraft 2’s reveal]. Therefore, having very few units on the DOTA map wasn’t a design choice but a design necessity. Many DOTA spells operate similar to Warcraft 3 hero spells for the same reason. Most of the DOTA design came from limitations of Warcraft 3’s engine as well as its strengths.

Then the Valve Corporation did something extremely stupid. They transferred the entire DOTA custom map to DOTA 2 with barely changing a thing. It’s still essentially the same custom map. The reason why this is stupid is that it is confusing the DOTA design as if it was intentionally designed that way. No. Much of it was hardwired due to the limitations and strengths of the Warcraft 3 engine.

“But DOTA 2 is getting a map editor.” I see that. But how is that going to change the experience than what the Warcraft 3 editor did? I can tell you already how the DOTA 2 Editor will be used. It will be used to make Footman Frenzy and Tower Defense maps. In other words, port more Warcraft 3 custom maps over.

While Heroes of the Storm has its roots in the Starcraft 2 engine, I really like how Blizzard is designing the engine around the game instead of the other way around. There’s not much flashy going on in DOTA 2 because Icefrog says, “Flashy stuff will detract from seeing what is going on…” or something like that. In HotS, you see all this flashy stuff. With very good artists, as Blizzard does have some of the best artists I’ve seen, they can make the game flash and not get confusing. Most professional game companies can.

There was a story about the DOTA 2 development being pissed off that all they are doing is just porting over the Warcraft 3 map. I’d be pissed too. The ‘business model’ of DOTA 2 is nothing more than just to get people into Valve Corporation’s store. That is not the business model I like. I don’t want the game’s purpose to be designed to lead me to a store. I want the game’s purpose to be a game.

I did try League of Legends way, way early on. I didn’t like it then. I’m unfamiliar with its changes. It still does the things I dislike that DOTA does.

Who is HotS for? It is for people who hate the bullshit of the MOBA scene along with its insufferable players. It is for people who want something different in the MOBA genre. And it is for Blizzard fans who enjoy the universes and wouldn’t mind a Smash Brothers type arena experience in them.

There has been much talk about Blizzard’s hit and miss lately. Diablo 3 endgame was a miss. Starcraft 2 multiplayer was a miss. World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm was a miss (haven’t kept up with WOW since then). But the misses all have one thing in common: Blizzard was designing the game around the hardcore gamer. Diablo 3 sucked because someone thought Inferno where you needed tons of resist all gear and many one shot kills was a good idea. Starcraft 2 sucked because someone thought the game should be designed around E-Sports.

“The heroes in HotS are too slow.” I’m not sure about that. They seem to be going the same speed as Warcraft 3 heroes did. It appears Blizzard has learned that they made Starcraft 2 too damn fast. The multiplayer was so fast that APM, not strategy, differentiated where one ended up in a league. If you play earlier RTS games, you won’t find any of them as fast. Not Age of Empires. Not Total Annihilation. Not even Starcraft 1. The only prior RTS I think that matches Starcraft 2’s speed is Dark Reign and that was because Dark Reign wasn’t designed around many harvestors (only one or two tankers per water hole). The high speed in Starcraft 2 made multiplayer a chore. It was the main contributor to ladder anxiety. You shouldn’t be losing a RTS game just because you sneezed. It didn’t really help E-Sports either because the pro-players realized that when the masses don’t play the game, then they don’t care about pros of that game.

HotS looks like a game I can relax to after dinner. And that is the job I want from a video game. Hardcore gamers need to stop whining and go get a real job. Then they will discover the true purpose of a video game.


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