For those not in the know, Blizzard is testing in the Legacy of the Void beta what Starcaft 2 is like without macro mechanics. They started with just removing Mules and Chronoboost while nerfing Larva Injects to 2 extra larva and making Queens autocast it. In the next patch, they plan to bring back Mule and Chronoboost, although the latter is autocast on whatever building you select, default Nexus, and both of them will have much reduced efficiency. Inject Larva will also be brought up a bit to 3 extra larva.
Of course there is arguing, gnashing of teeth, and the sky-is-falling posts from both sides. In the end, it’s been summarized best by this comment: http://www.reddit.com/r/starcraft/comments/3j77jk/reasons_for_keeping_the_mule_chrono_boost_and/cunaz1d
“I think for many, the debate come was a fun vs. mastery. Macro mechanics don’t necessarily add fun to the game, but they add mastery. Fun is fun. Fun is accessible. Mastery is not fun, not as accessible but it’s satisfying. I play guitar, but don’t think it’s fun. I find it satisfying to improve my guitar skills, but not fun. Most people that ask me to teach them how to play guitar quit after a week or so because it’s not fun, but the ones that keep playing usually become obsessed with mastering the instrument. Human nature makes mastery of skills very satisfying. I find mastering macro mechanics satisfying, but not fun. I can understand both sides of the argument, and it really comes down to the design philosophy of the game. Is it better for players to have more challenges to master, or not? I don’t know how to answer that question, so I’m comfortable with keeping them or removing them.”
So Malstrom, what are your thoughts? Considering everyone’s praise of the SC2 campaigns and the fact that Blizzard is even going as far as to add extra PvE co-op campaigns to be played online, it seems to me like Blizzard wants to move as far away from SC2-as-a-job as possible while keeping the hardcore players and the eSports cred.
Starcraft 2 was the old model of Game + Expansion Pack. Maybe some revenue from E-Sports, but this is where Starcraft 2 makes money. Blizzard decided to make TWO expansion packs.
What Blizzard is now doing is transforming Starcraft 2 into a Free-To-Play model. They will be selling customized logos, unit costumes, more single player missions, and so on.
I would like Starcraft 2 to be completed and have the door shut on this. There is a very important why I believe this should be the case.
In the creative medium, ideas are like ‘food’ in the refrigerator. When you make something, a book, a movie, an album, anything, you are removing that ‘food’ from the refrigerator and putting it out there. If you leave food in there, it tends to spoil but also prevents new food from appearing there.
Free-To-Play will bring about a type of Dark Ages in gameplay innovation. The old games will be like zombies, never dying!
If Donkey Kong was a Free-To-Play video game, you would have additions of more characters to Mario, ways to customize Paullete’s dress and hairdo, changing the Donkey Kong, making the barrels into cheese balls, and the fire guys as evil cats (!). The point is that Donkey Kong would never be finished. The game would be ‘undead’. People wouldn’t get ‘bored’ with it. Developers would have to keep adding stuff to it in order to keep the revenue stream going. There may have been more Donkey Kong games made, but, for sure, this game would never have been made.
There would be no reason to make Super Mario Brothers. In fact, we can thank new hardware for having these new Mario games.
The only reason why Super Mario World was made was to sell the Super Nintendo hardware. The only reason why Mario 64 was made was to sell Nintendo 64 hardware.
PC games also used new hardware to make new games. However, games were finished and put on the shelf. New games were made. Food that stayed in the refrigerator became…
Some games that have been around too long are beginning to stink such as World of Warcraft. I think Star Citizen runs the risk of becoming spoiled because the food has been in the refrigerator too long.
This is what Steve Jobs alluded to when he said ‘Real Artists Ship’.
The thing about the creative medium is that it is very easy to get ideas. Everyone has ideas. Even the gamers have ideas. The gamers will then broadcast their ideas to the developers and say, “Make this!” where the developers laugh at them. The developers have tons of ideas. Ideas are all over the place. Once they are crystallized into a product, they need to get put out there.
The problem that marks Starcraft 2 is the same problem that marks World of Warcraft. Games, such as Starcraft Brood War or Warcraft 3, revolved around the gamer. Now, the games revolve around Blizzard. Blizzard believes it is the star where everything should revolve around. Gamers should revolve around Blizzard.
How did you play Starcraft: Broodwar? This is how I played it:
Single Player Campaign (Played until it got hard and then used cheat codes through out it. Still fun!)
Random Multiplayer on Battle Net, mostly with friends. Played LAN at times. Played to win, but never played for ‘mastery’.
Spent most of the time in StarEdit making maps and testing them out with friends. My favorite type of map was a terran fort defending against an overrun zerg swarm. It was like this:
“But Malstrom, Starcraft wasn’t based on Starship Troopers.” Bullshit. I know for a fact it was.
The point was when I loaded up Broodwar, I chose the editor, single player, multiplayer, whatever, based on what I wanted to do. It was not based on what BLIZZARD wanted. There were no daily quests. There were no experience bars. There was no psychological warfare against me. There was no addiction aside from the sweet gameplay. There was no false sense of achievement. It was just a fucking game, not a crutch for psychologically weak people to feel accomplishment in a virtual world.
I don’t think they are trying to ‘fix’ Starcraft 2 but trying to create ‘endless addictions’ to fuel DLC and a Free-To-Play model.