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A Declaration of Interdependance
I know this is a bit of a read, but I know this is an important topic for the growth of the community. I'm posting this in the hope that it helps both the community and the development team communicate better.
I’ve been trying for a while to hide a growing resentment I have for Blizzard.
Let me first state that this resentment is for Blizzard, and Blizzard only. Every single time I visit TeamLiquid, I am awed by the commitment and effort put in by the community to support an amazing game. At least every day, at least a dozen tournaments are being thrown, in every region of the world, and all streamed online for free (mostly) to watch by anybody. If you have a question about how to play better, there are numerous resources available, and advice is given freely. Naysayers be damned, we truly have a wonderful community.
Starcraft is more than a game to us. We revel in our wins. We suffer in our losses. We are amazed when watching professionals, and in turn amaze others when we show our own skill. Any one of us could be walking down the street, spot somebody watching GSL on a laptop, and immediately feel a camaraderie with them. If given the opportunity, we could debate the flaws of a bunker rush, or passionately defend it.
I would also like to say that SC2 is the best modern game of its kind. Some games, such as Civilization or Settlers/Anno series, focus on economy and building management, and do so with success. Others, such as Dawn of War or Defense of the Ancients, focus on unit micro and strategic positioning, and are very fun to play and popular to boot. While these games do feature certain elements of both sides, I believe Starcraft has a special place in between, and that it features both elements evenly. Most modern games that try to mimic this even balance have not held up well (I can barely play Red Alert 3 without cringing at how mind-numbingly easy they have made resource gathering).
Starcraft and the community around it amaze me each and every day. Each are truly worthy of the greatness we all aspire it to have. So why do I find myself with such hatred?II: Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs
”Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...” - Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs
If you know who this is without Google, congratulations. You are probably an English major. However, for the rest of you, myself included, you’ll probably need a hint or two.
A common plot element in literature is the unknown inner strength of a hero. A person in need of help slowly grows in confidence, in friendships, and in awareness of ability, until they realize they’ve always had what they needed to solve the problem - they just didn’t know it. Luke Skywalker always had the Force, he just needed to learn how to use it. Matilda wouldn’t have become a psychic asskicker without confidence from her teacher. Dorothy could have gone home anytime she wanted to, but needed the Wizard of Oz to tell her how (Btw, above is his full name, in all it’s glory).
Starcraft has many problems - checking out any of the forums highlights any number of different issues. A slight internet hiccup during the GSTL results in a contentious regame decision, leading to a MarineKingPrime comeback. Tournament maps are being altered before being put into the ladder pool. The UI is falling behind standards being put in place by new games (and, perhaps, old ones as well). An Intel LAN close to me just today got blacklisted for having too many connections to Battle.net on one IP address, despite contacting Blizzard and getting whitelisted weeks beforehand.
Where do the solutions to these problems come from? Blizzard. And the answer, unfortunately, stops there. They have the power, they have the tools, and they have the rights. LAN mode has been repeatedly requested by the community, but Blizzard is afraid that people will play with stolen copies of their game. Many features could be added, such as shared replay viewing, clan support, private chats (and moderation), marketplace, etc... but instead remain completely absent, with most of the community guessing when and if they will ever show up.
The community has even gone so far as to create workarounds to these problems. Many of you have noticed the “Program to resume games from replays” thread, where a program has been created that admittedly edits the program as a hacker would is being used to provide the ability to resume a dropped game. It is an experiment to see if this kind of feature is possible, but using it will probably get you banned. Similarly, the Stronger Color Mod is aimed at creating a more visible difference to the two sides. Recently, installing it has gotten people banned.
Are you starting to see a trend here? People are trying to solve problems, and are being punished for their efforts. And in this, I find the reason why I have a growing resentment. Blizzard has the tools to fix the game, and while refusing to do so, punishes those that seek to. And in doing so, punish the whole community, for being forced to use an inferior product. We have an inner strength as a community, we have a drive to fix our problems, but cannot.III: The Blob between Us
"A relationship is an organism. You created this thing and then you starved it, so it turned against you. Same thing happened to the Blob." - Jerry Seinfeld
It is becoming increasingly apparent that the problems within Starcraft 2 are spilling out into the community. MKP admitted dismay at his GSTL disconnect, despite the result going in his favor. One of the constant topics being discussed in the forums is ladder playability - some are afraid of it, others get bored with it. Even Mr. Chae of GSL expressed his disappointment at how “lonely” the in-game experience is.
How does Blizzard respond?
The now-infamous photo of Dustin Browder and Mike Morhaime’s reactions during the GSTL drop is a good summation of their responses up to now. Eyes wide open in shock that there’s a problem, hand over the mouth to prevent any communication, and corners of the mouth turned upwards in amusement. While I do not intend to diminish the work that Blizzard has done in the two-and-a-half years since release, it has not been sufficient in keeping the game in working order, and the cracks are beginning to show.
Simply put, the game is falling behind. And while Blizzard can promise patches and expansions, we have no time frame for them, nor guarantee that they will fix what needs fixing, leaving the community in a state of turmoil.
Take the UI for example. The [url=http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=308482]UI Thread[/url] has been going strong for over two months now, with very little response to the concerns it brings up. Inside, you can even find comparisons to [url=http://i.imgur.com/jEzkT.png]previous Blizzard games[/url], with people begging for features that have been “updated” (removed) for the new Battle.net.
In terms of the GSTL drop, being able to reconnect to a game to continue playing in case of a drop is becoming the gold standard. Dota 2 is even taking this a step further, allowing a huge number of spectators to watch live matches while in-game, connecting at any point during the match. They even have a slight delay so that observers cannot give players live information about the other team. This kind of feature would be unbelievably amazing for Starcraft 2... yet remains in the twisting nether of development.
New games will continue to come out every day, and many developers will see these features that people adore and will be doing their best to implement them. Games like Dota 2, League of Legends, and Dawn of War are attracting (or still attract) lots of attention, and many are worried that Starcraft 2 may fall behind and be forgotten. How can a game that is being starved of development compete in a market that is quickly making it out-dated?IV: Fighting
“True, if you fight, there is always a chance you might lose. But if you do not fight, you can never win.” -Taylor E. Bennett
I see a few solutions to our problems, none of them optimal, but none of them impossible either:
Solution 1: The Hope Method
We sit, we wait, we hope that Blizzard comes out with a patch or expansion that addresses our concerns. We hope that people come back to the game, restoring a broken community, and build it to the highest highs of eSports.
I hate this solution.
Solution 2: Elbow Nudging
This solution most accurately represents how we have handled the situation until now. “Hey Blizzard, *nudge* Look, we made this map that allows saving and loading of game states.” “Hey! Look, we jury-rigged a feature that we would like to see! *Nudge* Can you please add it officially?”
Unfortunately, Elbow Nudging usually only gets elbow nudges back in response. Stronger Team Colors even got mentioned as being well-received by Dustin Browder in an interview... only to have the users of said mod become banned months later. Blizzard never acted upon their expressed interest, leaving the abandoned users in a state of peril.
Without a change in policy from Blizzard, or at least a more communicative development team, I wouldn’t prefer this as a possibility.
Solution 3: The Replacement
Twelve years ago, nobody knew who Master Chief was. The initial release of Halo sparked a new type of console shooter, one that quickly grew over the years to the powerhouse it is now known as, seeing titles like Gears of War, Call of Duty, and Battlefield, rise and fall with popularity and game sales. Master Chief has been replaced, and though Halo 4 is on the way, Halo 3 has long-since passed, and Bungie has moved on.
Blizzard’s dominance of the MMO and RTS realms has never been one uncontested. WoW has seen its first ever year of a shrinking user base, and with big-budget MMOs like Guild Wars 2 on the way, this trend will be a hard one for the game to fight. Similarly, it would be ignorant to dismiss similar DOTA-style strategy games - don’t forget, they often have more viewers than we do.
The inevitable future, should things go unchanged, is that somebody finally steps up to challenge Blizzard’s RTS hold seriously. Somebody with a Riot-style development team that is open to the community, and transparent in decisions. Somebody with a large budget like Valve, making a slick-looking Dota 2 on the apparent whim of the development team for a fun team game, and doing so with the same game support mantras that are in place for Team Fortress 2 (releasing new content and competitive multiplayer after five years).
Somebody who just plain simply makes a game that the community can latch onto better than they do Starcraft 2.
I don’t like this solution, because the possibility exists that two or more companies could take that challenge, and the community might split like we have seen with DOTA-style games.
Please see Poll 3.
Solution 4: Crying to Mommy
Recently, we saw Orb removed from his position at Evil Geniuses for some inappropriate comments he had made. The validity of his removal aside, the reason is abundantly clear - his actions, however misunderstood, were giving the sponsors of EG concerns. And for a business model that relies very strongly on sponsors, taking risks where you don’t need to would not only be stupid, it would be downright reckless.
Could a similar approach to Starcraft 2’s design be applied? Blizzard is no longer the independent free-thinking company it once was. The merger with Activision saw not only the introduction of President and CEO Robert Kotick, but also membership in the mass media giant Vivendi. Surely, a large community uproar for action would not go unnoticed, especially if the uproar started affecting other aspects the conglomerates holdings.
However, while this sounds valid on paper, it has a few problems in execution. How much of the community would truly take part? Would protesting a movie/concert/tv network truly have an effect worth noting? The problem with crying to mommy is, sometimes she likes daddy better than you.Solution 5: Work Together
As in many things, I believe the biggest problem can be solved in the most obvious of ways. Working together, with clear and consistent communication, to meet the needs of both sides. Blizzard, we have concerns and issues with the game. We need change. But, for our part, we recognize you have needs of your own. Money. Activity. Respect. Maybe the occasional thank you and dap.
What can you do for us? Respond more, with detail, with accuracy, with appropriateness to our concerns. MKP dropping and coming back in a regame where arguably he was behind is a major problem. It deserves more than a hand wave and a “we’ll get to it... soon.” Shared replay viewing would be great. All the things mentioned in this post and many more, but most importantly, communication on why, when, how, and if features are being implemented.
What have we done for you? We bought your game. A good first step. We play actively and will continue to do so (though numbers may shrink due to concerns listed above). We even let you sit in the crowd at an event where major issues happen - with only a little enraged chanting.
Could we do more? Should we do more? I’m not sure the exact way that we could do more for Blizzard. Feel free to post your thoughts below.
The best idea I can come up with directly relates to another Blizzard product which seems to have the support that we would request. World of Warcraft has a fairly vocal support team, lots of activity, and a huge player base - and a $15 fee per month. I would pay $15 monthly for that kind of support for Starcraft 2, because I know if the features that I want to be in the game were added, I would get every cent back. Feel free to answer Poll 2, and let me know your thoughts.V: A Declaration of Interdependence
When in the course of eSports events it becomes necessary for one community to address the issues it sees growing within the game it loves, a decent acknowledgement of the bond between the community and game developer is required.
We need you. We can’t do all the things you can - it is after all your game. Sometimes when we try, we are ignored. Sometimes when we try, we are punished. Sometimes when we try, we are welcomed with open arms. But we are not you, and we can never have as great an impact upon the development of the game as you can.
You need us. You cannot pay for things if you don’t get money from game sales. You can’t continue supporting a game if it begins rapidly losing its player base. You can’t force us to play your game, nor can you force us to like the changes you may make. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t trying the best you can, to make the best game you can.
Our views may sometimes differ, but our goals remain the same. We want to reach the highest heights of eSports, we wish to climb the mountain and play on top of the world, until the end of time (or release of Starcraft 3, whichever comes first). Separate, we can only do so much, but together, we can achieve this dream.
PS: Please put in LAN support, or an effective alternative? Pretty please?
See this TL thread for polls - http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=329284
Reddit link - http://www.reddit.com/r/starcraft/comments/sadox/a_declaration_of_interdependence_blizzard_and_the/
Edited by AlphaFerg on 4/14/2012 8:31 PM PDT
Wow two things I never thought I would see in this forum.
1. Perfect Grammar
2. An English Mayor
But really great post, currently the SC2 community is being ignored for their other two much larger tittles(wow and diablo 3). I hope Blizzard will turn it's gaze over us when their other projects are done and their team of great artist/programmers can put some work in to SC2.
Anyways +1 to the post
Wow two things I never thought I would see in this forum.
tittles? sounds like something from monty python
Wow two things I never thought I would see in this forum.
What a fantastic read, and nothing could be truer. I would never be apposed to paying a monthly fee for Starcraft 2 (although not as steep as $15), as long as the game was supported with the features the community has been suggesting for years now. I don't even mind if the LAN component requires authorization through Battle.net before hand, I just don't want to have to be connected at all times.
I support this. LAN is needed. Also Bnet 2.0............... worse than Bnet 1.0 and not what was promised. They need to finally fix these problems while making the online experience more social eg. making game viewable by others like dota 2. I mean come on starcraft 2 is such a great spectator game people would love this, especially since they could watch high skilled/ pros vs each other!
blizzard doesn't care. Stop asking for LAN they WILL NOT IMPLEMENT IT....EVER.
Not after the legal battles over Broodwar with KesPa, they are bitter over that fiasco and will never risk it happening again. They want full control and if tournaments that support their game and the community suffers so be it.
Edited by Rush on 4/14/2012 10:01 PM PDT
"But really great post, currently the SC2 community is being ignored for their other two much larger tittles(wow and diablo 3). I hope Blizzard will turn it's gaze over us when their other projects are done and their team of great artist/programmers can put some work in to SC2."
Also Titan, thats where their best people are supposidly...
Edited by Herions on 4/14/2012 10:03 PM PDT
That was a well written post. I quit playing SC2 a long time ago, shortly after they removed the KA upgrade and such. Lately I've been playing Tribes: Ascend by Hi-Rez Studios, a FPS CTF game that aims to be an esport and has a spot on NASL. The amount of communication and such between Hi-Rez and the player base is awe inspiring. Not only that, in closed beta they completely changed the UI and layout of the game, all because the players said it'd be better.
They went from 15-20 classes, down to roughly 8-9. Merged a lot of overlapping roles, gave loadouts. Completely changed the game in its entirety all because the players said the current incarnation sucked.
On the other hand, with SC2 we rarely see any patches or such. Even in closed beta, they really didn't listen to us. Even the whole fiasco of, "Do you -really- want chat rooms?" shows just how much they thought of their player base. It was downright sickening in my opinion. The problem boils down to is the fact that Blizzard really needs to get its head out of the sand and do something. These disconnects and such, while seemingly minor inconveniences at the time, are going to do some massive damage, especially if repeat upsets like MKP and PartinG continue to happen that completely gives a team a veritable "do-over".
Blizzard is a huge company. They have development teams that work on this stuff, and while HoTS is important and such, getting the UI of Battlenet 2.0 is equally as important. I can't for the life of me figure out why something that existed in a prior incarnation of battlenet is completely removed from the newer one. The idea of an upgrade is to build and add on to existing things, not remove features, no matter how miniscule they are. It can't be that hard to get a few coders to work on the UI. Honestly, why even emulate XBL? It's not really all that good to begin with in my opinion.
In my opinion their treatment of SC2 is quite inadequate. That picture of Morhaine and Bowder say it all. They think it's funny, and when a rival does step up to the plate, which is an inevitability, they'll see first hand how much they're screwing up.
They should read all of it, but the tl;dr is that we need support from the developers.
Does it matter if it's well put together? Reading is a good thing, you should try it sometime.
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