StarCraft® II

Impressions 10/15/12

Posts: 1,720
Here is another round of them.

A couple of things stand out:

1. We tested Blizzard's willingness to support community efforts to revive the custom map player base. We gave them the simplest possible choice and not one of them showed up. Deletarius, who posted on the thread, told me why he couldn't make it before hand and I would tend to believe him so what I'm about to say may or may not apply to him:

Blizzard is unwilling to go the lengths required to revive the custom modding player base. Whoever has been calling the shots has got a pretty bad record to date and they are unwilling to act on input from the community. There are a few odds and ends that they have done, sure, but just because they released 1.5 does not mean that their job of "fixing the system" is going to stop there if they want to revive the community. There is a another thread where Caveofwonders made a very good point. The first thing the player sees upon entering the arcade menus is not the open lobbies list.

2. The StarCraft 2 playerbase, although it contains more than a few reasonable people who are able to click past the first menu, is one of the laziest (I'm avoiding the word dumb here) that most of us mappers have ever seen. Blizzard's target audience since WoW has been people who are more shallow in the head so all the thinking needs to be done for them.

I do not know how the patch in 1.5 was designed but I cannot imagine it will be very difficult to simply switch the 2 lists. At the very least no harm would be done. More maps would be exposed than before and it would be a more diverse list as well. We would still have the same popularity issues (maps sinking to the bottom of the list) but it would be far less pronounced than before. If it were a scroll bar instead of a "show more" it would probably be perfectly fine but we can't get exactly what we are after anymore so we will have to make due. Blizzard is soo close to getting a system that actually works for both populace and modder so it would be a shame for them to call it good here.

3. The pace of map development has slowed down. By a large factor. Community fansites from Mapster to StarEdit are becoming almost completely inactive in some cases. People are still leaving. Mapping in StarCraft 2 is a huge drain on energy and most people are burned out because of the investment and the lack of reward. It is unrewarding to make map well polished maps, simple or complex.

3. Whether the community is going to mostly "die off" at this point is up in the air. Maybe HotS will bring players back. But that alone won't mean anything. Even if players come back there is almost nothing new for them to play. What they played when the left is almost exactly what they will be playing when they come back. If players come back and mappers do return... what then? It takes at least 3-4 months to make even a simple map. There is a large chance, as I see it, that people will quit before any significant number of maps are available for these people to play. And if Blizzard screwed up the campaign... Well lets just say they may not be coming back a 3rd time.

4. People may not be willing to look this far ahead yet but the proposed changes to HotS has brought up a very interesting point. What about LotV? I know of no case where a 3rd high-priced expansion to a game was sold in any large numbers. Most cases I know of ended in a significant price decrease. The first expansion will have a few new units - what about the second? The only 2 things I can think of are:

1. A fourth race.
2. Complete rework of all of the current races.

Of hose the first choice sounds the most likely. But there is a problem with that second expansion. Its more of the same. Blizzard is going to have to make it almost completely new to the player to make it worthwhile in the customer's mind to buy.

What new features are they going to stick in there?

Remember something here: Most players, if they buy it, will have spent $140 (60+40+40) on a single game. For an RTS thats almost unheard of. When the make the decision about buying that second expansion a lot of it is going to come down to low long the game is going to last for them.

Remember by this time that will have been playing it for at least 3 years, perhaps 4. In every previous Blizzard RTS game in the last decade+ what has extended the lifetime of a game has been the custom mods. What has kept it selling beyond it's shelf life has been those custom mods.

But who is going to be left, by that time, to make those mods? Blizzard may indeed make a few but in none of what they might make do they have monopolies on the genre (think DotA, Battle Ships, Battle Tank, 3d Tower Defense) like they used to.

A few of us, like myself, think* we may have run into one but given what we've seen out of Blizzard I don't think it has a good chance of happening. Right now, the players are not there, the mappers are not there, the people to make the content are not there.

5. There is a dwindling number of people with the know-how to make any kind of mod. Yes the trigger editors are still around in some numbers. But data editors are scarce. Its even worse for the other features. AI for instance. There is almost no one in the community, pay or not payed, who even knows anything about it. The "UI Editor" has never been cracked as almost no one has been able to get anything in it to work. The "Cutscene Editor", although a very nice tool, is almost useless without maps to make cutscenes for.

If Blizzard is not going to take the necessary steps to revive the community now (which we tested last Saturday although the Devs, CMs and anyone else is invited to watch/play at these) then they need to seriously consider whether they should take steps to prevent what knowledge the community still has from being lost for good should they decide to make a more solid effort at a later date.

The people who figured out the stuff for much of those guides were, almost without exception, people with long modding experience or professional programmers. These people are long since gone. Unless Blizzard is going to sit down at a later date and write full tutorials for every basic aspect of the editor (something that will cost a lot of man-hours) then the accumulated knowledge of the community is the only thing a fresh and raw mapper is going to be able to draw upon. And with the major UI changes in the editor inbound as I have learned most of the tutorials will become useless.

I cannot provide suggestions to what to do about this besides adding 15-20 people to their payroll.

Thats about it for now.

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Posts: 328
Well, one thing's for sure, it's a lot easier to shape a system around people than to shape people around a system. People won't change (not for a video game), so Blizzard needs to design it's custom games system around the fact that their player base will make little effort to find new maps - Blizzard has to find these maps for them (90% of the time). That's based on personal experience, I don't know why it's like that in SC II, but that's the fact of the matter.

Yes progress has been done, but not enough. For one thing why do you feature your own maps? Do Blizzard maps - that have been around for a long time - really need featuring? Also why do featured maps stay featured for over 3 weeks? This completely defeats the purpose of featuring maps... See how the app stores do it.

Fun or not desperately needs categories, play with party, etc.

Here's the current flaw in the open lobby list - for new maps:

1) you host a NEW game - new map.
2) your game is on the first page.
3) people see it and they join - it's slow but they join.
4) your game doesn't have enough players yet but it dropped from the first page.
5) now joining's very slow, people start getting impatient and leave.
6) now you dropped further down the list, you got a lot of people leaving, and very few joining.
7) your game is now on the bottom of the list and no one is joining because no one goes that far down the list.

get the idea?

How did Warcraft 3 tackle this issue? They allowed the "refreshing" of lobbies by opening/closing all slots, when you did that you'd effectively push your lobby back to the top of the list.
Edited by CaveOfWondrs on 10/16/2012 2:41 PM PDT
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Posts: 906
They're not even hyping HotS as the 'custom game' expansion. There's simply no reason to buy HotS.

There's NOTHING left to play or see in SC2. Not even in the expansion. Oh sure, there's the campaign, but is that really worth the $40 you'd have to shell out for such... minimal extra content?

Seriously. The stuff we're getting in HotS is the stuff of DLC. $5-$10 maybe, but $40? At this point, if you buy HotS, you're just getting ripped off.
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Posts: 393
The "UI Editor" has never been cracked as almost no one has been able to get anything in it to work.

Actually, that's kinda false. There are multiple maps out there with alot of customization using the UI Editor. Renee also has a solid understanding of how the UI Editor works and has been giving out tutorials/help for it(i know coz I've asked him for help before). Still, it's pretty clunky as it is atm.

10/16/2012 03:52 PMPosted by Soga
There's NOTHING left to play or see in SC2

Actually, I wouldn't say that. There are plenty of interesting things in the arcade, or yet to come(i have some WIPs that are pretty interesting coming). The problem here is as FockeWulf mentioned, most of them are either lost in the flood of dumbed down games, and most of the incoming content are being delayed/abandoned coz mappers are getting demotivated by the current state of the arcade system/complexity of the editor.
Edited by Kildare on 10/16/2012 4:56 PM PDT
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