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During my year or so playing Starcraft, I've noticed one glaring weak point in the Starcraft gameplay and would like to either A) determine if this issue already has a solution in the current system or B) suggest to the developers a solid improvement to future releases of Starcraft.
I propose adding a rule-based command structure option. Let me explain. In any real-world command situation, the commander will issue overall direction and set certain rules that his subordinates will then carry out in perpetuity. Starcraft does this to an extent (i.e.- you tell a worker to build a barracks and they do it). However, current SC gameplay requires you to tell again and again...and again...over and over. This really takes away from enjoying the game and, more importantly, building a solid and/or creative strategy.
By using a rule-based command structure, the commander can tell his subordinates to "build a barracks if...". The "if" is very important. Or "keep building bunkers in this area unless...". Again, the "unless" is important. I propose allowing the commander to set limits and weights that will allow him/her to "set it and forget it" throughout the entire game. If at any point the commander feels the need to adjust levels (limits and weights) he/she can simply go and adjust it. This rule-based command structure should be optional (don't want to force anyone into it).
The single monumental benefit of a rule-based command structure option is that the commander can build a reliable and consistent infrastructure (that functions on its own!) during the game instead of always getting pulled back to home base to build more bunkers! This allows the commander to move on to bigger and more elaborate strategies that will result in more spectacular battles.
Example: Say I am allowed to have 3 perpetuating command rules in play at any given time (to keep things simple - in the real game I would prefer to see at least 5 or 10). Also say for those 3 command rules I pick to produce 1) SCV's, 2) bunkers, and 3) marines. I assign a weight to these 3 items, based on total production volume. Say I want 30% of my automated production to be SCV's, 30% to be bunkers, and 40% to be marines. OK, so weights are taken care of. Now say I only want to produce any of these automatic items if I have at least 400 resources in the bank. If I fall below 400 resources, each of these will stop producing until I've gathered more resources. OK, now weights and limits are set. Good to go. Now, I can begin crafting my master strategy of harassing the other guy/girl from the west with endless marines while bringing in more devastating units from the east, while simultaneously expanding my territory to a nearby mineral field - all without needing to worry about that show-stopping notification to "build more bunkers!" that will absolutely ruin any timing sensitive plot.
Does anyone agree with my vision? I think this would REALLY increase the enjoyment of gameplay. Please comment so that we can get this idea enough attention to get the developers thinking!
There are games where you can assign "Tactics" to individual units, mostly in RPGs where you control more than one character, at least that I've seen. A system like this won't really fit SC2. It's just not that kind of game. Although, it would definitely be possible to make a custom map where players can assign tactical decisions to their units. The important thing is it would have to fit the gameplay.
It would definitely be cool to see a rts game like this. The game would rely more on strategy, planning, and thinking rather than reaction timing and spacial recognition. It would definitely favor programmers and people who know anything about AIs, so if the game is competitive there will be large skill-imbalances.
I really like your comparison between "strategy/planning/thinking" to "reaction timing/spacial recognition". I would counter your concerns with this:
1) To keep it simple and avoid overscripting and way-complex scenarios (to fit quick gameplay):
Don't allow actual scripting, just have a small menu with 3 boxes in same place you click to build units. 1st box you pick what items you want to build automatically. 2nd box you pick % of each (can be preset to 10, 20,etc). 3rd box you pick minimum resource limit for automatic production (only 1 number, not 3). That's it.
Using this method, you keep it simple and manageable. You do NOT have a blank script box where the user can write or upload a macro.
2) To handle large skill imbalances:
That's what ladders and rankings are for - this tool wouldn't really change how SC is already imbalanced regarding skill level.
3) To make it flow more with traditional SC:
Rule-based mode could be an option that you pick when you pick a map and race (you pick either "traditional" or "rule-enabled"). That way you know going into the match if you're doing traditional gameplay or rule-based gameplay (gamers would only enter matches that were in the "mode" that they wanted).
Another way to implement is to introduce a new "Sub-Commander" unit similar to the Overseer or Queen. When you train a Sub-Commander it gives you the ability to use rule-based gameplay. If the enemy kills your Sub-Commander, all of your rules disappear and you're back in traditional mode until you train another one (you'd have to recreate all of your rules of course, which gives the enemy time to kill more of your units until you recover). Cost of Sub-Commander can be relatively high so that it wouldn't be bought until after a certain amount of struggling to build income (like a cruiser or mother ship).
I think this would basically add another ladder for multiplayer without interrupting the existing ladders in traditional gameplay. After a few months of field testing, I bet the strategies involved in rule-based gameplay would be significantly different than in traditional mode. And I'd wager there are many gamers out there that would enjoy being able to put more of their "programming" skills to use in rule-based mode.
This would basically make starcraft into Dawn of War. Dawn of War lets you do that a lot. Starcraft 2 can also be made to do it with auto casting and validators.
The problem I see is if it done correctly, you are effectively automating macro play and removing some flexibility from it, since you are handing control over to the AI. If done poorly, you will now spend even more time in macro, fighting the game AI as well as your opponent.
Well first...Dawn of War doesn't have the awesome storyline that SC has... :)
There is always the risk of poor implementation, but I see the benefits outweighing the risks. Worst-case scenario there's too much constant fighting because both teams' production is too effecient. To counter that, keep the automation very low level and restricted to things like bunkers. Specialty units or buildings shouldn't be automated.
Consider it a HANDICAP setting. Less experienced (or less patient like myself) players turn on rule-based play and can get the full enjoyment out of the game that they otherwise will not get because they don't like spending 20 min building resources in the same way over and over again in every game. I think that's a fair compromise to reach the majority of SC players that aren't pro, very good, or traditionalist/micro-oriented.
If you don't want to use it, you simply select no handicap and you're paired with someone else that also picked no handicap.
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