Community Feedback Update - March 8

General Discussion
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I hope everyone enjoyed watching IEM and all the other StarCraft II events going on in Korea these days. We’re definitely keeping up, and it’s great seeing so many exciting games!

Balance at different points of the game

Our communities in Taiwan, Spain, and France have recently been discussing what “game balance” means for StarCraft II, and whether StarCraft II is technically not balanced because at different stages of the game different races/strategies have advantages, and should every race be equal at every point of the game? This is an important topic, so we wanted to get into our high-level game design philosophies in this area.

We truly believe in the importance of alternating the strengths per situation or strategy throughout the course of the whole game. The easiest way to see this stance in StarCraft II is when we evaluate Legacy of the Void—the majority of us will agree that this game is much better to play and watch than before because it’s so action packed. This is possible because there are certain advantages at specific moments for each strategy, and this constantly changes throughout the game. If the strength of every strategy during every moment of the game were equal, we would see a much greater percentage of games where players simply build up without attacking, as we saw during Wings of Liberty.

Having advantageous moments per side is also important because it leads to greater gameplay diversity. In the past, we’ve seen times when the game was mostly just about accruing 200 supply and fighting a few times at that stage to determine the winner. In these instances, games all felt the same. We’ve also seen this same sort of thing when all the maps in the map pool were of the same type: you play the exact same strategy capitalizing on the exact same timings on every map, so every game felt too similar. By creating more action-packed moments throughout the course of the game, and also pushing this further through map diversity, we can make sure that each game we play feels more unique.

Siege Tank change
Internally, we tried the changes proposed in recent weeks and they may have felt better than just removing Siege mode pick up entirely. We also tried the popular suggestion of picking up Siege Tanks in Siege mode, with them reverting to normal mode while carried by the Medivac. This wasn’t as good of a solution as increasing the delay before firing because it provides fewer knobs to tune. With this method, we have to make the delay before players can unload Siege Tanks equal to the unsiege time to prevent Medivac pickup from being the main way players should unsiege their tanks. Instead, we can adjust the firing delay upon being dropped to what feels best after testing, from where it is now to the same time it would take to unsiege.

Terran compositions
We’re also listening to discussions around whether we should be pursuing the complete split between bio and mech, or should we instead explore strategic diversity in mixed bio and mech compositions? This was a fresh way to look at Terran unit compositions, and we have some thoughts to share that can benefit from further discussion.

  • Some of the staler, more boring games (to play and watch) have been mech only.
  • When you compare bio-only (back when it was just Marines/Marauders/Medivac) compositions vs. those with Siege mode tank drops, Widow Mines, and/or Liberators, it’s pretty clear that the more diverse comp produces much more exciting games.
  • Should we be pushing an even greater diversity of mixed armies, rather than going for a complete split again? Have we evolved into a better state?
    • For example, fast Banshees with bio all utilizing an even heavier mobility-based strategy could be interesting, or Cyclones and Thors could also be looked at in having a clearer role in mixed armies.

    Let’s discuss, and see if our goals on this front needs further polish before we look into solutions.

    Ravager change
    As suggested, we’ve been playtesting an increased cooldown on the Corrosive Bile ability with no damage tweaks. We feel that this could be a good direction to go, especially to help out PvZ. If we’re good with this change, let’s get it in the balance test map, and we could hopefully turn around the patch soon after.

    Overlord drop
    We would also like to discuss the strength of Zerg drops in PvZ. We definitely hear feedback, especially from our KR community, and are keeping a close eye on this strategy as well as having regular discussions on what the best move is here.

    While this is another good hook to help out Protoss in PvZ if needed, we worry that it won’t be easy to do a minor nerf where we can still see this strategy happen. There are only so many building requirements that we can place to this, so it won’t be easy to target specific areas with a slight nerf. Still, we need to ensure that this strategy remains viable because this type of diversity helps makes the game fun. Zerg macro play has often relied on defending and droning up, so it’s quite cool seeing more offensive options from Zerg, including this strategy and the early Ravager options.

    Obviously, if there is a clear balance issue, we would definitely have to address it, but we wonder if we can do the Ravager timing nerf first, and then discuss this one if further nerfs to Zerg are needed in ZvP.

    Zerg strength vs. Zerg weakness
    This one has been an interesting topic over the last couple of weeks. There have been many posts pointing towards stats saying Zerg has a slightly higher win percentage, while many players have also pointed out that in Korea, Zerg struggled in the past week or so, especially vs. Terran. We definitely see both sides, and we believe that it’s important to analyze and gauge the big picture.

    We agree with both sides, largely due to this year’s WCS changes. It’s pretty clear that even though similar strategies are being used on both sides, of the game results have the potential to turn out differently, like we saw in recent weeks. Obviously, we want to make the game balanced for both of these different pro levels. However, games happening outside of Korea have been showing Zerg strength vs. Terran, and last weekend’s WCS championship showed how well Zerg is performing outside of Korea. On the other hand, we do agree with people giving feedback on the Korean scene regarding Zerg slightly underperforming both in GSL and Proleague games. We also understand that Zerg looked very strong in SSL, but it is also true that the majority of the SSL games are not recent due to how that tournament is set up.

    We’d like to stress that no one data point is a perfect measurement of the state of the game. For example, the win/loss stats can easily be skewed due to the fact that a lot of mismatches happen, even at the pro level. Just looking at the lower stages or qualifier stages of tournaments, it’s pretty easy to say that no matter the matchup, certain players will just dominate others due to the players’ skill being a bigger factor. This is why we try to measure the state of the game using many different factors such as stats, pro player feedback, community feedback, tournament results, analysis on quality of matches, meta game analysis, and so on.

    The current plan for us is to proceed with exploring and preparing for Zerg changes, especially those that will help in ZvP. This side is definitely looking clearer as time is passing, and we need to be prepared for a balance patch in this area. For TvZ, due to the split in different regions, we would have to put a focus around both discussions and game analysis in order to figure out exactly where it lies. Let’s talk about both of these areas this week so that we can get things moving at a good pace.

    That’s all for now - thank you everyone!
    Hooray!

    03/08/2016 11:18 AMPosted by Dayvie
    With this method, we have to make the delay before players can unload Siege Tanks equal to the unsiege time to prevent Medivac pickup from being the main way players should unsiege their tanks.


    I don't know why that's a bad thing. It requires supply and resources in medivacs and micro beyond just hitting the unsiege button.

    There's nothing wrong with the delay option, this just seems like weird logic.

    03/08/2016 11:18 AMPosted by Dayvie
    Instead, we can adjust the firing delay upon being dropped to what feels best after testing, from where it is now to the same time it would take to unsiege.


    Yep, definitely more room to adjust the ability with the delay timer than just dropping tanks in tank mode.

    03/08/2016 11:18 AMPosted by Dayvie
    Some of the staler, more boring games (to play and watch) have been mech only.


    Mostly, I'd argue, this was because PDD made attacking a terran at any point really a problem with mech.

    When it's not "mass raven and win", Mech games (in my experience) have been dynamic as the mech player attempts to harass with hellions (and occasionally banshees) and the opponent tries to pull the mech player out of position.

    03/08/2016 11:18 AMPosted by Dayvie
    we wonder if we can do the Ravager timing nerf first, and then discuss this one if further nerfs to Zerg are needed in ZvP.


    They're two sides of the same coin.

    With more starting workers, it's easier to pump out some zerglings in numbers that require a full committal from Protoss to even attempt to slow the zerg down on the ground. There's no pressure build. There's no early-map-control for Protoss.

    With total loss of map-control absent an all-in, Protoss is forced to try to out-macro the zerg (and / or hope for damage from only the stargate). Thus everyone opens stargate. This is too predictable. It requires tons of gas and a very quick investment (meaning fewer starting units) and thus it's easy to counter (quick spores + queens which help macro anyway) and easier to all-in for the zerg (since the opponent won't have nearly any units).

    03/08/2016 11:18 AMPosted by Dayvie
    The current plan for us is to proceed with [exploring and preparing for Zerg changes, especially those that will help in ZvP. This side is definitely looking clearer as time is passing, and we need to be prepared for a balance patch in this area.


    Help Protoss DPS versus general units going into the early-to-mid game and things will clear up.

    03/08/2016 11:18 AMPosted by Dayvie
    We truly believe in the importance of alternating the strengths per situation or strategy throughout the course of the whole game.


    03/08/2016 11:18 AMPosted by Dayvie
    If the strength of every strategy during every moment of the game were equal, we would see a much greater percentage of games where players simply build up without attacking, as we saw during Wings of Liberty.


    These statements are both very much true. But these strengths don't have to be on a per-race basis. If, instead, they were on a per-composition basis, then players would feel empowered to play their playstyle with their preferred race while each composition still had strong and weak points throughout the game.
    David Kim or any Blizzard member, I would appreciate very much if you could give any feedback to the community about that thread: http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/20742704174?page=1

    Again, Blizzard is cattering to what the korean pros want and lefting behind the rest of the community. We want a more steady, slow, strategic game, not an action packed and fast game like MOBAs.
    Can we get some info on chat changes please? There is an overwhelming majority of the community that wants the old chat system back.
    For the asymmetric balance part, I think the issue is that it could be TOO asymmetric. I understand that the balance team wants one side stronger than the other at certain points in the game, but sometimes it feels like it's a "don't let them get there" scenario on one side and a "survive for x minutes" on the other. If this is the direction the balance team wants to go, I think the gaps in strength shouldn't be too big. I'm not saying that they are right now, though: it feels like LotV is better in this regard at my level.

    For the terran split: if you're going to push the bio/mech split, please note that bio doesn't have reliable splash from the barracks. You'll most likely see some sort of mixture because bio will add tanks or mines (or even hellbats) in order to hold off hordes of units. The HERC could have done this, but since it's gone, it comes from the factory. Mech doesn't necessarily need to use bio units; you may see the ghost but that's about it. Personally, I like mixing units together when I can, and I love hearing the idea of banshees getting buffed, although I think right now it's more of a strength issue as the speed upgrade takes care of its mobility quite well.

    Good to read on the ravager and tank. I'm a little surprised about the overlord drop causing problems again!
    03/08/2016 11:18 AMPosted by Dayvie
    Siege Tank change
    Internally, we tried the changes proposed in recent weeks and they may have felt better than just removing Siege mode pick up entirely. We also tried the popular suggestion of picking up Siege Tanks in Siege mode, with them reverting to normal mode while carried by the Medivac. This wasn’t as good of a solution as increasing the delay before firing because it provides fewer knobs to tune. With this method, we have to make the delay before players can unload Siege Tanks equal to the unsiege time to prevent Medivac pickup from being the main way players should unsiege their tanks. Instead, we can adjust the firing delay upon being dropped to what feels best after testing, from where it is now to the same time it would take to unsiege.

    I breathed a sigh of relief reading this.
    I think you should focus on making a certain type of Mech viable and not the other. For example, turtle raven Mech vs. swarm hosts in HotS TvZ was universally accepted as boring to watch and play. However, aggressive Mech was a lot more fun to play and watch, the games between ForGG vs. Life back in HotS testify to this.

    With ravens and swarm hosts nerfed, the introduction of parasitic bomb and the reduction in mineral patches and gas geysers, it is likely that aggressive Mech would be more viable than turtle Mech or at the very least a patch should be done to encourage that kind of Mech and discourage turtle Mech.

    I guess the balance team is settled on having the fire delay for the siege tank instead of other options like removing medivac pickup fully or partially. What do you propose for the siege tank damage to be then? I think most players would prefer for the siege tank damage to be higher for a longer fire delay. I like the idea to nerf ravagers via cooldown instead of damage, it's a much better solution.
    Increase the time on ravager bile. Sounds familiar. While we are at it can we just remove swarm host.
    I'd like to suggest that if we want to see mixed compositions of Terran mech and Terran bio, maybe consider merging ground upgrades in a similar style as Zerg?

    Ground Upgrades:

      Infantry Weapons
      Vehicle Weapons
      Ground Armor


    Air Upgrades:

      Air Weapons
      Air Armor


    This way we could more easily mix and match all of our ground forces together.
    03/08/2016 11:18 AMPosted by Dayvie
    Should we be pushing an even greater diversity of mixed armies, rather than going for a complete split again? Have we evolved into a better state? For example, fast Banshees with bio all utilizing an even heavier mobility-based strategy could be interesting, or Cyclones and Thors could also be looked at in having a clearer role in mixed armies.


    This is interesting, something ill be thinking on. I am having fun mixing in units with my bio army, it is nice having that freedom, and not being committed to one path. Last night I brought out blue flame hellbats and cyclones to support my marines and marauders vs a zerg that decided to switch from roach ravager to ultra/ling around the late game. The second he saw ghosts/hellbats/cyclones with bio he changed his strategy back to roaches, which allowed more bio play. I think we have evolved to a better state of terran not being split in 3 tech paths, and using bio with support units. I like the ideas proposed for banshee strats and thor/cyclone having clearer roles in mixed armies, would be interesting to test out. Happy to hear tankivacs are staying.
    Zerg struggling LMAO ..........
    glad to see still NO mention to thor cyclone bc raven ???...............
    03/08/2016 02:58 PMPosted by llllllllllll
    Increase the time on ravager bile. Sounds familiar. While we are at it can we just remove swarm host.


    They already removed swarm host back in Hots
    Lurkers anyone ?

    Did Blizzard even compare them to colossus ?
    Let bunkers be individually upgradable to allow mech units in.
    Zerg struggling??? It must be a joke.

    As the guy above said. No mention to thor, cyclone, battlecruiser, raven, swarm host...All useless units and Blizzard didn't SAY A WORD about them.
    So this is the end of MECH....

    If these progamers used BW as their temple for Mech than Mech would be more dynamic

    Instead, they opt to make it a Bio standard play with mechanical units mixed in....So it's just really BIO.

    In order to make MECH less BORING then you have to give them some kind of buff to make it dynamic.
    Here I am... thinking that David would suggest some actual changes. Giving us a hope that SOON something is going to happen...
    Im sorry but this is just more : We are continue to test thing. While we Protoss are getting destroyed so hard. Its even more painfull to watch Touraments then to play itself.

    Well now to the constructive part:
    Terran compositons:
    I dislike thinking about only mech or only bio. Mixed compositions are what are fun to watch the most. Also the possiblity that my opponent could play both. And I dont think pure mech is that boring to watch. Especeally since Raven got changed so much.

    Ravager Change. I see what you are trying to do, but I dont feel that this will change too much. Because Ravager are a unit that are kinda easy to mass. Not like Roaches, but you will still have more then enough imo.

    Overlord Change: Thank you on that. This is much needed because it gave zerg too many early Game possiblities. I think just put that upgrade back to t2.

    Suggestions are done well better from other community members, just saying i would wish for a Lurker change (less attack speed, less HP), Liberator Range nerf and/or Buff of gateway unit. For PvP I would like that the disruptor does less dmg against shields. It is one hitting every not Immortal/Kollosus/Archon Unit. Thats too much for PvP.
    Asymmetrical balance... should not mean one race has to try 3x harder to win in the late game when all tier 3 units and upgrades are unlocked. To me that logic makes no sense.

    About mech - Unlike Robo tech, mech has separate upgrades because they're supposed to be a different composition. The reason Mech became boring is because that is a playstyle that is forced on the players due to the unit designs that it was given. Mech units are designed without an overall vision at all. Designing mech as support for bio instead of a standalone composition is what has ruined mech from the beginning. They don't mesh well together because they all are expensive, immobile, glass cannons made for damage mitigation only - like a bandaid made to force terran players to play bio all game long. This forces mech players to mass up since they would get obliterated if they're caught out in the open.

    Replacing turtle mech with mech that is fun to watch requires giving it mobile units that can actually engage units and retreat if they want to. They need compositions and abilities that support each other instead of being a group of seige/unseige units without a shred of synergy. Honestly I really question your logic and creative vision in this matter.
    03/08/2016 03:19 PMPosted by Gattsu
    So this is the end of MECH....

    If these progamers used BW as their temple for Mech than Mech would be more dynamic

    Instead, they opt to make it a Bio standard play with mechanical units mixed in....So it's just really BIO.

    In order to make MECH less BORING then you have to give them some kind of buff to make it dynamic.


    Pretty much this, anything to do with Mech got nerfed to high heaven that the stale approach is the only way to play it. I don't like the idea of the game just being bio with a few other units mixed in every now and then.

    Mech also has poor anti-air against anything that's not a light unit, the cyclone could have been a good catalyst to jump start aggressive mech but like all other mech units it was nerfed long before it had the chance and is now another useless unit and it's funny because it costs the same as a disruptor a unit that's actually a notable force.

    I also prefer that all races are equal at each stage in the match otherwise in certain match ups you put one player on a clock.
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