Making Starcraft II Great Again

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(This post is a transcript of a (fictional) recorded phone interview that took place between an anonymous Starcraft II balance team member and an anonymous Bronze-level player (operating under the alias John Miller), who offered a large sum of money in return for several minutes of the employee’s time and the guarantee that his demands would be passed on to the game’s lead balance designer David Kim.)

Blizzard Entertainment: Alright, let’s get this over with. Who are you, and what do you want?

John Miller: Let me tell you. I know a lot about games, alright? I should know; I’m a member of the Gaming Hall of Fame. Now, I think Starcraft II is a good game. It’s a good game, but it’s not a great game, if you know what I mean. But I think that I could help make it a great game.

Blizzard Entertainment: How?

John Miller: Let me explain. I’m someone who is a big fan of the franchise. I have been for many years, and I like to think that I know quite a bit about it. I played Brood War back in the eighties, and let me tell you; that was a great game. I’ve had a lot of experience with it; I’ve had a lot of experience with both Starcrafts. I think Starcraft II’s designers could benefit from my experience. From what I’ve seen, they need all the help they can get.

Blizzard Entertainment: Okay.

John Miller: Let me start by talking about deathballing. Don’t get me started about deathballing. It’s bad news. You don’t want to talk to me about deathballing. It hurts the game; it hurts the gameplay. I’ve seen it happen. There was a game I played about a few months ago where my entire army massed itself into one giant deathball and was just wiped out by the enemy Colossi. Completely obliterated. You wouldn’t have seen that happen back in Brood War, I guarantee it. That I can guarantee.

Blizzard Entertainment: And splitting your Marines didn’t work?

John Miller: There were too many of them. There was nothing I could have done. Just thirty seconds, and it was all over. It was all over. There wasn’t any time. If you don’t mind I’m going to talk about Colossi for a little while, is that alright with you?

Blizzard Entertainment: Sure, but–

John Miller: Now, the Colossi, the Colossi are the real problem. They’re the perfect example of bad unit design. Apart from maybe the Disruptor. Yeah, the Disruptor’s pretty bad too. Maybe worse. Probably not, though. Now Reavers, if you added Reavers back in, that would fix everything. Here’s my suggestion: remove the Colossi and the Disruptor, and add Reavers back in. That’d be guaranteed to fix everything wrong with Protoss at the moment. I don’t know. Maybe not.

Blizzard Entertainment: Alright, but what about–

John Miller: You know, Protoss suffers from a lot of problems right now. It’s simply too powerful. I guarantee, every singe game I’ve had to play against Protoss, I’ve lost. It needs a nerf. The race is simply too powerful. You can’t win against them. It’s impossible. I should know; I’ve tried.

Blizzard Entertainment: Actually, Protoss balance is pretty good right now. There are some thing’s we’d like to try, of course, but–

John Miller: Wrong! That’s not true. Protoss is grossly unbalanced, and you know it. Everyone knows it. I assume that David Kim knows it. He just can’t admit it, because then it would be an admission of guilt.

Blizzard Entertainment: Actually–

John Miller: I’m not afraid to admit it. I’m not afraid to admit it, and that’s what makes me perfect for the role of lead balance designer. David Kim is a terrible balance designer. I were in charge of balancing this game, I would balance it so well, you just would not be able to believe how well the balance would be. David Kim hasn’t balanced a game in his life. It’s time for people to open their eyes and see who’s really cut out for this job. Just you wait. I’ve got all kinds of ideas for what to do with the balance; great ideas. In fact, I just had another one right now.

Blizzard Entertainment: Uh-huh.

John Miller: First thing I’m going to do when I become balance designer is give both the Zerg and the Protoss nukes. It’s a good decision; the Terran race is simply too powerful in that respect without giving the nukes to everyone else. Everyone except Protoss. It makes sense Lore-wise too. I think it would be in the Terrans’ best interests to give the Zerg nukes, because it’s a bad universe out there and you have no idea what might happen. That way if something else were to happen like, say, the End War, then both races would be better prepared to deal with it. I happen to know that a lot of people are asking for this.

Blizzard Entertainment: I... Don’t think I’ve ever heard that request before.

John Miller: Let me just get this straight: I have lots of friends who are Zerg and Protoss players. I know what I’m talking about. And I happen to know for a fact that they all want this.

Blizzard Entertainment: There aren’t currently plans to give Zerg nukes. Zerg balance is in a pretty good place right now. Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t be considering drastic balance changes for future iterations of the game, but–

John Miller: Wrong! The Zerg race is currently in state of terrible, terrible imbalance. It’s too weak. I’ve been playing Zerg for years now, and I’ve lost nearly every match. Zerg needs a major redesign if it’s going to proceed as a viable race. If I were balance designer, the first thing I would do is give Zerg the Leviathans and Brutalisks from the campaign.

Blizzard Entertainment: Thanks for the suggestion, but those units were never designed to be in multiplayer. If they were added now with the current game balance, they–

John Miller: Now, to conclude what I was saying: There’s a lot of problems with Protoss right now. There’s a lot of problems with Protoss, and it’s going to be very difficult to sort them all out. It’s not the kind of thing where you can just make a single change and fix everything; it’s the kind of thing where it’s going to take months of developing and testing to sort it all out.

Blizzard Entertainment: But you just said that putting Reavers back in would fix everything.

John Miller: That’s not true. I never said that. What I did say was that replacing the Colossus and the Disruptor with the Reaver would fix everything. And it will. But I’m done talking about that.
John Miller: I’m going to talk about the e-sports scene now.

Blizzard Entertainment: Okay.

John Miller: Starcraft II’s e-sports scene is dead.

Blizzard Entertainment: That really isn’t the case.

John Miller: You’re wrong. Something needs to be done. The Korean Proleague is gone.

Blizzard Entertainment: Just because the South Korean Proleague is gone doesn’t mean that the Starcraft II e-sports scene is dead. There is and has always been great hope for the future of Starcraft II e-sports, in Korea and the rest of the world.

John Miller: Wrong. Starcraft II’s e-sports scene is dead, and it’s the Koreans’ fault.

Blizzard Entertainment: Excuse me, but that’s an outrageous suggestion.

John Miller: All I’m saying is that it’s a small country. It’s a small country. Not many people are going to care about what’s popular there. That’s why the Korean e-sports scene failed.

Blizzard Entertainment: That’s not what you said.

John Miller: Wrong. And by the way, I’ve got loads of Korean friends. Lots of friends from both North and South Korea. I’m a big admirer of Kim Jong Un: he invented the hamburger, he plays cricket like a pro, he was in the music video for Gangnam Style. I once played him at cricket. I actually won. But let’s get back to the topic at hand. You know, one of the things that I think contributed directly to the demise of Starcraft II’s e-sports scene is the quality of the players. They’re all so conceited, every last one of them.

Blizzard Entertainment: That’s not really true. ByuN, who just won the WCS Global Finals, is considered by many to be very humble. Furthermore–

John Miller: Wrong! So many conceited and dishonest players out there. Just look at Scarlett, who ditched Starcraft to go play Dota 2. She’s the very definition of a dishonest player. She’s a traitor who betrayed everything she stood for to join an enemy playerbase. You’ve just got to question the trustworthiness of someone who could do something like that.

Blizzard Entertainment: Actually, Scarlett returned to competitive play just months after she announced her intention to quit. It’s been a year since then. Your accusations don’t have any relevance anymore.

John Miller: Wrong. I also happen to know for a fact that there are a lot of players out there who aren’t very good. Eve, for example. Did you know that Eve’s first team recruited for her looks?

Blizzard Entertainment: Actually, Eve was recruited for her skills as well as her looks.

John Miller: Alleged skills. Alleged. Very inadequate, Gold-level player. Whoever made the decision to recruit her should have been fired.

Blizzard Entertainment: Actually, Eve was a Diamond League.

John Miller: Wrong. You’re wrong about that. She was a Gold.

Blizzard Entertainment: Excuse me, but I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with the way you’ve been badmouthing the skill and character of female players. Do you really think it’s okay to denounce Eve’s skills when she’s already proven herself to be a competent professional, and brand Scarlett a traitor when the choice of which game she wants to play professionally is completely her own?

John Miller: Oh, absolutely. You see, the problem with the gaming community is that they’re too politically correct.

Blizzard Entertainment: So you don’t believe toxicity is a problem.

John Miller: I do. It’s a serious, serious problem. I just don’t think that it’s being dealt with in the right way. Just look at League of Legends. The developers have tried to reform toxic players, but believe me, it just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. I should know.

Blizzard Entertainment: Let me guess; you have a better solution for that too.

John Miller: Absolutely. Here’s what I think: I think we need to put a ban on toxicity. I repeat, I am proposing a ban on all toxicity until the people spreading it can learn to stop insulting others and treat their fellow humans with civility and respect. Those guys don’t know anything about civility and respect. I know all about civility and respect.

Blizzard Entertainment: Excuse me, but what exactly are you proposing?

John Miller: I’m proposing this, and this is it: We need to ban all toxic players from the game before they even have a chance to join. We need to weed out the toxic ones before they join, and we need to ban those suckers. We need to have strict rules and regulations. We need to find out what games people have played before, what their histories are, if they have a history of toxic behavior. And if they do, we need to ban them immediately. There’s no question about it. We need to monitor the people that have online connections with toxic players, and we need to ban them too. You can never be too careful. This is toxic online harassment we dealing with, I repeat, toxic online harassment. Unless a player is explicitly proven innocent, then they need be treated as if they were toxic, because you never know. You can’t afford to let your guard down around these people. If we give them the chance, then mark my words, they will destroy this game.

Blizzard Entertainment: Excuse me, but just who do you think you are exactly?

John Miller: I’m just someone who loves the franchise. I want to see it prosper.

Blizzard Entertainment: I’m afraid we’ve gone over the proposed limit. Goodbye.

John Miller: No we haven’t. There’s still several minutes lef–

(Here the recording ends.)

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