Browsing the blog archives for April, 2010

Starcraft 2 Most Desired Feature

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Games

I haven’t played Warcraft 3 since the year it came out, 2002. I have, however, occasionally played quite a few custom (or “use map settings”) maps for it. But the stock gameplay of Warcraft 3 never held me, probably because I’m not exceptionally good at it and therefore playing is an exercise in getting my butt handed to me in a hundred different ways.

I do enjoy the game, but I’m just not interested in learning the things that make good RTS players good RTS players – Build orders, timings, and extreme levels of unit micromanagement. In lieu of actually playing the game myself, though, one thing I really like to do is to be a game observer. In order to do this you create a “Custom Game” using a stock map and set it up to allow observers. Usually a bunch of people will join, then you have to work out who will actually play and who will observe, and then you’re set.

Observers can only talk with other observers, and cannot message people outside of the game at all (to prevent cheating). About all you can do is sit and watch the game and chat with other observers. But yet, I find it strangely appealing. Not only is it low-pressure, but you can enjoy a drink or a meal while watching. And although the average level is play is probably a bit under ranked matches, you still get some fairly entertaining matchups. The strategy becomes quickly apparent, and little nuances in play like positioning units, hero or skill choice, and so on start to take on more meaning.

The downside to observing matches is what I’ve already discussed — Setting one up. It’s a hassle to create matches specifically for observing, and it doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense to force it to be that way when there are no doubt hundreds of ranked matches going on all the time. So why not just allow players to select or randomly observe ranked matches? Concerns over cheating potential could be mitigated by giving the actual players the option to allow observers or not — Basically set your game preference to private or public. You’ll definitely get people who just disallow observing in all their games, but most decent players play so much anyways it’s doubtful they care if anyone sees their games. Seeing it and beating it are two different things.

Why not just watch replays on YouTube, such as HDStarcraft, HuskyStarcraft, or Crota? Well, I enjoy doing that too but a replay is quite a bit different than actually being in the game. Recorded replays are only going to show you what the commentator is looking at, while in an observer game YOU control what you’re looking at. YOU comment on the game, along with other players observing, making it a much more active and social experience than passively sitting down and starting up a replay. That’s both good and bad: If you’re new, you may not understand the strategy. But if you’re an experienced observer you’ll tend to understand what’s going on. And if you don’t — you’ll learn. It can definitely beat hearing a commentator interject their own opinions into the game — There’ve been many, many occasions where I’ve been watching a replay and found myself disagreeing with a commentator and wishing I could voice my thoughts. Well, with observer games you’re totally free to.