By Conan “Suppy” Liu of Evil Geniuses
The first topic: Depth of Micro by LaLush
In this video, LaLush goes over all the problems with the current micro in StarCraft II, such as inconsistencies and poor handling and responsiveness – all of these which limit the ability of a player to make the most out of a unit through micro and differentiate their skill level in comparison to other players.
I think this is one of the most well thought, well put-together videos in the entire community. Not only does LaLush go over problems with current units, but he also provides quick and EASY fixes that could greatly improve microability. This is one topic which I find incredibly important because the micro in Broodwar was so awesome and exciting to watch, and a lot of that has really been lost in the transition to StarCraft II. Blizzard could easily implement a lot of these changes and make a huge difference in how the game can be played at the high levels, vastly improving the spectator experience and keeping the casual player’s experience completely intact (with the exception that they will be able to see highlight video’s of pros doing amazing things with the same units, and thus spur these casual players to improve and try to micro like the pros themselves).
David Kim has previously addressed this video, stating that he would not like to incorporate these changes because he feels like the complexity of the micro would be too difficult for the casual viewer to understand. However, this point is one that frustrates me a lot. I don’t know the subtleties of basketball very well, or the complex strategies that go into American football and allow amazing plays to happen, but does that detract from my viewer experience at all? I can still very easily appreciate and get excited when I see something amazing happen, even if I don’t really know all the nuances of how a certain play was executed or performed. When Kobe Bryant spins past three guys and does a sick behind the back layup or when Tom Brady makes a sick pass to the wide receiver to score a touchdown – there are many small things that my eye missed, but I still recognize that it was a sick play. It’s like this with Super Smash or any fighting game too. I suck at all of them and I am the most casual of casuals when it comes to those types of games. All I know is that there are combos that are immensely difficult to pull off in games like Street Fighter that come down literally to single frames, and that there’s a bunch of techniques in Super Smash like wave dashing and directional influence and what-not, but I have no idea how to perform them. That still doesn’t stop me from being amazed when I see the pros play, and doesn’t stop me from seeing that there is a huge difference from when I play Smash and when a pro plays Smash. Players in Smash literally move around twice as fast as I can. I gain a huge amount of appreciation in knowing that such a huge skill gap exists. Thus, when it comes to StarCraft, it doesn’t matter if someone knows if the damage point of a banshee is 0 or 0.167 and how that effects the attack animation of a banshee. They will still be able to tangibly see how much better a pro player can control a banshee and do amazing, clutch plays with it, and they will get excited and appreciate how good the play was. THAT is what we should be aiming for, and thus I feel it is a completely moot point to say that “a viewer wouldn’t understand all the complexities of the micro.”
I think this segue’s quite well into my second topic, which is based off a blog recently posted on Teamliquid and another that was posted a while ago but I have been wholeheartedly supporting ever since.
The second topic: Prolonging Battles and Increasing Opportunities for Micro by Reducing DPS and/or Incorporating Dynamic Unit Movement
Although I don’t necessarily agree with how pessimistic the first writer’s view is, I do very much like his point that battles simply do not last long enough nowadays. The improved pathing and huge damage bonuses that units get against certain unit types leads to 5-second battles that are not as engaging or thrilling to watch. It doesn’t allow enough time for players to differentiate themselves by the skill of their micro. In addition, the battle is often the most fun and exciting part of both a casual and competitive player’s game, by reducing it to such a short battle the game becomes much less engaging for a big majority of the player base. As the game becomes much more about build order and composition rather than actually interacting with units.
Funnily enough, Husky made the video above called All Units Do Half Damage that was supposed to make the game silly to watch. However, what resulted was an unintended effect in that the battles lasted longer and were more interseting to watch than in normal StarCraft! Now I’m not calling for a WarCraft 3-esque ten-minute battle where all the units have ten million HP and do 5 damage. However, I do think that the game could benefit a lot from a battle that lasted a slightly more moderate amount of time. Battles in Broodwar lasted much longer than in Starcraft II but not as long as in Warcraft, which begs the question – what happened?
Stay tuned for the third and final part of my blog series to find out my thoughts.