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Thoughts on StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void

It’s here. It’s almost here. It’s coming soon™ and it’s finally. Almost. Here.

The final campaign to the epic StarCraft 2 trilogy is a veritable stone’s throw away, with new missions, new multiplayer features, and of course, new units. As we’ve come to expect from Blizzard, attention has been paid to both casual and hardcore players, with attempts in the offing to improve things for casual co-op players, competitive mentoring, and to – finally – boost the tournament scene. Let’s take a look at what’s currently slated for addition, and how it’s likely to affect the competitive side of the game.

The StarCraft 2 Legacy of the Void campaign will assuredly be exciting – the narrative work in StarCraft 2 is among the best ever created in an RTS, and the unique mechanics introduced here will be the refinement of around half a decade of level designers bending the game to their will. It is, however, the competitive game that is the bread and butter of StarCraft, and the competitive features that are being added range from welcome but suspect to potentially game-changing in the genre. It is the competitive game, then, on which I’ll be focusing.

Multiplayer Updates

Blobbing is one of the banes of RTS gaming. The idea of building a single undifferentiated mass of units and attack-moving it into the enemy’s lines and winning against a force whose commander utilizes superior positioning and micro is infuriating and antithetical to the purpose of combat in this genre. So, it’s a good thing that Blizzard is attempting to combat this with units designed to punish blobbing – the Terran Herc, the Protoss Disruptor, and both planned Zerg units - the Ravager and the Lurker - at this writing (12/3/2014) are intended to fight clumped up units. The desire to force players to split up their armies and to put more responsibility on the player to mitigate area damage sources is unreservedly the right choice. But…

But currently all described changes to units, both additions and modifications of existing units, and even the planned economic changes, intended to decrease passive time and encourage early expansion, have been expressly designed with the intention of raising the potential skill cap for the game. Conceptually, I have no issue with this. Watching increasingly nuanced gameplay as players push the limits of human reaction time with tools that proportionally benefit the player who is quickest on their feet is an exciting prospect. These changes seem to run counter to one of the core tenants of StarCraft, to me at this early juncture. The mechanical demands put on the player by the game seem to push the line every further away from Blizzard’s old mantra of creating games that are easy to learn but hard to master. The learning curve of the game looks to become even steeper in the world of teleporting Battlecruisers and tier 2 units that can fire AoE mortars.

Some Thoughts on Legacy of the Void's Upcoming Multiplayer Additions
Heart of the Swarm is the first expansion set to Blizzard Entertainments sci-fi real time strategy game, …
Human Resources: A post-mortem

When Uber Entertainment first announced Planetary Annihilation back in 2012, my initial thought was “this game has to happen.” It seemed, if I can wax prosaic for a moment, simply too awesome to not happen. I backed it immediately. Fast forward to 2014, and Planetary Annihilation is hot off the presses. Uber has (at least debatably) kept their promises about PA, but much of its initial luster is, at least for some, dimmed by a less than stellar launch ( Uber unveils another ambitious RTS called Human Resources, putting the player in the role of either a race of machines a la Skynet, or pissed off Cthulian demigods. As with their last project, my first thought upon seeing the Kickstarter video was “This game needs to exist.” But it was not to be. With just under half their time remaining to raise funds, Uber backed off from Human Resources, cancelling their Kickstarter campaign – the trend data just didn't promise to make up the huge gap between where they were, and what they needed to complete the campaign.

Human Resources seems like a great concept, but the timing and pitch were all wrong. I’d like to lead you through the tale of Uber’s post-apocalyptic RTS and show why it was fated to fail from the beginning.

When viewed in a vacuum, Human Resources seems like a shoo-in. RTSes of its scale and scope are rare, as are RTSes featuring units with size differences as were seen in Human Resources’ videos and screenshots – the smallest units run amok in the city streets, scooping up unsuspecting humans, or climb skyscrapers, while larger units tower over all but the tallest buildings, and can even wield structures as clubs. The concept seemed wickedly fun.

So, the 1.4 million dollar question is, what went wrong? Why did interest in this idea seem so limited?

Most of the problems can be laid upon Uber itself. Let’s look at why, starting with Planetary Annihilation.

Read the rest at!

Human Resources: a Post-Mortem
EDITORIAL posted Oct 30th, 2014 Uber Entertainment's Human Resources Kickstarter kicked the bucket despite a …
'Inner Space' - Ancient Space review

Ancient Space is the inaugural RTS of Creative Forge Games, and is published by industry veteran Paradox Interactive. It’s a story-driven, single player only RTS set in space, making it one of a rare breed. In Ancient Space the player commands a fleet of ships as they explore a region of space called the Black Zone. An interested party couldn’t be blamed for being reminded of Homeworld, what with the promises of fleet management and focus on narrative. Sadly, Ancient Space falls far short of Relic’s masterful game.

Inner Space - Ancient Space Review
Ancient Space is the inaugural RTS of Creative Forge Games, and is published by industry veteran Paradox …