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Starcraft Breakdown
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Weeble
Starscape Jedi
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Joined: 25 Apr 2003
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Location: Glasgow, Scotland



PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 7:24 pm    Post subject: Starcraft Breakdown Reply with quote

Same deal as for TA.

Good stuff:
  • Who's talking to me?
    Space centers the screen on the last unit to have caused a message.
  • Units don't become obsolete
    This is perhaps not entirely true, but it is much more true than for most games. The most interesting high-tech units are the ones that combine with low-tech units to work in new ways. E.g. use dark swarm to protect your zerglings, or an arbiter's cloaking field to hide zealots and dragoons. The zergling, zealot and marine remain useful units all through the game, and the units that are effective against them tend to be inflexible, high-risk units, like the reaver, lurker, high templar or siege tank.
  • Replay system
    Watching the games you've played helps you to see what you did right and what you did wrong. It also lets you see what your opponent was up to.
  • "Did you know?" tips
    There's lots of advanced controls (select all units of a type on the screen, command groups, order hotkeys, order queues, rally points, etc...) that only make sense once you've been playing for a while, and it's useful to inform a new player about these slowly over time, rather than expect hir to read and re-read the manual.
  • Custom game types
    Greed, Slaughter, Sudden Death, Team Melee and of course Use Map Settings game types all provided distinct play experiences.
  • Effects of armour-type and of terrain
    Units are categorised by size, and certain attacks do more damage to large or small units. Units attacking from low to high ground have a chance to miss their target, as do units attacking into forested areas. These are fairly simple rules, so they're (relatively) easy to understand, but they provide a situation where you gain tactical advantage by ensuring that as many as possible of your combatants are engaging the foes they have the greatest advantage over, even if they are inferior overall.

Bad stuff:
  • Messages are not prioritised
    You'll get a "we're under attack!" message followed by a "new worker" message and when you press space you see your new worker while the enemy continues to attack you. Similarly, the "new worker" and "new research" messages don't hang around while you're busy fighting, so they're easy to forget about.
  • Buggy replay system
    Even with the latest patch, replays still desynch in long games with several players. This is almost certainly because it was a late addition that only appeared in a patch, and was never designed-in from the start. Replays don't work at all in "Team Melee" mode.
  • Free for all is too random
    This is a general problem in all games that support a free-for-all mode. Yet there are lots of free-for-all board games that don't suffer from the same problem. I believe the problem to be a combination of fog-of-war and the number of players. Players are largely ignorant of the other power-struggles going on between their opponents, and many a game is decided simply by which player is lucky enough not to be bothered by hir neighbours.
  • No multiplayer tutorial
    It's really difficult to get new players up to speed without making them play many hours worth of campaign missions (where they learn skills that are of limited application in multiplayer) unless they're willing to flounder for many games learning everything the hard way. It would have been immensely valuable to have an option for an adviser that points out useful things you can currently do, and warns you when you're playing in a very unorthodox manner. (E.g. "You really could do with some more workers." "Your army is very vulnerable to air units." "Right now you should think about building another barracks or a factory." "Your opponent is attacking you with cloaked units - you should use a comsat sweep.")
  • Limited multiplayer communication
    This was partially rectified in WCIII with being able to "ping" a location on your allies' mini-maps. Basically communication with your allies is limited to what you can frantically type in, generally consuming far too much time compared to the other things you could be doing. Either voice communication, or something like the communication menus from Natural Selection would have been handy.
  • Limited multiplayer cooperation
    You couldn't share units. You couldn't share resources. You could only share vision.
  • Fiddly special abilities
    Certain special abilities, like "lock-down", "spawn broodlings", "feedback" and "optic flare" were far too difficult to target in battles, because they only affected one unit, and the time needed to select your unit, select the ability and choose a target made it take too long to use them much. (Under certain circumstances you can use the "command cloning" trick to use these abilities to devastating effect, but really only in big games with many players.) Auto-casting (where cheap abilities are used automatically) and cycle-casting (where only one of the selected units uses the specified ability each time you issue an order) are good fixes for this problem.
  • Hidden unit stats
    Damage type and unit size are hidden from the player, and only to be found by reading online guides. Thus the unit stats given in the game can be unhelpful or even misleading. Firebats look amazing doing 16 damage compared to a marine's 6, but those firebats do 16 damage only to small opponents, managing a mere 8 damage to medium opponents and a pitiful 4 damage to large opponents. They're barely able to scratch an ultralisk. A player cannot make good tactical decisions based on the statistics presented to hir.


Weeble.
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Sick-Boy



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 7
Location: Bath



PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Weeble wrote:
Free for all is too random
This is a general problem in all games that support a free-for-all mode. Yet there are lots of free-for-all board games that don't suffer from the same problem. I believe the problem to be a combination of fog-of-war and the number of players. Players are largely ignorant of the other power-struggles going on between their opponents, and many a game is decided simply by which player is lucky enough not to be bothered by hir neighbours.


The thing with fog of war is that its often based just on what your units can see. It doesn't take massive firefights outside your visiual range into account. It would be interesting if units could give away their position when firing or smoke rising over the horizon from destroyed units that sort of thing, at the very least something like "you've detected a firefight going on over there".

Also considering sound could be interesting, tanks and planes make a lot of noise, while infantry doesn't so while you can hear tanks coming infantry can get alot closer. So moving tanks would reveal themselves in the fog of war, prehaps as some sort of disturbance.

I always thought it would be more interesting in C&C if infantry hadn't shown up on the radar (I think they did, it was a long time ago...)
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Poo Bear
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good points.

Although I think TA is a technically better RTS from a pure battle point of view, I played Starscraft and the Broodwars expansion fairly solidly for about 18months and consider it one of my favourite games of all time. The richer story, more interesting units and characters made it a more immersive experience for me.

However, being a lazy gamer (as I suspect most are) I was never aware of the effects of armour/terrain or hidden unit stats. Perhaps I can blame my poor internet experience on this fact. Although I enjoyed many many LAN games, whenever I played online I would invariably get my *** handed to me. I suspect the bigger issue is that without special coaching (i.e. your multiplayer tutorial idea) you naturally (lazily?) discover a few obvious strategies that work in the single player game and with your regular LAN buddies. Then you go online and get destroyed by someone who has put int he effort to research those killer unit combos and strategies, which can pretty much instantly put people off.
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Poo Bear
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never liked the "fog of war" that blacks out the entire map, forced exploration to work out where the enemy is located is fair enough but having to blindly wander around just to work out the lie of the land is daft. Kind of makes sense in resource based construction RTS's, the bold player can stumble across more resources. As Battlescape is a pure battle game I think it makes a lot more sense to be able to see the whole map and immediately start making decisions about where to disperse units, good defensive positions and cover.

The aspect of "fog of war" or "line of sight" (although it isn't always technically a line of sight) that means you cannot see the enemy unless your units can is good. Although I think a lot of games artificially shrink this distance.

I like the idea of putting units on hills and getting a greatly expanded realistically long view of the surrounding lowlands.

Or using radar towers to show radar blips only at long range, so you know something is there and roughly how many units but you cannot actually see them yet.

I really like Sick-Boy's idea of making smoke rise from wrecks and then letting that be visible from a very long distance.
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icarus
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Joined: 01 Mar 2004

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2004 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

you forgot the worst thing about sc
the scrimish vs cpu is to hard and the only tactic it uses is rush in the first 5 munnets
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Weeble
Starscape Jedi
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Joined: 25 Apr 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2004 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's not entirely true. In Brood War, the zerg computer either attacks very early (6 zerglings) or very late (zerglings, hydralisks and lurkers). The other races tend to attack at a perfectly reasonable time with a control group or two of basic units. True, the AI doesn't hide in its base until it has climbed to the top of the tech tree, but that's a poor strategy anyway. None of the AI build orders are very efficient, and it's always possible to build more units faster than the computer.

If you're playing "melee" against more than 2 computer opponents, then you will find it hard, because they will all be in a team against you. Either play with less opponents or play "free-for-all", in which the computer players fight with each other as well as you.
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Rainfall



Joined: 27 Jul 2004
Posts: 1
Location: Quebec, Canada



PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2004 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, first post by me. Yay!

Do you know why Starcraft has such a huge following, made loads of money and is going to have a spinoff on consoles soon?

Granted, the game is loads of fun, but many RTS are also very good in the gameplay department, personnaly I prefer Age of Empires. BUT

SC has badass space marines in power armor.

SC has the very horrible Zerg, who make Aliens look cute by comparison.

SC has the Protoss, with way cool technology straight out from Star Wars, psy powers and a samurai code of honor.

SC has Kerrigan, Raynor, Edmund Duke and a whole interseting cast of characters who serve as an emotional connection between the players and all those little units you send to their death to weaken your opponent's defenses.

SC has personnality. I think the Starcraft story isn't necessary to enjoy the game, but it does add a lot to it. I think it's pretty cool.
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BluePhoenix



Joined: 08 Jun 2004
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Location: Between Georgia and Cuba



PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think on of the biggest problem with StarCraft is that the races aren't quite balanced. The Zerg and the Protoss are, the Terran and the Protoss are, but the Terran and the Zerg are not. In reality the Zerg a at a terrible disadvantiage in the mid to late part of the game against the terrans. Between the Sci Vessels and the Seige tanks, the Zerg don't have much of a chance.

Part of the trouble was that to win with the Zerg you need incredibly vast numbers. Sadly, the unit selection interface wasn't designed to handle the number of unit needed by the zerg.
The terran and Protoss could manage to get by with unit groups of 12, or less. The Zerg needed to use Groups of 24 or more to win.
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icarus
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Joined: 01 Mar 2004

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rainfall wrote:

SC has badass space marines in power armor.


thay arent badas just overley gung ho and aggresive which is the oppasit of badas and thay dount ware power armor but thay are made or high tech crematic composit fully seeled for vacum and have nbc and air recykleing capabilatys

BluePhoenix wrote:

I think on of the biggest problem with StarCraft is that the races aren't quite balanced. The Zerg and the Protoss are, the Terran and the Protoss are, but the Terran and the Zerg are not. In reality the Zerg a at a terrible disadvantiage in the mid to late part of the game against the terrans. Between the Sci Vessels and the Seige tanks, the Zerg don't have much of a chance.


its saposted to be like that the 3 races are aranged in a rock papper cisors
formation

zerg have an unfair advanteg aggenst the protos
protos have a unfair advantige agenst the trarins
and terrins have an unfair advanteg
aggenst the zerg
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Weeble
Starscape Jedi
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Joined: 25 Apr 2003
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

icarus wrote:
zerg have an unfair advanteg aggenst the protos
protos have a unfair advantige agenst the trarins
and terrins have an unfair advanteg
aggenst the zerg

I've heard this stated a lot (and in either direction) but I don't think it's true. What leads you to believe that the Zerg both have and are intended to have an advantage against the Protoss? Every race has certain units or abilities that or more or less important depending on which race your opponent is. For example Terrans find lock-down worthless against Zerg, but irradiate become exceptionally good. Zerg will find queens with spawn broodling can only affect a very limited number of Protoss units, but at the same time parasite cannot be removed by the Protoss, and is particularly good on their expensive, long-lived units.

While I will concede that it appears to be true that Terrans have a slight advantage over Zerg (on most, but not all maps) I see no evidence that it was by design. In fact I see that Blizzard has spent a great deal of effort trying to make all the races as balanced against each other as is possible.
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icarus
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well if you studdy the story you find that the only thing that could beet the protos wer the zerg and the prtos can anilate the terins very easly and it tolk a joint effort between the tearins and protos to destroy the overmind
but the zerg did a good job of overwhelming the tearins at the start of the game so story wise the zerg kick a$$ but gameplaywise thay are pritty much balenst
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Dunbar



Joined: 22 Sep 2003
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2004 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Starcraft not balanced? With the BW expansion, it is the most balanced RTS out there. I haven't followed the most recent patches to starcraft, but the balance of power has always been pretty even. Different races had different advantages at different times...muta rushes, reaver drops, etc. But Blizzard has consistantly worked at the game to make it more balanced.

It was never intended to be rock paper scissors. The idea was always to have the three races be very different yet evenly matched, a feat that has never before (or since) been duplicated.

There is a reason that starcraft is the game that is played by the professional gaming league in Korea...it is, quite simply, the best of the genre. Not that the other games that have been mentioned aren't good games or aren't fun games, but as far as depth of strategy and balance starcraft is the top of the heap.

The biggest problem all RTS's have is in preparing players for multplayer play. The single player game does not do this; in fact, it encourages a style of play that is doomed in a multiplayer setting. You are encouraged to turtle in, build up an army, and then strike your opponent.

In this respect, multiplayer starcraft games played against the computer actually help a bit. Rushing is a big part of the game, as it should be. Rushing keeps your opponent honest, keeps him from teching up and getting an advantage. Defending against a rush is the first thing people new to the multiplayer RTS environment need to learn, and if you can defend against a couple of computer opponents then you stand a chance against opponents on-line. The best part is the computer plays fair (no unlimited resources or anything). True it is impossibly effecient...but that helps to make up for its lackluster AI.

But in the end no computer opponent can prepare you for an actual person. But that is why there are websites where you can learn to play better by reading about other people's strategies and adopting and using them. This is perfectly reasonable...chess is probably the oldest and most well-known strategy game, and those who are really good at it have gotten that way by studying the moves and strategies by those who play or have played it well. Just as anyone who plays on-line RTS games has access to websites where they can read up and improve their game.

As for those who are lazy gamers...expect to be destroyed by people who are not =) I don't mean this in a harsh way...I played chess for a while in high school. Against some of my friends I could hold my own. Against someone who competes in tournaments, I got totally owned. I wasn't upset though...he plays chess seriously, knows various openings and counters, whereas I just know how the pieces move lol. That's why I think one of the best developments for RTS's is present in Warcraft III, where it ranks players so they can play against people of similar skill levels. This is likely not possible for battlescape, however.
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Dunbar



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2004 1:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd just like to add that I'm not sure how much we can compare Battlescape to other RTS games. Other RTS games feature buildings that create units and resources that must be gathered and protected. Battlescape just gives you a set number of units and you fight it out.

One big difference is there is really no such thing as rushing.

If terrain is a big factor (and it should be), I can see battles turning into stalemates where both sides seek higher ground and are unwilling to attack the other side at a disadvantage.

In RTS games, you can defeat an opponent by taking out his army or by taking out his base and thus hurting his supply lines. In battlescape, your only choice is to take out your opponent's units.

Frankly, I think straight up skirmishes in Battlescape won't work really well. Generally attackers are at a disadvantage; since neither side wants to attack (since it's impossible to have superior forces and reinforcements), it may bog down into a stalemate too often. In other RTS games, being agressive means you can disrupt your opponent's economy or acquire more resources to bolster your own. Either one gives you an economic advantage that can offset greater battlefield losses. I see no such reward for agressiveness in Battlescape.

A better way to go would be themed maps, where both sides attempt to achieve an objective...retrieve an item (rare mineral, wreckage of a vehicle, whatever) and return to base. Or have one side be defenders and the other attackers...the attackers get more to spend on units and have to take the defender's position, and the defenders just have to hold the attackers off for a set length of time. I see these types of maps offering a better future for battlescape than the straight-up fights to the death you have in other RTS games, given the more restricted nature of Battlescape.
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Weeble
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2004 1:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with the game types there. Variety is key. I'm sure you could make something equivalent to "Assault" in Unreal Tournament - not only do you have an attacker and a defender, but the defenders have a number of positions to fall back to. Since you won't have respawning units, the key will be to have static or slow moving units at various emplacements, so the defender has to make decisions about whether to retreat a given unit to the next group of defenders, or have it valiantly hold off the enemy for a few moments more. You can have "King of the Hill" style games, but you'll probably want multiple or moving hills, otherwise the only strategy will be to rush to the hill and set up in defence. You can do "Assassination" missions like in Counterstrike or TFC - one player has to protect a special unit and get it from one side of the map to the other.
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Blood Viper998



Joined: 04 Aug 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2004 2:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BluePhoenix wrote:
Part of the trouble was that to win with the Zerg you need incredibly vast numbers. Sadly, the unit selection interface wasn't designed to handle the number of unit needed by the zerg.
The terran and Protoss could manage to get by with unit groups of 12, or less. The Zerg needed to use Groups of 24 or more to win.


i happen to know alot about the Zerg, they are my favorite race in SC, and i know how to get those "Groups of 24 or more" you have to produce a buch of units, click and drag around as many as you can, (this will select 12) assign them to group 1,2,3, ect. and move them away. (repeat untill all units are grouped)

When they are all grouped, press the first group # and click where you want them to go, then do it again with the next, and the next, and the next, untill they all have the order to go there, and keep doing that untill they reach the enemy
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