Posts tagged Starcraft II
Hot off the presses, we have a hot new Squatchast for you! In this episode, Nick, Spencer, and Aaron discuss Nintendo’s recent move to monetize Let’s Play videos containing content from their games, and speculate on the impact this will have on the industry as a whole. It’s our fastest and most topical Squatchcast ever!
Do you think we’re overreacting, or does this new trend really spell doom for the Big Three? Let us know in the comments! And as usual, subscribe or give us a review on iTunes, and like or follow us on your favorite social network.
At Silicon Sasquatch, one of our strengths — yes, we do have strengths — is our diversity of taste. Doug loves games where you drive a car in circles for hours, which Aaron will find baffling; surely his period-piece mafia adventure is a lot more fun. And both of them will think I’m absolutely out of my mind when I tell them I spent most of my free time this week hollowing out an entire mountain because, um, that’s just what I wanted to do.
So that’s what we’re focusing on this week: the things that make each of us special.
Do not be afraid by the stark plainness of this post. Refuse to cower at the wall of text following this introduction. Most of all, please understand that this boring backlog article is in such a state for good reason.
A BEACH TRIP!
That’s right: Nick, Doug and myself are travelling to the Oregon coast this weekend, and we don’t have time for such crazy frivolities as “graphics” and “pleasant visual design.” But don’t presume our adventure is only for the pursuit of wacky fun and wild games (and drinking); No, we will be working on our book. There’s a lot to do to for that project, because publishin’ ain’t easy, as Big Daddy Hearst once said.
Editor’s note: We’re happy to present the first-ever contribution from long-time site reader James Heinichen. When it comes to StarCraft, there’s nobody who I’d trust more than James. Enjoy the review! — Nick
Hello, I’m James Heinichen and I thought that you might want to hear about StarCraft II! If you’re interested at all in any of the following you should read this review: Blizzard, real-time strategy (RTS) games, StarCraft, Jim Raynor fan-fic, cigars (oh yes, there are plenty).
Twelve years after StarCraft first revolutionized the RTS genre, Blizzard has released the long-awaited sequel. As a die-hard StarCraft fan, I have anticipated this game for as long as I can remember. My expectations were high, much higher than they have been for a game in years, probably since Metal Gear Solid 3. Fortunately, they have been exceeded.
Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge backlog for everybody this week. Nick is trying to tie up loose ends before the fall games rush starts up, Doug is tearing through demos of some impending releases, and Aaron is spending time on some small game by a developer in Seattle…has something to do with Rings (maybe they’re finally doing a good Sonic game?). Oh, you mean it’s called Halo? Haven’t heard of it.
Seriously, the crew is in a verbose mood this week. Bring a drink, sit down and enjoy our wordiness. Without further ado, the backlog awaits.
The more I’ve been thinking about gameplay mechanics and how gamers interact with a variety of games, the more I’ve narrowed down video games into two overarching categories: games of skill and games of story. Regardless of genre, games of skill focus more on mastery of a game engine and its trappings, while story-focused games worry more about plot progression and crafting narrative.
Naturally, I would place most first- and third-person shooters, most sports games, racing games, and fighting games into the “skill” category, while RPGs and adventure games dominate the “story” zone. Sure, a game like Mass Effect 2 may have wonderful shooting mechanics, but the game’s focus isn’t on a combat engine that’s balanced for multiplayer, where time investment and development of skill is rewarded. Instead, it focuses on advancing a captivating story with action scenes designed to make the player feel empowered. While it may help engage the player in the conflict, it’s not the same as the combat in a balanced, multiplayer-focused shooter like Halo or Call of Duty. Even the incredibly tight combat engine in a modern Zelda title is focused on a single-player experience, as its traditional “get this new tool and make use of it in the dungeon” gameplay is designed to act as a ramp to climb throughout the duration of Link’s quest.
Conversely, your classic Street Fighter, Soul Calibur, or other fighting game may have a story mode, but it’s secondary fluff on top of the fighting engine, learning characters’ move sets, and how to become a better fighter. Racing games are the same way; simulation games like Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo are about the feeling of driving, improving yourself as a driver and mastering the physics engine at the heart of the game, not a narrative. And, of course, shooters like Halo and Call of Duty have engines that lend themselves to a level playing field for truly competitive multiplayer.
Using these different lenses, then, it’s interesting to view the changes Blizzard is making within Starcraft II to play to each of these strengths. While the multiplayer modes (as previewed during the beta period and available now with the retail release of Wings of Liberty) seemed like a graphical and game-engine evolution of the original Starcraft, the company has taken a different tack with single player. Of course multiplayer has been updated in many ways, but single player no longer contains all of the same details as multi. Some units are only available in the campaign, as is the ability to make customization choices through a branching path in the single-player mode.
While these sort of branching changes would inevitably break multiplayer — having to balance all the possibilities could be impossible, even for a company with resources like Blizzard — they help make the single-player experience a more robust and individualized process. I’ve heard on different podcasts a variety of laments for taking one upgrade choice over another: in the same way that the branching paths in the game open up unique experiences, so does having that permanent branching upgrade tree. Blizzard introduced more Terran options into the single player campaign, and once you make a decision, you have to live with it.
It may not be an analogous situation, but the new Medal of Honor game from EA is following a slightly similar tack — at the very least, the single-player and multi-player modes are being handled by two different companies within the EA hivemind; EA’s Danger Close Games in Los Angeles is crafting the single-player mode, while Battlefield series developer DICE is handling the multiplayer. This outsourced style of development may be the future of AAA games: the first Bioshock famously had segments of the game outsourced throughout the 2K studios worldwide.
However, separating the development of single-player components from multiplayer — and the admission that they take different approaches to make work — is a fascinating evolution in the history of creating video games. It’s an admission that there are different goals regarding crafting a single-player experience and a finely tuned multiplayer game that allows for competitive play. Moreover, for super-large AAA-quality games in the future where gamers demand both an engaging single-player campaign and competitive multiplayer, dividing the creation duties could become the standard development strategy.
Plenty to discuss this week — racing games, zombies, spaaaaaaaaaaace! (warning: funny, but spoilers!), and world warriors.
Oh, the world warriors!
Enough of this nonsense, on to the backlog!
Core gamers have taken up a new pastime as of late: Whining. Early and often.
Starcraft II won’t allow LAN play? Lord almighty! Modern Warfare 2 on PC moves away from dedicated servers and costs $10 more as well? Goodness gracious! Left 4 Dead 2 is coming out sooner than Valve fans want it to? Heavens no! Forza Motorsport 3 has content locked away behind a VIP-only velvet curtain? Oh, the humanity!
These complaints are rather justified. Game publishers and developers are making moves motivated by the bottom line, and as a result they begin to strip content and features away from gamers grown accustomed to these luxuries. Getting consumers to pay more for less is smart business, but bad for public relations. The complaints are fully warranted.
But the problem I see is that it is nothing but complaints as of right now.
What a week it’s been. The inaugural Gamescom in Cologne, Germany opened on Wednesday and guess what: Sony kindly unveiled the new PlayStation 3 Slim. Media outlets weren’t exactly surprised by the announcement, but I think we’re all glad the rumor mill has finally ceased its incessant turning about the damn console. Looks like I finally need to go get a PS3.
Oh, and a little event in Anaheim, California called BlizzCon flung its +10 Doors of Nerd Barricading open to the (literally) unwashed masses of Blizzard fanatics today, and so far we’ve already been made privy to the next World of Warcraft expansion, a new Diablo III class and StarCraft II being confirmed for release in 2010.
You know, as a gamer I like it when these big gaming-related events run back-to-back with one another. The ESA might as well wedge E3 2010 between next year’s Gamescom and BlizzCon to mentally and physically destroy every games journalist in existence. That could be Silicon Sasquatch‘s in! (more…)
Say it ain’t so! In development years, 13 must be an unlucky number for the long-stagnant Duke Nukem Forever (DNF), as Shacknews reports today that developer 3D Realms is closing shop. It seems as if the company has finally run out of money, with the news coming ironically close to the supposed summer release of DNF–which is more than a decade after the title was first announced.
Of course, taking into consideration that DNF is a game that just won’t die, another developer might buy the development rights (as Take Two Interactive confirmed they hold the publishing rights) and finish the title. Regardless of what happens with DNF, the Duke Nukem Trilogy handheld games in development for the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP are still on, unaffected by 3D Realms’ closure.