Semi-automated Starcraft

| Monday, March 18, 2013
Let's all recognize this as a safe space where we can all say that we're bad at Starcraft without fear of shame.  What's a noob to do?

In general, there are three aspects: economics, tactics, and strategy.  Economics involves securing bases, bringing in resources, and spending those resources in a timely manner for new units and upgrades.  Logistics wins wars.  On the tactical level, you want to manage the precise positioning of units, unit-specific abilities, movement, and precise timing.  And last, but should have probably been first, there is the strategy: when you're going to attack, what units you plan to use, where you're going to attack and where you're going to expand.

At the very least, you need strategy and economics or you're going to have no army and no ability to use it.  Tactics cannot fix a bad strategy or economy, though bad enough tactics can ruin even an otherwise good game.  Some people can manage all three.  Some people can barely manage one.  I can do two at a time, but at almost any time, one of them is being neglected.  The result is that players like me tend to lose a lot.  It's not much fun.

Of course practice would help.  I could play a few games focusing only on one aspect, get that embedded, and move on to the next.  If I had all the time in the world then that might be just fine, but without it, those "training games" are really just me getting my ass kicked.  The frustration and time wasted outweighs the learning.

Automation could help with this.  Allow the player to hand off to the AI a particular aspect of the game.  Such games would be considered distinct game modes, so that all players in a match are using the AI for the same aspect.  For example, in a game where the AI is set to manage the economics, you could tell the AI to keep a certain number of units built at all times and learn upgrades in a certain order as resources are available, allowing you as the player to focus on expanding and tactics.

This would allow players to focus on either their strengths, offloading their weakest skill to the AI, or their weaknesses, giving them the mental space to focus and learn.


Kring said...

Sounds like BigWigs for Starcraft.

As soon as that's in the game they will just make it even more complicated to compensate and average player will struggle more. :)

Klepsacovic said...

Since the regular mode of play would still exist, they would have limits on how much complexity they could add. Contrast that with the "we can assume people are using the addon" situation in WoW.

Nobody said...

i like football and baseball. i even played a little as an amateur. i still sometimes play catch with the kids. but i won't be getting any calls from the NFL or MLB and i'm ok with that. i'm no uncle rico. starcraft(2) multiplayer is for pros. IMHO, of course. and i'm ok with that.

Klepsacovic said...

That's a problem if people think multiplayer is only for pros. It means less fun for casual players. It means less interest for the pros, maybe even no pros.

Nobody said...

don't you think it was designed for pros, with esports in mind?

in related news, have you tried the arcade? i've had lots of fun in sqaudron tower defense. it's multiplayer and doesn't require near the skill level or amount of multitasking.

Klepsacovic said...

Certainly it has esports in mind, but esports are nothing without a fan base and those fans are most likely going to be other players. Without fans, and therefore without advertising and sponsors, the professional players are just people who play videogames too much.

I've not tried to arcade. I may check it out.

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