By: Trevor Shanahan

 

Blizzard’s Battle.net has recently been tweaking and monitoring their beta for the third installment of Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void.  As mentioned in their blog posts since beta launch, they are deviating from the textbook/stereotypical game development approach.  The umbrella concept is that past betas see value reductions to unit capabilities and stats or the outright omission of gameplay elements to reach their desired degree of homeostasis for launch.  Now, instead of debuffs to unit capabilities or values we see lateral tweaks (changing an attack upgrade into a health one) and opposing unit buffing (if the new Lurker unit is ripping up Protoss ground forces, the Protoss will receive a boost instead of nerfing the Lurker).

starcraft 2 pic 2starcraft 2 pic 3

The returning Zerg Lurker unit and the new Terran Herc unit.

 

I have been fortunate in my life to have been a part of a few alpha and beta game access tests.  I can attest to seeing damage on weapons reduced, range of abilities limited, cooldowns increased, and so on.  I understand why it is done this way; it is easier to reduce a value that when isolated seems to create an imbalance – like reducing an automatic weapon’s damage to ensure other weapons are equally viable.  What if instead of reducing the automatic weapon’s damage, we increase the damage of a semi-automatic weapon?  Instead of posting speed limits we are posting base speed requirements (ever been to the Autobahn?).

 

Worth noting is that this approach works synergistically with the changes Blizzard announced last November at Blizzcon.  Legacy of the Void will see an increase to the starting number of worker units at a base and a reduction in resources per resource node.  It is Blizzard’s hope this will get base economies moving quicker and force aggression via base expansion.  In the most recent beta patch notes, Starcraft 2 developers note that many of the unit stat and ability augments are to empower early-game skirmishing, unit viability, and late-game relevance.

starcraft 2 pic 4

New Protoss Disruptor unit.

 

This unique approach to quality assurance testing and a broadening of the base game via new multiplayer modes and single player features could make this the strongest entry into the series to date.  As the original Starcraft evolved natural selection fought those that didn’t adapt to the popular competitive head-to-head and team play – this made for a strong and dedicated group of talented fans but limited demographic reach.  The chance for this title to reach farther and deeper than Blizzard’s previous RTS (real time strategy) titles is there.  i am excited to see how this pans out.

 

About the blogger

ccccccMy name is Trevor Shanahan and I am finishing my undergraduate degree in Marketing with a minor in Media Studies.  I am interested in video games and everything they touch (their industry, development, games as art, psychology of games – like gamification, industry issues, cutlure, etc.).  I have come to realize that the more I learn ( and learning is so important) the more I do not know.  Learn as much as you can about what you love and   try to give back to it.