SC2 Forebodes D3 Doom + Bashiok’s Rebuttal


A notoriously cynical Blizzard fan by the name of Clan-Iraq has posted a veritable guest article of criticisms of Starcraft 2 and Battle.net. His comments are worth a read, especially since Bashiok has contributed a point by point rebuttal. The exchange is quoted below, with the OP quoted entirely below the break, since Bashiok parsed it up a bit in his reply.

Oh Clan-Iraq… you say things that are so Clan-Iraq.

This should probably be in the SC2 forums, but… eh… here ya go! Me shouting down your hyperbole once again.

1) No LAN Support
Bashiok: Correct.

2) No chat rooms
Bashiok: There will be chat rooms, they’re just not making launch. Probably.

[ed] So Frank was out for interviews in EU it seems (?) and said something to the effect of “no chat rooms” but there would be chat for guilds and groups. Which is more or less what was said before. That it would be more about getting people into focused discussions instead of just having free for all chat systems. In any case, I don’t know a lot about it. Personally, chat rooms are soooooo 2002.

3) Paid DLC
It seems that maps and “expansion packs that are really part of the base game” are bumping the total price of SC2 to over $100 quite easily. I have no plans to buy the game, but I find that a little alarming. I hate to imagine how much D3 will cost in total- combined with the next factor:

Bashiok: Alarming! How much was Lord of Destruction? Expansion packs are sold for skrilla.

If, however, you want to argue that StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty is not a full sized and full-featured stand-alone release then… well you’re not going to buy it anyway so …

4) Pay-to-play
It has turned out that SC2 is indeed Pay-to-Play, despite all the promises we’ve had otherwise, in regions outside of the US. For example, Russian and South American players must subscribe to battle.net and get a set amount of “game hours” that expire and need to be renewed. Will such a system exist for D3?

Bashiok: We tailor our business models for each country/region based on many factors. Here in the US I can walk into a game store, buy a boxed product for about $60, take it home, and I generally expect that to include free multiplayer (unless I know it’s a subscription MMO or whatever). That’s not something you can do in all other countries, most don’t have game stores, and so it’s not something they generally work with. The exact same tailoring has been used for World of Warcraft.

5) Region Locking
Bashiok: Here’s the last thing that was said on region locking (this was Sigaty btw):

Q: How far in the ‘long term’ are those plans which allow for swapping to U.S. servers on an E.U. account – or a global account?
A: Jumping to the region you want is definitely in the long term plan for Battle.net, although we do have some concerns about communicating properly to the player what’s happening if they choose this because it WILL affect the latency of the game. As far as a date on when, I don’t have one yet. There are a number of features that we want to make sure get out their first and jumping to different servers is lower on the priority list at the moment.

6) Statistical Balance Design
The developers for SC2 have been strictly using a statistical approach to balancing their game, ignoring player feedback and instead using only data harvested from the beta gameplay to balance their units.

Bashiok: Hahaha. You’re hilarious. We all play. All the designers and developers play. Some on semi-pro levels. We’re in contact with many pro players, our friends and family that are playing, we read the forums, we read fansites, etc. etc. What I see as the main issue here is that a lot of the time people want balance changes based on flavor of the minute strategies without understanding that it’s constantly evolving. So much so that from day to day the matchups could change dramatically.

Not seeing the balance changes you think should be made implemented is not the same as us ignoring the community and making arbitrary changes based on nothing but statistics. They’re definitely a tool, but by no means are the sole or even biggest factor for balance changes.

7) Privacy Issues
Like Facebook and Google, Blizzard has been suffering its own acute privacy debacle- email addresses have been leaked

Bashiok: Well now you’re just making stuff up.

and SC2 requires questionable privacy details with an unsafe EULA- being able to share details like your Facebook account, and not allowing you to ‘friend’ users unless you’re willing to show them your “Real Name” and Facebook, etc. I hate to imagine this spilling over to D3
Bashiok: Everything stated here is vaguely incorrect to flat out wrong. You can add people to your friends list without being a RealID friend with them. The choice to ask for friend invites with Facebook friends is your choice. I don’t even know what ‘questionable privacy details with an unsafe EULA’ is supposed to mean, but it SOUNDS like I should be pretty scared now.

8) Complete Lack of Innovation
Bashiok: Well that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

Seriously though, game play first. We’re not going to try all sorts of crazy things just to try to be different. Our interest is in putting out a fun game, not one that exists to try out unproven mechanics, or push graphics/computing boundaries. This has been a fairly regular trait amongst Blizzard games.

9) The switch to voice chat is horrendous. It leaves nothing to the imagination and makes you hate the people your playing with because of their ridiculous voices/accents (they all sound the same) and the breathing noises. Voice chat is horrible. I haven’t played bnet voichat but every other voicechat i’ve ever played, counterstrike, xbx, ps3 is horrendous.

Bashiok: ??? You can chat in-game through text, same as always. If you want though:

Menu -> Options -> Voice -> Uncheck “Enable Voice Chat”

Then there’s no chance you’ll ever hear anyone. But it’s a great tool for quick communication between teammates if you have a regular two’s partner. Or whatever.

Click through for the OP, quoted in full:

There are several rather controversial omissions from SC2 that I’m afraid might rub off onto D3. Have we heard anything on these factors?:

1) No LAN Support
LAN wasn’t ever big in D2. Nobody really used it. But it was still possible, which could be nice on the odd occasion, though tbh its one feature we could do without- even when my friends were in the same building as me, we’d use battle.net. This isn’t the same as SC2, where LAN was pretty vital.

2) No chat rooms
The battle.net functionality for SC2 is completely missing chat rooms, which were often one of the highlights of battle.net in the first place- there are bots and clients that would connect for the sole purpose of these. They though have been downplayed in part by external communities like D2JSP, they are still crucial- it provides more ‘life’ to the game, ease of getting questions answered, quick transfer of new ideas and information. Just look at the D2 chat channels during any reset or outage.

3) Paid DLC
It seems that maps and “expansion packs that are really part of the base game” are bumping the total price of SC2 to over $100 quite easily. I have no plans to buy the game, but I find that a little alarming. I hate to imagine how much D3 will cost in total- combined with the next factor:

4) Pay-to-play
It has turned out that SC2 is indeed Pay-to-Play, despite all the promises we’ve had otherwise, in regions outside of the US. For example, Russian and South American players must subscribe to battle.net and get a set amount of “game hours” that expire and need to be renewed. Will such a system exist for D3?

5) Region Locking
Players who do not live in the same regions cannot play with each other. On Diablo 2, you could select one of the four primary servers- USEast, USWest, Europe, Asia (and subasians). In SC2, you are not given these options- you are locked into the region you bought the game at, and in order to play with people on other regions, you need to buy the game again.

6) Statistical Balance Design
The developers for SC2 have been strictly using a statistical approach to balancing their game, ignoring player feedback and instead using only data harvested from the beta gameplay to balance their units. As a result, many fallacies occur and many good ideas are not heeded. For example, a “Terran vs Protoss” match might have a 50% win rate in either direction, but in reality the terrans are winning 70% of the time in the first 5 minutes, and the protoss 70% of the time after those 5 minutes, due to a ‘cheese rush’ strategy that is becoming far too popular- and as a result this problem never gets looked at. If D3 does indeed have an open beta, I would be afraid that Blizzard developers would fall into this same faulty archetype- a failure of game design.

7) Privacy Issues
Like Facebook and Google, Blizzard has been suffering its own acute privacy debacle- email addresses have been leaked and SC2 requires questionable privacy details with an unsafe EULA- being able to share details like your Facebook account, and not allowing you to ‘friend’ users unless you’re willing to show them your “Real Name” and Facebook, etc. I hate to imagine this spilling over to D3

8) Complete Lack of Innovation
To quote Dustin Browder, “We’re not trying to be innovative”
The problem here is that Innovation is as crucial to game design as making a building stand up is to building design. Innovation is the lifeblood of game design, and the SC2 team intentionally avoided innovation- “We’re not trying to change for change’s sake”. Which was in essence synonymous with saying “We’re trying to sell you something you already own”. Now, Diablo 2 was a wonderful game, but over the past decade I’ve played it to death. I won’t be paying $60 to play it again. Thankfully, Diablo 3 so far looks to excel in this category. The character skill designs are great- but Blizzard seems to be innovating by introducing at least one major game mechanic in terms of skill runes- offering a whole new vector to the “Skill / Item / Stat” design of D2. I just hope that innovation in D3 doesn’t take a back seat as it did in D2.

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