Blizzard Is Quietly Making Huge Changes To StarCraft II

Illustration for article titled Blizzard Is Quietly Making Huge Changes To iStarCraft II/i

Did you know that Blizzard is playing around with totally removing the major macro mechanics from StarCraft II? And that future multiplayer matches might no longer feature Chrono Boost, MULEs, or manual Larva Spawn?

Advertisement

Since StarCraft II first came out way back in 2010, all three races have had specific macro abilities that players have to juggle in order to maximize their chances of winning. Terran can summon the speedy mineral-gathering MULEs; Zerg can use queens to pump more larva out of their hatcheries; and Protoss can speed up time on their buildings to research abilities or summon warriors more quickly.

Over the past five years, serious StarCraft players have grown very familiar with these mechanics—so it comes as a serious shock to see Blizzard consider removing them. The developers of StarCraft have been fooling around with all sorts of drastic changes to their formula since the Legacy of the Void beta launched earlier this year, and on July 31, Blizzard’s David Kim announced that they were looking at overhauling macro mechanics, too.

Advertisement

Wrote Kim on the Battle.net forums:

Macro mechanics are something we’ve absolutely seen the community discuss in the past. With Legacy of the Void becoming more difficult to play due to our main goals - more action, micro on both sides during engagements, less downtime, etc. - we have been exploring areas that we can make easier. For these, we’re trying to locate areas that are difficult to manage but aren’t really easily noticeable. For example, as a player doing larva inject, it’s somewhat difficult for me to tell how well I’m doing in a given game. Further, my opponent really has no idea how well I’m doing it either. In esports matches, this is also something that viewers can’t tell either. Because macro mechanics are an area that’s difficult to do, and not many people can really tell how well someone is doing it, we’ve been exploring potentially cutting them or making them less important.

Currently, we’re looking at two options here.

Option 1:

  • Spawn larva is autocast by default, but spawn only 3 larva.
  • Mule efficiency is nerfed by 20% or so.
  • Chrono boost cost increased to 50, and efficiency not quite doubled.

The thought here is that because efficiency is nerfed overall, it’s not as big of a deal to not do these mechanics spot on all the time.

Option 2:

  • Cut chrono
  • Cut mule
  • Spawn larva is autocast by default, but spawn only 2 larva

The thought here is just do away with these added clicks, we do lose a little bit of strategy and decision making but we wonder if that’s ok, and have a clean version where players don’t need to do the extra clicks.

With that said, keep in mind neither of these versions are final, they’re just one of two potential directions we can go in this area.

Today on their Gamescom stream, Kim said they’d be doing this macro overhaul when they launch the next beta patch, and it’ll be fascinating to see how this alters StarCraft II’s flow—economies will be slower, but less-skilled players won’t have to worry too much that they’re forgetting to keep up their macro.

This could very well turn out to be a horrible idea, but hey, I’ve gotta give kudos to Blizzard for being so willing to make huge changes in hopes of improving one of their best games.

Advertisement

You can reach the author of this post at jason@kotaku.com or on Twitter at @jasonschreier.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

I honestly understand it. The weird thing about SC2 that makes it so impenetrable to so many people is you can be losing a game and not even know it. Hit your population cap? You’ve lost advantage on timing. Missed a spawn larva timing? Your army is now smaller. Let your base energy cap? Too bad, now your base isn’t producing resources. You make a few simple mistakes and your first engagement sees your opponent’s army twice as big as yours. For new players, or heck, for players who aren’t living and breathing Starcraft/SC2, the sheer number of plates you’re spinning can feel insurmountable. And at the end of the day Blizz is a business, they want people to keep playing and enjoying content (so they can keep paying for it).

I mean, as it stands, the advice most often given to new players is getting their initial timing down on building—not what people consider the ‘fun stuff’ (unit engagements) but really nailing down proper worker macro and timings. And it turns a lot of people off. Still, a small part of me wonders if it should be changed: Starcraft’s pacing and complexity is part of what makes it interesting competitively. I don’t know if giving that up is really going to attract all that many more people to the multiplayer.