Essentially, the goal of this post is to discuss elements of the visual space of StarCraft, as part of both games, in light of the recent gorgeous StarCrafts option coming to remastered.
Watching Starcrafts remastered as someone who's been playing SC1 and 2 for about 10 years now is much, much easier to follow, and I've played a fair bit of the SC2 Starcrafts mod as well. The amount of visual clutter it cleans up, and the extent to which it makes each unit very much its own, really helps up visual clarity.
As such, I wanted to ask a few questions about improving the visual space of Starcraft as a whole!:
1. Does it make sense to have a "StarCrafts" setting for StarCraft 2?
2. We've seen a lot of features for colorblind gaming, with both a colorblind mode and variations in colors and color intensity being applied. We've also seen cursor size become a feature, for very similar reasons. Should other features that affect visual recognition in starcraft, such as font size, minimap/money size and location, a "what is producing in my structure" icon, and others be explored? Especially given how many players learn from both replays and streams, does it make sense to allow players to do with their own UI what replays and obs do, so long as it doesn't give any new information?
3. There's two glaring examples of ideas vaguely between"visible and invisible" in starcraft, and those are stealth and nukes. Both of these are designed this way in SC1, and were implimented as such well before the idea of a competitive scene for StarCraft was an idea in anyone's head, just as the UI design had been. Does it make sense to explore changing, and potentially rebalancing, these features in StarCraft 2? In Heroes of the Storm, which uses SC2's engine, stealth was rebalanced to be very cleanly visible and distinctly stealthed, unless the stealthed unit was standing still, in which case it was completely invisible. The argument was that stealth created a faux barrier, where people who were new and with vision impairments were essentially playing a game that was designed differently than experienced people with solid eyes. In Starcraft, a new player and a pro still usually makes a supply building/unit after their first worker, but for a pro, stealth means "visible but untargettable" whereas for other players, stealth means "invisible".
Similar case for nukes, where the location of the nuke is only known if your vision is good enough. Currently, endgame TvZ is characterized in big parts by Terran's option to spam nukes. This is not bad in and of itself, but it's a terrible experience for the Zerg not because of managing split harassment, but because of not even knowing where a game ending threat is approaching from, unless they do know and are super used to scanning for dots in which case the threat becomes meaningless.
Does it make sense to rework and rebalance these features in Starcraft 2 so that they sit somewhere between visible and invisible more cleanly? Do faster, cheaper, but very visible nukes make sense as a strategic space-control/reflex test, more in line with many other SC options? Would options like hold fire ghosts/banshees make more sense if they weren't essentially visible at all times anyway? Do stealth units that get to play with being completely visible to completely invisible, such as burrowed banelings and hold position lurkers which have created many joyful moments in SC history, make sense to apply to all the dimensions of stealth units?
There's a lot to discuss in terms of how StarCraft works with the eyes, but I stand on the side of "The game should not be balanced around visual difficulty", and "the more visual options the better" pretty much overall.
I want to see what the community thinks, and if these are ideas you want explored, maybe creating a community demand for these features would help give the design team an important new direction to consider both in features and potentially in balance!
Thank you 🙂
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© Post "A Discussion About Visual Readability in StarCraft 1 and 2" for game StarCraft.
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