I am grandpa Toast and I'm going to drop some life advise on y'all jumpy lads. The hostility in this community over the past couple of days was completely unprecedented, and dare I say, uncalled for. Today, from this moment on, we're going to bury the hatchet and show one another some respect. Here's an analysis of what went wrong, the true root causes of the outburst, and how we proceed. As the young folk would say, welcome to my TED talk.
– Be nice
– Be smart
– Be compassionate
– Don't post memes.
Without further ado, the community ass-spanking of a lifetime.
Ohana means Family.
Look at the Zerg counting his wads of cash to your left. The Terran recovering from surgery to your right. The protoss over there in the corner eating glue – they are your family. Some internal competition with your siblings is healthy and good for the development of both individuals, but when you go to town on one another with Mjölnir and Excalibur it's time to intervene.
We're all fans of the same game. We all want Starcraft to be great, the community to be great, the tournaments to be great. Take a moment to apprecciate that we all have similar goals and values, and share our love for this game and community. We like quabbling over whether Serral is the greatest of all time or whether it's indisputably Maru (it's Harstem, by the way, #DecadeOfHarstem).
That is the first point I want to make. Ohana means family, and we are a family. Always remember that.
There's lies, damned lies, and statistics.
What is the problem with statistics? They can represent precisely what somebody wants them to represent. Statistics is a mighty weapon that needs to be used with care and caution.
Are 2019 statistics relevant to determine contemporary balance? Yes and no. The 2019 end-of-year balance patch represents a definite changing point. It affects the statistics and to some extend makes them void. Old data considers old patches, old unit interactions, old players, old matches, old meta. Old. But not necessarily useless. The baseline for our contemporary balance is set in the patch that precedes it. The 2019 balance patch is therefor the current "baseline". It wasn't a pretty baseline to begin with, and therein lies the problem.
As of 2020, our starting point is as follows: We come from a significantly imbalanced game state and a patch is made. The patch is generally considered to be of a fairly small magnitude. 2019 was not a good year. If you believe anything I just stated is controversial
go fuck yourself guy in the chat please let it slide for now and focus on the bigger picture.
We cannot use 2019 statistics to determine balance for 2020, but these statistics do provide us with another crucial 'input' for the current predicament. Terran and to a lesser extend Protoss come out of 12-24 months of severe under performance relative to the norm. The player base has been expressing frustration for a longer stretch of time. The 2020 patch is not responsible for that, but the 2020 patch does find itself on a very rocky foundation of an already agitated player base.
Also note that statistics will never provide a satisfactory piece of evidence in a balance discussion. They are always sandwiched between "outdated data" and "small sample size". This just leads to people talking in circles because even agreeing on the numbers to use as evidence is an impossible task. Balance in general is a fairly subjective, fluid thing. The game will never be "perfectly balanced". That shouldn't be the goal either. The goal should be to reach a state of the game where the outcome of a match is determined by player skill as much as possible, and where both players have relevant and impactful decisions to make.
The Final Drop
Many people have rightfully pointed out that the tournament statistics aren't that bad. Terran has a positive winrate against both Protoss and Zerg, the Round of 8 distribution was 2T/3Z/3P, which is as close to perfectly balanced as can be. Overall, the mood throughout the tournament was actually pretty good. Besides the Showtime-Heromarine incident (which I will come back to later in this TED talk), people were just happy to finally have Starcraft back on the menu!
But then, shit hit the proverbial fan.
The Maru/Serral showdown got double sabotaged. This was a huge blow to the tournament as a whole.est nor Rogue were underdogs in these matches. Zest had been tearing nerds apart online and Rogue is an undisputed Top 3 Zerg and has been for years. Unfortunately, the way the Serral/Maru finals was build up suggested that both Zest and Rogue 'stole' their Finals places and the method with which this happened rubbed extra salt in the wounds. To follow up on that, the finals was one of the worst ones we've seen in years (and believe me, Starcraft has seen its fair share of really bad finals).
When the IEM finals concluded we had two very large problems on our hands. The State of Starcraft first, and the Meta State of Terran secondly.
The State of Starcraft
What is extremely surprising in the current situation is that Starcraft actually is in a surprisingly good place at the moment. For the past year and a half, Blizzard's track record hasn't been exactly to write home about and we were often left wondering what the contingency plan was for Starcraft. With the confirmation of 3 more years of Starcraft under the loving care of lord and savior Apollo, Starcraft is actually in a great place.
The gameplay in the tournament, however, wasn't exactly great. Another thing that made IEM Katowice a little disappointing was the styles of play employed.
Rogue in his interview refers to Baejae-strategies. The meta in IEM Katowice was extremely aggressive to the point where a majority of the games played featured all-ins on 2-3 bases and very few players seemed comfortable going to lategame outside of the mirrors.
This is a rather worrysome trend, as Starcraft is generally considered to be at its best when macro play is the standard, and all-ins are very targeted counter-strategies. It creates excitement and a constant development of the meta due to the cat-and-mouse game assocciated with these aggressive punishing strategies.
Now, IEM Katowice is a tournament that is positioned a bit funny in the scope of things. Due to the Corona Virus (wash your hands and keyboards you filthy nerds) IEM Katowice was the first large-scale tournament since the patch well over 3 months ago. For Starcrafts standards, this is a really long time. Whilst the meta continues to develop offline and in practice, the fact that 3 months accumulated into what seemed like an already wide-spread all-in meta is a serious cause for concern, and one that Blizzard needs to take very seriously. For Katowice, this led to a number of games and series not feeling very fun to spectate (after all, many all ins tend to just kill or be killed). This disappointment in general may have a exacerbating effect on what happened the past few days.
The Meta State of Terran
You don't need me to re-hash the statistics. Throughout the tournament there wasn't much Terran to be seen. Maru barely lost out, Innovation went into Serral underprepared, Cure and TY both dropped out in the Ro24 by the skin of their teeth. HeroMarine was a split-second away from qualification. It was so fucking close, but it didn't matter. The Chosen One had fallen by the hands of Rogue and the floodgates were opened.
But to assume the root cause of all the vented frustration was in Terran missing yet another top 2 finish is missing the point severely. The root cause for Terran frustration is a feeling of disenfranchisement. For years now have Terran players been under-performing relative to what would be expected. And there really are a few problems here that I feel the need to address in depth, because I firmly believe these lay at the core of the shitstorm we find ourselves in today.
- Terran players feel like their race is difficult and weak. There are a variety of reasons for this, the micro burden that is placed on Terran, the constant pressure of the clock, and how extremely volatile Terran armies can be. This is where the Showtime/HeroMarine situation comes up: A fantastic series was ended by one Disruptor hit. To the spectator, this is a 3-action sequence from the Protoss player that can be executed in .25 seconds, but would require 10+ actions executed within a second from activation for Terran to survive. This feels unfair. Emphasis on 'feels'. Protoss has difficult things they need to do, Zerg has them too. For Terran, however, it's very easy to observe their mistakes and shortcomings because so much of the racial identity is found in the intense micro control of the Bio army. Add to that the notion that Terran is always pushing against the clock because they have a very difficult and not very strong lategame that they'd like to avoid. All this creates a perception like it's on the Terran to execute difficult control under great pressure whereas the opposing player sits back, has an easier time defending with less attention required while they sit on their buts chronobooting upgrades. This is not the case, but that's how it is perceived. This is also why it is easy to feel like Terran's get robbed or lose unfairly. Perception is a powerful thing.
- Terran has underperformed for three years. Terran players want somebody to cheer for, but they don't have them. It feels like a kick in the teeth everytime a tournament has a disappointing conclusion. You cheer for your favorite player and they get beaten by somebody who, to the untrained eye, has a much easier time. It feels unfair and unjust. And because of the incredible stretch of time it has taken (and let's be real, Terran probably should have been buffed somewhere in 2018 already) this frustration just keeps building.
- Terran players do not get taken seriously when expressing their frustrations. We've all seen the trolling and the memes. The frustration from Terran players comes to an extend from feeling unheard. A wise quote dictates: "Riots are the language of the unheard". Mill on those words for a moment. When people feel unheard and disenfranchised, their interaction on the debate becomes hostile and toxic. This is a two-way road, there is no one person to blame for this. It is the result of a community consistently being disrespectful to one another.
This ties back perfectly to the first point in this list. Terran players have for the longest time felt like the level of skill required to make their army function on a basic level is unfairly distributed when compared to the Protoss or Zerg opponents. This is a fair point of criticism to make, and has been made for years, but currentdays, it rarely leads to a decent conversation. One could ask what specific scenario's make the Terran player feel that way (e.g. Zergling runby's or Warped in Zealots). Could precautions be taken to equalize the required micro and attention? Is the current state desirable or should we be pushing for change in that department?
Remember Ohana. If we form one front and state "We think Terran micro is too hard when multiple fronts require immediate attention and would like to give Terran options to defend their bases from harassment with less micro required", it's far more likely that Blizzard can respond swiftly and satisfactory. And it is absolutely okay to disagree, but do so in a respectful manner, and take your time to explain your thoughts. We've been drilled to constantly argue in bad faith on the internet, but there's just another passionate fan on the other side of that dreaded screen, and they just want to be understood.
I hate to say it, but this really is a topic that desperately calls a very good debate.
So how do we proceed and de-escalate?
Every good TED talk ends with words of hope and an action plan, so here goes!
- Try to consider every presented viewpoint with an open mind. Consider what brought them to their conclusion, ask questions to clarify and try to come to a concensus. It is okay to disagree, but be productive about it.
- Use your downvote and upvote buttons and use them wisely. Too many times are they abused as a "DISLIKE" button nowadays, but Starcraft has the luxury of having a fairly mature audience and I think we can self-moderate decently well. Call out people who obviously argue in bad faith, are gatekeeping, stonewalling, gaslighting, and all those other fancy verbs people on politics keep using but we don't really understand what they mean.
- The moderation team should take a more aggressive approach at keeping the discussion on-topic and productive. Far too many threads are allowed to derail in a mudslinging contest and once the mudslinging gets going, the thread is effectively dead and buried. Also, it leads to general toxicity and is a direct cause for people disconnecting.
- Although difficult to execute, it might be a good idea for the moderation team to experiment with designated threads on a specific balance topic (e.g. the aforementioned unequal attention requirement). Guiding the eternal conflict in one specific direction might help keep emotions in check.
Speaking of the mod team: Ban every fucking meme on the planet and burn it in the hellfire of a thousand angry fireflies!!!
Thank you for coming to my TED talk *chuckles* and I will see you
in the Nexus on the ladder!
Source: Original link
© Post "Ohana means Family." for game StarCraft.
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