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The GAF STARCRAFT 2 BETA Final Appraisal Thread -- Hey! Blizzard! Listen! (/Navi)

GregLombardi

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Dec 5, 2008
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The Starcraft 2 Beta is ending and it’s time to gather our thoughts for Blizzard. We’re all rabid Starcraft 2 fans, but we think there could be improvements.

I wanted to start this thread for two reasons:

1. An awesome man from Blizzard by the name of Corey was nice enough to give me a very early Beta key (I was one of only 3000 people playing) when he saw my story of dismay (of not getting in) on GAF and I wanted to repay the favor;

2. I absolutely love Starcraft, and I think Starcraft 2 can be better. I, and the contributors listed below, have compiled an appraisal of Starcraft 2, and I’d love for all the Starcraft 2 fans out there on GAF to read it, and then provide their own commentary on their general feelings regarding the game.

Let’s help Blizzard make this game better by aggregating our thoughts into one place!

My Battle.Net ID:
1. Sturmlight.Yeast

Starcraft 2 Beta Appraisal Contributor IDs:
1. Apolloster.Yeast
2. Shrieve.Mpq
3. Sinheart.IcyInferno
4. Smixam.Smixam

My Starcraft 2 Beta Appraisal

DISCLAIMER: I have prepared this appraisal in accordance with my love for Starcraft, Blizzard games, and videogames in general. I make the following arguments without a clear knowledge of how Starcraft 2 has progressed behind the scenes and which changes exist which are not yet in the public beta. My beliefs are derived entirely from the beta versions of the 3 races and the game itself, so if my understanding is not broad enough on certain topics (because those issues have changed behind the scenes), please keep my limited access in mind. This preliminary appraisal addresses any and all issues which I feel could be improved in the coming weeks and months. Given that I did not play the beta hundreds or thousands of times, there may be discrepancies between these beliefs and the actual game, though they should be minor. This appraisal was put together out of love for the game, the genre, and Blizzard and does NOT comment so much on the functionality of the races and/or their units in a competitive environment as much as it addresses their utility to a specific type of player, that player being the Casual Hardcore player. I hope everyone can keep this in mind while reading!

Introduction

All of that said, as stated above, I am Sturmlight.Yeast on battle.net. I am not a pro Starcraft player nor do I intend to be [I believe pro-play takes a certain fun away from the core experience]. However, I AM what I would call a Casual Hardcore Starcraft player who will use all the tools at his disposal to NATURALLY win WITHOUT rushing. A natural win to me includes the development of buildings, units, and additional bases necessary to out-resource my opponent (in the end game, past 30 minutes of play) and to use my position to destroy all their buildings. A rush to me is unnatural, and it disturbs my perception of Starcraft. I say my perception because I recognize that to some [pros and those interested in pure games of competitive play], a rush is perfectly valid. But I believe my perception of Starcraft to be representative of a large group of players out there, and especially to be representative of the vast majority of NEW players out there. Thus, I am writing this document because I feel Blizzard will need to perform two important actions prior to or just after the release of Starcraft 2 in order to enhance the game for those with my appraisal of Starcraft 2:

1. Reassess Starcraft 2’s positioning with the Casual Hardcore.
2. Cater more to the Casual Hardcore.

Starcraft 2 is an absolutely excellent game. The complete package, even in its current form, is likely worth far more than the $100 collector’s edition price and will provide a LOT of hours of fun gameplay to many different populations of people. These populations include the Pro-Hardcore[inclined to pro play and rushing], the pure Casual [these are the people that will obsessively play the single player campaign and “use map settings” games from here until eternity], and the pure Hardcore [ those who do not have the skill to be pro yet play the game very seriously in order to improve themselves]. Each of the above genres of player will likely be 90%-100% satisfied with Starcraft 2 as an experience.

However, in their current form, the current Starcraft 2 races do not cater enough to another oft-forgotten population: the elusive Casual Hardcore players. While Blizzard has attempted to satiate the Casual Hardcore with anti-rush maps, I feel as though there are a variety of other actions that would function well to buttress their cause with such players. I will try my best to give voice to the Casual Hardcore with the following definition:

*Casual Hardcore
The Casual Hardcore players are defined, for the purposes of this appraisal, as those gamers who find games of Starcraft to be more entertaining than competitive. Specifically:

a.They are not casual in the sense that they will play a game for more than 20 minutes at a time. They are not hardcore in that they do not play a game purely for winning the game.

b.They represent a mix of the above two groups, and they are, I suspect, a large population of gamers. Casual Hardcore players play to win insofar as their skills carry them but will not focus intently on becoming perfect at the game. However, the Casual Hardcore also play the game to the limit of the game’s capacity [instead of just leaving it after getting simply a taste, as a casual player would do in most other games].

c.To this crowd, I believe, the best games of Starcraft are those that simmer for more than 30 minutes and then explode with conflict all over the place (and involve more players rather than less). These preferences exist because they generate an atmosphere in the game that feels more casual and less serious.

d.In an ideal Casual Hardcore Starcraft game, there are some skirmishes early in the game, but they are limited and do not determine the course of the game as much as they do in pro-hardcore games.

e.To the extent that a game contributes entertainment in lieu of purely competitive essence, the Casual Hardcore derive greater utility from the game.

f.If the Casual Hardcore achieve a certain level of utility from the game, they will keep returning over and over again to that game.

I believe every single person who plays games has a bit of Casual Hardcore within them. The Casual Hardcore are the people who sparked Starcraft 1’s success, and they are the ones who continue to play Warcraft III to this day, except they play it in the form of DOTA, Heroes of Newerth, and League of Legends. They also play games like Worms, Call of Duty 4, Smash Bros., and World of Warcraft. They choose to play a game because it offers utility in excess of its competitive nature, and because each instance of a game offers a different entertaining variation on the game before it. Variation in the outcome of a game across different play sessions generates cause to replay. Stagnation in outcome generates cause to stay away. In each of the above games, the different characters, abilities, and other aspects of the games maximizes the number of outcomes possible, and the Casual Hardcore love it. To the Casual Hardcore, while Starcraft 2 may be ready to be released, two of its races [Zerg and Terran] remain incomplete and unvaried enough that they may not spark continued Starcraft 2 play over time.

While it may be impossible for the official multiplayer experience of Starcraft 2 to become compelling enough to 100% satiate the Casual Hardcore in the same way World of Warcraft has (for example), it is still very much important to cater to this crowd as their support is absolutely necessary for the success of any game and for the continued growth of any game or community. If I am lucky enough to be able to capture my perception of Starcraft within this appraisal I will have achieved my goal in giving Blizzard feedback (unlikely at best). But, as unlikely as it is, I will try nonetheless.

In sum, I believe the Casual Hardcore were early adopters and trend setters for Starcraft and indeed for many of the above games, bridging the gap between the Hardcore "innovators"/"first adopters" and the Casual Majority groups. I feel that because the hardcore don't hold nearly as much of an influence over the casual majority, the Casual Hardcore's support is necessary to properly diffuse a new game (excluding Korea).
As I believe the Casual Hardcore are the ones who first discovered Starcraft and its’ untold depth as well as its’ mass appeal, we should review some of the examples in Starcraft 1 that provided massive amounts of utility to the Casual Hardcore. Only then can we begin to build context for my appraisal of the game in its public beta form, and only then can we spark a meaningful discussion of some improvements that could be made in Starcraft 2 just prior to or just after release.

1.GENERAL ASSESSMENT OF CASUAL HARDCORE PERSPECTIVE IN STARCRAFT 1 VERSUS STARCRAFT 2

There are several aspects of Starcraft 1 that I believe provided significant utility to the Casual Hardcore which I feel deserve consideration in comparison to Starcraft 2:

a. The Siege Effect and Unit Sound Synergy

In Starcraft 1, arguably one of the coolest units was the Siege Tank. Not only did we as human players most identify with the Terran, but there existed a unit in their arsenal which satiated our inner desire to destroy things. It so filled our need that entire Use Map Settings maps were built around massing Siege Tanks, and massing Siege Tanks was a legitimate strategy in multiplayer. However, the importance of the Siege Tank had absolutely nothing to do with balance in my opinion. The Siege Tank, in fact, represented an addictive mechanism for first time players that filled an inner need of the Casual Hardcore.

Why, though, did the Siege Tank fill this role so well? It is my opinion that it had everything to do with the sound of the Siege mode, as demonstrated here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nA3EU4ZcK8

The ridiculous and overbearing sound of the siege tank, coupled with the unit’s role, created synergy in the player’s control of his / her units. Not only could he/she move massive amounts of units around that could siege from far away, but they sounded cool as all hell and were the pre-cursor to that mass destruction. The Siege Tank as a unit, and with the sound of its siege mode, represented a perfect crescendo from the start of an offense or defense to its finish. The sound of the unit enhanced an experience from which the player derived immense destructive pleasure.

The more siege tanks the player had, and the more that were put into siege mode, the more echoes of the same amazing sound they heard through their speakers. There was great synergy between the function of the unit and its sound, and for the offensive Casual Hardcore player this synergy provided primal satisfaction, a feeling of power, and a fun and almost comical way to destroy. Simply put, I feel the Casual Hardcore were addicted to the siege mode and its ability, as brought about by the amplification of the sound of the siege tank, to strike fear and destruction into their opponents.

I remember sitting around for minutes at a time and just moving my Siege Tanks from siege mode to “unsieged”, and back and forth. I remember laughing hysterically when I would watch a siege performed by one of my friends on an opposing player. The synergy between the Siege Tank’s ridiculous sound and its function caused me and my friends to experience a large amount of Casual Hardcore pleasure, which inevitably brought us back to the game. If one were to examine Starcraft 1, they would see that there were actually a large amount of instances wherein sound synergy existed in a large variety of units. These instances include Scouts [the sound of the missiles firing off together gave the player comfort of destruction, as well as the echo of the Scout’s unique voice], Wraiths [same as the Scouts but in a different way with a different sound], Battle Cruisers[the laser sounds stacked in such a way that it empowered the player the more battlecruisers they had], and Zerglings [both the sounds of their attacks against structures and the sounds of their deaths empowered the player – one gave the player the feeling that they were knocking down walls and causing their enemies anguish, the other gave them the feeling that their units were infinitely expendable, a feeling which thematically connected the Zerg’s sound with their utility as a race]. For example, see this comparison of Starcraft 1 to Starcraft 2 zergling sounds on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=WfY-XrJg7tA&feature=related

While the sounds of zerg attacks and zerg deaths are clearly exaggerative in Starcraft 1, I feel as though that exaggeration creates extreme utility in the hearts and minds of the Casual Hardcore.

And yet, for some odd reason, this synergy has been removed from Starcaft 2. Not only does the Siege Tank, for example, not make a sound which adds synergy to its function, but it is difficult to find an example in Starcraft 2 where what I call “Sound Amplification” is effectively used.

The closest success in terms of Sound Amplification in Starcraft 2 is likely Thor and his Schwarzenegger voice. However, even Thor lacks synergy because the movement sound of the Thor is not distinctly addictive like the Siege Tank siege mode sound was in Starcraft 1. Simply put, Thor’s movement sound does not add to his function.

Another example in Starcraft 2 that comes close, in my opinion, is the sound of massive amounts of supply depots being withdrawn into the ground and brought back up. But because supply depots have a limited synergistic function, their sound does not add an amazing amount to their use [they have no offensive function].

Other sounds which might come close include burrowing zerg or the conversion of zerglings into banelings, though their sounds do not provide as much synergy because, again, the sounds they employ do not provide an offensive synergy in addition to a creation synergy, that is, the player receives no offensive benefit in their mind with the addition of the sound to the unit.

It is with this lack of Sound Synergy in mind that I strongly urge Blizzard to restore a generally similar sound to the Siege Tank as it had in Starcraft 1, and to consider what other sound synergies they might add to various units which subtly empower the player. A little effort could go a long way (Please keep in mind that I do not have a background in sound creation and therefore am unable to make more specific suggestions in addition to pointing out what I feel is missing).

b. The Macro Unit and The Moving Shot[See Note 1]

Note 1. The moving shot is a concept described brilliantly, although crassly, by LaLush in the following post at TeamLiquid: http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=121769

When I refer to the Macro Unit above, I refer specifically to the way in which units in Starcraft function together on a mass scale. LaLush, in his much lauded post regarding the Moving Shot hit upon this issue, although in a very round-about way. One of the basic arguments of his post was that because unit movements lack quick strike and maneuverability (due to blizzard’s desire to balance one unit against each other), the number of outcomes of x, y, or z types of battles has been reduced significantly in Starcraft 2 versus Starcraft 1. This position is valid insomuch as the “feel” of unit control has changed significantly and the maneuverability of air units via the mouse has in fact been reduced (it would seem). However, I believe this argument may be missing the point of what’s missing in Starcraft 2, and that is the use of the Macro Unit. I define the Macro Unit as the different function that a unit serves en masse as opposed to the function that that unit plays on its own. Some examples from Starcraft 1 include the Mutalisk, Scout, Corsair and Battlecruiser Unit Stacking [See Note 2], mass ghost lockdown, mass mind control [protoss], mass destruction of unit / building energy via multiple defilers, mass psi storm via high templar, and of course mass sieging with tanks. The ghost lockdown, for example, gave a Macro Unit low cost solution to high tech mass air attacks, as did the defiler and mass mind control. Each of these added a degree of variability which could be quickly adopted in the face of a certain attack.

Note 2. Unit Stacking is here defined as the ability of these air units to stack upon each other. I believe that LaLush may have been speaking as much to this in his post about what is missing from Starcraft 2 as the Moving Shot. The Moving Shot seemed to be intertwined with this ability. I would urge Blizzard to question whether the realism achieved by removing the air stacking of units reduces the “fun” of those air units. In order to combat the impossibility of unit by unit Micro in a stacking situation, Blizzard may wish to give opponents the ability to “swing-zoom” into the unit mass and target the units individually. With this in mind, even though they stack on each other (for purposes of more refined control), the opposing player can target individually. It is more fun to send a “ball missile” of units towards a target location, from the perspective of the Casual Hardcore, than an evenly spaced set of units that are more difficult to control.




Much of the Macro Unit function of individually valuable units seems to have been removed from Starcraft 2. The ghost lockdown was removed, the Unit Stacking was removed, mind control is nerfed comparatively (though it can be useful sometimes for zerg, it does not reach the level of macro usage), and defilers were removed. While siege still represents a compelling Macro Unit, some of its utility to the end player has been removed due to the sound discussion (from above), and as a result of the fact that it is too easily dealt with as a unit (it is weak against multiple units at multiple levels of the tech tree for most races). Consequently, the majority of the Macro Unit structure from Starcraft 1 has been removed in Starcraft 2, and it is my belief that it has been done to Starcraft 2’s detriment. The lack of Macro Unit functionality weakens the utility of the game because it gives the player of any particular race less options with which to work, especially in the end game. And this, in particular, is a problem for the Casual Hardcore as it gives them less interesting options in the game (since the focus of casual hardcore play is mid-late game with large varied armies).

The one unit in Starcraft 2 that feels just right on a macro unit level is the Baneling. Devastating on a micro level, it is also amazing on a fun factor level as a rolling mass of awesomeness. Its functionality is well balanced and makes sense even as a very late game surprise strategy (even if the player won’t be able to win the game with it, it is still fun!). More units should feel like this Blizzard!

c. Musical Pacing

I believe music to be an integral part of why Starcraft 1 was so addictive. The mood set in the songs of Terran specifically drew new players in because it set an atmosphere with which those new players could identify. The Casual Hardcore felt intangible benefits from the pacing of all the music in the first Starcraft.

Thankfully, the music included for the Terran in Starcraft 2 is equally fantastic. It drives the player to move forward with their plans for destruction. Listen to this for example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcghLSIpZlM

High energy. High drive to perform. These are the emotions that this song elicits. It says “work, construct, mine, perform, build an army, and take that army to your foes”. It is, quite simply, a flawless score for the Terran.

Unfortunately, the music for the other races falls slightly short (as elicited in commentary from Apolloster.Yeast). The reason for this is not that the music is not good per se, it’s that it misses the mark with its purpose. It does not contain a fast enough beat to drive the player toward success. I believe that the Protoss music and ESPECIALLY the Zerg music were created too much with the race background in mind and not enough with common humanity in mind. We are humans, we are not Protoss and we are not Zerg. We will never understand things from the Protoss and Zerg perspective of music, and thus synergy is lost if the musical score focuses too much on achieving the feel of those races and not enough on more distinctly human emotions. What do I suggest Blizzard do about this? Mess with the tempos of the music for Protoss and Zerg and see if a solution can be found which aligns the player’s energy with the Protoss and Zerg. Here is an example, although a bit crude and off the cuff, which Sinheart.Icyinferno put together which captures my point:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmXspuIZsTs

Again, the tempo of the Terran music is the benchmark against which the music for Protoss and Zerg should be measured in a multiplayer setting in Starcraft 2. As humans, music which sets our mood toward our task is of greater utility than that which doesn’t. I love the Protoss music, but I think the Zerg music, at the very least, definitely needs a little bit of rethinking.

CONTINUES IN POST 2
 

GregLombardi

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Dec 5, 2008
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d. Balance

The issue of balance is much discussed in Starcraft circles, and I feel it requires special commentary in this case. As a Casual Hardcore player I do not feel as though there is a difference, at least not a significant one, in the level of the balance between the races in Starcraft 2 versus Starcraft 1. I believe Blizzard has met the majority of its balance goals with Starcraft 2. But I feel I must comment that I do feel that Blizzard may have focused a little too much on balance for Starcraft 2. From a Casual Hardcore perspective, if there is an answer in every race’s toolkit for a particular unit or for a particular method of using a unit, then the game is balanced. I feel as though Pro-Exploits are easily noticeable by Blizzard and by players to the point that Blizzard could always revise the game post-release to fix exploits or rebalance the game. I recognize this is much easier said than done, but I just want to be explicit that I do not fully believe that Balance is the most important thing for Starcraft 2. It is AS important as a lot of other aspects of the game, but I think that to assign it infinite importance beyond all other issues has taken away from the game’s character a bit (take the Siege Tank example from above, for example – it seems obvious to me that perhaps the original game’s creators were just having fun with the addition of such a ridiculous voice / siege mode sound to the Siege Tank, and maybe even the Siege Tank itself. But it was exactly this experimentation that electrified the fan base in their love for the game! I think there is cause for more experiment in Starcraft 2 in the form of higher tech tree unit variability. Fix the experiments that go wrong immediately, but also take a chance that an experiment might add immense utility to the Casual Hardcore and other types of players).

Race Appraisals

In this section I will present a discussion that takes a closer look at the races. As will be demonstrated, I believe the Protoss race to represent a perfect and very much finished race from the perspective of the Casual Hardcore player, and the Terran race to represent the race with the most areas for improvement.

Race Appraisal - Protoss

The Protoss, quite simply, are the dominant race of Starcraft 2 from the Casual Hardcore perspective. They can literally do anything via their varied and unique units. Each unit feels as though it has a great purpose, and each unit can serve a great surprise to a competing player given the right circumstances. The Protoss are alarmingly mobile, and alarmingly fun. They can warp / teleport, tank, cloak, freeze, shield, storm, burn and blast their way through various other units.

Thematically, the Protoss are awesome. I would call their theme “The Dark Arts”, and they exemplify this theme in every way possible. Their technology, their buildings, their movements, and the variation in their units all masterfully surround the unknown dark technological abyss from which they came. Their tech is both broad and very deep, and each unit feels as though it has a distinct purpose in their thematic grid. From Stalkers teleporting around my foes or around my own units, to Colossi towering over my foes buildings or my own, to Motherships hiding untold enemies and units, to Photon Cannons defending and offending against other players, to the Standard Protoss Units from Starcraft 1 – the Protoss are a masterful concoction in Starcraft 2, and feel as though they are truly coming from the minds of innovators in the Starcraft genre of games. These are the Protoss of Starcraft 2 that I would have expected 12 years ago if I were to think about a sequel to Starcraft 1. These are the Protoss that give so many options to the Casual Hardcore player and yet stay within their theme so well that they could be called perfect (though I’m sure Blizzard already has some ideas for improvement!). These Protoss are the race towards which the majority of Casual Hardcore players would gravitate were the game released this very day. As a Casual Hardcore player I derive the maximum utility from playing the Protoss and generally feel as though they are so utterly complete that they need neither subtractions nor additions in their unit set (though stalkers may be a bit overpowered, as Shrieve.MPQ has argued effectively to me many times).
Bravo on this race Blizzard. There is nothing more to say.

Final Protoss Appraisal Score: 10.0 / 10.0.

Race Appraisal - Zerg

The Zerg, overall, feel as though they fall between the Terran and Protoss as far as level of completion is concerned. They have a fairly tight thematic connection that exemplifies a foreign race of creatures that mass and swarm against their opponents. Their units strengthen this connection with their grotesque manner and their method of attack. The minute one of my friends was grossed out by the ability of the Overlord to spew creep onto the ground, I knew that Blizzard had headed in the right direction with the Zerg as a race. The Zerg are fast, and they are able to jump from one side of the map to the other (Nydus Canals), or even burrow under the ground and travel in secret. They are able to expand viciously fast, and because of their unit abilities and unit speed they are able to defend their expansions in a generally superior manner.

All of the above said, I do feel as though there are a variety of improvements that could be made to the Zerg from the Casual Hardcore perspective – both in terms of their Macro Economic abilities and in terms of their end game variability.

Zerg Macroeconomy Problem: The Queen Effect

Controlling and maximizing the value of multiple Zerg bases appears to be very difficult for the Casual Hardcore Starcraft 2 player. Sinheart.IcyInfero suggested that Blizzard ought to make a key change to the Zerg Queen that would address this issue. What if Blizzard allowed the spawn larva ability of the Queen to tether to each Hive? If the Queen’s spawn larvae ability could automatically signal the hives to create additional larvae whenever the larvae level drop below a certain number, the user would be able to scale the Zerg masses in a better way. From a Casual Hardcore perspective and otherwise, it would seem to make sense to make the management of bases less involved rather than more involved. Otherwise, why not just remove the queen’s ability and have the player put more focus on building additional hives? As a Casual Hardcore player, I tend to agree with Sinheart.Icyinferno: I would much rather let a hive do the work of spawning larva than have to do it myself with a Queen.

The Zerg End Game: Not enough Macro Units

While the Zerg unit set certainly feels more complete and thematically connected than the Terran, it does feel as though it is missing the variety of Macro Units that the Protoss appear to have in their toolkit. For example, the loss of the defiler to me feels as though it is a mistake. The defiler, en masse, represented a macro unit in the vein of the Ghost Lockdown Macro Unit that could address significant end game issues. It filled a key need in games of Casual Hardcore players that simmer for 30 – 60 minutes before battles are fought, won, and games are decided. Not only did the defiler allow for the breaking down of late game defenses, but it allowed for the breaking down of late game air offenses.

I do not understand how the subtraction of the defiler unit further contributes to game balance, but perhaps there is something I’m missing. In fact, Apolloster.Yeast brought up the fact that a large number of units were removed from Starcraft 2 that existed in Starcraft 1, and how he was concerned at the number that was removed. I tend to agree that it is an important point to consider – why was the defiler removed, for example? Are there other units that could fit back in to the game that Blizzard has created? My suggestions above would seem to indicate that the answer is yes, but really I’m more concerned that Blizzard take another look at this. I really do not feel as though units like the defiler affect balance as much as Blizzard worries that they do – what pro player would even make it to the point of a tech tree wherein they’d use a defiler? Again, the defiler represents one specific example of an improvement that could be made, but I do not believe it to represent THE only answer to the problem I feel exists in the Zerg Casual Hardcore end game.

Finally, Shrieve.Mpq suggests that the Brood Lords and Corrupters could use some tweaks that would make them more useful in an End Game setting (from a functional perspective). He believes that Broodlings are cool, but they need to deal more heavy drop damage or live long enough to be dangerous (even inside the enemy base) to be a proper replacement to the guardian. As is, it feels as though the Brood Lord is spawning zerglings at the end of a watermelon catapult. Guardians had range, power and were one of 3 key ways to crack defenses from afar as Zerg, with some of the old ways for Zerg to crack defenses being gone now (the Defiler). Simply put, he feels that guardians were the Zerg's flying siege tank and they’ve lost that unit, even in the Brood Lord.

Additionally, Shrieve.MPQ believes that the Corrupter’s damage increase ability should be auto-castable. The micro to execute such an attack does not seem worth the effort from his perspective. This seems to make sense as the Devourer in Starcraft 1 did perfectly well with auto-attacks which caused damage stacking upon further attacks.

Overall, I am satisfied with the Zerg. They have a lot of cool tricks on which they can draw, and they manage to epitomize the swarm in grotesque ways I didn’t think were possible. A little tightening up of their abilities, their sound, and perhaps some unit additions would put them on the level of Protoss in terms of Casual Hardcore utility and in terms of completion.

Final Zerg Appraisal Score: 8.5 / 10.0

Race Appraisal– Terran

As I’ve stated before, I believe the Terran to be the most unfinished race. Thematically, I feel, they are a mess. While they may not drag down Starcraft 2 enough to delay it, I believe Blizzard ought to consider driving forth the Terran’s thematic connections between its buildings and units in a much more succinct manner through the release period and thereafter. The Terran also lack variability in the units of their Casual Hardcore end game.

Thor Role Confusion

Let’s review the Thor’s various functions: It is splash anti-air, but is too costly and slow making it infeasible for a dedicated role here, implying it has failed at replacing half of the Goliath's function while the viking has arguably taken over the other half, while trying to be a valkyrie. It is a Siege engine that does not have to hunker down, creating redundancy with the Siege Tank, which should not be redundant. The Thor is confused about it's own role and requires consideration of the role of the unit(s) it is trying to replace as well as the roles of the units it is crowding (siege tank and viking). All of these aspects of the Thor appear to attempt to fix issues in the Terran unit set and because of it's many attempted functions it is saddled with prohibitive cost and speed. This shouldnot be the reason a unit is created, and Blizzard knows it. But parts of its role tell us what Blizzard may need to fix: Terran anti-air, the siege tank, the absence of the old "walking turrets" (goliaths) and/or the Thor's role in the terran army in general.
As far as fixing the Thor, I will leave that to Blizzard. Shrieve.Mpq and I only seem to 100% agree on one suggestion: the Thor should be a high utility, end game unit in both the Casual Hardcore and Competitive Spheres.

The Thematic Problem of the Terran

The Thor appears to be the tip of an iceberg (although still a smaller iceberg than other games have) of problems I feel there are with the Terran. The Terran, on their face, appear to be a mobile race, but they are, in fact, the least mobile race of the three. Thors, buildings, and most of their units are fairly slow. Additionally, some buildings do not even lift off (this includes bunkers, turrets, and engineering bays, as well as supply depots). There are a number of changes to the Terran that appear to suggest that Blizzard wanted to make mobility and expansion building an advantageous aspect of the Terran race. However, what advantage are the Terran afforded by their ability to drop mules, upgrade supply depots from afar, and carry units around, if all of their buildings and units do not work together toward this end? Quite simply, the floating of Terran buildings affords extremely small amounts of utility (either in the form of fun factor or in the form of usefulness to the player’s strategy) to the Casual Hardcore player who plays beyond the first 10 minutes of a game. Floating as a way of expansion feels a bit too slow, and it feels a bit too hard to defend for the Casual Hardcore player.

I HAVE seen some of the Terran’s building mobility pay off in discrete and niche FFA games where one player sneaks off and they rebuild to become a powerful force, but this sort of occurrence is few and far between. I admit also that Shrieve.MPQ has pointed out other utility to Terran mobility that I did not fully consider – for example, the floating of Factories onto a ledge and the production of siege tanks. Though, I would posit as a response that this does not address my concerns of utility of floating buildings to the Casual Hardcore player – this is a strategy that would be used more in the upper echelons of Terran players in my opinion, and it is functional, not utility based.

If we accept that floating buildings have little to no utility in the Casual Hardcore sphere of play, what is the purpose of even including it? And if Blizzard agrees that the lack of utility and lack of thematic cohesion in the Terran is a problem, how does one fix it? And how does the Thor issue play into this discussion?

One suggestion that Sinheart.Icyinferno made was that Blizzard ought to consider merging the Siege Tank and the Turret, or at least giving the Siege Tank a Turret Upgrade (perhaps a non-detecting upgrade). This conversion may avoid the pitfalls of having to make all buildings “floatable”, because it addresses a problem the Terran player seems to run into – In order to adequately defend their base, they HAVE to build Siege Tanks, Turrets, AND Bunkers, and all of these options put together seem way too resource and time heavy as compared with the defenses of the other races. It also re-allocates redundant abilities from the Thor back partially toward the Siege Tank (the true specialty Siege unit of the Terran) and partially to the Turret (the true specialty Anti-Air unit of the Terran).

As described above, the Siege Tank seems to have less of a role in Starcraft 2 than it did in Starcraft 1, and that is to Starcraft 2’s detriment in my opinion. Sinheart’s adjustment to the Siege Tank plays into the Terran theme of mobility as well. Not only can a player erect a siege anti-air offensive, but the player is required to create less buildings and spend less time in the Terran defense of both its main base and any expansions, defenses which are in sore need of a consolidation and upgrade. Also, the Siege Tank would still have a weakness against any and all melee units, and cloaked units. This change to the siege tank dovetails with the Terran ability to move bases around, and strengthens the overall thematic connection of base mobility that the Terran aspire to have but do not yet achieve. Were Blizzard to adopt this change, I feel the Terran would have an added layer of Casual Hardcore play that would make them a more versatile race into the Casual Hardcore end game.

Another suggestion made in part by Shrieve.Mpq and in part by Sinheart.Icyinferno was to allow the attachments to Terran buildings to float with the buildings instead of remain tethered to the ground, and to allow multiple attachments to be built on single Terran buildings instead of just one or the other (OR, to allow one attachment to change into another, such as converting a tech lab into a reactor or vice versa). These changes would be designed to play into the Terran’s base mobility theme (or what appears to be a move in that direction by Blizzard). “Carryable” attachments would allow base mobility to represent more of a threat than it currently does, and “convertible” attachments would remove an unnecessary mutually exclusive relationship between upgrades to Terran units and faster Terran unit production. Why, if the Zerg has a queen unit for speeding up unit production, and the Protoss can speed up time, do the Terran not have an equal unit specific bonus available to them? Without a tech lab, a reactor loses large significance.

End Game Limitations

The Terran’s end game is problematic from a Casual Hardcore perspective. The number of legitimate paths remains too limited to let the game truly simmer for the Casual Hardcore. The only paths which make sense in order to attempt to guarantee victory in an offensive or defensive stance of a Casual Hardcore setting are the following:

1. Mass MM, or MMM
2. Mass Battle Cruisers
3. Mass Nukes
4. Mass Valkyrie and Banshee

These strategies seem a bit stale and feel as though they pale in comparison certainly to the Protoss end game and somewhat to the Zerg end game variability. The Terran lack end game Macro Units that make them interesting as a race, and I feel this is to their detriment in multiplayer settings. One very important Macro Unit missing from the Terran end game is the lockdown enabled ghost army to which I referenced above. Such an army is a cheap, effective, and fun solution for a “rock” or “scissors” or “paper” revealed by a competing player with which the Terran Casual Hardcore player has decided they cannot deal (such as mass Battlecruisers, or even Carriers). It isn’t so much that such an option provides further balance to the game, it is that such an option provides more to the Terran player’s toolkit, a toolkit which feels as though it is severely lacking in fun factor at the moment. Be advised, though, that the “Ghost Army Lockdown Macro Unit” represents only an example of a unit which might fill the void in the Terran’s end game toolkit. I do not mean to suggest that this example is the exact unit that must be added in order to correct what feels like a void in the Terran’s end game from the Casual Hardcore perspective, it is simply an example of something which would make the Terran feel more whole. And there may be more unit additions, either from return from Starcraft 1, or otherwise, that would make the Terran feel more whole.

Overall, the Terran are an acceptable race but there is a large amount of room for improvement. Thematically, they do not feel as though they make sense. There have been a variety of cool additions, but the fat feels as though it was trimmed too much from the Terran’s toolkit of abilities. There is a very large difference between making units which are balanced against other units, and finding the right balance of pure attack / defense units along with units which have a variety of useful abilities for specific circumstance and for Casual Hardcore utility. In my humble opinion the Terran fall short especially in the latter.

Final Terran Appraisal: 6.0 / 10.0.

Matchmaking Awesomeness

As per Shrieve.MPQ’s suggestion, I would like to give some credit to Blizzard’s current match-making system that they’ve set up to increase match longevity for ALL players in Starcraft 2. This system, quite frankly, does address a huge problem for the Casual Hardcore in Starcraft 1 – that of being locked out of the standard game. I agree with Shrieve that the matchmaking system DOES appear to work. From the games I’ve played, and those that he’s played, we do appear to be matched against like skill levels of other players, and this, without a doubt, is a huge improvement on several orders over Starcraft 1. I also love the new buddy lists, the achievements, and observation options. This is a huge addition that likely will have an untold effect on matchmaking systems everywhere.


Closing Comments

At the end of the day, Starcraft 2 has come a long way, and Blizzard is nearly done. But they’re not quite finished in my opinion. As Smixam.Smixam posited in conversation, the most succinct way of stating Starcraft 2’s apparent problems for the Casual Hardcore is that, in fact, the game feels as though it may take itself a little too seriously, and this atmosphere decreases utility for the Casual Hardcore player. I feel there is much work to be done with the Terran, and some work to be done on the Zerg. Starcraft 2, in its current form, is a fantastic replacement to Starcraft 1. And the fact that I consider it fantastic excludes full understanding of what the map editor, different user maps, 3 versus 3 and 4 versus 4 (and greater), and the new battle.net service bring to the table of Starcraft 2 as a successor (in addition to the Single Player Campaign). However, if Blizzard is able to quickly address the issues present for the Casual Hardcore, I feel as though they will have created a masterpiece which will extend itself into another decade of everyone’s lives.



CONTINUED IN POST 3
 

GregLombardi

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Here is some additional commentary that did not make it into any of the appraisal sections:

1. Music should be set to auto-continuous in multiplayer as the default, not the other way around. A player should be forced into the musical atmosphere of the game and decide to change it.

2. Blizzard may wish to reconsider making the minerals on the map visible to everyone. The exploratory element has been removed from Starcraft 2, which might reduce game time for the Casual Hardcore.

3. May wish to make it alarmingly clear to all players when someone leaves the game, with a very unique sound playing as someone leaves the game.

4. Shrieve.Mpq suggests that the Sentry should optionally autocast energy shield when units near it receive damage.

5. Shrieve.Mpq suggests that the abilities of the Protoss nexus should be “stapled” to the side of the screen much like the Warp Gate is stapled once a player has multiple Warp Gates. Additionally, he suggests that Blizzard may wish to consider adding the abilities of the queen and/or command center in the same manner.

6. Blizzard may wish to ensure that there is a penalty for leaving games in the middle of them. Shrieve.MPQ suggests this is especially important in 1 v 1 matches, and that in FFA or 2 v 2 a surrender option may be valid after a certain amount of time has passed. Or at least, track the number of leaves of a player so that other plays can determine if they want them in their game.

7. Shrieve.Mpq suggests that medivacs should heal their contents in addition to the units on the ground (although perhaps not at the same time).

8. The extended name system (Xname.Yname) seems a little convoluted. Why so complex? The Real ID system probably takes care of any issues related to privacy.

9. Blizzard may wish to provide an option to disable private chat between players of an FFA game, so that any chat can be made public for those players who dislike private scheming.

10. The interface does not seem as smooth when entering and exiting the game, or a game, as it should be. Perhaps this is just my machine however.

11. Smixam.Yeast suggests that the gameplay feels a little slower than it should. This may have been addressed in a recent patch, or perhaps the “fastest” setting is restricted for the beta?

A big “thank you” to Apolloster.Yeast, Shrieve.Mpq, Sinheart.IcyInferno, as well as Smixam.Smixam for helping me finish this appraisal. All contributed great ideas and a sound set of suggestions for the appraisal. Special thanks to Sinheart.IcyInferno for his thoughts on units, his work on sounds, and giving me many hours of his time for discussions and review. Special thanks to Shrieve.Mpq for giving me a line by line critique of my thoughts (which I’m sure many board members will do), and for many of his suggestions. And finally, special thanks to Corey for letting me jump on the Starcraft 2 beta as early as I did, and Blizzard for making a great game!
 

GregLombardi

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Son of Godzilla said:
Umm... when's this thing ending anyways?
The beta will end May 31 until just prior to release for stress testing. I'll see if I can find the post where Blizzard confirmed this. Not sure if anyone else has it though...
 
Jan 12, 2007
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Great read. Terrans are feeling useless every time I rank up cause you see so many different Zerg/Protoss strategies that massing units become a chore. By the time you make the high-end units like Thor or Battlecruisers, Colossus will be waiting and it's massive range fries anything in it's way. Thor is awesomeness in the early stages of the game but it'll require you to invest everything in it. In the later stages, it's just a walking supply depot. Also, the range of Missle Turrets is too low to actually justify it's anti-air only ability. I don't like the fact that you can ONLY see it's radius when you create it.

Again, against any unit, Turrets/Bunkers are a waste while Zerg/Protoss gets an upper hand in having a all-purpose defensive building/unit. That's why I just stick to massing marines cause they are the only all-purpose air and ground unit for Terran and you don't have to worry about the bells and whistles and expecting the unexpected.
 

GregLombardi

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shagg_187 said:
Great read. Terrans are feeling useless every time I rank up cause you see so many different Zerg/Protoss strategies that massing units become a chore. By the time you make the high-end units like Thor or Battlecruisers, Colossus will be waiting and it's massive range fries anything in it's way. Thor is awesomeness in the early stages of the game but it'll require you to invest everything in it. In the later stages, it's just a walking supply depot. Also, the range of Missle Turrets is too low to actually justify it's anti-air only ability. I don't like the fact that you can ONLY see it's radius when you create it.

Again, against any unit, Turrets/Bunkers are a waste while Zerg/Protoss gets an upper hand in having a all-purpose defensive building/unit. That's why I just stick to massing marines cause they are the only all-purpose air and ground unit for Terran and you don't have to worry about the bells and whistles and expecting the unexpected.
So do you feel that you are forced into marine building as that is the only viable option in the end game that consistently works? And are you a pro player? Again, I'm not a pro player, and I've seen you post a lot in the SC2 thread, so my inclination is that you are more competitive than I am.
 

Lumine

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I've read most of it. I'm not sure if you needed to dedicate such a long post to explain your terminology, but oh well. Personally I'm a big fan of the first SC, but would defenitly fall into the casual category. I realized quickly though that SC2 is mostly designed with the same competive nature as the first game with its professional community in mind. I'm slightly dissapointed by it, because after 10 years I was hoping for something... more evolved? At the least something that feels more dynamic than the first one. In some aspects it is, in others it's not. For example in sound design, as you said, it seems to have taken a small step back. I can't really comment on your other points as they seem to be more balancing issues and I haven't played enough of the beta. The other stuff seems to be more a matter of taste. I find the Terran race to feel the most finished, yet dislike their soundtrack the most this time around. :lol

I'm not going to "appraise" a game in beta though. Especially when I haven't played the single player yet. :p
 

Cru Jones

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I think an appraisal is a little early. I think you'll be surprised by how much changes between what we have now and the final retail product.
 

traveler

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Lumine said:
I've read most of it. I'm not sure if you needed to dedicate such a long post to explain your terminology, but oh well. Personally I'm a big fan of the first SC, but would defenitly fall into the casual category. I realized quickly though that SC2 is mostly designed with the same competive nature as the first game with its professional community in mind. I'm slightly dissapointed by it, because after 10 years I was hoping for something... more evolved? At the least something that feels more dynamic than the first one. In some aspects it is, in others it's not. For example in sound design, as you said, it seems to have taken a small step back. I can't really comment on your other points as they seem to be more balancing issues and I haven't played enough of the beta. The other stuff seems to be more a matter of taste. I find the Terran race to feel the most finished, yet dislike their soundtrack the most this time around. :lol

I'm not going to "appraise" a game in beta though. Especially when I haven't played the single player yet. :p

Cru Jones said:
I think an appraisal is a little early. I think you'll be surprised by how much changes between what we have now and the final retail product.

Err... isn't that kind of the point of a beta? :lol
 

GregLombardi

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Lumine said:
I've read most of it. I'm not sure if you needed to dedicate such a long post to explain your terminology, but oh well. Personally I'm a big fan of the first SC, but would defenitly fall into the casual category. I realized quickly though that SC2 is mostly designed with the same competive nature as the first game with its professional community in mind. I'm slightly dissapointed by it, because after 10 years I was hoping for something... more evolved? At the least something that feels more dynamic than the first one. In some aspects it is, in others it's not. For example in sound design, as you said, it seems to have taken a small step back. I can't really comment on your other points as they seem to be more balancing issues and I haven't played enough of the beta. The other stuff seems to be more a matter of taste. I find the Terran race to feel the most finished, yet dislike their soundtrack the most this time around. :lol

I'm not going to "appraise" a game in beta though. Especially when I haven't played the single player yet. :p
Haha, yeah, its definitely a matter of opinion which is why I wanted to start this thread and provide good feedback. Shrieve.mpq, for example, feels as though the Zerg are the most unfinished, but he was happy to support my current assertion because I think, at some level, it made sense to him.


I know that many artistic areas of games are always up for further opinion. music, graphics, things like these...they are highly subjective. I just wanted to communicate my perspective and what seemed to be the perspective of a lot of people with whom I played.

In terms of "appraising" the game, I want to make absolutely clear (and I hoped my disclaimer addressed this) that I am not attempting a pre review or anything of the entire game. Yet, to put some numbers to my opinions, I feel, gives some guidance that would be lacking otherwise. The numbers shouldn't be given too much weight, but perhaps that's too much to ask of GAF haha....

Edit: Also, why do you feel the Terran are the most finished?
 

Cru Jones

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traveler said:
Err... isn't that kind of the point of a beta? :lol
I think what we are saying is that this is a very in depth analysis for something that has probably already changed on the build that Blizzard is playing internally.
 

The Lamonster

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This might sound silly, but my major gripe with the beta is the menu UI. Go back and look at the Warcraft III UI and when you click those buttons, there is an immediate sound and a "pressing-in" animation. It's faster and more satisfying.

With StarCraft II, you click a button such as "Multiplayer" and there is a slight delay and no animation to let you know you've clicked it. Annoying.
 

Zaptruder

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Doing a quick skim through of the overly long posts... it seems like a lot of the complaints are directed at automating the game more, without fully appreciating that the game is in large carefully balanced around key press speed and management of that resource to help differentiate good from great players... and provide that additional level of somewhat artificial, but nonetheless satisfying sense of depth that evades many games of this era.

The game provides many spheres in which to improve your play... and the ability to attend to the queen and larva mechanic while also marshalling forces on the battle line is one of those things.

As is the ability of units like the Stalker to shoot, move, shoot, move zealots to death. It's part of the balance of the units.
 

theMrCravens

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GregLombardi said:
6. Blizzard may wish to ensure that there is a penalty for leaving games in the middle of them. Shrieve.MPQ suggests this is especially important in 1 v 1 matches, and that in FFA or 2 v 2 a surrender option may be valid after a certain amount of time has passed. Or at least, track the number of leaves of a player so that other plays can determine if they want them in their game.
This is a weird suggestion for 1v1. They get a lost and you get to start a fresh new game.

For 2v2, I can understand getting a partner that randomly quits.
Technically, the matchmaking should fix this kind of problem, but I can expect lots of copper players that do not care about their rank and just ruin it for others.
 

GregLombardi

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Cru Jones said:
I think what we are saying is that this is a very in depth analysis for something that has probably already changed on the build that Blizzard is playing internally.
I can only hope things have changed that perhaps are addressed here. I don't have any inside sources at Blizzard, so I've got to take a shot and see if they'll at least listen. And if they've addressed them, great! :D

And honestly, I think the discussion that could come from members of GAF is probably even more valuable than what I've put together, given the level of dedication around here.
 
Well the only complaints I have really are applicable to most rts (1v1).
High tier units very rarely see the battlefield as the game is normally won before its practical to get them out or it's just better to not bother with them at all.
Some units just seems pointless eg zerg Ultralisk or buildings like nydus network.
It's different in the bigger games sure, but 1v1 maybe it would be nice if there where a few more lower tier units to have fun with as you probably wont be building much beyond that.
 

LakeEarth

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That's strange, my friend (who's at the top of platinum division) says Terran is really good. To quote him, "one rax, one factory, banshees or one rax, one factory, ravens wins everything". How he explained it to me is that you build all three tech structures, scout and react to what your opponent is doing since you can build everything that matters from that point.

He also agrees that ultralisks suck, but he says the Nydius network can be very useful (breaks the protoss forcefield contain, attack and expand to islands, cliff drop, etc).

I don't understand a thing I just wrote.
 

GregLombardi

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Zaptruder said:
Doing a quick skim through of the overly long posts... it seems like a lot of the complaints are directed at automating the game more, without fully appreciating that the game is in large carefully balanced around key press speed and management of that resource to help differentiate good from great players... and provide that additional level of somewhat artificial, but nonetheless satisfying sense of depth that evades many games of this era.

The game provides many spheres in which to improve your play... and the ability to attend to the queen and larva mechanic while also marshalling forces on the battle line is one of those things.

As is the ability of units like the Stalker to shoot, move, shoot, move zealots to death. It's part of the balance of the units.
Well, I see what you are saying. But I would ask you to consider that the thesis of my argument attempts to capture a set of players, much like myself, who don't care about good from great. They care about entertainment and utility. And many of my suggestions are designed to increase that entertainment and utility. I completely agree that Blizzard has done an amazing job giving "deep spheres" in which to improve one's ability to play and/or win.

LakeEarth said:
That's strange, my friend (who's at the top of platinum division) says Terran is really good. To quote him, "one rax, one factory, banshees or one rax, one factory, ravens wins everything". How he explained it to me is that you build all three tech structures, scout and react to what your opponent is doing since you can build everything that matters from that point.
Again, I would ask you to reconsider the thesis of my argument. The platinum player is not as much my concern as the utility and entertainment to the Casual Hardcore. I believe the Terran can win. But I do not believe, necessarily, that the Terran are as fun as Toss or Zerg to the Casual Hardcore.
 

Deadly

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GregLombardi said:
Well, I see what you are saying. But I would ask you to consider that the thesis of my argument attempts to capture a set of players, much like myself, who don't care about good from great. They care about entertainment and utility. And many of my suggestions are designed to increase that entertainment and utility. I completely agree that Blizzard has done an amazing job giving "deep spheres" in which to improve one's ability to play and/or win.
Exactly, if you do not wish to be good/great and just have fun than the option is left completely optional to you just as it is right now. You can choose to use it which can make you win the battle or you can just not use it and might win or lose and continue to reconstruct your army. However, this contradicts the point that a "Casual-Hardcore" plays for fun first and not to win. But the thing is that if every "optional" ability is automated for you already than that in itself removes the fun of being able to use it does it not?
 

fatty

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First, I wanted to commend you for the detail and time you put into your (and your friends') analysis. I've only read the first post so far, but wanted to add some comments before I got to the rest of it.

To some it may seem goofy, but I whole heartedly agree with the 'sound synergy' in your first point. Those distinct sounds added tremendously to what makes Blizzard's games so special. The sound in SC1 of the seige tanks changing modes and attacking, zerglings in mass attacks, and as a Protoss player a swarm of Corsairs taking on opponents, those sounds are very memorable and I have yet to really find a unit that compares (again, in its functional sound effects) in SC2. It's not a problem with the units themselves, but if they can just exaggerate some of the effects I think it would help out a lot.

The other two points (moving shot and music), I don't have as much of a problem with. I would also consider myself a Casual Hardcore (ex. learning different BOs on SC1 like +1 Speedzeal, 9Pool, etc.) but those examples, and it's maybe because I haven't played the game enough, don't really stick out as much to me. The music? Maybe it's a case where the Terran music is just on a level above the rest (I mainly play Protoss and Zerg the most), but I think the music is on par with what was offered with SC1.

---

One of my own points to make the game better would be working on the early game and how to effectively deal with the Rush for newcomers. I'm also in the same boat in that I will never rush, to me those types of games just aren't fun, and as much as I'm looking to win the match I want to enjoy it as well. For me, I look forward to teching and expanding. That being said, I do realize that it is a part of the game even if I consider it kind of cheesy (but not technically 'cheese' in SC terms).

I'm at a point in my game where I know that scouting is crucial and I have a decent idea to know what to look for to see if someone is attempting to rush and go 'all-in'. But I also was playing SC on iccup, what about newcomers and casuals to the game? I think this can pose a problem as it can take a bit of steep learning curve to know how to effectively deal with this scenario, and it can probably be frustrating to the point where they are turned off from playing online competitively.

I know Blizzard has mentioned that the one player game has challenges which teach you how "play online" but I hope they good job at getting people up to speed on how to deal with the early game. I've been playing SC for years yet I still have a hard time trying to scout and see what my opponent is doing all the while making sure my BO is being done.
 

Cru Jones

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GregLombardi said:
Well, I see what you are saying. But I would ask you to consider that the thesis of my argument attempts to capture a set of players, much like myself, who don't care about good from great. They care about entertainment and utility. And many of my suggestions are designed to increase that entertainment and utility. I completely agree that Blizzard has done an amazing job giving "deep spheres" in which to improve one's ability to play and/or win.



Again, I would ask you to reconsider the thesis of my argument. The platinum player is not as much my concern as the utility and entertainment to the Casual Hardcore. I believe the Terran can win. But I do not believe, necessarily, that the Terran are as fun as Toss or Zerg to the Casual Hardcore.
I see what you are saying, but remember it is the platinum player that is going to give this game legs with regards to competitive matches over the next 10 years.

I think your definition of "casual hardcore" is contradictory:

GregLombardi said:
Casual Hardcore players play to win insofar as their skills carry them but will not focus intently on becoming perfect at the game. However, the Casual Hardcore also play the game to the limit of the game’s capacity [instead of just leaving it after getting simply a taste, as a casual player would do in most other games].
To me, playing a game to the limit of it's capacity is learning all of the ins and outs of the game in a pursuit of perfection.

Blizzard isn't interested in catering to those players who are your definition "casual hardcore" because those people will buy the game for the single player, dabble in the MP without the drive to improve beyond what their innate skills provide them with. They'll also buy all three expansions for the single player and to play the multiplayer again for a few months. Blizzard want to cater to the really competitive players who help drive the Blizzard and Starcraft brand through e-sports.
 

GregLombardi

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Deadly said:
Exactly, if you do not wish to be good/great and just have fun than the option is left completely optional to you just as it is right now. You can choose to use it which can make you win the battle or you can just not use it and might win or lose and continue to reconstruct your army. However, this contradicts the point that a "Casual-Hardcore" plays for fun first and not to win. But the thing is that if every "optional" ability is automated for you already than that in itself removes the fun of being able to use it does it not?
Well, the Casual Hardcore definition itself is a very slippery slope. And stating exactly how they play is also a slippery slope. Obviously everyone plays to try to win at some level of "caring" about winning. Its a very grey, and difficult area to explain. I have tried again and again to refine that definition.

But I still stand behind my argument that there is lot that could be done with the game, especially on the side of the Terran and the Zerg, that would maximize value to the Casual Hardcore, and insodoing would make the game for everyone better.
 

VGChampion

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Damn, didn't realize it was coming to a close. I got side tracked with Reach and wanted to win a game before it went away. :(

I'll right up some stuff from an absolute beginners perspective soon but I don't know how that would even turn out. I definitely need a extensive tutorial to figure out how to move faster.
 

Technosteve

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I was told that battle.net will lock you in by region so that you can not play against some one from another region or add them to your friends list. Is this true?
 

GregLombardi

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Cru Jones said:
I see what you are saying, but remember it is the platinum player that is going to give this game legs with regards to competitive matches over the next 10 years.
Are you absolutely certain that there is a mutually exclusive relationship between the Platinum Players still playing the game, and the Casual Hardcore enjoying the game? To the extent that ONLY the Platinum Players drive the game over 10 years? Because me and my friends were still playing Starcraft 1 before the Starcraft 2 Beta, and we're not platinum players.

It is in this way that I disagree with your statement. I feel as though there is a very important and symbiotic relationship between all the different aspects of a gaming community. The Platinum players and the Casual Hardcore, and the Casuals, if they all have fun in a gaming environment together but in different ways, THAT is when a game achieves masterpiece level. We COULD examine other games that have achieved masterpiece level and see if this holds true if you want. I'm not sure if we have enough time in our lives to do so though...

Cru Jones said:
I think your definition of "casual hardcore" is contradictory:



To me, playing a game to the limit of it's capacity is learning all of the ins and outs of the game in a pursuit of perfection.

Blizzard isn't interested in catering to those players who are your definition "casual hardcore" because those people will buy the game for the single player, dabble in the MP without the drive to improve beyond what their innate skills provide them with. They'll also buy all three expansions for the single player and to play the multiplayer again for a few months. Blizzard want to cater to the really competitive players who help drive the Blizzard and Starcraft brand through e-sports.
Your use of the word perfection up there is a tenuous word. If I had to guess, you are probably a far better player than I am at Starcraft 2. But to me, being able to completely dominate my foes is not actually the most important thing, though I love doing it too! I guess this is what I am getting at, though I completely agree with you that Blizzard WAS right to target the competitive players as one extremely important aspect of the longevity of Starcraft 2.
 

OptimoPeach

Banned
Jul 13, 2009
906
0
0
Cru Jones said:
Blizzard isn't interested in catering to those players who are your definition "casual hardcore" because those people will buy the game for the single player, dabble in the MP without the drive to improve beyond what their innate skills provide them with. They'll also buy all three expansions for the single player and to play the multiplayer again for a few months. Blizzard want to cater to the really competitive players who help drive the Blizzard and Starcraft brand through e-sports.
+1. I'm kinda confused as to why you suggest changes that would clearly be game-breaking when you are aware of and acknowledge that the game is balanced according to skill-intensive play
 
Jan 12, 2007
61,086
1
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Toronto, ON. Canada
GregLombardi said:
So do you feel that you are forced into marine building as that is the only viable option in the end game that consistently works? And are you a pro player? Again, I'm not a pro player, and I've seen you post a lot in the SC2 thread, so my inclination is that you are more competitive than I am.
Pro? Fuck No! :/
I have my share of glory moments but I'm no pro. Massing marine is the only safe answer in the first 5 minutes against silver players and I'll change my strategy when I reach gold. Either that or you go all out and start massing MMM. I have a fixed agenda (I play with a stopwatch since it prioritizes when I need to attack i.e. exactly 5 minutes) and this is the following order of my work:

11 workers
1st Barrack (Worker A)
2 Supply Depots (Worker B)
2nd Barrack (Worker A) while marine is being built
Send Worker B to mining.
3rd Barrack (Worker A) and Upgrade command center for more mining fun.
3rd Supply Depot by the same worker as marines are constantly being build
4th Barrack followed by 4th and 5th Supply Depot. As the 4th supply depot is being made, I will have 25+ marines.
At exactly 5 minutes, I send all my marines to attack ("A" button do TONs of wonder and is a function that not alot of casual players use. Some casuals just click on to the enemy base and don't realize that when two opponents meet in the middle, his units are getting creamed).
Select the enemy base as spawn point for the barrack and keep on massing marines.
Victory ensures in less than 7 minutes or you're toast and aim for Plan B or Plan C.

No. I don't mine for Vespene gas until I realize mass marines won't work. Stimpack is unnecessary when u have 30+ marines :)
 

Won

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Aug 31, 2006
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Have to disagree there with your Terran and Zerg impressions.

At least I guess. Not exactly sure what your problem with Terran is. Doesn't sound like you spent much time with them.

Zerg on the other end seems to be a complete disaster, but spreading creep is cool I guess.
 

ZealousD

Makes world leading predictions like "The sun will rise tomorrow"
Apr 17, 2007
29,342
1
0
So I read the whole thing. I have many key disagreements.

First off, the whole labeling thing is kind of stupid if you ask me. What the heck kind of term is "Casual Hardcore" anyway? Starcraft players do not fit neatly into specific groups. maybe a better term is the Mainstream Starcraft player? What I can gather from your post, you seem to generally be referring to the kinds of players that often do BGH. The turtle->tech crowd. But even this doesn't seem to be right, because you bring up how much you miss the old Ghost or the defiler. These are very micro intensive units and I RARELY saw them massed. Your whole argument is flawed on this very premise. It's as if you seem to be taking your own personal play style, slapping a label on it, and assume that this is how most people play.

You also spend a LOT of time bashing Blizzard's handling of the Terran. I can agree the siege tank needs a bit more OOMF and that there's a bit of a collision between the Thor and the Siege Tank. But in that whole long review you didn't even bother to MENTION several important units and changes. The Marauder only got a passing mention equivalent to being part of an acronym, and yet it's the most popular Terran unit now. Not a single mention of the Reaper. No mentions of the new Terran add-ons, which is an odd choice considering their importance to mobility, a key point in your post. Another key counter to your mobility argument is the medivac. Merging the medic and the dropship was GENIUS, and it made MMM the absolute most mobile and flexible build in the entire game. Retractable supply depots are also very important to the new Terran race, and yet they were really only mentioned when you started talking about... sound? Nukes were also given merely a passing mention, when it should be noted that they are MUCH more obtainable now, which is pretty much a godsend to the Casual Hardcore audience you keep going on about. It seems to me that you seem so upset about the siege tank changes that you're ignoring the key improvements to the Terran. Honestly, giving early Terran a 4/10 when Terran have wall-ins and Marauders? WHAT?

You also touch upon... moving shot? Makes. No. Sense. You're talking about mainstream Starcraft players, and yet you link an article to LaLush talking about the Pro-level micro techniques? Do you and your friends REALLY muta stack with an off-screen overlord or vulture harass with grenades coming out their butts? If you do, you're certainly not a part of this Casual Hardcore demographic you're talking about!

Yet another point you fail to touch upon is the vast number of interface improvements over the first game that are so incredibly key to pleasing mainstream Starcraft players. Auto-mine, improved shift-queuing, pathing improvements, ridiculously large control groups (perfect for BGH), improved replays, etc etc etc. These kinds of changes lower the skill ceiling required to compete in ranked matches and also work fantastically for mainstream custom matches.

You do make some good points about sound though. SC2's sound design definitely needs some work, though I doubt any worthwhile changes will happen this late into the game's development cycle.
 
Jan 12, 2007
61,086
1
0
Toronto, ON. Canada
Won said:
Have to disagree there with your Terran and Zerg impressions.

At least I guess. Not exactly sure what your problem with Terran is. Doesn't sound like you spent much time with them.

Zerg on the other end seems to be a complete disaster, but spreading creep is cool I guess.
Even though I like the nerfing of roaches as a Terran player, I would be fucking pissed if I was a zerg player. Roaches were what I feared the most and now I don't fear 'em no more!
 

Orangepeel

Member
Dec 9, 2008
607
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0
shagg_187 said:
Pro? Fuck No! :/
I have my share of glory moments but I'm no pro. Massing marine is the only safe answer in the first 5 minutes against silver players and I'll change my strategy when I reach gold. Either that or you go all out and start massing MMM. I have a fixed agenda (I play with a stopwatch since it prioritizes when I need to attack i.e. exactly 5 minutes) and this is the following order of my work:

11 workers
1st Barrack (Worker A)
2 Supply Depots (Worker B)
2nd Barrack (Worker A) while marine is being built
Send Worker B to mining.
3rd Barrack (Worker A) and Upgrade command center for more mining fun.
3rd Supply Depot by the same worker as marines are constantly being build
4th Barrack followed by 4th and 5th Supply Depot. As the 4th supply depot is being made, I will have 25+ marines.
At exactly 5 minutes, I send all my marines to attack ("A" button do TONs of wonder and is a function that not alot of casual players use. Some casuals just click on to the enemy base and don't realize that when two opponents meet in the middle, his units are getting creamed).
Select the enemy base as spawn point for the barrack and keep on massing marines.
Victory ensures in less than 7 minutes or you're toast and aim for Plan B or Plan C.

No. I don't mine for Vespene gas until I realize mass marines won't work. Stimpack is unnecessary when u have 30+ marines :)
I have to be honest, I haven't really read most of this thread at least yet cause its quite large, but I wanted to comment towards this build.

Being zerg, against terran I almost always open with a baneling bust these days, something that will utterly destroy mass marines, just saying, be careful employing this against us bugs :p
 

CloudAran

Member
Sep 14, 2006
22
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Deadly said:
Exactly, if you do not wish to be good/great and just have fun than the option is left completely optional to you just as it is right now. You can choose to use it which can make you win the battle or you can just not use it and might win or lose and continue to reconstruct your army. However, this contradicts the point that a "Casual-Hardcore" plays for fun first and not to win. But the thing is that if every "optional" ability is automated for you already than that in itself removes the fun of being able to use it does it not?
Hi Deadly, this is Shrieve.mpq and I'd love to field this reply as it's a personal banner of mine in RTS and I think you bring up valid concerns that should be addressed.

Not every optional ability should be automated (and indeed Blizzard would have to choose and test), but those abilities you find yourself repeatedly using in the same way, probably should be(build interceptor anyone?). Using the same ability the same way all the time is repetitive, not fun, even if it can distinguish some players from others by their ability to compensate for this design choice.

Providing auto-cast or automation options provides the player with MORE utility and MORE options. While a skilled player who can handle micromanaging their casters will direct their abilities more intelligently and get the best utility out of a unit, those who cannot are still able to get utility out of a caster-type unit with automation options and any kind of player can shift back and forth between these strategies, providing more choices and power to the player.

Example: Stimpacks - An auto-cast option enables players to make a sort of berzerker squadron that stays stim-buffed any time they're in combat, peaking their damage, but likely diminishing their life expectency because of the lack of management of when they do and don't use this ability anymore. Is a single muta worth 8 marines stimming? Probably not and that sort of bait tempers this option with more skilled players.

A Spawn Larva auto-casting Queen makes base management less menial so you can focus on actual strategic decisions and microing your units away from the hive, but it also would do little good if you leave it auto-cast when you're not using all of the larva quickly enough and saps energy that could be used later to heal important buildings (like sunken colonies or spore colonies). Auto-cast options simply make more strategic options accessible and removes elements of mundane control so that players can focus on the real micro tricks instead of telling units how and when to do obvious things all of their time.
 
Jan 12, 2007
61,086
1
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Toronto, ON. Canada
Orangepeel said:
I have to be honest, I haven't really read most of this thread at least yet cause its quite large, but I wanted to comment towards this build.

Being zerg, against terran I almost always open with a baneling bust these days, something that will utterly destroy mass marines, just saying, be careful employing this against us bugs :p
Yeah, as I said in the other thread this works 75% of the time... and the other 25% of the time I get BASHED UP LIKE NO TOMORROW!

Though, not alot of Zerg players tend to aim for baneling and they aim for rush, so when a terran rushes them instead it catches them by surprise. When I do see a zerg aiming for banelings, I either rush ASAP to prevent that from happening or I just go to plan B, start sucking vespene gas and aim higher. Ofcourse, if a match lasts more than 10 minutes then I've already lost... :(
 

Ferrio

Banned
Jun 7, 2004
56,399
1
0
I'm confused, out of all the races terran is the easiest for a casual. MMM ball will roll most casuals, and is easy as hell to make.
 

Zzoram

Member
Apr 17, 2007
33,495
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0
The game needs A LOT of work balance-wise. I agree that some sounds need to be exaggerated more to be intimidating or satisfying.

The Battle.net UI is pretty bad. It's slow, but worst of all, WHERE IS THE BACK BUTTON? It's a pain to view any profile that isn't your own because once you view something specific, there is no way to go back to the previous selection so you have to find their name and View Profile all over again.
 

ZealousD

Makes world leading predictions like "The sun will rise tomorrow"
Apr 17, 2007
29,342
1
0
Zzoram said:
The game needs A LOT of work balance-wise.
How so? The worst matchup in the game is basically only at 55-45.
 

maniac-kun

Member
Sep 14, 2006
10,062
3
0
Zzoram said:
The game needs A LOT of work balance-wise. I agree that some sounds need to be exaggerated more to be intimidating or satisfying.

The Battle.net UI is pretty bad. It's slow, but worst of all, WHERE IS THE BACK BUTTON? It's a pain to view any profile that isn't your own because once you view something specific, there is no way to go back to the previous selection so you have to find their name and View Profile all over again.
my guess is in the beta break they work like madman on the battle.net ui and some minor tweeks
 

fatty

Member
Sep 6, 2004
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912
1,630
users.ign.com
CloudAran said:
A Spawn Larva auto-casting Queen makes base management less menial so you can focus on actual strategic decisions and microing your units away from the hive, but it also would do little good if you leave it auto-cast when you're not using all of the larva quickly enough and saps energy that could be used later to heal important buildings (like sunken colonies or spore colonies). Auto-cast options simply make more strategic options accessible and removes elements of mundane control so that players can focus on the real micro tricks instead of telling units how and when to do obvious things all of their time.
I get what you're saying and agree for the most part but in regards to the Queen I think she would fall into the same category as the Chrono Boost for Protoss, and that she should not have the auto-cast ability. Since these are more Build-oriented abilities, I think each action should be initiated by the player just as with your overall macro. It's part of the Build Order. The autocast should be geared more toward helping units in combat. Just my thoughts, though.

I got a chance to read over the general thoughts on each race. As a primary Protoss player, I think Blizzard has done a great job with them. Though, as a bronze player, I still wonder how effective the Phoenix and Carrier are compared to the Void Ray. I can't see why someone would opt to teching to Carriers when it seems to me that the Void Ray is more cost effective and a very powerful unit in itself. (this makes me a bit sad as I had such a fondness for the Carrier in SC1) And in my limited time with the game I've yet to see the Phoenixes used enough to warrant their usage. But that's just me. Oh, and the Mothership...still haven't seen it in an online game. But overall, I love the Protoss.

I haven't played the other races enough to give a fair review but overall I am very happy, though I would like to see a bit more variety in the Zerg's race and their abilities.
 

-COOLIO-

The Everyman
Jun 9, 2007
27,189
19
1,475
Ferrio said:
I'm confused, out of all the races terran is the easiest for a casual. MMM ball will roll most casuals, and is easy as hell to make.
when people know how to counter infantry though they become the hardest.

(or so i hear)
 

mbmonk

Member
Jun 17, 2009
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0
I agree with the sound aspect.

I don't particularly care about the music aspect. That coming from a person with SC1 music as my ringtone :D

I am glad that stacking has been removed for air units when it is put in context of that there is no unit selection limit in SC2.

I also feel Blizzard has found the right balance in terms of doing some things automatically for the player ( probe auto split at the beginning, charge for the zealot ) while still leaving plenty of room for players to grow ( having to actively manage your spell casters for example ) at least Protoss wise.
 

CloudAran

Member
Sep 14, 2006
22
0
0
Burlington, VT
ZealousD said:
You also spend a LOT of time bashing Blizzard's handling of the Terran.
If I may, I believe Greg's appraisal is aimed more at examining those things which need feedback and further exploration rather than the many solid changes/additions in SC2. The underlying point was that he feels the Terran unit set and racial strategy/themes need closer examination, still housing some confusion and a bit of awkwardness in places. I myself already played devil's advocate to his appraisal of these aspects of the Terrans, but at the same time I also recognize the issues he raises and support their discussion, because I think many of the things noted are of concern.
 

Deadly

Member
Dec 27, 2006
9,622
0
1,155
CloudAran said:
Hi Deadly, this is Shrieve.mpq and I'd love to field this reply as it's a personal banner of mine in RTS and I think you bring up valid concerns that should be addressed.

Not every optional ability should be automated (and indeed Blizzard would have to choose and test), but those abilities you find yourself repeatedly using in the same way, probably should be(build interceptor anyone?). Using the same ability the same way all the time is repetitive, not fun, even if it can distinguish some players from others by their ability to compensate for this design choice.

Providing auto-cast or automation options provides the player with MORE utility and MORE options. While a skilled player who can handle micromanaging their casters will direct their abilities more intelligently and get the best utility out of a unit, those who cannot are still able to get utility out of a caster-type unit with automation options and any kind of player can shift back and forth between these strategies, providing more choices and power to the player.

Example: Stimpacks - An auto-cast option enables players to make a sort of berzerker squadron that stays stim-buffed any time they're in combat, peaking their damage, but likely diminishing their life expectency because of the lack of management of when they do and don't use this ability anymore. Is a single muta worth 8 marines stimming? Probably not and that sort of bait tempers this option with more skilled players.

A Spawn Larva auto-casting Queen makes base management less menial so you can focus on actual strategic decisions and microing your units away from the hive, but it also would do little good if you leave it auto-cast when you're not using all of the larva quickly enough and saps energy that could be used later to heal important buildings (like sunken colonies or spore colonies). Auto-cast options simply make more strategic options accessible and removes elements of mundane control so that players can focus on the real micro tricks instead of telling units how and when to do obvious things all of their time.
True things such as having an auto-cast for interceptors is normal. But they need the interceptors to attack. Most caster-units can still attack but using their abilities is the essence of them and what makes them possibly game-changing but is still optional.

The Spawn Larvae on Queen as auto-cast would be most ridiculous. For one, the ability is used mostly as a way to build units faster. As per the description of "Casual-Hardcore", games will already last longer than 30 minutes. If you enjoy games where you tech, and build your units until the end tree than the Queen's ability to Spawn Larvae is more or so rendered useless as it would only accelerate the speed of the game.
 

joelseph

Member
Sep 28, 2006
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I am shocked that sound and music would play such a big part in your appraisal of this competitive game. For me it is more about balance (which I think is great) and options (which are staggering).

One issue I have with the game currently is the lack of people in matchmaking at my same skill level. But that should be rectified come August.
 

The Lamonster

Member
Aug 12, 2007
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The Lamonster said:
This might sound silly, but my major gripe with the beta is the menu UI. Go back and look at the Warcraft III UI and when you click those buttons, there is an immediate sound and a "pressing-in" animation. It's faster and more satisfying.

With StarCraft II, you click a button such as "Multiplayer" and there is a slight delay and no animation to let you know you've clicked it. Annoying.
maniac-kun said:
they have to work on the UI the animation lag when you start the game is distracting
Glad I'm not the only one who thinks so!
 

Ferrio

Banned
Jun 7, 2004
56,399
1
0
fatty said:
I got a chance to read over the general thoughts on each race. As a primary Protoss player, I think Blizzard has done a great job with them. Though, as a bronze player, I still wonder how effective the Phoenix and Carrier are compared to the Void Ray. I can't see why someone would opt to teching to Carriers when it seems to me that the Void Ray is more cost effective and a very powerful unit in itself. (this makes me a bit sad as I had such a fondness for the Carrier in SC1) And in my limited time with the game I've yet to see the Phoenixes used enough to warrant their usage. But that's just me. Oh, and the Mothership...still haven't seen it in an online game. But overall, I love the Protoss.
Phoenixes definitely have their place. Carriers are at an odd position though, void rays are cheaper and do a better job overall far as I can tell. Motherships have gotton screwed over too much by losing it's abilities., they need to rehaul it completely IMO. If you're just going to turn it into an arbiter, give us an arbiter.