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Why is starcraft accessible, other than network effect?

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2 months ago
So I have been watching Starcraft replays for a few days, and ive been looking at the game design, and how it is addictive even though it is so horribly linear and relies on APM to have any chance of competing in the leagues.
+0 / -0

2 months ago
TL;DR;
* stuff fits on one screen
* Range of everything is never more than like 7 or 8 times the size of a unit
  • which means that the game is and has to be played with all the shiny graphics in view
  • plus there are loads and loads of other effects.
* the scale of the game is the core idea upon which it is designed
  • for example "upper and lower ground" is not analogous to "real life" but designed to support the basic premise.

If we can look at these things, and work out a complexity ladder of Zero K which brings people from focussing on one tiny screen of information, up to focussing on a whole battle field, I feel there is a chance we can bring people on their starcraft off time into the zero k universe
+1 / -0

2 months ago
The blizzard design of things is why i'm here and not there.
sure millions love that big bubbly playskool looking shit. but it's shit.
When people get sick of being treated like that, they find zk.
+3 / -0


2 months ago
ZK goes with a compromise between Starcraft's visual accessibility and Supcom's "epic" strategic zoom, and sprinkles some physics on top.

As a downside, a lot of our projectiles are extremely slow by standards of other games. I mean, you can probably throw a rock faster than Ronin missile flies. As an upside, ZK does have a bit less icon wars than i see in Supcom replays.
+2 / -0

2 months ago
I may be alone in this but after playing zk, I found starcraft [and most other RTS] unplayable.

they are, to put it as generously as possible, clunky, obtrusive, lacking in depth yet at the same time overtly complicated.

Aside from the pretty UI and big marketing fund I see in them little to no redeeming value. [maybe some single player storyline are good but it's so sujective]

It's only my personal opinion though.
+3 / -0
2 months ago
Marketing. It's all marketing.

Give the devs a million bucks to spend on advertising and you'd see how ZK would take off.
+1 / -0
2 months ago
maybe it isn't accessible in terms of pvp, it's just that
- it's a polished game: all models, animations, maps, look very nice and consistent
- polished campaign
- great map editor, lots of custom modes (this happened also on starcraft I and warcraft III)
- got lots of people due to looks, marketing and the starcraft I legacy
- people attract people (namely competitive people)

This leads to it having lots more people playing, streaming, etc. It's not a "winner takes all" but it's still a "winner takes most".

After playing spring engine games, I too find it difficult to play rts without line movement and free zoom.
+1 / -0

2 months ago
I think that Starcraft have an easier and more addictive learning experience.
Timing attacks are a large part of Starcraft strategy. However, in order to actually perform a timing attack, you need to practice your buildorders furiously and constantly improve your micro and macro. This means that you can keep doing the same thing over and over and improve slightly each game. The success of your build order will be pretty random due to your opponents build order and overall skill so potentially you can just say to yourself "I have to do better next time" and keep doing the same thing next game without understanding the strategic implications.

In Zero-K it is rather the inverse. Build orders are very fluid to the point that I, as one of the best players, can't even really recommend a build order to new players because they are too map and situation specific. Instead new players should mostly focus on learning the macro and understanding the different unit archetypes and how to expand and take map control. Sure, a player can reach top 20 in Zero-K just by learning how to expand and raid properly but the strategy and macro involved is much more fluid than the strict build order Rock-Papper-Scissors that will make you straight up lose games in Starcraft. I think the Rock-Papper-Scissors of Expansion->Defense->Harassment->Expansion in Zero-K is more dynamic than the strict build order RPS in Starcraft. This also makes it harder to judge if you lose because your macro sucks or just made too many units/defenses and let your enemy expand without hindrance.

Another thing that I think throws off Starcraft players is that the UI is somewhat unresponsive in some regards like single unit selection and single unit targeting. Players who like Zero-K will see past this and focus on the higher level of control and disregard this lack of fine level control but personally I have started to become more and more sensitive to this as I try to improve my micro.
+8 / -0

2 months ago
Offtopic but to further add to Godde's comment about single unit target problems - it's a big annoyance to me too. Whether it be my scallop inbetween multiple units and NOT firing at the exposed sniper, or my kodachi focusing a solar plant instead of the 4 glaives coming up behind it, or my grizzly firing at a jack when there's a firewalker being clicked on, you get the picture. I swear that my units frequently ignore what I am telling them to fire at unless I use T and even that's iffy. The problem seems worse the slower firing rate the unit is.
+1 / -0


2 months ago
I've taken to just using Attack (i.e. the red button defaulting to 'F') rather than Set Target. If I use Set Target, units will attack if convenient, but using Attack my units will chase, and if I micro them they retain the Attack target as if I used Set Target.

As for StarCraft's accessibility: BGH/Fastest Map Possible and custom maps in general, they let you play with the units like toys.

The base ruleset of the game is really hard to get into, even back when it was new and people weren't 300APM gods, but maps like BGH allow people to just play with the toybox of units without having to learn all the macro stuff first. On top of that there are the other custom maps that allow playing with the toybox of units in a variety of ways, so even if only a small fraction of people who start up StarCraft play ladder, they've had plenty of time playing around with the units and buildings, and so are familiar enough with them to understand what they are seeing happen in a competitive match, at least to be able to roughly decipher what units are doing what.

Now, you might say "but Shadowfury, Zero-K's units are a much better toy set than StarCraft's", and I'd agree (hell, I spent the first few months I was here just playing around on the old Isis Delta tutorial map), but unfortunately having ways to play with the units as toys with a variety of rules, rather than just play the standard competitive ladder game, is not an option, or at least not one that's easy to implement and distribute.
+2 / -0
2 months ago
SErankGodde GBrankSparkles
Is this what you are talking about?
https://github.com/ZeroK-RTS/Zero-K/issues/3093
+0 / -0

2 months ago
No.
https://github.com/ZeroK-RTS/Zero-K/issues/3025
Should be fixed in the next version. Edit: It is actually fixed in current Zero-K.
Single unit targeting is a little more tricky though. I haven't even made a proper ticket. This applies for several commands such as repair, attack and setTarget. It is mostly that you might get an area command instead if you move the mouse a little which can miss the intended target if the center of the target is not above the area command on the ground.

Also since some engine change long ago, SetTarget command have conflicting priority in many situations that I haven't fully tested.
+0 / -0

2 months ago
Expanding on this again, sea units are the absolute worst offenders for bad prioritizing of targets. In range of a mex but your ships aren't shooting at it because they're trying to shoot an underwater commander that they can't? Great.

BTW Fealthas, that would be a great thing to have when the issue is unit being out of range, but I think the problem exits with multiple in range targets too. It's totally a prioritization override / units just ignoring your direct choice.
+1 / -0


2 months ago
The main drive of Starcraft's success is likely marketing, polish, and history. However, Starcraft does succeeded in a fair few areas and it is worth taking a look at. Unfortunately many of the things that Starcraft does well are inseparable from the things I'd expect USrankStStephenHawking (and others) to dislike about it.

Skill Progression


I've been disappointed that Starcraft focuses on "playing against the UI", but it has advantages. Activities with short feedback loops, or that can be repeated without depending too much on the actions of other players, are relatively easy to practise and are good sources of a sense of achievement. Executing build orders, macro (micromanaging your economy), and micro (micromanaging your army in a battle) are all activities that fit this description. Games of Starcraft have relatively long periods of no direct interaction between players. This gives players the opportunity to hone their solo-skills. I'm not saying improving at Starcraft is easy, it just seems more straightforward than improving at Zero-K.

Zero-K removes many of the unambiguous solo-skills in the name of letting players "fight their opponent, not the UI". Good and bad builds still exist in Zero-K, but the difference between them tends to be in decision making instead of execution. It is relatively easy to detect faults in the execution of a build order in Starcraft. It is much harder to see why a decision is bad, and I think this makes it harder to feel a sense of progress. It seems like Starcraft's focus on execution helps players fell like they know how to improve.

Once you look for them, there are quite a few things that make it harder to know how to improve at Zero-K.
  • Starcraft games are more discrete. In Zero-K you should maintain a constant rate of expansion and, at higher levels, constantly scout, poke, and raid your opponent. Starcraft is more about expanding in bursts and short decisive battles.
  • Compared to Zero-K, Starcraft maps are basically all the same. The starting bases are especially well standardised. This allows people to pick the same race and build every game, and to better compare their performance between maps.
  • An upfront payment economy punishes players that mess up much faster than a flow economy. Once you have 1000 minerals you know that you did something wrong. It takes longer to excess in Zero-K and it is often harder to pinpoint why.

Responsiveness


The units in Starcraft are more responsive than the units of Zero-K. Of course, this is by design because smart units with instant turn rates and un-dodgable projectiles would be degenerate and a lack of smartness results in the kind of micro that Zero-K aims to avoid. The fact remains that units do exactly what you tell them to in Starcraft, while in Zero-K they often have to turn and negotiate other limitations of their movement physics.

Here is the essence of the control schemes of the two games.
  • Starcraft - Give players simple commands, but highly responsive, commands. The intended challenge is the communication of complex maneuvers (eg. spliting, kiting) under the bandwidth restriction of the commands. Units are excellent at executing the simple commands promptly.
  • Zero-K - Give players a wide array of powerful commands, but restrict the units ability to act on them. The intended challenge is in deciding what to do under the restriction of the unit physics.
Obviously Starcraft has decisions and Zero-K has challenging micro. Starcraft also has unit physics, but it rarely gets in the way of a players desire to make a unit walk somewhere or shoot a target.

I think there is a tradeoff between responsiveness and command complexity. Applying the extremes of both doesn't seem like it would work well. The various infinite-APM Starcraft AIs show that unit behaviour can look pretty degenerate when units are both highly responsive and able to recieve complex commands. At the other end, unresponsive games with simple commands just feel bad to play (in my experience).

This is what extremely responsive units can do with perfect control:


The commands are even slightly more responsive in Starcraft. Zero-K's commands are issued when the mouse button is released, as almost any command may be dragged to issue a line or area version of that command. Starcraft has no line or area commands so is able to issue its commands when the mouse is pressed. I'd be interested to know the effect of this. Perhaps some Starcraft (or other RTS) players were turned off Zero-K because they subconsciously perceived the sort of command lag inherent in this distinction between the two games.

Simplicity


Starcraft has much simpler units than Zero-K. This helps responsiveness and possibly makes the basics of the unit easier to grasp. For example, they lack turning circles, occlusion and the possibility of missing. They are more complex in terms of non-physical attributes such as build cost and armour class, but this complexity is somewhat hidden from new players. The thing that new players are first exposed to, the unit physics, is much simpler.

The physics of Zero-K units contains pitfalls that experienced players learn to avoid with good command habits. These pitfalls tend to be required to make the unit behave correctly, so they are hard to remove. For example, if you point-move some units and tell them to attack something the units at the back will be unable to fire. This causes the unit clump to push itself into the enemy forces, making it weak to AoE and deal barely any damage. This trap comes from the fairly important mechanic of allied projectile occlusion.

Starcraft units are also simpler in the sense that they can only do one thing at a time. Most Zero-K units can do two things at once: move and fire. Consider some of the reasons that Starcraft units tend to have less trouble with target prioritisation.
  • They hold fire while moving, so it is relatively easy to have them move and then instantly fire at the desired target.
  • Their burst rates are relatively high. No 20s Lances in Starcraft.
  • They always hit (unless things such as blink occur).
  • They fire in strict circles, with no occlusion or relativistic effects.
+6 / -0
2 months ago
relevant:
https://www.teamliquid.net/forum/games/311406-zero-k-free-open-source-rts-game

+1 / -0


2 months ago
Maybe it makes sense to have an option (or even make this the default) to only allow creating area orders if you press the relevant command key first. So you'd have to do A-drag to issue an area attack (or click the order in the UI and drag) but you'd never get hit by trying to target a unit and accidentally issuing a tiny area attack.

As area attack is a pretty rare thing to do, maybe this should be a no-option default but only for attack.
+0 / -0
2 months ago
quote:
As area attack is a pretty rare thing to do, maybe this should be a no-option default but only for attack.

Um but you need it for bombing with e.g. ravens.
+0 / -0

2 months ago
I use area attack all the time in place of single attack commands because single target commands are kinda hard to do if you are trying to move the mouse quickly or are making sweeping mouse movements.
+1 / -0

2 months ago
Also don't forget that if that unit disappears from radar, the bombers will stop a single attack and just fly around where they are without letting you know they've given up.
+2 / -0

2 months ago
quote:
Also don't forget that if that unit disappears from radar, the bombers will stop a single attack and just fly around where they are without letting you know they've given up.

You're getting fogged. Given it's annoying to you.. I think this needs to stay. If you don't have vision, and your target gets a jammer up before your strafe, they need to be rewarded slightly. You're just going to micro to the location anyway.
Edit: I now realize you were contrasting area-A which circumvents this.

I may sound polarized against accessibility, but it truly pigeonholes an experience. The other day in the lob pot, a Krow got blown out of the sky bigtime, the wreck careened and skid halfway across the map, landing at my commander's feet. I wasn't even sure which team it was from. An 1800m gift from physics.

Physics models in games can be rage inducing, ZK just kinda slapped a harness on it and it's fun.

+0 / -0
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