We’re currently nearing the three month mark since the official announcement of StarCraft: Remastered. Incidentally, we’ll be crossing that mark around the same time that we, in the northern hemisphere, head into summer. With that, we’ll be within the three month window of StarCraft: Remastered’s release.
At this point, we’ve either (optimistically) passed the halfway mark or (more realistically) we’re soon nearing it. With that in mind, I think it’s a good time to review what we’ve learned in the last few weeks as we explore the possibilities of what’s still to come.
One of the biggest gaps separating Brood War from modern esports is the lack of an automated matchmaking system. Introducing a global ladder to a 20 year old game is an ambitious undertaking. Given the scale of the project, we’re not at all likely to see any form of an operational ladder, at least until the new StarCraft client goes into open beta.
In the meantime, we were given our first look at the new global leaderboards within the last few days.
The most interesting feature of the new global standings is very telling of how serious the Blizzard Classic Games Team is about preserving the culture of the longstanding Brood War community. Players are able to view the online status of any player on the leaderboard. This is a feature currently absent from the StarCraft II ladder as well as most modern leaderboards. I’m sure to most, it seems almost irrelevant.
However, it is a feature highly relevant to the Brood War culture that has survived for over 20 years through chat-based match requests. Indeed, it is almost archaic by modern standards.
And yet a culture was built upon this foundation, and in South Korea continued to thrive well into 2017.
A key concern has been the impact of the new matchmaking system on Brood War’s unique social structure. It goes without saying, attempting to introduce an automatic global ladder while preserving the sense of intimacy of a chat based system seems entirely impossible, yet with a simple online/offline flag they’ve managed to preserve a little sense of this, an unexpected feat that I can only offer Blizzard the highest praise for accomplishing.
Of the new features Blizzard has taken the time to highlight, this is the only one to date the community has been given the opportunity to test. Rebind-able hotkeys was a feature available in the earliest builds of the 1.18 Public Test Realm (PTR). It was removed after 1.18 went live and has not been available for testing again since.
But for the fortunate few of us that were able to test this feature, the impact absolutely cannot be understated. Very early into the 1.18 PTR, a profile for rebinding Brood War hotkeys into StarCraft II’s popular grid format emerged. Created by a user on the Team Liquid forums.
To put as simply as possible, the experience of playing Brood War using Grid was amazing. Despite being 20 years old, it felt like an entirely an entirely modern game, it was almost cathartic. With the visuals of the game being updated (though some would argue that matter is simply a difference in art-style preference), the controls were really the only major anchor tying StarCraft to 1998. That anchor was been pulled and the ship made good course.
Unfortunately, given the length of time Keybinds have been off the PTR, it’s not likely to return until the new client emerges. If I’m to be honest and speaking as someone that started their StarCraft journey with StarCraft II, if custom hotkeys were still available on the Brood War PTR, I wouldn’t still be playing StarCraft II today.
There’s been no word on the new client, though there were expectations of an announcement being made at the recent ASL Finals. Still, StarCraft: Remastered was unveiled on the day of the StarCraft II GSL Finals, with GSL Season 2 soon coming to a close, there’s still hope of more information just around the corner.
Featured images courtesy Blizzard Entertainment.
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