When Blizzard recently invited both press and pro Starcraft players to its shiny new Irvine, CA headquarters for the unveiling of the Zerg, it amazed me how many questions and how much concern there was from the pro players about the game-speed options. Lead Designer Dustin Brodwer said that Blizzard has gotten negative feedback from the community about how gameplay footage released over the past few months, which shows the game running at normal speed, appears to be "super slow". He reassured them that the game currently has both "fast" and "Faster" settings, and that the dev team is considering adding a "fastest"
I don't blame Blizzard in the slightest for giving its community what it wants (it's something the company does exceptionally well), but in my opinion, people who play RTS games at accelerated speeds are missing the point. I'm not saying that playing that way isn't an amazing skill, and I'm not denigrating the accomplishments of professional RTS players (those guys sure kicked the snot out of me when I tried to play against them), but are we really in such a hurry that a game has to be over ithihn 10 minutes? When i wrote a couple of months ago about how refreshing the pace of Sins of a Solar Empire is in comparion to the breakneck pace of games like Starcraft and Command & Conquer 3, I was talking about playing those games on normal speed.
At high speed, a game ceases to be a simulation of a real battlefield. Yes, we're playing in the far future with aliens and lasers and everything else, but come on. everybody's zipping around so fast that the screen looks like a shaken-up ant farm-which might make sense for the Zerg, but for marines to move like that en enormous suits of power armor is ridiculous, unless those resources crystals are supposed to be crystal meth. (that would explain why they're always out to score more.)
What's worse, though, is wthat when you're playing at that rate, you can go ahead and toss strategy out the window along with the realism. Min/maxers (people who bust out Microsoft Excel to figure out how to build the strongest possible force with the minimum possible time/resource investment) make the real strategic value of many RTS games debatable at normal speeds, but when sped up to two or three or four times as fast, it's not even a questions. It's no longer about out-thinking your opponent and the big picture, it's about reflexes, rehearsal of a super effecient build order, and micromanaging individual unit movement and abilities-no higher-level thinking required.
In their Q&A and feedback time with Browder, some of the pro players (was there even any PRO players there? this was press only event to my knowlege. he was probably refering to the TL.net guys) noted that due to the changes made between Starcraft 1 and 2 there were a few moments when, while waiting for resources to acumulate or units to build, they felt they "didn't have anything to do." Isn't that when you're suposed to think?
I got yelled at a couple times during that trip for hosting a game and setting the speed to normal instead of fast or faster. I yelled back that if the game was supposed to be played at those speeds, they would be called normal.