Probe On Stormgate’s Balance: “I think the current Infernals are much easier to play.”

Volamel 2024-03-05 07:43:47

Sean "Probe" Kempen is one of the top players in Frost Giant Studios flagship RTS, Stormgate. Past just his strength in Stormgate, the Australian native has been competing in other RTS titles since 2013 alongside ROOT Gaming and Legacy Esports. Probe spoke with Esports Heaven about his recent performance at the EGC Stormgate Open, if Infernal Host is actually broken, and more! Author's Note: This interview was conducted before the conclusion of the EGC Stormgate Open.
Also Read Stormgate Build Order: Infernal 1 Vault/3 Conclave All-in
What is harder; running your first marathon or drawing yet another Infernal Host player on the ladder? Probe: Running my first half marathon was 1000 times harder, and possibly the hardest thing I've done in my life.  Mostly because my training was extremely interrupted due to injury.  In regards to Stormgate though, I really enjoy playing non-mirror matchups, so I enjoy any challenge that comes my way.      We've seen some developments in the meta as some top Infernal players have started to open 1 Conclave into an expansion. What's the thought process here, do you feel it's slightly greedy perhaps? Probe: The development of the meta has been very interesting.  Usually, it will start with one side being more aggressive than the other.  This was the Infernal starting with 2 production buildings and taking all the creep camps.  Now there was a patch to nerf this, but Vanguard players were starting to figure out great ways to counter this.  So naturally the Infernal players became more defensive, and then as a result of that going Command Post first became viable, because we had scared the Infernal player so much.  Just today we've seen Infernal start to get aggressive again to punish the greed from Vanguard.  So we'll have to wait and see exactly how it plays out. 
Also Read: A Beginner’s Guide on how to play Stormgate by a Noob
Each map seems to have its own unique mechanic to it. Is that something you enjoy or is that something that, at the highest level, could cause more problems than anything else? Probe: I think it is very important that in the beta we try out as many different map designs as possible, and try to balance around these designs. One major criticism of Starcraft II is that every map looks the same, and honestly this is done because of some major design flaws in the races needing to be covered by the maps.  If Stormgate can balance around not needing walls, having multiple entrances to bases, and having a variety of unique creep camps out on the map, then in the long run the game is going to be much more enjoyable. Now, there are some extremely imbalanced maps at the moment. But it's a beta, that's fine and we can learn more about the game at these extremes.  I'm really looking forward to the community getting their hands on the editor because then we will get some great maps.      One of the biggest pieces of discourse at the moment in Stormgate is around race balance. What's your take on the current balance of Infernal and Vanguard? It feels as though many players are pointing towards Infernal as being imbalanced without really diving into why they believe that. What are your thoughts? Probe: I think the current Infernals are much easier to play. They are rather straightforward and have a lot of strong weapons immediately available.  The charge system on the buildings also makes it more forgiving to players with less of a rhythm to their macro.  However, as you rise the ranks, Vanguard players will make you sweat. The Vanguard army is extremely strong at the moment, so if you can't get any damage done then it tends to snowball into an unkillable army.  Unkillable. Unless you are a very good Infernal player. At which point I think the matchup favours Infernal again. 
Also Read: Stormgate Build Order: Infernal 2 Base Spriggans
As I was listening to some of Jared "PiG" Krensel's content he mentioned that you enjoyed Stormgate's unit control and how quickly Frost Giant is changing/fixing the movement. What's the next piece of unit control that you hoped to see fixed in Stormgate?  Probe: The most important thing to get right in an RTS game is the movement of your army.  They had a lot of issues early on with pathing and unit selection, but these have mostly been resolved which is great.  Overall sometimes units still ignore commands or don't attack things even when I range, so these bugs should be addressed quickly.  I also think some of the AI for attack priority could be looked at.  If a worker is attack moving your units can ignore them and attack building defensive structures.  Similarly, the Hornet doesn't prioritise units that shoot up, instead just attack what is closest.  Eventually, we would get used to these things, but they can be a bit frustrating right now.  You had some strong words for EGC around their recent qualifiers for the Stormgate Open. Can you describe your experience with the event?  Probe: I have been a pro gamer for about 10 years, and while esports isn't always known for its professionalism most of that time has been rather pleasant and easygoing. Unfortunately, they had issues with their bracket software, and I was forced to wait 3 hours (as did everyone else) before the first games of the tournament could be played. I had woken up to play this tournament at 2 am, it was then 5 am and then somehow I was completely removed from the bracket and they could not add me back in.  Very frustrating and exhausting experience.  It is very tough for Australians to play these international tournaments, the time zones just don't favour us.      On the topic of criticisms, Stormgate hasn't won everyone over because of how new the beta is and its lack of content. However, from the hours you've put in and the agility the developers are iterating with, do you think Stormgate has good bones to build on? Probe: I think reasonable people understand that it is a beta and there is limited content.  With how early Frost Giants announced the game, I think some people expected it to be further along.  Instead, they are bringing the community in very early to help with design and testing (and they do listen).  Personally, I do think it should be called an alpha, and early access the beta.  Some people I know don't like the graphics and feel of the game. To them I would say, just play it, soak it in. You learn to love it. Most people have had this experience, but it grows on them.  That isn't to say that visual clarity shouldn't be improved.  They have a long way to go.  Overall I think when more coop missions are added, the third race and tier 3 units are added, and we get a look at the campaign, then I think people will be even more on board.  At that point there will be a lot of replayability and a great base for them to build off for future content.  The thing I'm most excited for is when we are many years down the line and a new player picks up the game and are immediately about to play 15 campaigns back to back. I think that will be a great experience.  Lastly, now that we're six years removed from you reading the "Mind Gym" how do you feel like you've grown as a person, but also as a player? Do you feel like esports, in general, lacks the willingness and perhaps the resources to focus on the mental aspect of competition?  Probe: Esports taught me a lot about myself.  What motivates me, what kind of tasks I enjoy, the conditions I need to be in to perform at my peak.  I am able to apply this to my everyday life and ‘real job’.  I do think the mental aspect is often ignored, mostly because it's a young person's game and the maturity might not be there yet.  I used to get quite frustrated at Starcraft II and I still do. But I've learnt how to deal with these emotions and harness them for good. 
Images via Frost Giant Studios.

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