Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Review: HotKeyIt StarCraft 2 Guide

The truth is that StarCraft 2 is a hard game, improving by yourself is tough and will take too long for most people to get truly good; luckily there are many aids available to help you train to be better. For those willing to pay a monthly subscription there is the starcraft 2 guide HotKeyIt. It's a testament to the game that there is such a passionate community built around StarCraft 2 and, whilst you do have to pay $4.95 a month for this service, I don't think it would be possible to have this level of content without some sort of fee. For your money you get access to an ever expanding library of videos created by high level Grandmaster coaches and access to forums.
The website itself is pretty standard, if a little bland, but gets the job done. The whole website is very simple to use and it didn't take long at all for me to work out where everything was that would be relevant to me, as a Terran, was and where the forums are. All of the videos are well tagged and named so that you know what type of video each one is and for what race it is for. As this is a subscription service there are no adverts, either on the website itself or in the videos, as you would expect.    

Initially HotKeyIt seems to offer an overwhelming number of videos, but they are all well sorted by each of the match-ups, by lesson type or if they are part of a series they go into a separate place. There are multiple types of videos available ranging from simple macro mechanics tutorials to in depth strategies. The feature I was most impressed with was Leak Finder, where one of the coaches would take a replay from the community and analyse it. At first I was concerned that Grandmasters wouldn't be able to relate to silver league issues, but it turns out that problems are universal and the advise given was useful.
With this sort of service it is important that new videos are regularly produced to keep up with shifts in the meta-game, and this is something that HotKeyIt manages to do; with new videos added every few days. Each race has one or two main coaches, who create videos on a regular basis, so over time the number of videos will only increase. As well as the main coaches there is a number of other coaches, including some very well known names like Spanishiwa and desRow, who have also produced some content.

I think that with a service like this it is important to have communication between the content developers and the community; sometimes answering what may seem like a stupid question can completely change how somebody thinks about the game and improve their play. HotKeyIt keeps up communication in a number of ways. Firstly, there is a forum where members can talk amongst themselves, ask questions of the content creators and where updates can be posted. Secondly, each video has a comments section where users can talk about the video or ask question of the video's creator. Lastly, there is the aforementioned Leak Finder, which gives direct feedback to a member of the community but is also useful for others.
From what I saw all of the coaches have enough charisma to create interesting and informative videos without awkward silences and too much 'umming' and 'arring'. Settings quality does depend from coach to coach, but then you can't expect everyone to have a rig good enough to record ultra on, and if you are used to watching pro streams it shouldn't be a problem to watch on low. In regards to audio I never had problems with the quality of the mic used or with the in game sound being too loud or too quiet.

Overall I think that the main draws of this website are it's breadth and the responsiveness of the content creators. It's intuitive interface allows you to easily choose videos to target the areas where you are weakest; I have seen people suggest what they would like future videos to be about and then the coach follow through and make it. If you are stuck in a rut or just know you could be better then HotKeyIt is definitely a useful tool to achieve this. The website's design may not be that great, but the content is worthy of attention; if you are willing to spend $4.95 a month I would absolutely recommend this service.

1 comment:

  1. I've tried it out and liked it so far as well. The price is super cheap... I think these are the guys from world of warcraft skill-capped.com if I'm not mistaken. Pretty awesome.