Heart Of The Swarm Pencilled In For Q2 2012

By Quintin Smith on October 8th, 2010 at 9:58 am.

Kerrigan: third hottest of all spiky, chitinous aliens.

Battle.net project director Craig Canessa mentioned at GDC Online yesterday that StarCraft II’s first expansion, Heart of the Swarm, is at least 18 months away, which is a lot of months. Take your current age and add 1.5 years to it. That’s “at least” how old you’ll be when Heart of the Swarm comes out, with its new single player campaign and new multiplayer content. Won’t you be a little old for games then? It’ll be time to pack it in and buy a Renault Twingo, surely. Might as well bookmark this now.

The original StarCraft got Brood War within 8 months, in case you were wondering. Anyway! Click past the jump for the highlights of Blizzard’s new developer diary, including balance changes planned for the next patch.

Basically, more good news for Zerg players like me. The post says that Zerg are only played 23.5% of the time in 1v1 game matches, which Blizzard don’t think is a good sign. BEHOLD:

• We’re increasing roach range. This will allow roaches to be more effective in large groups, giving the zerg more options in the mid to end game.

• Fungal Growth will now prevent Blink, which will give zerg a way to stop endlessly Blinking stalkers which can be very challenging to deal with in large numbers.

• The Barracks are going to require a Supply Depot, which will impact a lot of early terran reaper pushes.

• The reaper speed upgrade will require the Factory, which is meant to weaken a lot of the early terran reaper attacks that dominate so many matches, especially in team games.

• We’re making a number of increases to the health of zerg buildings, which will make the very vulnerable zerg technology structures more resistant to raids. We don’t expect these hit point changes to have a super significant impact on the game, but the current numbers felt way too low.

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76 Comments »

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  1. Rinox says:

    FIIIIINNAAALLLYYYYY (@ Zerg tweaks)

    Right now it’s almost impossible to win against a good Terran (in particular) or Protoss player if you allow them to get to mid-game tech. It’s early rush or bust for me.

    Also, 18 months?i Jeez. That’s a long time from now…

  2. Kakrafoon says:

    Bah, I’m not interested in a Zerg campaign anyway (slimy rushing tyranid-ripoffs that they are). I’d much rather kill gazillions of them in another Terran campaign.

  3. Malfernion says:

    Interesting.. Generally a bit longer than i expect to wait for an expansion. Are the Blizzard guys referring to it as an expansion then? I was really looking forward to zerg single player sooner.

  4. Tei says:

    (I trough this is fun, but I accept that micro in RTS is a style, so is ok that it exist, anyway is a big joke waiting to be made… )

    “Just like Clark Kent goes through a telephone booth to become Superman, micromanagers need to learn how to transform themselves into leaders of people. They need to learn not to over-intellectualize tactical issues and avoid getting into a stupor over statistics.

    Leaders focus relentlessly on simplicity, empowerment and people development. Micromanagers help employees to perceive themselves as they are, while leaders help them to understand what they can become in future.

    Micromanagers just twist your arm, but leaders sway your opinion.”
    – – – –


    Why does he dictate how you should do your work or magnifies your every move under a microscope? It is important to understand what motivates a micromanager to command and control, even if it is unknowingly.
    i

    More often than not, he dreads being wrong! His biggest fear is not being able to instantly have all the facts ready at his fingertips at a moment’s notice. Most micromanagers tend to have a controlling tendency and simply don’t believe that outstanding work will be done without their constant intervention.

    They might be offended by any suggestion that people under their span of control suffer under their dictating style. This is a reflection of their typical low level of self-awareness. Micromanagers do not realize that they end up doing more harm than good for employee morale.

  5. Brumisator says:

    My computer is worth more than my car, but in 1.5 years, that will have changed! Nooooooooooooooo!

  6. coldwave says:

    LICTOR ALPHA EVERYWHERE

    Oh, wrong game.

  7. Gap Gen says:

    I’ve been playing 3v3 with people using only one unit type per player. Watching someone build only banelings and then suicide-bomb giant armies is a joy to behold. Also, Thors are actually pretty rubbish on their own.

    “The Barracks are going to require a Supply Depot, which will impact a lot of early terran reaper pushes.”
    Not sure I like this. Makes the Terrans that bit weaker in the very early game.

    • mrmud says:

      Funday Monday?

    • Rinox says:

      I dunno. I think the only thing it’ll do is prevent a super early reaper rush. Other, more defensive tactics are all dependent of supply depots anyway (like ramp blocking and marine/marauder production).

      Blizzard seems to have made the right decision by keeping the reapers in pretty much as they were (ie as a very effective and fast guerilla unit), but removing the option of using them to their full strength in the early game, which was horrificly effective in the hands of a skilled microer.

    • K says:

      If roaches get (at least) +1 reach, they can also do something against masses of reapers, which are a huge issue for zerg right now, since you pretty much need air to kill those nasty reapers as they outrange and outrun roaches with proper micro, and if you don’t get them away, they will take down all your drones in mere seconds, and kill off buildings insanely fast too.

      And don’t get me started on the transition from reapers to marauders when the zerg was forced to build mass roaches. Marauders versus roaches is like single player: Stimmed terrans, healed up easily and tons of zerg carcasses.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yeah, Funday Monday practice. We won once, too, using Vikings/marines/banelings. The marines took most of the damage, with my vikings hitting and running resource patches. We lost the other games, though, some pathetically quickly (partly as Thors are so bad on their own).

    • Nallen says:

      If I knew 2 people I’d have a go with thor/infestor/muta.

      I bet 90% of what he gets is MMM. F’ing Terrans.

      I’m also really hoping we get a Day[9] viewers vs Day[9] viewers match this time.

      Hey RPSers, how about some eSports coverage?

    • K says:

      I seriously hope someone goes Infestor/High Templar/Raven.

    • Gap Gen says:

      For the maximum annoyance, I suspect something with banelings and reapers in it would be up there.

  8. elephant_god says:

    There is definitely too little Minecraft content in this post. Can’t you at least link to some Starcraft-Minecraft-Mod or some Minecraft-Starcraft-Mod? If there is no such thing, i call dibs.

  9. Malagate says:

    Now I want to know who is 1st and 2nd hottest of all spiky chitinous aliens. I would guess 2nd is the monster from Species and 1st is the alien from Alien? Although it’s not that spiky, it is phwoar…

    • Rich says:

      A thing for black quadrupedal penises, have you?

    • Urael says:

      Stop…

      The full-grown Giger Alien has nothing to do with a penis. Biologically, it’s the Facehugger form that carries the eggs/sperm. In terms of Design, the Alien head’s shape was originally modelled on the interior shape of the female vagina…inverted, and with added teeth.

      …Carry on. :)

    • Nallen says:

      Oh the FEMALE vagina, thanks for clearing that up…

  10. Angel Dust says:

    If it’s as large, varied and jam packed with detail as the Terran campaign is then I don’t mind waiting 18 months., which I assume is the plan?

    And hopefully the writing is better or perhaps a better fit this time. I’m not expecting much of a rise in quality but I think the portentous soap opera stuff works better for the alien races as we’re free, or at the very least a few steps removed from, the tired old human archetypes.

  11. kulik says:

    …the endless balance struggle of most RTS games.

  12. Driadan says:

    I need a “wot I think” for a renault twingo!!

    Is it 3 or 4 thumbs up?

    • Premium User Badge

      sonofsanta says:

      Surely depends on how many toddlers you have strapped in in the back, ready to go to nursery. It could be as many as ten thumbs up if you take your hands off the steering wheel, you irresponsible scamp!

    • BooleanBob says:

      I am 23 and my dream car is a Toyota Yaris.

      what is wrong with me

  13. pkt-zer0 says:

    The 18 months devtime for expansions has been mentioned before, and it’s just a prediction, so things could easily get delayed.

  14. loGi says:

    Don’t think requiring a supply depot before a barracks is a good idea.

    • Rinox says:

      I just don’t see why anyone would build a barracks before a supply depot for any other reason than a reaper rush?

  15. Cat says:

    I love Zerg :) This is good news.

  16. Kevin says:

    Man, with the rate Blizzard’s going, my grandkids are going to be the ones playing the Protoss campaign while I’m cursing Blizzard because I’m too blind in my old age to play Starcraft 2.

  17. Nallen says:

    It better be 18 months away if they want another £40.

    I happy about the Zerg help, they’re hard as hell to play anyway (for my tiny, confuddled brain.)

    WE REQUIRE MORE VESPENE GASSSS

  18. Nova says:

    Bad news for WarCraft 4. Something like 5-10 years seems not a bad estimate for a potentially sequel for it.

  19. VonFIDDE says:

    Well i did enjoy Starcraft2 singleplayer, then i played some classic TDmaps and thats about it. So bored with it allready, perhaps its time to pick it up in 18 months, but frankly i doubt it. I guess we will have Diablo3 by then :D.

  20. bleeters says:

    I can only assume those 18 months will be spent on trying to work out how to handle cutscene dialogue. Clicking mandibles and screeching would be an improvement over the Terran characters, mind.

  21. Will Tomas says:

    Quinns, that Renault Twingo gag seriously had me giggling. Nicely done.

  22. Mechorpheus says:

    I’ve had luck beating Terran and Protoss mid-game with massed Hydras and Nydus network. When I say massed, I mean MASSED (think 40+). Am bronze-league player though, so maybe that just works there.

    • K says:

      Yep. :)

    • Nallen says:

      What the hell are they doing while you build 40 hydras? sitting on their asses?

      Off how many bases etc etc? I only have one strat, 2 base muta/ling/bling.

      Seems to do alright, but I would prefer to be able to mix it up a bit.

    • Rinox says:

      If done well Hydras (with zergling meatshield for zealots) + Nydus work well against Protoss on the higher levels too, in the early game. Terrans, however, will still eat your army up.

  23. Bursar says:

    Mass hydras tend to get massacred if Terran has any number of siege tanks, or if Protoss get Colossus or Templar. They’re dps is very good but they need creep otherwise they’re just so slooow.

    I always get a few against Protoss though because in lower leagues a turtling protoss is nearly always going for void rays. Hydra’s murder uncharged void rays.

    • Rinox says:

      I never build Hydras vs Terrans. Unless you’re expecting some sort of early Banshee rush they’re pretty much useless against them.

      As for void rays…yeah, they do own them pretty well, but 200/200 void ray armies destroy a huge Hydralisk army easily. I’ve had it happen on several occassions on stand-off maps…the reason is simply because void rays can ‘pack’ easier than Hydras, which tend to take a lot of space and block each other’s path finding so only rarely get to fire all at the same time from the get-go (if at all). Then you get charged up VR’s and it is, so it seems, game over.

    • kikito says:

      Select all hidras, burrow.

    • Rinox says:

      Doesn’t work. A Protoss who had the time to build an army of so many void rays always has observers and (in most cases) even a mothership with him.

      If you micro like a BEAST with burrowing, running and fungal growth it’s probably doable, but that’s some diamond level skill you’d need.

  24. Sunjammer says:

    Strangely ambivalent about the Zerg expansion. The SC2 story is absolute dreck anyway, I couldn’t care less what these clichès are up to next.

    The Zerg balance tweaks are sorely needed, though I’m still campaigning for spawn larva autocast on queens; That mechanic is as boring as it is necessary.

    • kikito says:

      Mm I guess you will only get that if protoss get auto-chronoboost and terran gets auto-mules.

    • crooon says:

      @Kikito
      Why would they? OC and Nexus energy can be dropped within seconds on macro, if you miss your queen injection every cycle, on the cycle, you’ve lost larvae, there’s no making up for it. It is in no way comparable (I’ve played mostly Protoss btw).

  25. J9 says:

    A real shame, SC2 overall hasn’t impressed me. I got a 7 hour trial with my new vid card and got through about 2 hours, called it a night and haven’t had enough interest to finish up my time. I mean its well done and fun enough but its a bit of a disappointment for a blizzard game.

    Considering I’m not interested in multiplayer at all the singleplayer simply isn’t worth $180 to me (especially the $60 for the zerg campaign, they’re just not my RTS game play style, I almost always cheated through the zerg campaigns just to get them done instead of being bored/annoyed for even longer, see the story and get to the protoss).

    I’ll wait till 2020 when the game is completed and I can get it for $50-60 bundled. It might be worth that much, at least the graphics won’t have aged much more by then compared to how old they already look now!

    • bleeters says:

      I don’t know why I keep having to repeating this, but here goes.

      Games with one campaign that have three times the effort put into them should not be fairly considered a third of a game. Assuming that the following expansion campaigns actually are $60 each, you’re not paying $180 for one game. You’re paying $180 for three games worth of content.

      Not that I’m saying you don’t have a right to find $60 expensive, but could we all stop pretending a 10 level campaign and a 30 level campaign are equal?

    • J9 says:

      Well, its fine you feel they have enough single player in there for it to be priced like a real game, I don’t. But there are a lot of games I wouldn’t buy at full price for this same reason. I don’t really buy Blizzard’s story that there is “too much content” for it to be one game. I do believe they spent too much time polishing / balancing multiplayer to cost justify releasing it as one game.

      Do I feel this was a blatant money grab? Yes. Does that matter? Not really, but I’m in no hurry to play the game so I’ll wait until it is available at a price I am willing to pay for it. Luckily the game already looks aged to me so I don’t mind waiting another 10 years for it to be fully released.

    • bleeters says:

      If a (presumably) 90 level campaign is the minimum standard for a game to be considered complete these days, I despair for developers.

    • J9 says:

      Why does my opinion need to be the industry ‘standard’? I just personally don’t think the game is worth the amount of cash they want for it and so I’m not giving them my money until it (eventually) drops to a price I find reasonable. I’m not saying they should do anything about this, I’m not saying I plan to go pirate the game (if I wanted to play it that bad I’d be paying for it).

      And incidentally I wasn’t even talking about the ‘length’ or amount of missions/levels, actually read my first post. I said that the demo barely held my attention for 2 hours (of the 7 available to me), so I couldn’t imagine paying $180 to play through the entire game/story once it is all released in 10 years (especially the zerg part, which no amount of levels could make enjoyable/worthwhile to me, I absolutely loathe playing zerg). I only brought up the amount of content after you did, since I do still find their claims doubtful but was trying to stick away from that issue. If I had found the demo more than tired and only passingly entertaining I would have bought the game.

    • Thants says:

      Well, if you just don’t like the game then why bring the price into it at all? Any amount would be too much if you don’t want to play the game at all.

  26. JKjoker says:

    holy crap, 18 months ? they really think the interest in this remake of starcraft is going to stay strong for that long ?

    • Nethlem says:

      The interest in the original starcraft stayed far longer..

    • JKjoker says:

      yeah, but this is not “original”, its a featureless remake with 12 years of baggage on it without the balance the first one got after so much time

  27. 0mar says:

    Blizzard really dropped the ball with SC2’s story.

    Plus, the core game is exactly (and I mean exactly) like SC/BW. That’s fine if you want to play a 10 year old remake, but the RTS genre has moved 10 steps away from that model. Sure, it has uber polish and supposedly will get balanced, but a part of me is already bored with this game. That’s a shame considering how excited I was for this game 6 months ago.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      That’s fine if you want to play a 10 year old remake, but the RTS genre has moved 10 steps away from that model.

      Yeah, yeah, and you’re also just stuck in the past if you even considered the possibility of an X-COM sequel that’s not an FPS but instead turn-based and isometric or something equally antiquated.

    • SuperNashwan says:

      When has Blizzard ever been a good storyteller? They make highly polished, mechanically interesting games, that’s their thing.

  28. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    This makes me wonder.. WHY on earth do they diminish reaper usefulness when harassing is just about the only thing they can do? Sure, delay it a bit. But making reaper speed require a factory?

    There must be other things they could do to even the odds.

    Here’s a thought: because reapers have a limited usefulness compared to other terran units balancing via reapers affects far less of terran gameplay than tweaking other units would.

    • kikito says:

      I disagree. They are useful through all the game. They can be used as scouts, and they are still able to harass (at least will force the opponent to spend some money on defenses or leave some troops behind)

  29. Lacunaa says:

    I don’t understand this argument. Just because games like Company of heroes introduced squads and cover systems and what not, starcraft II has to follow?

  30. Plopsworth says:

    I wonder what the ideal sequel/expansion time for a game is?
    The general consensus seems to be that Left 4 Dead went too fast, and this and HL2 (+episodes) is too slow.

    Add in Beyond Good & Evil speculations, Duke, etc.

    Should developers/publishers just not do any announcements/promotion or set any release-dates until 4 months before shipping? Since this is Acti-Blizzard, is this down to the greasy-fat-rich shareholders/executives requiring something to aim for (or time their third Porsche Cayenne purchase)?

  31. Bursar says:

    Things i’d like as Zerg

    A hotkey that cycles through creep tumours that are able to spawn another tumour.
    Queen autocast spawn larvae (although I see how it could be OP)
    Ability for Ultralisks to walk through zerglings
    Neural parasite EITHER castable when buried or get rid of the 12 second timer.
    Hydra speed off creep increased (via a researchable upgrade would be fine)
    Roach back to 1 supply!
    Scourges (!)

    • Nallen says:

      A hotkey that cycles through creep tumours that are able to spawn another tumour.
      Yes!

      Queen autocast spawn larvae (although I see how it could be OP)
      Just a tad OP!

      Ability for Ultralisks to walk through zerglings
      How about for Ultralisks to not die in a shower of red mist at the first sign of a bioball?

      Neural parasite EITHER castable when buried or get rid of the 12 second timer.
      OP again

      Hydra speed off creep increased (via a researchable upgrade would be fine)
      Sure! the range upgrade will probably help them a lot though

      Roach back to 1 supply!
      Absurdly OP

      Scourges (!)
      Huh? How about: Lurkers (!)

  32. Joshua says:

    It might be a stand alone expansion… Although I see quite a bit of difficulty with that.

  33. pilouuuu says:

    I’m so pissed off by the long development times of this generation… :-( When are we getting Half-Life Episode 3?

  34. Fox says:

    I suddenly find myself angry over their campaign release model where I was completely fine (and even excited) about it before. I guess it’s my fault for assuming they could release the campaign expansions quickly given that the engine, art, editor and units were all done already. We had to wait 12 years for a disappointing continuation of the story. Now it’s going to be another 3 years (minimum?) to finish this chapter off? With another decades-long cliffhanger perhaps?

    My starry-eyed, nostalgic love for Blizzard is really starting to wear.

  35. Lepinaut says:

    All you horrible zerg players clamoring for changes to terran and protoss need to look at the win percentages.

    http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/blog/882511

    Protoss and terran arent overpowered. Youre just bad.

  36. JWill says:

    Is anyone else worried about “new multiplayer content”? If this means that SC2 expansions are like brood war, where you need to buy them to play multiplayer…

    Well, it would certainly be a good way to squeeze subscription money out of SC2 players.

  37. pupsikaso says:

    I’m just waiting for someone to re-create Starcraft in Starcraft 2’s editor. Then maybe I’ll buy it.

    • JKjoker says:

      pretty much impossible with the current map size and count limits, what if halfway you run out of space ?, what if the maps get banned because of the banned words ? (i wouldnt be surprised of the sc1 script included words like “suicide” or other banned words), too much risk involved to even start a project of that magnitude

    • JKjoker says:

      oh, yeah, cant believe i forgot, the script, the characters,the sounds, the map design, etc, all copyrighted which is right out banned in b.net2

    • rocketman71 says:

      It still wouldn’t have LAN. No buy.