Heartfelt Swarm: Blizzard Discuss Starcraft Techniques

By Jim Rossignol on February 8th, 2013 at 9:00 am.


Be you noob or ninja, Starcraft‘s Heart Of The Swarm expansion wishes to cater for you. Yes, everyone is welcome at the table of extra-terrestrial strategy. In their latest seven minute preview, which you can watch below, Blizzard community manager “Cloaken” explains a bit about this approach, as well as announcing “unranked play”, which should allow veterans to kick back and mess about without threatening those precious ladder rankings.

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47 Comments »

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  1. Squirrelfanatic says:

    0:25 – Do the Vader!

  2. khaz says:

    “Unranked play”? You mean lan and custom games?

    Yes i’m bitter.

    /sulks and goes back to his tea

  3. pkt-zer0 says:

    As far as I can tell, unranked play isn’t really targeted at veterans, but new players suffering from ladder anxiety. For some, sucking at the game is bad enough; the game telling you exactly how much you suck is even worse.

    • Vorphalack says:

      To combat ladder anxiety, all they really need to do is remove the completely redundant league system, leaving only the Bronze –> Diamond banding and the Master league. A league system is worthless unless you actually play against the people in said league, which just isn’t the case with SC2 unless you are at the top, and it always seemed to me that most fear stemmed from loosing position in the pointless league table. Additionally they could tighten up the matchmaking so that it consistently picked opponents around your own skill level, instead of occasionally throwing in someone far better or worse to make sure your W/L ratio was always at 50%. Un-ranked mode will still have some hidden matchmaking going on, so I really can’t see why they don’t just tighten up the existing system instead of just masking it.

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        jrodman says:

        Which, I believe, cyclically comes back to people saying “shut up, bronze.”

  4. Squishpoke says:

    So, are they going to add in LAN and remove the “feature” of disabling your ability to play offline if you don’t login to b.net every month?

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Unless the legal regulations motivating them to remove LAN in the first place were also changed, it’s pretty unlikely.
      I know it was a rhetorical question, but hey.

  5. kimadactyl says:

    “Ranked matches are on the far right”. You heard it here – Blizzard said competitive SC2 is for nazis.

  6. bstard says:

    Oh Blizzard still exists?

    • Xocrates says:

      I know this is a joke, but considering that they’ve been pretty unavoidable even if you do not like or play their games makes it a terrible one.

      EDIT: nor have they been so omnipresent that it can be taken ironically

      • bstard says:

        It wasnt a joke, I was pointing out a remarkable situation. Blizz news used to but huge, even if it was just some programmer farting. Now it got a few posts, not many seem to care. I might see it differently as others, but thats why we post dont we?

        • Dances to Podcasts says:

          For a site that pretends to be all about pc gaming RPS doesn’t seem to like Blizzard/Activision very much, despite them being pretty much the biggest thing in pc gaming.

          • Jim Rossignol says:

            Biggest, certainly. Most interesting?

          • Brun says:

            Well they just kicked off some kind of ARG related to the Starcraft Universe, “Project Blackstone.” Not sure if it’s Heart of the Swarm related or is something else.

          • Mario Figueiredo says:

            You do seem to hold them up as the biggest thing. But does everyone else? Take a guess…

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            Problem is, you only seem to find them interesting when there’s something to criticize.

            (Mario, I’m talking about measurable things, like revenue.)

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        Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        Are you sure about that last part?

        I woke up this morning and Blizzard had been watching me.

        • Salix says:

          I hate it when that happens, it’s almost as bad as looking out a window and seeing EA grinning at you.

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    GiantPotato says:

    The more I see of SC2, the more I wonder why they went ahead and included a campaign in this expansion. Does anyone intend to buy this game for the SP component? Because it seems like just the “Training” and “Versus AI” options are enough, if you’re going to be focused on multiplayer to this extent.

    • malkav11 says:

      The campaign was the only interesting part of Wings of Liberty, and easily the most forward-thinking because it gets that singleplayer RTS campaigns do not need to reflect multiplayer balance nor train you for playing the multiplayer mode and goes hog wild with variety of units and scenarios. So yes, I am going to be buying Heart of the Swarm for the campaign.

      • Vorphalack says:

        But at the same time, while the campaign did have some interesting mission structures, the story and script were garbage, the missions were quite short and very easy, and locking the whole campaign down to one faction was a mistake (lets not mention the Protoss missions, they were bad). I really doubt they will make any significant improvements for HotS, so I wont be buying it for the campaign (or multi-player for that matter).

        • malkav11 says:

          Let’s put it another way: for my money, SCII: Wings of Liberty was the best singleplayer RTS campaign ever made (or at least very close to it). Which is I suppose damning with faint praise, in some respects, since a lot of RTS campaigns are Not Very Good, or barely more than a glorified skirmish mode, and it certainly wasn’t the best RTS -story- ever made. And DOWII doesn’t qualify because it’s really more of an action RPG than an RTS. But still. More than enough to sell me on another dip.

    • tungstenHead says:

      Blizzard has observed that around half of the people that bought Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty pretty much only played the campaign or other single player offerings. Single player games are a big deal. For the sake of sales, it makes more sense to tack on a perfunctory singleplayer mode to a multiplayer game than it does to tack on a perfunctory multiplayer mode to a single player game.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        That seems to be the trend we’re in right now. The industry wants to connect everything online BECAUSE PIRACY but players just want to have a game they can play without being bothered by anyone else, enjoy, and then once done put aside for the next thing. There’s life in the old singleplayer yet.

    • Xocrates says:

      “Does anyone intend to buy this game for the SP component?”

      I would expect most people will.

      Whatever evidence we have points out that for games with a single player component, even if multiplayer focused, will be bought mostly for SP. Demigod showed this quite conclusively when it revealed that only 23% of players even tried to go online, never mind becoming regular players.

      For all its faults, SC2 campaign was a solid campaign that was very well presented, and I doubt most players even noticed how poorly written it actually was.

      In fact, it has been no secret that many of the changes to multiplayer Blizzard is making is to encourage MORE people to go online.

      Personally, I’m undecided on whether to get it since I would only get it for SP, but that’s because I doubt the writing to be any good, not because I find it too MP focused.

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        GiantPotato says:

        I wasn’t blown away by the WoL campaign myself, but it seems it gathered enough of a following to acquit itself. I’ll be interested to see if these attempts to lure SP people online have any effect, though. Personally, I’m of the opinion that anyone who still plays SP in 2012 has a more deep-seated objection to online play than “ranked vs. unranked”. Personally, my problems with online RTS games are as follows:

        1. I don’t like to micro units.
        2. I get angry and want to quit when I’m losing.
        3. I hate rage-quitters.

        So not something that I would have any clue how to address in an online environment, in other words. And if the number of MP players don’t really increase after this expansion, maybe it’s time for Blizzard to stop evangelizing the online experience and focus on the market they already have.

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        Malibu Stacey says:

        When the barriers to “trying to go online” are as bad as Demigod was at launch, are you surprised?

        Also that’s an utterly terrible example. It was developed & marketed as a Dota-clone, you’d maybe expect people to learn how to play the game off-line before they jumped online & started feeding no? OK just me then.

        • Xocrates says:

          I thought people long ago realized that, regardless of game, training against AI is a terrible terrible idea.

          Also, the key word is “tried”, as in: didn’t even try to login. Even if Demigod’s online was broken, you could at least log in (certainly past the first couple of days).

    • Ragnar says:

      I would. I love RTS games, but primarily play them single-player – though my preference would actually be co-op campaign such as in Red Alert 3. I generally need a story / campaign / narrative to keep me interested in a game.

    • FreshwaterAU says:

      while I really enjoy mulitplayer I also I really enjoyed the campaign for the different scenario’s and loved getting some of the achievements. In the Jungle is a great mission. I love them breaking the campaign away from multiplayer to give you more stuff to screw around with. ti’s fun. The story wasnt as solid as I wanted it to be but it was ok. I dont really like where they took the jim/kerrigan stuff but otherwise, not bad. I beat it twice.

      I uh may even be reading the SC2 book that bridges the stories.

    • Joof says:

      Wings of Liberty was one of the best RTS campaigns I have ever played. Most of the time I spent playing either Starcraft was spent playing the campaign.

  8. dgz says:

    WoL campaign was pretty weak compared to SC and BW. I see no reason, except fear of losing, for anyone to play only the single player which is nothing but a waste tbh.

    • Ragnar says:

      I can’t comment on the WoL campaign as I haven’t played it, but my primary motivation to keep playing a game is to see what happens next, secondary is to play with friends, and overcoming challenges comes in a distant third. Demonstrating my prowess over the AI / other people just isn’t enough anymore to compel me to keep playing a game, which is why Sins of a Solar Empire failed to hold my interest once my friends stopped playing.

      So when there’s a single-player campaign available, and I won’t be playing together with friends, I see no reason to play the multi-player.

    • Brun says:

      I’m going to be honest here, the SC and BW plots weren’t that great either. They might have seemed great in the late 90’s when you were a teenager and the tropes were still fresh, but to my adult mind they weren’t much better than what WoL offered.

  9. TsunamiWombat says:

    Am I the only one who gives bullocks all about multiplayer balancing? I know thats their bread and butter but i’d like to hear that the singleplayer campaign is good and their editor has new toys for the map makers to play with

    • Nocta says:

      People living off the multiplayer probably do care.
      A lot.

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      jrodman says:

      Basically, multiplayer needs more lead time for tuning and hype.

  10. zbmott says:

    Nostalgia about StarCraft and StarCraft: Brood War! En Taro Adun!

  11. teamcharlie says:

    Still holding out for the 30-second video where the community manager mentions, “Oh, right. Yeah, there’s still going to be a single-player campaign or something. E-sports!” Presumably 20 seconds of said video will just be Sarah Kerrigan breathing deeply on the title screen.

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    jrodman says:

    Why do they insist on “faster” being the speed at which we should play? Ugh.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Back in the SC1 days, they expected only crazy people to choose the fastest setting. That is what ended up becoming the most popular, though.

  13. sicbanana says:

    Hmpf, still not liking the new look of Kerrigan. The “Queen of Blades” on the other hand looked totally badass…

  14. adamiani says:

    I have to say this really dampens my enthusiasm.

    It feels like SC2 was made as a frenetic, rigorous e-sport that isn’t all that fun or dynamic to play. This feels like recognizing the latter and deciding that the solution is to teach you to be better, instead of changing the game to something that isn’t a rush-heavy formula-build click-fest.

    “Hm. It seems you’re not having fun. Have you tried grueling drills to learn how to click faster? You’re really not getting the most out of the game unless you practice practice practice!”

    • Xocrates says:

      How do you even make a competitive RTS that isn’t a rush-heavy formula-build click-fest?

      • Josh W says:

        That is the question!

        Rushing is inevitable, because of the way that the game trades off teching up vs unit creation, so you’d have to have a different set of mechanics that don’t make the same tradeoff, or make it in a more polite way that doesn’t feel like “rushing”, but more of an obvious choice.

        It is click heavy because it’s very easy to make small adjustments that change your strategy, and that is a lot harder to resolve, without making the game much easier; they’ve already put a lot of effort into making neccesary clicks represent more meaningful choices, so to make it equivalently complex, you’d need something like creating your own macros for units or something.

  15. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    “This video is private :/”
    Indeed.

    new link