StarCraft II: Heart Of The Swarm Makes Replays Playable

By John Walker on February 21st, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

The latest trailer for Blizzard’s StarCraft II: Heart Of The Swarm focuses on eSports and multiplayer. eSports are like regular sports, except it’s playing videogames in a chair, and not sports. Multiplayer is when other people spoil your game for you.

Obviously the eSports scene is absolutely massive for StarCraft. The new entry in the series allows groups to watch replays with others, which is apparently a thing people wanted. More interestingly, there’s something called Take Command, which allows you to watch a replay, and then jump into the game whenever you want, including replays of other people’s games. Which makes me think of when people explore a famous game of chess, to see if other eventualities were possible. But with Zergs hitting Terrans on the head, rather than bishops politely asking queens to stand aside.

A very nice feature is the Recover, which means if someone’s network drops while playing, the game can be restored to the moment before it happened (via the same replay tech) so everyone can carry on from the point of the glitch.

People wanting to run replays as videos for others to watch can now also redesign the UI, to make them feel even more like ESPN. The whole thing is out on the 12th March.

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41 Comments »

  1. hungrytales says:

    This definition of multiplayer is precious.

  2. FreezerBag says:

    Wasn’t all this in Tuesday’s Wings of Liberty 2.0.4 patch? Not that it isn’t interesting, but people don’t have to wait until next month, or pay more money, to get this.

    • WedgeJAntilles says:

      This stuff has also been in the HotS Beta for weeks, so I’m wondering why it’s only getting reported on now.

  3. Giuseppe says:

    Playable replays? Didn’t Stunts have this fantastic new feature nearly a quarter of a century ago, circa 1990?

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      Fede says:

      Now that you mention it, yes it did! And it was lots of fun :)

    • Rhuhuhuhu says:

      Doom had it!

      Doom saved replays as a random-seed start and a series of key commands. If you want (and get them to run) you can watch a review and then just override the controls.

      So, is it revolutionary? No. Is it awesome? Yes!

    • kaliper says:

      The excellent old Red Baron game by Dynamix also had this feature.

  4. Ross Mills says:

    I’m waiting for when commentary is added atop as well. I’d love to have an evening of beer, popcorn, and commentated games with buddies straight from Blizzard.

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      Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Indeed. Starcraft 2 matches are entertaining to play, but to watch I either need personal involvement or a suitably knowledgeable narrator. There’s a reason why even snooker coverage on TV has a dusty-voiced chap softly extolling the virtues of a particular shot.

      • Smuckers says:

        I’m pretty sure you can find sc2 matches with live commentary on twitch on the weekends. Dapollo was commentating some matches last weekend I believe. I’m not really into e-sports, but I do like to watch sc2 matches for some reason.

        • ChaosSmurf says:

          Oh you can, literally all over the place, almost all of the time. Too much to watch, probably. But having it distributed and available in client would be brilliant. DOTA2 has it and it’s very smooth. Blizzard are, rather sadly, playing catch up in that department.

          • Smuckers says:

            Oh, I see. That would be cool actually. It would be great if they did like a best of the week roundup with some of the best games of the week with added commentary, or something. Yeah, I could definitely dig having all that stuff available in the client.

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          Lamb Chop says:

          Fortunately, you can just go to teamliquid.net’s sidebar to stay up-to-date on all the running streams, and it has the advantage of running it through your browser instead of having to open the game client. I see the use of having it in the client as well, but many people who watch SCII don’t play much SCII (anymore).

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        Surlywombat says:

        For the personal involvement aspect, apparently the bookies are beginning to get involved so that should increase.

  5. aldo_14 says:

    eSports is to sports as masturbating watching internet porn is to sex.

    • ChaosSmurf says:

      Sports – taking “playing a game” to a professional level, providing money to worthy participants, forming teams, structured leagues, rules of conduct, press conferences, coverage in both normal and specific press, fans, signings, sponsorship deals

      eSports – see above.

      • Umbert says:

        As far as I know all of your points listed about sports (except maybe normal press covarage, which does occur once in a while) can be applied to esports as well. You can actually earn quite a good fortune and glory if you win important tournaments (eg. South Korea).

        And even if eSports is like masturbating, isn‘t it important that it can also be fun?

        • x1501 says:

          Not if you’re a Catholic.

        • ChaosSmurf says:

          That was my point, see above was “to what I said about Sports” not “to what this guy I’m replying to said. i can see how ridiculously unclear that was now, whoops.

          • Umbert says:

            Yes, it’s the relativity of “above” which made it seem confusing.

            And to stick with the absurd metaphor: Isn’t watching sport or esports then the same as watching “professional” people masturbate and having sex respectively? This is also entertaining if done right; or does this go to far/deep?

      • kaliper says:

        That is not a proper definition of sports, you just cherry picked certain features of professional sports that can also apply to professional gaming. Every definition of sports involves some sort of physical prowess or athleticism. Calling esports a true sport is really a stretch, but it’s all subjective I suppose.

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          So how come chess is an officially recognised olympic sport? There’s little physical athletics going on in chess. Mental athletics, well, that’s another matter.

    • Noise says:

      eSports is to Sports as email is to mail

    • solymer89 says:

      Well when I’m done watching internet porn, I’ve at least got something to show for it.

  6. solidsquid says:

    Ah, so the replay system isn’t actually something for people watching the games, it’s a way to get around the problem of large events hosting tournaments and then having the games drop because you can’t play via lan and have to connect to a computer 5 feet away over the internet

    • DK says:

      Yes. It’s another Blizzard attempt to solve a problem they created themselves, which the Blizzard of 20th Century had already solved. The feature and common sense curve of Battle.net is like Benjamin Button – it’s aging in reverse. Losing features as it matures.

      I can’t wait to see what kind of a trainwreck Battle.net 3.0 is going to be.

      • ChaosSmurf says:

        Well… not really.

        Straight off the bat, these replay features are useful for a lot more than tournament restarts. The Take Command feature actually isn’t useful for that at all, as you have to actually watch the replay to do it – meaning more information would be exposed than needs to be. There’s a whole other system that’s used (and explained in the video) to do that. For example when a computer crashes. Or the power goes out. Or there’s a 1 in x million game crash. Or peripherals fail. Or, yeah, the internet goes out and for some reason the tournament doesn’t have the LAN truck.

        The Take Command is for a different sort of thing. Replaying games with your mates where you think you made a key mistake, seeing how it would effect the game. Starting from a base point (for example two relatively ordinary starting build orders) and taking it from there (each creates it’s own unique replay, which is kinda neat). The one that’s most exciting, and what they seem to be pushing it for, is getting some replay from some tournament final between two really good players, going to the decisive battle (or skipping all the initial stuff) and seeing if you and a friend can play it any different.

        Saying battle.net losing features and engineering backwards on an article about new features is a bit odd.

    • Low Life says:

      The recovery functionality, sure, but otherwise it’s just an extremely powerful tool for the players practicing – they no longer need to play the first 20 minutes of a match to practice the situation from 20 minutes onwards. That’s a ridiculous increase in efficiency.

  7. Magnetude says:

    “Take Command” reminds me of the “filmmaker” mode in the Driver games. It’d sometimes fail to save the replay right, leading to your driver missing the car he was supposed to crash into and farcically scraping along walls and shooting at postboxes for the remainder of the thing. It was always super interesting to watch when it happened.

  8. sokkur says:

    When I read the headline I thought it said “StarCraft II: Heart Of The Swarm Makes Roleplays Playable”.

    Fuck yes if that had been true.

    • Josh W says:

      Ok, those zerg are a little close to my forward expansion, but they’ve over-extended, so all I need to do is nuke it and get serious resource advantage.

      Hang on, a load of my marines have gone off with some guy on an old vulture, weird, but not too much of a loss. Anyway, to deal with those protoss…

  9. Quine says:

    eSports can do one…

    • Milky1985 says:

      ..one great show?
      ..one thousand happy viewers?
      ..one new and exciting aspect of competitive play?
      ..one Quine’s mother over and over and over again finally finishing on her face?

  10. teamcharlie says:

    Initially I thought the article was going to be about Blizzard making the single-player campaign more replayable. Then I remembered that admitting a single-player campaign exists for HoTS is apparently grounds for being fired from the Blizzard PR department.

    That being said, I now hope that a 1337 (or even the fabled 1338) special forces team haxxorz into Blizzard’s servers and posts the above definition of multiplayer onto every screen in the building for five seconds at a random time every hour of the day until they are willing to admit that an audience for single-player games exists and enjoys Blizzard products.

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      Surlywombat says:

      Beei’s? whats apiculture got to do with anything.

    • solymer89 says:

      90′s Blizzard single player is why I am a PC gamer. Well them and Bethesda’s Daggerfall.

    • Moraven says:

      There have been lots of press and previews on the Campaign, not sure what you are talking about.

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