BlizzCon 2015 The Future of StarCraft II Panel Transcript

 

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Q&A Session

Ok, my question is or the writer, how many of the themes of this mission pack and how much of what you’re doing with the Nova story is from StarCraft Ghost; the cancelled project? Is any of it themes, maybe plot elements, anything that happens; how much of it is from that?

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Valerie: As with everything that’s been written for Nova in her forms of character that’s part of who she is, but the events of StarCraft: Ghost the game actually took place earlier in the timeline. So this upcoming Mission Pack is something that’s happening much later after the events of Legacy of the Void. That StarCraft: Ghost (game) storyline was featured in the novel StarCraft: Ghost – Nova — so that is still part of her history, and what she’s been through; but it is a new adventure going forward with Nova.

 

This is a question about co-op missions. I think it’s really cool that you’re adding it, and then from Diablo there’s this eternal rift level concept, and I was thinking in the world of hardcore players that don’t want to play against other players, it’s interesting if those co-op missions would have an unlimited levels, and if we could go and have a ladder system and all that. I don’t know if you guys thought about it and if it’s a good concept, but I think it would be really interesting to go and choose your commander and figure out the best strategies and all that, I don’t know?

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Matt: Yes that’s a really good idea, as we move forward of co-op missions this is obviously something new to StarCraft II, so we’ve had a lot of those discussions. We want to know what’s going to happen when you max out your commander at the higher difficulties. Right now what we have at the highest difficulties we find that it is super challenging so there’s a lot of fun there; but as we move forward we are looking at these different ideas as to really embrace for the players who are really hardcore, but also make it very accessible because this is an area where we expect a lot of people from campaign will come over, multiplayer can be very intimidating, so we want to make this a kind of place for them; but we also recognize that this is a lot of fun for the hardcore fans too. So we like a lot of those ideas and those are the things we are talking about.

 

When I got StarCraft II, I was really super excited to make my own map, and when I got in I found a system that was great; had all sorts of features in it, but the field themes and how to do things were super complicated and not explained anywhere. What have you done to help resolve that?

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Tim: We do have an effort underway right now to author some more content to help content creators. We are also looking at ways that we can continue to improve the Editor interface and to add features to arcade so we always appreciate feedback, and we definitely are working towards making that a better experience.

 

I am wondering how the race pace matchmaking system is going to treat random players?

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David: It’s not final yet, but our current fact is the random will be decided before you get into a match, the system would know and then it will choose that MMR to match make against the correct player. So what’s kind of interesting about this is on the ladder maybe you won’t have a random rank, maybe you might have all three ranks separately; but your race will still be displayed as random, but if you had better thoughts than that then we are definitely welcome to hearing any feedback both on the idea that we have currently or it could be something else too, because nothing has been decided yet.

 

My question relates to story and to specifically factions from StarCraft and Brood War and even up to Heart of the Swarm. Are we going to see the return of factions like the UED, like the Cerberus Recon Squad from the very first game, even the demo missions? Are we even going to see the Umojans or the Kel-Morians eventually, and will they have new units like we saw in the campaigns?

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Valerie: We would definitely love those factions as well. As to what they are up to, we haven’t stated that yet. We are not planning on having them featured in the Nova Covert Ops missions, but it is definitely something we could explore in the future.

 

This would be for whomever it concern, I noticed in one of the first slides you said paid content; now recently another developer tried to do this with a game they released and it had a mass of community backlash. How do you feel that you can learn from this and you going forward not alienating the player base by having some content free some content behind he paid ball so to speak.

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Tim: We have a few core values that we are developing around StarCraft Arcade, but I think the first one is we have no intention to take content that was previously free and make you have to pay for it. I think anything that we plan to introduce through StarCraft Arcade is intended to be new content. The other thing I’ll say is that this isn’t content that’s just going to modify how you play StarCraft. The kinds of things that we are looking at in StarCraft Arcade are really completely new games, using the assets and tools that we provide through StarCraft II Arcade. So we really feel like this is a distinct individual situation separate from anything else that’s been done; and we also feel like it’s super important for us as Blizzard to provide a way for content creators to get rewarded for the great work that they do. So this is about supporting that community. It’s not about anything else.

 

Hi, this one is for David. Since the beta drooped you guys had an unprecedented interaction with the community. We’ve been very appreciative of it. I would like to know two things: did you learn anything new about the community you serve, and did those interactions change the way you approach any part of your development for the future?

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David: I guess the most important thing was through working together with our community we were able to make Legacy of the Void much better than we expected — which is very cool, because originally when we started this process we were just trying to increase the positivity, the perception around StarCraft II; things like that, but as we explored more and more we realized… man, there are so many smart people out there that can actually make good ideas for the game. So I guess for your second question then obviously what we learned is a very good thing and we need to continue doing more of it; but we are still new to this so we still have to improve this process, but we definitely want to do more as we go forward after the release of Legacy of the Void.

 

Hey, everyone. First I want to say thanks for all the work you’ve done, I really love StarCraft and looking forward to all the changes that are coming out. I got mainly into StarCraft from Husky and one of the things that he implemented before he stopped making as much content, and it’s kind of the equivalent of Tavern Brawl and Hearthstone where it has unique rules for that week or that season or whatever you want to call it. I think it would be a pretty interesting game mode. I’m not sure if you’ve heard it? Do you have any thoughts on that type of thing? You could use your laddered rank to go against someone of some more skill, but still have like just a silly game or something like that?

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David: Yeah I think that’s a great idea, but I think the main difference compared to Hearthstone and our game is we have the arcade which have a lot of those maps that you are talking about, but on top of that I think with our new automated tournaments feature we can do something fun like maybe we can do at different intervals… maybe today is only on this specific arcade type of map tournaments; and the reason for that I think is if we have too many matchmaking pools on the ladder, the player experience might not be so great; but if we do it using the automated tournament system that might be a good thing so it’s something we are talking about; we don’t have specific plans yet but we’ll definitely discuss it some more.

 

Hi, first of all excuse my lousy English, I’m not from around. There are a lot of people reviving and using the powerful Editor from StarCraft II, reviving the classic missions from StarCraft I. Have you ever thought of remastering the StarCraft I with achievements, Battle.net, etc.?

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Tim: It’s feedback that we’ve heard I think. We’ve been so busy just getting Legacy of the Void done that we haven’t had a chance to really think about what other bigger projects we might explore, but we really appreciate the feedback, and I think it’s something we can consider.

 

Thank you for making the game and everything. I have a question about the Arcade Mode. Whenever I log on to StarCraft, I have to choose between Arcade and Multiplayer. That kind of stuff, I don’t really want to choose that. Do you think that it make sense to move some of the appropriate Arcade Games to mobile so I can play them elsewhere?

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Tim: It’s a pretty big technology task to get our engine ported over to work on mobile platforms. It’s something we’ve talked about as being really advantageous for content creators to be able to get their content on to other platforms than PC. So we do talk about it internally, but it’s a lot of work. So I don’t think it’s something we can do in the near term.

 

My question is about the Arcade. I find an Arcade game that I really like, and I’m like: “What else did he make?” and I can’t figure that out too easily. Is there any thought about a creator page like you click the guy’s name who created the map and it takes you to his page and it’s like: “Hey, he made all these games, and these are all the ratings on them, these are as much popular, these are his favorites, these are all the news he’s doing on these games” … anything like that?

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Tim: That would sound like things that would really add a lot to Arcade. We’re doing analysis now to figure out how can we continue to improve that interface and one example of a feature that we hear requested a lot is the ability to add custom descriptions to lobbies; kind of like the Warcraft III days. There are pros and cons to doing that. I think there’s a lot of noise that comes out of that, but we are doing a lot of brainstorming right now. So I think those are great suggestions, and we’ll factor those in as we talk about it.

 

Hi, this is for the entire dev team, I was wondering if you could consider adding new races moving on, not in StarCraft II, but StarCraft III as a good new way to innovate the game?

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Jason: We are so focused on what we are working on right now that we haven’t really begun to think about a StarCraft III, but anything is on the table for that when that time comes.

 

The score screen has a lot of useful information for players to interpret the progress of their games like the workers active graph, the army value graph. Are there any thoughts to expand the data that’s presented to players post-game?

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David: I think that’s really depends on like the E-Sports side of things as well as our side, so it’s something that we can discuss and see if there’s a lot of improvements that we can do on that side; because actual implementation shouldn’t be too hard in that area. So we’ll definitely bring it up and discuss it, and thank you for streaming so much during Legacy of the Void beta. We really enjoyed it.

 

Hi, my name is Igor, and I’m looking weird, but I’ve been a player in every Blizzard game except StarCraft II, and the question is, isn’t it too late to catch up and start playing? I mean, the final chapter of part two is going to come out soon, and a lot of stuff happened already. Isn’t it too late to start playing?

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Tim: I’ll say it’s never too late to start playing. We really did a lot of work for Legacy of the Void to make this a good entry point to StarCraft II. We’ve got new Tutorials, we’ve got these Co-operative Missions, we’ve got Archon mode. This is a great time to come into the game. Our hope is that many people who might have been holding off to the moment where the whole story is ready to be consumed will come in now; but I don’t know. Anybody else want to jump in?

David: And if you have any questions about where to jump in, or if you’re stuck in some points; things like that, if you go to StarCraft Reddit, that community has been very great at helping new players out so definitely utilize that too.

 

My question is multi-focused on multiplayer for Mr. Kim I guess. You mentioned that you are ready to do huge changes for the multiplayer design for units, removing units even; but is there anything that is out of the question — is it maybe the economy model or anything that you’ve decided that there’s no way you are changing?

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David: There’s like two parts to it I think. The first part is we’ll do redesigns as we need to if something’s broken… like the swarm hosts in Heart of the Swarm, or Broodlord in festering Wings of Liberty I think are good examples of that; and second, if there comes a time where the game becomes a little bit stale then we’ll explore mixing things up, and in that scenario I think anything is possible including the stuff that you mentioned.

 

First I’d like to say thank you Jason for representing the zerg up there. Also, are there plans for any official Blizzard mods coming out, and specifically like I want to play Brood War or Warcraft III with the StarCraft II engine?

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Jason: These are all things that we’ve discussed and is potentially for maybe next year if we do decide we really want to go that way; but it’s really all to see what ends up coming in the future.

Tim: Yeah I’ll jump in and just add, I think we are so excited just to continue working on StarCraft II and to start having an opportunity to think about things beyond Legacy of the Void. So we feel like we’ve been so sort of tunnel visioned on getting this one done that there are these great ideas floating out there and we’ve heard multiple over the course of these panels. So we really will put more thought into that stuff, and I think we’ll be so excited to explore those too.

 

Hello, so first of all, I’m a huge fan of StarCraft. I’ve played since I was a little kid, and I was wondering about your cancelled StarCraft: Ghost project. Is it dead and buried, or are you going to continue it?

Tim: At this point in time there are no plans to continue with StarCraft Ghost. This team has been focused on StarCraft II – the RTS. So we are not even that close to that particular project; but we are definitely aware of the history there.

 

Hello, this is a question for David. I know there’s been a lot of tweaking about the adept and the zealot, but it seems that the consensus is still why make a zealot when I can just make an adept. What can you do to make either the adept less powerful, or the zealot more powerful?

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David: Right now we think there is a bit of a clear distinction more so than we had right when the adept was first introduced. For example, if you are harassing using your war prism obviously the zealot is stronger if you’re trying to take out his hatchery versus if you are trying to harass a worker line. Then the adept is better, and in combat the Zealot’s Charge has its benefits — it is better against harassment (compared to the Psionic Transfer of the adept). So we think the differentiation is a little bit better; but like you said, they do overlap a little bit still, and some of that I think is it’s just natural when you add a core unit to a race. Like … all these core roles were filled by two units: the zealot and the stalker (before we added a third). Obviously, this guy has to kinda take from one of these two units. We felt like because the stalker is more interesting with blink micro, there’s a lot more fun stuff that players can do with it compared to the zealot. It’s mostly just A-move, so we wanted to take a little more from the zealot more so than the stalker.

 

This one is for David. I was wondering about automated tournaments. They were really cool, played a few in the beta, but I wanted to know: Are you guys going to expand on them? I saw Archon mode in 2v2 tournaments. Do you think the Archon 2v2 in automated tournaments would be 4v4 in a way?

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David: The 2v2 in Archon Mode are the next things that we want to do and depending on how that goes and depending on the demand for other things maybe we can explore things like 4v4 like you said, or like someone else just mentioned maybe we can explore having tournaments in some Arcade maps, and things like that; but anything is possible, but for now we are focusing on Archon Mode tournaments and 2v2 tournaments.

 

Hi, this question is multiplayer related, so for David Kim then. Do you think that we saw problems in Wings of Liberty about units not being relevant or not being used like the carrier? We didn’t see it much in Wings of Liberty as well as Heart Of the Swarm.

Do you think that implementing new units in Legacy of the Void such as the Liberator? We don’t see the siege tanks a lot for instance in the TvZ anymore, because the widow mine kind of did a lot to replace that in a more effective way. Now we are seeing siege tanks being picked up by medivacs to make them more relevant.

Do you think units like the liberator might take away from siege tank in its role, or the cyclone might take away from the Thor kind of being a core unit element for anti-air for Terran? I guess the question is, do you think a lot of the new units might be taking away too much from units that we already had trouble finding relevance in?

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David: When new units are added, obviously it’s going to take from because players can only do so many strategies per matchup. So it’s going to take some of it, but I think our goal is to not have every single unit in the game used in equal numbers, but more so if the units that are really fun to play with and fun to watch — things like that are used and in a good number of diversity, I think that’s the most important for us.

 

One more question then on that: Do you think it’s more important that units are fun to play or fun to watch?

David: We think both are important for StarCraft II because it’s a game that everyone plays for fun; but at the same time it’s just a huge e-Sport also especially on the multiplayer side. So I think both are equally important.

 

Hi, compared to other developers Blizzard is honestly not that great about pushing news and results, and previews on the launcher. So are you looking into improving how you handle coverage and how you handle getting the news out? … because the launcher is really important for the casual players to see that there’s something going on, there’s a big tournament with good players so what are you doing to improve that?

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Tim: There are two aspects to answering that question. I think the first is the Battle.net Launcher, and there is a dedicated team that works on the Battle.net Launcher that has plans to continue improving it throughout 2016. So I think you will see some improvements there; but the other aspect is in-game exposure, and we’ve recently released an updated user interface for StarCraft II with the 3.0 patch so that’s live right now. That landing page is fairly basic right now, but we do plan to continue adding some improvements there; and we are thinking a lot about how we can expose those things like upcoming matches, how can we really drive viewership of free E-Sports and excitement around new features and new content that we have coming up in the game.

 

Follow up question to that: Do you think there will ever be a point where we can just jump in and jump out of the tournament matches to view it? … because whoever does that can just jump in to the tournament and watch the replays, and you have all the tools to see different stats and things like that. Do you think you are going to support that in the future?

Tim: Mass spectating is something that we are exploring what it would take to implement from a server infrastructure perspective and we feel like it would be a great feature to add; we just haven’t done enough tech development to really speak confidently about what’s involved in executing.

 

 

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Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film. Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers. I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for Diablofans.com (formerly Diablo3.com) ***Fans who would love to watch Blizzard-related panels and appreciate our efforts can support Blizzplanet's patreon in a monthly-basis, or a one-time basis. Our staff are volunteer fans like you. Your donatives will help us travel to all the Blizzard events we attend year-round.

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