BlizzCon 2016 StarCraft II Multiplayer Panel Transcript

Panel Q&A (Part 1)

David: We are going to get in the Q&A section of the panel very soon. So you guys can start lining up on… I think it is the left side, for the questions. That would be great, and as you guys do that, I want to talk about what is next for us; and the answer to this question I think is a lot simpler than you might expect, because last year we had BlizzCon, soon after Legacy of the Void was released, and then we had the off-season to really focus down on polishing and balance testing the changes that just came out to get ready for the new season this year.

Right after this BlizzCon, we are thinking maybe in a couple weeks we are going to release this to the live game. So it is going to be the same thing. We are going to have to focus heavily on playtesting these changes on the ladder, tuning and polishing these changes so that we are ready for next year; and next year, it is going to be similar to this year as well.

Throughout the first half of next year, we are going to have to make sure that these changes were really good for the game: are there any more big changes that are needed to the game? or is it just more focusing down on small changes? These are the questions we are going to have to answer, and depending on the answer to these questions, the second half of next year will potentially go quite similarly, or it will go differently; but we will not know until we get to that point.

That is what is next for us, so let us continue working together so that we can make StarCraft II really awesome next year as well. Before we get into questions, we actually brought a few copies of Collector’s Edition Legacy of the Void, and we asked the StarCraft II development team to sign them to show our thanks to the most dedicated people that came to this panel today even though the great matches are happening just over there on the arena stage. I think Zest versus Stats is playing right now, and I am also super curious who is going to win; but that is what we did. So how are we are going to do this is: before you ask your question, if you can, pick one of three StarCraft races that is your favorite, and we will roll the dice using Aron’s great technology phone that he has; and we will go by the expansion levels. So if you roll 1 or 2, and you picked Terran, then you will win a copy. If you roll 3 or 4, and you picked Zerg, then you will win a copy that way; and 5 and 6 for Protoss. Thanks.

QUESTION: My name is Mike. I have been playing since StarCraft I (1996). Just some feedback on Legacy. The Ultralisk… it just cripples Terran so much, one of my friends can really keep up when we play now so my feedback is that watching it ultra-gut 30 marines just makes my heart bleed, and I am really happy to see mech being viable; but I really hope to keep flying tanks and I cannot unsee it.

David: Hey, but you did not say your favorite race.


REPLY: Terran, of course.

David: Let us roll for it and see.

Aron: Drum roll: Terran. You won.

Aron: And speaking of winning as Terran, I would also mention that we have already talked about, and in fact, we are going to roll out changes to the Ultralisk coming up with the new changes soon where the Ultralisk will have one less armor point after the upgrade, which although it sounds kind of minor, it is actually a pretty huge deal when dealing with Marines. Enjoy the signed copy.


QUESTION: You mentioned the cyclone is going to have a different attack for air and ground. How will that prioritize with a unit like the Colossus that is both air and ground for attacks?

Michael: Right now the way the Cyclone works is that the air and ground attack are not both auto attack. The anti-air weapon is its lock on which is actually an ability that you manually activate, whereas its ground attack is its normal attack. So against the Colossus, it would depend on if you have the anti-air attack, and you click on the Colossus it will lock on, and start using that against it. If you do not lock on, it will use its anti-ground weapon.


QUESTION: My question is obviously about the ladder. So now we have different race MMRs. Third-party sites are reporting this as dramatically shifting the rating distributions for these races. What has that done internally, if you can verify those claims, and do you think that it was a mistake to bootstrap new race MMRs from the existing rating the player has as opposed to starting them fresh?

David: I think you are talking about the post that just came up like a couple days ago, I think. So we have not had a chance to look into it too deeply yet, because we were so busy planning for BlizzCon; but it is something that is at the top of our list to talk to our online team about it. It is very interesting, because when we saw that graph too, it was like: Oh, what is going on here? Then the top comment said the reason, which makes total sense. So we will definitely look into it.


QUESTION: Are you going to have some more dynamic multiplayer maps like with the lava to help to more adapt to how the map changes?

David: Are you saying you want to see that on the ladder?


REPLY: I would like to see that on the ladder, because StarCraft is already about adapting to the situation, so if we could have like the map itself change?

David: We actually tested something like that, that exact map, and what we found was it was a little bit more restricting for strategies than not, and the reason why we found that I think is because right now like say I want go for an attack I can go for that attack anytime I want. The opponent has to prepare the whole game with that kind of mechanic. It says okay for X minutes the lava is up, so you cannot attack unless you have air units, so it restricts options.

So we felt like the added complexity plus the restricting some strategies and timing attacks that players can do, we thought that was not that great for the game; but next year one of our main goals for maps is to open up the ruleset a little bit.

For example, a lot of people in the community have been asking for maybe different types of different numbers of mineral patches or gas patches per expansion. Things like that, and we have been resistant because the game has been quite new up until this point. We did not want newer players come into the game to be confused; but I think at this point of the game there are a lot of experienced players, and there are a lot of people helping out new players, and so on. So we want to bend those rules a little bit. So that is something that we can definitely discuss next year as well.


QUESTION: My question is have you tried these three different units? I have seen this come up like a few times. I have seen it on Team Liquid. Someone suggested an AA-Robo unit for the Protoss, an energy caster unit for the Terran at the factory, and some long-range air-to-air units. Are those things that you have tried, or have there been other units like this?

David: I think we have tried various versions of those things. For example, the last thing that you said we tried this bomber type of unit where you launch this fighter out to a target location, you cannot really control it, so it goes, does its thing, comes back, and if you are able to save it then it can go again versus if the other guy killed it then you have to build it again. So that was a counter play, but it did not really work out because it did not really feel like a StarCraft II unit. I think the fun thing about StarCraft is you can really have that full control of each unit.

Aron: I remember not too long ago, we were actually taking a big look at what we could do in terms of anti-air with the Robo, like exploring what that would add to the game, and we got really out there sometimes. We added a unit at one point that would actually change the attack plane that robotics units would attack so that while it activated, now your Colossi are shooting air, and it would murder Mutalists; but we found that it was not really improving the game because Robo units are really strong at what they do, and making them more versatile was taking away from it; and we found that was true even if we added a more versatile Robo unit, part of what makes Robo so good is that commitment to specific strategies.


QUESTION: My question was about archon mode. So I think archon mode a lot of people had a lot of high expectations for how it was going to go especially going into Legacy of the Void when we haven’t really seen as much participation. Were you guys ever considering opening it up to be allowed to queue up for archon mode without a partner? So auto-matchmaking– I know there has been a lot of hesitation against it, but I think it is something that may help it out a little bit.

David: First, we want to also thank you for making so much great content for all the StarCraft II players within the community. That is pretty awesome to see every time you post one of your posts.

For archon mode, the reason why we included archon mode and co-op missions, there was actually a couple reasons: One was we wanted to lower the barrier to entry because StarCraft II is the most competitive game in the world, and we want to keep it that way, because we want to have this game where if you think you are a good gamer, then you should play StarCraft II because that is where you can show off your skills the most; but at the same time, we still wanted new players coming in. That is why we included these two modes.

And the secondary reason for archon mode was: say I have a friend, and he is intimidated by StarCraft II, I can bring him in archon mode and show him exactly how to play; and in terms of how it turned out, it turned out just as well as the bigger team play modes; but it did not replace 1v1 or anything like that; but I think that it is still a great place because it is a good entry point, it is still a good coaching tool, and so on; and 1v1 we believe is the core game for the PvP mode of StarCraft II.


QUESTION: I am just curious, with a lot of other Blizzard games there is cross-platform integration of do X get Y. Why have we not seen that a lot of StarCraft II, particularly multiplayer, other than portraits? Do you ever plan on doing like extra unit skins, or maybe a new menu map animation to kind of integrate, and draw people from more games into StarCraft II?

David: With other blizzard games? I think we do. Do we? That is a great point I guess. We will definitely look into it.


QUESTION: My question is about Protoss, how the mothership core kind of affects early game micro. So in a lot of other matchups we see hellions, zergings being used to harass, but the mothership core kind of stops that dead in its tracks. Have you explored any units or strategies to harass Protoss early game?

Aron: What I would actually bring up is that although this is feedback that we hear, not too long ago I was actually just watching a PvZ where there were a lot of lings doing a lot of damage despite the mothership core even activating photon overcharge a lot. So we do not think it is quite as extreme as some people might think. I know that it can feel really oppressive playing against it sometimes, but we think that it is actually in a pretty good place right now; but that does not mean that we have not been looking at other options for early game defense or early game harassment on the Protoss side. We just have not found anything that puts the game in a better state right now.

Michael: Also with the new Cyclone change with its anti-armored auto-attack, actually makes it very strong versus structures, which is what the mothership core is going to be overcharging and also because it has its anti-air lock on, mothership cores have to be very careful about where they position.


QUESTION: Hi, David. This question is for you. We have always known Protoss to be this race of making a big death ball and scary, and now it feels like the other races have more options. We have seen Protoss now playing against Zergs doing adepts and it is very simple, and then it is fragile at the same time. Now with all these changes, Terran is going to get siege tanks so it is going to be swarm-control, and other races are getting many changes. For Protoss, it feels like it is going to be limited. You have the DTs with blink, but there is going to be high investment; and after that it is like what do you have left? So what is the future for Protoss going to be after all these changes?

David: For Protoss, we want each of the tech options as well as the harassment options to be a little bit more of a choice, because right now as you said, adepts are very powerful. Warp prisms, I think, is another thing where Protoss players tend to lean towards in most games, so by doing very slight nerfs to both of those things, buffing the void ray — air Protoss will be more viable now; and as you mentioned, the Dark Templar side is stronger. We also wanted to explore High Templar route a little bit more, and we ended up not doing so because there was a lot of disagreement within the community, and community members brought up good points towards it; but that is always open as well,but ultimately we want Gateway Robotics, Stargate, and the Twilight Tech all to be viable in different situations.


QUESTION: When the game launched, the player experience was single player into multiplayer. Now with all the added game modes, how do you see a new player experience in the game?

Aron: I think there are multiple ways, and I would not call any of them wrong. Like if people want to jump straight in the multiplayer, that is great; but with the addition of co-op, I think the most natural transition is to go from campaign into co-op, play with some friends, get used to playing online with other people; and then maybe transition into practicing against the AI a little bit, and then diving into the ladder. I know a couple of people who have actually tried out the game since Legacy of the Void, doing that, and they found it to be pretty natural.


Next: Panel Q&A (Part 2)

Balance PatchesRedesign & RebalanceNew Units ExplorationPanel Q&A (Part 1)Panel Q&A (Part 2)

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Tomas Hernandez is owner of 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 (formerly ***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.