We often use special press events to pass along information about what we’re working on and what’s coming in future patches and products. These announcements are useful to the community and us alike because they allow us to reach a very wide audience. In many cases however, the message is not as deep or as detailed as we’d like, so we thought we would try some developer updates (like this one) to see if we can do a better job of communicating our intent for the various features we are working on. We have a number of updates and changes coming SoonTM to StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and we wanted to share some of them with you.
Patch 1.5 Is Coming
The upcoming 1.5 patch will be our most feature-laden patch to date. This patch represents the first steps towards the release of our first expansion for StarCraft II, Heart of the Swarm, and will include numerous upgrades and fixes throughout the game. One of the most significant additions will be the all new Arcade feature which includes improved custom game visibility, ratings, reviews, game instructions, screenshot support, and more. Patch 1.5 will also include significant improvements throughout the overall user interface, streaming support, antialiasing, editor and modding upgrades, new art tools, and more. We’ll go into further details about these features in future developer updates. In this update, I would like to provide some insight into the thinking and motivation behind a few of the upcoming changes.
Arcade & Custom Game Selection
We discussed the new Arcade and Custom Game creation tools that would be available at BlizzCon 2011 and while things have changed since then, we are looking forward to getting it out to players for testing. Overall, the biggest complaint we’ve heard is about the popularity system and how games are listed. The challenge we face with the interface is how much to orient the space towards the player, versus how much we focus the interface on the needs of the mod maker. Mod makers want a very egalitarian society where no single map has any type of “advantage” in the interface. On the other hand, most players just want to see the best maps and they don’t want to have to sort through hundreds of maps to find the ones that are good. We think what we have now doesn’t do enough to surface new maps that are good. While we tried to make things better with “Fun or Not,” the system alone isn’t doing enough for many of our mod developers so we wanted to try something different.
To help players find games more easily in patch 1.5, we intend to include an “open games list.” To be clear, this will not be every open game that is on the service. Instead, the open games list will deliver to you a selection of games from the many hundreds or thousands that are currently open. We are currently working on different ways to determine how the list you’ll see is generated.
We’ll also be releasing the art tools that we use internally to create art for StarCraft II, thus enabling mod developers the ability to more easily create their own art and add it to their creations. In addition, we’re beginning to reach out directly to mod and game developers that have created fun, quality maps on Battle.net to get direct feedback, help them tackle obstacles, and provide them with early access to the 1.5 feature set so that they can begin to prepare for Arcade prior to its release. We’ll be revealing more details about the Arcade and the changes we’ve made to the concepts in the near future.
Contact & Communication
We’ve heard concerns about the StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty social experience and many of these comments boil down to, “the service feels empty” and “I don’t know where to go to find people.” We have some simple fixes we’re going to put into the chat system to try to give players some additional connectivity. These aren’t huge fixes, but they may help players who want a more social experience.
First, we’ll allow players to resize their chat windows to fill a larger portion of the screen. We’ll also remember the chat channel you were in as well as the position of that chat channel on your screen for when you next return to the game. This will allow players who want to recreate something that feels a lot more like Warcraft III or the original StarCraft to build their own interface that looks a lot like those older games.
We’re also working on a feature that will help players connect with other players and games that are near their location (connecting through the same IP). We believe this will primarily be used by people in internet gaming rooms, offices, dorm rooms, and local tournaments where you just want to find the guy sitting in the desk next to you. Although this may not be ready in time for the release of patch 1.5, we do intend to have this available by the time Heart of the Swarm ships.
Much of the content we are working on for Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm is motivated directly by community feedback. While we’re unable to respond to every post, or even most posts, your feedback does get to us. Thanks for sending it.
Let us know what topics you’d like us to cover in future Developer Updates. Topics that we’re thinking of covering include: Game Balance, Heart of the Swarm Multiplayer Progress, and Blizzard DOTA Gameplay.