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To anyone who has purchased BlizzCon tickets, the due date for providing your names and optional game information is May 14. You must edit or enter attendee informationby May 14.

If you purchased BlizzCon 2013 tickets for family or friends, just a reminder you have until next Tuesday, May 14 to enter or edit attendee information, including:

  •     The names to be printed on the badges
  •     Battle.net account names for the pre-show online merchandise sale for BlizzCon ticket holders—more details to come. (Please note that only registered accounts will be able to access this pre-show sale.)
  •     Optional game information such as World of Warcraft character, realm, clan, and BattleTag.

If this information hasn’t been entered by May 14, all badges will default to the name on the purchaser’s Battle.net account. Don’t miss the opportunity to customize your badges!


Battle.net - BlizzCon Ticket Reminder: Attendee Information Deadline May 14

With BlizzCon 2013 just around the corner, Blizzard has announced that sales of BlizzCon tickets will take place on Wednesday, April 24 starting 7pm PDT and Saturday, April 27 starting 10am PDT. The tickets are priced at $175 USD for entry on both days of the convention, which will run from November 8 to November 9 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Purchase the tickets here.

BlizzCon - Tickets on Sale April 24 and 27

To celebrate the launch of Heart of the Swarm, Sean "Day[9]" Plott and TeamLiquid are having a community launch party on the evening of March 11. This community launch party will be broadcast from Blizzard Headquarters before going live on stage at the Irvine Spectrum with Blizzard to count down to the midnight release.

We are organizing hours of entertaining video content by the likes of TotalBiscuit, scReddit, TeSPA, JP McDaniel, DJ Wheat, Soe, WhiteRa, Rosanna Pansino, Raelcun, Pomf et Thud, EG, ROOT, and more! Those who remember Day[9]'s 2010 Wings of Liberty Launch Party know how awesome this is, and this time around it will be even better.


The Blizzard main stream will start 2:00am PDT on March 11 and run until 11:59pm PDT, with the Day[9] and TeamLiquid community launch party being live from 6:00am to 11:00am, and then again from 3:00pm to 9:00pm. The Irvine Spectrum broadcast, which is where the countdown will take place, airs from 9:00pm to 11:59pm. Don't forget to tune in to http://www.twitch.tv/StarCraft during those times to catch the entirety of the party! Also, check out the full news post over on TeamLiquid for more details.

TeamLiquid - Day[9] and TeamLiquid's HotS Community Launch Party

There has been a small update to the Heart of the Swarm launch event site: it now has a schedule of launch events.

Battle.net - Heart of the Swarm Launch Event Site Update

The annual Blizzard convention, BlizzCon, has been announced to take place during November 8th and 9th in Anaheim, California, at the Anaheim Convention Center. Further details will be released at a later date, but for anyone wishing to attend BlizzCon, be sure to be free during Friday, November 8th and Saturday, November 9th!

Blizzcon.com - BlizzCon 2013 Storms Anaheim November 8 to 9

Disclaimer: This document lists the new multiplayer units and abilities as they currently stand in the StarCraft® II: Heart of the Swarm™ beta. The units and abilities you see described below are still subject to change. What we've listed below is just a snapshot of where we currently stand on multiplayer Heart of the Swarm.


Upon analyzing data from their most recent battles, the protoss have identified a few areas of improvement that would help them maximize effectiveness against their enemies. Based on their findings, the protoss have augmented their arsenal with an extremely long-range attacker, additional psionic units, and a new form of enemy harassment.


Description: The Tempest is a new capital ship that can fire at both ground and air targets from long range, doing additional damage to massive air units. When supported by other units, the huge range of the Tempest allows the protoss to harass and force action by opponents.


Description: The Oracle is a psionic warship, built from a Stargate, that uses unique abilities to raid and harass the enemy. The first is Pulsar Beam, which is energy-based and does devastating damage to light units on the ground. Another ability, Envision, grants temporary detection to the Oracle. Revelation is an area effect ability that causes all units and structures in the targeted area to grant vision for an extended period of time.

Mothership Core

Description: The Mothership Core is unique in more ways than one. It's a flying unit that has a fast firing, air to ground weapon; only a single Mothership Core can exist in your army at once. There are several abilities available from the Mothership Core. Time Warp creates an field that slows the movement speed of enemy ground units.  Photon Overcharge is a defensive ability that temporarily grants a powerful, long range attack to a nexus. Finally, Mass Recall allows players to quickly recall the Mothership Core and units around it back to a Nexus.


Description: It's not really a new unit in Heart of the Swarm, but the Mothership abilities are slightly different from Wings of Liberty. The Mothership retains the Mass Recall and Time Warp abilities from the Mothership Core. It also retains its cloaking field from Wings of Liberty. The Mothership is now created by upgrading the Mothership Core after a Fleet Beacon is constructed.


The resourceful terrans have also been improving their technology to better survive their battles in the Koprulu sector.

Widow Mine

Description: The Widow Mine is a new unit built from the Factory that allows the terran player to control areas of the battlefield. The Widow Mine moves into position and sets to stationary mode, which burrows and activates it. When an enemy air or ground unit moves into range, the Widow Mine fires a missile that deals high damage to the targeted unit, and a smaller amount of splash damage around the blast.


The Hellion has been upgraded to a transforming unit similar to the Viking. When transformed into Hellbat mode, it has additional hit points and a stronger flame attack that covers a short forward-facing arc. This makes the Hellion more effective against large clusters of light units such as Zealots or Zerglings. The player can opt to transform the Hellbat back into its original, more mobile form as well.

New Abilities

In Heart of the Swarm, the Medivac gains a cooldown-based speed-boost ability called Ignite Afterburners, and the Caduceus Reactor upgrade improves its healing efficiency. Additionally, the Reaper no longer has a special building attack. Instead, it gains a passive health-regeneration upgrade that allows it to recharge hit points quickly when out of combat. The Thor now has a selectable ground to air attack, allowing it to switch from the standard area of effect missiles to a single-target missile that does added damage to massive air units.


The zerg continue to evolve and adapt to changing environments, particularly the dangers they face on the battlefield. New creatures will help the zerg stage more effective sieges and add unique enemy-manipulating abilities to their arsenal.


Description: The Viper is a new flying unit with three unique abilities. Blinding Cloud temporarily reduces the attack range of ground units inside the cloud to melee range. Abduct allows the Viper to physically pull a unit to the Viper’s location. Finally, the Viper can use Consume, a channeled ability that allows it to gain some energy back at the expense of damage to your own zerg building.

Swarm Host

Description: The Swarm Host is a slow-moving ground unit that has no standard attack. When burrowed, the Swarm Host spawns a continuous stream of slow-moving units called Locusts that can be used to lay siege and pressure entrenched enemy positions.

New Abilities

Mutalisks have been given a new passive ability that allows it to regenerate health more quickly, and the Hydralisk has a new upgrade that allows them to move faster while not on creep.


starcraft 2

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) event article.

starcraft legacy
Unit Models:

Story Mode:





starcraft 2

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) event article.

starcraft legacy



On January 17, SC:Legacy was invited to Blizzard's HQ in Irvine California to test the Heart of the Swarm campaign, take a look at the new battle.net interface, and learn about the future of the StarCraft 2 expansion in general. Blizzard allowed the visitors to experience with three of the twenty Heart of the Swarm missions from the middle of the game. These missions feature a strong mindset of evolution and alien characters that will complement the Zerg Swarm along with new mechanics that will offer a new Zerg experience to the players. Among the main features that will be released in the near future are: customizable observer UIs, new physic displays, new rewards and levels system, and a new practice mode to transition players from the campaign to the multiplayer scenario. After viewing a brief presentation, we also had a chance to interview Dustin Browder, director of the StarCraft 2 team, and watch the complete opening cinematic for the game:


On May 26, 2011, Blizzard invited a number of press and fan sites to their headquarters in Irvine, CA for a first look at the current iteration of StarCraft II’s second chapter, Heart of the Swarm. In it, we hoped to find some evolution from Wings of Liberty in the storytelling mechanics and glean some idea of Blizzard’s vision for the future of the Zerg. Aside from the teaser cinematic, the event was a bit underwhelming. Blizzard professed that Heart of the Swarm’s overarching theme would focus on what it means to be Zerg, but from those early playtests, it was clear that the available missions felt like an extension of Wings of Liberty than a fresh organic uniquely Zerg experience. It was more like using Raynor’s Raiders in Zerg skins rather than exploring the essence of such a terrifying viral xenomorphic species. The missions just didn’t feel “zergy” enough. And then, silence from Blizzard. After an additional 18 months of production, we were invited to return. Blizzard, once again, issued the call and for several hours on January 17th, 2013, Blizzard demonstrated to us what it will mean for us to become one with the Zerg Swarm.

The changes we observed from the initial Heart of the Swarm single player campaign preview are numerous and subtle but each contributes to an overall richer, different experience. The problem with the initial build in the first preview was that it was too much of an obvious extension of Wings of Liberty.  Rather than create a radically new single player experience, the missions we played were single mechanic maps reminiscent of many Wings of Liberty missions that had been dressed up in a Zerg skin. Players completed the mission objectives and found “Zerg bucks” to unlock upgrades for the Swarm. Although there was nothing wrong with this mechanic, it just didn’t feel “Zergy” and didn’t showcase how the Zerg race was actively evolving. To correct this gameplay issue, Blizzard introduced Evolution Missions. Evolution Missions are compact themed missions that allow the player to experiment with a particular unit’s two major branching mutations. At the conclusion of each of these missions, the player must choose which evolution to permanently apply to that unit.

Take, for example, the evolutionary mission for the Baneling. Abathur, a sort of Zerg genetic specialist introduced early in the Heart of the Swarm Campaign, informs Kerrigan that he has found two mutually exclusive evolutionary paths for the Baneling. Traveling to a distant planet, you see Banelings absorb the genetic sequence of an indigenous species evolving the Banelings to Spillterlings. Splitterlings are Banelings that erupt and spawn two smaller, weaker clones. Next Abathur takes Kerrigan to a distant volcanic planet similar to the where Reapers were first introduced in Wings of Liberty.  Abathur then suggest that the Baneling strain may simply evolve through natural selection if heavily encouraged. Lava flows and kills off dozen of Banelings. The Zerg must survive and adapt. In order for the Banelings to survive the next lava flow and not succumb to certain death, the Banelings adapt by jumping up a cliff. The introduction of Evolution Missions really add to the Zerg flavor for Heart of the Swarm.

The nature of the zerg was eloquently accented in the closing mission. Kerrigan captures a Protoss settler, named Lasarra. Lasarra is subsequently implanted with a specially modified Larva and is then sent back to a Protoss ship in flight. Once on-board, the Larva craves the necessary biomass for its growth by feeding on the various species enclosed within the confines of the ship’s multiple creature conservatories. The Larva is able to evade detection and eventually consumes enough biomass to morph into a Brood Mother. Mature enough to complete the objective, the Brood Mother is able to take control of the ship and she attempts, albeit unsuccessfully to contact the Queen of Blades. Strange as that may sound, the mission was perhaps the most fun I had playing a StarCraft campaign mission in quite some time. The unique experience of initially only controlling one Larva in an installation-type mission was a refreshing change of pace and was able to add depth to the mission repertoire.

With limited play time and only three revealed missions, Blizzard did give us a sense of what it means to be Zerg. With 20 campaign missions and an unknown number of evolution missions, Blizzard is trying to deliver a similar, yet enigmatic sequel to Wings of Liberty. Come March 12th, with the player’s help, the Zerg are poised to take another evolutionary leap forward.



Be sure to check out all the screenshots revealed in this press event, as well as the unit descriptions, the HotS FAQ, and the interview with Dustin Browder.


starcraft 2

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) event article.

starcraft legacy

The Following Video features the incomplete Dustin Browder interview. Please refer to our interview transcript for the full information.



Interview Transcript:

Crota: Alright, so the first question from SC:Legacy: "Why didn't Zeratul find out about the Dark Voice when he touched the Overmind in the vanilla Zerg campaign? Zeratul learned that the Overmind was created by the Xel'Naga but didn't learn anything about the Dark Voice?”

Dustin Browder: *sigh* Sorry, ask it again?

Crota: You knew you were going to get the lore questions.

Dustin Browder: I didn't know it was going to be that detailed about the last game. But go for it, I'll do my best. You might want Brian for this, by the way, but, well, I’ll try.

Crota: Ok, why didn't Zeratul find out about the Dark Voice when he touched the Overmind's mind in the vanilla Zerg Campaign? Zeratul learned that the Overmind was created by the Xel'Naga, but didn't learn anything about the Dark Voice?

Dustin Browder: Right, so I think Zeratul, following the prophecies and going back to the Overmind, really had the opportunity to ask the right questions in his searching-out of the psionics of the Overmind. In addition, he is dealing with the dead remnants of the Overmind with no defences, with no ability to protect any psionic residue that’s remaining inside to sort of suss out those ancient secrets. It allows him to get a lot deeper inside the Overmind and find out the real dirt that he wouldn’t have had when dealing with an Overmind that’s more prepared and not knowing to even ask that kind of question.

Crota: Alright. Now, moving on to Heart of the Swarm. It's been repeatedly stated that Heart of the Swarm is going to be, "What it means to be Zerg". So how is that written in the story and what can we expect to see in terms of “Zerginess” in Heart of the Swarm?

Dustin Browder: We are trying to get the idea of what means to be the Zerg through the Heart of the Swarm campaign in a number of different ways. We are doing it through the mechanics of the choices you make in story mode. The types of evolutions you choose, the types of mutations you choose, how you level up Kerrigan, should be fundamentally different from spending dollars and earning credits and hiring mercenaries, which you did in the Wings of Liberty Campaign. We have a whole series of evolution missions that allow you to see some of the story of what it’s like to be the Zerg, where you’re seeking out and absorbing other life-forms, whether they are life-forms hidden in Terran labs or life-forms that are isolated on strange, lost, and exotic worlds, to give you that sense of consumption, conquering, and evolution through these types of missions. The mission mechanics themselves are focused on aggression, on attack, a lot more than they were in Wings of Liberty. We still have the occasional defensive mission Kerrigan has to deal with, but we are trying to do everything we can to push the idea that Kerrigan’s on the offensive, that the Zerg are attacking and overcoming their enemies. There'll still be absolute threats they have to deal with but, you know, in the Terran Campaign it was often very Starship Troopers. You’re behind your Bunkers with your Siege Tanks fighting off waves and waves of enemy attackers, and we are trying to sort of get away from that in Heart of the Swarm and make the missions much more about you being aggressive, and hunting down and destroying anyone who would dare to stand against you. And in the final way I think that we’re trying to get the sense of Zerg units into the campaign is through the story itself. You know, Kerrigan has a much darker story than Raynor had. She has problems that Raynor never had to deal with. I think players will see, but this is my opinion, obviously you want to see when you actually play it. But I think players will see that Raynor’s a little naive in how he thinks, what he thinks it means to be Kerrigan. Kerrigan has problems that Raynor doesn't begin to understand. She is dealing as the Queen Goddess of the Zerg, the level of responsibility, the threats that she faces, you know? Raynor has one Battlecruiser and he’s going to "take on Mengsk", that's his big day. Kerrigan is dealing with legions of Zerg, an entire Protoss race wants to kill her, personally, for the things that she has done. And so I think it should be a much darker, more difficult experience and Kerrigan, in many cases, is going to be asked and is going to make choices that Raynor would never make. Very dark, dangerous, scary choices. Choices where the line between good and evil is very muddy or difficult to really determine, "Who is at right here?" “Who is at fault?” "What should be done?" Raynor would always find the way out to make the right choice, but Kerrigan doesn't always have that option. She has to exist in a much darker, more desperate, more serious world than Raynor’s ever had to deal with.

Crota: Another Question. We found out you can actually lose Kerrigan, but all of a sudden the mission doesn't stop. Is there lore based upon or is that something that is going to be disabled for Brutal, and say Brutal is the true lore?

Dustin Browder: No, we feel that Kerrigan's revival is a natural part of her abilities as the Queen of Blades. That's something she can develop as she regains her power within the Swarm. We saw this throughout the last mission in Wings of Liberty. The killing of Kerrigan is a little bit more challenging than just destroying her mortal form, that you have to do maybe a lot more than that ultimately to wipe her out. And so we’ve brought this mechanic forward. Obviously it helps us a lot with the campaign, but it is part of the experience, of the game, part of the lore.

Crota: So, how would one kill Kerrigan? You said that the entire Protoss race wants to kill Kerrigan. How would one kill Kerrigan?

Dustin Browder: That's something we haven't revealed yet, what you would do to kill Kerrigan. I could hypothesize with you ways that you could potentially do that, but I imagine it would involve the destruction of her hatchery, all nearby hatcheries, and her, all at the same time, in a place where her consciousness could not really get back to any place where she can revitalize herself and continue forward.

Cable: Are there a lot of decision-making branches within the single-player in Heart of the Swarm, kind of like what we saw in Wings of Liberty?

Dustin Browder: So there’s a couple of differences in the way we built the campaign in Heart of the Swarm we didn’t in Wings of Liberty. Some of this was based off feedback we had but some of it was also based on the story that we ended up telling. Kerrigan is very driven. She is not exploring the galaxy in kind of like a mercenary, "Maybe I’ll go here, I'll take this job, I’ll take that job." She has a quest. Stuff that she wants to get done. So at the end of the day we decided that all 20 missions are going to be required. There’s no optional missions in Heart of the Swarm. Everything in the game you must play if you want to see the final missions, but we still have the choice of what order you do things in. So you can choose which world to go to, in which order. There are some worlds that come later in the campaign, so there’s still some choice in there. I would say overall it's a little less loose than Wings of Liberty was, so there’s a little bit less of “this or that”. You choose less often, but at whole, certainly our belief is, the choices feel a lot more significant when you do make them.

Cable: What was the primary focus when you guys were developing the Heart of the Swarm expansion?

Dustin Browder: Oh, I don't know how to answer that. “What was our primary focus for Heart of the Swarm?” One of the things that I think we’re trying to do with Heart of the Swarm and what we do with a lot of our expansions is trying to hit every type of player out there. We are trying to hit the multiplayer gamer, we are trying to hit the player who loves arcade games, we are trying to hit the player who loves the campaign experience, we are trying to get players who want to play by themselves, players who want to play socially. StarCraft is much bigger than one game. There are many many games smashed together in this experience and some players come to StarCraft only for one small part. Some players only play multi and some players only play campaign, and so, we are trying to provide something of quality for each one of these types of players so that they have a positive experience. They have a reason to be excited about Heart of the Swarm.

Crota: Alright, you mentioned Blizzard Arcade and I think a lot of players out there are waiting for Blizzard All-Stars. Any word on where that is? We’ve heard there’s been redesigns, revamps, back to the drawing boards?

Dustin Browder: I don't think we’ve been back to the drawing board on All-Stars. We’ve certainly done a lot of work on it. We still got a prototype team who’s doing a lot of really great work on that game. One of our goals at Blizzard is always "easy to learn and impossible to master", you know, is one of our goals in creating these games. I think we’re starting to get to that point. A lot of the decisions that we’re offering players in All-Stars now are very crisp but very difficult. It's very easy to see the decision you understand, that you understand we’re asking you to choose, but the decision itself is incredibly challenging to actually make, where it depends greatly on what's going on in the game at the time. And so, you have to really analyze the game and go, “Wow, what's the right choice right now?” I think they’re doing a lot of great work, but we don't have a whole front end up and running yet, we don't have a lot of the stuff around the game that would allow us to put it out there and show it to you guys and see what you think. We are very excited about it and we’re starting to really dial in that experience of what it feels like to hunt down Arthas as Nova, or what it feels like for Kerrigan to be attacking Thrall. We’re starting to get a sense of all these heros mashing together, it’s starting to feel really good, and we’re starting to get a really tight multiplayer experience which I think is potentially worthy of a Blizzard product. But we’re not really there yet. So, just as soon as we get anything that’s sort of in that position, we’ll start talking about alphas and betas and get it out to people as fast as possible and start getting that feedback to really help us polish and tune and create that final product.

Crota: Any timeline on when you expect...

Dustin Browder: No, there's no way to know yet, right?

Crota: It's ready when it's ready?

Dustin Browder: It’s ready when it’s ready, but that’s not just something we say to people. "Ready when it's ready" is a philosophy here at Blizzard, something we live by. We haven't gone to wide alpha even within internally yet. So I need to go to an alpha internally with All-Stars, and then we can look at it and people here will tell us honestly, "Wow, you really got to get this out there, but I have some doubts..." You know? It’s very important to go through that process in a very natural way. Hopefully here in the near future, I don't know exactly when, we'll get to that space, we can do the internal alpha, and that wouldn’t form a lot more. If that alpha goes badly we’re going back to do a bunch of work. But if the alpha goes very, very well then we are closer and closer to shipping.

Crota: Alright, now moving onto some multiplayer and e-sports questions. How would you gage your success in StarCraft: Wings of Liberty and what has been your goal for Heart of the Swarm in terms of making all these units, whether or not they are going to be accepted, and whether or not the e-sports community is even going to move to Heart of the Swarm or if they are going to stay with Wings of Liberty, since that option is out there for them?

Dustin Browder: Sure. For us the success we had in Heart of the Swarm was well beyond where we imagined it could be...

Crota: Wings of Liberty?

Dustin Browder: Wings of Liberty, excuse me... We launched Wings of Liberty, we imagined that we would get maybe 100 guys in Europe or the United States to watch the e-sport event, wouldn’t that be awesome. Cause you have to remember back, that was the case. There wasn’t a huge history of massive e-sports events here in the States or in Europe. They were starting to happen a little bit, some with Quake, a little bit with Halo, and MLG was really out there trying really hard and there was some stuff going on, but then we saw when StarCraft came along, and our fans came out to support it. We saw this massive amounts of growth in e-sport, which I really think the StarCraft fans should take a lot of credit for. They built this. They are the ones that got everybody to noticed that e-sports was a thing, that this had to be real and this was... They really added a lot of firepower but there was an e-sport scene, absolutely, before StarCraft II, I'm not trying to say there wasn't. But the StarCraft II fans, I think, really really added a lot of weight to that scene. So, I feel like StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty was very successful in that sense, in helping promote StarCraft II again as an e-sport and raising e-sport into the consciousness of a lot of people in general, whether they be developers, or players, or the mainstream media, and anybody else.

For Heart of the Swarm, the more I look at it, the more confidence I have. We have tools in Heart of the Swarm we do not have in Wings of Liberty to balance this game. There is no really strong weapon we can point towards Brood Lord in Protoss vs Zerg in Wings of Liberty. There just isn't. I guess we could maybe make the Void Ray even better, but that’s going to cause us problems in a lot of other areas. But now we have Tempest, which gives us the ability, whether it's working today or not, we have the ability to balance that unit in such a  way that Brood Lord has a threat on the field in tier 3 for Protoss. Which, again, reduces a lot of the pressure we have in the game right now. Right now, Brood Lord Infestor had better work. What else is Zerg supposed to do? Otherwise they are in a lot of trouble. We could totally tune Brood Lord and Infestor and we’ll totally do that, but we’re in kind of a tough spot. In Heart of the Swarm, we have many more tools now to deal with a lot of these threats. We got a better understanding of the gameplay experience and we are able to tune now for the map sizes that we’re seeing in the wild today. When we originally made Heart of the Swarm we were tuning for Lost Temple, and we’ve left Lost Temple behind how many months ago? Years ago? Lost temple is gone. Right? Both in spirit and in form, it is gone. We are dealing with maps that are way, way bigger. So this gives us some benefits in the sense that a lot of the worker rushes we used to see in the older days of Wings of Liberty are gone. Thank god, right. Who misses those? Sometimes they’re cute, but you don't want to see them every third game. “Oh, here comes the Terrans with seven marines and 15 workers and ok.” Right? That was awful. So the large maps have saved us from a lot of that and they’ve increased the amount of defensiveness in the game, because the map is a kind of defense just in terms of its size. And it’s given us this benefit of seeing a lot more units in the game and a lot of tier 3 armies, which is always very exciting to watch. The downside is that it’s allowed a lot of these races, Zerg in particular, to play very greedy and there’s not a lot of tools the other races have at this point to really, really threaten them. But now, we can put in things like the Oracle. We can put in things like regenerating our Mutalisks. We can put in things that can really punish players. We can put in Siege Tanks with earlier siege mode, because the maps are so large it's not the end of the world. You know? So we can tune for this game. I mean, maybe all of those are bad, we don't know for sure yet, we are still in the beta. But we can tune for the large maps in a very meaningful way without upsetting the entire e-sports scene, which is what would happen right now. I can't go into Wings of Liberty to start messing around with the numbers higgledy-piggledy. Every decision has to be as careful as we can make it. Ultimately, as small as we can make it so we’d not do too much damage to the gameplay experience. But for Heart of the Swarm, we have a beta. We can really try some stuff and we can really tune for these maps. I think when you combine the fact that we are adding more tools, when you combine the fact that we can now tune for the map sizes that we are all planning to play on for quite some time, when you combine the fact that we have two years of learning on e-sports behind the scenes. We had no e-sports of any significance for this specific game. We had Brood War experience we could look at, but the game’s already so different. Now we have many, many years, two and a half years of e-sports behind us that we can use to leverage. The fact that I can go home and watch guys like Grubby and Idra stream Heart of the Swarm tonight and factor that into our balance for changes we want to make tomorrow. I think it's going to be a way more balanced experience than anything we could possibly have done in Wings of Liberty. I'm just not at all nervous that people won’t want to play it. I think it's going to be a way better game.

Crota: What do you think the average gameplay, like the average game life, will be in e-sports. Alright, so what do you think the average game length will be now. With the increased map sizes and Zergs being greedy, what have you guys seen to be a favourable product? I know no one wanted to see the seven-minute worker rush...

Dustin Browder: Four-minute worker rush... Yeah that's really awful. I feel if you got to a fifteen or twenty minute game as an average it's going to feel good.

Crota: Real-time or StarCraft time?

Dustin Browder: Real-time. I think that's going to be a more favourable experience, but obviously what you want is some variation. You want to have the occasional six minute game and you want to have the occasional forty-five minute game, a really epic game. But that’s always forever been our goal and I think that works for playing on the ladder and I think it works for e-sports as well.

Cable: Will we see any more new units?

Dustin Browder: No. We are pretty convinced. Not locked in stone. If we see something different we’ll change our minds, but right now there are no plans for any additional units.

Cable: You brought up the new skins that will be unlockable achievements based on your levels. Will those transition at all into micro-transactions in the future?

Dustin Browder: That's not our plan. We have no intention at this time of making skins a micro-transaction experience for StarCraft. There's a number of concerns. One is just the clarity, the readability of the experience. StarCraft plays way fast. Even these skins I'm nervous about and we are going to be studying them very, very closely to make sure that we haven't made any egregious errors in the clarity in looking at these units, whether there's an upgrade on that unit or what. Because we do use the art to indicate upgrades to players quite a bit. You know, the shields on Marines, that kind of thing. So we have to be very, very careful not to do damage with that. And also, artists have spent a lot of time making sure the game looks good as it is. If we start changing all the art out they have no confidence that they’re going to be able to make it as polished as they are. We are really looking at it as a light reward at the top end of this achievement system. We are not really at this time planning to have 50 more of these as rewards or certainly 50 more that we are going to sell to anybody. That’s not really our intent. Our intent is just to offer this as a small reward as part of this achievement system.

Crota: Will there be an option to view everything as base? Let's say you are Idra and you hate anything extra on the game.

Dustin Browder: I’ve had this feedback twice today now, “Will there be an option to turn everything on as base so you don’t see the skins at all. I don't think we have a plan for that. I think our hope is they’re not obnoxious enough that that will be a problem, but I'll certainly take that feedback and will be something we’ll talk about.

Cable: Two more e-sports type questions. First is, "Will we see any stream links or embeds into the Heart of the Swarm client?"

Dustin Browder: We don't have the ability or the techonology right now to allow you to embed the streams directly into the client, but that's something we’d like to talk about, something we’d like to look at going forward.

Cable: And the last one is, "What are Blizzard's goals with regards to e-sports for Heart of the Swarm, and will Blizzard be taking the same, more, or less of an active role in e-sports?"

Dustin Browder: That's a good question. I don't know exactly what our plans are for e-sports yet, for even this coming year. We are still in many ways still discussing the aftermath of BWC and how we thought about how these events worked. We’re still getting feedback from a lot of people around the world about internally what they thought, how this worked, how much effort it was, and what we want to do for the future. Our commitment to e-sports is absolute. We feel like this is an entertainment form. It is beautiful and wonderful and amazing, and it brings people together from all over the world and it's an absolute blast. You know, Mike Morhaime is a huge e-sports fan, he asks me all the time if I saw the match last night, I've been to his house to watch GSL finals. You know, the leadership of Blizzard is absolutely commited to e-sports, but specifically what our role is?. I don't know personally what it is yet. I don't know that everybody at Blizzard even knows yet. There're lots of ideas for things we could be doing to help. One of our concerns of course is, this is a ecosystem and this is an ecosystem where people, who are hardworking people, are doing everything they can to make a high-quality product. And if we come in and start throwing our weight around too much, we could damage it. We could convince people, "Ahh, Blizzard is just going to make me do what they want to do! I don't have any choice here, why am I even doing this anymore?" We could make a mistake and tell people to do the wrong thing which actually hurts their viewership. At the same time, if we do nothing, that seems... there might be things we can do that are positive in the space, so we’re really trying to be careful and not screw it up. I guess this is the short answer. Make sure we don't do anything that upsets the viewers, or the casters, or the players, or the tournament organizers. You know, I went to a e-sports conference in Valencia last year which was hugely useful for us to get feedback from these guys and talk to them directly and get a sense from them what they were looking for from us, the type of leadership that they would want us to take and I know that we have people here in the organization that are still actively talking to those people, trying to work out with them what makes the most sense.

Crota: Is Blizzard going to do another World Championship?

Dustin Browder: I don't know.

Bob Calayco: We’ll get to that in the coming weeks.

Crota: Did you find it successful?

Dustin Browder: Yeah, it was cool. Blizzard World Championship was a total blast. We sort of made our share of mistakes in it and we certainly learned a lot in the process. I don't want to say we were perfect by any stretch and we had a lot of challenges with it as well. Certainly we had a lot of positive feedback, especially the European series seemed to go very very well. A lot of very positive feedback from our European office and from European players. That was a lot of fun and I certainly think we could learn from that going forward.

Cable: As a pretty active member of the community, especially with regards to BarCraft, I can tell you a lot of people think it was one of the most important, most meaningful tournament of all so far.

Crota: If you’re looking for praise, I’ve only heard praise for it.

Cable: Everyone says this means something. “He is a world champion.” My other question is, what do you feel about the saturation level of e-sports events because there has been comments that Blizzard could help decrease the oversaturation by guarding it a little better?

Bob Calayco: We don’t really have firm answers to these kind of questions. What I would just look back at, Mike made some comments toward the end of WCS and maybe in some interviews afterwards, what everyone agrees on is, tournament organizers, players, like, people in the ecosystem asked us to take a more active role and create more structure. WCS was a step toward that. What we are doing in 2013 and the specific answers to these questions, we haven't arrived to that, but we’re actively speaking with all these people in this space right now. So, too long; didn’t read: we don't have the firm answer today, but hopefully really soon we can come back to you guys.

Crota: Alright. Well, hopefully soon, and hopefully you invite us back. Thanks again.

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This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) event article.

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Blizzard's Presentation transcript:

Blizzard: Thank you everyone for coming. We are obviously here to show you Heart of the Swarm. In here we are going to show you the opening cinematic and then Dustin is going to walk you through a brief presentation we have that, now that we are nearing the end of development we have laid out all the features and all the content that's going to be in the game. So we are just going to give you an overview of everything. And then after this we are going to take you to the play-test area and you will be able to play through three missions from the middle of the campaign and that will also allow you to check out the sort of campaign meta-game. Kerrigan leveling up and getting new abilities, and mutating and evolving all your Zerg species. So I guess I'm just going to start this... Oh yea, this is a reminder, embargo is 12:01 midnight next Tuesday. So, please, anything that you get from this visit: your unit view information, the screenshots and videos we are giving you, like all that stuff, like hold it until then. On that note, pictures on this screen will be given out to you.

Dustin: Pause to go fix the lights.

Crota: Oh it's going to be a longer teaser than last time?

Dustin: Oh, this is the opening cinematic.

Crota: Ooh...

Dustin: I watched this twice a day for the last six months.

Audience: *chuckles*

Dustin: Well, that's because I have work to do, but sometimes it might be a little more. Like if I'm in a bad day maybe I'll give it to myself at the end of the game to kind of, "Hey it's ok, you know, it will be fine."

Audience guy 1: Is this [inaudible]

Dustin: A lot of people worked on this.


Dustin: If you don't get chills when you see that, you are dead inside.

Audience: *Laughs in agreement*

Dustin: Alright, I'm desperately, desperately ill. I’m near death’s door. I almost stayed at home today, but I realized many of you traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to talk about videogames and I thought that's pretty cool. So, I thought I would show up. So, let's talk about what we got for Heart of the Swarm. So obviously we have a new story and campaign, twenty new missions, all that jazz; and you will see some of that here today. New story mode mechanics, all that stuff. New multiplayer experience which hopefully many of you have seen or experienced some of in the beta already; and we are still working on some of that stuff and new online service stuff. In the expansion we are trying to hit every type of gamer that comes to our experience. You know, we know that StarCraft is not just one game. It is many, many games sort of smashed all together and there's a lot of gamers that come to us to enjoy the multiplayer, the campaign, the arcade, to enjoy socializing with their friends, whatever; and some of people are just coming here just for one of these things, some that are coming for both of these things or many of them just fasted together. We are trying to hit all the different kind of players who come to StarCraft.

So for Kerrigan, she obviously has her many, many issues, and we have a long back story for Kerrigan that's been developing now for many, many products and many, many years and she is trying to get vengeance on those who have betrayed her. You are going to be rebuilding Kerrigan's power, rebuilding the Zerg Swarm as you battle your way across the stars. And you are exploring the galaxy seeing lots of different worlds, lots of new and strange locations that we have never taken you to, in the StarCraft universe.

From inside that campaign, you got the ability to choose some different abilities as you progress through the game. I don't know what you guys have or haven't seen. I've been demoing this so many times since I'm just finding myself repeating myself... You got levels that you are gaining as you are moving through the campaign as you complete missions and bonus objectives you gain additional levels and then you’ll have choices as to which abilities you want to get as you go up and Kerrigan is the ultimate expression of Zerg mutation evolution, so, you change this at any time if you have chosen abilities you don't like, or you want to try something new for a different mission you can sort of swap which abilities you want to have for Kerrigan as you advance.

For the Swarm you are collecting creatures, much as you would in Wings of Liberty. You are collecting units as you move through missions, but you can also evolve these creatures further as you play through the game. So you will see that as you encounter creatures, you'll see them in your Evolution Chamber on the Leviathan, you will see creatures you sort of picked up and you will be able to select mutations for these creatures. Again, these are changeable. So, you come here and choose which mutation you want for your Baneling, in this case. As you advance and if you don't like a mutation you chose, you can go back and change it and use it again later. But there's also the ability to evolve sub-species, or evolve new creatures for the Swarm. So, after completing some key evolution missions, missions where you go out and you gather DNA, or you break into a Dominion lab, you do something to acquire new genetic material for the Swarm, you will be able to come back to your Evolution Chamber and work with Abathur to choose how you want to permanently change your Swarm and that will change the art a little bit for units sometimes and the units look really cool and they change a lot. Sometimes it's just like a color shift, but we do everything we can to make these things look different from one another and still be a recognizable unit, I don't want a Mutalisk not to look like a Mutalisk, but we want to make it as much as possible, so your swarm looks different to you on the battlefield. And these evolution changes are permanent. Once you have chosen one of these you are stuck with that change. Unless, you know, load a save game. Other than that, they are a permanent change. So, for the campaign, twenty new missions, six environments, we got a bunch of new characters. We are not going to show you all of those yet, and I'm afraid that some Campaign questions you have today I will say sometimes, "Sorry, you are just going to have to just wait and see." We sort of still want some surprises for our fans out there, but we will try to give you guys as much as we can give you here today. And of course a lot of new cinematics and a lot of new dialogue, stuff like that.

For multiplayer, you guys have seen a lot of this already, I would hope; but lots and lots of new units... Are most of you guys aware of the Beta, lots of you guys playing? Should I speak? ... Ok, alright, I will either assume you can see this already or... Lots of new stuff for us to try to give us the tools to really balance the game. Like, one of the challenges we had in Wings of Liberty right now is that in Zerg vs Protoss there's not a lot we can do against Brood Lord, currently right now as Protoss. We could try to buff the Voidray but it's difficult for us. So units like the Tempest can give us this options that we previously didn't have to try to produce a better, balanced experience. So much has changed since Wings of Liberty launched. Predominantly one of the biggest changes ,obviously, is the e-sport scene has gone from "who knows if they will play it" to "this huge, insane experience" which is totally awesome. I can go to MLG and, you know, even watch minor tournaments with twenty thousand people watching this craziness. The map sizes have changed substantially as well as our initial vision of map size, was much smaller than it has evolved into. In many cases maps have been evolving directly from community maps that we have updated the textures or, you know, whatever and put them up in the ladder. And map sizes have changed the gameplay substantially, as well. So, Swarm gives us an opportunity to take all that learning and all of that knowledge and all of those changes and roll them into a single experience that will hopefully be a lot more balanced than what we are at today with Wings of Liberty. Hopefully, a more fun game to play.

For the online interface we have really done a ton of work in this area. We got an AI communication feature where you can actually play with the AI and tell the AI what to do as one of your team mates and it's a pretty effective way to order the AI around, almost more fun than trying to get your buddy on battle.net to do what you want to do, but you can tell it what to do. We got our clans feature and we got our groups feature. We got a new leveling system which will allow players to get rewards and just earn levels by just playing the game as opposed to having to win games all the time. So, even for a lose you will get something. You get more for a win, for sure, but you get something for a lose. We got a “players near me” feature that will allow you to find players really, really quickly if you are an IGR or at your office you want to play with your buddies, if you are at a dorm room, any kind of space where you are like "I just want to play with that guy!" Right? “I don't have his battle.net friend all worked out, I just want to play with him. Can we just hook up?” It's very easy to hook up with people in this environment. We allow you to watch replays with others. We got a "resume" for a specific time in a replay. So you can say, "I just want to, you know, jump into this replay and I want to take over from that point. So, let's resume from here. I don't know what "resume on time" is then. Anyway, there's a "resume on time replay" feature as well. They've changed the name of some of these so many times. So, I'm not sure what they all are.

Blizz employee: Oh I know what it is. It's when you go to a replay and load it with a friend. You can "punch in" the time and it will...

Dustin: Oh, I see. Very cool.

We got your own observer UI, you can build. I got an example here, today; but who knows where this one is really going. This allows our mod makers and more importantly our casters to completely redesign the UI. So, if I watch a sporting event on different networks, they will have essentially their own UI for how they want me to view their experience and this will allow casters to customize everything you want to customize. What you don't want, the production in the upper left or you want it in the bottom right, you want to get rid of the bottom bar, you want the game time in the top middle. That's all stuff they can customize and presumably share that with one another and pass on the best ideas. And at one point we said, "Hey, you know what we are going to do? We are going to update our observer UI” and we started to do that work but said, "You know what would be a better idea? Instead of us doing that, let's give the tools to the community, because there are so many Casters out there that are such specialists at this experience, right now. Maybe also want to have their own take depending on how they were casting. You can imagine someone like Day[9] when he is doing a Day[9] daily wanting to have a very different UI than someone who is running something at MLG, who is showing something live. So, I'm personally very excited when it comes to this and one of our engineers has been working very hard on it for many, many months and he was solely committed to this. So, I hope this is going to be something very exciting for our community.

We got a new training mode, which will hopefully help players move from the campaign experience to the multiplayer experience. We got three different missions that run in sequence which gives them more and more tech and ramps the speed with each mission. So, the first mission is at the same game speed you are playing in the campaign and the last mission is the same speed when you go on the ladder. And it has a bunch of helpful hints that will give you an idea. We watch a lot of new players play and they are really shocked by, "How many workers?" like, "four barracks is legit?!" right? There’s a lot of differences between campaign and multiplayer. So, this will hopefully help some players at least make that transition from campaign into multiplayer. We got a bunch more of levels for our AI and a new AI challenge mode that doesn't require you to go into a lobby and guess what your difficulty should be, try it and see, have to pick a new map now which map should I play on. It will just find you a map that is on ladder today. It will automatically ramp you to your best difficulty and then keep you at your best difficulty. So, hopefully this will be a better AI experience.


We got unranked play. Which, obviously, allows you to play without the pressure of ladder sort of looming over your head. We got global play and Multilanguage support. And there's a bunch more of other stuff, sort of minor features, that sprinkle into this, but the online UI team has been working solid for months and months and months ever since we released the 1.5 patch which updated Arcade experience, to try to give you an experience that is a vastly improved Battle.net experience and I don't know exactly where they are all out, but a huge percent of this are going straight into the 2.0 patch which will go to Wings of Liberty users as well. So, almost all of this is also Wings of Liberty for everybody else. Our values on battle.net when Wings of Liberty was set was, "Let's just keep updating this thing and everyone gets the updates and keeps on going whether you buy it or not, it’s cool, it just keep coming" and we are holding that value going forth into Heart of the Swarm.

Ok, here's an example of kind of what it looks like so you can get a sense of how large this changes are in terms of the flow. I'm personally a huge fan of this left side navigation, here we are going into our new matchmaking screen and you can see the training there in the upper left and you can start on any of this three missions. It trains any of the three races, I guess you can train as random if you wanted to, it's ok. New "VS AI" mode which will match make you against different skill levels and then increase difficulty as you go. Unranked play and ranked play. So I think the whole thing is not only, hopefully, with a ton of new features; but I feel like the art team has done a great job at cleaning up the whole experience as well, such as reducing all the confusion and clutter and it's just a more pleasant experience.

Ok, this is just an screenshot from our training mode. Right? You can see that we are doing things that are a little different here. Here's a box with a lot of different objectives. So, we are giving you a lot of different objectives and they can change throughout the game, rapidly, as you are completing them or make things happen. There's also things like that message in the middle of the screen that says "spawn larva" that are popping up text right in front of your face. This is something you don't want to see in the multiplayer experience, or even in other areas like the campaign where you are trying to enjoy the story or the experience, but in a training mode we can get away with a lot of the stuff that can really teach players better ways to play. I don't know if this will take you to Grand Master or anything but it might at least take you to bronze, right? So, this is what we are hoping for, for those players who are really struggling with that transition.

Just a screenshot of what our clan system might look like. This is what our group system might look like. You can see news in there and you can news things in there to your group and obviously have your own custom chat channel with other users.

This is an example of our end-game experience. We got a new popup here that shows you victory. So, it celebrates victory a little bit more it's not quite so lame as we had in Wings of Liberty, where score screens will just pop out. And this is our experience with this system. I think you guys have already seen this in the beta at this point I don't think it's news to you at this point, but...

Blizz or audience guy: Well at least with that you don't get suckered by the guy saying he left the game.

Audience: *laughs*

Dustin Browder: Right, there will be no shenanigans on that respect. If you don't see the screen, he is not out yet. Exactly.

We are going to give a bunch of rewards for this area. I don't know if these are the final ones, but you get an idea of how they function. We are trying to make decals a little more of a thing. One of the mistakes I believe we did in Wings of Liberty was that we took a lot of these decals and buried them at the back end of the game for those of you who won a thousand games as Protoss, maybe you had a nice decal. Everyone else had a decal that they wouldn't use. So, we are putting the decals around the Command Center, Hatchery and Nexus, just to help on a prominent display. We are trying to set some sense of a hierarchy to these decals and I think they are actually making a pretty good job at trying to create ten levels of decals here and you will also be unlocking a bunch of new portraits as you advance through these levels. And the final thing we are offering are skins. These ones are not final. These are just mock-up skins in the game, but these are some of the units that will have these skins and this is a real challenge for us right now, because we don't want to get these so crazy that you can't recognize what these units are. This is still an e-sport. Even if it is not an e-sport, you are playing competitively on ladder and trying to be serious about it. I don't want you to be confused by, “Does that Zergling have wings or is it just the upgraded Zergling with a skin. So, we are really going to be tuning these in the next couple of weeks and try to make sure that we got these really tight. Just something else to make you want to get to that last level of experience in the multiplayer experience. I'll be clear too. You guys can't really experience this on ladder right now, but the leveling system right now is really designed to reward you for winning but it's also rewarding you for playing. So, we are not going to ask a lot of questions. We are not going to be mean with this leveling system in the sense that, if you play versus AI, you get experience, if you play custom maps you get experience, if you play 2v2 1v1 4v4 you get experience. Right? So, it's not about like it was with the achievement system we had in Wings of Liberty that we all sort of thought, I don't know about you guys, but we internally thought it was a little too mean. You could go home tonight, have a bad night, maybe a little sick, a little tired, whatever, a little drunk and you managed to lose five games. "Why am I even playing tonight?!" Right? I just want to... "My ladder ranking is just tanked and I won't really get an achievement.” So, we are trying to give you something whether you win or lose. You know, some benefit for it.

This is an example of one of our custom Observer UIs and you can see that our engineer really changed everything. There's upgrades in the left and the right. The bottom bar is completely gone. The unit tab is now right here in the bottom. He's got the players and the time in the top middle with the food currently on display. It's a completely different UI, and this is something one of our engineers who is very passionate about e-sports, Jason Buel, put together for us. But you can imagine with this kind of power what our casters will be able to do. I have no idea, but I can't wait to find out. I think this is a really cool feature for us going forward.

This is an example of our physics system in action. You are going to see the Warhound in here. This is an old video, don't get mad. And it won't be this extreme in the live game. We won't be these much physics all the time because it gets really confusing and noisy, but you get an idea of what the system is capable of and the types of stuff you will see from time to time.

*Physics preview*

Dustin Browder: These are all temp sounds still too. Oh, that's my favorite one. *chuckles*

Dustin Browder: Alright, so obviously there is a bunch of risks to this. It can get too noisy, it can get too crazy, you can turn this off if you don't want to see it. So, if you are observing a game and you are like, "Ahh, the physics is ruining my game experience," you can shut it off. But our goal is to try to ride the line where it is really cool, but it's not too obnoxious and so that people will leave it on. So, we are trying to set up and tune it when we go forward and see if we can sort of redline that system and get us to a happy place on it. And that's it.

*End of presentation*

starcraft 2

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) event article.

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