Blizzard is asking for testers for their new desktop app that is currently in development. This app is "designed to improve the launcher experience for all Blizzard games and streamline the ability for players to get into their games."
To help with the testing, all you have to do is opt in to any of the game universe betas from your account management. An e-mail will be sent to you when you are selected for the testing.
BlizzCon, the annual Blizzard convention, is currently taking submissions for its original art contest and movie contest. Winners will have their submission(s) shown on the BlizzCon stage, and will also receive a ticket to BlizzCon and hundreds of dollars in cash.
For the original art contest, submissions have to be original works of art that features the StarCraft, Diablo, and/or Warcraft universe and is in a high-resolution JPEG format. The movie contest is similarly taking submissions based on Blizzard's game universes. The submissions may use any mix of live-action, animation, or game footage that is no longer than three minutes in length.
Submissions must be entered before August 23, and you can check out the full contest details for both contests on this page.
A new feature for StarCraft II has been revealed by Blizzard today, called Spawning, which allows people with the Starter Edition or Wings of Liberty to play Heart of the Swarm with their friends. People may join their friends' Heart of the Swarm parties to experience Heart of the Swarm multiplayer in all its glory, even without owning Heart of the Swarm.
Nowadays, anyone who hasn’t yet purchased StarCraft II can still play, thanks to the Starter Edition. While Starter Edition players have access to much of the game, there are many features that they previously couldn’t try before upgrading to the full game. Spawning closes that gap. Any player at a lower expansion level who joins a party that includes a player at a higher expansion level is Spawned up, and gets to play using the features and options of the highest expansion level for as long as they’re in a party together.
For example, when a Starter Edition player joins a party with a Wings of Liberty-level player, both are instantly playing Wings of Liberty. When those two players then join a party with a Heart of the Swarm-level player, they all immediately gain access to Heart of the Swarm content, and they keep that access until their party no longer includes any higher-expansion level players.
There's even a new Spawning page, which you can check out here. Blizzard's video explaining Spawning can be seen below.
Carbot also made an animation to celebrate the Spawning feature, which you can also watch below.
Blizzard also gave an interview to Penny Arcade explaining their reasoning for making Heart of the Swarm multiplayer "free".
“It came about in brainstorming on our side, and thinking back to some of the things we used to do back in the old days,” saidSigaty. “Remembering how that was received…even going back to Warcraft 2 when I wasn't with Blizzard, I remember thinking 'this is so cool that they did that.' So we wanted to give back that feeling to it.”
But there are other advantages that Sigaty says he's hoping the new initiative will bring to the StarCraft world.
“StarCraft tends to skew 1v1 in perception, because obviously eSports focuses that way. But we hear about players talking nostalgically about Big Game Hunters and building up massive armies with friends and wiping out AI armies. Or even just playing teams against each other. And for me personally, I'd love to see us break down some of the perception that the game is all about this ranked 1v1 play. And I think this is a great opportunity to share that.”
You can read the full Penny Arcade interview here.
The new short story for StarCraft II is out, featuring the Terran SCV.
When “Pearly” Bousquette signed on with Raynor’s Raiders, he knew his life was about to become much harder and infinitely more dangerous. But when he and his crew of SCV pilots are sent on a simple strip-and-rip mission, things quickly turn sour… and it’ll take all of Pearly’s ingenuity to get his crew back home alive.
Blizzard has posted a lengthy FAQ on the StarCraft II main page, answering some common questions about the Heart of the Swarm ladder, its leagues, and seasons.
Question: I’ve been losing quite a bit on the ladder lately. Why am I not being demoted? Answer: To keep play at each skill level on the ladder competitive, we no longer demote players in the middle of a season. (Exception: Demotions down from Grand Master league are applied in cases of high bonus pool (inactivity).) Unless you're an inactive Grand Master, you can only be placed into a lower league when you play your initial placement match(es) in a new season, or by leaving the league.
Question: When I choose to play “unranked”, do I only face other unranked players? Answer:No. At this time, players who are playing with and without ladder points on the line are in the same pool. In order to expand the interests of players who choose to play unranked, the game maintains a separate hidden skill rating for ranked and unranked play. At the highest levels of skill, ranked players are only matched up against other ranked players, and unranked players are only matched up against other unranked players.
Another call to action is here, asking users to test some Warp Prism balance changes.
We’ve just published a custom version of Derelict Watcher, called "Derelict Watcher TE (2.0.8 Balance v1.0)", in which we’re testing small balance changes to StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. Our plan is to first consider the changes below, and potentially test additional changes after reviewing your feedback. Here’s the situation:
The Gravitic Drive upgrade has been removed from the Robotics Bay.
The next short story is out, and this time, it's about the Siege Tank.
Marius is a grizzled, old-school siege tank driver, every bit as tough as the neosteel shell of his vehicle. But when this hardened veteran comes face-to-face with a deadly target, his skills and his resolve are put to the ultimate test.
Blizzard has just posted the new short story, featuring Terran Vikings in all their adaptability.
Erik Snabb did his time in the corps, but he got smart and traded in his wings while he still could. Going from being a fighter ace to being a loving husband and father took some getting used to, but Erik is handling it well… until the zerg threaten his home and his family once again.