The dates for BlizzCon 2014 have been announced! On Friday, November 7 and Saturday, November 8, 2014, the halls of the Anaheim Convention Center will open to the sounds of Blizzard franchises coming together for a weekend of excitement.
Tickets for the event will be available in two batches, one on Wednesday, May 7 at 7 p.m. PT and the other on Saturday, May 10 at 10 a.m. PT through this online ticketing service. Tickets to the exclusive pre-BlizzCon Benefit Dinner will also be available through the same service on Wednesday, May 14 at 7 p.m. PT. As always, if you are unable to make it to the Anaheim Convention Center, you can always purchase a virtual ticket to watch the BlizzCon livestream right from home. There is also a helpful page on the BlizzCon official site, which explains how tickets work, how much they cost, when they are available and more, which you can view here.
For more information, you can check out the press release, or the associated official news post. We're looking forward to covering all the amazing news that will be at BlizzCon, so be sure to stick around!
Battle.net - BlizzCon 2014 Conquers Anaheim November 7 and 8
Blizzard - BLIZZCON 2014 DETECTED
In a recent study published on PLOS ONE, researchers discovered through studying StarCraft II players that "declines in cognitive-motor functioning" began past the age of 24. That being the case, there was a decrease in players' speed (measured in the research article with "looking-doing latency") the older they were from 24. Something to consider is that other real-life activities don't necessarily equate speed with efficacy; likewise, a StarCraft II player's skill level did not seem to have a strong correlation with their age.
The research article goes through how older players definitely experienced a decline in their motor skills, but compensated for their loss of speed through more efficient usage of hotkeys, resorting to simpler but equally effective strategies, and focusing more on strategic planning. By delegating more tasks to the user interface, older players could certainly reach similar levels of skills as younger players.
On two measures, older players showed signs of being more advanced than they actually are. Both Unique Hotkeys per game timestamp (more with age; p*<0.001), and Offscreen attacks per game timestamp (more with age; p*<0.001) were strong candidates as compensators. Older players in our sample exhibited more impressive hotkey performance, even when skill was controlled for, suggesting that our participants may be indirectly compensating for declines by offloading demands to the game interface. An increase in attacks to areas outside of the view-screen might reflect heightened awareness of global game information via attention to the ‘mini-map’. Generally then, older players seem better at using available interface features (customizable keys and the ‘mini-map’) than younger players.
The paper is an interesting read if you can make your way through the scientific jargon and number-crunching, so be sure to check it out.
PLOS ONE - Over the Hill at 24: Persistent Age-Related Cognitive-Motor Decline in Reaction Times in an Ecologically Valid Video Game Task Begins in Early Adulthood
David Kim has just posted another balance update on the StarCraft II forums, explaining to the community how the game balance is currently looking.
There are two options that the balance team is looking at, both regarding buffing Terran. Option one is to reduce the mineral and gas costs of infantry upgrade levels 2 and 3 by 25 each. Option two is removing the Transformation Servos upgrade and allowing Hellions to transform into Hellbats once an Armory is built. You can read the details and justifications for these proposed changes in the full post, which is fairly short.
Battle.net - Balance Status Update
Another call to action is out, with the map "MerryGoRoundLE (2.1.1 Balance v1.0)" and the extension mod “Balance Test Mod” containing the following changes:
- Removed Transformation Servos upgrade
- Changed Hellion/Hellbat transform requirement to Armory
Battle.net - Call to Action: May 5 Balance Testing
UPDATE: David Kim has made a new post saying that a few more changes will be added to the most recent Balance Test Map.
Thank you for your feedback everyone. After evaluating your feedback and discussing this subject more in detail, we’re currently thinking of adding these two changes to the balance test map (and extension mod):
- Spore Crawler damage decreased from 15+30bio to 15+15bio
- Hydralisk damage against air increased from 12 to 12+4bio
Please focus further discussion around the above adjustments only, and again, thank you very much.
David Kim, lead balance designer of StarCraft II, has made a discussion thread on the official Battle.net forums as to the community's thoughts on the Swarm Host as well as general Zerg vs. Zerg balance. Regarding the Swarm Host, the community has been questioning the unit's balance due to a recent tournament match in which a ZvZ match lasted an abnormally long time because of the stalemate that Swarm Hosts caused. In the discussion thread, David Kim described the balance team's current decision:
Over the last few months, we’ve been internally playtesting a variety of design changes to the Swarm Host. We’ve come to believe that, in the long term, a change to overall Swarm Host design could be a good thing, but in the short term, we’d prefer to not disrupt the interesting non-stalemate Swarm Host play we currently see. Therefore, we don’t believe in removing the unit or completely redesigning it at this time.
In addition to that, it seems like the balance team is looking for ways to alter ZvZ balance without affecting any of the other matchups. There are a few possibilities that have been mentioned by David Kim:
We’re thinking along these lines:
- Revert spore buff and buff hydralisk anti-air vs. biological units only.
o With this, even if Broodlords are Abducted by Vipers, they would still be great against base Defenses.
o The Mutalisk strength in ZvZ could possibly be countered a bit better by Hydralisks.
o The effect on ZvZ would be acceptable, and the potential effects on ZvP and ZvT are minor.
- Change the Viper’s Abduct ability to make massive units immune to it.
o By making Brood Lords immune to Abduct, we’d solve the stalemate. Late game ZvZ would be mostly about who wins in the air.
o There are downsides -- Abduct is a really cool ability, and it is something Zerg needs vs. Colossi in PvZ.
o To address that, we’d consider a potential buff to Blinding Cloud so that Vipers would still be a valuable utility unit in the ZvP matchup.
To check out the full post, click here.
Battle.net - Thoughts on Swarm Host
The latest patch for StarCraft II is out, containing a few bug fixes.
StarCraft II 2.1.2 Patch Notes
- Your Friends List should now sort correctly based on friend type.
- Players set to ‘Busy’ will no longer see Chat Channel messages.
- The New Messages counter will now correctly update for messages sent from the same player across multiple games.
- New chat tabs should no longer appear when continuing a conversation with a player who has logged in and out of multiple games.
- Fixed an issue where players could appear as offline in StarCraft II when logging in and out of multiple games.
- Fixed an issue which occasionally prevented a player’s presence from updating when logging into StarCraft II from the Battle.net Desktop App.
Battle.net - StarCraft II 2.1.2 Patch Notes
There is a small bug patch that has been released for StarCraft II, which you can see below.
StarCraft 2.1.3 Patch Notes
- Workers will now only consider visible resources when choosing among harvest locations.
Lately there's been a lot of talk about the recent changes to Hellbats that allows Terran players to severely pressure Zerg players and hinder their economy. A few blue posts have popped up around the Battle.net forums, written by community manager Psione.
Our intention with this change was to allow Terran to apply more pressure against Zerg in the mid-game. So far it seems to be working out well, but it's still early and we'll have to see how Zerg players adapt. We'll continue to keep an eye on how this change is affecting the TvZ match-up.
With the recent update, we've been gathering feedback on the Hellbat change and observing how it's affecting the different match-ups. From what we've seen thus far, it's helped Terran pressure Zerg in the mid-game and slow down the their economy.
While we feel this has helped the match-up overall, it's still early and we'll need to see how strategies are altered to account for increased Hellbat usage. Often when a new balance update is applied we see a period of time where players adapt to the changes by creating new strategies and eventually counter strategies. It's important that we allow time for these kind of shifts before considering if further changes are needed.
It seems like the changes will remain in place for a while longer, just to make sure that Zerg can or can't adopt new strategies in response. Here's to hoping a conclusion is reached soon.
Battle.net - Hellbats...
Battle.net - Hellbat buff needs to be reverted.
For those who have not heard of it, GameHeart is a widely popular overlay for StarCraft II that allows observers to place team and tournament logos, draw analysis on the map, zoom out much further, and more, a video of which can be seen here. Gameheart has been used in multiple tournaments for quite some time, but never in a WCS event. That is about to change with the recent announcement of a collaboration between Blizzard Entertainment and the creator of GameHeart, Ryan Schutter, that aims to create a new version of GameHeart that will serve as the official WCS tournament overlay for all of the WCS events. Furthermore, this official WCS GameHeart Overlay will be available for anyone to use on any broadcast, even ones not related to the WCS.
This collaboration, announced by Blizzard on the StarCraft II home page, seems to be fairly new, as there was no information provided about new features, functionality, or design of the new GameHeart. Details are promised to come as the project nears completion, which will most likely mark a milestone for StarCraft II eSports broadcasting.
For anyone that wants to learn about the latest version of GameHeart, click here.
Battle.net - GameHeart at Blizzard
On March 12, David Kim held an open Q&A on Reddit for a few hours. He answered various questions regarding tournaments and balance, and it's definitely worth checking out.
Q: Are any "large scale" or "mechanic" redesigns being considering for Legacy of the Void? For example considering changing mechanics around high ground advantage, the soft 3 base income cap, warpgate, etc?
David Kim: We're currently working on all parts of the next expansion, but everything is a work in progress. If something is problematic, we would discuss it and try possible changes. But one of our core philosophies on SC2 design is if the change isn't completely amazing, we prefer not to do it.
So in this specific case, things like high ground advantage working the way it does currently vs. how it worked in BW vs. other advantages we can think of that are different, it's really hard to clearly say that one mechanic is better in all the cases. Overall, we are trying various changes in various areas, but it's really difficult to say for certain what will go through at the end of the day.
When you guys have good suggestions on specific problematic areas as well as possible solutions, we definitely discuss and/or try those things internally as we work on the next game to be able to know exactly why or why not we're deciding on a certain area. Eg. We've tried and still retry things like different suggestions for the Swarm Host, more harsh counters to Force Fields, or old units like Lurkers, and so on.
For the full Q&A, click here.
Reddit - StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Balance Reddit Q&A