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Thread: May 2011 Heart of the Swarm Coverage

  1. #1

    Default May 2011 Heart of the Swarm Coverage

    On May 26th, 2011, we sat down with the Blizzard staff for an hour-long interview, similar to the one a year before, about the upcoming expansion, Heart of the Swarm. The interview reveals interesting points about the beginning of Heart of the Swarm, and StarCraft in general, and can be found below along with our write-up of the singleplayer missions we played.

    May 2011 HotS Reveal Event

  2. #2

    Default Re: May 2011 Heart of the Swarm Coverage

    While you can discuss individual subjects in whatever thread. Feel free to discuss your thoughts on the May 26th 2011 coverage in this thread.

    To those who tried to join in this thread in the wee hours of the morning, sorry for it being closed the first few hours, people were up all night to get this coverage out on time.
    Last edited by Gifted; 05-31-2011 at 10:47 AM.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: May 2011 Heart of the Swarm Coverage

    Something to note

    Izsha is an infested adjutant from when adjutants were cyborgs. Revealed by this blizz dev which by the way sounds like the nicest guy ever

    http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/...&mode=previews

  4. #4

    Default Re: May 2011 Heart of the Swarm Coverage

    The audio is kinda hard to hear in the video. Obviously it's other people asking the questions so yeah. So i resorted to TL's writeup on the subject. It's just above the screenshots so scroll quite far down...

    http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/view...opic_id=228212

    The following is the relevant extract (note TL did not transcribe what was said exactly):
    On May 31 2011 16:20 Lovedrop wrote:
    Hidden Content:
    Below are some of the questions asked by fansites during our time with the staff.


    Q: Regarding Heart of the Swarm: is there going to be any information regarding the artifacts, were they created by the Xel'naga?

    A: Not ready to announce the story, giving away the story is like giving spoilers to our fans, which will not have them have more fun. You can ask any questions that you want, but we wont be talking about what you learn, or don't learn in HOTS

    Q: On the similar line of thought, are we going to see the cerebrates?

    A: I don't think that we're going to see the cerebrates in this one, Kerrigans going in a different direction in this one.

    Q: Why didn't you kill off Tassadar, and why did he come out of nowhere?

    A: Are you talking about in broodwar, or are you talking about why they did it in WoL? We're not sure about the original game - for that particular moment in WoL we were expressing a pretty radical concept to Zera'tul; the fact that the overmind was not what he thought that it was, and we needed someone that he would really believe, someone that he would buy into almost immediately - we didn't have a cutscene or a ton of time to get it across, and it was believable to us that he could still be out there in one form or other. The character need to immediately allow Zera'tul to believe and understand what was going on, without a lot of backtalk.

    Q: In the teaser you showed us this morning, Nova was there, obviously her and Jim were trying to get Kerrigan.

    - Nova didn't die, The DVD showed what we thought that the canon should be for tosh.

    Rephrasing the question, does the decisions made in WoL affect the gameplay/campaign in HOTS?

    A: We're still not sure how technically feasible it is, but either way, I'm not sure how it would have a huge impact, I'm not sure how much Kerrigan cares about what happens to Tosh. But was the space platform destroyed over Char, or were the nydus networks flooded with lava...those would obviously have an impact on what happens on Char...not a huge impact, but it would still have an impact, we're looking at that right now.

    Q: That being said, do you foresee more choice events in HOTS?

    A: We don't know, we are doing a different amount and kind of content for this game so we'll see what we can do. We loved doing the choices, and they felt really cool; at the same time, we had complaints from players that it made it difficult to see the whole story. So, we're not sure that the choices in the storyline were perfect, but the end effect was cool, so we'll see

    Q: How long was the production cycle?

    A: Ongoing - I've said some numbers in the past. We didn't get started in earnest on HosS until the new year, however, we have been doing art and design concepts since the release of WoL. It's really difficult to say how long the production will be.

    Q: How many campaign missions?

    A: Looking at around 20, something like that. It will have the same effect as Frozen Throne vs Reign of Chaos, we feel like we delivered a full featured expansions.

    Q: In terms of achievements, how is that going to tie in? (battle.net achievements vs starcraft achievements)

    A: Just in discussions/mock-up, haven't seen it very far through development yet, no timetable as of yet.

    Q: Are there any plans to bring back the defiler or the devourer to the campaign yet?

    A: I could see the defiler coming back, as a cool unit in single player. I'm not sure if the devourer is a cool enough unit to see in single player, an air to air specialist unit by nature would have a tough time filling a role, however it could happen if it makes sense.

    Q: WoL has almost been out a year, looking back, what were some of the important things that you learned?

    A: We learned a lot, of course from you guys, the community literally drives a lot of the changes that happen inside of WoL.

    Q: Is there going to be any solution for LAN?

    A: We don't have any intentions to do anything towards that right now. We are listening to that point, but we were talking about lessons learned, we've learned a lot on all fronts, online, we've learned to keep it simple. The online maintenance and service that SC2 requires is more than anything that we've ever tried, and it's a lot harder running a service. We're trying to make sure we streamline where we can, as far as that's concerned.

    As far as lessons learned, the custom games stuff; we delivered something that we thought was really good, and with the community feedback, we learned that there was a lot of stuff that we could do even better. Some stuff that was awesome, and we'll take those and keep doing them and some of them we can improve.

    David Kim:

    As far as learning through the multiplayer, we learned that not everything works exactly as planned - the different roles for the units didn't work as well as we had planned. We planned to have the immortal be more of a meat shield, and have the hardened shield be one of the core mechanics; however, the burst damage ended up being the more important part of the unit.

    Campaign wise, we've seen some improvements based on the core mechanics of the missions; you gather minerals, you construct bases, you make units, but you try to include mechanics on top of that, things like lava; but looking at where the players stop progressing, looking at the achievements, gives us an idea of what sorts of single player game mechanics ended up working and not working. It lets us look at things like the flash freeze effect, which is enough for our players to start looking at things like timing.

    One other thing that we learned is that there were 4 sets in hyperion, but there were people missing mission components because they forgot to look at news and/or other parts of the plot. We're trying to reduce the number of sets, and make sure that we can see the surface of the planet. You should be able to see the different sets, and really get into the game

    Q: So we're going to see the insides of the leviathan?

    A: Well, you'll be able to see the evolution chambers inside of the leviathan. You should be able to see that it's not just a wet drippy cave, but that she's landed the leviathan on the surface.
    I mean there's other things too, there's some intention to explain what's going on inside of the maps, there should be trigger cut scenes as well.

    Q: With WoL you chose to release multiplayer first, and then single player second; with this press event, is there any particular reason that you chose to emphasize the single player experience instead of the multiplayer experience?

    A: Well there's a couple of different reasons; it's been pretty challenging to get it right in WoL, and we might want to make a few additions/changes, but it seems to be reasonably balanced. However, we also lead with multiplayer many different times in WoL, and we also know that there are several different fans coming to us for the single player experience.

    For HotS, we would like to emphasize the single player experience, to try to get the fact out there that it's not just for the hardcore gamers. For WoL, we emphasized the multiplayer so much that we almost feel like it got labeled as a game only for the hardcore players. So really, this campaign is the area where we can get someone in, and allow someone to even use just their mouse to get through it. It's an opportunity to explore, and there are moments that allow you to just beat another opponent around; it should allow new people to get into the story experience. We're going to add some new multiplayer units, and take out some multiplayer units and we're going to try to make it really great, but a ton of the work is going to go into single player.

    Q: Is there going to be a beta?

    A: Yes

    Q: Is it going to be a campaign beta, or a multiplayer beta?

    A: Just multiplayer.

    Q: How long do you think it will be?

    A: It should be about 3-5 months; if I had to guess it's going to be more on the smaller side.

    Q: Going a little bit back to the lessons learned, have you considered making a co-op campaign?

    A: We have, but it's a lot of work. we don't want to do it partway, we want to do it all the way correctly.

    Q: Coming back to the story aspect, will we see some of the factions come back, such as the UED or Duran?

    A: Maybe.

    Q: How much are the other races going to be in HotS?

    A: I would expect to see a lot of the Zerg, because you're trying to collect the broods, and of course you play as Zerg. I would expect to see a lot of Terran, as Kerrigan has an axe to grind with many of them. However, we've done a pretty good job of keeping a balance with the rest of the games (broodwar and WoL) and we're going to try to keep that.

    Q: Are there going to be any more bonus missions, like the Zera'tul prophecies in WoL?

    A: We're really working on that, we've heard how much fun those missions were to play and we had a blast making them; however, as you can imagine, Kerrigan doesn't really have a lot of friends. I don't see Zera'tul showing up, we need to work out the story for that and kind of figure out where it goes. It needs to feel like it's a part of it, and we need to see that there's a reason for it.

    Q: Is the map marketplace something that you're planning on integrating to HOTS?

    A: It's a huge undertaking, without getting into any specifics, it's really what we're planning around to try to get to be a feature in HOTS

    Q: I know that there was talk about getting MMR worked into custom games, such as starjeweled, is that being worked on?

    A: I mean definitely, it's an option that we have, we can have a ladder or matchmaking based around the map, but it's something that we're working on. We really want to make sure that it's worked in cleanly into the UI for multiplayer.

    To be honest, there's a longer list of things that we want to work on than things that we're going to be able to accomplish, at least in the short term. Even looking at the things that we've accomplished since WoL, you can see that we've been working on several different things for battle.net. We've learned how challenging it is to developed new things while supporting a live service, which is something that wow has known for years.

    A: I think that we've done a better job now than we did for Warcraft III, we basically went dark for chaos because we had to plow through it in order to deliver quality; however, there are obviously still things that we need to work on. Just looking at the features that we've managed to deliver through battle.net 2.0 you can see that it's still an evolving product that's not done yet, and we're still working on it.

    Any plans for new Mini-Games in HOTS?

    A: We would like to, but we don't have anything on the books yet, I don't know what it would be and we haven't started working on it yet.

    Kerrigan on the leviathan has an infested arcade machine *laughs*

    Q: Is there anything you can tell us about the Galaxy Editor, any improvements planned?

    A: They are making significant upgrades, we're also looking at delivering as much as we can, refinements, tutorials online, the big stuff is going to try to hit around HOTS with the Galaxy Editor.

    We're definitely taking a look at that, we delivered something pretty complex, and they've developed some awesome experiences, but we've discovered that it's actually not that easy to pick up and use, so we're still looking at hitting a balance between how hard it is to use and how complex the UI can be.

    Q: Going back to WoL, do you think that we will see in HOTS a lot of the units that made it into singleplayer, and not into the actual multiplayer?

    A: A lot of the Wings units that were in singleplayer were there because they were failed designs for WoL, and we really want there to be actual choices in HOTS. An example of a fairly failed choice in WoL development was the Firebat vs Hellion; we wanted there to be a choice, but there really wasn't a choice in WoL (the Firebat was much better). In multiplayer, the Hellion was useful, where speed was useful, but in campaign, the Firebat was much more useful. We really want there to be two choices, and not just one, which would be using the internet to find the answer.

    Q: You guys said that you wanted to keep the unit pool small in a lot of interviews, how many units would you expect to add in the multiplayer, and how many would you expect to remove in order to keep the player experience good?

    A: We have no idea how many we can add before it starts to feel watered down, we're starting to push Brood War unit numbers, every time we try to make a move we find that it's tough to keep the units and race abilities separate. We can easily add on, and tune and tweak, or in combination until we find the right mix for multiplayer.

    For example, the Overseer is not a cool unit, it's basically a glorfied scout at this point. We're looking at either taking out or replacing these units that aren't as cool. The other thing that we need to watch out is how these units interact in combination.

    We're starting to reach the number of units where the right answer isn't necessarily more; it doesn't mean that we can't get more, but how will we even know?

    Q: Blizzard time is faster than real time, Do you have any plans to fix this?

    A: From a display perspective, there's been some components that make it difficult, such as APM. There is one thing that we want to do, which is make it more clear what real time vs display time is, and how they interact. The score screen is based on mission time, and the game clock is another thing, and it could be broken depending on what we do. And actually when you play custom you can actually adjust it, and it is an odd thing and is something that we're looking into. It's one of those backlog things.

    Q: Are there going to be collectors editions units?

    A: Not sure, but it's something that will be decided much later in the development cycle

    Q: How is Kerrigan resurrected?

    Right now it's just a new mechanic, we haven't figured out yet if her consciousness is transferred to a new body, or if she just burrows to the hive - we need to lock down the mechanic and then we'll examine the lore.

    Q: How do new units get designed?

    A: Most of the time the game mechanic leads; for example, we have think that it would be really cool to have a unit that is able to jump cliffs. From there, we're able to start designing art, and unit stats around it so that it can fit into multiplayer. Other times, the art leads. For a while, we were looking at doing both dark dragoons and regular dragoons, and it ended up not working out. we're really looking for a cool superhero vibe from most of the units, that works together and in various points in the game can have the wow factor when watching it.

    Q: Are there going to be any improvements to the game graphically or technically?

    A: We actually just implemented a new physics engine, which implements ragdoll physics; this should allow us to have ragdoll physics effects. It won't be implemented for large scale battles; however, it could be used to animate single units; for example the last marine dying in a pack could have ragdoll physics applied to it. We're also looking at doing different types of conditions, for example weather conditions, as well as different types of creep. the problem with this is that it's very graphically intensive, and you would need to have many different types of creep in the game.

    Q: Is there any plan for a water mechanic?

    A: Water mechanic is not currently specc'd, however, it is something that we're looking at.

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  5. #5

    Default Re: May 2011 Heart of the Swarm Coverage

    BTW guys (Archer brought this up, but it's awesome for anyone) Any links you find would be great to link in here with a basic jist of anything it brings to the table. Let's face it, it would be awesome to gather all the links for our post-coverage article and your guys help would be rather appreciated. It might be worth a bit of +rep too!


    Quote Originally Posted by JackhammerIV View Post
    The audio is kinda hard to hear in the video. Obviously it's other people asking the questions so yeah. So i resorted to TL's writeup on the subject. It's just above the screenshots so scroll quite far down...

    http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/view...opic_id=228212

    The following is the relevant extract (note TL did not transcribe what was said exactly):
    As always we will provide a full transcription of the interview. We have decided to delay it until post-coverage. Don't worry, later on you will have a solid guide to follow along with.
    Last edited by Gifted; 05-31-2011 at 10:51 AM.
    Please be aware of the SC:L Posting Rules and Guidelines.


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  6. #6

    Default Re: May 2011 Heart of the Swarm Coverage

    Prolly good to pop in and thank this guy
    http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/to...1710?page=2#39

  7. #7

    Default Re: May 2011 Heart of the Swarm Coverage

    Also one thing I am concerned about (assuming one new unit per mission) is that with 20 missions and 12 WoL zerg units that leaves 8 new units to be revealed.


    And two of those should be Lurker and defiler...

  8. #8

    Default Re: May 2011 Heart of the Swarm Coverage

    So we can take a moment to compare data... How many units in WoL single player are playable that aren't in multiplayer? I know it's more than 8, but I'm curious how much more. (Kinda busy with kids as I post this, otherwise I'd find out myself)
    Please be aware of the SC:L Posting Rules and Guidelines.


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  9. #9

    Default Re: May 2011 Heart of the Swarm Coverage

    Quote Originally Posted by Gifted View Post
    So we can take a moment to compare data... How many units in WoL single player are playable that aren't in multiplayer? I know it's more than 8, but I'm curious how much more. (Kinda busy with kids as I post this, otherwise I'd find out myself)
    It's all TBD, but from the build we played, there was at least 6 that we, the players could use. They were the final evolutions of the 3 units present: Ling/Bane/Roach.

    I imagine that every unit will have the evolutionary choice, so really it'll be large + BRAND new units. So many variations for sure.

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  10. #10

    Default Re: May 2011 Heart of the Swarm Coverage

    I had forgotten about that and that piercing the shroud, the char missions and the protoss missions didnt have units. So yah prolly not as big a problem as a I thought. However I found something new to worry about (yay!)

    If they did a 4 missions "off race" campaign than that would bump the zerg down to 16 missions.

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