Heart of the Swarm Brings Battle.net Upgrades to StarCraft II

Heart of the Swarm Brings Battle.net Upgrades to StarCraft II

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Clans, match resuming, and full global play, but no LAN.

Last week we learned that Blizzard was adding genuinely global play to Battle.net for Diablo III - something sorely missing in StarCraft II - and wondered if the PC giant could be adding it in for the first expansion, Heart of the Swarm. As it turns out, yes it is, along with a heap of other improvements to the multiplayer-service-slash-social-network.

In a blog post on Battle.net, SC2 production director Chris Sigaty outlined the improvements that the Irvine-based developer would be shipping "at or around the launch" of Heart of the Swarm, including:

*Multiplayer resume from replay
*Global Play
*Multilanguage support
*Clan/group system
*Unranked matchmaking
*Multiplayer replay viewing

Full global play has been something sorely missing on the new Battle.net since the StarCraft II release, but many of these updates are addressing some of the more glaring deficiencies in the system. Clan play and unranked matchmaking - for players to find opponents of approximately equal skill and test out new build orders or just mess around without worrying about it affecting their ladder ranking - should have been there from the beginning, honestly. Better late than never, I suppose.

The big addition, though, is that Blizzard will be working on allowing players to reconnect to a match in progress if they disconnect or lag out. Prior to this, a disconnect, even a momentary one, would result in a victory for the opponent. This might have served to prevent sore losers from pulling the plug so that they didn't lose ladder ranking, but it was a pain for other players who suffered legitimate disconnects.

Allowing players to resume a match they may have crashed or disconnected from would also alleviate an issue in the thriving StarCraft II eSports community, where disconnects require that a match be replayed no matter who was in the lead.

This issue reared its head in April, where MarineKing, a player in the Global StarCraft Team League finals, suddenly disconnected from a match that had been fairly decisively going in his opponent's favor. Once the issue had been fixed, the match was restarted from scratch, and this time the tables were turned - a match which secured MarineKing's team the victory. During the kerfuffle, fans reportedly chanted "We want LAN" over and over - though the computer in question had in fact lost connect to both local and external networks, meaning LAN play wouldn't have solved anything. It was the principle of the matter, really.

Speaking of LAN play, though, there was no word from Blizzard on that front and it seems unlikely that it would abandon its all-Battle.net-all-the-time policy, for better or for worse.

I'm looking forward to many of these changes, though I'm not looking forward to players from Seoul hopping onto our American servers to mercilessly stomp us puny westerners into Zerg-flavored dust. That's going to just be embarrassing.

Source: Battle.net blog

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This seems to be almost two years late.

The reconnecting thing I can really not see being useful. It's a good thing to have, to be sure, but once you're disconnected from a ranked game, you're fucked. Does it work on custom games, too?

Hammeroj:
image

This seems to be almost two years late.

Yep, that's what you call Blizzard time.

Wow, I wasn't even aware they hadn't put in unranked online matches. I'm still waiting on the obvious "Battle Chest edition" so I haven't played it, but no reviews I'm aware of have mentioned a lack of it.

Of course, color me unsurprised with the amount of stupidity Blizzard has been displaying as of late. They can't go a single game release or even event without causing at least some justifiably negative backlash.

John Funk:
unranked matchmaking - for players to find opponents of approximately equal skill and test out new build orders or just mess around without worrying about it affecting their ladder ranking

Well, i guess it works to play while drunk/high (RTS and DotA games seem big on the pot public, dunno why); but for test new build orders? Useless, if the other player is of aprox equal skill and you are trying a totally different build order that trows you out of balance you will be better served using an easy bot than losing at 5 to 9 minutes. Your learn builds with bots, you polish the build with bots and once you are firm on it you play humans, there is no point before that to play against a guy.

John Funk:
This issue reared its head in April, where MarineKing, a player in the Global StarCraft Team League finals, suddenly disconnected from a match that had been fairly decisively going in his opponent's favor.

I honestly couldn't care less about the features they are releasing, most of them seem more or less useless for SC II as an e-sport, though maybe will help SC II as a social game. What we need in SC II IMO is:

- Less minerals per base
- LAN for tournaments

TBH i don't give a crap about LAN for me, even if i am playing against a friend in the same room i will have a good internet connection and if anyone DCs, its not a big deal. But that Parting VS MKP team stuff was BS! I am a MKP fan, and was happy to see him steamrolling, but it will be a permanent stain that is Blizz fault.

John Funk:
I'm looking forward to many of these changes, though I'm not looking forward to players from Seoul hopping onto our American servers to mercilessly stomp us puny westerners into Zerg-flavored dust. That's going to just be embarrassing.

And Europeans, they seem to be on a way higher level than NA. On the other hand NA is a bit better than LA, so there is always lower.

Honestly i am excited about HotS because have heard very good things from the pros that have seen it up close, mainly about rebalance and micro play. If they just added LESS MINERALS PER BASE (maybe on a "hardcore mode" gameplay) and did LAN support for mayor tournaments i would think as SC II as the perfect videogame.

I was severely unimpressed by the first part of Starcraft 2, I can see myself getting the rest. Change Battlenet all they want, Blizzard first has to build a game I want to play.

Blizzard is slowly sinking as an original game studio.

All their franchises are dying. Plus if you promise episodic gameplay you should REALLY not take a full year to release each part.

I dunno where i'm going with this.

Other than game companies who have gotten hit after hit after hit need to have their ego's sploded so that they don't topple under pressure

Tanakh:

John Funk:
unranked matchmaking - for players to find opponents of approximately equal skill and test out new build orders or just mess around without worrying about it affecting their ladder ranking

Well, i guess it works to play while drunk/high (RTS and DotA games seem big on the pot public, dunno why); but for test new build orders? Useless, if the other player is of aprox equal skill and you are trying a totally different build order that trows you out of balance you will be better served using an easy bot than losing at 5 to 9 minutes. Your learn builds with bots, you polish the build with bots and once you are firm on it you play humans, there is no point before that to play against a guy.

John Funk:
This issue reared its head in April, where MarineKing, a player in the Global StarCraft Team League finals, suddenly disconnected from a match that had been fairly decisively going in his opponent's favor.

I honestly couldn't care less about the features they are releasing, most of them seem more or less useless for SC II as an e-sport, though maybe will help SC II as a social game. What we need in SC II IMO is:

- Less minerals per base
- LAN for tournaments

TBH i don't give a crap about LAN for me, even if i am playing against a friend in the same room i will have a good internet connection and if anyone DCs, its not a big deal. But that Parting VS MKP team stuff was BS! I am a MKP fan, and was happy to see him steamrolling, but it will be a permanent stain that is Blizz fault.

John Funk:
I'm looking forward to many of these changes, though I'm not looking forward to players from Seoul hopping onto our American servers to mercilessly stomp us puny westerners into Zerg-flavored dust. That's going to just be embarrassing.

And Europeans, they seem to be on a way higher level than NA. On the other hand NA is a bit better than LA, so there is always lower.

Honestly i am excited about HotS because have heard very good things from the pros that have seen it up close, mainly about rebalance and micro play. If they just added LESS MINERALS PER BASE (maybe on a "hardcore mode" gameplay) and did LAN support for mayor tournaments i would think as SC II as the perfect videogame.

It's funny because the 'no-LAN' has flapped up more than a few games at tournaments through shitty blizzard servers, not to forget the massive delays when you live in anywhere except eagleland.

BTW, SC2 was 2010, so this is 2 years to get an expansion out the door (a blizzard expansion mind you, a full campaign of 8-10 hours and barely any other content). They didn't even bother fixing B.Net the atrocity and they hate anyone who buys used games. For $60-80 depending how much the yanks feel like screwing you over?

I'll give this and D3 a miss, I don't support clowns.

DVS BSTrD:

Hammeroj:
image

This seems to be almost two years late.

Yep, that's what you call Blizzard time.

Is that supposed to be endearing? 'cause it's not.

Hammeroj:

DVS BSTrD:

Hammeroj:
image

This seems to be almost two years late.

Yep, that's what you call Blizzard time.

Is that supposed to be endearing? 'cause it's not.

Not endearing, just a fact of life. Blizzard works slow but they usually deliver.

DVS BSTrD:
Not endearing, just a fact of life. Blizzard works slow but they usually deliver.

So it is supposed to be endearing. You wouldn't be saying that otherwise.

At this point, Blizzard only works slowly because out of the thousands of employees, their game development personnel is something like 50 people, spread out over 4 games. That aside, these are things that they mostly have done before on release, the fact that you go to "Blizzard time" as an excuse is bloody astounding.

Hammeroj:

DVS BSTrD:
Not endearing, just a fact of life. Blizzard works slow but they usually deliver.

So it is supposed to be endearing. You wouldn't be saying that otherwise.

At this point, Blizzard only works slowly because out of the thousands of employees, their game development personnel is something like 50 people, spread out over 4 games. That aside, these are things that they mostly have done before on release, the fact that you go to "Blizzard time" as an excuse is bloody astounding.

Yes please go back and point out the part where I said it was an excuse, NOT a fact of life.
It's
The
Way
Blizzard
Makes
Games.

Honestly its taken way too long for these "features" to be made. Unranked match making and resume from replay are two things i didn't expect but everything else should of been with WoL launch. Still waiting on special lan servers for events like GSL and MLG if they want to keep the general public using Battle.net.

DVS BSTrD:
Yes please go back and point out the part where I said it was an excuse, NOT a fact of life.
It's
The
Way
Blizzard
Makes
Games.

You wouldn't even be bringing it up if you didn't want to say something with it.

I'll say this again. These are mostly things that they've done before on release. "Blizzard time" is irrelevant. This is cheap asshole time.

DVS BSTrD:

Hammeroj:

DVS BSTrD:
Not endearing, just a fact of life. Blizzard works slow but they usually deliver.

So it is supposed to be endearing. You wouldn't be saying that otherwise.

At this point, Blizzard only works slowly because out of the thousands of employees, their game development personnel is something like 50 people, spread out over 4 games. That aside, these are things that they mostly have done before on release, the fact that you go to "Blizzard time" as an excuse is bloody astounding.

Yes please go back and point out the part where I said it was an excuse, NOT a fact of life.
It's
The
Way
Blizzard
Makes
Games.

But...but then he wouldn't be able to get offended!

The reconnecting thing I can really not see being useful. It's a good thing to have, to be sure, but once you're disconnected from a ranked game, you're fucked. Does it work on custom games, too?

The feature is not intended for ladder games. The blog post clearly states that it's a resume-from-replay feature, meaning that both parties must agree to resume the game for it to work.

The point of it all is to prevent tournament games having to be replayed from scratch in case of technical problems.
On the ladder, sure you're going to feel bad for losing a game due to a disconnect, but you only stand to lose ladder points, which you can win back in the next games. I don't see the need for this feature on the ladder, it's the tournaments where this really matters.

I'm looking forward to many of these changes, though I'm not looking forward to players from Seoul hopping onto our American servers to mercilessly stomp us puny westerners into Zerg-flavored dust. That's going to just be embarrassing.

You should look on the bright side. If better players (from anywhere) come to play on your server, in time that will just increase the level of play. "Competition breeds excellence" and all that.
In any case, I really doubt that many Koreans will regularly play on the American or European servers. I expect it will be the other way around, where many 'foreign' players will try out the famed high-skill Korean server. All in all the experience will depend on the amount of lag for each server.

I honestly couldn't care less about the features they are releasing, most of them seem more or less useless for SC II as an e-sport, though maybe will help SC II as a social game.

Most if not all of these features were requested by the community so that's why they are more on the social side.

John Funk:

I'm looking forward to many of these changes, though I'm not looking forward to players from Seoul hopping onto our American servers to mercilessly stomp us puny westerners into Zerg-flavored dust. That's going to just be embarrassing.

Don't worry about it, there's still the lag barrier. Chances are people won't really want to play sc2 with a noticeable delay on every action.

Tanakh:
Well, i guess it works to play while drunk/high (RTS and DotA games seem big on the pot public, dunno why); but for test new build orders? Useless, if the other player is of aprox equal skill and you are trying a totally different build order that trows you out of balance you will be better served using an easy bot than losing at 5 to 9 minutes. Your learn builds with bots, you polish the build with bots and once you are firm on it you play humans, there is no point before that to play against a guy.

Practicing against humans will always be better than practicing against bots. A build doesn't only consist of the opening you do, it's also how you transition and how well it works against different strategies. Bots don't employ different strategies. Testing something that you haven't yet mastered without it impacting your ranking is a pretty welcome change.

As for LAN for tournaments, the first of these changes addresses that problem directly. There will never be LAN in SC2 as long as you can resume a game in progress if the internet crashes.

DeSpiner:

The reconnecting thing I can really not see being useful. It's a good thing to have, to be sure, but once you're disconnected from a ranked game, you're fucked. Does it work on custom games, too?

The feature is not intended for ladder games. The blog post clearly states that it's a resume-from-replay feature, meaning that both parties must agree to resume the game for it to work.

The point of it all is to prevent tournament games having to be replayed from scratch in case of technical problems.
On the ladder, sure you're going to feel bad for losing a game due to a disconnect, but you only stand to lose ladder points, which you can win back in the next games. I don't see the need for this feature on the ladder, it's the tournaments where this really matters.

You're right. In my defense, I was only going off of what Funk said:

The big addition, though, is that Blizzard will be working on allowing players to reconnect to a match in progress if they disconnect or lag out. Prior to this, a disconnect, even a momentary one, would result in a victory for the opponent. This might have served to prevent sore losers from pulling the plug so that they didn't lose ladder ranking, but it was a pain for other players who suffered legitimate disconnects.

Hammeroj:

DVS BSTrD:
Not endearing, just a fact of life. Blizzard works slow but they usually deliver.

So it is supposed to be endearing. You wouldn't be saying that otherwise.

Why is that the only possible reason?

Eric the Orange:
Why is that the only possible reason?

I can't think of any other reason to post this that would logically follow. Not a real reason, anyways, tried for about 10 minutes. Why would you say something like this if you weren't going "Hey, give them some slack, they always take their time!" or "Hey, give them some slack, I'm sure it will work out a-okay in the end!"[1]?

You're free to come up with other reasons, I am all ears.

[1] Pretty much what the guy said.

No LAN was precisely why I quit playing. No LAN is why I'm not buying Diablo 3.
I actually loved the single player mode in SC2 and I think the gameplay is actually a step up in many ways from the original (sacrilege I know).

However, this ultimately came back to multiplayer.
It was impossible for me and one other person to get even the most basic 2v2 match to remain stable to the end on my home connection, and any period of significant lag (or reconnection) means the kiss of death.

Funneling 4 people through a good cable connection at my friend's still yielded slight lag; a problem I *never* encountered in 9+ years of playing Brood War.

If Blizzard wants to remain obsessive-compulsive about controlling their game and fighting piracy, fine. They spent megabucks to establish their digital prison, I'm sure they're proud of it.

But that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it, and it doesn't mean I'm going to purchase their game.

Hammeroj:

Eric the Orange:
Why is that the only possible reason?

I can't think of any other reason to post this that would logically follow. Not a real reason, anyways, tried for about 10 minutes. Why would you say something like this if you weren't going "Hey, give them some slack, they always take their time!" or "Hey, give them some slack, I'm sure it will work out a-okay in the end!"[1]?

You're free to come up with other reasons, I am all ears.

he than said it was an excuse. He never said it was a good one. I see it as he was agreeing with you.

[1] Pretty much what the guy said.

Eric the Orange:
he than said it was an excuse. He never said it was a good one. I see it as he was agreeing with you.

No, actually, he denied it being an excuse. He said it's just a fact of life, and my thing is why did he bring this 'fact of life' to the table? What is he trying to say with it? I see no reason to do that except with the implication that I should leave Blizzard alone because they... make the best games ever or something.

Again, if you can think of reasons, shoot.

Atmos Duality:
No LAN was precisely why I quit playing. No LAN is why I'm not buying Diablo 3.
I actually loved the single player mode in SC2 and I think the gameplay is actually a step up in many ways from the original (sacrilege I know).

However, this ultimately came back to multiplayer.
It was impossible for me and one other person to get even the most basic 2v2 match to remain stable to the end on my home connection, and any period of significant lag (or reconnection) means the kiss of death.

Funneling 4 people through a good cable connection at my friend's still yielded slight lag; a problem I *never* encountered in 9+ years of playing Brood War.

If Blizzard wants to remain obsessive-compulsive about controlling their game and fighting piracy, fine. They spent megabucks to establish their digital prison, I'm sure they're proud of it.

But that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it, and it doesn't mean I'm going to purchase their game.

What are you, poor? [insert clownish remarks about everyone having a great internet connection]

The sad part is that unless you have a decent internet line and you live relatively close to Blizzard's servers, the connection as far as delay or straight-up reliability goes will always be objectively worse than on LAN. All of Australia is fucked by this. Everyone who doesn't live in an area with a well-developed Internet infrastructure is fucked by this. Including, yes, a pretty substantial part of Murrica, the shining beacon of hope for western society.

I can at least sort of understand this being done with Diablo 3, not giving hackers the server code (doesn't mean I'm for it, I think they should do a better bloody job of coding it), but Starcraft 2? No excuse, Blizz.

Hammeroj:
What are you, poor? [insert clownish remarks about everyone having a great internet connection]

Heh. No, I just live in an area where cable is $150(USD)/month (due to no competition) and DSL is shittier, but functional and MUCH cheaper.

If it's just me, I can get my DSL to behave long enough for a match, but when I have company over, it devolves into something that resembles my old 56k.

The sad part is that unless you have a decent internet line and you live relatively close to Blizzard's servers, the connection as far as delay or straight-up reliability goes will always be objectively worse than on LAN. All of Australia is fucked by this. Everyone who doesn't live in an area with a well-developed Internet infrastructure is fucked by this. Including, yes, a pretty substantial part of Murrica, the shining beacon of hope for western society.

[quote]I can at least sort of understand this being done with Diablo 3, not giving hackers the server code (doesn't mean I'm for it, I think they should do a better bloody job of coding it), but Starcraft 2? No excuse, Blizz.

Having the server code wouldn't matter anyway. Unless you can actually access Blizzard's servers directly (good luck) and manipulate the internal algorithms yourself, hacking items into the game isn't going to work so well.

In fact, all item hacks that I saw in Diablo 2 were about tricking the server into accepting bogus parameters from the client (which the end user must always have on their computer anyway); not sending the client bogus items from the server.

Fixing their server software to encrypt item data with session-specific keys would have eliminated an awful lot of hacking and duping, since sending the same item code wouldn't work every time; something that wasn't feasible at the time Diablo 2 was developed due to limited computer resources.

Other hacks were just expanding and looking into data the server already sent to the client.
Maphack worked because the entire map data was sent when the map loaded. It's just that the client program was told to not reveal everything until it was explored.

(which is why Blizzard eventually went after Mousepad, because the last version of Maphack couldn't be easily detected by their servers; it was all client-side.)

Knowing what I do about how Diablo 2 worked, and what Blizzard is claiming as justification for the changes...well, I think they're lying through their teeth. The only practical way to prevent hacking and duping from running rampant is to actively police their servers and that just wasn't a high priority for Blizzard for much of Diablo 2's lifespan.

Eliminating LAN is just a means of ensuring everyone plays on their server and nowhere else.
It's to prevent "illicit servers" from popping up running tunneling software like Hamachi.

Blizzard claimed that they weren't concerned with piracy, yet every measure they've taken seems to be aimed at eliminating piracy.

I wouldn't mind the problem quite as much if they hadn't just flat out lied about their reasoning.

Atmos Duality:

Hammeroj:
What are you, poor? [insert clownish remarks about everyone having a great internet connection]

Heh. No, I just live in an area where cable is $150(USD)/month (due to no competition) and DSL is shittier, but functional and MUCH cheaper.

If it's just me, I can get my DSL to behave long enough for a match, but when I have company over, it devolves into something that resembles my old 56k.

I was being sarcastic. :| Hence the expression [insert clownish remarks] in an attempt to ridicule the deluded individuals who think they're in the vast majority if they have a nice internet connection.

That price is fuuuucked up, by the way.

The sad part is that unless you have a decent internet line and you live relatively close to Blizzard's servers, the connection as far as delay or straight-up reliability goes will always be objectively worse than on LAN. All of Australia is fucked by this. Everyone who doesn't live in an area with a well-developed Internet infrastructure is fucked by this. Including, yes, a pretty substantial part of Murrica, the shining beacon of hope for western society.

I can at least sort of understand this being done with Diablo 3, not giving hackers the server code (doesn't mean I'm for it, I think they should do a better bloody job of coding it), but Starcraft 2? No excuse, Blizz.

Having the server code wouldn't matter anyway. Unless you can actually access Blizzard's servers directly (good luck) and manipulate the internal algorithms yourself, hacking items into the game isn't going to work so well.

In fact, all item hacks that I saw in Diablo 2 were about tricking the server into accepting bogus parameters from the client (which the end user must always have on their computer anyway); not sending the client bogus items from the server.

Fixing their server software to encrypt item data with session-specific keys would have eliminated an awful lot of hacking and duping, since sending the same item code wouldn't work every time; something that wasn't feasible at the time Diablo 2 was developed due to limited computer resources.

Other hacks were just expanding and looking into data the server already sent to the client.
Maphack worked because the entire map data was sent when the map loaded. It's just that the client program was told to not reveal everything until it was explored.

(which is why Blizzard eventually went after Mousepad, because the last version of Maphack couldn't be easily detected by their servers; it was all client-side.)

Knowing what I do about how Diablo 2 worked, and what Blizzard is claiming as justification for the changes...well, I think they're lying through their teeth. The only practical way to prevent hacking and duping from running rampant is to actively police their servers and that just wasn't a high priority for Blizzard for much of Diablo 2's lifespan.

Eliminating LAN is just a means of ensuring everyone plays on their server and nowhere else.
It's to prevent "illicit servers" from popping up running tunneling software like Hamachi.

...And all the benefit of the doubt I had given them flies right back.

I had my suspicions, I did say they should just code the thing better, but yeah. Aren't Blizzard a bunch of greedy cunts.

poiumty:
Practicing against humans will always be better than practicing against bots. A build doesn't only consist of the opening you do, it's also how you transition and how well it works against different strategies. Bots don't employ different strategies. Testing something that you haven't yet mastered without it impacting your ranking is a pretty welcome change.

As for LAN for tournaments, the first of these changes addresses that problem directly. There will never be LAN in SC2 as long as you can resume a game in progress if the internet crashes.

Humm... well, TBH if you are not at very very least in diamond, worring about your rank seems kind of pointless to me, in lower levels like mine i just go for the more GG more skill approach. I guess i can see how a player that worked hard to top silver-gold and don't want to go down might appreciate this but again, just from my perspective, that is totally pointless.

Also, at higher levels players usually have multiple accounts (due the region lock), so they have always had a "practice account"; and i dunno, what are you going to practice midgame or lategame? if it's execution you can do it with bots and strategy can't really be practiced midgame, i guess you can get the "feeling of your build" and that is important, but how are you going to force a similar level player to go the scenario you want at 15 mins or more?

Again, it's a nice feature, but i feel its mainly a "playing while drunk" mode.

For the LAN, well, LAN solves 2 problems, games being interrupted and lag, this solutions solves the big one, not the second. I guess it's an improvement, still LAN would be better.

Also LESS MINERALS! I want that sooo much.

Atmos Duality:
Eliminating LAN is just a means of ensuring everyone plays on their server and nowhere else.
It's to prevent "illicit servers" from popping up running tunneling software like Hamachi.

This, i am very curious to see what happens when you force this on Diablo + a real money AH. Thus (if i have time around those days) i'll join their little social experiment to see the resoults.

 

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