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Two Massive Q&A Sessions: Battle.Net and Beta In-Depth

Robert Bridenbecker, Blizzard’s VP of online technology, has taken the time to provide some revealing details as well as answer a short Q&A in a session hosted in Samsung City Hyatt Hotel. The original articles have been released in Korean, and are available here and here. A kind soul has posted the full translation on Battle.net’s forums soon after the articles went live.

Korean Battle.net Press Event

According to the information released today, Battle.net 2.0 will immensely improve community features. It will create a better competitive environment that players can enjoy and also will make changes to ladder and league.

Also, Blizzard is currently setting the new battle.net release date to around April and here are the scheduled contents:

  • Achievements
  • Community related contents
  • Player’s detailed connection info
  • Player’s detailed game history
  • Friend’s friend invite contents

It’ll be surprising to see features like Achievements go live during the beta, mainly because of the huge sign that states “Disabled for Beta” on that part of Battle.net’s interface. More detailed game histories and the ability to see information about your opponents and allies will also be welcomed features.

The most controversial decision reported about in the Q&A is the confirmation of the lack of chat channels – the heart and soul of Battle.net. This is how many gamers have met their allies and rivals on the gaming service throughout the years, starting new friendships and gaining arch-enemies. It’s the way the team behind this blog originally met 12 years ago! Unsurprisingly, many have already expressed their disappointment with this change and are urging Blizzard to reconsider.

Instead of the normal chat features, Blizzard will implement something more akin to the popular social sites flooding the Internet nowadays:

Especially about friend’s friend related contents, blizzard will implement in battle.net 2.0 as the main community system. According to blizzard, the new battle.net 2.0 system with friend’s friend invite will enable users to be more active in the community.

This is similar to facebook and twitter with micro-blogs and blizzard is also following this trend. Blizzard also states that since battle.net 2.0 does not have open chat channels, they will have to shoot for an even better community system as the ultimate goal.

Gamers are not Twitter social-media type simpletons. Most do not need another Facebook to interact with the people they already know. Chats and Forums are the natural habitats of gamers, and Blizzard is taking away the ability to randomly meet people to chat, play and discuss the game with. Despite the fact that this is in line with most recent gaming platforms, we, among many others, would love to see Blizzard reconsider the removal of chat channels.

Is not $%^$ Twitter

The update, which is due in April, will not include the following:

Single Player Contents

  • There are contents that will be locked at the beginning and will only be unlocked as you clear specific objectives. When you unlock these contents, you will be given some awards.
  • Unlocking achievements will give players decals(distinct patterns) or portrait pictures.

Result screen revamp

  • Currently, when you finish a match, you only see scores but the revampt will include all the details.

The more anticipated contents such as professional leagues and use-map marketplace will be included in future updates after release and will include watching replays of the players in professional league. Also, the players in pro-league will be able to advertise his career history and others.

The Q&A session spans 7 questions in total:

Q : There are currently hacks out there for single player and multiplayer is in danger too. Are you guys working on more security measures?

A : Hacking is something that we did not want to see. It is very unfortunate. The current hacked clients may contain virus and we would like to encourage our users to avoid downloading them. In the case of multiplayer, we will be working to make sure that it is not hacked but since you will be able to play any multiplayer without battle.net, I think the system is pretty secure from hacking.

Q : Will the April content release include 3v3 or 4v4?

A : 3v3 and 4v4 team plays will not be released in April but will be in the official release.

Q : Is there plans to release public chat channels? Also, if you do release it, how will you fight against spams and profanity?
A : Battle.net 2.0 will not support open chat channels. We will take actions to the reported spams, profanity and rude behaviors with the new Report Player functionality.

Q : Then, how will clan system work? If there is no open chat channel, then wouldn’t that impede clan system?

A : We will be announcing clan system at (after?) release so we cannot discuss that right now.

Apparently, there is a distinct, separate clan system planned, which will not depend on open chat channels and is not limited to the social features that have been implemented or announced up until now.

Q : Unlike Warcraft 3 battle.net, will you be able to see your rankings and match history in the website?

A : Of course. Just like WoW armory, you will be able to see those in the new battle.net community site. You can expect some great things since it will be a whole new innovative web service.

Q : Even if you divide realm servers by continents, if you look at Asia, there are many different spoken languages. Will you provide real-time translation system?

A : We have no plans to support realtime translation system right now but we are looking into it and considering it.

Q : The currentl battle.net supported games include Starcraft 1, Diablo, Warcraft 3. Will you keep supporting this? Are you concerned about merging them with battle.net 2.0?

A : The current battle.net will continue being supported. I would like to see it being supported continuously and we are discussing how we will go about. The merging details have not been completely decided in terms of technical aspect so it is hard to answer that. We will be discussing that later.

In case you have forgotten (it’s been a while!), Battle.net was launched with the release of Diablo in 1997, 13 years ago. It is a live platform that serves Diablo, Diablo 2, StarCraft, WarCraft 2, WarCraft 3, and all the expansions of the aforementioned games. Adjusting the platform across so many games would require a huge amount of patching, and it’s not suprising Blizzard has not declared its official stance on the issue.

A significantly more lengthy interview was given by Dustin Browder to VG247, going into the gory details of the expectations and numbers emerging from StarCraft 2’s beta testing. Many of the things Dustin mentions, like the possibility of adding and removing units, have been talked about extensively in the latest Blizzcast, but there’s certainly some meat in this one.

Here are some interesting excerpts from the interview:

Dustin Browder: So far, the beta numbers we’ve been looking at have been very, very positive. We’re close to a 50 percent win ratio for almost every race. What we’re really doing right now is waiting to see, as the community learns more, to see if something changes in the meta-game that causes this not to be the case. And, of course, we’re still dealing with issues of unit diversity, particularly on the Zerg side.

What level of concurrency to you want to get to before the end of the beta?

Dustin Browder: I think we want to maintain about 10,000. It’s sort of our goal, and we’ve just about hit that at this point. I can see we’re at 9,000-something right now, and 10,000 is the goal.

The number of online players has certainly been growing steadily as Blizzard sends out more and more keys.

StarCraft 2 Beta: 7000 People Online, No one to talk to

While some StarCraft 2 Beta testers have been hacking at the world’s fastest RTS for 12 years, a significant portion of the gamers are… noobs that are overwhelmed by StarCraft’s ruthless pace and macro-oriented mechanics.

Dustin Browder: We’re seeing two types of players. We’re seeing the hardcore who’ve been with us for the past 12 years, who are just totally loving it and having a great time. We’re seeing newer players get into the beta and struggling a bit with the speed, with the rushes, with the style of gameplay we’re presenting them with. We’ve seen a lot of feedback from the newer players saying, ‘Oh my God, this is really rough. What the hell are you guys doing?’

Are you seeing clicks-per-minute generally increase as you run the beta over time?

Dustin Browder: I’m sorry, I’m able to see it on a game-by-game basis; I’m not able to see it globally. But that’s a great question, and certainly a stat we’d love to have. We have a ton of stats right now, and we’re having a trouble getting at them a little bit. There’s a large volume of data that our business intelligence guys are working very hard to give us access to. What I have access to now is fairly limited. I have access to maps, I have access to win-loss by race and by skill, I have access to certain unit stats, but no, I don’t have access to action-per-minute on a global scale. I’m not able to see it increasing as we go. I imagine that it would.

Some more interesting quotes:

  • Our internal stats show us that Terrans are down in 1v1 versus Protoss and Zerg, and our internal stats also show us that Terran-Terran teams are also taking a hit in almost every match-up. This we believe to be largely because of map design. The Terrans lack some of the mobility to come rescue their allies in the early game…
  • We’re going to change the maps a little bit and see if we get different results, but the Terrans being down is something we’ve started to address and we’re going to continue to address in the coming weeks.
  • In addition, we view Battle.net this time around a little more as we do WoW. We hope to be doing constant content development going forward…
  • There are also going to be some changes to how we do match-making. I know this for sure. But I’m not exactly sure of everything that’s going to happen. We develop these features and some of them will make the content patch, and some of them will not.
and disappointing to a significant portion of the community

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