This afternoon we attended a sit down Q&A session with Chris Sigaty (Lead Producer) and David Kim (Game Balance Designer) to discuss Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm, Esports, LAN, Replays and more.
A full video and text transcript will probably be available soon from other community sites - we've selected some of the points/answers that are most relevant to the progaming community. A bunch of guys were recording it, so can get exact quotes etc in the next few days.
Note: Some of this may sound negative/cut and dry. The full Q&A was an hour long but i tried to extract the information that affects us most in day-to-day esports life. In the greater picture, they were more "giving" on other questions about things like separate ladders hots/wol, custom map stuff, Blizzard Dota etc.
"The List" implies features they want but haven't got in yet. They could be patched in, expansioned in, warped in, or never make it in. The list is as solid as a rock and vaporous as a cloud, but they did confirm that it does actually exist.
No Lan. Chris said that he doesn't foresee LAN during the SC2 life cycle (from WoL -> end of life). With regards to esports they are very aware of the issues and see them when they happen (although that doesn't really help the problem ;o). He also said they are more positive about the idea of having some sort of offline server capability for the MLGs, GSLs etc of the world....but they have no current plans to implement one. My question was basically, at what point do the interests of the esports industry start to outweigh the reasoning they've given us in the past for no offline play ("the list", IP protection, business etc).
tl;dr: it could happen next year, it could happen in 3 years, but it wont be related to an expansion release.
Its on "the list". They want it. They are working on it. Unclear whether it will make HotS - could be released after. But yes, its coming.
Its on "the list". They realize the game needs it and in general they want a more meaningful way to distribute replays across battle.net.
I asked Chris about the amazing spectating abilities of Dota2 (allows you to jump into a top level game from the client and start watching...even while you are waiting for a game in ladder queue). He nodded intently as i explained how the feature worked and said that its something he really wants at some point (maybe Legacy of the Void). In general they want better ways to bridge the gap from general fans to competitive gaming through battle.net.
The new name for the market place to release premium blizzard content and user content. Blizzard Dota will be the first major Blizzard release which will come around HotS. They will have some ranking/rating features and will have a system to make sure only good user-submitted content is being charged for.
WoL vs HotS Balance
Asked David about how he "balances" (sorry LOL) the concerns of balancing WoL vs filling those holes with HotS features, abilities and units. He said he considers WoL to be pretty balanced and that they only want to make tiny changes to fix problems that they see. HotS is effectively a reset on the balance process, but they feel overall it will be an even better game filling many of the issues they saw with the original.
He feels that the beta will give the design team much more substantial data than WoL because there's such a rich pool of pros to work with. He thinks pros will adapt to the changes pretty quickly and be able to give solid feedback.
Saving Multiplayer Games/Reconnect ala LoL/Dota2 etc
They have talked about it. They like the idea of it but it hasn't made it in yet (watching group replays is more important to them right now). Didn't commit but its something they are looking at.
As you can see, some of the answers are non-committal, but this is the nature of press conferences. More details on Blizzard Arcade and Blizzard Dota will be released tomorrow.
We will also have a 1 on 1 interview with Dustin Browder at 11am so be sure to tweet me your questions tonight and ill try include some @Kennigit.