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Alan Dabiri, Lead Software Engineer For StarCraft 2 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the modders-and-patches-and-expansions,-oh-my dept.
The StarCraft 2 team spent most of Blizzcon talking about the map editor and custom games. We spoke with Alan Dabiri, a Lead Software Engineer for Wings of Liberty who worked on the user interface and helped out on the game's integration with Battle.net. He provided some more details about plans for making the map editor more approachable, the coming updates for Battle.net (including chat channels), and a bit about the development of Heart of the Swarm, the Zerg-themed expansion being worked on now. Read on for our conversation about StarCraft 2.

Slashdot: Can you tell us how development has been split up now that you're maintaining Wings of Liberty, starting on Heart of the Swarm, and providing updates through Battle.net?

Alan Dabiri: Since we did just ship Wings of Liberty, obviously we want to support that product and focus on issues we need to correct. Balance is always a focus we want to make sure we get right. We are kind of split right now in terms of our work. We're supporting the game, we've released a few patches, we have more coming, and at the same time we've got people working on Heart of the Swarm. Now is really a good time when the designers and the artists are jamming on all the design ideas for it, and the programmers can hit up any bugs we missed, things we can improve. We've added features in patches, and we're adding more coming up here. It is a bit of a balancing act, but it's one that we're used to, just because we've supported our games well after their initial launch.

Slashdot: Can you talk a bit about the upcoming 1.2 patch?

Alan Dabiri: 1.2 is our next feature patch. We've got a few things going in. Probably one that people have been asking for a lot and they'll be excited to hear about is chat channels. We've also added customizable hot-key support. We shipped with a few different profiles you could pick from, but now we've actually implemented an interface where people can completely configure the hotkeys and set them up the way they want. We're going to have more balance stuff as well, and that's dependent on the feedback we get with our most recent patches, although things have been looking pretty good in that department.

Another thing from the Battle.net competitive side is that we're adding a couple of new leagues. I don't know if both of them are going to get into 1.2, but I believe the first one, Masters, will be going in. Right now the Diamond league is a top league, and it's a pretty wide range. You get people who [barely] meet the cut all the way to the top. The Masters league is a desire to split up that top a little bit and make it the top couple percent of those people. Then, we're eventually going to come along with the Grandmasters League, and that is going to be the top 200 people, and literally it's by invitation. These are really the cream of the crop, on the level of the pro-gamers.

Slashdot: Are you working to publicize or promote these leagues so that the average player can more easily view them?

Alan Dabiri: Yeah, that's another thing that's coming along. There are already these tournaments going on, right? One thing we want to do is to start showcasing replays from these games, so people can watch and say, "Oh, there's that awesome match between FruitDealer and whoever." So, we're going to start putting them right on the front [page]. There's basically a news carousel where you get the latest news, and we're going to start throwing games on there where you literally click on that and it will launch the replay. So we're going to start showcasing those top-level games.

Slashdot: A lot of your focus for this Blizzcon has been the map editor, the custom games, and the new tools. Is it one of your goals to encourage map makers to think of themselves as software developers in their own right?

Alan Dabiri: Yeah, absolutely. Here's the thing. We're making StarCraft 2, right? So we're bound by some stuff, like lore, etc. These guys -- the sky's the limit. And they've got such creativity, such imagination, that we just want to give them tools to make stuff, and let them do whatever they want. So one thing that's nice, when you say software developers or software engineers -- with the editor, you don't need a programming background or anything like that. We've made it in a way that while it is a very involved tool with a lot of complexity to it, you can get someone who's not a programmer making these maps. So that's the cool thing about it. We absolutely want to encourage that, because from our previous games, people do amazing stuff. We go on Battle.net and we look at these custom game lists, and we get blown away. We're not even sure how they did half this stuff.

Slashdot: Have you thought about releasing some sort of guide or tutorial for map making?

Alan Dabiri: Yeah. We realize that there's quite a bit of knowledge that has to be built up, and we are working on some documentation, some tutorials. I don't know the timelines for all those rolling out, and at what level, but I know we were at one point talking about having a dedicated website, almost like a Wiki, where we would post all this information. We've already got a forum for this, and we've had people responding to those posts. But we want to take even a more active role than that, where people can start asking questions and we can answer and everyone can benefit from the answers. We don't want people just floundering around. We'd like to help them out any way we can.

Slashdot: At one of the panels, it was mentioned that you'd be releasing some new tools. Will those be released incrementally, or can we expect them alongside Heart of the Swarm?

Alan Dabiri: The four maps we've show here? These are 100% made in the editor. Anyone outside can make these right now. So, using the editor, you kind of have every tool you need. The one thing they're missing right now is being able to generate the art assets, because we have specific file formats for our models and textures and whatnot. And so, just like we did with Warcraft 3 -- shortly after we shipped, we released our exporter for Macs, and stuff like that -- we're going to do the same here, too. We're working on our tools. We don't have a timeline yet on when we'll be able to get them out, but we want to get them out as soon as possible.

The funny thing is that some guys have reverse-engineered our formats, and they're already putting assets into the game! But they're missing the bells and whistles. There are a lot of features in the engine. So we're like to get that out to help them. Another thing we've been talking about -- in our campaign, if you're seen our in-game cinematics, you've got these awesome-looking characters talking to each other, and they have facial animation. They're lip-syncing. We want to get that out to the end user too. So, literally, they can make their own movies in the engine. [They can have] a mini-campaign they've created, and use our story-mode space to make their guys talk as well. I'm super excited to see what happens when that gets out.

Slashdot: We saw how the Outbreak mission in the single-player campaign inspired the Left 2 Die custom game. Will we see the reverse happen? (Outbreak was a mission in which zombies rose and swarmed your base at night. The onslaught abated when the sun rose, and you had a brief window to rebuild and go on the offensive before you had to bunker in again. The Left 2 Die custom game expands on that concept and makes it a co-op fight.)

Alan Dabiri: I would say that it already has happened. Some of the maps in our campaign were kind of inspired by concepts from Warcraft 3 maps. If you've played through the campaign, you know it's not the same as the multiplayer game. Every mission has a unique twist on it, and some of those twists have come from either mods that we've made or other styles we've played in different game, and then also new stuff we've come up with.

Bob Colyaco: Specifically, the prison-break mission, where you play as Tosh — that's very DotA-like.

Alan Dabiri: I think that's definitely going to happen some more, too. That's the cool thing about the campaign space: we can play around. Multiplayer, we've got to make sure that it's balanced — we can't really screw around with just going crazy. On the campaign side, we still want it balanced, but we can flex our muscles a little more, and really play around with cool game types.

Slashdot: Is it getting tougher to come up with new twists for the campaign?

Alan Dabiri: I don't know. There are a lot of ideas out there. There are a lot of ideas that were brought up for Wings of Liberty that we didn't have a chance to get to. So, I don't think we'll run out of ideas soon.

Slashdot: Dustin Browder had mentioned that one of the downsides to splitting StarCraft 2 into three campaigns was making, for example, Zerg fans wait for a the Zerg campaign. Are you feeling the pressure to step it up for them in Heart of the Swarm?

Alan Dabiri: Well, since it is a Zerg-focused campaign, you're going to see a lot more spaces in the Zerg world and the characters of the Zerg, so it's definitely going to be a cool thing for Zerg players. But, definitely, for the Zerg campaign and then the Protoss campaign, the guys who play those races are going to be excited about what we have in store for them.

Slashdot: Now that you've had some time to see people play Wings of Liberty, and you've had some time to reflect on it, is there anything that made you think, "We did this well, but we can see a better way to do it for Heart of the Swarm?"

Alan Dabiri: Absolutely. Yeah. There are tons of things. We have these lists of everything want to do, and obviously there's just not enough time in the world. We try to get in as much as we can, but we acknowledge that there are certain areas where we think, "You know what, this is cool, it works in Wings of Liberty, but there's so much more we can do with this." Back at the office before Blizzcon we were talking about replays, and how we want to really expand that area. Everyone loves replays. They like watching their own games, pro games. We want to add a ton of features to flesh out that concept. On Battle.net, there are a lot of things we want to add. The custom game interface, chat channels that we didn't get in for shipping the game but now we're adding. And the game itself; the user interface, the units, the composition -- everything is fair game, and we're always trying to improve.

Slashdot: How will the multiplayer be affected by the launch of the subsequent games?

Alan Dabiri: Since we do have the split of the campaign versus the multiplayer side, we can go crazy on the campaign side without affecting the multiplayer side. But at the same time, if you look at our previous RTS expansions, we have pretty full-featured expansions in the sense that — we don't just ship a new campaign and that's it. We touch a lot of the units, we add new units, we come up with new game mechanics, new tile sets, all that stuff. I think the multiplayer space is open for change and will have change to it. Right now, in fact, we're asking ourselves, "what are the areas where there's maybe something missing from the multiplayer side?" Maybe the composition of units that exist on one side. "What hole is there that we might want to fill?" It's kind of like what happened with Brood War. Brood War identified areas where [we decided] we could add some cool units and make it better. I think we'll do the same for our expansions.

Slashdot: You mentioned earlier the constant need for balance updates. Can you take us through the internal process for identifying and fixing a balance issue?

Alan Dabiri: There are a lot of different ways we get feedback. It comes both from external sources and internally. We've got several balance designers on our team who are, literally, pro-level players. They're top-ranked on the ladder. So, they have an insight into how these things work. But, at the same time, we also view games that are played on the ladder from other top level players. We view replays, we get feedback from pro-gamers, and we get feedback from lower-level players, who maybe aren't so good. That, combined with direct community feedback from forums and other types of communications, we take all that, and the final piece we mix together is the real hard stats. We collect a ton of stats. We know who's winning, we know the race matchup, we know what units you're making. We have all this.

So we can take all this info and provide it to the designers. With all of it taken as a whole, we can sit down and make some intelligent decisions. You know, it's real easy when a guy on the forums goes and says, "Oh, Terran is this," or "Zerg is that," but we're not going to just change the whole race based off of one guy. But when you have all this info, now you can make an informed decision. I think we have a real advantage.. because, to be honest, we didn't have a lot of these things earlier on for StarCraft 1. We'd play the game ourselves and listen to what people were saying outside, and hope that we're doing the right thing. We've got a lot of hard data now that we can lean back on.

Slashdot: Have you thought about cutting out parts of that data that are relevant to a particular debate and working that up into a visualization for the community?

Bob Colyaco: We've done that already, to a degree. If you go to StarCraft2.com, Dustin [Browder] wrote a post showing the win percentages and ratios, compared against regions and compared against leagues. So, for example, Diamond-level PvZ or Gold-level TvT.

Alan Dabiri: Yeah, we've actually provided a lot of data already, and we plan on doing more. Even in Warcraft 3, we had a web page that broke down game matchups, what maps people liked to play on the most. So, I think we have plans to also add that stuff. It's just cool information for the end user. They want to kind of geek out on that. And it helps the debates also, because a lot of times on the forums they'll argue one way or the other, but they don't have really hard stats. They just got done playing against Protoss, and they got beat, so suddenly Protoss is the most overpowered race there is.

Slashdot: Have you heard about the StarCraft AI competition?

Alan Dabiri: I did, yeah! That was really cool. We were excited to see that. The funny things is, with StarCraft 2, we've actually built a system where now they can do that in the game. I know with that [competition], they kind of had to work around the game. So it'll be really cool to see what they do with StarCraft 2, because you can actually make your own AI in a map, using the scripting language, and do different takes on build orders and what the AI does defeat other types of players.

Slashdot: What would you, personally, consider the most underrated aspect of Wings of Liberty?

Alan Dabiri: I think everyone knows we have a full, epic campaign, and everyone has seen those and played those. And everyone knows that for RTS games the multiplayer side is huge — e-sports or just playing with your friends. I think this custom angle that we're pushing at Blizzcon now -- while we had that in Warcraft 3, and we had a bunch of maps, DotA being the most popular one — I think we're really seeing an explosion there, and still a lot of people don't realize it's a feature of StarCraft 2. And now, with Battle.net the way it is, it's so easy to get these maps. You don't have to trade them or find them in other ways, they're all just up there. And we're also going to improve that mechanism so it's even easier.

But, I think this custom game aspect is really cool because it makes it so there are infinite games within this game. You can play the single-player and multiplayer of StarCraft 2, which are both super fun, but now you have another thing that just goes forever. Myself, I love going and just jumping into a map I've never heard of and saying, "Wow. There's so much imagination here. We would never have thought to make something like that." I think that's one area people will play more and more. There are people who are open to the two different sides I've already talked about, but [custom games] are something where we can get even more players in.

Slashdot: Is that served by the large size of the community?

Alan Dabiri: Definitely. Without a lot of people creating these maps and playing them, it's not going to go anywhere. It's going to fall away. But the Battle.net community, the Blizzard community is enormous. We have that momentum, we have that group of people. Literally, every day there are maps on there I've never seen. So, these guys are just coming out with maps, and the awesome ones rise to the top. And obviously there's always going to be the ones that aren't so great. With our community, and how passionate they are -- they were making maps during the beta, before you could even publish maps to Battle.net. I think that's awesome.

Slashdot: Going back to the e-sport aspect, what's your goal for a brand new player loading up StarCraft 2 and looking over the multiplayer? Are you trying to nudge them gently into participating in e-sports?

Alan Dabiri: No, I don't think that's our initial goal. That's one of the cool things about how the matchmaking system works on Battle.net now. You will converge into your comfortable zone. So, if you're playing StarCraft 2 and you're not that great of a player — after those first few placement matches, you will actually be playing against people of your equivalent level, and you'll find really fun games. You are going to go back and forth. You are going to win some and you're going to lose some. I think that's what's cool. We also have other angles; if you don't want to play against other players to start with, because maybe you're nervous and don't want to jump right in, we have co-operative play, where you play with other players against the computer. It's a really cool way to practice strategies.

This came from StarCraft and Warcraft 3, where a lot of players were making these "comp-stomp" games, which were you and a bunch of other guys against a computer. So, we thought, "Hey, you know what, this is a cool thing, a lot of people like to do it, so let's build it into the system." So, the intention when you come to the multiplayer side is to have a fun experience, to have a fun game. And this applies to all levels; you can be horrible at games or horrible at RTS games and still have a fun experience in StarCraft 2. But, at the same time, we cater all the way up to the top, where you've got these extremely high level players, who are just out of control. I watch them play and I'm amazed. The matching system works beautifully where everyone will go to a fun experience.

Slashdot: I know you don't want to say anything about release dates. But can you give us a feel for how much work needs to be done yet on Heart of the Swarm?

Alan Dabiri: Sure. I'll give you an example. For our previous RTS games, it took about a year for expansions to come out. The difference between StarCraft 2 and Warcraft 3 is that we're going to have a whole new campaign, and the campaign is going to be on the same level as with Wings of Liberty. Meaning the quality level, and [it'll be] enormous. So, obviously it's going to take a little more time than what we've previously done. But it's not going to take as long as the original game took. We were building the engine, we were building the infrastructure, so it's definitely going to be in a shorter time frame than that. But we do want to put a lot of features into the expansion. Historically, we've always done this. Our expansions have had tons of things -- it's not just a couple new maps. And we'll continue to do that.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Alan Dabiri, Lead Software Engineer For StarCraft 2

Comments Filter:
  • by Surt (22457)

    Traditionally, there can only be one lead on a project. Did they decide to hand out lead titles to everyone? How many people lead the development of SC II?

    • by rakuen (1230808)
      I dunno, maybe they split up the work load. Maybe there's a lead software engineer for implementing the Zerg, the Protoss, the Terrans, the single-player engine, and the multiplayer backbone. Then all five of them report to and coordinate with the [insert title here] of the project. I don't know much about business hierarchies, but that's just one possibility which occured to me.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Surt (22457)

        Just seems weird to me. If I needed leads for all those things, I would make the title specific, so you know who you're talking to, e.g. Joe McBlow, Lead Protoss Engineer. Calling him the Lead SCII developer makes him sound higher up the hierarchy than he actually is.

        • by lawpoop (604919)

          Joe McBlow, Lead Protoss Engineer.

          He's got an incredible background in khaydarin crystals and Warp Gates. Blizzard really lucked out in getting that guy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pdboddy (620164)
      Traditionally? You mean, way back in old school game developing? It's not like things change right? They just stay the same forever...
      • by Surt (22457)

        Like in most software engineering firms I've worked for, and those people I've known have worked for.

        • by pdboddy (620164)
          And software engineering is but one aspect of game developing. So yeah, there's multiple leads because there are multiple disciplines involved.
          • by Surt (22457)

            Multidiscipline doesn't cover it:
            "a Lead Software Engineer for Wings of Liberty"

            • by pdboddy (620164)
              What's your point? Blizzard's a large-ish company, with their own corporate structure. Just because your company does something a particular way doesn't mean Blizzard does.

              Also, the header for the story says "Alan Dabiri, Lead Software Engineer for StarCraft 2". In the sentence you quote, the author of the story (you'd have to ask to be sure) may have meant "a Lead Software Engineer for Blizzard Entertainment, who worked on Wings of Liberty..". Or perhaps the "a" is an error.
              • by Surt (22457)

                You're making my point for me. I have no idea of this guys contribution to SCII, and neither do you, or anyone else reading the article.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AuMatar (183847)

      Multi-discipline projects can have 1 lead per discipline. Having the art lead and the core team lead being the same person would be inefficient. Additionally on a large complex project like SC2 you may have enough work to break down into multiple teams, and have leads for each team. For example, you could have a lead for the engine, a lead for Battle.net, a lead for tools, etc. There will be 1 person ultimately in charge at the top, but he doesn't have the bandwidth to manage everything.

      If you really ha

      • by Surt (22457)

        We don't call the sub people leads. We call them things like 'senior'.

        • by AuMatar (183847)

          Generally where I've worked, jr and sr designate experience. Lead designates responsibility for a project or major component of one. Different terms entirely. Not that it really matters all that much- whatever you call them the work is the same.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Oscar [officequotes.net]: "Look, it doesn't take a genius to know that any organization thrives when it has two leaders. Go ahead, name a country that doesn't have two presidents. A boat that sets sail without two captains. Where would Catholicism be without the popes?"
    • by martyros (588782)
      At my company, "Lead Software Engineer" is a title. I'm not sure exactly where in the pay grade it is, but I'm above it at "Senior Software Engineer", one level below "Principal Software Engineer" (the highest engineering level at the company).
      • by Surt (22457)

        That's a surprise to me, I usually see:

        junior
        (nothing)
        senior
        principal
        lead/architect

  • Blizzard's Attitude (Score:3, Interesting)

    by argmanah (616458) * <argmanah@MONETyahoo.com minus painter> on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @01:10PM (#34026768)
    I was really looking forward to SC2. I was busy when it first came out, but I was going to pick it up least week until I saw the stories about Blizzard banning users for cheating in the single player campaign. I believe it was a story on /. as well. Frankly, I'm tired of software developers doing an end around on copyright laws by basically renting you software instead of selling it to you.

    I'm boycotting SC2 and Diablo 3 until Blizzard stops acting like an asshat.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yep, you... and approximately nobody else, so it doesn't matter what you do.

      Hey, I'm on your side here, but in the wider world? Nobody cares. I've tried to convince my friends of this and it just doesn't work. It's the trendy thing and they're gonna buy it. Thinking towards the future doesn't matter when you can get that shiny today.

      • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @01:32PM (#34027068)

        It's the trendy thing and they're gonna buy it.

        It's not even the trendiness factor that's the real problem that they're up against.

        To most of the people who play games like this, attempting to bust on people who cheat at the game (as they would see it) is a much greater good than allowing you to do whatever you want with software you bought. In other words, the very actions that make Blizzard evil to much of Slashdot are seen as a plus to most of their customers.

        It's not that people are stupid, uninformed, or apathetic (although each of those are true often enough), it's that they value different things.

        • by u17 (1730558)
          I don't think anyone is having doubts as to what kind of cheating the player was punished for. Single. Player. Right? So I just don't see how anyone could see this as a plus. I mean, who hasn't used some sort of memory hack at one point or another to affect a single player game? I know I used it in Diablo 2 back in the day. I can feel for the poor fellow and I get the impression that it could be just about anyone who gets denied the possibility to play the game he legally purchased. It's a good argument --
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I don't think anyone is having doubts as to what kind of cheating the player was punished for. Single. Player. Right? So I just don't see how anyone could see this as a plus.

            It makes it easy to get the game's achievements, which a lot of players (not me) take very seriously.

            There's lots of cheats built into the single player game already -- it's just that using one makes it so you can't get achievements for that mission in a game where you've used the cheats. Thus, cheating to get the achievements is actually the main reason for the cheat in single player.

            You and I don't care, but I'd be willing to bet that the number of people who bought Starcraft 2 and would want someone to

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vux984 (928602)

        Yep, you... and approximately nobody else, so it doesn't matter what you do.

        Hey, I'm on your side here, but in the wider world? Nobody cares. I've tried to convince my friends of this and it just doesn't work. It's the trendy thing and they're gonna buy it. Thinking towards the future doesn't matter when you can get that shiny today.

        I didn't buy it either, and would have if they'd been more consumer friendly.

        And as for the new shiny? Fallout Las Vegas is the new shiny... Starcraft 2 is already a fading memory. I'll pick it up in a discount bin maybe. They missed their chance getting full price out of me. Do they care? Probably not... but the sentiment is mutual.

        And WTF is with /. forcing me to preview now? I don't need to preview every post I make. The box I'm typing into right now is preview enough for a plaintext post.

        • by TheKidWho (705796)

          Some of us don't care about Shinies yah know? Starcraft lived on because it was a great game, just as Starcraft II will. Did you know that people still play Chess in this day and age too?

        • I just downloaded Vegas this week to try on my computer. I will probably buy it this weekend but wanted to make sure it worked on my PC. I always test games before I buy them when it is for my PC

          Last time I bought it for the ps3, played it all the way through, then found about about all the mods. I download the GOTY addition, checked how it ran, and went out and bought the PC GOTY edition. It is probably the only game I bought twice.

          I am thinking of grabbing mass effect, first, though, since las vegas f

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You're not missing out dude. A 14 year wait, and the campaign is honestly quite lackluster. Yeah a few missions are fun scenarios, but the story and dialogue makes me think they got 4 guys, a few pizzas and a 30 pack of busch and just banged it out in one long evening.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ...Blizzard banning users for cheating in the single player campaign....

      Citation needed. Still, no LAN, no sale. I have friends that are fans of SC who's only "broadband" is 1500ms latency satellite. That doesn't work well for realtime anything. LAN is the only option for decent head-to-head gameplay in that circumstance.

      • The game would still take place locally, it's just that you authenticate with the Blizzard servers before playing.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by pdboddy (620164)
          No, it does not take place locally. If you lose internet connection at any point during the game for more than a second, you're dropped out of the game.

          You can play offline in the campaign only, and even then without the achievements.
    • by tunapez (1161697) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @01:21PM (#34026910)

      I am sad to say I am[still] boycotting, too. I don't play online, my LAN party does not need an outside server and I want nothing to do with Blizzard(EA/Ubisoft/etc) once our initial transaction is complete. Sorry, you are not my new best friend and I am not your new perpetual tool to extract $ & data from. Sorry.

      • Thanks, but we've heard this for the last two dozen Blizzard articles. Can we please move on with something more interesting to talk about? It's not like acting tough on SlashDot while crying on your keyboard is really convincing Blizzard to change their business model.

        Honestly, you're worse than Steam haters.

        • by tunapez (1161697)
          No, I cannot move on and ignore the elephant in the room. However, you may skip over the posts without "crying on your keyboard" if you'd like.
          Blizzard has alg's that tell them how much potential income they are losing, and I am fairly certain they would drop DRM in a second if they could earn more income by doing so. Therefore, I will join each and every discussion to declare my stance and get my vote in there(and maybe cry how I really do want to buy Diablo3 b/c D2 just isn't cutting it anymore).

          But h
    • by pdboddy (620164) <pdboddy@g m a il.com> on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @01:22PM (#34026926) Homepage Journal
      The guy admitted that he had the trainer program running while he was playing online with friends. Can't really tell the difference between someone cheating and someone goofing around with friends when it's just automated software. And at any one time there are tens of thousands of games going on at the same time, so it's a bit hard to check out possible cheaters on a case by base basis.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by zorg50 (581726)
        It seems like everyone's overlooked this simple fact. I'm not sure why Blizzard doesn't make it clear that this whiner was playing online.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by migla (1099771)

          It seems like everyone's overlooked this simple fact. I'm not sure why Blizzard doesn't make it clear that this whiner was playing online.

          Yeah, since he was playing with his friends he should have been on a LAN or using a clan server and not some official server that can't be asked to know that he wasn't cheating innocent internet users whom he had no relation to. Stupid fucker.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by DeadDecoy (877617)
        Perhaps another argument for LAN?
        At least then, the ethical cheaters who are just screwing around will segment themselves from the population.
        • by pdboddy (620164)
          The biggest and best arguments for LAN is lower latency, less risk of random disconnection and not having to deal with internet jerks.

          Frankly, once you know that a company bans entire accounts for cheating, you should maybe consider not cheating, even if the only person you bother is yourself. And Blizzard is well known for wide, sweeping bans. And since all their games are tied to one account, well...
          • by vadim_t (324782)

            Frankly, once I know a company bans entire accounts for doing something that affects only myself, and that Blizzard is well known for wide, sweeping bans, and that all their games are tied to one account, any thoughts of buying anything from Blizzard disappear from my head.

            • by pdboddy (620164)
              As I said up the stream a bit there, he was using the trainer program ONLINE while playing with his friends. His own fault.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Entropius (188861)

        Then allow people to run their own matchmaking and deal with cheaters as they see fit, rather than forcing everything through the monolith that is bnet.

    • by Godai (104143) *

      Just to clarify: you can cheat all you want in the single player campaign. They have built-in cheats. You just can't cheat and still earn achievements -- that's what the hack that gets people banned does. You can argue that's not significant enough to earn a permanent 'bricking' of the software, but since you're effectively cheating in multi-player when you do this (because achievements are really a measurement between players) there should definitely be some sort of consequence.

      A better response would be t

    • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @02:49PM (#34028080) Journal

      Everyone loves achievements these days. Gamer's profiles proudly display the various achievements they have unlocked. These are meaningful only if they are generally accepted as cheat proof. If you want to cheat in single player, go right ahead, do it in offline mode, skip getting the achievement and be happy. What you do not get to do is cheat in single player and have your accomplishements respected the same as those of real players.

      Someone has to enforce sportsmanship. No one likes the referee, but he is necessary. Because Blizzard wants their games to be seen as sports, they need to enforce sportsmanship.

      Again, if you want to cheat, do it offline and skip the achievement. No problem, no ban.

      • by u17 (1730558)
        Then why don't you just erase his achievements when you detect cheating, instead of banning him, which also effectively robs him of the money he paid to play the game? I can't see the ban as justified.
        • by spun (1352)

          You find this with may crimes or infractions of rules, where the detection of the infraction if difficult, the punishment is more severe, in order to create the proper deterrent effect. If everyone knows they are unlikely to be caught, they will cheat, but if they know that when they are caught, they will have their accounts canceled, all of a sudden, there is real deterrence.

        • by bckrispi (725257)
          The ban was only for 14 days. Even then, they are robbing him of nothing. He agreed to the Terms of Use (ie: the rules of the game) when he first signed on. These terms clearly state their policy for cheaters. If you can't play by the rules, screw you!
        • They aren't robbing him of anything. He payed for the game and Blizzard gave him a free multiplayer account along with it. If you cheat using that multiplayer account (eg. by using a trainer to unlock achievements) they ban your multiplayer account. You can still play singleplayer in offline with a banned multiplayer account.
        • I'm no gamer, but I would imagine that under the terms of use he said he agreed to when he signed up that Blizzard told him that cheating would get him banned. He decided to go ahead and cheat anyway and as a result got banned.

          And you call that banishment robbery? The idiot broke the rules knowing what the punishment was if he got caught. Do you also call it robbery when the judge sentences some fool who got caught robbing the local 7-11 to a some jail time?

      • by demonbug (309515)

        Everyone loves achievements these days. Gamer's profiles proudly display the various achievements they have unlocked. These are meaningful only if they are generally accepted as cheat proof. If you want to cheat in single player, go right ahead, do it in offline mode, skip getting the achievement and be happy. What you do not get to do is cheat in single player and have your accomplishements respected the same as those of real players.

        Someone has to enforce sportsmanship. No one likes the referee, but he is necessary. Because Blizzard wants their games to be seen as sports, they need to enforce sportsmanship.

        Again, if you want to cheat, do it offline and skip the achievement. No problem, no ban.

        Wow. How sad is that? Someone actually cares about the achievement BS? No wonder so many new games are going down the crapper - people care more about being able to show off their "achievements" than they do about playing a game they bought how they want, with whom they want.

        That said, my only complaint in this is that Blizzard has clamped the game down to the point where you can only play the way they want; no screwing around with friends, you can only do it by yourself in offline mode (apparently we shoul

    • by brkello (642429)

      You don't have your facts straight. If they were playing the game in single player mode with the cheats, they would not have been banned. They were using the cheats while connected to battle.net. Blizzard already supplies cheats that you can use, it will just disable achievements for the session. The only reason you would use the other cheats is to cheat achievement scores or cheat in multiplayer. They deserved to be banned.

      Also, the article that "broke" the news was from the cheat site that re

  • Still not buying (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Silverhammer (13644)
    I'm still not going to buy a game that requires Battle.net lock-in for basic I-don't-give-a-flying-fuck-about-PvP usage, so stop asking. (And spare me the "guest login" nonsense -- that's at best a workaround for a fundamental design choice.)
    • Re:Still not buying (Score:4, Informative)

      by pdboddy (620164) <pdboddy@g m a il.com> on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @01:27PM (#34026992) Homepage Journal
      You can play the campaign offline, albeit without achievements. Multiplayer? No dice.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Even that you need to have logged into Bnet at least once every 30 days.

        Fact is, you can't buy it in store and install it from a disc and play it that evening if you don't have an internet connection. Even using Steam as a digital download service for games, once you've got them you can play them offline indefinately. It's far better than Blizzard's model, which requires a solid network connection all the time. Mine is flaky right now, so I wouldn't bother joining an online game anyways from fear of disconn

    • by Onos (1103517)
      How is that a work around? You do not care about any of the online features - multiplayer, achievements, etc. so you get to click on one button which basically takes you to a screen which is similar (in content) to the Starcraft screen.
      • by Silverhammer (13644) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @02:05PM (#34027526)

        Can I install the game without creating a Battle.net account? Can I re-sell the game after I'm done with it?

        Like I said, a fundamental design choice.

        • You can resell the game. The person who you sell it to can play singleplayer in offline mode. They don't get a multiplayer account with it because Blizzard gives that to their customers, not your customer and not Gamestop's customers.
          • You can resell the game.

            No, you cannot. To activate the game, you must associate it with a Battle.net account, and when you do, it permanently locks the activation key. You may re-sell the physical disc, perhaps, but whoever buys it will also need to buy a new key at full retail price. The disc is meaningless.

            Sure, you can play offline without logging into Battle.net, but that's not what I'm talking about.

    • by Beerdood (1451859)
      Then stop trolling and post somewhere else. For those of use that bought the game and enjoy it, these custom maps are a nice change of pace to the usual gameplay. If you don't-give-a-flying-fuck-about-PVP usage, then you really shouldn't care that much about the custom multi-player maps. And if you have a problem with blizzard validating your game copy before you download some new, free material for single player - I'm not sure what's going to satisfy you at this point.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's not new, free, custom material that they created... Just an fyi. So their need to revalidate your purchased game is pretty much moot.

        You must be a young gamer to not remember going out and finding stuff maps, skins and mods for games, or connecting to Unreal Tournament peers and automatically downloading their skins/maps (pretty much the holy grail).

        I pity this generation, I played Dungeon Keeper again last year. My kid will never get that chance with a lot of the seminal titles from her childhood.

        • I pity this generation, I played Dungeon Keeper again last year. My kid will never get that chance with a lot of the seminal titles from her childhood.

          she will surely be able to do so but for the minuscule of price 4.99$ and her soul ...

        • by bckrispi (725257)
          Yes. I fondly remember UT. I also remember the multiplayer game being ruined by cheaters with aimbots. For good or bad, the days of true "single player" gaming are fading away. It's all about the online communities now. And once cheaters get a foothold, these communities (and the revenue streams that often come with them) will just go away.
  • Software Lead (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm kinda disappointed. As a software engineer I would have liked to see some... software development related questions when talking to the Lead Software Engineer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DeadCatX2 (950953)

      Ha, what company do you work for? "Lead Software Engineers" don't actually write any code. They tell the underlings what code to write.

      Sadly, the limit of an engineer as time employed approaches infinity is a manager.

    • Like what?

      "Do you use a a while loop for moving units?"

      They asked him how he addressed balance issues, they asked him about upcoming tools, they asked lots of questions that a software engineer could have answered in a software development kind of way, but that wouldn't make for an interesting interview for anyone who doesn't do software programming.

      I think you were more disappointed in the responses than you were the questions.

  • I did not forget (Score:2, Insightful)

    by koinu (472851)

    ... what Blizzard did to FreeCraft and about their stupid comments about Linux gaming! Go to hell, Blizzard!

    • by brkello (642429)

      Maybe Linux game developers should try coming up with their own games rather than copying others.

  • Hotkeys (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rakuen (1230808)
    I know the meat of this discussion is on the next expansion and the map editor, but the comment about the 1.2 patch boggles my mind. This is StarCraft. A game which is taken so seriously in competition that we actually measure a player's actions per minute. Who at Blizzard had the bright idea to disallow full hotkey mapping, and did he get canned for overlooking a "feature" which should be blatantly obvious?
    • The original Starcraft didn't have any hotkey mapping at all.
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @01:29PM (#34027026)
    For all you Trekkies out there
  • What I am most curious about, and what I did not see covered in interviews (or maybe I missed it), is how difficult it was to get SC2 to be "done". From my perspective, SC2 is an SC1 remake, with the WC3/TFT engine + lots of extra customization via the map/unit editor. I even attended Blizzcon years ago when they were showing it off, and even then I looked at it and said "yeah, Starcraft on the Warcraft 3 RTS engine, ship it next year?" in 2007 IIRC. From what I understand the big hold up was the "new" b

  • SC2 on Linux (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <nicoaltiva@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @02:17PM (#34027660) Journal

    It works reasonably well under Wine, doesn't crash more often than on XP (where it is kinda crashy I've been told), the performance kind of sucks though. It would be nice to have a native version. Shouldn't be too hard to port from the MacOSX version, should it? It would

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      I think they're much more likely to "unofficially" support Linux by working with the Wine folks to improve the performance/stability of SC2 than to do a port. This is basically what they've done with WoW, and now WoW is quite stable under Linux, performs well (slower than on windows mostly because the OpenGL render path works better but is just less well optimized in general), and most importantly still works well after big patches. Used to be a huge pain getting WoW to work after every minor patch. Now,

  • I'm interested to see how Valve's trademarking of "Dota" ends up impacting Blizzard's SC2 DotA mod. Hopefully Valve's trademark will only cover the spelling with the lower-case 'a'; I would hate to see it causing the mod community to be locked out of using the proper name for it.
    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @02:46PM (#34028028)

      Trademark or no there's nothing they can do to stop you saying "Just like DoTA" or "DoTA-like map". You're allowed to use the trademark for comparison and descriptive purposes, as long as it is clear that you are not pretending to be the trademarked item.

    • Considering that the original DotA was for a Blizzard game (and based on a map from a different Blizzard game), I'm fairly certain that Blizzard can use the name with impunity. Then again, IANAL.

  • I have owned Warcraft, Warcraft II, Warcraft II Expansion Pack, Warcraft II Battle.net Edition, Warcraft III Collectors Edition, Starcraft and Starcraft Broodwar. As long as there is no pure LAN gaming in Starcraft II, there will be NO PURCHASING of Starcraft II for me. How many of you have had software that has to be certified through a company's server before it will work or have its full abilities? I have had several that were like that and now the company's are out of business. Thus, no software

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