At Gamescom last week Owen managed to grab Heart of the Swarm designer David Kim for an update on how the first StarCraft 2 expansion is coming along. Word is it's very nearly done. In fact, Kim mentions that it's "99.5 percent done." The beta is set to arrive "very soon."
Kim said that Heart of the Swarm's single player campaign will be twenty missions long, which is hefty, but most StarCraft 2 players are waiting to see what impact the new multiplayer units will have on the pro-game. One much-requested feature that won't make it into the expansion is LAN support. Owen asked Kim why local network support isn't a part of Blizzard's plans for StarCraft.
"We're building Starcraft 2 as an online game and so from very early on our focus was making a game that people were connected to," Kim explained. "We're building things around the ladder, we're building achievement systems, so our system is about making an online game."
The lack of LAN caused controversy earlier this year at the IPL 4 Vegas tournament when a connection failure stalled the event. A chat started up in the crowd. "We want LAN! We want LAN!"
Of course, parts of StarCraft are playable offline, so a LAN mode isn't a technical impossibility.
"It's really just about our philosophy of how we're trying to make the game," Kim said. "Like you said we do have an offline mode where you can play the campaign mode, where you can play the AI without having to be connected to the internet.
"I think moving forward we'll be looking at things like ways where people who are nearer each other can find each other more easily. But that's not necessarily LAN it's just a way of finding people nearer to you."
Get a good look at the expansion's multiplayer units in this
Heart of the Swarm trailer