StarCraft II pro Ilyes "Stephano" Satouri announced on a livestream today that he intends to retire from professional gaming this August, returning to school with his over $200,000 in winnings. The French Zerg player is arguably the most successful non-Korean in the history of the game (indisputably, based on winnings alone). His most recent major victory was at the 2012 Blizzard WCS European finals, since which he has been showing less impressive performance.
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
Esports team Evil Geniuses have "released" Starcraft 2 pro Greg "IdrA" Fields from their roster, after he insulted the SC2 community in a forum post earlier in the week. The often contentious Zerg player posted in the Team Liquid forum's "The IdrA Fanclub" thread Wednesday morning, calling fans "a bunch of fucks" after one poster jokingly suggested he was "crying inside" because of "enforced facade."
One of Blizzard's staples are its lavishly detailed game cinematics, but putting pretty character assets in front of you isn't the studio's only goal when it sets out to create a cutscene. In a talk at GDC last week, StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm Lead Writer Brian Kindregan exposed Blizzard's approach to creating Pixar-quality animation that hooks players into a game's story on an emotional level.
Following IGN's sale to new publisher Ziff Davis, the IGN Pro League closed its curtains last week. For attendees, players, and teams, this was mighty inconvenient timing: IPL's March 28 event was cancelled, and along with it their plans for travel and competition. IGN is still looking for a buyer, and GameSpot says a few anonymous sources had been pointing to Blizzard as a prospect, of all companies—which Blizzard is promptly denying in the same report.
Humanity's unspeakable doom never looked so cute. StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm burst out of its cocoon yesterday, and its intro cinematic continues a Blizzard tradition of setting the scene with gorgeous animations. CarbotAnimations' skillful hand-drawn replication of the intro's Zerg-on-Terran assault isn't as shiny, but if the derp-faced aliens and pudgy marines don't earn at least one giggle, then the Zergling vanquishing a soldier with a barrage of licks ought to. Now I'll feel bad whenever I blow up a Zerg base—all they wanted was cuddles.
Rich is in Paris seeing Heart of the Swarm, and has become conveniently stranded by a sudden snowstorm. How convenient, Mr. "I can't control the weather, honest" McCormick. Still, it's given him the chance to grab up with Heart of the Swarm designer David Sung and Starcraft 2 game producer Tony Hsu for a chat about their core design ideas the new campaign.
Sung enthusiastically explains that "my advantage over David Kim (multiplayer balance designer), is I get to make everything overpowered. Some of the core design values I’ve brought are to make everything overpowered" he said. "Pray don’t tell." Sorry, David. But what level of unrestrained murder are we talking about here? Banelings that FLY? Ha, that would be - wait, you DO have those?
The debate has raged, on Battle.net and around the counter at comic book stores, since '98: Terran, Zerg, or Protoss? But finally, in the eyes of two researchers in Edinburgh, a conclusion has been reached. Science has spoken. And the winner is...
IGN have announced that their major eSports tournament, the IGN Pro League, has been cancelled ahead of the planned IPL6 event. The tournament, scheduled to kick off March 28th, would have featured pro teams competing for prizes in League of Legends, Starcraft 2 and ShootMania: Storm. In an official statement, IGN state the growth of the eSports environment as cause for the IPL's cancellation.
Even the most mundane game mechanics sometimes boast extraordinary origins. In the StarCraft series, resource collectors ignore collisions whenever traveling to or returning with minerals. It's a type of unit behavior universally experienced by every commander, but its beginnings tell a far more interesting story: ArenaNet co-founder and former Blizzard senior programmer Patrick Wyatt writes in a retrospective article how the simplified pathfinding arose from a quick and dirty hack to meet a looming release deadline for the original 1998 RTS.
Starcraft Universe, the RPG mod for Starcraft II, has been released through Battle.net. It's singleplayer only while the team test their ambitious project - so doesn't yet live up to the original World of Starcraft title that once raised the hackles of Blizzard's legal team - but future updates promise Raid-style multiplayer dungeon crawling for five to ten players.
Blizzard is preparing to deploy the 2.0.4 patch for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, the last major patch before Heart of the Swarm, which will implement many of the changes teased for the expansion. A new interface, the new training modes, and the new replay features will all become available. Basically, everything except the new campaign, the new xp system, and the actual HotS multiplayer units will be included. Read on for specifics.
I don't know about the more experienced commanders out there, but my fun in StarCraft II relies a lot on whether or not I'm satisfied with the feng shui of my barracks placement relative to my base's refinery. Such a quirk usually doesn't bode well for me against humans, but I may find enough time and space to fuss over the spiritual alignment of my buildings in peace in Heart of the Swarm's new Training and Versus AI modes.
Last week, Ironclad Games’ director and co-owner Blair Fraser called the RTS genre “a dying market.” The genre convention of base building is “done,” Fraser says, and while a handful of games like Company of Heroes “may be profitable,” it’s his belief that RTSes are “very niche.”
Hearing these comments from a strategy studio we respect sparked our own discussion: what’s the state of real-time strategy? In this Face Off debate, T.J. and Evan talk about the health of the genre, and debate whether its popularity has waned to never return, or if it’s actually seeing a resurgence.
Considering its hive-minded nature, it's appropriate that Blizzard wants the Zerg-flavored expansion to StarCraft II to grow and iterate on the game's community communication systems. In an overview video, Community Manager Kevin "Cloaken" Johnson walks through the expansion's simplified main menu, a couple new social-oriented features, and the previously revealed clan support.
StarCraft II Lead Producer Chris Sigaty has both an epic mane of hair and quite strong opinions on the future of eSports. In an interview with Eurogamer, he insists eSports "absolutely can" emerge as a powerful component of American mainstream media, and he suggests a possible winning format for that accomplishment lies in reality-show style TV programs.
Heart of the Swarm is right around the corner. Take a few minutes to stop watching the cinematic trailer on loop and check out our meaty, Ultralisk-sized interview with game director Dustin Browder. We talk eSports, the new single player campaign, and the future of attackable rocks.
Thanks to its esports scene, much of the attention surrounding Starcraft 2 and its upcoming Heart of the Swarm expansion centres around the multiplayer. But it sounds as if Blizzard are aware that a large contingent of gamers never surface from the singleplayer ghetto, and plan to ease the transition to online play. That sound you hear is committed ladderers across the world salivating over fresh meat.
Why settle for just one hugely impressive CGI trailer with little to no relation to the game its purportedly promoting? Here, have a second, courtesy of Blizzard, who have released the opening cinematic for Starcraft 2's first expansion, Heart of the Swarm. I have unofficially titled it: "Stompy, Stompy, Boom, Squish." There's a Wilhelm scream and everything. Enjoy.
Sure, conquering space bugs is fun and all, but none of it would exist if Blizzard hadn't first honed its strategy skills on a certain beloved fantasy franchise. Warcraft III released a little over a decade ago, and it remains a major influence to balancing, unit design, and story. That's why the Warcraft: A New Dawn total conversion excites us: it aspires to let us relive the entire Warcraft III experience with Starcraft II's updated visuals. Time for a little less Zerg and a little more zug-zug.
It’s mildly uncomfortable—kind of like an itchy turtleneck—to write something in defense of one of our competitors. But it’s much more uncomfortable to see a colleague so ignorantly lambasted in the way that GameSpot eSports reporter Rod Breslau (“Slasher,” as he’s usually known) was last night on Twitch.tv.
On Tuesday evening Breslau joined a conversation on the popular eSports talk show Inside The Game, hosted by Marcus “djWheat” Graham. The stream was paneled by players of Evil Geniuses, the largest and most influential North American eSports team. The group explored the coverage of eSports by journalists in the wake of recent leaks, namely ones made by Breslau about the signing of players by eSports teams like EG.
The discussion that followed, unfortunately, demonstrated EG's misguided views about the role of the press.