Blizzard designer Dustin Browder has given clues into what we can expect from Heart of the Swarm - the first expansion to Blizzard's Starcraft II. He also stated that the expansion will have as much of an e-sport focus as Wings of Liberty, and made a plea for gamers to embrace the new breed of spectator sport.
During a talk entitled The Game Design of Starcraft II: Designing an E-Sport at GDC Browder admitted that the team did encounter some surprises when the game was finally released: "The Reaper is not in a happy place. It was a bit of a mis-step for us. The players showed us what it was capable of and we nerfed it into obscurity. This will be addressed in Heart of the Swarm."
He also spoke about Starcraft II's e-sports focus: "We're going to maintain the e-sport values. We're still working on it. These values are real. We're not going to chicken out on e-sports in Heart of the Swarm."
According to Browder, every aspect of Starcraft II's development centred around the idea of making the game balanced and enjoyable to spectate: "Multiplayer was hugely impacted by e-sports. We took a ton of damage in trying to make this game's multiplayer. A huge amount of effort. We were completely screwed around for five or six years. The art team got hit hard by the decision to make this an e-sport. Even the vision and the story were affected by the fact that this was going to be an e-sport. We did anything we could to make this a more watchable viewing experience.
Towards the end of the talk, Browder made a plea for gamers to give e-sports a chance: "This stuff is cool! This is a way for us to come together, as a community of gamers in ways we haven't done before. If you haven't already, I highly suggest you check out GOM or go to Major League Gaming , or go to youTube . They're all over the place. Watch one of these matches and see if you agree. See if you feel like: 'This is pretty fun to watch. This is pretty exciting stuff.'"
The PC Gamer team watch a lot of competitive Starcraft II already, but what about you guys? Share your favourite matches, Starcraft II or otherwise, and pay a visit to the PC Gamer Starcraft II forums if you're looking for someone to play with. Alternatively, eloquently explain why e-sports suck.