The StarCraft II -- Blizzard DOTA & Mod Tools panel served to redefine the future for the ongoing development of custom mapmaking tools and features as well as shine a light on the possibilities for the future of creating top-quality mods. The panelists delved into the Arcade (formerly known as the Marketplace), the new tools that will be available to mod creators, and showed off the power of these robust tools with insight into the development of Blizzard DOTA.
Highlights from the panel included:
- Arcade will serve as a hub for both free and premium games created by the community, for the community.
- The commerce elements will come later on, but the changes made to the interface will serve as a foundation for custom games on Battle.net going forward.
- Allowing custom game makers to charge for their games will incentivize higher quality custom games, benefitting players and game creators.
- Easy to locate quality games
- Play the games you want to play
- Prepare a place for selling games
Games will be easier to find right within the new Arcade button, while the single-player and multiplayer buttons will become merged into one. The Arcade interface will redefine and refine the organization of custom maps and mods making it easier than before to find what you're looking for. Mods will be categorized as follows:
- What's Hot
- Up & Coming
- New & Noteworthy
- Featured Games
You’ll be able to rate games or find games using a five-star rating system. Getting into the game you want will be easier than ever.To help players find and play less popular games, we’ll be adding a queuing system in which lobbies that have been open the longest will be filled first out of the pool of waiting “Fun or Not” players.
The Arcade will have something for everyone and select games will be available for Starter Edition, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, and StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm accounts.
Tools and Editor Improvements
The Editor will be getting even better with improved debugging tools, UI Editing within the editor, a cutscene editor, and more.
- Trigger Debugging Improvements: Improved performance analysis and added a code debugger that includes breakpoints, code stepping, callstack, and variable watch.
- UI Editor: Inspect, edit, and even move UI elements in-game. View in XML within the editor to refine UI elements and take design to the next level.
- Cutscene Editor:A new tool will be added allowing artists and designers to create their own high-quality cutscenes using existing game assets.
- Control objects, lighting cameras, and define the timeline for events.
- Preview the scene as you design.
- Use triggers to modify the cutscene during playback to match game state.
Powerful new art tools will be added to the Editor to empower game creators to take their creations even further than before.
- Create custom art and models.
- Model exporter plug-in for quick and easy model creation and editing.
- Live link from the exporter to the Editor.
- Fewer bugs to find and eradicate (unless they're killer tomatolings.)
- In addition, documentation, tutorials, and example files to educate and inspire game creators or budding game creators to take on their own projects.
So what do you do with all these new tools? You make something like Blizzard DOTA, our example of what a premier custom game can be.
Blizzard DOTA is more than a showpiece for StarCraft II's custom game tools. The designers have carefully considered what they want out of the DOTA experience. They've approached the creation of Blizzard DOTA with an eye to improving gameplay by challenging many of the assumptions about what DOTA-style games should be.
- Fixing the Fantasy
The first step is "fixing the fantasy." As one example, in many DOTA-style games it takes new players some time to learn that aggression is often penalized, particularly in the early phases of a match. Camping underneath a tower and defensively last-hitting incoming creeps isn't necessarily intuitive, nor does it feel heroic. Blizzard DOTA's design is geared toward more aggressive gameplay from the get-go in a number of ways, one being the design of mana towers. Blizzard DOTA's mana towers have limited, slowly regenerating ammo, which means they can be exhausted and go inactive under a determined team-push. This design tweak rewards team-based aggression and feels more heroic.
In Blizzard DOTA, heroes don’t walk into battle… they charge in! Your hero will be riding in style on his or her mount, which allows you to quickly rejoin the fight, or move quickly from lane to lane.
- Easy to Learn, Difficult to Master
In any DOTA-style game, every second counts and understanding stats and itemization can make the difference between a decisive victory or an untimely death. But it takes time to learn and absorb how stats work or what the best possible items are, which means players are often compelled to read and study guides before they even get started playing. This sort of minutiae is fine for RPGs where you're immersed for hours in a character, but in DOTA-style games, having this level of complexity can make getting in and getting on your feet difficult. Blizzard DOTA matches are even more fast-paced than similar games and the time it takes to learn what you need to know is similarly shorter.
Blizzard DOTA will change the landscape of learning by:
- Simplifying stats into Damage, Health, and Mastery
- Concentrating item choices into simplified categories -- Stat Boosts, Consumables, Items, and Artifacts
- Intuitive abilities that are quick to understand without complex math
With the burden of memorizing long item lists or recipes removed, you can more easily get your head around which items will improve your hero. And in turn, you can spend more time in-game focused on exciting team-fights, and pushing your team to victory.
- Epic Hero Roles
Blizzard DOTA will offer iconic Blizzard heroes that can take on one of four different role types:
Each role has an opportunity to shine in its own right, even if it’s not the one delivering the killing blow. Tanks include Arthas, Stitches, and Muradin, with all having the ability to soak up damage and initiate fights. Support heroes like Uther, Tassadar, and Thrall are designed to help in team fights through healing and crowd control. DPS classes like Nova, Kerrigan, and Zeratul are hero-killing assassins. Newer in concept is the Siege role, which can outrange towers and do devastating damage from afar. These heroes include the Witch Doctor, Za'gara, and General Warfield in his siege tank.
These are just a sampling of the heroes which will be included in Blizzard DOTA, but a huge focus with the game is ensuring that every hero and ability is truly unique. It’s about concentrated coolness and letting each role shine in its own way.
Create a More Exciting Metagame
So what do you do when faced with pushing gameplay to the next level? You add variety to spice things up.
- Territory control and merc camps -- Find and control map locations to gain merc support and send them out to strengthen your creep waves and push lanes.
- More exciting map bonuses like the new Stone Zealot -- Conquer this behemoth and he’ll join you in destroying all that gets in its path.
- Multiple maps -- It’s not the same old map anymore; things are changing and so will the map choices with a change in terrain and new ways to approach the enemy. The possibilities are endless.
Reduce Social Tension
There is an inherent social tension to DOTA-style games, which can be an impediment to those who want to be able to join in and do their part. Blizzard DOTA sets out to reduce that social tension and get more players in on the action.
- Shorter, more intense games -- Get in on the action and make your mark right from the start.
- Hardcore team concept -- The team is the thing and all roles can do their part to contribute to victory. Takedowns count for all members within range rather than damage or last hit.
- Reward unselfish play -- Even support heroes benefit simply by playing their role in battle and not just focusing on damage.
Blizzard DOTA will provide a truly epic experience for all those who take part, and the potential for new and up-and-coming mod authors and mapmakers is limitless with the new and improved tools that will be introduced in the coming future. Look for a Blizzard DOTA beta test in the coming months, and the new Arcade features coming at or around the time Heart of the Swarm launches.