Clans, match resuming, and full global play, but no LAN.
Last week we learned that Blizzard was adding genuinely global play to Battle.net for Diablo III - something sorely missing in StarCraft II - and wondered if the PC giant could be adding it in for the first expansion, Heart of the Swarm. As it turns out, yes it is, along with a heap of other improvements to the multiplayer-service-slash-social-network.
In a blog post on Battle.net, SC2 production director Chris Sigaty outlined the improvements that the Irvine-based developer would be shipping "at or around the launch" of Heart of the Swarm, including:
*Multiplayer resume from replay
*Multiplayer replay viewing
Full global play has been something sorely missing on the new Battle.net since the StarCraft II release, but many of these updates are addressing some of the more glaring deficiencies in the system. Clan play and unranked matchmaking - for players to find opponents of approximately equal skill and test out new build orders or just mess around without worrying about it affecting their ladder ranking - should have been there from the beginning, honestly. Better late than never, I suppose.
The big addition, though, is that Blizzard will be working on allowing players to reconnect to a match in progress if they disconnect or lag out. Prior to this, a disconnect, even a momentary one, would result in a victory for the opponent. This might have served to prevent sore losers from pulling the plug so that they didn't lose ladder ranking, but it was a pain for other players who suffered legitimate disconnects.
Allowing players to resume a match they may have crashed or disconnected from would also alleviate an issue in the thriving StarCraft II eSports community, where disconnects require that a match be replayed no matter who was in the lead.
This issue reared its head in April, where MarineKing, a player in the Global StarCraft Team League finals, suddenly disconnected from a match that had been fairly decisively going in his opponent's favor. Once the issue had been fixed, the match was restarted from scratch, and this time the tables were turned - a match which secured MarineKing's team the victory. During the kerfuffle, fans reportedly chanted "We want LAN" over and over - though the computer in question had in fact lost connect to both local and external networks, meaning LAN play wouldn't have solved anything. It was the principle of the matter, really.
Speaking of LAN play, though, there was no word from Blizzard on that front and it seems unlikely that it would abandon its all-Battle.net-all-the-time policy, for better or for worse.
I'm looking forward to many of these changes, though I'm not looking forward to players from Seoul hopping onto our American servers to mercilessly stomp us puny westerners into Zerg-flavored dust. That's going to just be embarrassing.
Source: Battle.net blog