Battle.net Changes Face

Battle.net has become almost synonymous with multiplayer gaming. As the industry grows and evolves, it only stands to reason that the platform on which gamers coordinate and communicate evolves too. Blizzard Entertainment has recognized this, and have put full effort into redesigning and upgrading Battle.net to bring gamers to the new generation of online gaming. Adam Stow sat in on the Battle.net panel at Blizzcon this year, and is here to report some of the changes that are coming.
The new battle.net will always be connected. As soon as you start the game, you'll be asked to enter your info to start the game. It's considered both your offline and online profile, and from the main menu, you can even see your friends list and initiate chats/invites before you even access a multiplayer menu or campaign mission. You'll always have the up to date version, and news on what's upcoming with any of the games you access with your profile.

For our battle.net discussion, Blizzard handed off the baton to Rob
Pardo and Greg Canessa, although Pardo did virtually all of the
talking.  A lot of topics were touched on such as integration
of
battle.net into the full interface, custom games and the future, and
messaging.  We got a lot of answers, so let's not delay in
getting
these out to you.


What was good about the old battle.net (circa WC3 to today)

  •     Matchmaking
  •     Random Teams
    incredibly successful; didn't see this coming
  •     Adding and finding
    friends is easy
  •     Icon system for
    certain levels of wins
  •     Outstanding Mod
    community

So what do we want to change from the bad?

  •     Disorganized Chat
  •     Can't talk to those
    playing single player.
  •     Ladder only serves
    the elite that can handle it at that level of play
  •     New players get
    pwned
  •     Every map
    on the custom games list is Dota!

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To
add my own commentary to the above, the matchmaking was only good after
the added Trueskill into the account system to handle Smurfing, the
fine art of making a new name and bashing newbies for kicks when you're
really good at the game.  I personally don't see the appeal of
the
Icon system, though I admit to hammering out games when I was close to
every new dragon as Random.  The chat problems don't bother me
at
all, but he's right on about the last three of the bad. Being level 30
at this point on the ladder is meaningless and if you're new to the
game, the only people still playing it ladder might be 40 levels
higher, but you'll still get matched against them because there's no
one else searching for a game at the moment.  Dota really is
the
main game.  More people play custom games than the actual game
at
this point - a scary evolution of the game.



The new battle.net will always be connected.  As soon
as you
start the game, you'll be asked to enter your info to start the
game.  It's considered both your offline and online profile,
and
from the main menu, you can even see your friends list and initiate
chats/invites before you even access a multiplayer menu or campaign
mission.  You'll always have the up to date version, and news
on
what's upcoming with any of the games you access with your profile.



New to the game are achievements for doing various things, and the
unlock graphic resembles WoW quite a bit.  Your friends list
will
even get a notice for it, and send you congratulations for building 100
marines or whatever.  These are tied to your battle.net
account,
and there is no creating of multiple names anymore.  Speaking
of
being tied to the battle.net account, Achievements are also the way you
earn specific emblems and decals for your units in game, and avatars
for your profile on the service itself.  Now they mean more
than
ever!  Challenges were the other thing revealed at the same
time,
and there will be specific scenarios designed to teach you advanced
micro and macro strategies to hang with the best in multiplayer, with
achievements of their own.  Oh, and to some, this will be the
best
announcement of all--we can now rewind replays!



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Making
it an arena for everyone is another major focus.  Matchmaking
will
be further improved and there will be around 8 league
'levels'. 
Typically, you will only be matched within your level or one above or
below, and you're rated into a league after a set number of games based
on your performance.  For those of you that are really new to
the
game and having trouble, the Practice League has some different
settings such as a slower game speed, and easier maps to defend against
rushes on.  Coop skirmish against the AI is a quick and easy
game
mode, Random Team returns for another iteration in this game.



The party system is new, and after inviting a few people, you'll have a
new screen where you can select your desired game type, join a custom
game together, host a custom game together, or send yourselves
searching for a 2v2 or free for all or more.  After the game
is
over, you return instantly to the party screen as well.  You
can
now sort the custom games by genre such as hero defense or tower
defense.  In a rather stunningly awesome move personally,
they're
incorporating a system from the third party program Listchecker for style="font-style: italic;">Warcraft 3. 
You can now host a game as private, have all of your friends join, and
then convert the game to Public with a real game name rather than
'joinchris'.



A major thing that was pointed out is the Real ID.  Basically,
you
have the option of taking it to a social networking level and sharing
information with your friends such as your real name and the
like.  You can also relabel friends on your list to a name you
can
recognize more, rather than coming back to the game after a month and
wondering why the hell this guy is on your friends list.  Your
friend network will automatically carry over from game to game as well,
and you can broadcast at any time to all of your friends regardless of
game that you want to run heroics even while you're playing style="font-style: italic;">Starcraft 2. 
Don't panic though; if you don't want to share any information, that
option will be there as well.



The Starcraft 2
editor has been confirmed to be much more potent than that of style="font-style: italic;">Warcraft 3,
so custom maps are going to be an even bigger part of this
game. 
Going along with this, if you make a map that you are truly proud of,
you can now publish it for everyone to see and download from within the
game, no more alt-tabbing to GetDota.com, for instance, to make sure
you're up to date before you join a game and get kicked 50
times. 
You can search within this list of published maps for genre or specific
keywords and download as you see fit from what will eventually be a
list of millions of maps I'm sure.  Further into the game's
release, the SC2 marketplace will allow you to publish your maps as
Premium content and charge a fee for downloading them, which part of it
does go directly into your pocket!  But in order to be
successful
with that, your game must have a powerful following and no real
alternatives to convince people to pay for the new version. 
It
will be a difficult thing, to say the least.  If they charge
for
Dota, there will be riots in the streets!  Time will tell, as
will
all things regarding the new battle.net system.  I'm glad to
see
they're making sound improvements on the ladder and friends systems,
and we'll see if that integration proves brilliant or annoying!


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