Lot's of new patches were released recently in HOTS. What were the rationales behind them?
First of all, we added clan system to allow players to interact with each other. We are also preparing for the up coming "group" system. To explain more about this, players will be able to create a group based on certain topic for e.g. Protoss players may want to join group "protoss" to interact with other players, or a fan of SKT1 Rain may want to join the group "Rain FAN!".
Also this patch vastly updated versus A.I. mode by adding about 10 levels of difficulties.
Also we noticed that the ladder system in WoL was very hardcore. This might have stressed out many casual players. Therefore, we decided to add non-ranked ladder system where it involves the same ladder search mechanism as the ranked counterpart but the points and rankings will not be affected. Finally, until now we were rewarding the players who are successful in getting lots of wins. However, this is changed as we incorporated levelling system to allow casual players to easily access the rewards as well.
HOTS implanted several updates on UI, especially auto-mining/split and selecting idle army.
These UI updates are designed for beginners. When we were adding these features to the game, we were cautious to not allow the gaming at pro-level to be easier while allowing beginners to easily approach the game. Honestly, I highly doubt features like selecting idle army units will be used in pro-level gaming.
Recently Zerg has been dominating in WoL. Protoss players especially are complaining about it. Are you aware of this?
Yes, we are receiving tons of feedbacks regarding this. However, zergs are not winning all the major high-end tournaments. If we look at the race distribution, I don't think it's not that bad. However, I believe that there is flaw in the game design. For e.g. it is very hard to face late game zerg composition without mothership's vortex. Therefore in HOTS, we are trying to provide solutions by adding units like Tempest. We are aware of Zerg's dominance but we are waiting for more results to show up.
Many Protoss players have been complaining that it is impossible to deal with BL-Infestor combo. Some pro-players are suggesting that it is impossible to beat late game PvZ.
Yes we are aware that such issues are present. However in Starleague, Protoss players dominated against zerg players and considering other tournaments, PvZ is not completely one sided. There is a problem with the match up but we believe that it can be fixed through various patches. As for now, we should take time to decide wether this is a serious problem or not. If we believe that it is not an issue, balance updates will be focused on HOTS.
HOTS introduced many new units. What are Blizzard's favorite units and why?
Recently we have been getting lots of feedbacks on widow mines being op. However we believe that although it is strong unit, immediate nerf isn't necessary. We are trying to make Oracle, Widow Mines and Swarm host stronger and more viable units. (apparently David Kim chose Swarm Host as hist favorite unit)
In HOTS, we want new strategies to revolve around new units. Although HOTS isn't balanced fully, we are experimenting with many things.
Warhound is removed from HOTS. We heard that there will be completely new unit being added.
We were going to add new units for Terran but currently we believe that reapers, hellbets and widow mines are sufficient in HOTS. Adding back warhound, or adding a new unit is not yet being considered.
Reapers are rarely used in WoL. Do you think this issue has been resolved in HOTS?
We are seeing great improvement in the beta. Reapers will be much more viable in TvT or TvZ early game. If we believe the units are still being underused, we are willing to make it stronger. We are trying to make them more viable units for harassment.
Recently, some communities are speculating rework on Terran's Raven. Any thoughts on this for HOTS?
We are almost done designing the new units. Now we are considering to completely re-design several units such as Void-ray and Raven.
Swarm Hosts in HOTS seems to change the metagame by a lot. We want know if Blizzard is satisfied with its design.
Yes, Swarm Host is one of the most satisfying new unit of HOTS. There is so much potential in this unit interms of multi tasking, long ranged siege moves, and even drop plays. Other units are more exposed during drop plays but Swarm Hots can avoid them very easily. Also Swarm Host is very "zerg" like unit. In terms of concepts and gameplay, we are very much satisfied with Swarm Host.
Infestors are one of the major units why zerg is considered to be "OP". Will there be any changes in HOTS?
We are hoping to avoid directly nerfing Infestors. The reason being is that it is the core unit of late game zerg composition. We should be careful not to nerf infesotrs. However, we are willing to make other units to counter Infestors better. For instance, Protoss has Temepst to deal with BL-Infestors much more efficiently. As such, there will not be any direct nerfs on infestor.
Recently Carriers have been added to the game once again. In WoL, Carriers are being suggested as the answer to late game zerg but it is highly inefficient. Is this still the case in HOTS?
There is no doubt that Carriers need to be buffed. We are still afraid that carriers being used as "a-move" units in pro level play. Therefore we are only considering to add minor buffs to it. We are thinking of making interceptors immune to Infestor's fungal growth.
However, we are focusing on the general metagame trend of the game so I believe it is too early for us decide how they will be changed. We saw a video posted by a foreign progamer comparing the Carriers from BW and WoL. We believe that we could use some of the suggestions provided in this video.
Most of the new units introduced for Protoss in HOTS are flying units. What are your thoughts on this?
Protoss players have been focusing on Robotics Facility or Templar Archive Tech as the metagame. The use of Stargate is very rarely seen. This is why we are adding more flying units.
Oracle received several new abilities through a recent update. What are your thoughts?
In the past, Oracle was so much viable in all skills levels. Therefore we decided to change this by adding new abilities that depend more on skills of a player. Although we are still at its infant stage, they seem to be more efficient than the previous design. We believe that they are approaching the final design.
We are ware that release date of HOTS is not decided yet. Considering this, will there be any more balance updates for WoL?
If we believe that update is necessary, we are definitely going to implant it. Although it may seem like an update is needed, we are not planning to do so right away. If it's needed, we will work on it as fast as we can.
HOTS implanted several features to protect the privacy of the players. However this is limited to the custom games. Were there any feedbacks from pro gamers?
Currently there are lots of barcode in Korean Ladder. We are trying to add more features so that players don't have to use barcode. We are constantly discussing how we should takle this problem.
HOTS implanted several changes in custom games. However, it is still not the same as BW or Warcraft3 where players were able to make their own titles.
Although you can't change the name of the game created, we are implanting many other things in HOTS. We are trying to make rarely played games to be more exposed to the players. Therefore we are still not considering to add such feature.
Resuming from replay feature has been announced.
We are still developing it. We think e-sports will benefit massively from this feature. Just by having the replay file should allow players to resume the game. No other requirements will be necessary.
Any information regarding the Beta period?
We are satisfied with the game design. We are planning to monitor the game for the next 2-3 weeks. After that we are going to add more balance changes. We will release the game when it is fully balanced.
How is the single player in HOTS?
Cinematic is amazing (lol). It will mainly focus on the revenge of Kerrigan. More info will be released soon.
Which Korean player is giving the most feedback?
Not so much from the players. However, GOM TV Caster Engine is helping us a lot. He is playing random at high level. His experience as caster is also helpful. That is why we also ask him for more feedback.Players rarely give feedbacks and when they do, they only focus on one specific matchup.
Any players in particular you are interested in?
I love SKT1 Rain, LG-IM MVP, AcerScarlett and EG Stephano. I hope Stephano wins the WCS.
Recent Code S winner Startale Life has been setting new paradigm in Zerg's play style. What are your thoughts on this?
Life is very interesting and unique player. We love players who are innovative and play differently. We are still amazed how new strategies are being created at this point in time.
Any words to the fans who will experience HOTS in G-star 2012?
Since the game is still at its developing phase, it will not be able to deliver the best game experience. However, we are hoping that people would appreciate the potential in the game. Please leave feedbacks on the forum after experiencing HOTS. Personally, I hope MVP, DRG and Rain to succeed in G-star 2012 (lol)