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StarCraft 2’s future in eSports: tournament servers, ‘resume from replay’ and shoutcasting upgrades

Starcraft II 2.1 makes custom maps free

Rumours circled in Shanghai about a unique client Blizzard were using to host StarCraft 2 at the battle.net World Championship this weekend. “Is it LAN, or something else?” they asked, whizzing about in unsubstantiated glee. It was the latter, Blizzard have confirmed – and they’ve revealed plenty more about what Heart of the Swarm can do for tournament play in the process.

StarCraft 2 game director Dustin Browder told Gamespot: “All we’re doing is that we’ve got a local battle.net server here [in Shanghai]that’s isolated – everything is running through here. That just reduces a large amount of uncertainty for us in terms of an eSport event like this where we don’t have to deal with outside variables beyond our control.

“This is something we’re testing. We’re seeing how difficult this is for us to do, how effective it is, does it work. We’re seeing if it’s something that would benefit us in eSports events.

“It’s very similar to what we do with World of Warcraft, it’s a tournament realm – a realm here on-site,” he added.

One thing ledto another, and Gamespot soon had Browder talking about Heart of the Swarm. Asked whether Blizzard have plans to build direct tournament streaming support into the StarCraft UI itself, Browder replied: “That would be super-cool, and it’s something we definitely talk about.

“But it’s not coming for Heart of the Swarm. We’ve got some really key eSports features which we thought were a little bit more important than that for us.”

Those include ‘resume from replay’, a rewind feature designed for tournament play. Pick any point in a finished or half-finished match to play from, and you can jump back in with the original players.

“If you think about it from an eSports perspective this is hugely useful,” Browder continued. “If there’s a PC brown-out, if there’s a keyboard failure, if there’s a blue screen of death, if there’s a network problem, we’ve got a way to get that game restarted and back in action.”

Browder went on to flaunt HotS’s new shoutcasting options. Shoutcasters will be able to customise which stats appear on their UIs, which the game’s directorhopes will change how we “describe, look at, analyse and observe” StarCraft 2 games.

Major changes all – but the most important are those designed to tackle those inevitable technical hitches with the potential to halt big league matches.

See the full interview here. What do you think? Should ‘resume from replay’ be an eSports industry standard?