The "secret" Alpha for the upcoming Arcade

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The "secret" Alpha for the upcoming Arcade

Postby Ricky_Honejasi » Sat May 12, 2012 12:44 pm

Seems Blizzard recently released a "secret" alpha of the Arcade patch to mapmakers with high quantity of players playing their maps.

Despite initial fake warnings on the following thread, it was confirmed by a known mapmaker that it is legit.

The thread in question (with the most interesting post) there

EDIT : Some screenshots there and there

EDIT 2 : Added video link there

You can also click on the spoiler to see the copied changes :
Spoiler: show
Patch 1.5 – The StarCraft II Arcade Arrives

Major changes are coming to StarCraft II with patch 1.5.0. The menu screen will be split into two distinct areas, and each will be focused on a distinct experience. The StarCraft II section will be where players go for head to head ladder competition, as well as custom games focused on traditional StarCraft II gameplay, such as melee maps and micro trainers. Meanwhile, the new Arcade section will the place where the community can find and play the vast array of custom games that explore the many possibilities of the StarCraft II editor. From tower defense to RPGs and beyond, the Arcade will bring your creations to players around the world.
We want the Arcade to offer the best experience possible, so we’re making changes to improve everything from the interface to the editor itself. Your input can help us refine it even further. Here are some of the improvements we already have planned:
Global Changes

· Added StarCraft II & Arcade as game Types
o Creators define which basic type best fits the game that they have created. Each game will only appear in either StarCraft II or the Arcade.

· Game Genres
o We’ve used community feedback and the existing game list to create a comprehensive menu of genres for creators to choose from. Now players will have tools to more easily find the games they are looking for, which in turn gives creators an easy way to find their audience.

Arcade

· Game Presentation
o Browsing
§ Browsing for games is a totally new experience. Players can search for games based on genre, over all popularity, star rating, newness, and recent spikes in popularity.

o Game Icons
§ The game icon contains a large game image (provided by the creator), the game’s name, and star rating. Hovering over the icon displays the game description.

o Game Info page
§ Clicking on a game icon brings players into the Game Info page, a section devoted entirely to showing off what a game is all about, providing play instructions, and revealing other important information about the game.
§ All the content in Game Info is under control of the game creator, except for reviews.
§ Joining public matches and creating private games is done from the Game Info page. This will be the portal players return to again and again to play the game.
§ Game Info contains these sections:
· Overview: This will contain the game description, as well as screenshots that show off the action.
· How to Play: This is where players will find the Basic Instructions, How to Win, and Advanced Instructions sections. This is also useful space for additional images to help players understand how to enjoy your creation.
· Patch Notes: You’re able to update patch notes as often as you like, so players can see how the game is growing and improving.
· Reviews: After playing, players can give your game a star rating and enter a text review. Once enough ratings are provided, your game gets an Average Star Rating. Players can also mark each other’s reviews as “Helpful” which will ensure that the best reviews rise to the top.

· Tutorial support
o Creators can now publish tutorials. This is a powerful way to introduce new players and give them a place to learn the ropes before they dive in.
o A “Play Tutorial” button appears on the Game Info page if a tutorial exists. Clicking the Play Tutorial button launches players directly into the tutorial game.

· Game exclusive chat channels
o There is now a “Join Chat” button on the Game Info page that allows players to join a channel named after your game, which makes connecting with other players and creating a community around your game easier than ever before.

StarCraft II Platform

· StarCraft II is now a streaming game.
o It will only be necessary to download a fraction of game data to get into the action. We expect to bring even more players into StarCraft II worldwide by making access to the game both easy and fast.

· Editor
o Added UI XML Editor for adding and modifying SC2Layout files
o Editor updated to use Visual Styles in Editor
o Added high resolution minimap support
o Font Style editing added to Text Editor
o Added Data Editor horizontal auto-layout to better utilize available screen space
o User-defined data system, accessed through the new User type in the Data module as well as the corresponding functions in the trigger library.

· Cinematic Editor
o New editor module with powerful tools for creating in-game cinematic sequences.

· AI Editor
o New editor module for user friendly management of AI wave timing and composition.

· Galaxy
o Trigger Debug Window support for breakpoints, stepping through functions, and variable inspection
o Galaxy script code memory limit increased; 4x -10x more memory can be utilized depending on how scripts are being used.
o Added support for passing structure, array, and function references as function parameters
o Improved Galaxy error message output

· Actor
o Camera Actor added for controlling camera through actor events
o Scene Actor added for controlling global actor settings (Halo settings, Power visual hiding)
o Light Actor added for creating lights in the world
o Terrain Actor added for physics impact FX support
o Creep Actor added for higher performance creep effects including creep engulfment
o Ragdoll deaths and support for combat driven physics impulses
o Added support for water ripples and physics collision based water splashes
o Terrain squib support for tileset specific dust or snow clouds FX
o Line and Arc targeting cursor support
o Added ActorInfoDisplay cheat for live actor debugging

· Game Engine
o Max selection size increased from 255 to 500.
o Added trigger event for Behavior apply/remove
o New Stunned flag for Behaviors that allows queuing commands

· Graphics Engine
o Added support to define lighting regions in the game world
o Lighting can now be set per player
o Added unit specific Halo support for pre-targeting
o Anti-aliasing support

· User Interface
o Custom unit status bar support added
o Added new in-game pathing display that shows the path a unit will take on the minimap
o Added self-cast hotkey support
o Added Font Glow support
o Added powerful control over frames, portraits, status bars, text, trigger dialogs and more. Full details, tips, and tutorials are being created to help creators take full advantage of these tools.

· StarTools
o We’re making our internal art tools available to the public.
o StarTools is a set of plugins for Discreet®'s 3ds max®, these tools allow advanced users to create, modify, and quickly preview models and animations, including particle and ribbon effects, that can be used in StarCraft II custom maps.

Updating Your Game for Patch 1.5

All game types

· Set up your Type and Genre
o Games published prior to Patch 1.5 will still be available on the service when the patch goes live. All user created games will default to appearing in Arcade, under the “Other” genre.
o Creators will need to re-save their game in the 1.5.0 client version and select the Type and Genre where they want to their game to appear.

Arcade game types

· Add a Game Icon Image
o The icon image is the first thing players see. It’s a great opportunity to make a first impression on potential players - check out existing app-stores for inspiration.
o Game Icon Images are added through the StarCraft II Editor.

· Add Game Info
o Game Info is where players learn about your game and see what cool experiences it has to offer. At a minimum, you’ll want to provide a complete Description, easy to understand How to Play Instructions, and some screenshots that make your game look awesome.
o Going a step further and creating customized images (e.g. a diagram of game controls, or a simple guide map of the play area) for Game Info will really help you stand out. The old saying about “show not tell” should be your motto here!
o Game Info is added through the StarCraft II Editor

· Set up a default mode
o From the Game Info page, there’s a big “PLAY” button that most players will use to get into your game. This creates or joins a public lobby, of the default mode you define for your game.
o This means you likely want to set the default to what you consider your “core” game experience.
o Alternatively, some games have players set up gameplay parameters after they load into the match. This is fine, but it’s recommended to make the setup process as streamlined and user friendly as possible so new players aren’t scared off right when they start the game.

· Build a Tutorial
o Tutorials are a powerful way to introduce new players.
o Ideally you’ll give players a smooth introduction to game mechanics in a fail-safe environment, teaching them everything they need to have fun before they start playing your main game mode.
o Tutorials can also be built and used as a practice mode for players to experiment in a sandbox type environment.
o To use the Tutorial feature, first publish the tutorial map to Battle.net. Then you can configure your main game to point to the tutorial.

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Re: The "secret" Alpha for the upcoming Arcade

Postby Ricky_Honejasi » Sat May 12, 2012 1:54 pm

My first impressions

1) First thing I notice is either some "open lobbies" option is STILL not included or would be hidden behind browsing the traditional map pages if they still exist. It feels clear that it's not a big priority to Blizzard if they don't make it clear as day.

Very disappointed even if it's an alpha. I did want to see at least see the button even if it's still not active. It would show that it's not just some empty promise or somehow bullshit us that "fun or not = open lobbies".



2) Fortunately, there are quite a few real improvements for custom maps that I thought Blizzard would never do.

- For your map, there will be a button to go into the map's chat channel. That can be quite useful rather than trying to have some random channel name that only a few know.

- There is the some review feature for the custom maps. That could be of great help to unknown mapmakers to improve the map and have any sort of contact with the players.

- Seems they will add a tutorial mode where the mapmaker can create a specific tutorial for a player to pre-learn his/her map before playing it in real games.


3) The changelog does give the impression that there will be a better sorting of maps rather than the 3-4 current existing categories (Melee, Tower Defense, Tug of War and so) that don't do jack.


4) A 4-10x increased script limit. Should be now enough for the majority of mapmakers except the truly hardcore.

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Re: The "secret" Alpha for the upcoming Arcade

Postby IskatuMesk » Sat May 12, 2012 3:37 pm

Do you guys actually have access to the 3ds max plugin? I'll pay you in bagels.

· StarCraft II is now a streaming game.
o It will only be necessary to download a fraction of game data to get into the action. We expect to bring even more players into StarCraft II worldwide by making access to the game both easy and fast.


Remember not to read this the wrong way (and look past the hyperbole), this is just what WoW is already using, and it effected loading in an extremely negative way. It won't be bringing in any more players, but it can be useful if you re-installed and want to get in immediately.

Some stuff seems promising like the control over portraits, cinematics editor, and the AI editor (if it offers any benefits over doing AI the way I've been doing and not the disgusting way wc3 does it), a lot of it doesn't effect me since I won't ever touch battle.net with a 42 foot pole. I guess we'll see.

/e I saw some physics video in hots and if we indeed have access to that through the exporter and such things will be pretty sweet for custom particles. Now, we have the hope the exporter isn't still for max 6.
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Re: The "secret" Alpha for the upcoming Arcade

Postby Ricky_Honejasi » Sat May 12, 2012 3:55 pm

So I managed to find out that they now got 10 total map categories this time around. I don't remember the categories by heart but I remember it does include "RPG" and a few less common but meaningful categories. In other words, trying to find decent maps by a category will be less of a chore at least.

However, it does feel bullshit that they took 2 years JUST to add more map categories. Either they were lazy or they heavily hardcorded map categories in the current pre-patch 1.5 interface.

IskatuMesk wrote:Remember not to read this the wrong way (and look past the hyperbole), this is just what WoW is already using, and it effected loading in an extremely negative way. It won't be bringing in any more players, but it can be useful if you re-installed and want to get in immediately.


I think the main interest in SC2's case is with Blizzard DotA since they intend to allow the starter edition for it.

Although I would like you to precise exactly what you mean by "extremely negative way" since I presume Blizzard managed to fuck it up in some really bad way in WoW for it to be negative.

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Re: The "secret" Alpha for the upcoming Arcade

Postby IskatuMesk » Sat May 12, 2012 4:01 pm

Loading in WoW used to be relatively fast and then everything was there except for characters. When streaming was introduced it could take multiple minutes to fully load objects, mobs and shit AFTER the loading screen had ended and you were sitting there waiting. This is of course because it's "streaming" in content that you downloaded/don't need to download and it's much slower than doing it the normal way. While I doubt sc2 is quite as a lardy behemoth as WoW, it could certainly make loading more time consuming and laggy if it's implemented in the same way (aka they use it when they aren't even downloading anything).

Also, hardcoding generally = lazy.
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Re: The "secret" Alpha for the upcoming Arcade

Postby Ricky_Honejasi » Sat May 12, 2012 9:28 pm


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Re: The "secret" Alpha for the upcoming Arcade

Postby Master Jademus Sreg » Sun May 13, 2012 12:22 am

Well, more like a beta than an alpha, at least according to the email I received. I'd consider the previous two weeks of testing the alpha. Seems odd there are two different emails circulating, but whatever.

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Re: The "secret" Alpha for the upcoming Arcade

Postby UntamedLoli » Sun May 13, 2012 12:39 am

Ricky_Honejasi wrote:o StarTools is a set of plugins for Discreet®'s 3ds max®


In March 2005, Autodesk renamed its business unit Autodesk Media and Entertainment and discontinued the Discreet brand.


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>discreet
>2012
ISHYGDDT
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Re: The "secret" Alpha for the upcoming Arcade

Postby Ricky_Honejasi » Sun May 13, 2012 10:01 am

I got a favor to ask of you Jade.

I would like you to test and confirm if they fixed the large scale banks (8000+ integers) issues over battle.net.

Here's a test map in attachment I made which you only need to upload and try it. By default, it is set to 8000 integers but you can modify it if wanted. Map can also support up to 15 players.

Note that you DO need at least 2 human players to make the test valid.

In short, it's probably due to a bug where a player's large bank "overwrites" the next player's bank in game memory. From my experience, only the last player is spared (which is also the "single player" if you try it alone).

In addition, if you have any weight to make Blizzard honestly know how to fix it, I would be grateful.
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Re: The "secret" Alpha for the upcoming Arcade

Postby Master Jademus Sreg » Sun May 13, 2012 1:58 pm

I'll give it a shot.

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Re: The "secret" Alpha for the upcoming Arcade

Postby Ricky_Honejasi » Sun May 13, 2012 2:46 pm

Master Jademus Sreg wrote:I'll give it a shot.

Yesss ... thank you.

Personally, I am strongly hoping I can use large scale banks at 1.5 or sooner after.

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Re: The "secret" Alpha for the upcoming Arcade

Postby Master Jademus Sreg » Sun May 13, 2012 5:00 pm

The banks failed to load for all players in the test.

Worth noting is the bank file size; at 1.15 MiB, more than two-thirds of it is XML markup. It would be prudent for users in need of saving large volumes of data to implement even rudimentary compression.

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Re: The "secret" Alpha for the upcoming Arcade

Postby Ricky_Honejasi » Sun May 13, 2012 5:15 pm

Master Jademus Sreg wrote:The banks failed to load for all players in the test.

Worth noting is the bank file size; at 1.15 MiB, more than two-thirds of it is XML markup. It would be prudent for users in need of saving large volumes of data to implement even rudimentary compression.


Without surprise.

But err ... at 8000 integers, I got a 592k bank file with my test map. Not sure how you did get 1.15 MB unless you count 2 players' bank files merged together.

Care to any precise details such as how many integers did actually load per player? That's based on the "First Fail" value. For example, if it's 129, it means the first 128 integers loaded.

As for compression, as you said or Blizzard actually add compression of their own XML files sent over battle.net. Shouldn't be that hard to do on their part.

In addition, even if I do painfully bother to compress data in long strings + compress the numbers themselves, I can only send about 5x-6x more. That's still not enough for any map that wants to keep a reasonable but very high amount of data in their bank files. For example, think of a map where you could keep literally every bit of an unit's data. That's how much I need for at least 20 units worth per player bank to truly matter.

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Re: The "secret" Alpha for the upcoming Arcade

Postby Falchion » Sat May 19, 2012 3:47 pm

Damn. All this time just to make what was PRACTICALLY in SC:BW?

Blizzard is sinking in incompetence, truly...
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Re: The "secret" Alpha for the upcoming Arcade

Postby Ricky_Honejasi » Sun May 20, 2012 7:14 am

I semi-recently managed to be in the Alpha Arcade.

So far my opinions in real short :

Their new system could work IF :

1) If they add open lobbies. The Alpha Arcade don't have them but since Browder did said they will have them, we can still hope they don't turn their backs just yet.

2) They work out the minor details that will screw over mapmakers royally once again if they aren't changed. Often, it's things that aren't THAT hard to add or change but would dramatically change things for the best.

Examples

A) They have a "Newest maps" section. In theory, it's great. However, the problem is there a checkbox "Show Highest Only" checked on by default to show only 4+ stars maps. Hence, you easily don't see 95+% of new maps and if the collective players DON'T figure that out, so many new maps don't get even seen unless the mapmakers mass publicize on sites like before.

Thus, if they got said checkbox NOT checked by default, everything is fine with that section.


B) If you join a custom map, instead of going into a lobby, you stay in a queue similar to melee. In theory, it's not too bad since it favors Fun or Not people joining as well that well. The problem is if you got say a 10 players map, you NEED 10 players for the game to start. Aka if you only got 6 players all days long, no game will ever start out. Except if said game got lucky and got enough Fun or Not players to bring it to 10.

That could be fixed if they allow players to set a minimum of players they want to start the game with. Otherwise, this is likely worse than the current v1.4 implementation except for AFK hosts issues.


C) When a custom map game is going into loading, due to the potentially incomplete game clients, there is an extra download part which players can cancel during loading to go back to B.net 2.0. Then the cancel button fades post-download. Considering the average patience and IQ of players, that cancel is too likely to be abused leaving games with less than necessary players or unbalanced player teams.

This time, it's the "Cancel" button during map loading that REALLY need to go.


D) While not much possible to test, Fun or Not could end up being the useful or being useless again. It all depends if it heavily favor "unpopular" maps or if you join 80+% of the time on popular maps again (making it useless). The only good change is going on games waiting for players ("open lobbies") but that is only useful depending if it's unpopular or popular maps again.

In addition, it also depends a lot if they add categories to use Fun or Not on. Many people can dislike TDs, other don't care about Defense maps, etc.


*) Beyond the open lobby lists, you now have an idea how much everything hangs on just a few details that make or break the whole thing. I did e-mail to their intended arcade feedback for each issue in question.


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