Read more here: Patch 2.1 - Free Arcade
Greetings StarCraft II Mapmakers!
We wanted to take a moment to provide details and clarify how expansion levels, map dependencies, and custom mods will interact relative to your maps with the upcoming Heart of the Swarm expansion.
One Client, Two Expansion Levels
Wings of Liberty (WoL) and Heart of the Swarm (HotS) will coexist under one client executable, with access to their respective content being limited within the StarCraft II client by players’ account-based licenses. This means that, unlike Warcraft III and its expansion which ran as two independent clients with fully separated communities; players with WoL or WoL+HotS licenses will all be in the same client on the same Battle.net service together, though what they can actually play will be limited by the game licenses they own. Under these license restrictions, players with only the WoL license will not be able to play HotS-dependent maps or mods, though HotS-licensed players will have access to both WoL and HotS-dependent maps and mods.
On the matchmaking front, HotS license holders will be able to switch their expansion level to and from WoL using a dropdown within the client, allowing them to transition between WoL and HotS ladders. All Arcade players will be able to see and, depending on the license(s) they own, play your Arcade maps from either license level.
As a mapmaker, this unified community benefits you by making your Arcade maps – whether WoL or HotS-dependent – visible and potentially playable by the entire StarCraft II player community. Maps from both dependencies will also appear in the various Arcade popularity and ratings systems, so a WoL-only map could potentially remain just as popular and played as a HotS map.
Note that the filtering on the Custom Game list is a bit different from Arcade in that WoL-only players will not see the HotS maps they can’t play in their Custom Game map listings in an effort to make those map lists more relevant to them.
StarCraft II Dependencies in Arcade Maps
The license level you own as a mapmaker will inform what dependencies you can add to your maps, so if you intend on making HotS-dependent maps, you’ll need to have a HotS license yourself. Beyond that, you have several options at your disposal which dictate the content you include and subsequently who can play your maps based on the dependencies you utilize in them.
You can choose to keep your existing maps purely WoL-dependent, or you can modify them to add all of the new HotS content via the HotS dependencies. Alternatively, you may choose to support separate versions of your maps for both player license levels and have WoL and HotS versions of your maps if you’re so inclined. Those choices are up to you, and while it might be in your best interest to ensure that your maps have the latest and greatest content from the expansion, there’s nothing from our end dictating that you must cater to any specific player license level with your maps.
StarCraft II Dependencies in Melee Maps
Melee mapmakers will be able to make WoL-dependent maps that WoL or HotS players can play with the correct unit and balance data, as the game will automatically load in the proper Multi balance dependencies based upon the license level the player is actively playing in. Any HotS-dependent melee maps utilizing the new tilesets and doodads from the expansion will only be available for play by HotS license holders. As mentioned above, these maps will generally not be visible in the Custom Game list to WoL-only license holders as well.
User-Generated Mod Dependencies
Many of you also utilize custom mods with your own collections of art and sounds in your maps. Those mods that do not depend on any HotS content will remain independent of any HotS license restriction. Custom maps that depend on a user mod utilizing HotS content will require a HotS license, even if the map itself does not depend on HotS directly.
Soonish™, we’ll release our StarTools suite of plugins to Beta, which will allow advanced users who own 3dsMax to create their own models from scratch using the same tools our Art Team makes all of the game models with. Any models exported from those tools will be similarly independent of license restrictions, so the art you make with them will be playable by both WoL and HotS players so long as the map or mod containing them does not have a HotS dependency.
Other Cool Stuff
The entire StarCraft II team is committed to continually improving the game and its tools in support of the community flourishing around them. We play your maps and read these forums frequently, and many of us are here on a daily basis responding to questions, bugs, feedback, and requests. To augment this, we’re currently planning a significant revamp of the Custom Map forum which will provide new forums and sub-forums specific to a wide range of topics benefiting the entire mapmaking community.
Heart of the Swarm brings a massive amount of new content to StarCraft II while also heralding significant improvements to the game’s Editor and underlying technologies that will benefit mapmakers regardless of whether or not you purchase the expansion. From a deluge of nearly 500 (and counting) new and helpful tooltips we've added to the Data Editor, to the brand new Data Navigator which helps visualize complex data relationships more clearly than ever before, to the numerous optimizations and additions we've made to the Galaxy scripting system - there’s a wealth of really exciting support coming to the game and Editor specifically targeted at this awesome mapmaking community.
This post will undoubtedly generate some questions, so please reply here and we’ll be happy to answer things as they come up.