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Battle.net 2.0 Article Series >> Battle.net 2.0 – The Next Generation Gaming Network >> (Page 1) | (Page 2)

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Taking Heed to Rumours

There are some rumours circulating about Battle.net 2.0, and while some might be too “spacey” to even mention, a few are worth noting, or be prepared for. One rumour state that the new Battle.net regime will be on new servers, and not related to the old net. Diablo II and Diablo III players would then not be able to chat over the ingame interface. The logical support for this rumour would be that Blizzard treat games somewhat like this. They support the game in the form of release, and make sure it works fine, without bugs or major imbalances, and then just make the next game better.

This would mean WarCraft II, Diablo, StarCraft, Diablo II and WarCraft III would not see the functionality such as broadcasted matches or Voice Chat. The latter might be included anyway, as it is more of a separate system to begin with. Regardless, we hope that this rumour is false.

Another rumour posted by Diii.net tells of major changes to account security on Battle.net. A (voluntary) $6 key ring that gives you temporary password every 10 minutes to prevent hackers from stealing your universal account password, and infra-software upgrades to use experience from WoW to completely disable duping and hacks. This rumour seem a lot more logical, and regardless if the info actually came from Blizzard or not, the facts in it are probably true.

Most Likely Battle.net 2.0 Features

Regardless of your trust in rumours (“screenshot or it didn’t happen” has helped Blizzard many times, according to themselves), we will apparently be “blown away” by Battle.net 2.0, and this would mean a great deal more than just the features listed on Page 2.

Excellent Matchmaking
While most RTS players like the AMM system of WarCraft III, we will be seeing at LEAST that good matchmaking for RTS games in Battle.net 2.0. In terms of StarCraft II, it means finding opponents good for you, as well as teams or like-minded “custom” game players. As DotA-Allstars will be available for StarCraft II, and Blizzard have learned that the community can make some really popular game types themselves, there will probably be special functionality for all types of custom games. For Diablo III, it’s more about keeping a level/skill balance, which might be harder to set. A given factor for any game is of course matching players that would have the best ping towards each other.

Broadcasting Games
Especially for StarCraft II, Blizzard has promised good eSport support. While the current focus on D3 is co-op, it is possible that we will see “arena” type fights for D3, and some eSport focus. There are primarily two ways to do this, either broadcasting inside the game, or broadcasting on the web.

An in-game broadcast could have a lot of potential. Two (or more) players do their match, which is hooked up with broadcasting server that registers all their sent commands and voice chat, which in turn sends this out to anyone who want to watch. The data sent would not give any lag to the actual players, and the spectators would get to see the match live. The user interface could either be the same as in-game, or be more slim, to allow bigger screen, and hiding the UI. In this manner, a huge number of players could watch a single match for less bandwidth than video would take. All graphics would be done on the PC itself.

To avoid cheating, a delay could be set for a few seconds as well. This system could also be made to broadcast replays, or just delay the broadcast by a few hours, to fit some schedule, while none except the players would know the outcome. You could also activate commentators for a match, having one or many, with different sound channels. If you choose to follow the screen of the commentator, you could also see drawn notes or text directly on your screen just like sport commentator on TV.

The screen of one (or more) commentators could in turn also be converted to regular audio and broadcasted through the Battle.net website. Seeing how they managed to webcast WWI to millions of fans, a few thousand D3/SC2 matches should be a picnic. On the technology side, Blizzard are fans of the torrent technology, and could probably utilise that for the masses, to avoid having to use too much server power and bandwidth

Custom Tournaments, Stat Feeds and XML
Featuring either in-game ability to start custom ladders/tournaments, or related to the web, more tools will be available for your use, and keeping all tools on one location.

The amount of things you can dow ith current web design that was unavailable back in 1997 is staggering, and we will most likely be able to pull feeds and xml data driectly from Battle.net unto our websites or blogs, to display our own status (yes, people do like ePeen), or compile new lists. A perfect solution for managing your own ladders or tournaments, with no need to use any other gaming network as base besides Battle.net, while at the same time possible for your blog visitors to get all their specific needs at one site. An “open-ended” sollution.

Battle.net Security
As explained in the rumour above. Regardless if that is a real source or not, it will most probably see the light of day with Battle.net 2.0. It is another logical step to get people more interested in valuing their accounts higher.

Ban List
Perhaps to simple to even bring up, but a lot of fans seems to press this button a LOT. A personal ban list is very probable for Battle.net, and ways to customize how you want to handle people you DON’T like. Alerts when such a person would enter a game you joined, automatically ban him from all games you make or even squelshing him when he tries to speak to you. Simple, but wanted, and probable.

Free Gaming for the Masses!
The question about any payment fees for Battle.net has so far been dodged by Blizzard, but not more so than other features. They have been relatively quiet about the specifications of the upgrade in general. Still, a great debate has been raging over Diablo III and StarCraft II fansites, and while a few are more than happy to pay a bit, the majority seems to be violent opponents against the idea. This is probably quite natural, as that is one of the best things about Battle.net 1.0!

Another reason to keep it free could be Blizzard’s online legal liabilities. Strictly speaking they are liable for online harassment on their servers. If the service is free, and somewhat easy to become part of the community, they are better off from a legal standpoint. PC Bangs in Korea (“gaming cafes” basically, the way Koreans way), will also ensure Blizzard won’t limit the amount of Battle.net accounts.

On the economical side of things the devs are talking about “business models” for the games, citing WoW as one, and StarCraft/Diablo 2 as another. This naturally mean a subscription or the one-off fee are both “business models” as such. As Jay Wilson said, they are going to see what fits best for each game. Well, the fans most certainly thinks the one-off fee works best, and it has sustained the previous games! As we saw the discussion at DiabloWikiWWI 2008, we didn’t feel like it was going to be pay-to-play, and UGO mentions this especially in their latest Diablo 3 preview:

Pricing for the game is still being decided, but don’t expect to pay subscription fees for access to Battle.net. Sure, there’s always the possibility that different membership tiers will be introduced later on, but nothing we heard during our chat suggested that the team has anything other than a free-to-play model in mind for Diablo III’s online play.

In the end Battle.net is just an advanced matchmaking service, and even if Battle.net 2.0 will be way more advanced, it is still possible to get most of that content for free today, and Blizzard wants to keep all gamers under one roof. The “in-game advertisement” that Bobby Kotick talked about is on Battle.net itself, and would also help with any revenue gain needed.

 

On the Whole
Over all, if you weren’t already excited about Battle.net 2.0, I hope you are now. It’s one thing to think about a forum upgrade, and one to try to visualize the “Blizzualisation” of gaming networks, and know that the experience will just be superior to anything else. Why do you think Mike keeps talkign about how the PC gaming is the way to go (compared to console-fans saying it’s dead)? Besides WoW, which naturally backs him up a great deal, I’d say WoW, and you don’t have to be a Blizzard-fan to appreciatet he fact that whatever Blizzard do, they do great.

On the last page is a collection of some of the more prominent quotes that I based the article on, those that didn’t make it to the main article.
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1UP: Can you talk about any specific Battle.net changes that will be made for Diablo III?

RP: Battle.net is in constant evolution; for each game we really add a lot of features to Battle.net. And right now we’re really focusing on the Battle.net features for StarCraft II. But we definitely have been keeping Diablo III in mind also. I think probably sometimes towards the end of the year, we’re going to really start talking about the new Battle.net features as they pertain to StarCraft 2, and a lot of those features will carry over to Diablo III.

Competitive play seems to get the focus when you talk about mp games, and it’s awesome and we’ll have some, but we’re not talking about yet. But co-op was our focus. And it’s a key to why Diablo has done so well. Play over Battle.net, join your friends at any time. We have a lot of improvements to Battle.net. Whole newer version of it. It’s going to premiere with sc 2. you can be sure everything Starcraft 2 uses we’ll take advantage of and many more cool features. It supports easy communication and connection with other players. Matchmaking. Get online, find friends, have a good time quickly. More co-op battles, and a game that supports that.

On the multiplayer side, Battle.net isn’t ready to premiere yet, but we’ll have more about that in the coming months.

With World of WarCraft you have a subscription-base MMO, however, in the past StarCraft and Diablo 2-players used the Battle.net for free. What about the future? Are there any new features and will it cost something?

Well, with the Battle.net we’re still doing a lot of work on it right now. we really want to do a lot of features and keep it like the premier gaming portal in PC-gaming. So, we’re not really annoucing anything yet but we’re hoping that around the StarCraft 2 Beta we will really start to talk about Battle.net features.

Bashiok:
One thing that seems to be a fairly consistent experience for a lot of people when they first picked up Diablo II was their introduction to Battle.net. And it wasn’t generally a positive one.

Most people, including myself, went home and installed the game and started playing. Over maybe a few weeks or months they’ve finished the game maybe a few times, they had a ton of fun, but they keep playing and trying to find more items.

One day while loading up the game they notice the “Battle.net” button and decide to click it… and, their characters aren’t there. They have to start over. Any of us would have gladly played on Battle.net (in passworded games if necessary) just to have that online/trading option for their character available to them. It felt like a lot of wasted time to find the actual game, which was on Battle.net.

While “starting over” is something almost every Diablo II player is going to do any way, the lack of on-screen instruction or indication as to what the different systems meant left a bad taste.

To help avoid that type of situation we’re going to try to find ways to encourage Battle.net character creation first and foremost.

It’s basically a gamerscore. For now the points are just a ‘WoW’ character score. As we graduate to that Blizzard Account system, which is right on the horizon, it will switch over to a Blizzard Level. Your ‘WoW’ score would be just one factor that will go into your Blizzard Level. And rather than call it a ’score,’ we just wanted it to be like you’re leveling up on Blizzard games… You’ll have this Blizzard identity, and you’ll be able to see things like ‘Oh, this guy was great at Diablo III, but he never played Starcraft and he was mediocre in WoW. That sort of thing.

Eventually, our plans are for the [WoW] Achievement system to become an account-based system.[/BLUE]

 

Q: One of the problems of playing on D2 on Battle.net is that there were so many power gamers who would crush everyone, or you’d get younger players who were tough to put up with.
A: We’re looking at features and functionality to improve battle.net and to increase accountability online. Details to reveal in the future. Part of that is how you design your game. Foul language filters can be gotten around. If you make a game that encourages players to co-op and get along with each other you will encourage good play experience.

Q: In d2 many overpowered players on Battle.net. Any solution to that in D3? To stopping cheats?
A: I can’t talk about specifics at this point, but in the new version of Battle.net security is a big priority. The security is much stronger. Being able to prevent cheats is one of our biggest focuses. We realize that those really hurt the community.

UGO PREVIEW

There are additional plans to streamline item-sharing between different characters, one suggestion being to allow items to be traded or sent through whispers.
[…]
Pricing for the game is still being decided, but don’t expect to pay subscription fees for access to Battle.net. Sure, there’s always the possibility that different membership tiers will be introduced later on, but nothing we heard during our chat suggested that the team has anything other than a free-to-play model in mind for Diablo III’s online play.

RUMOUR

Blizzard’s keeping details about the new B.net under tight wraps, but I was talking with a rep and he said that there is a “chance” that the new b.net servers for SC2 and D3 might be on a different server schema than original b.net… meaning that they would have no interactions with older game clients. (i.e. they won’t have the same channels and couldn’t whisper each other—essentially an entirely seperate b.net)

Just giving you guys a heads up.

RUMOUR

I’ve lived in Austin for almost 2 years and Blizzard has a small outpost of operations here. I have made friends with some of the managers for Blizzard and found out the following:

When D3 comes out, Blizzard will be making major changes to battle.net. All players will have a universal battle.net account for all games. They will start selling a $6 key chain with a digital face that updates every 10 minutes or so with a new 11-digit number. That 11-digit number will be your password. This will make it nearly impossible to keylog or bruteforce accounts.

The programming that is going into D3 is totally different than D2. They are not updating from D2-D3 like they did from D1-D2. They are rehashing the entire underbelly of the game and using many of the things they’ve learned from WoW to make it more secure. Duping items is going to be impossible. The way it was explained to me was: “It’s going to be a game with WOW architecture but with a D2 skin.”

I asked, but don’t have any word on weather or not it will be pay-to-play. With security measures like the keychain-code, I’m sure it will be.

 

 

 

Patrik
Like the Warden?

Chris
And we don’t really want to go into too much details about that but we are continuing to enhance the Warden. WarCraft has a lot of low level things that are going on to make sure that we can ensure security as best we can, and make sure there is no cheating going on. You know, it is a constant battle and we pay a lot of money to fight that constant battle. We intend to do exactly the same thing with StarCraft II. You know the game is basically client+router for games where it really counts, but if you want to go off and play on your own, you can basically play off the network. However, we definitely want the games count towards your record, to be controlled, so that we can see who is disconnecting and that sort of thing. And then… Ah, hopefully that answers your question.

 

Wilson: We’re working on a new version of Battle.net, and there is a major revision in how it works. The goal is to simply provide the best online experience that you can find in any game. If you’re playing a Blizzard game, we want you to be part of the Blizzard community. We want people to find their friends quickly, to communicate with them, and to play together. And we focus on that, but I cannot be specific, that’s up to Battle.net to announce.

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