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A few interesting posts by Karune, the RTS community manager, and Dustin “Cavez” Browder, lead game designer, have popped up on the Battle.net forums in the last couple of days. We’ve gathered the interesting bits for your perusal:

1) A post asking about the Ghost’s abilities, and specifically Lockdown, received this answer from Karune:

Lockdown was definitely a great ability for the Ghost and we would not have removed it if we didn’t think we were going to add something better, or that it wouldn’t make sense for game balance.

 

Nothing is final, thus if something better isn’t added, it is possible for the lockdown to be back.

 

Think of this time as a period where we swap out original ideas that we think we could improve or innovate, to test how it would affect the overall game. If it doesn’t work, we can always go back to what worked previously with no harm done.

Here’s the ability’s description, in case you’re unfamiliar with it:

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Lockdown Targets mechanical units shorting out circuitry of target, rendering it immobile for about 60 seconds. The Locked down unit cannot be controlled in any way. You also cannot use any of their special abilities if that particular unit has any.

2) A post asserting that units with official pages on StarCraft2.com will not be changed elicited this response from Karune:

Sorry, nothing is final, not even the stuff on the site. We really need to go through beta before we would be ready to say “final” about anything. We need gamers to play.

3) A poster has asked about the Reaper’s abilities and its function inside a Bunker. Cavez clarifies:

1) Reapers can enter bunkers.

 

2) Reapers cannot throw their bombs from inside a bunker.

 

3) Reaper explosives damage everybody, including poorly controlled Reapers that are ordered to move close to their own explosives. The life of a Reaper is dangerous.

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4) Cavez provides his thoughts about warping in buildings as Protoss:

It does make sense and we have talked about this one quite a lot. Ultimately we discarded it because we felt like it would take away from the Terrans, as moving Terran buildings around is pretty core to Terran mechanics.

5) Lastly, Battle.net poster poplini has written up an excellent list of suggestions, which received this response from Cavez:

Nice list. Well written. Thanks a ton.

Here are a few highlights from that list:

I would like to see a graph with time on the x-axis and various aspects of the game plotted on the y-axis per player or team. This would include the obvious things like gas/minerals mined/spent and number of units alive/produced, but it would be great if it could also include other things as well such as the amount of damage dealt, tech percentage, and even percentage of the map that was visable or clicks per minute. If this feature is comprehensive enough it could begin to be used as a tool for players to improve their games in addition to watching replays.

 

in FFA (free-for-all) games I would like to be able to specify a bounty on players. You would probably type a number into a box in the alliance menu to do this. There would be a separate box for minerals and gas. The bounty would be anonymous, but it would be announced to all players when a bounty has been increased. A text message on the screen would say : “The bounty on <raceIcon> <playerColor>playerName</playerColor> has been increased to XXX <mineralIcon> and YYY <gasIcon>.”

 

Have a map of the Earth with dots representing where players are logged in from. Maybe bigger dots would mean more players. Maybe have the color of the dot represent the race that is played most often there.

We hope his ideas are implemented.

 

It’s always good to see the Blizzard developers commenting on the development of the game and answering the fans’ questions. We will continue to cover these interesting posts, so you, our faithful readers, don’t have to wade through the endless amount of spam on the Battle.net forums.

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Honoring the end of August, we bring you something beautiful, courtesy of our friend David Levy.
The illustration is called “Afternoon at Augustgrad”. To find out more about the once stunning fortress-city of Augustgrad, check out Arcturus Mengsk’s biography. It’s worth a read – Augustgrad was a place that attracted multiple major battles and sieges, affecting the faiths of entire races.
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Background Resolutions :
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Afternoon at Augustgrad – Full Version

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Even though the Protoss and Terran factions in StarCraft 2 are almost completely fleshed out at this point, we still know virtually nothing about the Zerg. Blizzard obviously knows that their fans are eagerly awaiting any piece of information regarding the Zerg, and will likely use them to give a final push to the hype machine, close to the game’s release date. In this post, we will go over the little information we have gathered about the Zerg up until now.

 

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The Zergling: We’ve already covered the Zergling, one of the units most identified with StarCraft and the Zerg race, in a previous post. Unfortunately, we haven’t learned much about this unit since.

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To recap: The Zerglings are expendable, cheap, fast units which only work well in large numbers. They are able to burrow, just like in StarCraft 1, allowing them to ambush enemy units or avoid battles if detectors aren’t present in their vicinity.

The StarCraft 2 Zerglings have gone through two notable changes:

1) Wings. Their purpose is currently unknown, but it is speculated that they might be used to traverse terrain obstacles in a manner similar to that of the Terran Reapers.

2) Morph into Banelings. The Zerglings can encase themselves in protective shells, in which they slowly evolve to Banelings. They emerge as suicide attackers, exploding on contact with enemy units, dealing heavy splash damage – very reminiscent of the StarCraft 1 Infested Terrans.

 

The Mutalisk:

The Mutalisk, another very recognizable unit from the original game, is one of the first units to be introduced in StarCraft 2.

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The Mutalisks are very fast, well rounded aerial assault units. They are capable of attacking both ground and air forces. They are relatively cheap to produce, and while they’re relatively low on hit points, their strong attack makes them very powerful hit and run attackers. Another distinct feature of the Mutalisk is their attack – the “Glaive Wurm” projectile bounces off the Mutalisk’s target, dealing additional damage to two more close by enemy units. This attack has returned in StarCraft 2, and can be seen in the first gameplay video.

The Mutalisks were the first units to have a “morph” ability, something that is now synonymous with the Zerg. In vanilla StarCraft, they were able to evolve into the Guardian, an aerial siege units. The Brood War expansion added the ability to morph into Devourers, heavy anti-capital ship units, but those were not used frequently in battle. We do not yet know if the StarCraft 2 Mutalisks will be able to morph into other units, but since this feature has become very popular and completely identified with the Zerg, this is almost completely certain.

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These Mutalisks should morph into Devourers (click for big)

Due to their “small” size category, stationary defenses, which all dealt “explosive” damage, were relatively ineffective against them – making the Mutalisks ideal for raiding the enemy worker line. The “Muta rush” was one of the first famous, widespread strategies used on battle.net. It was so effective, in fact, that balance changes soon nerfed it.

The Brood War expansion added another counter to the Mutalisk problem – the Corsair. These deal splash damage, which is almost too effective when it comes to dealing with the low-health Mutalisks. The Mutalisks’ role was reduced and they became even rarer on the battlefield.

It will remain to be seen whether the Mutalisks return to their old glory in StarCraft 2, but this is not likely – there already exists a very powerful Protoss counter to them in the form of the Phoenix Overload ability.

 

Nydus Worms:

These serve as replacement for the StarCraft 1 Nydus Canals. The old canals had to be placed on creep on both ends, just like any other Zerg building. These new worms can apparently pop out in any location, delivering Zerglings (and perhaps other units) anywhere on the battlefield. Right now, it seems that they will function similarly to the Ghost’s Drop Pod call down ability, though it is not yet known what their range, or any other limitations, are. However, they will likely serve to increase the Zerg’s overall mobility, as we have suggested in our “Changes we want to see in StarCraft 2” article.

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Unfortunately, this is all the information we have at the moment – everything else is only speculation.

There are rumors about Blizzard showcasing the Zerg before the end of this year in a similar fashion to the introduction of the Protoss and Terran forces in the Worldwide Blizzard Invitational event and in BlizzCon, but there has been no official word yet. One thing is certain, however: Even though we haven’t seen it yet, the Hydralisk IS going to make a return in StarCraft 2.

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Karune

Karune, Blizzard’s RTS community manager, has posted a 10th batch of answers to questions posted by the fans. Compared to the normal Q&A sessions, this one brings new, interesting information, and brings up even more follow up questions.

1) What does the “Intercept Missiles” function of the Predator do exactly?

 

The Predator is equipped with a point defense laser system which destroys incoming enemy projectiles. This ability makes the Predator an excellent support fighter to help defend slower capital ships, such as the Battlecruiser.

 


2) Can the Radar Tower also detect invisible units even in Fog of War?

 

No. On the other hand, Sensor Arrays and Radar Towers do allow all Missile Turrets in its range to also detect invisible units within those Missile Turrets range.

The meaning of this answer is not clear. Is Karune saying that only a combination of a Sensor Array/Radar Tower and a Missile Turret will provide detection? That would seem superfluous and even a bit silly. Here’s hoping the Sensor Array and Radar Towers function as detectors by themselves.

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3) Can the Thor defend itself against air units well?

 

The Thor unit can attack air units, although it has a relatively slow rate of fire. It is always still better to escort your Thor units with additional support units.

 

4) Can the Thor be attacked by the Missile Turret like the Colossus?

 

No.

The Colossus is tall enough to be vulnerable to anti-air attacks, but apparently, the Thor is not.

5) Will phase cannons dissipate if they travel outside influence of pylon matrix?

 

No, phase cannons will not be destroyed if they travel outside of pylon power. However, phase cannons caught outside of pylon power will still be able to move but will also be stuck in energy form. They cannot redeploy until they are back in range of pylon power. Also, while in energy form, phase cannons have no shields and are extremely vulnerable to enemy fire.

We have previously speculated that the Phase Cannon energy form is limited to Pylon energy range, but apparently they can also travel outside of it. This sounds like an extremely powerful ability – perhaps too powerful. It’s easy enough to construct a Pylon on the battlefield and then produce Phase Cannons on the spot – it will be even easier now that it’s possible to set up power with a Phase Prism and stream in the cannons.

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However, this can be offset by having the energy form travel very slowly outside energy range, while remaining vulnerable.

6) When a player in a team game leaves will the computer AI take over? Or, will the remaining players be given control of that person’s team?

 

Computer AI will not take over if your ally leaves in a team multiplayer game. Although, if you have allied control set, the player will be able to control their allys units after they leave.

Lastly, in case you missed it, here’s Karune himself appearing in the flesh in a YouTube video.

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