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StarCraft 2 Q&A 17: The Beginning of Thor’s End ?

This week’s batch of Questions and Answers came a bit late, but we certainly aren’t complaining – Karune has delivered a very interested Chat with Devs section, along with six answers, including one submitted by SC2Blog.

Chat with Devs: After bringing up much community feedback from the last Monthly Discussion, Dustin Browder filled me in on the latest role discussions about the current units in game. This is the thought that has lead to the introduction of the Firebat back into StarCraft II.

Furthermore, they have also changed the Terran Cobras abilities to take on what was previous known as the Protoss Stasis Orb (which is now removed from the game). The Terran Cobra now acts as a slowing unit, with an electrical attack. In addition, many of the units already seen in game are having their roles re-evaluated, to again make sure that every unit has a distinct role in StarCraft II.

This week’s Chat with Devs section shows just how dynamic and feedback-oriented StarCraft 2’s development process is. While the unit models and game engine are clearly in place, unit roles and abilities are undergoing constant modifications. The fact that Firebats are coming back should make plenty of fans happy – StarCraft 2’s physics and graphics engine will certainly do the flamethrower good.
During BlizzCon 2007,
the Star Relic changed its name to Statis Orb, and is now completely out of the game, while the Terran Cobra seems to be assuming a tactical role similar to the WarCraft 3 Dryad .

On to the Q&A:

1. Will the defensive matrix of the Terran Nomad apply to enemy units within its AoE (Area of Effect)?

Yes, the Terran Nomads Defense Matrix ability will affect both friendly and enemy units, thus using this ability on a position that the player can hold will be wise.

2. What helps to delineate the Thor and Battlecruiser as both being high-tier support units? Lots of concern over this duality?

Currently, the Thor has splash damage, whereas the Battlecruiser has direct damage in its attack. We definitely agree with most of the community that the Thors role overlaps with various other roles on the Terran Faction, thus we may modify that role or possibly cut the unit.

The fact that the Defensive Matrix is an AoE that applies to both friendly and enemy units has been known since BlizzCon, and the fact that the Thor‘s tactical role overlaps with everything but the SCV is also common knowledge. But this is the first time that Karune or any other Blizzard employee mentions something as radical as the exclusion of the Thor.

<a href="http://starcraft2.com/flash/global/unitsplayer_terran_thor.swf" target="_blank">http://starcraft2.com/flash/global/unitsplayer_terran_thor</a>


3. Will there be any consideration of having an oceanic battle.net server?

Unfortunately, this has not been decided yet, as many aspects of Battle.net has still yet to be implemented.

4. Will the Protoss Colossus be able to walk over Supply Depots like over cliffs?

This is an issue that is still being discussed quite a bit. We like how when enemy units enter your base, they are forced to deal with the layout of your base, but at the same time we are also dealing with the realism factor, where cliff climbing Colossuses ought to be able to step over Supply Depots. Many issues we face are similar to those debated amongst the community, and for this particular topic we dont yet have a final answer.

The pseudo-realistic engine and actual 3D models will certainly generate a lot of tactical issues in StarCraft 2. Multi-layered terrain, coupled with units like Reapers and the Colossi – which are designed to take advantage of such terrain, will surely have implications on base layout and sieging strategies. Currently, Blizzard simply cannot provide a definitive answer regarding the Colossus’s ability to step over Supply Depots.
Supplu Depot

5. An obvious goal (among many) for Starcraft2 is to maintain the profile of being an E-Sport. What facet do you consider more integral to the growth of that ideal: An extremely high skill ceiling that demands years upon years to achieve mastery, or an extraordinarily large base of interested players to provide the attention that such a sport needs in order to succeed and grow? Obviously both are important, but when it comes to design ideals, what has more pull? Accessibility or Longevity?

I think for e-sport we need the high skill ceiling. Though really as you say, both are very important. As designers we have spent years focusing on accessibility. Ideas must be accessible to even be put into the game. So we are just not as worried about making the game accessible. That will happen. What we are focused on, what is the more challenging problem is making the game last for years and years and years. So in our development cycle at the moment, longevity definitely has the larger pull. Longevity is the harder problem to solve, so we put way more effort into making the game as challenging as possible to master. Dustin Browder, Lead Designer of StarCraft II

Now that’s one big question. Despite Blizzard’s best efforts to predict and establish StarCraft 2’s role as an E-sport, the result is as unpredictable as StarCraft’s stunning success in Korea, or the phenomenon called World of Warcraft. StarCraft 2’s true destiny will remain a mystery until it is actually released to the general public.
Just a brief reminder – the original StarCraft didn’t have major “skill ceiling” design planning. It is being played on a professional level for ten years now.

6. How will unit collision and stacking be handled ? Can flying units pass on top the Colossus or is it blocking ?

No, the Colossus will not block a flying unit.

In terms of collision and stacking, units first always follow your order, and when it completes your order, they will stop and spread out. The area in which those units spread out will be slightly less than in the original StarCraft.

This is a question we’ve submitted to Karune as part of the feedback that we at SC2Blog provide to Blizzard. The Colossus, while tall enough to be vulnerable to anti-air weapons, is not an obstacle to flying units. At present time, the stacking mechanism appears to be almost identical to StarCraft 1.
That’s all for this week’s batch. Another round of interesting questions answered, courtesy of Karune and the developers.

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33 Comments to “StarCraft 2 Q&A 17: The Beginning of Thor’s End ?”

  1. Ken — October 16, 2007 @ 9:22 pm

    They took the stasis orb away from the protoss and gave it to the Terran Cobra? I trust the blizzboys make the right decision regarding balance issues.

    And number 6 is a dumb question! what a waste of opportunity! of course flying units will pass on top of the colossus, the don’t just stay in one specific altitude!!! what a tard!

  2. Ken — October 16, 2007 @ 9:24 pm

    If the Thor will be removed, what will replace it?

    Hope they don’t take it out completely, just nerf it i think.

  3. Ken — October 16, 2007 @ 9:46 pm

    If Terran Nomad (or any other unit to replace the vessel) won’t have Irradiate, I think it would really suck…

  4. Ken — October 16, 2007 @ 9:48 pm

    Wait… I’ll call Nada and slayerS_Boxer and ask what they think about this… hehehe xD

  5. Ken — October 16, 2007 @ 9:53 pm

    “Need a light?”

    – Terran Firebat (he’s back!!!)

  6. Bunn — October 17, 2007 @ 12:34 am

    Ken… is… doing what ? This isn’t Twitter , mate. You can write long messages.

  7. aaron — October 17, 2007 @ 12:52 am

    Ken appears to have a lot to say, but I figured I’d chime in as well 😉

    Adding stasis orb to the cobra just made that unit much more interesting. Now, rather than being a sort of dryad/gyro type unit, it has the ability to dramatically alter battled through casting. They’ll have to nerf it, though, since the arbiter’s prohibitive gas cost prevented many orbs being case in SC1.

    With regards to the Thor, I’m sure they won’t axe it unless changes make it too much like the siege tank. At worst, I think it’ll become a sort of short-range, hp-heavy defense buster that you’d send against a well-defended position.

    Lastly, I don’t think units getting over depots is much of a problem. You’ll either be dividing your forces and getting them slaughtered, or be moving past an undefended position. Either way, it’s not a big deal.

  8. Mercutio — October 17, 2007 @ 12:58 am

    Full disclosure: I’m primarily a Terran player. And I have to say, I’m eh on the Firebats. I tended to use them as bunker fillers, and then only when fighting the Protoss. I -might- filed them en masse against the Zerg, but Starcraft I is not, shall we say, friendly to controlling large numbers of units in close quarters, especially ones with short-ranged splash attacks. It’s nice that they’re back, but… eh.

    The Thor, it would suck if they took it out. I am all about groundpounding heavy artillery; that’s how my boys roll.

    I dunno about making the Cobra a debuffer; the Terrans already have a meaty, meaty tech tree that requires lots of buildings and lots of units. And where are my spider mines, dammit? I want to be able to buy badass mines for 25 minerals a pop, even without a free vehicle.

    I’ll make Nomads no matter what, even if I never use a single ability; the detectoring is that important, IMO.

    Just one mans thoughts.

  9. Ari Krauss — October 17, 2007 @ 1:01 am

    The Thor does need to be re-evaluated but i def think it should stay in the game. It fits perfectly with what one might expect from the Terran war machine. Right now it fills the roll of a glorified siege tank. It could act as a counter to the protoss mother ship, or what about a medium tank/troop carrier? Off the top of my head i could see tanks in siege mode pounding a fortified position, marines and Bats protecting them from light zerg and the Thor pounding capital ships

  10. Jerry — October 17, 2007 @ 1:09 am

    Adding stasis orb’s ability to cobra is an interesting idea. I’d love to see that when the game comes out. About the Thor, I think they should change it into some kinda moving bunker. You can load it up with about 5 or 6 marines and then, we’ll have a terrifying giant, walking fortress(lots of hitpoint). They can balance it by reducing the Thor’s moving and turning speed in order to maintain marines’ accuracy of fire or even root it to the ground. Anyway, this is only an idea so fell free to make some comments about it.

  11. anonymous — October 17, 2007 @ 2:38 am

    i dont see the point in bringing back firebats

  12. anonymous — October 17, 2007 @ 2:40 am

    but if there is a zergling rush firebats be good. so perhaps u hav firebats then upgrade them into reapers individually. That means that u can keep teh firebat even if u can upgrade him into a reaper

  13. Asker — October 17, 2007 @ 2:43 am

    I think the terrans (or maybe star craft as a whole?) need more ships hehe ^_^ .. the variety of ground forces are ok imho.

    usually when I think of futuristic space sci-fi, what comes to mind are ship-ship, fighter-fighter confrontations ala star wars, star trek. ^_^

    just my two cents .. hehehe

  14. Bomberman — October 17, 2007 @ 3:08 am

    hmm… I think loading up thor with marines might be a good idea :)

  15. Dill — October 17, 2007 @ 6:36 am

    The “takes out capital ships” idea seems to make sense, maybe be allowing artillery barrage to hit air, or just giving main Thor weapons lots of anti-air power.

  16. Phil Alford — October 17, 2007 @ 7:44 am

    I really never liked the idea of the thor, most games have too many top tier units and the thor lacks a strategic niche.

  17. Anonymous — October 17, 2007 @ 7:45 am

    they shouldn’t take the thor out just because the terrans have the battle cruiser as well. look at the protoss, the have the carrier and mothership.

  18. Arthur Santana — October 17, 2007 @ 1:04 pm

    I think that the Thor seems very much like the Ultralisk in SC1, a big unit whose main job is taking fire and do havoc while you organize your attacking fellows. Think of deploying Siege Tanks, for instance.

  19. brainless — October 17, 2007 @ 9:29 pm

    completely off topic regarding the terrans, i got this rant that i want to say for a looong time…

    Give zerglings leap atkkkkk *Pounce !!*


  20. whiteknight — October 17, 2007 @ 11:22 pm

    return firebat
    and lately in tech tree
    let them have jet pack ability

  21. Ken — October 18, 2007 @ 4:21 am

    enough with the jetpack madness already…

  22. ErkZ — October 18, 2007 @ 9:41 am

    Not sure if this has been discussed but it has a bit to do with supply depot blocking and pathing. Think they’ll change the AI so that if you’re totally blocked off from an attack the unit will attack the closest thing possible? Seems that units running around not doing anything will become more of a problem now that the Terrans can totally wall themselves up.

  23. Ken — October 18, 2007 @ 4:24 pm

    The common tactic in OSL, Terran players block their choke with a supply depot and a barracks to prevent anything to come in early on. Then they just lift off the barracks if they’re ready. Now, its even easier to block your choke with lowering supply depots.

    Maybe they’ll balance it by lowering the depot’s hit points, I dunno. I can’t think of anything to beat terran early to mid game with this. Its even more difficult to scout his tech if he’s blocking with this.

    I suppose that’s why they create the reapers and stalkers to counter choke point blocks. What do you guys think?

  24. Ken — October 18, 2007 @ 6:37 pm

    quoting Mercutio:

    “I dunno about making the Cobra a debuffer; the Terrans already have a meaty, meaty tech tree that requires lots of buildings and lots of units. And where are my spider mines, dammit? I want to be able to buy badass mines for 25 minerals a pop, even without a free vehicle.”

    The mines are now with the Reapers. They aint motion-detecting mines though, unlike the spidermine, they’re more like ticking time bombs. This takes out a large portion of the Terran strategy pool for SC1. However it creates new strategies that are yet to be uncovered.


  25. Mercutio — October 18, 2007 @ 10:53 pm


    The Reaper mine is pretty cool, and I’m sure I’ll blow up many a building with it, but it’s primarily an offensive tool. I’d like to be able to do actual minelaying. Of course, I’d also like a pony, so I probably shouldn’t complain too much.

    And if I wanted to beat a Terran early game… depends a little. Zealots probably won’t be able to hack down a supply depot line while under withering fire from a couple bunkers, although its conceivable you could get a Zealot rush into a base before they’ve walled off entirely.

    Mid-game, you have a LOT more options. Stalkers can do your tech scouting for you. A Phase Prism can warp-in units past a supply line, or Immortals can trundle up, weather the Siege Tank fire, blow the depots away, and then retreat while the Zealots and Stalkers swarm in to deal with the bunkers and army. Presumably the Collosi can step over them, and they’ll eviscerate marines.

    But the Terran defensive shell is going to be a tough nut to crack to get at their gooey center. That’s just how the Terrans are.

  26. Joshua — October 19, 2007 @ 6:50 am

    I don’t see why it is a problem to have some tactical overlap. I think it would be fun to double up the different units in each race. You would have some super specialists and some general units that have alot of overlap and everything in between.

  27. Arthur Santana — October 19, 2007 @ 10:31 am

    Someone up here talked of the Thor having good anti-air power. That is an uncovered terrain for the terrans, isn’t? We don’t have the Goliath, it would be interesting to have a walking super-turret.

  28. Frozenlingon — October 19, 2007 @ 2:46 pm

    Haven’t thought about it, but when you metion goliath I miss him alot. But having a walking super turret seems strange, as thor is built in combat/battlefield/whatever, you might aswell build stationary turrets that serves almost the same purpose.

  29. Ken — October 21, 2007 @ 10:01 pm

    guys, what’s FD?

  30. Chucky — October 22, 2007 @ 8:59 pm

    I don’t understand why if two units overlap, one has to go.

    just give them a slightly different edge, and players will always be able to be creative about them, I have no idea why they think if A does what B does, then A should go.

    this is the second time this is being mentioned:

    Reaver v Colossus
    Thor v Battlecruiser

    and I must say, I find it disturbing.
    Just leave in more units, leave room for interesting strategies.

    I will Vouch for Reavers to return, and Thors to stay.

  31. Nick — October 26, 2007 @ 1:44 pm

    Don’t Nerf Thor. T.hat’s retarded. If it’s not going to live up to its name (a god) it shouldn’t be in there. it would be nice to play with though, maybe if they just put it on map-edit or something lol.

  32. funkinthenight — November 23, 2007 @ 8:33 pm

    What’s this about taking out firebats? I mean, they can adjust them however much but common, you CAN’T take out the guy who’s like “need a light?” and plays with fire… he’s gotta make a comeback.

  33. sheet pile ชีทไพล์ ตอกถอนเช่าชีทไพล์ — April 30, 2015 @ 7:01 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about battle.net. Regards

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