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Blizzard is celebrating 10 years of StarCraft and would like everyone to join in on the fun:

In celebration of StarCraft’s 10-year anniversary, we’d like to invite every one of you to participate in our “I <3 SC” photo mosaic project. This is your chance to be a part of StarCraft history, as we bring together 10 years worth of StarCraft players from all age groups and nationalities into one massive wall of StarCraft.

Here’s a good example by StarCraft’s #1 fan, Sam Didier:

MANOWAR

Note the expression of dedication on his face. A true sign of a fan!

For your reference, here’s a fan that won’t receive a prize. Look closely at his disrespectful, uninterested face:

What is the prize, you ask?

50 of these entries will be chosen to win an “I <3 SC” T-shirt. Please make sure you fill out all the required fields in the submission form to be considered for the “I <3 SC” contest.

 

All entries should be submitted using the entry form located here. All entries should be submitted using the ‘Submit’ button below by 23:53 p.m. CET on April 28, 2008. Results will be posted within two weeks of the contest’s end date.

The short Q&A further explains the rules of participation:

Can we create fan art, hand-drawn images, cinematic stills, etc. with the “I <3 SC” logo for the contest?

 

Yes. The requirement for each image is that it be 1024×768 in size or larger and have the “I <3 SC” message clearly visible. As long as those conditions are met, photos, hand-drawn images, pictures created with third-party programs, and pieces made in any alternate medium are all acceptable.

 

If my picture doesn’t get picked as one of the top 100, will it still be possible to be featured in the final mosaic?

 

Yes. We will end up selecting thousands of images to make up the StarCraft 10-year anniversary mosaic.

What should you, the loyal StarCraft fan, do next to join the party?

  1. Download the picture:
  2. Take a picture worth remembering while holding the sign
  3. Submit it to Blizzard here
  4. Eagerly await the “I <3 SC” T-Shirt

Have fun!

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Another batch of Q&A has been posted by Karune, Blizzard’s RTS community manager. This Gameplay series post also includes the recently introduced ScreenCraft; screenshots taken as per fans’ request. This time, it’s a Protoss versus Zerg shot titled “Psi Onslaught“.

As requested by the community, the Protoss have brought their heavy hitters in this psi onslaught upon a developing Zerg base. In retaliation, the Zerg counter with a ravaging pack of Ultralisks and Zerglings upon the advancing Templar army. While the epic battle begins, the Protoss player cleverly sneaks a group of Stalkers to raid the Zergs economy as well.

Psi Onslaught

* Click for Big

Chat with Devs: After the Zerg release, I have been asking Dustin what types of changes are being made to the other factions during this process, and one of the most interesting ones that have been added has to do with the Terran Ghost. In order for the Terrans to counter the various new casters that have been introduced to all sides in StarCraft II, the Ghost can now detect units with energy in a 30 yard radius. This passive ability works similarly to the Sensor Tower, revealing their location even within the fog of war. This ability could also no doubt open up some interesting assassination type single player missions as well with the Ghost.

The Ghost‘s Snipe ability has just become a lot more useful: The Ghost can now detect spell casting units in a radius around it, operating like a Sensor Tower for casters (somewhat similar to the WoW Hunter tracking mechanic). This will allow the Ghost to go on hunting missions with specific targets in mind, taking out critical units like the High Templar and the Infestor before engaging in full battle with the weakened enemy.

When asked about the Ghost’s ability to detect non-energy-based abilities, such as the Stalker‘s Blink, Karune clarifies:

Currently, the Ghost’s new ability only applies to units with energy.

Ghost

On to the Q&A:

1. What upgrade type (assuming these are returning) is the Viking using? Vehicle or ship? (Or perhaps infantry?)

 

The Viking is built from the Starport again and will use ship armor rather than vehicle armor.

2. What will Zerglings be able to do against new Jackal?

 

Attacking Jackals efficiently with Zerglings will take a bit of micromanagement, making sure that Zerglings are spread out or attacking from different directions. The Jackals hit points have also been reduced from 125 to 75 with a slight increase to their speed. This will make them more vulnerable to Zerglings if you can get them close to surround the Jackals.

The Jackals’ strength lies in their ability to line up their targets. Their weapon’s area-of-effect only extends directly in front of them, creating opportunities for skilled players to surround the Jackals, effectively eliminating their advantage over small units. This will cause players to either utilize the Jackals’ improved speed to get out of the disadvantaged position, or quickly lose the unit, which now has 66% fewer hitpoints.

Jackals

3. If a unit is being produced at a Protoss building while it becomes unpowered, does it continue production or pause until re-powered?

 

If a Protoss building becomes unpowered, all production including research at that building will pause until re-powered.

4. In lieu of the Nydus Worm, will the Zerg Overlord maintain its “Ventral Sacs” upgrade? Will the Ultralisk have any sort of unit carrying capacity?

 

Currently, the Overlords original Ventral Sacs ability has been taken out. With the introduction of the Nydus Worm, the Zerg will have more than enough mobility to keep their enemies on their toes. On that note, the Ultralisk will not be able to carry units.

This issue has already been extensively covered in the reports following the Zerg announcement. Karune posted some more information about the Nydus Worm in response to a question:

Currently, the Nydus Worm can carry any ground unit from any faction (yes, this includes your teammate’s units), including Ultralisks. In regards to the Nydus Worm, I cannot stress enough that this is still work in progress, as this can easily be an overpowered ability. Nonetheless, the Blizzard Devs are working hard to get this balanced, as it is a very fun mechanic to play with. You never know when you’ll have a huge Nydus Worm bust out in the middle of your base, spewing hundreds of Zerglings out.

 

Detectors will be able to detect Nydus Worms traveling underground to their destinations.

This addresses the question that the SC2Blog had in the last Q&A – teammates can indeed use each other’s transports, or at least the Nydus Worm, to travel!

5. To what degree will StarCraft II allow for remapping – limited remapping a la Warcraft III, or complete remapping of key bindings?

 

We are planning to support key-mapping for StarCraft II. The extentof the ability for remapping keys is still to be determined. Even in current experimentations, we have found that there are often many issues with conflicting key bindings as there are very few open unmapped keys to be swapped in and out.

Q: Karune, are those templar in the screenshot channeling psi storm, or are their hands only glowing because the shot was taken right after they cast it?

 

Psi Storm is still instant cast, like the original StarCraft. The glow from their hands are the animations that occur when they cast Psi Storm. The animation can also be seen in my avatar as well.

Very High Templars

In other news, Blizzard has exhibited StarCraft 2 in Taiwan a few days ago, and a few pictures have popped up on a local site.

The most interesting picture is this one, where the new Mothership Vortex” spell can clearly be seen. It’s easy to understand why this ability is no longer called “Black Hole”, although we’ll have to see it in action before we can decide if it is actually an improvement.

Vortex

A close up on the new Zealot:

Pink Ranger

A laser-heavy picture with a lot of action. A new building that looks like the Queen’s Nest is apparent on the lower right corner of the screen.

Lasers!

Check out the rest of the pictures over at sc2.sgamer.com.

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Karune, Blizzard’s RTS community manager, has sprinkled a few new bits of information on the Battle.net forums.

First, he is asked about his thoughts regarding StarCraft 2’s unique units:

In the current build, only the Queen is ‘unique’ (only limited to 1 per Zerg player at any given time). The Thor is currently the Terran’s primary ground to air mechanized unit. More than one Mothership can also be built, though they are quite expensive in cost.

Will the Zerg Queen remain the only unique unit? The concept of its uniqueness is drastically different than both the Mothership and the Heroes of WarCraft 3. The Queen’s role is part of the Zerg’s building and unit evolution; It isn’t just a one-unit army or the pinnacle of the Zerg’s tech tree.
Comments made by Battlarmd and an Anonymous reader in our last post raise a few interesting ideas for both races:

As long as the Mothership is in the lower orbit, all units will get stronger shields, and maybe even decreased mana cost for abilities. Keep the Mothership unique, this way every Protoss player will want to build the Mothership asap, but again, it will be a major attack target by most players, but this kind of ‘fear factor’ will be cool. Maybe even have it so when the Mothership is created, a warning message can be sounded like the nuclear launch, something like “A Protoss Mothership has descended into lower orbit.”

Multiple Motherships?

The Mothership remains as one of the most powerful support units. The Vortex ability can potentially eat whole armies up, if the enemy players do not react fast enough (especially in difficult to maneuver choke points). Furthermore, the Time Bomb is extremely effective at breaking the enemy’s defensive line in a drawn out escalated battle.

The Void ability, Originally known as the Black Hole, has again been renamed to “Vortex“. It seems that the main drawback of this ability, despite being extremely powerful, is that it can relatively easily be dodged. Spells of this type, which are not instantaneous and require careful planning, also take a lot of skill to use. Of course, since the Mothership is not unique, there’s nothing holding a dedicated Protoss player from casting 2 or 3 of those, completely surrounding an enemy army with black death.

Next up, a few Zerg questions answered:

The visuals for the Zerg’s defense structures have not been finalized.

 

The new defense gameplay mechanisms they are working with on the Zerg are actually introducing many new tactics in terms of how you build your base defense. In order to maximize the efficiency of your defense structures, players will have to place them very strategically. I am sure we will go into this in more detail when we chat with the devs about it in a future batch of Q&As.

One of the reasons the size of the Banelings were increased from the size in the original Protoss Release Video was to make it plausible to defend against it. Before, if you have a group of Banelings attack with Zerglings, it was near impossible to focus fire on the Banelings. In the current build, their size, splash damage distribution, and hit points have been increased. These changes still make them potent, yet still allow the possibility of defense with superior micromanagement.


The final size of the Banelings still may change, but this is the current design they are testing.

Plenteous Banelings

One of the most seen offensive strategies internally at Blizzard is using the Queen to build base defenses on enemy creep in Zerg vs Zerg matches. The Queen can also regenerate the health of those defenses as well, making it an excellent Zerg on Zerg rush strategy.

Offensive towering taken to a new extreme. The Zerg Queen is the ultimate tower-rush weapon, capable of constructing the towers, healing them instantly, and providing back up herself. This is quite a risky move, but obviously a very effective one.

 

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Incgamers has conducted a very informative interview with Blizzard’s top developers: Dustin Browder (Lead Designer), Chris Sigaty (Lead Producer) and Samwise Didier (Art Director). They ask some important questions and receive detailed responses. Here are the major highlights:

The Mothership seems like an extremely powerful unit, are there any counters to it?

 

Sure! It has been changed significantly since BlizzCon. You can use Corruptors, Hydras, Vikings or Phoenixes, depending on your race. It is a unit that you only should build if you have air superiority, as it can relatively easily be defeated if you can’t defend it. It is not a unit you make unless you have air superiority as it will be run over. You wouldn’t choose to make a Mothership without backup.

The Mothership has clearly not been designed to be cost-effective in battle, unless it is able to survive long enough to make good use of its powerful abilities. The Mothership will probably not be used by smart players unless the player is confident of his air superiority or in his the ability to repel direct attacks against the Mothership. Such problematic design might condemn it to the role of a mere coup de grace unit, a common fault in RTS games.

Protoss Mothership

Are there any changes to Creep as such?

 

Creep has the same functionality as before, besides the new graphics, and how it spreads.

Creep, unlike in StarCraft 1, can now spread through ramps between different height levels.

The Queen seems very much like a Hero Unit, like in WarCraft III, is that the meaning of the Queen?

 

The Queen can die just like any other unit, and isn’t “resurrected” like Heroes of WarCraft III. If she dies you need to make a new Queen and upgrade her again, to the former unit’s strength. While she definitely isn’t invincible, she can easily take on an Ultralisk for example. She is mainly a really good base defence as she can heal a building for 100 HP very fast early on, and do it several times. What can happen is that your opponent start hammering your building, taking the HP all the way down, and then it’s up all of a sudden, so they might have to beat it down several times. During this time, they could possibly already be dead from the other base defences, or that the Queen’s player have time to do some other action.

 

Her Deep Tunnel ability makes it possible to escape most dangerous attacks, by just tunnelling to another building, or tunnel between bases. Still, you should be careful with that, as it will be 15 seconds before she can use that ability after it has been activated. In worst case you might find yourself loosing the Queen as you got attacked at a bad time. You’ll find that the Queen can be used in offensive action, but she is better designed for defence, as she walks slowly, and her abilities require creep or buildings, like making poisonous creep.

The Queen is tough enough to fight small forces and even powerful units, like the Ultralisk, but due to her cost and the fact that the Zerg rely on her for some of their most important abilities, it’s better to quickly tunnel away from battle rather than try to engage anything more than a minor enemy company.

The Queen and her babies

What is the Overlord’s new role in StarCraft as it doesn’t transport or detect?

 

The Overlord can also be mutated into an Overseer, to give you detection. They currently have the ability to slowly increase their sight radius as long as they remain stationary, so you can see more. If you move with the Overseer, you will loose the sight you got by staying stationary, and will have to regain it slowly when it stops again. The main reason the Overlord/Overseer was split is to make cloak more useful, as the Zerg are somewhat “detectorific” if they just send a bunch of Overlords with their units. This way it matters a bit more with cloaking and detection.

The Zerg of StarCraft 1 had what amounted to free detection. Since Overlords were abundant, cloaked attacks were rare (compared to the other races) unless a specific effort was made to get rid of the Overlords first. The Overseer, especially with the new sight radius increase mechanic, provides both a fairer and a more interesting approach to detection for the Zerg.

Can Corruptors corrupt any unit on the field? For instance, can they corrupt a Mothership?

 

Yes, they can corrupt any flying unit. It depends on the unit’s HP regarding on how long it takes to corrupt it, but all units can be corrupted.

Which race do you feel has changed the most since the original?

 

The Protoss maby? That is the race we feel has had the most success in development, and currently feel the most developed and most “crisp”. It is really hard to say. You guys are the ones that really should tell us about these things!

That’s how we at the SC2Blog feel as well. The Protoss have been by far the most “stable” race, and we can safely expect that Blizzard is doing all it can to bring the Terran and Zerg to the same level of “crispness” prior to releasing the beta…

Immortals

 

Next up, three GameTrailers interviews with Chris Sigaty [1|2|3]. Here are the highlights:

  • Blizzard is experimenting with even faster game speeds than the StarCraft 1 “Fastest” setting.
  • When the Blizzard strategy team started making StarCraft 2, they decided to remove the hero system of WarCraft III and other mechanics that were added to that game in order to keep franchises separate. They wanted to go back to the “micro heavy, huge army fighting of StarCraft, with more base management“.
  • The team did learn a lot from WarCraft III, and added a plenty of UI and battle.net features into StarCraft 2.
  • “The ability for players to easily get into matches is key”
  • We have a beta coming up and we look forward to seeing feedback

And we are looking forward to showing it to you, Chris.

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