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Fan Site Q&A 2: Zerg’s New Brood Lord, Zerg Vs. Zerg Balance

The second installment of the Fan Q&A series has been released via Starfeeder, spanning 9 questions and including the introduction of the brand new Zerg Brood Lord – a flying, heavy assault unit. All questions were answered by Dustin Browder – Lead Designer of StarCraft 2.

1. What is the minimum screen resolution Starcraft 2 is supporting?


The minimum screen resolution in the current build is 1024x768x32 bits.

Considering the fact that StarCraft is in full 3D and it’s reasonable to assume that battles involving more than a hundred units won’t be an anomaly, Blizzard is bound to include low-detail modes to enable a decent level of gameplay for owners of mid-low range of PCs.

Despite never being graphically outdated, Blizzard’s games have always been able to cater to wide audiences and are not aimed at the uber-specced high-end gaming machines.

2. There has been a lot of concern, that ZvZ (Zerg vs Zerg) could become a roach micro contest as roaches do double damage to biological, are tier 1 and have high regeneration. Is this true? If not, how can one counter a roach rush in ZvZ?


Zerg versus Zerg games has been one of our most challenging matchups to balance. With regard to Roaches versus Roaches, all I can say now is that we are still balancing and several things have already changed that will affect how the Roach will do, including bringing Hydralisks back down to a Tier 1.5 unit and having a more standard ranged attacker role.

3. How has island map matches been like so far in StarCraft II internal testing? Could you describe basic sample builds and/or tactics in island games?


StarCraft II races have arguably become more mobile than the original StarCraft with the introduction of the Viking and Medivacs, as well as having a more easily usable Nydus Worm, and Warp-In. With these new mechanics, there will be several new ways to invade an island position, keeping the game fast paced and exciting. ‘Turtling,’ will be a bit harder to do in StarCraft II because of these mechanics as well.

What Blizzard has accomplished is a complete tactical reset of StarCraft. After StarCraft 2 was announced, the biggest concern of many fans was that Blizzard’s fear of straying too far from the predecessor’s tactical roots will eventually lead to the creation of a “StarCraft 3D”.

Few concepts of StarCraft 1 have remained completely intact, with ZvZ, one of StarCraft’s most intense match-ups, being completely torn apart with the introduction of a low-tier, regenerating, anti-biological unit.

Hydralisks

It’s interesting to note how often the Hydralisk, one of StarCraft 1’s core units, has shifted back and forth between roles and tiers. Right now, it seems to have reverted back to its traditional StarCraft 1 role, as evident by the last Battle Report.

4. Could you tell us about how Muta stacking will work?


Stacking up Mutalisks will be possible in StarCraft II but they will tend to spread out again when they move or attack.


5. Are any new units yet to be revealed? ie: Zerg heavy air unit?


Zerg has a new flying heavy assault unit known as the Brood Lord. This one is buff! Much more intimidating than the Guardian and will still be morphed from the Mutalisk. This unit will be replacing the previously seen Swarm Guardian and will have new art as well. This unit currently has 350 hit points and a large range of 9, doing 25 damage and spawning a Broodling upon each attack, which will live for a few short seconds, doing minor melee damage.

The Brood Lord, a brand new Zerg unit, is a combination of StarCraft 1’s Guardian and Queen. Nothing else is known about this unit, which has yet to appear on any screenshot, battle report or official page.

6. How big is the internal StarCraft II testing team? Are there dedicated full-time testers?


We are currently running the internal alpha testing for every employee and we also have some dedicated QA staff for the game as well.

7. What is the role of the E-sports team? Is Blizzard looking to support the game via an official Blizzard league? Or will that be left to 3rd parties like fansites / game sites to establish?


The role of our eSports Team is to operate tournaments and competitive events for Blizzard games.  We will release more information on our plans for StarCraft II tournaments, both official and third-party, as we get closer to the launch of the game.


8. We’ve seen unit and mineral counts as over-head graphics in game during the first StarCraft II battle-report. Are there more features we haven’t seen yet in regards to spectating games?


You can find more information on the replay UI at the latest Q&A batch and you can see various information tabs such as army size, resource collection rate, resource allocations, and tech research in progress.

The Replay UI is definitely one of the most welcome improvements for the majority of RTS gamers. Being able to watch, understand and learn the deep mechanics and statistics of your own games is key to self-improvement. Notice, for example, how useful the following unit portrait turned out to be on this observer display. (thanks Chronos!)

Infested Portrait

9. Where will the StarCraft II team take their vacation once the game is launched?


In all honesty, we’ll probably be on Battle.net playing StarCraft II with all of you.

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