BlizzCon 2010 was massive – a massive gaming celebration, catering to fans of all three Blizzard Universes – StarCraft, Diablo and WarCraft. During our stay at the the event, Blizzard has provided us with some cool new information about its custom map plans, a few exclusive answers, as well as a wealth of information from panels and great hi-res in-game screenshots.
Blizzard’s StarCraft 2 : Wings of Liberty FAQ for BLizzCon 2010 focuses mostly on the custom maps Blizzard’s designers have been developing, as well as providing us with a few vague statements about its Heart of the Swarm plans. In case some of you haven’t been following – StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm is the much anticiapted first expansion for StarCraft 2 – the second part of the trilogy.
Q: When can the general public play the official StarCraft II custom maps showcased at BlizzCon 2010?
A: The custom maps created by the StarCraft II development team are currently in a preview state, and require additional development time as well as other work such as localization, before we can release them to the public. We plan to release these maps for free over Battle.net, one-by-one, over the coming months.
Blizzard’s StarCraft II Custom Maps and Editor Panel has provided fans and visitors with many answers and was also used to unveil four internally developed custom projects, including an Official, long-term supported, Blizzard DoTA!
Blizzard’s custom map production philosophy is based on the following trinity:
- Find the “fun factor.”
- Make sure the map is easy to learn.
- Actively seek and encourage feedback.
Despite the fact that Blizzard is yet to receive major feedback, it does seem to take the first two statements in the list quite seriously, showcasing original, easy to learn and fun custom scenarious during the panel:
Left 2 Die
This is an evolution of the “Outbreak” Wings of Liberty Campaign mission, where the colonists on Meinhoff were infested by a zerg virus. In this cooperative mission, you and a friend will unlock, purchase, and use new technologies necessary to survive nighttime assaults by unique zerg units, repel their attacks, and purge the infestation.
Blizzard’s take on the WarCraft’s most popular mod and one of the most popular custom scenarios of any game in the world, Defense of the Ancients, looks absolutely awesome. Understanding the potential of integrating professional level DoTA play into Battle.net, it seems Blizzard has decided to take matters in their own hands.
Aiur Chef is perhaps the most peculiar mod Blizzard has even introduced – it’s an 8-player FFA map that focuses on … creating the best possible dish using the ingredients found on each map.
This is a whimsical eight-player free-for-all in which you control a chef and must scour the map for ingredients to create succulent dishes. Each round has a secret theme ingredient and three recipes to complete. Completing recipes grant you different rewards such as points, powers, or items. The chef with the most points at the end of three rounds is named the next Aiur Chef!
StarJeweled combines two distinct game types into a unique 2v2 experience. The right side of the game is a match-three style puzzle game. Matching jewels and clearing them away generates energy. Energy is then used to spawn special units and activate abilities; defeat the enemy base to win.
Next on the menu, Blizzard’s StarCraft II Secrets of the Masters panel revealed many of the semi-hidden Battle.net ranking mechanics – most importantly that the goal of the system is to create 50%:50% W/L records for all players. A gaming eco-system where game are constantly pinned against opponents of similar skill level, until they either graduate to higher levels or drop down a notch.
The Battle.net matchmaker is an adaptive system, which means that the more a player plays, the better the system gets to ‘know’ his or her skill level, with the ultimate goal being for each player to be paired with opponents of equal skill so they win around half of their games. The matchmaker tracks wins and losses and creates a hidden skill rating for a player over time (which is actually a rolling average composed of several different numbers).
Leagues are explained as being simply 20%/20%/20%/20%/20% per-region divisions:
Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond, respectively.
There are 5 leagues (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond), and all StarCraft II players in a region are split into these leagues by 20% increments. So, Diamond league players represent the top 20% of players in their region.
The panel’s biggest announcement was the planned upcoming ladder wipe, and the improvement due to be unveiled in Season 2!
- New UI Profile elements.
- Artwork based on player’s division rank.
- Historical season performance records.
- Top players get more detailed profiles and featured replays.
- A single placement match to reclaim your division placement.
- Masters League.
- Grandmaster League.
On top of all these new features, two new leagues will be introduced to highlight the top players in each region: the Master League, which places roughly the top 5% of Diamond players in their own league, and the Grandmaster League, a very special, elite league which is comprised of the top 200 players in each gameplay region, which will be visible to other players
During Secret of the Masters panel, Blizzard has also revealed the following :
- The hidden player rating consists of several parameters, and is not planned to be revealed.
- Will consider introducing a per-race player rating in the future
- Replay sharing feature will become available in 2011
- Chat channels are due to be re-introduced before the end of 2010
Dustin Browder, StarCraft 2’s lead designer, was kind enough to answer a few quick questions exclusively for SC2Blog:
1) Can you disclose what % of gamers venture into multiplayer/battle.net without playing the Single player campaign and vise versa – how many players finish the campaign and don’t both with multiplayer at all?
I don’t know the exact numbers but it’s about fifty percent. About forty to 50 percent finish the campaign and a good number more than that play the first couple of campaign levels, and fewer as the campaign advances to the final level. Building the campaign was important in creating the multiplayer, and a lot of people still get involved in the storyline. Some argue that with how many people play Starcraft, campaign is not important, but we still want to keep bringing in more new players. There are always new players to be brought in.
2) The race win % gaps between the leagues can get significant – meaning it would be very tough to balance the game to fit all levels. What’s Blizzard’s most realistic goal on this? Is one level of play more important than another?
We start fixing at the Diamond level. Diamond is the most important. It doesn’t interfere with the lower leagues… well, maybe it interferes with bronze but it only matters if it the game cheeses up a lot at that level. It’s really as long as they’re having fun. There are usually 4 or 5 ways to deal with things like speed, range.. except in a couple of cases where it’s kind of tight. But we usually find a way to usually it doesn’t interfere with any of the other leagues.
Dustin’s own recent blog post on Battle.net has indeed shown that Diamond level gameplay is the most balanced of all leagues. But there are some big balance gaps in other leagues, sometimes opposite to the balance state in Diamond!
With Blizzard revealing most of their short-mid term StarCraft 2 plans, the only missing piece of the puzzle is Heart of the Swarm, which was virtually absent from all StarCraft 2 panels and events.
Q: Why didn’t you showcase Heart of the Swarm at BlizzCon 2010?
A: The development team is already hard at work on Heart of the Swarm, but we’re still in a relatively early stage of development on the first StarCraft II expansion set. We look forward to showing off the game in the coming months.
Q: When will you release Heart of the Swarm?
A: We know that players are eager to find out what happens to Jim Raynor and Kerrigan next in the epic StarCraft II saga, but it’s too early to share a release date at this time.
Q: Will there be a Heart of the Swarm beta test? When?
A: We’ll announce more information about potential beta testing as we draw further into development on Heart of the Swarm.
BlizzCon 2010 itself was an awesome celebration for fans, gamers and Blizzard staff – check out to following gallery for pictures from the many panels, contests , concerts and tournaments that took place during the event.
Surprise, it’s a patch! The newest update to StarCraft 2 is here and it brings with it some of the changes previously announced and a few more surprising ones. While it was scheduled to hit later this year as a part of an “eSports patch”, Blizzard apparently felt it was urgent enough for the game right now, releasing it as a pure balance patch. Here’s the complete list of changes:
- Players will no longer receive achievement toasts while their status is set to “Busy.”
- The messaging when attempting to load a saved game or replay from a previous version has been clarified
- Adjusted the amount of points earned and lost by random team participants to properly reflect the strength of a player’s teammates.
Nexus life and shields increased from 750/750 to 1000/1000.
- Damage level 1 increased from 5 to 6 (+4 armored).
- Damage level 2 decreased from 10 (+15 armored) to 8 (+8 armored).
- Flux Vanes speed upgrade bonus decreased from 1.125 to 0.703.
The Protoss Nexus’ hitpoint increase is quite likely a means to nerf the dreaded Marauder drop indirectly. Marauders, with their incredible anti-armor bonus damage and Stim ability, make for awesome commando teams: load up a Medivac or two with Marauders, drop them behind the mineral line, Stim up and watch the Nexus go down in blue flames in a few seconds. This mission will now take Terran players 33% more seconds to accomplish.
The Void Ray change is an interesting one. It continues the trend of Void Ray nerfs throughout the beta, further making the charged-up Void less and less of a flying doomsday weapon of laser death – and almost completely nullifying its use in fast “cheese” strategies. On the other hand, it makes the non-charged Void Ray less ineffective, perhaps transforming this unique unit into a more casual weapon. Interestingly enough, against armored targets and without being charged-up, the Void Ray will only begin being less effective than its pre-patch state after 12.6 seconds. Of course, up to this point, Void Rays were rarely sent into battle in their non-charged state, as players would first charge them up on remote buildings, destructible debris, or even their own units.
It will be interesting to see whether the Void Ray finds its niche on the Battlefield, now that its high price doesn’t mean terrible damage but the unit remains so fragile.
Barracks requirement changed from Command Center to Supply Depot.
Supply Depot life increased from 350 to 400.
Acceleration reduced from 2.315 to 2.25.
Speed reduced from 2.75 to 2.5.
Nitro Packs speed upgrade now has a Factory Requirement.
Energy bar removed.
250mm Strike Cannons is now cooldown-based on a 50-second cooldown. Ability starts with cooldown available (useable immediately after upgrade is researched)
The Medivac, a staple of Terran play and a part of the dreaded M&M&M ball, is getting a small reduction in speed. This change is likely meant to keep the Terran slightly less mobile, as other races often have to utilize their mobility to hit the Terran when their forces aren’t around; it’s hard to go toe-to-toe with the Bioball.
The following video includes a great example of a dying, desperate and broken Terran fighting back with his last immortal Bioball against an almost maxed-out Zerg enemy. And winning.
As previously revealed, the Reaper is getting two nerfs in the form of a delayed Barracks and an even more delayed speed upgrade. Here’s what we wrote about the issue when it was first discussed:
Despite being completely ignored by players in the mid and late game, the Reaper is slated to be hit with more early-game nerfs. While on paper, Reapers have the potential to be great economy harassers and tech-deniers, their extreme fragility makes even the puniest defensive measure a prohibitive obstacle – and these can be found anywhere beyond the first few minutes of a game. It’s unclear what Blizzard has in store for the Reaper, but for now, it will definitely see a lot less play.
- Hatchery life increased from 1250 to 1500.
- Lair life increased from 1800 to 2000.
- Spawning Pool life increased from 750 to 1000.
- Spire life increased from 600 to 850.
- Ultralisk Cavern life increased from 600 to 850.
Energy bar removed.
Corruption is now cooldown-based on a 45-second cooldown. Ability starts with cooldown expired (must wait for full 45-second cycle before usable).
Fungal Growth now prevents Blink.
Range increased from 3 to 4.
As promised, the Zerg are getting the better end of the deal with this new patch. Their buildings will now be more resilient, the fragile tech buildings less deniable by other races.
Fungal Growth will now prevent Stalkers from Blinking, as well as Siege Tanks from Sieging, Vikings from transforming, and units from Burrowing. The added Roach range adds a new dimension of play to these units, which can now compete with other ranged units much more efficiently, be used in masses without loss of firepower in the back lines, and break down chokes with added ease. After all the Roach nerfs throughout development, these hardened Zerg bugs are finally catching a break.
- Fixed an issue where players could not cast the Feedback spell on Point Defense Drones.
- Fixed an issue where the Phoenix would continue to channel Graviton Beam after the target died.
- Fixed an issue that would cause Larvae to spawn and be hidden behind Zerg eggs.
- Fixed an issue where players were unable to navigate to the Single Player page or watch replays after canceling map downloads from the queue.
- Fixed a desync that could occur on user-created maps with custom mod dependencies.
Another interesting change today is to the Corruptor and Thor, both having their mana pool stripped and their abilities put on cooldown instead. Since both units have only one ability, which – especially for the Thor – are not easily cast, it makes sense to remove their mana pool altogether. This change mainly affects the Protoss High Templar, since its Feedback ability can no longer one-shot Corruptors or halve the lives of Thors who don’t even have their ability researched.
Overall, it appears that this patch furthers Blizzard’s agenda to make the game more “carebear-friendly”, removing more early game “cheese” strategies and making sure low-level players aren’t abused by them – even if they were never much of a problem in high-level and professional play.Google+
StarCraft 2 has just received its first major patch. While several mini-fixes had been released over the course of the last two months, Blizzard has saved all the balance changes for this one. Staying surprisingly true to the Situation Report, the patch contained virtually no deviations from the plans revealed back in August – a clear indication of the amount of testing that went into the patch.
You can find the full original patch documentation (which includes many minor tweaks) here. In this post, we’ll go over the more meaningful parts of this update.
• A new game clock has been added. Players can now instantly see how long they’ve been in their current mission or match. This feature can be turned on or off in the Gameplay Options menu.
This small addition has a great potential. Many players learning and perfecting certain builds already use timers to know exactly when they should push out or what to expect from the enemy at any moment given intelligence gathered before. Integrating a timer into the game allows everyone to incorporate this extra piece of information into their game instead of relying on intuition.
The following balance changes are identical to those mentioned in the situation report released last month. Our analysis of the changes can be found here.
Protoss Balance Changes
• Zealot • Build time increased from 33 to 38. • Warp Gate cooldown increased from 23 to 28.
As Blizzard mention in their report:
Zealot rushes are currently too powerful at various skill levels, particularly those that rely on rapidly assaulting an enemy base from nearby “proxy” gateways. We feel the window players have to scout for and fend off this rush is too small. We also want to address the problem of protoss being able to dump minerals a bit too quickly with the combination of warpgates and Chrono Boost.
Terran Balance Changes
• Battlecruiser Ground damage decreased from 10 to 8. • Bunker Build time increased from 30 to 35. • Reaper Build time increased from 40 to 45.
….we have decided to increase the build time of reapers as well from 40 to 45 seconds. Fast reaper + bunker, or fast marine + bunker rushes are problematic against zerg.
Siege Tank • Siege mode damage changed from 50 to 35 (+15 armored). • Upgrade damage changed from +5 to +3 (+2 armored).
Zerg Balance Changes
Ultralisk •Ram ability removed. Ultralisk will now use normal attack against buildings. • Damage decreased from 15 (+25 armored) to 15 (+20 armored).
The adjustment to Ultralisk’s attack is a bigger boost than it may seem at first glance. Check out the following video to fully appreciate the implications of applying an AoE effect to a building attack.
This newly introduced “mechanic” has already been acknowledged as a bug, however, and will be fixed soon.
• Chat windows no longer vanish when exiting a multiplayer map or campaign mission. • Fixed an issue where players would still receive toasts when their status was set to busy.
• Default race in a game lobby is now properly set to Random. • Lobby hosts will now receive a toast when an invited player declines an invitation.
• If a unit loads into a transport, missiles targeting it will no longer target similar units in the area.
• Fixed an issue where builders waiting for an area to clear could block units trying to leave the area.
• Queue tooltips now display information about what is in progress.
• Marines trained at multiple Barracks will now prefer a Barracks with a Reactor over one with a Tech Lab or no attachment.
• SCVs will now load into the closest Command Center if multiple are within range.
Check out the rest of the changes, dealing with the editor and detailing many small fixes, here. Along the detailed changes, we’ve noticed some other modifications to the game, in the form of many updates to existing icons for abilities and upgrades:Google+
Join the Dominion was a Blizzard media campaign that included fan participation – submitting propaganda posters as well as taking a Terran military entrance exam. The campaign’s focus was the gradually unlocked StarCraft-related media content in the form of inspirational posters, StarCraft 2 story trailer videos, music from the game, and various propaganda items. We’re going to go over all the unlockables in this post, summarizing the entire campaign for your viewing pleasure!
To start, go ahead and get a good feel of the campaign by taking the entrance exam, which will assign you to your duty in the service of the Terran Dominion. Are you a skilled Viking pilot or more of a suicidal Firebat? Better find out before StarCraft 2 is released!
After finding out about your future role in the Terran military, check out this awesome gallery of StarCraft 2 posters:
Download some StarCraft 2 ringtones and SMS alerts:
Check out the fan-submitted propaganda poster gallery here, and vote for the one you like by “liking” them with your facebook account.
Lastly, brace yourself for three amazing StarCraft 2 videos. The first two detail the story so far: the Terrans’ arrival at the Koprulu sector, the Protoss’ attempt to eradicate the Zerg, Kerrigan’s transformation into the Queen of Blades, and the events leading up to the beginning of StarCraft 2.
The last video is also the newest trailer for StarCraft 2 we’ve posted recently, combining stunning pre-rendered animation with in-game scenes seamlessly to create one of the best hype trailers ever, just in time for StarCraft 2’s imminent release!
In just a few hours, the wait will be over. Some may have needed the hype machine, but they had most of us at “StarCraft 2”.Google+
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