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After a short hiatus in blue activity, Karune returns in full force to answer questions on the Battle.net forums, providing information on the latest changes to a few high-interest gameplay aspects: the Ghost and its abilities, the new Dark Pylon, and the High Templar‘s new spell.

Starting with a long post about EMP and the ghost, Karune had this to say:

Yup, EMP is currently on the Ghost and does 100 shield damage to all units and drains all energy in that area of effect. Having a Ghost presence in any TvP match up is crucial, especially if there are casters in the opponent’s army. In the original StarCraft, the EMP used to kill all shield hit points, but since in StarCraft II the ability has been added to the Ghost, which is more easily attainable unit than in the original StarCraft, we have reduced it’s potency a bit.

Plus a one-click ability that reduces an opposing army to half health near instantly isn’t something that we want to promote.

11 Vessles - harder to get than 11 Ghosts

EMP, formerly a Science Vessel ability, has been made weaker due to its higher availability as a Ghost ability. However, at 100 shield damage, it still has the potential to wipe out the shields of entire Protoss armies, as there are few units with more than 100 shield points. Of course, there’s always the option of bringing multiple ghosts into a battle and making them focus their EMP efforts on one group. Karune does not particularly like this tactic, though:

True, though that would be much more costly in terms of minerals/gas as well as time needed to have enough energy for EMPs. Furthermore, it would take slightly more micromanagement as well.

Convinced?

It will remain to be seen how effective Ghosts are in Terran versus Protoss games and whether or not multiple EMP attacks on single targets will be cost effective. There is no doubt that Terran players will make use of several EMPing ghosts when engaging large packs of heavily shielded units – like Carriers – especially with lockdown no longer being a part of the game, as Karune reconfirmed:

No lockdown in multiplayer.

Another interesting topic raised is the Protoss increased shield regeneration rate, which fits perfectly with the increased pace of the game. Not only do shields regenerate twice as fast out of combat, but Shield Batteries, reincarnated as the much more useful Obelisks, will certainly be more prominent in games now. “Obelisk” is the new name for the slightly less new Protoss building – the Dark Pylon, tuned down in power so that it no longer functions as a one stop shop for all Protoss needs.

The Dark Pylon is now known as the Obelisk – primarily because it no longer cloaks units and no longer provides pylon power/supply. This change was mostly due to balance, since it is relatively easy to spam Dark Pylons everywhere and instantly have a Psi Storm recharge point to decimate incoming forces.

The Obelisk is the new name for the Dark Pylon, and the Dark Shrine is the new name for the Dark Obelisk. The Obelisk still has the probe buff, but now also acts as a shield generator, and still has Argus link to transfer energy as well. The cloak ability has been removed from the Obelisk. The Dark Shrine remains the same in function, allowing the production of Dark Templars.

When put in a difficult situation, retreating with Protoss is a strategy that often times has to be used to recharge shields and regroup after attacks. Preserving Protoss units is particularly important because they are generally more expensive than the other races, have more hit points, and have that increased shield regeneration to help them fight another day.

Obelisk?

Obelisks will undoubtedly be more abundant than Shield Batteries in StarCraft 2, as they provide both shield and energy points along with the Protoss’ economy buff. Even though Obelisks do not count as proper Pylons anymore and cannot serve as Proxy Pylons, used to deploy troops from Warpgates or Phase Prisms in remote locations, they are still likely to see off-base use.

Karune was kind enough to assuage the fears of Protoss players, now dreading the Terran Infantry more than ever:

The Colossus would be the unit you are looking for. One Colossi will be able to kill a group of Marines (before shield upgrade) with one sweep of its lasers. Multiple Colossi, with upgraded laser range, will surely mess up the day of any Terran player who does mass infantry.

If Protoss players do tech towards the Colossus, they will also have access to observers very early, giving them early warning to when the Ghost is in play and where it may be shooting its EMP from.

Colossus wiping out Terran Marines with a single pass of his beam

Moving on, some more news about everyone’s favorite lightning-powered caster, the High Templar:

Time Bomb is now known as the Temporal Rift and is cast by the High Templar.

Plasma Surge is no longer in the multiplayer version of the game, but will still be in the editor.

I am protected.

Time Bomb, previously a Mothership ability – demonstrated way back in the original StarCraft 2 introduction video, is gone from the game, replaced with the more mundane “Temporal Rift”. What does it do, Cydra?

Temporal Rift creates a distortion field at the target location. Ground units caught inside of this field have their movement speed, attack speed, and ability cast times slowed by half. And it lasts 30 seconds.

No longer will missiles slow to a crawl when meeting the huge time distortion field created by the dreaded Mothership. Instead, the High Templar has been granted a glorified, area of effect, slow spell. Coupled with Psi Storm, this ability can be devastating to the affected troops which will have a hard time moving away from underneath the surging lightning bolts or the Colossus’ earth-scorching beam.

***

Today, Blizzard has also released the 52nd installment of the Q&A series. This batch belongs to the Map Maker series and spans 8 map creation and custom script programming related questions.

1. Does it still use the JASS language, or perhaps an upgraded version of JASS?

StarCraft II uses an entirely new scripting language, which we’ve called Galaxy. This language is very similar to C, and anyone familiar with programming in C will have no trouble picking it up.

2. Is the language event-driven or object-oriented?

The language itself is not object-oriented, although most of the native functionality is based around operating on game objects.

Blizzard has finally named the puppy publically: the Galaxy scripting language. A fitting name for a tool so often described as able to alter any property and behavior in the StarCraft 2 Universe.

3. In comparison to the Warcraft III Editor, how much more, if any, can the GUI of the game be edited (it was extremely limited in Warcraft III)?

The in-game UI layout is externalized in data files to a large extent, however there is no editor support for working with these files. So it will be possible to customize the game UI, it just won’t be a user-friendly process.

StarCraft 2 is unlikely to gather a massive UI modding community like WoW has, but since the possibility of UI modding exists, we will , no doubt, see detailed manuals pop-up after a few brave and clever souls document the process.

4. Are there new noteworthy functionalities in the Starcraft II Editor, or will the new editor just have general improvements?


I can’t think of a single editor feature from WarCraft III, large or small, which has not been improved in at least some way for StarCraft II.

5. Will the ability to communicate among triggers, for instance via actions or conditions, be improved in the new language?

One significant new feature of the Trigger Editor is support for custom function definitions, including actions and conditions. This means you can create your own actions that are built up from other actions (or custom script code), then use those in triggers just as you would any other action.

6. How does “Hero” support differ from the Warcraft III Editor? Or is it practically identical?

We’ve been working hard to create a hero system that is even more flexible than WarCraft III’s. For example, map makers will have the ability to define any number of custom attributes that modify a hero based on its level.

Dota Allstars Background

The inevitability, and Blizzard’s own encouragement, of a StarCraft 2 DoTA mod is clear to anyone following the trail of Q&As since the announcement of Scumedit. DoTA has become an important and integral part of the professional (and mainstream) WarCraft 3 scene, and the creation of a similar mod will definitely contribute a lot to the StarCraft 2 gaming community.

7. Will there be a public API for the programming language?

As with WarCraft III, there is a large set of “native” functions representing game functionality that can be accessed through scripts. If this is what you mean by “public API”, then yes.

8. Will there be improvements on the “Garbage Collector” for the new language? For example, in JASS all local variables need to be set to null at the end of their use, and certain data-types need to be removed from the game (such as Locations) at the end of their use to avoid memory leaks.

Galaxy features a robust garbage collection system for all native types, which is a huge improvement over WarCraft III (which technically did not have a garbage collection system at all). The script memory leak issues from WarCraft III will be a thing of the past.

Everything about Scumedit and Galaxy is bigger, better and more robust; it is the eventuality of 10 years of modding and map creation coupled with Blizzard’s own ideas for improving these aspects of StarCraft. It will be interesting to see just how far modders take this new tool and whether or not they are able to one-up the legendary DoTA.

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Q&A Batch 30, the third installment of the Map Maker series of Q&As, has been posted. Spanning eight questions and covering key issues like gameplay-affecting weather and multiplayer campaigns, this batch is as relevant to future StarCraft 2 players as it is to map makers.

1) Will it be possible to code the game so map makers can make maps where people can stop incoming spell/missile?

This should be possible through customized ability data and/or triggers.

2) Will we have selectable male/female of every unit?

No, we don’t have plans to include male and female versions of each unit.

3) Will we have the option to give players the option to change weapons in-game?


While we don’t have any plans for a specialized interface for this, it would be possible using the highly flexible ability system.

The first three questions address the customization of units and unit abilities. Customizing unit appearances, switching weapons and spell manipulation are aspects of great importance for the creators of highly customized units, like the ones present in the super-popular WarCraft 3 DoTA series.

Dota AllStars Heroes

 

4) Will you guys link multiplayer maps, so mapmakers can make multiplayer campaigns?

Yes, we do plan to support multiplayer campaigns and linked maps.

5) Will all buildings stand alone and also can we have the ability to disable tech trees?

The tech tree will be fully configurable through customized data and/or triggers.


6) Will research or firing a skill in a certain location be part of the tech tree enabling, for example Stim Packs could be researched to enable a Factory?

Yes, the tech tree and upgrade system will be fully configurable from the editor.

Both the ability to manipulate tech trees and the ability to link multiplayer maps are important for campaign creators. The mentioned features provide the necessary means to convert StarCraft 2’s single player campaign into a great multiplayer adventure. *hint hint*

Hyperion - StarCraft 2 Bridge

7) Will it be possible for AI to be commanded to research a skill, perform an upgrade, build a building at a location, build a unit at a location, retreat from a location?

Yes, there will be extensive AI scripting support.

8 ) Will mapmakers have the ability to set weather that can change the terrain and interrupt gameplay for players? Is this for anywhere or in a specific location?

Weather effect technology has not yet been finalized. However, even if weather effects do not affect gameplay normally, it would be possible to drive both the desired weather effects and associated gameplay effects through triggers.

Complex scripting and preprogrammed courses of action are not out of the ordinary in any modern editor or modding tool. Considering the repeated statements made about the powerful C-type scripting language, players can expect super-intelligent and human-like AIs being part of both campaigns and custom multiplayer maps.

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This month’s discussion topic will span the next month and a half. The topic: Map making. After giving us a taste of the capabilities of the new ScumEdit map editor in two “Map Maker” Q&A batches (18 and 22), Blizzard now requires your input so it can perfect yet another aspect of StarCraft 2.

Over the years we have enjoyed watching our community show their creativity and create amazing maps and mods to our games. With StarCraft II we would like to encourage you to keep up the awesome work, so wed like to give you a tool, you will enjoy working with. We have already answered questions in our Q&A but now it is your turn to tell us what your ideal StarCraft II Editor would look like!

The new “ScumEdit” map editor will be much more functional and free of artificial limitations. As well, it will be more user friendly for low level users who do not need access to the more complex features. StarCraft 2’s editor features a powerful proprietary C-type scripting language, along with a simplified editing mode which features a more intuitive graphic interface.

Here are Karune’s questions for this discussion topic:

– What features would you like to see in the StarCraft II Editor?

 

– How can we support the map making community more?

 

– How would you like to see the custom maps and mods handled in the future?

 

– Additional feedback you might have

Additionally, the SC2 Blog’s questions are:

1) How should map-locking be handled?

 

2) Should more players be allowed in custom games?

 

3) How unrestricted should the editor be? Should players be able to change the core concepts of the game? (basic gameplay mechanics, resources, etc)

Karune asks that you structure your answers in the following manner:

<question you’d like to answer>
<your answer>

 

<question you’d like to answer>
<your answer>

Even though most gamers do not bother with editors at all, all players eventually enjoy the fruits of the modding and map creating communities. The feedback provided now will end up shaping not only the available tools, but the battlefields created with them.

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There’s been a steady torrent of StarCraft 2 news in the last couple of days. Without further ado:

Q&A 22: The Map Maker Part 2.

This Q&A has been posted by Xordiah, Blizzard RTS Community Representative in Europe. It begins with a lengthy chat with the devs, which should interest the large crowd of WarCraft III DotA players:

Chat with Devs: One of the most popular questions we get when it comes to creating UMS (User Map Settings) games or mods is: Will there be a DotA for StarCraft II? For those who are not familiar, DotA (Defense of the Ancients), is a popular UMS game created for Warcraft III. StarCraft compared to Warcraft III, does not focus on heroes as much, and heroes or units do not have the same experience gaining mechanic as Warcraft III, making it difficult to imagine how a game like DotA could be reproduced for StarCraft. Nonetheless, after chatting it up with our devs, we found out the ability to allow heroes and units to gain experience is built into the Map Editor, though it will not likely be in single player or standard multiplayer. In addition, those units can also be toggled to have the ability to carry an inventory, which is also a characteristic needed in UMS maps such as DotA. With those two additions, we can rest assured that our clever community modders can handle the rest in creating some awesome custom games.

The developers had mods in mind when they implemented this feature, which will not be present in the standard game in any way. Blizzard knows StarCraft and WarCraft’s popularity benefits greatly from user made maps, and have taken the necessary steps to make sure players can customize their games more than ever. Good job, Blizzard!

dota2.jpg

Next in the Q&A, more good news for UMS fans. Straight from the mouths of Dustin Browder, lead game designer, and Brett Wood, senior software engineer:

1) Will you finally be able to mix and match terrain types instead of being stuck on jungle, twilight, etc?

 

[Dustin Browder] Yes terrain texture is mixable now. Also tilesets are also mixable.
[Brett Wood] Essentially, you can define your own tileset in the editor, something that wasnt really supported even in Warcraft III.

 

2) Will the new StarCraft II Map Editor support text coloring, unit coloring, player “12” (i.e. neutral player) units?

 

[Dustin Browder] Yes, all of these features will be supported.

 

3) Will maps be larger than 256×256?

 

[Brett Wood] The maximum map size will still be 256×256, and we have no plans to increase that.

 

4) Will the new map editor support locking maps? People hate losing credit for a map.

 

[Dustin Browder] Yes, we are planning to support this feature. We hope that this feature will give the modding community more incentive to create their own original maps.

 

5) Will the new map editor support “square” terrain building as well?

 

[Dustin Browder] Yes. In the editor, users can adjust the footprint of buildings to whatever shape and size they like.

Is any feature in StarCraft not customizable? Well, maybe.

Especially interesting is the support for locking maps. Previously, a modder could spend months working on a UMS scenario, only to have it abused by anyone who downloaded the map to play. Locking maps would allow a modder to keep the credit for his creation and also make sure he’s the only one who can make changes to it.

The Story So Far

A new feature has popped up on StarCraft2.com: The Story So Far, a recap of the events of StarCraft 1. The summary contains a wealth of knowledge about the history and events of the game, starting from the first contact of the Terrans with the Protoss, to Kerrigan’s transformation to the Queen of Blades, and up to the ending event of StarCraft 1 – Tassadar’s suicide mission and the death of the Overmind.

marine.JPG

The text is accompanied by many of StarCraft’s most famous illustrations and also features a few of the movies which originally appeared during the campaign.

ssf3.JPG

This is a great way for newcomers to become acquainted with StarCraft’s history. Since the game has been released almost 10 years ago, it will probably also be appreciated by those who haven’t been religiously following the game, like some of us have, since its debut. Part 2, dealing with the events of Brood War, is “coming soon”. In the meantime, check out our more detailed recap of Kerrigan’s history.

kerriganstory.JPG

Factory Firebats

Karune has posted an answer to a question about the new Firebats, which are now manufactured in the Factory.

Q: I was just wondering why the Firebat(if it stays in the game…)has to be built in the Factory. Can’t the Factory(or maybe Merc Haven) just be used as a prerequisite for FB’s to be built in Barracks.

 

I mean whats the difference between having it built in the the Factory rather than the Barracks with some prerequisites?


Karune: In terms of ‘realism,’ the Firebat has a much larger mechanical frame (with increased hit points), thus would need a larger facility to deploy these units. Additionally, the Barracks currently already has several units available to it, including the Marine, Medic, Reaper, and Ghost. Having the Firebat at the Factory also helps to make sure it is a Tier 2 unit, since its added hit points makes it quite the adversary on the battlefield.

We’re glad to see the Firebat getting a proper overhaul instead of returning unchanged from StarCraft 1. The old Firebat had a very limited role, but the new tier 2, armored menace sounds much more promising.

The StarCraft 1 Goliath, also a tier 2 factory unit, was originally designed with both a heavy machine gun and a close range flame thrower. Eventually, the flamer was removed from the Goliath before the game’s release, which limited the Mecha to its (somewhat unsatisfactory) machine gun in ground battles. It seems like Blizzard has decided to experiment with a flame throwing heavy-armor soldier this time around. Hopefully, it will find a better niche than the old Goliath did.

 

goliathconcept.JPG

 

Karune also mentions that the Reaper is now available at the Barracks. It appears that Blizzard has dropped the idea of assigning them to a separate building, where they could be recruited in a unique way.

. . . Zerg?

Lastly, we bring you word from “Cavez”, better known as Dustin Brodwer, regarding the complete lack of information about the Zerg:

We will give you Zerg stuff just as soon as we can. We aren’t holding it on purpose, it’s just not ready yet. We had a lot more time to work on the Protoss and the Terrans before the announcement that you guys didn’t see (because the game wasn’t announced yet).

 

I don’t have an ETA but we won’t be waiting for the next Blizzcon. We are quite happy to put stuff out on the web for you guys to check out. It doesn’t HAVE to be a giant event to show a race, though when an event happens to match up with a race announcement that is a lot of fun.=)

A Blizzard deadline? Who’d have thought. Cavez claims the Zerg are not ready to be revealed, but we’re still hoping they’re close to completion, with Blizzard aiming to showcase them and generate hype just before the release of StarCraft 2.

That’s all for today’s mega-update.

hydra.jpg

 

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