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Dustin Browder, StarCraft 2’s Lead Designer, has gone on an interview spree, giving three full interviews to representatives of German and Polish fansites along with Joystiq, an international gaming news website. Dustin talks about many aspects of StarCraft 2, providing long and detailed answers to all questions. We bring you the new and most interesting bits of info:

Polish interview extract. First up, a question about the end of the beta:

Q: This will be few days before release date or maybe some more?


It won’t be necessarily just a few days. We do have to take down the servers to prepare for the launch so there will be some time between the launch and when the beta comes down. I don’t know how long it’s gonna be right now. There will be at least couple weeks or maybe more where the beta is down before launch.

If you managed to get addicted to StarCraft 2 already (we sure have), prepare to go cold turkey for a few weeks.

Q: What can we expect in the future patches? We already know that there will be some Facebook integration from today’s announcement. Can you tell me something more about that? Or maybe about map publishing system?


So we’re obviously working on map publishing so that you can publish your map on Battle.net and share it with all your friends. We’re adding two levels of publishing plant. We have sort of a beta test publishing which will share with just you and your friends so that you can test your map and see if it’s any good enough before you publish it live for whole world to see. At that point you will be able to control versioning of your map, decide what version of your map you want people to be playing. We also continue to polish a lot of UI elements that you guys aren’t seeing today. Like we have some very rough version of achievements in the beta right now which we’re gonna keep working on before we go live. We’ve got improved profile functionality, we’ve got lots of little tweaks and fixes across Battle.net to sort of bring it up to speed. Once we go live we have patches planned in the future for things like tournament support, for things like obviously chat channels, lots and lots of little features to happen after we go live as well. We’re sorta viewing Battle.net as sort of a more of a living service in StarCraft II. A little more like we do In World of Warcraft where we’re sort of adding as we go and it’s not just major games that see improvements to Battle.net we also do improvements along the way. I don’t know a lot about Facebook integration functions you probably want Greg Canessa for that stuff but that is something that gonna go live with the product. They are putting it in beta patch so that will just allow you to sort of import your Facebook friends into Battle.net allowing you to quickly populate your friends list with people who are playing StarCraft with you.


Q: How do you assess commitment of players in beta test? Do they provide you enough statistic data?



We’re seeing lots and lots of play on Battle.net right now. The average Battle.net player right now is playing over 20 games a week. Which is really great. Our highest end players up in platinum leagues are playing upwards of 50 games a week. And this is including players who tried it out for two or three games got beaten down decided they didn’t want to play anymore until game went live when they had more time to learn and left. So that means that the players that are active are playing well above 20 games. They are playing lots and lots of games. We’re seeing a lot of information about balance, we’re seeing lots of feedback on the Battle.net service itself. Like all our betas it’s a great learning experience for us. The fans have really sort of jumped in with both feet, played our game is not the most polished experience yet but they played our game and gave us a lot of great feedback to improve final product.


Q: Is there any possibility that units from the single player will be some day in multiplayer mode? Maybe in expansions?


It’s totally possible. It happened in the past, right?. Like Dark Templar was a single player unit in StarCraft and became a multiplayer unit in Broodwar. So anything is certainly possible. I don’t anticipate that at this point but we’ll be certainly looking at that stuff as we’re moving to the Heart of the Swarm and multiplayer elements of that game.

The glorious Terran Firebat - Only in Single Player

Since Blizzard’s creativity is truly set loose in single player design settings, not hampered by the constraints of balanced play, there’s little doubt that the campaign will feature a few very interesting, unique units. Hopefully, the most popular and useful ones will eventually be made playable in multiplayer in StarCraft 2’s expansions, just like the Dark Templar had been when Brood Wars was made.

German interview extract:

At BlizzCon 2009, we saw that there is also the possibility to make 3rd person view maps with the editor. Will we see anything like this stuff used for the campaign?


No, we don’t have anything of that stuff in the campaign, we leave all that to custom maps. In the campaign we really focused on making a great real-time strategy game and we’re not throwing in 3rd person elements. So, that kind of stuff will be for our mod makers, for our custom maps, but not used in the campaign.


So you won’t redesign StarCraft: Ghost as kind of campaign mission?


Dustin Browder: No

StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty single player campaign will be an RTS. Not FPS, not 3PS; no scrollers or tower defense scenarios.

In contrast to the campaign the new Battle.Net is probably a huge disappointment for a lot of the fans. That’s on the one side because of the fact that features we know from the original Battle.Net won’t be included and on the other side, we have to read news, that even the social networking website facebook will in some way be included. So what can you tell fans who say “Just give us chat channels now and leave it with the other stuff”?


Well, we’re working on the chat channels but the reason they are delayed is that we have something, which we think is much better than what we had in the original games. In the original games the chat channels were used by some of our users but they were largely misused just for spam. It was kind of a mess that they weren’t focused on only one particular topic. While we definitely feel the fans sort of enthusiasm to get them back, we don’t want those chat channels back. We feel like those chat channels were not a huge success for us and we can do them much better. So we will be looking into chat channels down the road that are more focused on specific topics, that are better organized around different social structures. We could certainly just jam the old channels back in but we didn’t feel like those were a huge success for us. But we really want this thing back, just much more interesting than before. So we’re definitely working on it and we definitely hear the users’ complains, but we think we can do better down the road.

StarCraft 2: Over 20,000 Players Online

I hear what you’re saying but as you know there are already a lot of tournaments and other events run through the new Battle.Net and they all need some kind of place to meet without having to know the opponent’s account first. So what about implementing just a kind of chat channel system now, maybe just for private channels and redo the other stuff later?


It’s not gonna happen with the launch, it’s just a production issue and we don’t have the time to do it at this point. We disappointed our fans, that is a huge bummer, right, and that is never a goal we intentionally pursue, but it’s not gonna happen for launch at this point. We simply got too much polish left to do on the rest of the game to also get that in. And we certainly hear that from some of the players but a lot of players are also enjoying Battle.Net quite a bit at this point. So, we surely hear the people’s need for additional features that we don’t have and we definitely keep working on those down the road. We’ve got what we’ve got for launch at this point and it doesn’t include chat channels.

Dustin knows that Battle.net can not exist without chat channels due to the nature of interaction between players, tournament organizers, clans and communities. While channels will not be part of Battle.net 2.0 when StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty goes gold, Blizzard will indeed implement a new chat channel setup afterwards.

Sticking to feedback: You might actually get a lot of feedback from all over the world now, concerning very different issues. Especially the responses on the balance of the game must be contradictory sometimes. So on what are your balance changes based on?


We use the feedback to sort of let us check things out. We have some pretty skilled guys in the office playing, we have some pretty unskilled guys in the office playing, so we can use the feedback to sort of validate, verifying our points in a specific direction. Nevertheless, we also want to see it in replays or in live games that we play, so we don’t just take someone who send us a note and then say “Okay we just gonna fix that because somebody said we should fix it.” We actually go out and check it ourselves playing 50 or 60 games with that race and see what’s going on in that match-up, trying to understand what the feedback tells us. Then we make a decision how to fix it, based on our playing experience.


How many people do actually work on the Battle.Net team?


I don’t know if I know that answer, but there are quite a few guys. It’s well over 50 at this point, but it’s difficult to calculate everything that’s going on, because you’ve got 60+ guys on team one, you’ve got 50+ guys on Battle.Net, you’ve got, I don’t know, maybe 100 guys working on cinematics, right, you’ve got 80 or 90 people in QA working on the game, you’ve got customer support, you’ve got all kind of people around the studio from IT to whoever giving us all kinds of tactical support as we got. At the end of the day, you look at the credits and it’s gonna be hundreds and hundreds of people who worked on this game.

Around 50 people are working on Battle.net…. and 100 people are working on the cinematics. Throughout the last 15 years or so, Blizzard’s cinematics have always stood out in terms of quality, detail, art and atmosphere. StarCraft’s ending sequence is widely considered to be one of the best game endings ever.

Joystiq interview extract:

How will balancing continue with the expansions? I’m assuming the expansions will affect the multiplayer, right?



They have to. I don’t know for sure what’s going to happen. Once we get done with this, we’re going to be working pretty hard to figure out what we can and can’t do, but we obviously want to add. We’re sort of doing them as expansion packs. If you got a Brood War expansion pack, what would you expect? Well, you’d expect two to four new units per race and you’d expect maybe some gameplay modes or something and you’d expect a great new campaign. That’s what you’d expect. Right? So, we want to try to hit that quality bar for our fans and try to give them something that’s rational — that is both fun for them, but is also something that’s not 17 units, then 21 units per race, which would be insane. So, I don’t know what the magic bullet is yet, but we’ve got some ideas. We’ll see if they pan out.

Dustin hit the nail right on its head. Blizzard has quite a challenge on its hands – StarCraft 2 multiplayer gameplay is planned to expand twice, and given the fragility of a three-way balance setup, it won’t be easy to come up with creative, fun and worthwhile additions to the game.

Yeah. I know you’re all focused on Wings of Liberty, but have you guys been able to even conceptualize or think about the next title?


A little bit. Not a lot. That’s going to be challenging for us to make that transition. But we’ve done a little bit of thinking about it. I think the biggest challenge for us is we’ve got so much content that we’re so comfortable with here, and the challenge is to really make it feel like a Zerg game. We really want to make sure that, “Hey, I’m sort of playing the villains!” I want to feel that. I want to feel that switch over to the dark side and I want you to feel like, “Dude. This is the bad guy game. Woo! Yeah!” And not feel like it’s just a slimy version of the Terran game.

And what about having a unit that looks just like you in the game?

it’s just fun to see yourself in the game, as well as flattering. It’s just one example of how we have some fun while making the game.

Zeus And Browder Portraits


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On April 19th, SC2Blog representatives visited Blizzard’s Headquarters for an exclusive press event focusing on the StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty single player campaign, exhibiting new single player missions, new campaign features, and fully clarifying key single player mechanics: mercenaries, research and challenges.

Mission Progress and Campaign Management

Players will manage their mission progress, research for upgrades, interact with NPCs and hire special in-game units from four different locations in Jim Raynor’s massive Battlecruiser, the Hyperion. Navigation is done by simply selecting the desired destination on the Hyperion navigation bar at the bottom of the screen.

A visit to the Hyperion Cantina

Armory – BridgeCantinaLaboratory

These areas have actually been revealed after the press event in July, 2009 – an interesting complimentary read to the current post, which is the result of hands-on experience with the most recent version of Wings of Liberty.

The Bridge

This is where you choose your campaign missions. Key characters will appear on the Hyperion bridge during the campaign, allowing Raynor to interact with them.

Players can also access all of the previously completed missions and unlocked cinematics here. It is possible to go back and replay a mission once you have unlocked more units and upgrades, and it is sometimes the only way to get to some previously inaccessible areas and unlock some extra rewards and achievements.

The Armory

Here players can inspect, in great detail, various units that can be deployed to the battlefield, as well as access the unit upgrade console which allows purchasing upgrades for each unit in the game.  Unit screens include cool bits of information and awesome, highly detailed models of the units. You’ll  find quotes by “Franko Tildon, widely credited as the first fighting firebat, reformed mass murderer” along with other profiles for the people behind the units we know and love.

The Firebat Armory Screen - StarCraft 1 Nostalgia

Unlike in multiplayer StarCraft matches, during the campaign, players do not research things like Stim Packs or Neosteel Plating in each mission. These are instead purchased while staying on the Hyperion with the credits you earn by completing missions.

Once you buy an upgrade, your units will have it for the rest of the game; no research required in-battle. Every unit in the game has two such upgrades: for example, Firebats gain +40% splash damage area for the first upgrade and +2 armor for the second one. The second upgrade is usually more expensive and powerful than the first.

The Cantina

There are many interactive objects spread across the room, like a television that plays news reports based on Raynor’s recent activities. A retro arcade machine featuring The Lost Vikings is on the scene as well – a classic Blizzard puzzle/platform game. The game was not functional during the press event, but the development team was pretty excited that they were able to integrate this classic into StarCraft 2, meaning it will likely be available when the game ships.

UNN TV transmission from the Cantina

The fellow Cantina patrons will speak shortly when you click on them (but offer no real conversation options), but the Cantina is mainly the place to go when you wish to speak to the mercenary vendor. Once you unlock certain units in the campaign, these will be available through the mercenary, who you’ll pay with your credits.

The Laboratory

In the lab, players can research special upgrades that enhance existing units and buildings, as well as introduce completely new units to the campaign. There are two distinct tech trees: one for Protoss technology and one for Zerg technology. During missions, depending on which race you are facing, research points can be gained that can later be spent in the lab. Sometimes, this is as simple as thoroughly searching the map for pickups, and at other times specific enemies must be killed.

When starting a mission, players are informed about the total amount of research points that can be gathered, and you can go back and replay the scenario in case you missed some.

Zerg And Protoss Tech Trees in the Laboratory

Check out the researchable abilities and their costs in the game (big thanks goes to SCLegacy for creating this table):

Protoss Research Points
Tech Reactor

Your Tech Labs also work as Reactors

25 Orbital Strike

Units from Barracks are deployed through Drop Pod

Raven 20 Science Vessel
Automated Refinery

Refineries do not need SCVs to operate

15 Reactor Command Center

Your Command Center can train two SCVs at once

Orbital Depots

Supply Depots build instantly

10 Micro Filtering

Increase gas harvesting by 25%

Ultra Capacitors

Weapon upgrades at the Armory and Engineering Bay increase weapon speed by 5%

5 Vanadium Plating

Armor upgrades at the Armory and Engineering Bay increase health by 5%

Zerg Research Points
Hive Mind Emulator

Create a building that can Mind Control any Zerg Unit

25 Psi Disruptor

Decrease the movement speed of all Zerg units

Cellular Reactor

Increase starting energy of all units by 100. Increase maximum energy of all units by 100.

20 Regenerative Bio-Steel

Damaged ships and vehicles recover hit points over time.

Predator

Unlock an anti infantry unit

15 Hercules

Unlock a massive transport with instant deployment of all units.

Planetary Fortress 10 Perdition Turrets

Unlock flame turrets that hide underground when not in use.

Strike Turret

All bunkers are equipped with a Strike Turret. (Similar to an auto turret on a bunker)

5 Fortified Bunker

Bunkers gain 150 Health

Early Merc Compound Model

Merc Compound

Originally called “Merc Haven”, the Merc Compound was a Terran building that Blizzard created to be a part of the StarCraft 2 multiplayer game, producing Terran Reapers and Marine upgrades. In 2008, it was removed, and during the press event in August 2009, its current function was established.

The Merc Compound is similar to WarCraft 3’s Mercenary Camps, where special units can be recruited based on a unit production cooldown. The units are available during gameplay, however, unlocking the units for production is done by visiting the Hyperion Cantina in between missions.

Campaign Missions

During the visit, we got the chance to play a few missions and were also given a video with gameplay footage of two brand new missions, focusing on Raynor’s quest for Terrazine, an important gas resource found only on sacred Protoss ground. StarCraft Scientist has created a version of the video with descriptions and explanations of the gameplay, so make sure to check it out:

Each mission in StarCraft 2 has a unique feature, gameplay mechanic or goal that sets it apart from the rest. This is something that old RTS games did very badly – rehashing the same scenario over and over – and that newer ones have attempted to correct in recent years. As expected, Blizzard is trying to perfect the RTS campaign design with the lessons learned, and the results show.

Many Terran Units Not Availalbe in StarCraft 2 Multiplayer

Like StarCraft 1, the missions are sometimes interrupted with transmissions from units on the ground or NPCs who broadcast messages to you, the player. Unlike StarCraft 1, where the majority of information and commutation occurred in the pre-game briefing, StarCraft 2 transmissions are often interspersed with the game, greatly enhancing the immersive experience, keeping the player focused on the objective, and setting the mood for the mission. A portrait is shown on the side of the battlefield screen with the relevant unit or character until the transmission ends.

Terrans Reach Their Goal

As previously described, the mission progression/selection screen has also been enhanced greatly, and is now a part of the story itself. You enter missions by clicking planets from the galaxy map, where available mission-planets are clearly shown. When you click on a planet, a relevant NPC explains what he wants to hire you for, and you can view the research point opportunities and credit reward before deciding whether or not to commit to it. Some missions, however, are mysterious. Questions marks cover the details, and there’s no telling what reward the mission might yield!

Once the player chooses a mission, the game returns to the bridge in a special zoomed in view where the computer terminal is seen. It displays videos, overviews of the mission, and dialogue between Raynor and NPCs prior to launching the actual mission. Overall, all these sequences are highly engaging and work very well for setting the tone for the following mission.

We were also given a chance to see a part of the Protoss “mini-campaign”, centered around Zeratul and his few Protoss allies. You get to relive the memories of Zeratul as he goes to a planet with archives of Xel’Naga-related information. There, he meets Kerrigan, and hears a disconcerting message about the future…

Zeratul must then fight his way through a map full of narrow canyons that is infested with Zerg. The StarCraft 2 Zeratul is very powerful, dealing 100 damage per psi-slice. Zeratul also possesses Blink – a short teleport ability –  along with “Suppression”, an ability that stuns units and is used by Zeratul to sneak pass the Overseers which can detect him and Brood Lords which are out of his reach. Later, a few Stalkers join Zeratul as he continues his quest, complicating matters and keeping the gameplay intense. It’s clear that the designers put a lot of thought into starting out simple while constantly adding more obstacles and variables for the players to watch out for, never letting the mission go stale!

Zeratul, Kicking Ass and Writing Down Numbers

The unit attributes, or “balance” in the single player game is very different from that of the multiplayer game. Units have different stats, abilities, and upgrades. With quite a few units that are not present at all in the multiplayer game, the single player gameplay is going to be quite different from what StarCraft 2 beta players are now used to.

Challenge Mode:

Blizzard is aware of the cold-water-dip sort of shock that players go through when they decide to dabble in multiplayer StarCraft. Most get completely crushed by even the lowest ranked players due to the difference in gameplay mentality.

Challenge modes will hopefully lessen that initial shock by presenting players with scenarios that are challenging  enough to force players into using the game’s more advanced mechanics. Currently, There are a total of nine challenges, which are divided into Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced mission groups. We got to play in two such challenges, one focusing on Protoss caster control and one focusing on multi-front army management. Both challenges were graded Bronze, Silver and Gold according to the amount of enemy kills attained – 75, 150 and 225 kills respectively.

The first challenge was of the intermediate level, and it involved controlling some High Templar and Sentries. This is a very challenging mission as you are positioned on a platform and required to use force fields and hallucinations to keep the enemy from attacking your fragile units while using Psi-Storms to deal AoE damage to masses of incoming enemies. One cool feature is printed messages in red text , saying “9 kills… Terrible Damage” when killing that amount of units. The challenge is not random, so players will eventually learn how to beat it by correctly saving energy and using the units’ abilities with maximum efficiency – an excellent preparation for online battles!

Challenging Single Player Doesn't Prepare You For Multiplayer

Another challenge puts you in command of a large Protoss army of a dozen Stalkers, six Carriers, some Zealots, High Templar, and a group of Phoenixes. You also get three Warp Prisms and six Warp Gates as well as full tech for ground units. Each group of units is positioned to attack one segment of the map with units that are easy to kill. For example, the Phoenixes fight against groups of Mutalisks with one Hydralisk that players are expected to target with the Gaviton Beam. Carriers fight against Marines and Missile Turrets, while Stalkers fight Terran Reapers on cliffs. To succeed, one must maintain control of everything that’s going on. Interestingly, one part of the challenge in this mission is that button clicking is completely disabled! In order to build units, issue orders, or use abilities players must press the correct hotkey on the keyboard. This is a great way to familiarize new players with hotkeys, which are absolutely required in competitive games but are often overlooked by beginners.

Get Ready For An Epic Campaign, Commander.

Overall, the single player component of StarCraft 2 is shaping up to be an epic experience. A lot of effort has gone into making it a unique experience among the somewhat generic gameplay normally found in the RTS genre, and it looks like it won’t be for naught!

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Blizzard’s StarCraft 2 team has been busy lately, with both community managers and web content creators unleashing updates simultaneously. StarCraft 2’s official StarCraft2.com wesbsite has not undergone any major changes since its launch two and a half years ago. Indeed, this update brings some freshness to the familiar.

The new epic StarCraft2 Com Top Flash Banner

The site’s front page has received the most noticeable update. It now features a massive top Flash “cover” with a glowing, pulsating logo and a smoking Jim Raynor standing between the Queen of Blades and Zeratul. The cover, however, is the least interesting part of this book; the site’s updates include multiple detailed pages with new screenshots, short videos and artwork by Blizzard’s art and development teams.

The site now offers great information for StarCraft fans who have not been following StarCraft 2’s progress since its announcement and need some catching up to do. The new site portions include:

  • SinglePlayer Storytelling – a highly detailed article about StarCraft’s lore, characters, and the importance of the StarCraft universe and plot.
  • Legacy of War – an article about StarCraft 2’s 1v1 multiplayer map design with insight into the process of creating a competitive map from scratch.
  • Tychus Findlay – dedicated to the character who had the honor of introducing StarCraft 2 to the world in South Korea two and a half years ago.
  • Jim Raynor – detailed Jim Raynor bio.
  • Zeratul – detailed Zeratul bio.
  • Changeling – a short fiction story.

The new “Single Player Storytelling” page is extremely informative and caters straightforwardly to people interested in or considering buying StarCraft 2 when it comes out. Now that Blizzard has already unveiled its plans for the trilogy and the epic scale of the single player campaign, this article provides a much welcome summary.

Rather than offering a strictly linear campaign, StarCraft II lets players get involved more directly in the game’s story with branching, non-linear missions. Sometimes, players will face major decisions that could change the fate of certain characters or worlds. Other times, players can set aside specific missions for a while in favor of other jobs.

Arcturus Mengsk Single Player Screen Shot

The screenshot collection has been updated with several gameplay shots, as well as stunning single-player cinematic frames. Here are some interesting new shots from this update:

The second part of the update focuses on the 55th Q&A batch, spanning 7 questions in total, most dealing with advanced, meta-games questions such as DirectX 11 support, Battle.net 2.0 stat tracking and StarCraft/StarCraft 2 map conversions.

1. Not all potential players of StarCraft II have played the original StarCraft before, thus they might encounter problems with the understanding of the story. Is it possible to play the campaign of StarCraft II without knowing anything? Will you come up with some things that happened in the original StarCraft and Brood War again – just so that people not familiar to the story get more information?

We plan on having story elements that will bring players up to speed on the most recent plot developments and prepare them for the StarCraft II storyline. We also plan on having a plot summary of what transpired in the original StarCraft and Brood War during the installation process. However we feel that regardless of your familiarity with the original story, all players will be able to enjoy the story developments in StarCraft II.

2. You have already announced that you are going to record various stats when playing StarCraft II with the new Battle.net 2.0 – but how detailed will those statistics be? Will one be able to see how many units of a certain kind (for example Marines) one have build or even killed so far?

We will be recording a large amount of stats for StarCraft II, but we are still in discussion as to which stats will ultimately be tracked. We will determine how detailed the stat-tracking will be based on what information we think will benefit our players the most to help improve their game.

Be it E-Sports considerations, the search for self improvement, or just the human “ooh-shiny!” attitude towards self-inflicted statistics, Battle.net 2.0 will likely statisfy the aforementioned needs for detailed game statistics for all.

Battle.net Statistics

3. You have already stated that you will support DirectX 10, but what about DirectX 11?
We currently do not have any plans on supporting DirectX11-specific features, but the game will be compatible with DirectX11.


4. How many stats will a Hero unit be able to take? Three like in Warcraft 3 or is there even a limit?
If you create a user-map with heroes, you can outfit them with a large number of stats. However, currently only three stats will be able to be displayed on the UI due to limited space.

Despite Blizzard’s character stats UI limitations, map modders are certain to come up with plenty of workarounds to a bump as small as “limited space”. The tools showcased during BlizzCon (if you’ve missed it, watch the next video) allow developers to break, customize and bend virtually every aspect of StarCraft 2’s capable engine.

5. In lore Protoss warp in their units and buildings from some far planet. Will there be any mechanic that reflects this such as a “warp out” that could act as a refund?


We do not have any plans to include a “warp out” game mechanic. We have discussed the possibility of this in the past, but it felt too similar to the Terran mechanics of being able to salvage the structures.


6. Will there be a converter to convert our favorite original StarCraft maps to StarCraft II maps? I don’t want to lose all of my favorite maps from the original StarCraft when I get StarCraft II.

There will not be a map converter for StarCraft II. Map-makers will have to manually rebuild any of their maps using the new StarCraft II map editor.


7. I’m just going to assume that you will have some sort of window mode in StarCraft II. But I was wondering if you’re going to implement a windowed mode like the one that World of Warcraft has? You know where you can maximize the window, removing the borders and enabling fullscreen mode yet providing easy access to the desktop.

You will be able to select both windowed and full-screen windowed modes from the options menu.

The new site update represents a turning point for StarCraft 2’s development. It clearly targets the mainstream audience, much more so than the updates we’ve been used to, which deal with more specific things that us dedicated fans care about. This is a good sign that Blizzard feels that the game is mature enough to be presented as a product rather than an unfinished project.

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Blizzard has released a brand new Questions and Answers batch, continuing the long-time tradition after a 3 month hiatus. This is understandable, though, as the last months brought us expansive coverage of the Single Player aspects of StarCraft 2, the beautiful third Battle Report, lots of information, pictures and videos in a large press event, and the yearly BlizzCon festivities.

Without further ado:

1. Computer AI – Does the computer’s online AI vary from its offline counterpart?

No. They are the same.

2. Have you considered allowing a post-game lobby for users to discuss the last game, collectively watch replays, or immediately enter into a rematch?

Yes, we have a plan for a post game lobby. However the details are not finalized yet.

The success of the StarCraft 2 multiplayer as well as the Battle.net Marketplace greatly depend on the social appeal of  pre-, in- and post-game player interaction, and Blizzard’s efforts in this area have not gone unnoticed. Battle.net’s social features, the improved observer and replay HUDs, and the advanced integration of the interface into the game will make StarCraft 2’s online experience a real treat for both professional and casual gamers.

3. Is there any update on additional map features other than the Xel’Naga watch towers, destructible rocks and tall grass?

No. Currently there is no update on additional map features.

4. How many different voice actors are needed for StarCraft II, including the unit sounds and campaign heroes?

There are 58 unique voice actors participating, with some voicing multiple roles, and the number may increase as the game gets closer to release

5. The terrain types in StarCraft II we have seen so far had names like “Bel’Shir (Jungle)”. Does this mean that “Bel’Shir” is just an alias for jungle and every terrain is just named after a typical planet using it or are there – to stick with this example – other jungle maps with a different terrain set, something like “Aiur (Jungle)”?

We named our terrain sets based on the planets. There are a lot more terrain sets than in the original StarCraft and you will have huge flexibility in modifying the terrain sets (including adjusting textures, doodads, lighting) allowing you to create your own variations of the default maps. There may be other jungle-themed default maps named after other planets.

StarCraft 2’s terrain types have been unveiled in full during BlizzCon 09’s Art Panel, and can be seen in this video:

Environments shown in the video include:

  • Bel’Shir – a  rich Protoss world, with nature unbound and forests untouched.
  • Valhalla Installation – Terran Thor construction station.
  • Castanar Installation – Laboratories for Zerg research.
  • Monlyth– a Protoss world with distinct Protoss structures.
  • Avernus – doodad rich tech/lab installation.
  • Redstone – lava planet with reactionary doodads and changing lava levels.
  • Zhakul’Das – a dark ancient world.
  • Port Zion – a tech junk world.
  • Korhal – a very rich Terran world, with monorails, billboards, skyscrapers and even pedestrians.

6. Will there be any chance to have more options on pausing the game? In StarCraft: Brood War every player can pause the game three times, but every other player can unpause it. How about a (user editable) time limit before other players can unpause the game?

We recommend that players communicate with each other in the game to agree on when to pause and unpause during the game. We feel that pausing the game interrupts the game flow and it would be inconvenient for players to be forced to wait for a certain amount of time before being able to unpause. The pausing feature is mainly meant to allow for pausing of the game when all players are in agreement and for which duration.

7. I already knew the map editor would be available to beta testers a while after Beta was released, but this is why I’m asking the bland question, will it also be available to non-participating people?

No, the map editor will only be available during the beta for beta testers.

8. When a unit comes out from a building will there be only 4 exits from the building like in Warcraft 3 or will there be “infinite”?

It is not infinite, but your units will come out from a building at the closest point on the building to where your rally point is set.

This wraps it up for the recent Q&A batch. Make sure you follow the official @StarCraft Twitter feed, as Blizzard’s team has been quite active recently, tweeting fun stuff like the following fan-made Lego Immortal.

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