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This week’s batch of Questions and Answers came a bit late, but we certainly aren’t complaining – Karune has delivered a very interested Chat with Devs section, along with six answers, including one submitted by SC2Blog.

Chat with Devs: After bringing up much community feedback from the last Monthly Discussion, Dustin Browder filled me in on the latest role discussions about the current units in game. This is the thought that has lead to the introduction of the Firebat back into StarCraft II.

Furthermore, they have also changed the Terran Cobras abilities to take on what was previous known as the Protoss Stasis Orb (which is now removed from the game). The Terran Cobra now acts as a slowing unit, with an electrical attack. In addition, many of the units already seen in game are having their roles re-evaluated, to again make sure that every unit has a distinct role in StarCraft II.

This week’s Chat with Devs section shows just how dynamic and feedback-oriented StarCraft 2’s development process is. While the unit models and game engine are clearly in place, unit roles and abilities are undergoing constant modifications. The fact that Firebats are coming back should make plenty of fans happy – StarCraft 2’s physics and graphics engine will certainly do the flamethrower good.
During BlizzCon 2007,
the Star Relic changed its name to Statis Orb, and is now completely out of the game, while the Terran Cobra seems to be assuming a tactical role similar to the WarCraft 3 Dryad .

On to the Q&A:

1. Will the defensive matrix of the Terran Nomad apply to enemy units within its AoE (Area of Effect)?

Yes, the Terran Nomads Defense Matrix ability will affect both friendly and enemy units, thus using this ability on a position that the player can hold will be wise.

2. What helps to delineate the Thor and Battlecruiser as both being high-tier support units? Lots of concern over this duality?

Currently, the Thor has splash damage, whereas the Battlecruiser has direct damage in its attack. We definitely agree with most of the community that the Thors role overlaps with various other roles on the Terran Faction, thus we may modify that role or possibly cut the unit.

The fact that the Defensive Matrix is an AoE that applies to both friendly and enemy units has been known since BlizzCon, and the fact that the Thor‘s tactical role overlaps with everything but the SCV is also common knowledge. But this is the first time that Karune or any other Blizzard employee mentions something as radical as the exclusion of the Thor.

<a href="http://starcraft2.com/flash/global/unitsplayer_terran_thor.swf" target="_blank">http://starcraft2.com/flash/global/unitsplayer_terran_thor</a>


3. Will there be any consideration of having an oceanic battle.net server?

Unfortunately, this has not been decided yet, as many aspects of Battle.net has still yet to be implemented.

4. Will the Protoss Colossus be able to walk over Supply Depots like over cliffs?

This is an issue that is still being discussed quite a bit. We like how when enemy units enter your base, they are forced to deal with the layout of your base, but at the same time we are also dealing with the realism factor, where cliff climbing Colossuses ought to be able to step over Supply Depots. Many issues we face are similar to those debated amongst the community, and for this particular topic we dont yet have a final answer.

The pseudo-realistic engine and actual 3D models will certainly generate a lot of tactical issues in StarCraft 2. Multi-layered terrain, coupled with units like Reapers and the Colossi – which are designed to take advantage of such terrain, will surely have implications on base layout and sieging strategies. Currently, Blizzard simply cannot provide a definitive answer regarding the Colossus’s ability to step over Supply Depots.
Supplu Depot

5. An obvious goal (among many) for Starcraft2 is to maintain the profile of being an E-Sport. What facet do you consider more integral to the growth of that ideal: An extremely high skill ceiling that demands years upon years to achieve mastery, or an extraordinarily large base of interested players to provide the attention that such a sport needs in order to succeed and grow? Obviously both are important, but when it comes to design ideals, what has more pull? Accessibility or Longevity?

I think for e-sport we need the high skill ceiling. Though really as you say, both are very important. As designers we have spent years focusing on accessibility. Ideas must be accessible to even be put into the game. So we are just not as worried about making the game accessible. That will happen. What we are focused on, what is the more challenging problem is making the game last for years and years and years. So in our development cycle at the moment, longevity definitely has the larger pull. Longevity is the harder problem to solve, so we put way more effort into making the game as challenging as possible to master. Dustin Browder, Lead Designer of StarCraft II

Now that’s one big question. Despite Blizzard’s best efforts to predict and establish StarCraft 2’s role as an E-sport, the result is as unpredictable as StarCraft’s stunning success in Korea, or the phenomenon called World of Warcraft. StarCraft 2’s true destiny will remain a mystery until it is actually released to the general public.
Just a brief reminder – the original StarCraft didn’t have major “skill ceiling” design planning. It is being played on a professional level for ten years now.

6. How will unit collision and stacking be handled ? Can flying units pass on top the Colossus or is it blocking ?

No, the Colossus will not block a flying unit.

In terms of collision and stacking, units first always follow your order, and when it completes your order, they will stop and spread out. The area in which those units spread out will be slightly less than in the original StarCraft.

This is a question we’ve submitted to Karune as part of the feedback that we at SC2Blog provide to Blizzard. The Colossus, while tall enough to be vulnerable to anti-air weapons, is not an obstacle to flying units. At present time, the stacking mechanism appears to be almost identical to StarCraft 1.
That’s all for this week’s batch. Another round of interesting questions answered, courtesy of Karune and the developers.


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