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Karune, Blizzard’s RTS community manager, has posted another batch of questions and answers. Today’s session deals with a few very interesting Protoss issues, both gameplay and lore-related. Karune has also continued playing a lot of StarCraft 2 himself, and has written up an excellent gameplay blog, giving us a lot of insight into the unit which has gone through the most changes so far, the Protoss Star Relic Statis Orb Nullifer.

Gameplay Blog: Force Fields are my new favorite ability! During my latest skirmish with a Zerg opponent, I was rushed early with Zerglings. The Protoss Nullifiers (previous known as the Stasis Orb) and their 15 second Force Field ability saved the day. As the attacking Zerglings charged up my ramp on the classic Lost Temple map, I simply created a Force Field in between the group of Zerglings, separating his attacking force. With their numbers divided, my Zealots easily took care of the split force of Zerglings, allowing me to make a decisive counter-attack. In subsequent games, I have found that the Force Field is quite useful in many situations, as you are able to create your own choke points, separate incoming armies, and also erect barriers as needed for your Protoss Stalkers to take advantage of their Blink ability. Furthermore, the Force Field can provide another obstacle for melee units approaching your Colossus, whereas your Colossus is able to step over the Force Field at ease. These Protoss Nullifiers at tier 1 are now one of your most effective defenses to an early game rush. Currently, the Force Field ability costs 30 energy with the Nullifiers energy capacity at 100. Next batch, well see if we can find some interesting games with the Nullifiers other new ability, the Null Void.

The Force Field ability, which used to belong to the High Templar, has now been given to the new tier 1 unit, the Nullifer. In StarCraft 1, no tier 1 unit had an ability that became available fast enough to defend against the early, dreaded Zergling rush. Building a unit like the Nullifer, which will likely have no active offensive ability of its own, at an early stage of the game instead of a Zealot or another offensive unit means the player will have to use it carefully to offset the offensive capabilities of an enemy who did concentrate on creating offensive units.

forcefield.JPG

Karune’s examples of the use of the Nullifer’s ability sound promising. This is a spell that will be easy to use for normal players (blocking a ramp and cutting a force of Zerglings in half, allowing a much smaller force of Zealots to shred them to pieces), but will undoubtedly also be a favorite of many Gosu players who will be able to destroy large enemy armies with a small force of 3 Nullifiers, a few masterfully placed Force Fields, and a couple of Stalkers.

On to the questions:

1. Do Protoss warriors actually die? What is the blue flash when they die?

In the chaos of the battlefield, Protoss warriors fight with tremendous power and grace, but even so, they can be mortally wounded. Then the Protoss’ foes often bear witness to a startling sight: the injured Protoss disappears in a bright flash of light. Such a vision has caused primitive races to quail in superstitious fear, and yet it has no supernatural cause. On the contrary, it is merely the result of teleportation, which is one of the chief strengths of Protoss technology. Protoss warriors typically have teleport mechanisms built into their armor. If the warrior is sufficiently injured, a properly functioning mechanism will automatically teleport the body to the nearest safe haven.

A Protoss warrior who is badly injured but still living may be placed in a dragoon–or latterly an immortal–shell to continue to fight. This is the choice of the individual warrior. Some warriors elect to shoulder the burden of remaining among the living instead of joining the sum of Protoss lives embodied in the Khala. It is worthy of note that the lives of individual Protoss that have passed into the Khala are no longer coherent entities, and the Protoss cannot speak with their dead per se. However, there are memories and strands of experience that can be accessed. Only the most skilled Protoss preservers can locate and follow specific desired strands of knowledge. The tremendous value of preservers comes from the fact that they carry within themselves and can access the sum total of Protoss experience at an individual level.

2. Will there be more ways to give energy(mana) to a caster?

 

Protoss casters will have an ability to transfer energy from onecaster to another. This ability will allow for a lot of micromanagement opportunities to maximize the amount of energy to a single caster, for the maximum number of special abilities casted.

An interesting new twist. A tight group of Protoss casters will basically share a pool of mana, so that a Protoss player will only need one of every caster (and a bunch of the most efficient units in terms of mana/resources) to cast off any spell he likes, as many times as he wants. Karune’s answer leave room for many questions, though

1) Will all types of casters be able to transfer energy?

2) Will different spell casting units be able to exchange energy? A Mothership accompanied by a few other casters might end up being absurdly too powerful.

3) Is there a WarCraft-like cooldown mechanism in place to prevent the abuse of powerful abilities? You thought indefinitely blocking ramps with Force Fields was bad? Imagine the same with Psi-Storms.

motherships.JPG

The only example of a similar mechanism in StarCraft 1 belongs to the Zerg Defiler, who had the Consume ability – allowing it to eat up friendly zerg units, replenishing its Mana in the process.

3. On what kind of energy are based Protoss shields? If they are based on PSI energy, how can be possible for a Terran EMP attack to drain their energy?

 

Protoss energy sources are highly esoteric because their starting point was the Protoss’ use of their own psionic powers to protect themselves; to charge their tools and weapons; and to make, manipulate, or meld matter. Over time technological advances have enabled the Protoss to mimic these psionic processes to the extent that the Protoss can now construct inorganic devices to tap into the same universal processes to power shields, drives, weapons, and robots. Thus, for example, the energy field projected by a pylon that powers Protoss structures cannot truly be called psionic in nature, just as the shields protecting a zealot are not purely technological constructs. Rather, the two processes are so closely interlinked that they are almost the same. As a result, Protoss power sources and particularly their shields are vulnerable to disruption by technological means such as EMP weapons. Similarly such power sources can be restored or recharged from artificially stored energy.

4. Are you planning to make another statue, for example, statue of Kerrigan?

 

We are planning to fully explore the high end collectibles realm with plenty of StarCraft II merchandise, and yes, there are projects already in the works.

 

Karune has continued answering a few more questions in the thread, clarifying issues concerning the force field ability and the Nullifier’s appearance:

The Nullifier has a new aesthetic appearance different from the Stasis Orb.

 

Q. Can the force fields be attacked and destroyed before 15 sec? If so, how much hp do they have?

Force Fields are invulnerable for their casted duration.

 

Q. Would it be possible to block off ramps indefinitely with enough Nullifiers?

 

Yes, you could block off a choke point for a very long time. Although, there is probably more than one way to enter your base 🙂

 

Q. And what if force field is casted on some ground units? Would it work like stasis field by immboilizing and making them invulnerable?
Or maybe just trapping them instde the field?

 

Currently, units below the Force Field will not be immobilized. When they exit from one side of the Force Field, they will not be able to cross back through the Force Field.

 

 

Karune, if you read this, how did the testing of Ghosts as a tier 1,5 unit turn out?

 

I think the Devs are liking the Ghost as a more used unit than in the original StarCraft. It is still up in the air, to if they will keep the EMP ability, but we will see in time. Balance tweaks will still be happening on the Ghost of course, but it is likely it will stay as an earlier created unit than in the original.

The Ghost, along with the Mothership, were the only two units that were important enough to warrant a monthly discussion topic. The general consensus regarding the Ghost was positive, with the only reservation being its extensive list of powerful abilities. Blizzard’s devs, it seems, are on the same page.

 

    

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