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2008’s First Q&A has just been posted by Karune – the 25th installment includes a new Gameplay Blog section that covers “‘hands-on’ feedback of the current builds of StarCraft II at the office”.

The Chat with devs section is brief, but includes a very important statement regarding the adjustments being made to the StarCraft 2 graphics:

Chat with Devs: This week I got a chance to talk to Sam Didier, our StarCraft II Art Director, about some of the feedback weve gotten from our most recent monthly discussion. Over the next few weeks we will be trying out a few things on the upcoming screenshots, including a reduced saturation which will increase the realism of the units and environment. This is just a test, so we will see how it goes afterwards, but we look forward to getting everyones feedback.

cute Fluffy puffy graphics

Remember the “Does StarCraft 2 look too cartoonish?” question in our last monthly discussion? Well, we have submitted quite a bit of feedback to Blizzard, and are glad to see Sam Didier is addressing exactly that problem, and aiming in the direction of increasing realism by reducing saturation. That means we can expect the game to have a darker, slightly techno-metallic look and feel – not the lively colors presented up to this point.

Gameplay Blog: With the new year, I thought everyone might enjoy a small new section to the Q&As that will happen periodically, featuring some hands-on feedback of the current builds of StarCraft II at the office. This past week Ive been able to play a few 1 versus 1 skirmish games with our new balance designer, David Kim. Even at this early stage, StarCraft II is shaping up to be an incredibly diverse game in terms of strategy. In addition to many of the original StarCraft strategies (which Ive been tending to stick with), there are several new strategies based on both the newly introduced units, as well as hybrid combinations of legacy and new units. One of the most interesting strategies in our current build is the Nomad rush. Nomads are both effective at supporting an ongoing battle with Auto Turrets (which have building armor) and defending against a raid with rapid deployment, but are surprisingly very effective at raiding as well. Im not talking about minor harassment, kill a probe or two, type of thing. Get four of these Nomads into a mineral line and you can deploy 8 Auto Turrets in no time, wreaking havoc to even a moderately defended position. Each Auto Turret is like having an instant Marine, with rapid fire, and building armor. Could this replace Siege Tank drops? Probably not, but these Auto Turrets dont cost minerals or supply.

tURRETThe strategy being described in the Gameplay Blog should not surprise any RTS veteran – almost every early build or even a final yet immature version of an RTS game will usually include strong strategies based on units which are usually intended for support or spell casting.

1. Does the Nomad have all the abilities an SCV has? (Of course it has its own abilities, but it would be interesting to know if you can at least temporarily replace lost SCVs with Nomads in a game.)(broodwar.de)

No, Nomads will not have the abilities of a SCV. The buildings a Nomad will be able to build, will be unique to the Nomad unit. And you cant gather resources with a Nomad.

That’s quite an interesting and daring decision – the implementation of a support unit with its own array of buildings which cannot be constructed by regular workers. At this point, it is safe to speculate that these buildings are not part of the Terran tech tree, but support structures such as the Auto Turret.

2. How will damage against Protoss Shields be calculated with the new damage bonus system?(Starcraft-Source.com)

Protoss shields will take up the characteristics of their normal armor type. For example, if a Protoss Zealot with light armor gets shot by a Terran Ghost with plus light armor damage, the Zealots shields will also take that light armor bonus damage. On the same note, if a Protoss Colossus were to be hit by a Protoss Stalker with bonus damage towards armored unit, the shields would also take that additional damage.

In StarCraft 1, all Protoss shields were treated equally, and enjoyed neither bonuses nor penalties when facing any damage type. Such implementation was logical, due to the nature of the shield – be it a machine, a building or an organic unit, its shield is effectively unrelated to what is inside. StarCraft 2’s new armor mechanics have changed all that, and the shield’s defensive qualities depend on the unit it protects.

3. Artwork and rumors about SCII have shown Terran cities like Augustgrad. Will Starcraft 2 contain building doodads as seen in the original artwork (ie. skysc#@!&rs, homes, etc)? (starcraft.org)

Yes, many of the original iconic doodads will be recreated for StarCraft II.

4.Can the shadow ops contain “one nuke and one drop pod” or “any 2 of nukes and drop pods”? (thewarcenter.net)

Currently, the Shadow Ops can contain both a nuke and a drop pod at the same time, but will not be able to contain two of one type within a single Shadow Ops building. Drop pods can be loaded with 12 infantry units of the players choosing. On certain maps, a fast expanding SCV drop pod strategy may prove highly effective.

CasperDespite the fact that Shadow Ops (along with the Ghost’s abilities) will undergo many changes prior to StarCraft 2’s release, such an implementation does make sense – the Terran Ghost can launch a Nuclear strike and call for a Drop pod, but not launch two consecutive nukes or summon 24 units to the battlefield.

5. Will the native resolution of Starcraft 2 be widescreen or 4:3? (gamereplays.org)

The plan is to have both of those resolutions supported, along with everything between 5:4 and 16:9. Larger screens will have slightly more viewable range than a smaller screen, but from our tests, the differences will be very minor.

Nowadays there is little reason to limit a game to certain ratios or resolutions – but how about dual-screen support? This feature has been implemented successfully in two leading RTS titles – Supreme Commander and World in Conflict, but considering Blizzard’s popularity in Internet cafes and among casual gamers, StarCraft 2 should focus on maximizing single-screen UI.

Blizzard have launched the official “BlizzCast” page. In the first episode, Karune, Blizzard’s RTS community manager, interviews Sam Didier, art director for StarCraft 2.

We’ll focus on the StarCraft relevant information.

Highlights:

* Sam describes StarCraft as more serious, grittier and darker than the WarCraft universe. He says StarCraft is a more focused universe while WarCraft is freer and less constrained (the Panda hero, the Brewmaster, is a good example).

* The StarCraft 1 Dark Templars were all based on the prototypic “secret-agent-type-ninja guy” that Zeratul was designed to be. In StarCraft 2, more variation was planned for the different Dark Templar units and a more hardened look was given to the Dark Templar unit itself – Zerg bones and other trophies were added to them.

darktemplar.jpg

* About the Zerglings: “It’s StarCraft II, baby, you know. We don’t want to be doing something we did ten years ago and just doing a 3D version of it.”

zergling.jpg

* Samwise recommends taking courses in Max or Maya if you’re looking to get into the gaming industry as an artist. He says people with multiple skills, such as texturing and modeling, are more highly valued.

The rest of the cast deals with World of WarCraft. You can read the transcript of both interviews in the episode 1 page.

For more Samwise Didier, check out these video interviews from the Leipzig Games Convention.

Is there a unit more defining of the Terran’s mechanized war machine? Today, Blizzard has added an official page for one of the most important units for the Terran race and for the entire game of StarCraft: the Siege Tank.

CRUCIO SIEGE TANK

Builds From: Factory
Armament: Twin 90mm Cannons (assault mode)
120mm Shock Cannon (siege mode)
Role: Armored Support and Mobile Artillery

It’s the StarCraft 2 version of the Siege Tank. No change was really expected for this core unit, but Blizzard has decided to tweak it to better suit the needs of the Terran forces:

The Crucio is the Dominion update of the immensely popular but aging Arclite siege tank. The Arclite was renowned throughout the Confederacy for its devastating firepower and stalwart emplacement/advance tactics.

Although the Arclite was supremely effective in the artillery role, it suffered some shortcomings as a battle tank. It was a superb defensive unit, but in offensive operations it required substantial support to get to a forward emplacement. Enemies would often make strenuous efforts to get close to an emplaced siege tank battery so they could exploit its “deadzone.” If they were successful, this tactic usually meant destruction for the Arclites because even in assault mode the machines were too undergunned and poorly armored to fight off a determined close-range assault.

That’s an accurate description of the StarCraft 1 Arclite Siege Tank. While it was THE weapon of choice for any self-respecting Terran player, the Siege Tank was almost never used in its assault form. The artillery attack more than made up for it, however, putting the emphasis on “siege” instead of “tank” for this unit.

siegetank-thumb1.jpg

* Click for big

Is this subject to change in StarCraft 2’s Crucio Siege Tank design? The next bit seems to suggest so. The new Siege Tank will cost a little more, be as effective in its artillery mode, but will also function as a real assault tank – something that’s sorely needed in the Terran army.

The Crucio has been designed for increased survivability with an enlarged, reinforced turret and hull. The new turret layout also features an upgraded assault-mode armament package so that the Crucio can fend for itself more successfully in an open battlefield. Force deployment costs for the Crucio have increased over the older Arclite, but the increased versatility of the powerful new siege tank more than compensates for the additional expense.

siegetank-thumb3.jpg

The Siege Tank has gone through a few changes during development, though mostly artistic ones. The current Siege Tank version has been around for a while and has received positive feedback all around. With Blizzard “officially” putting it up on StarCraft2.com, it seems to have finally received a seal of approval of sorts.

A Blizzard-sanctioned fansite tournament is about to take place in two weeks. Many fansites have already signed up for this bracketed, two versus two tournament – sending their writers and admins to represent them.

Blizzard, in their infinite kindness, are providing an incentive to the participants. The winning players will get:

3 G51 Logitech Surround Sound Speaker Systems

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3 StarCraft 2 Shirts

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The SC2 Blog is giving our readers the opportunity to enter this tournament and win the prizes for themselves. That’s right – two of our loyal readers will get to represent the SC2 Blog in this friendly tournament and collect the reward.

If you want to represent the SC2 Blog in this battle of the fansites tournament and win the prizes for yourself as our official representative, you need to:

1) Write a comment to this post, mentioning that you wish to play in the tournament.
2) Mail XalKurat at Gmail.com with your full details, using the following format:

Real name: Zetaras Xal’Kurat

 

Alias: The Twilight Arbiter

 

Full Address (prize shipment): 51 Tassadar St., Talematros, Shakuras

Make sure the email address you use to mail your details with is the one you wish to be contacted at. Please put “StarCraft Tournament” in the mail subject.

3) Tell us about your StarCraft background. Are you a pro gamer? A total newbie? Let us know. Do not be discouraged if you don’t play StarCraft daily or have trophies at home – this is a friendly tournament!

The chosen players will become official representatives of the SC2 Blog. A qualifying, in-house tournament will be held to determine which of the players get to participate in the official tournament.

Tournament rules and details:

  • Games will be played using StarCraft BroodWar with the latest patch.
  • If a team does not show up after 30 minutes past the round start time they automatically forfeit their match.
  • There are no official pauses during any match, be sure to take the appropriate pee breaks before hand.
  • After each game that is played, all teams are allowed to take a 10 minute break before starting the next game.
  • Games cannot start until teams on break have returned in under 10 minutes between games.
  • Starfeeder admins have the final say.
  • No observers are allowed except for Starfeeder staff, commentator DiggitySC, or Blizzard’s Karune.
  • Seedings will be randomly drawn.
  • Games will be played on Battle.net East, tournament channels will be announced closer to game day.
  • The tournament will consist of two 16-team brackets, single elimination best of 5, no losers bracket.
  • First Round Map will be The Lost Temple
  • Second Round Map will be Azalea
  • Third Round Map will be LUNA
  • Fourth Round Map will be Python
  • Finals will be best of 7 and order of maps follows (1)Lost Temple (2)Vampire (3)Luna (4)Python (5)Lost Temple (6)Azalea (7)Python (Obs versions of these maps will be used)

Download the tournament maps here.

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