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Both Karune, Blizzard’s RTS community manager, and Cavez, Blizzard’s lead designer, have continued their posting spree on Battle.Net, supplying us with more juicy bits of information about StarCraft 2.

First up, Karune discusses the mechanics of units like the Colossus, which can be hit both by anti-ground and anti-air attacks:

The Colossi will not be hit for double damage from units that can hit both air and ground. There are currently only units that are able to hit ground and air units using the same weapon. There are no units that can hit both ground and air with different weapons, such as the Goliath in the original StarCraft.

A few units in StarCraft had a different weapon for each attack type. The Wraith, for example, fires missiles at aerial targets and uses a burst laser against ground targets. This is one of the very few things that have, as of now, been made “worse” in StarCraft 2.

colossus.jpg

Moving on, Cavez discusses an important issue: Armor types.

Here’s how it works.

 

– You have an armor type. Say “Light.”
– Units get a damage bonus to a single armor type. Example: 10+10 vs. light.
– If you are a “Heavy” unit you would take 10 points of damage from that weapon. If you are a light unit you would take 20.
– A unit may have multiple types of armor, though generally they do not. For example, most buildings are “Building” as well as another armor type. Some weapons have a bonus vs. Building.
– You also have “armor points.” These subract 1 point of damage from every hit you take per point of armor you have (just like the original StarCraft).

 

This system is simpler than the original StarCraft in some ways, and it is also clearer.

 

We haven’t gotten into our balance phase just yet, so I don’t know that this system will hold up to our needs. This system is what you played at Blizzcon (if you got to come).

This system is indeed much simpler than in StarCraft 1. The old system utilized more obscure unit classifications to calculate damage, and one had to memorize these (from statistics charts) to know whether his Firebats’ “concussive” flames are appropriate when dealing with the “medium”-sized Hydralisks (they weren’t). With StarCraft 2’s new system, this is no longer the case – the GUI now lists all relevant attributes for each unit.

GUI

This system is definitely easier and clearer, but it also appears to be too simplified; specific bonuses against armor types might lead to more “rock-paper-scissors” situations. In StarCraft 1, weapons either dealt 100, 50 or 25 percent of damage to each armor type, increasing the variety of possible soft counters.

Karune talks about the artistic changes promised a while ago:

We have a first pass done on a few levels, though there is still more tuning to do. You’ll be happy to know that Terran building art is being touched up as well.

 

Currently, we are mostly focusing on Zerg, so while art passes are being done on all of the levels in a reasonable amount of time, touching up the overall art will take more time.

More “we’re focusing on the zerg” from Cavez:

We are putting a lot of effort into the Zerg right now. I played 5 fun games on friday with them (1v1s). I lost 1 and won 4 (woot) but to be fair at this point I know who I am going to lose to who and who I am going to beat before the game begins because we have played each other so often. =P Also, some of the new Zerg stuff is way over-powered IMHO.

 

In terms of time, the Zerg still need some work. We understand you guys are anxious to see them. Best I can still say is “soon.” Sorry. =(

Cavez replies to a question about resources sharing and explains the problems with it:

It is currently in the game but it is pretty troubled. We have not done a ton of balance testing with resource sharing as the focus, but we did do some before Blizzcon in the design group and we were able to do some pretty unpleasant things with it.

 

For example it was easy for some races (at the time Protoss) to focus on minerals-only units while feeding gas to another player (at the time Terran) so they could tech up more quickly and get access to some pretty rough gas-heavy units (at the time, Banshees) before the other team had a chance to be really prepared.

 

We’re reserving judgement on this until we get to really test it properly and see if we can come up with some solutions to make it workeable. But, if it can’t be fixed then it gets cut.

We have a feeling this is one feature that won’t make it into the final version of the game.

Apparently, Null Void is so powerful it can even “cancel out” the burrow ability:

The Null Void ability will decloak stealthed Ghosts in the area of effect. The Null Void also works as a ‘detector’ uncovering all cloaked units and burrowed units, such as Dark Templars and Banshees.

That’s a great short term, soft counter, but why should it also affect burrowed units?

Finally, Cavez further explains the role of the Templar’s new spell, Anti-Gravity:

It works on all ground units as well as all buildings (barring “town-hall” buildings like the Command Center, Nexus, etc.).

 

It is obviously useful against Thors and other big-guy ground units. Not super-useful against lots of the smaller ground units since this spell is competing with Psi Storm for your energy and you would rather use Psi Storm against just about everything else (Anti-Grav is 50 energy at the moment).

 

It’s use against buildings is what is most interesting since it is so easy to block up a choke these days with buildings (especially Terran). But we shall see. We have been so focused on the Zerg that it hasn’t gotten all that much testing time yet.

From what Cavez says, it’s clear that Anti-Gravity is meant to complement Psi-Storm rather than compete with it. While it would be wise to Psi-Storm a swarm of Hydralisks or M&M&Ms who would quickly be annihilated, larger units, like the Thor, would barely notice it – which is why they’d be prime targets for Anti-Grav.

    

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