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The WWI event in Paris gave Blizzard a chance to showcase many of the new changes to StarCraft 2 in the latest build. Some of these, the most important ones, we’ve covered during the event, but there are still many interesting tidbits to discuss. Here, we will gather up all the remaining pieces and get a clearer view of the puzzle.

First up, this artistic presentation provides a direct comparison between Blizzard’s first attempt at some of the units of StarCraft 2 and their current look. It’s evident that Blizzard won’t rest until they’re all perfect, Blizzard-style. Pictures courtesy of SCLegacy.

Here are a couple of units that have been restyled to fit better with the StarCraft 2 theme:

Old MarineNew Marine: more defined, added decals

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Old VikingNew Viking: leaner, stronger, more intimidating

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This part of the presentation explains Blizzard’s art direction with StarCraft 2:

Boring lifeBlizzard\'s style: Epic & Explosive

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Next in the presentation, a Q&A session. Here are the highlights:

Q: How are you going to make the nydus worm travel through different types of terrain (water, space, etc)?

A: We still have to work on that but in your current build there is no worm it functions as a nydus canal – creep here, creep there, it shows up there.

The Nydus worm previously acted like a normal transport unit, actually traversing the terrain to reach its target location. Now, it functions like the StarCraft 1 Nydus Canals – point, click, and the Worm pops out at its destination after a short delay.

Q: Are you still creating units?


A: Everytime we have a finished race we end up redoing half of it. I’m sure that once we’re in Beta you good people will show us the error of our ways and we’ll make new units to fix those. And of course we’ll end up patching it for ten years 😛 .

Q: Will the dark templar be changed – have they changed – especially considering all the flak you’ve received?


A: The dark templar is still a unit that we’re going to go over. What I’d like to do is go over it and make the old dark templar and maybe have people vote on it. I can’t promise that but it’s still in the process of being worked. And we’re still working on our cloaking mechanic so that will have an impact on the design as well.

A Dark Templar

Check out SCLegacy for the rest of the presentation and Q&A.

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Lucky visitors to the WWI event also got the chance to glimpse a new unit joining the Zerg roster: the Changeling. No picture is available for this new unit yet, but it did get the honor of a full exposition by Dustin “Cavez” Browder, lead game designer:

Overseers can create a Changeling by spending energy. The Changeling is a small unstable Zerg creature with timed life. When he gets near an enemy structure or unit he will change shape into the correct basic unit type and color to match that player. So if you get near a Blue Barracks you become a Blue Marine. If you get near a Red Stalker you become a Red Zealot, etc.

The Changeling is very vulnerable and has no attack. It cannot actually fight or take any damage, and is only meant to be a spy for the Zerg. The opposing player cannot control or even select the unit, making this attempt the only way to find out the Zerg agent amongst the ranks of real troops.

What it does for the game:

1) Gives the Zerg a fun way to scout (though really they already have plenty of scouting options).
2) Makes enemy players constantly fearful of all of their own units. Is THAT a Changeling?! What about THAT GUY!?


In live games it is pretty difficult to keep on top of the “Changeling Problem” if an enemy Zerg player is trying to sneak into your base. However when you do catch them it feels pretty good.

This is a cool concept for the Zerg, reminiscent of the Queen’s old “Parasite” ability, which served a very similar purpose. This ability/unit contributes to the Overseer’s role as an intelligence gathering unit for the Zerg, along with its extremely large sight radius, which increases the longer it stays in the same position, and its detection ability.

Overlord

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Eurogamer.net have an extensive interview with a few of the top figures at Blizzard: Frank Pearce, the executive vice-president in charge of product development; Bob Fitch, the lead software engineer; and Sam Didier, senior art director. This interview won’t surprise any devout StarCraft 2 fan, but a few gems can be found:

Eurogamer: The in-game editing package in StarCraft – did that push the game’s development and community?

Bob Fitch: When I play other people’s games, one of the things I’m constantly saying to myself is, “Boy, I wish this game had X,” and every time I say it to myself I come back here and say, “we’re having that”. So every time I played a game and I said “I wish this game had a map-editor” I come back here and our game has a map editor. That’s how these things get into the games.

It’s no secret that one of Blizzard’s greatest strengths is gathering the best features from all games in a genre and applying them perfectly in the game that they create.

Eurogamer: You sold 1.5 million copies of StarCraft in the first year, over ten million copies of WOW so far. What keeps you going?

Frank Pearce: [Shouting along with Bob Finch] Because we want to play cool games!


Frank Pearce
: One of the best ways to ensure that we get to play the games we want to, is to make them.

Be the change that you want to see in the world” – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

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SC-Source have written a long, comprehensive review of each of the three StarCraft 2 races. These offer valued insight into the game as it currently plays. Here are a few interesting excerpts. There are many, so be sure to check out the rest at SC-Source.

Terran:

The Terran have been reimagined, and I think they are the most interesting race in Starcraft 2. They have retained their identity, but they have gained flexibility and adaptability that they were clearly lacking in the original. The new Terran are fast, mobile, and offensive.

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The real improvement the Marines have gained is the UI. The Marines clearly gain more from large groups than their Zerg or Protoss counterparts, the Zergling and the Zealot. Their ranged attacks make them extremely devastating in large groups, and now the UI allows you to manage these groups effectively.

Marine pack

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Reapers are the true guerrilla fighters of the Terran. With their ability to hop cliffs, no base is safe from raid. At the WWI, most players were still leaning on original Starcraft build strategies, and because of this, 90% of players were wide open for a Reaper attack in the earl-mid game.

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The Siege Tank has not changed at all since the original Starcraft. Due to this lack of change, I don’t feel that it factors in well with the new Terran feel of guerrilla fighting. Siege Tanks are great for base defense, however that is about it. Largely, I ignored this unit in many of my games.

Siege Tanks

Zerg:

The Zerg are very frightening, everything about the makes you feel like you really are controlling a massive swarm. Visually, they have done some amazing things. First off the creep. They have changed the way creep looks from the gritty purple mass to a purple slime that appears to ooze and move. When creep expands they have changed it from adding blocks of creep to an effect that appears to be creep tendrils stringing out, corrupting the land. It makes everything else seem much more alive.

Creep can now spread through ramps

The buildings of the Zerg have also gotten a great overhaul. They all ooze and pulsate. Its almost to the point where you get dizzy from all the constant movement on the screen. The Zerg really are a living race now, instead of just having ugly buildings on strange purple stuff.

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Roaches are your tanks before you get Ultralisks, so for the majority of games, they will be taking the damage. The Roaches however, are not perfect. They lack a speed upgrade which means that unless you spend a lot of effort micro’ing your units they will blaze right past your Roaches and go straight into the fight, negating the Roach’s entire role.

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The Baneling is a unit that I feel has been over hyped. It is fun to watch and interesting indeed, but beyond basic harassment, it falls short. The Baneling is too weak to send into battle, and although it does do massive damage, it is extremely hard to deliver effectively.

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The Ultralisk is extremely powerful. Its new cleaving attack makes it so that it can dispatch mass amounts of units. It has a huge amount of life and armor which makes it a great front runner for your Hydralisks and Lurkers.

Ultralisks munching on some Marines

Protoss:

Once your base is up and running, Zealots are a must. Considering there is no goons anymore, pumping Zealots seems to be the only viable strat after the first gateway.

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Warping works great and is really efficient, especially used with MBS. Just assign all your Warpgates to a group, and once your Psi Field is set up you’re just making new units in 5 seconds, straight into your enemy’s workers. By the time he cleans up that attack, the cooldown is already over and you can Warp some more!

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Concerning the Mothership, it’s pretty much useless. It comes with all its abilities fully upgraded, but since you build it from the Nexus, you’d have to go all the way across the map to get into your enemy base. Which wouldn’t be a problem really, if it wasn’t so ridiculously slow. It’s probably slower than a Reaver in BW, except you can’t load the Mothership into a transport unit to make it go faster.

Mothership

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Along with the screenshots we posted previously, three new ones have appeared on StarCraft2.com:

Epic battles in all three!

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The OnlineWelten has conducted an interview with Rob Pardo, Executive Vice President of Blizzard. Rob is mainly asked about the development process of Blizzard’s latest games and Blizzard’s game creation philosophy. Of note is this answer:

OnlineWelten: A few months ago you offered a job on the official Blizzard webpage, considering a next-gen MMO. A community manager added that it’s an unannounced title. Is there any information? Is Diablo 3 the next-gen MMO?

 

 Rob Pardo: No, obviously, since it’s not an MMO! We have another dev-team, that’s …

 

 OnlineWelten: So there is still one project, which is … ?

 

 Rob Pardo: Yeah, there is still one unknown project!

World of WarCraft was announced on September, 2001, and released a little more than three years later, on November of 2004. Four years later, what are the chances that Blizzard is NOT working on a sequel?

    

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