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BlizzCast #4: StarCraft 2 Community Q&A, New Screenshots

Episode 4 of the BlizzCast series has been posted on the official Blizzard site. BlizzCast is a series of recorded interviews and Q&A sessions, dealing with the latest developments and happenings in the Blizzard game universes.

This episode of BlizzCast features one item of interest for StarCraft 2 fans – the Community Q&A session, providing very thorough answers to interesting questions. The Q&A is also accompanied by two new, action heavy screenshots.


Answers are provided by Mike Heiberg, senior game designer, and David Kim, associate game balance designer.

First, they are asked about the reason for the decreased mineral collection rate by workers. This was previously reported to be 5, but is currently at 6 units per trip, down from 8 in StarCraft 1.

The rate of collection for StarCraft 2 was planned to be similar to that of StarCraft 1, with the reduction in per-trip numbers originating from the increased unit pathing efficiency. To counterbalance that somewhat, SCVs will now have to spend less time on the mineral patch to acquire a full load.

However, both David and Mike comment that mineral collection feels faster now. The maximum rate of collection is achieved when 3 SCVs are used for each mineral patch, and it’s easier to see when this limit is reached in StarCraft 2 compared to 1.

The next topic is about the improved unit pathing. As an example, David and Mike describe how Zerglings easily surround Zealots from all sides, packing closely next to each other so more Zeglings can get a piece of the action. This creates a situation where smart players will push their Zealots against the wall or put them on choke points to minimize the amount of Zeglings they have to deal with simultaneously.

Zerglings gang up on a few helpless Zealots

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David Kim:  Yeah and the wrap around itself is a little easier to pull off I guess because the A.I. takes care of some of that for you but you do still need the micro if you want to get the maximum out of your melee units.

Another important change is to deceleration. In StarCraft 1, this was less precise, and units could sometimes slow down in a way that put them before or after the location they were ordered to go to. In StarCraft 2, this mechanism is much more precise, and units know when to start decelerating to reach the specific location.

Mike Heiberg:  Right, a lot of times you’d be floating your guardians in to take out some spore colony or something and they’d float a little too close and you’d be like “Whoa!” and you’d have to back a couple of them out. They’re a little more intelligent now about not floating directly into danger when they don’t have to.

Next, the developers discuss resource consumption and its effect on the strategies available to each race. They state that there are more options to choose from in StarCraft 2, which also makes scouting more important.

The last question deals with Infestation, Corruption, and Mind Control. Both Infestation and Corruption are time limited, and the inquiry was about a more permanent ownership changing spell, like the StarCraft 1 Dark Archon Mind Control ability.

Mike sums it up nicely:

Well when we were doing the classic Starcraft mind control we were finding that it actually resulted in some pretty big swings in balance where basically you mind control a large unit, say a Battlecruiser, and now the difference in power from the two different armies is like two Battlecruisers because he lost one and you gained one. So seeing as in Starcraft II we have a few more of those high impact units, we have Colossi, we have Motherships, and Queens, that’s a very scary type of spell to be still bringing into the game, I mean we have more opportunities for those large swings in balance.

A powerful spell like Mind Control would have to be restricted to specific units and leave some of them out, and Blizzard does not like implementing such artificial constraints.

Further, the devs discuss Infestation and its limited effect on StarCraft 1, which resulted from the difficulty in pulling it off.

Mike Heiberg:  Right, in classic Starcraft infesting someone’s command center was really more of an insult.

The StarCraft 2 infestation will be even higher on the tech tree, requiring both the tier 3 Infestor Pit and Infestation research, but will be easier to manage. Since Infestation is going to be easier and the Infested Marines free, the effect will only be temporary.


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As for Corruptors, the developers mention that introducing this mechanism instead of using simple mind control creates new gameplay decisions:

Mike Heiberg: Right we want to allow those types of little micro decisions where in the middle of the battle: “Should I focus on his guys, his Corrupters? Should I focus on my own corrupted units because I’m not getting them back?  Or should I back off and make those basically invalid because there’s nobody nearby for them to be messing with?”.


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