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BlizzCast #6 has been released a few days ago, featuring a (relatively short) portion dedicated to StarCraft 2. The discussion focuses on the design process and the interaction between artists and developers while trying to find a role for, and balance, the units of StarCraft 2.

Karune, Sam and Dustin working

Karune met with Sam Didier, art director, and Dustin Browder, lead game designer. They discussed StarCraft 2’s state and fleshed out the process required for successful unit creation, from conception to implementation.

…..you know, does it start from a gamplay element like you guys have a specific unit in mind for a certain gameplay mechanic or does it actually start from the art side,….

Which later got quite an interesting response from Sam, providing a fine example of how a gameplay-based unit was introduced to StarCraft 2.

Sam Didier:
Yeah we did all drawn inspiration from some of the giant walking robots and tripods but if you notice our Colossus has four legs, not three. So our tripod is way better then everyone elses because we have one more leg. Take it!

The Thor has been pushed all around the tactical spectrum – from a long range, mobile sieger to an AA Flak station. It is discussed lengthily as the unit with the most incarnations, one which has changed significantly throughout the development process.
Sam Didier elaborated on the problems of applying gameplay functionality to a well designed unit with very explicit features:

The problem with it we had in the concept is we had these giant guns on his shoulders.  ‘Real cool!  Yeah that looks awesome!’  Well anytime we have something cool in the art like that we have to justify it in gameplay.  So it had these giant guns, what’s it do? Well we already have a siege tank that rains death upon the battlefield so what do these big guns do?  Rain bigger death?  That makes the siege tank obsolete.  So we couldn’t do that. So one of the problems with this unit is we went with the art first and because it had the big cool guns now were trying to figure out what to do with it design wise.

Thor and small animals

And a small teaser of the much anticipated single player campaign:

Sam Didier: All you guys out there listening, you should have seen how big it was before uh . . . we had to make it playable.
Dustin Browder: (laughs) They’ll see that version in solo play I’m sure.

But more importantly, Dustin describes the eventual Thor as the front-line damage sponge and a great AA support unit.

So the Thor does two things for the Terrans: It gives them a sort of tip of the sword kind of unit, something you can push up front that can take a lot of damage from enemy fire.  It’s very survivable, very tough, very hard to kill.  And you can use that sort of push past an artillery barrage or push directly into an enemy base to sort of lead your smaller lighter marines into battle.  And it’s also got these huge cannons on its back that can strike against air targets so you can use the Thor to defend your forces from enemy air threats and it’s a very powerful weapon in both of these roles.

While discussing the portrait animations found in StarCraft 2, the Marauder is mentioned as having one of the better portraits, and Blizzard were even kind enough to provide an example – watch the following video for several portraits which were revealed in detail during the BlizzCast. (courtsey of SCLegacy)

The rest of the StarCraft 2 portion deals with generic development decisions, providing insight into the workflow and development enviroment key Blizzard game designers enjoy.


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