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Q&A 47: Rotating Mutalisks, Ventral Sacs; New Screenshots

The 47th Q&A batch has been published, featuring seven answers and largely focusing on StarCraft 2 gameplay. A few interesting issues raised in this one, as well as a surprising development for Zerg transportation. No other special feature has been added to this Q&A session; without further ado:

1. In the original StarCraft, most air units can move and fire, vultures have fast rotating times and can shoot backwards and run forward instantaneously with enough micro. In StarCraft II, there have been some concerns from players who have played the game, that the unit movement animations are getting in the way of micro. Will such animation cancelling techniques still be possible in StarCraft II?


Both macro and micro-control are very important in StarCraft II as well, and when it comes to micro-control like Vulture’s moving and shooting in the original StarCraft, it is still possible to focus on micro control with the units.


For example, Mutalisks can fire while moving, with micro. And certain ground units, like the Marauders with the slow attack or Roaches with fast regeneration, benefit greatly from moving and shooting, but they still need to stop to shoot. The Hellion is also interesting, because the Hellion is a unit that has high burst, long delay between attacks, splash damage type, as well as a fast movement speed, so it can be used for kiting purposes as well as closing in the distance after every shot to do max possible damage. Eg, shoot once, close the gap, shoot again, close the gap even more, so that you don’t waste a single shot, but with each movement, you are doing a lot more damage.
StarCraft II also has a firing on the move unit — the Void Ray. The Void Ray can move closer to an enemy unit while continuing to fire at it, and because the damage type builds up over time, it would be more ideal to finish off that one unit that’s trying to run away or back up before engaging a brand new target.

Karune sidestepped the issue in this question, which put the emphasis on delays caused by unit turning animation. StarCraft 1 units, though based on 3D models, were merely 2D sprites on the battlefield. When changing direction, the unit sprite was immediately replaced with the one facing the direction of its ordered movement. In StarCraft 2, units and their full movement are rendered in 3D, and changing direction requires the time it takes the animation to finish. For most units, this change is hardly noticed, and changing direction is an instant operation. For others, like the Mutalisk, this delay is non-trivial, and prevents players from taking advantage of their hit and run potential.

Mutalisk raid

However, a fine example of micromanagement using Terran Marauders, which are minimally affected by this change, can be found in the first Battle Report video.

2. Do you plan to introduce consume (cannibalism) as one of the zerg features? For example, in Starcraft I, defilers ate zerglings to gain 50 energy (it is possible to introduce consume for ultralisks which will gain 50 life after eating a zergling or another unit)


We don’t have the consume ability in the game now, but if consume is considered as necessary to the game, you will see this ability in StarCraft II. Currently Zerg has caster units like the Infestor, Queen, Overlord, and Overseer. Infestors can move while burrowed, which means it can regenerate energy again away from the battle. The Queen has already powerful skills and combat ability. Overlords can fly and mutate the creep without any energy. Overseers also can fly so that they can earn some time to regenerate their energy as well. If the current Zerg casters having the consume ability, it could make them too powerful and strong.

3. Will there be custom water units? For custom maps and Scumedit will players be able to make units that swim/float. Also will there be special units designed for water, but only available on the Scumedit, like a shark-like zerg or protoss water vessel. Obv. I know these won’t be in multiplayer ladder, I only mean for custom maps.


We haven’t finalized the decision about the exact extent of support for custom maps and Scumedit yet.

4. Maps have always been important to keep SC balanced, fun and competitive. We have already seen you have some interesting new tools to help multiplayer map designers balance their maps such as tall grass that blocks vision of ground units. What other new terrain elements are we gonna see in SC2 to make interesting competitive maps?

Currently there are Xel’Naga Watch Tower, Grass, and Destructible Rocks in the map. We will be pleased to add more if we can design other features which will make the game more exciting and balanced as well.

New terrain elements or not, map modders will find ways to implement other effects to make battlefields more complex and interesting, just like in StarCraft 1. In the pro scene, permanent spell effects such as Dark Swarm and Disruption Web can be found across the field, and Dustin Browder has already confirmed that this will be possible in StarCraft 2:

[Dustin Browder] Our data editor allows the creation of this type of terrain. You could easily put this type of terrain on melee maps. We have not finalized our feature set for terrain yet so I dont know what will make the final cut for the default Blizzard maps.

5. The Thor was built by an SCV at first, but since quite time now it is built like a normal unit in the factory. Was this changed due to design or balance reasons?


We changed this due to the balance reason. Before the change, you could build as many Thors as you want at the same time with your SCVs, as long as you have resources, with one Barrack and an Armory. We decided that this can be too much benefit to Terran, and we changed that Thor could be built from a Factory.

It’s sad to see this new feature go, especially when it’s replaced by constructing Thors from a building which isn’t much bigger than they are.

The Thor is, in fact, as big as a Barracks

6. Zerg has cliff-scaling units?


We want to keep three races different and they do not necessarily have the same ability units. Currently Zerg do not have a cliff-scaling unit, like the Reaper in Terran or Colossus in Protoss. However, Zerg still can expand very quickly and have other movement advantages like 30% additional speed on creep. They also have the combination of Overlord’s creep generating ability and Nydus Network as a very powerful tool to attack opponent’s main base or expansion. Also, Overlords are currently able to transport Zerg units like the original StarCraft.

Hidden within the usual spiel about race diversity is an incredible announcement about the Zerg’s transportation capabilities. After struggling with making the Nydus Worm function as the sole unit transport for the Zerg, it seems that Blizzard has given up and decided to supplement it with the previous transportation method – the Overlord’s Ventral Sacs.

7. I noticed that in the Protoss demo the Protoss buildings when warped in, had there surfaces visibly warped in, like in the original StarCraft. However, in recent builds and footage, Protoss buildings just appear after the building animation. Is this just a temporary thing, or is it really gone?


Warp-in of Protoss buildings should be one effect for all with the final frames unique showing the specific buildings structure phasing in.

Along with this Q&A, three new, amazing screenshots have been published on StarCraft2.com, showing the latest and greatest in StarCraft 2 graphics development. Especially of note is the night-time picture, showing a well-lit fight between Protoss and Terran forces.


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