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Q&A 48: Macro Complicates, No Day/Night in Multiplayer

Q&A 48 delivers. Featuring a lengthy and interesting Chat with Devs section, coupled with seven, mostly gameplay-oriented questions, the batch could not have been more relevant for these “we can almost smell the beta” times. The batch even starts with a promise of a second StarCraft 2 Battle Report, to showcase the variety of newly introduced gameplay mechanics and animations.

Chat with Devs:

The new year is well on its way and with it, the devs have been making much progress in both the artistic polish of the game, as well as continued development of multiplayer game mechanics. The art team has been adding several new death animations for units including the Drone’s disintegration into ashes when torched by Hellions, or the explosion of the Overlord sacs by Marine Gauss Rifle fire, and even Marauders being sliced into various pieces by Dark Templars. All of it is quite a sight to see and it is the hope of the art team that these additional animations will really give players a grand experience of immersion into an epic StarCraft battle. On the multiplayer side, the designers are testing out various macro-management encouraging mechanics that will be implemented to each race, but still be played out differently per race. These macro elements will be aimed to allow players with greater macro-management skills to compete with the advantage of gathering more resources than a player who does not emphasize as much on resourcing. More details about the mechanics that are being implemented will be covered in the next Q&A batch and is also planned to be showcased in the next StarCraft II Battle Report.

The StarCraft Universe’s weaponry varies wildly; from the Colossus’ massive lasers and Thor’s Flak cannons to the Zerglings’ claws and Hellion’s flamers – it is only fitting to have at least several key weapon-type dependent deaths per unit. The unit’s death animation is unlikely to be tied to an attack by a specific unit, however. Instead, it will probably be the result of a certain type of attack, perhaps divided into categories such as projectiles, beams, fire and slashing or the like. This design would allow a unit to behave (ahem, die..) correctly when facing user-created enemies in custom maps – which, as Blizzard has mentioned before, are the maps that will include the fancy death animations.

Hellions and Zerglings getting along

As mentioned just a few days ago, Blizzard is clearly looking to complicate the macromanagement aspect of StarCraft 2. With its multiple automation mechanisms, StarCraft 2 differs greatly from StarCraft 1’s Spartan approach to base and economy management. With the demanding Gas Babysitting mechanism not being met with open arms even by seasoned professionals, it is only natural for Blizzard to try and introduce additional concepts that will allow the much needed professional macro-skill edge to be expressed in StarCraft 2.

On to the Q&A:

1. The recently released screenshot (http://www.sc2blog.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/ss104-hires.jpg) shows a combat in rainy night appearance. Will night or different weather be limited to campaign mode? And will it be possible to select it on the map editor?
Night and rain effects will be possible in campaign mode but are not likely occur in multiplayer. Additionally, these effects will be available to map editors to use for custom maps.

It has yet to be seen whether this decision truly benefits the professional competition or just constitutes a missed opportunity for introducing an additional, relevant concept of StarCraft 2 gameplay. Of course, the decision to not use the existing Day/Night/Weather cycle mechanism in competitive multiplayer matches might be caused by graphics requirements or other gameplay/balance issues that have been discovered during internal testing.

2. Does blizzard plan any interface options for people with physical issues (such as color blindness, deafness)? – Kain175 (USEast)
This is a good suggestion and we would like to give all players opportunities to enjoy our games. While we may not be able to create accommodations for everyone, there have definitely been strides made to accommodate more players than the previous StarCraft. For example, you can find more alerts on the screen, such as attack, build complete, and more in StarCraft II and this system will be helpful for players who have difficulty hearing the game sound.

3. Will there be any multi monitor support? – SC2Pod

StarCraft II will support widescreen but not multi-monitor. Widescreen is definitely becoming more of an industry standard, but multi-monitor support for StarCraft II may be too great of a tactical advantage over other players without more than one monitor.

As awesome and practical multi-monitor support may be for the RTS and RTT genre, no game that is aimed at the mainstream and professional audience simultaneously can afford implementing this feature. It has appeared at the very bottom of our StarCraft 2 Wishlist 18 months ago, a fitting place for a great feature that has no place in the real world.

4. SC1 “caster” units did not have a regular attack; some of WC3 “caster” units did have a regular attack; will SC2 “caster” units remain attack-less? – TheWarCenter
Some of the caster units in StarCraft II like the High Templar and Infestor lack a default attack, but there still are some caster units which also have a normal attack ability such as the Mothership and the Ghost.

5. When two opposing forces come to a Xel’naga tower who gets control? Is it the person with the largest army or is it on a first-come/first-serve basis? – TheWarCenter

When two opposing forces are near a Xel’Naga Watch Tower, they both lose control of the Watch Tower, regardless of the size of the army or the order of who arrives first. For example, when you have a ground unit next to the Xel’Naga Watch Tower, you will get vision of the area surrounding the Xel’Naga Watch Tower. When the opponent’s unit approaches close enough to control the Watch Tower, the Xel’Naga Watch Tower will shut down and both you and your opponent will lose the increased visual range given by the tower.

The first (and only, as of today) StarCraft 2 Battle Report demonstrated the importance of Xel’Naga Watch Tower control as well as the fact that a significant portion of battles are waged in their proximity.

6. Is the charge ability only limited to the distance between the zealot and its target or is it also limited to the time that is needed to reach the target? Presumed you have a zealot on a cliff and you want him to charge an enemy unit below the cliff, will it charge all the way over the ramp or will it stop charging after some time? – StarCraft 2 Source DE
Zealot’s Charge ability is based on the ground range, regardless of the height. So a Zealot on the cliff will not start charging a unit below the cliff, even if they look like they are visually right next to each other. The Zealot must be within a set pathing distance from the target for it to activate it’s charge ability, meaning the path in which the Zealot takes to get to the target is a set amount. Additionally, Zealots will not be able to charge through cliffs. They must go around.

7. Are you going to add some of the best custom maps to the regular ladder pool? – StarCraft 2 Source DE

In the future, there will be opportunities for map makers to get their maps added to ladder pools. These maps will of course, be selected based on quality, in terms of competitiveness for multiplayer games.

It is not entirely clear if Karune’s answer covers the case of “custom gameplay experience” that can be found in popular custom maps like DoTA or just user-created maps of exceptional quality, built for normal StarCraft 2 gameplay.

All in all, both the art and game design teams seem to have their hands full. The upcoming Battle Reports, Q&A sessions and community feedback requests are likely to focus on the few key issues which have not been resolved internally so far, but have no place in a public beta.

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