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Karunology: EMP Vs Protoss Shields; Q&A 52: MapMaker Series

After a short hiatus in blue activity, Karune returns in full force to answer questions on the Battle.net forums, providing information on the latest changes to a few high-interest gameplay aspects: the Ghost and its abilities, the new Dark Pylon, and the High Templar‘s new spell.

Starting with a long post about EMP and the ghost, Karune had this to say:

Yup, EMP is currently on the Ghost and does 100 shield damage to all units and drains all energy in that area of effect. Having a Ghost presence in any TvP match up is crucial, especially if there are casters in the opponent’s army. In the original StarCraft, the EMP used to kill all shield hit points, but since in StarCraft II the ability has been added to the Ghost, which is more easily attainable unit than in the original StarCraft, we have reduced it’s potency a bit.

Plus a one-click ability that reduces an opposing army to half health near instantly isn’t something that we want to promote.

11 Vessles - harder to get than 11 Ghosts

EMP, formerly a Science Vessel ability, has been made weaker due to its higher availability as a Ghost ability. However, at 100 shield damage, it still has the potential to wipe out the shields of entire Protoss armies, as there are few units with more than 100 shield points. Of course, there’s always the option of bringing multiple ghosts into a battle and making them focus their EMP efforts on one group. Karune does not particularly like this tactic, though:

True, though that would be much more costly in terms of minerals/gas as well as time needed to have enough energy for EMPs. Furthermore, it would take slightly more micromanagement as well.

Convinced?

It will remain to be seen how effective Ghosts are in Terran versus Protoss games and whether or not multiple EMP attacks on single targets will be cost effective. There is no doubt that Terran players will make use of several EMPing ghosts when engaging large packs of heavily shielded units – like Carriers – especially with lockdown no longer being a part of the game, as Karune reconfirmed:

No lockdown in multiplayer.

Another interesting topic raised is the Protoss increased shield regeneration rate, which fits perfectly with the increased pace of the game. Not only do shields regenerate twice as fast out of combat, but Shield Batteries, reincarnated as the much more useful Obelisks, will certainly be more prominent in games now. “Obelisk” is the new name for the slightly less new Protoss building – the Dark Pylon, tuned down in power so that it no longer functions as a one stop shop for all Protoss needs.

The Dark Pylon is now known as the Obelisk – primarily because it no longer cloaks units and no longer provides pylon power/supply. This change was mostly due to balance, since it is relatively easy to spam Dark Pylons everywhere and instantly have a Psi Storm recharge point to decimate incoming forces.

The Obelisk is the new name for the Dark Pylon, and the Dark Shrine is the new name for the Dark Obelisk. The Obelisk still has the probe buff, but now also acts as a shield generator, and still has Argus link to transfer energy as well. The cloak ability has been removed from the Obelisk. The Dark Shrine remains the same in function, allowing the production of Dark Templars.

When put in a difficult situation, retreating with Protoss is a strategy that often times has to be used to recharge shields and regroup after attacks. Preserving Protoss units is particularly important because they are generally more expensive than the other races, have more hit points, and have that increased shield regeneration to help them fight another day.

Obelisk?

Obelisks will undoubtedly be more abundant than Shield Batteries in StarCraft 2, as they provide both shield and energy points along with the Protoss’ economy buff. Even though Obelisks do not count as proper Pylons anymore and cannot serve as Proxy Pylons, used to deploy troops from Warpgates or Phase Prisms in remote locations, they are still likely to see off-base use.

Karune was kind enough to assuage the fears of Protoss players, now dreading the Terran Infantry more than ever:

The Colossus would be the unit you are looking for. One Colossi will be able to kill a group of Marines (before shield upgrade) with one sweep of its lasers. Multiple Colossi, with upgraded laser range, will surely mess up the day of any Terran player who does mass infantry.

If Protoss players do tech towards the Colossus, they will also have access to observers very early, giving them early warning to when the Ghost is in play and where it may be shooting its EMP from.

Colossus wiping out Terran Marines with a single pass of his beam

Moving on, some more news about everyone’s favorite lightning-powered caster, the High Templar:

Time Bomb is now known as the Temporal Rift and is cast by the High Templar.

Plasma Surge is no longer in the multiplayer version of the game, but will still be in the editor.

I am protected.

Time Bomb, previously a Mothership ability – demonstrated way back in the original StarCraft 2 introduction video, is gone from the game, replaced with the more mundane “Temporal Rift”. What does it do, Cydra?

Temporal Rift creates a distortion field at the target location. Ground units caught inside of this field have their movement speed, attack speed, and ability cast times slowed by half. And it lasts 30 seconds.

No longer will missiles slow to a crawl when meeting the huge time distortion field created by the dreaded Mothership. Instead, the High Templar has been granted a glorified, area of effect, slow spell. Coupled with Psi Storm, this ability can be devastating to the affected troops which will have a hard time moving away from underneath the surging lightning bolts or the Colossus’ earth-scorching beam.

***

Today, Blizzard has also released the 52nd installment of the Q&A series. This batch belongs to the Map Maker series and spans 8 map creation and custom script programming related questions.

1. Does it still use the JASS language, or perhaps an upgraded version of JASS?

StarCraft II uses an entirely new scripting language, which we’ve called Galaxy. This language is very similar to C, and anyone familiar with programming in C will have no trouble picking it up.

2. Is the language event-driven or object-oriented?

The language itself is not object-oriented, although most of the native functionality is based around operating on game objects.

Blizzard has finally named the puppy publically: the Galaxy scripting language. A fitting name for a tool so often described as able to alter any property and behavior in the StarCraft 2 Universe.

3. In comparison to the Warcraft III Editor, how much more, if any, can the GUI of the game be edited (it was extremely limited in Warcraft III)?

The in-game UI layout is externalized in data files to a large extent, however there is no editor support for working with these files. So it will be possible to customize the game UI, it just won’t be a user-friendly process.

StarCraft 2 is unlikely to gather a massive UI modding community like WoW has, but since the possibility of UI modding exists, we will , no doubt, see detailed manuals pop-up after a few brave and clever souls document the process.

4. Are there new noteworthy functionalities in the Starcraft II Editor, or will the new editor just have general improvements?


I can’t think of a single editor feature from WarCraft III, large or small, which has not been improved in at least some way for StarCraft II.

5. Will the ability to communicate among triggers, for instance via actions or conditions, be improved in the new language?

One significant new feature of the Trigger Editor is support for custom function definitions, including actions and conditions. This means you can create your own actions that are built up from other actions (or custom script code), then use those in triggers just as you would any other action.

6. How does “Hero” support differ from the Warcraft III Editor? Or is it practically identical?

We’ve been working hard to create a hero system that is even more flexible than WarCraft III’s. For example, map makers will have the ability to define any number of custom attributes that modify a hero based on its level.

Dota Allstars Background

The inevitability, and Blizzard’s own encouragement, of a StarCraft 2 DoTA mod is clear to anyone following the trail of Q&As since the announcement of Scumedit. DoTA has become an important and integral part of the professional (and mainstream) WarCraft 3 scene, and the creation of a similar mod will definitely contribute a lot to the StarCraft 2 gaming community.

7. Will there be a public API for the programming language?

As with WarCraft III, there is a large set of “native” functions representing game functionality that can be accessed through scripts. If this is what you mean by “public API”, then yes.

8. Will there be improvements on the “Garbage Collector” for the new language? For example, in JASS all local variables need to be set to null at the end of their use, and certain data-types need to be removed from the game (such as Locations) at the end of their use to avoid memory leaks.

Galaxy features a robust garbage collection system for all native types, which is a huge improvement over WarCraft III (which technically did not have a garbage collection system at all). The script memory leak issues from WarCraft III will be a thing of the past.

Everything about Scumedit and Galaxy is bigger, better and more robust; it is the eventuality of 10 years of modding and map creation coupled with Blizzard’s own ideas for improving these aspects of StarCraft. It will be interesting to see just how far modders take this new tool and whether or not they are able to one-up the legendary DoTA.

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