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With only two weeks left before StarCraft 2’s scheduled release, casual gamers around the world – especially RTS players -  better make sure their system specs are up to par. The game costs a whooping $60, or a lesser price if you’re willing to pay a monthly fee, depending on your region and version of preference. Without the hardware to fit the game’s requirements, one may find that his investment doesn’t yield the best gaming experience.

Colossus Swarm! Can your computer handle 800 food clashes?

Throughout the beta and especially since the introduction of 3v3 and 4v4 matches, the loading screen has often been a vague indicator as to who might be the weakest hardware link and most likely lag behind during the game.

Are you the one who always loads last? See if your system specs meet the official hardware requirements! Current PC hardware requirements and recommendations are as follows:

PC Minimum System Requirements:

  • Windows® XP/Windows Vista®/Windows® 7 (Updated with the latest Service Packs) with DirectX® 9.0c
  • 2.6 GHz Pentium® IV or equivalent AMD Athlon® processor
  • 128 MB PCIe NVIDIA® GeForce® 6600 GT or ATI Radeon® 9800 PRO video card or better
  • 12 GB available HD space
  • 1 GB RAM (1.5 GB required for Windows Vista®/Windows® 7 users)
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • Broadband Internet connection
  • 1024X720 minimum display resolution

PC Recommended System Requirements:

  • Windows Vista®/Windows® 7
  • Dual Core 2.4Ghz Processor
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 512 MB NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800 GTX or ATI Radeon® HD 3870 or better

And for our Mac-using readers:

Mac Minimum System Requirements:

Mac® OS X 10.5.8, 10.6.2 or newer
Intel® Processor
NVIDIA® GeForce® 8600M GT or ATI Radeon® X1600 or better
12 GB available HD space
2 GB Ram
DVD-ROM drive
Broadband Internet connection
1024X720 minimum display resolution

Mac Recommended System Requirements:

Intel® Core 2 Duo processor
4 GB system RAM
NVIDIA® GeForce® 9600M GT or ATI Radeon® HD 4670 or better

So, is your rig ready? Check out the poll in the sidebar and tell us how your current rig handles the beta in the comments.

Hello and welcome to another edition of the Replay Roundup, where we bring you only the best and most entertaining video replays of high level StarCraft 2 games. Today’s replays are going to be from games played over the last month of phase one of the beta. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re not great! First up, we have two matches featuring Sen, a Taiwanese player, playing against two well known pro-gamers: Artosis and fan-favorite Liquid’TheLittleOne.

First up, a short game between Sen and Artosis, a Zerg versus Zerg on Lost Temple.

An unorthodox play by one of the Zerg players decisively wins this game, where no clear advantage was had by either player up until that point. Will this strategy be more commonly used when the beta returns?

Next up, another game featuring Sen as Zerg playing against TLO’s Terran on Kulas Ravine.

In this long game, both players display great skill as they struggle to harass each other while taking over their side of the map. Non-stop battles take place all over and unique strategies are employed to produce a great victory!

Lastly, we have a game from the EU versus Asia tournament, cast by the awesome Day[9], and featuring TheLittleOne once more in a Random versus Terran game on Blistering Sands.

Getting Zerg as his race, he proceeds to play the entire match using two units only – producing another epic game, TLO style.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1nSSp8Rg0I&feature=youtube_gdatahttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1nSSp8Rg0I&feature=youtube_gdata

After one long month of hiatus, the StarCraft 2 beta returns in full force. This phase will last for 11 days, until the 19th of July. Here’s the official word:

The second phase of the StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty beta test is now underway. We’re delighted to invite you back to the battlefield and hope that you will join us through July 19 for more terran, protoss, and zerg action.


As stated previously, all data from beta phase one has been reset. This includes characters, match history, ladder rankings, and achievements. Beta participants will therefore need to recreate their characters and, if joining matchmaking games, complete a new series of placement matches.


We thank you for all the feedback you provided during phase one and are excited to hear about more of your experiences in phase two. Welcome back to beta, and we’ll see you on Battle.net!

Patch 16 was released along with the restarting of the beta, bringing with it a few relatively minor changes and some more undocumented ones.

GENERAL


Rally points now behave as a move command, instead of an attack move command.
Enabled the ability to manually add a StarCraft II character friend using the player’s character code. Character code is a server-assigned numerical code that is displayed within the Add Friend panel.
Battle.net Achievements & Rewards have been updated.
All Quick Match modes are now available: 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, 4v4, and Free For All.
All A.I. difficulties are now available for play.
Cooperative matchmaking versus A.I. players is now available as a play mode.
Enabled cross-game social features between World of Warcraft and StarCraft II.

The rally point change is the big news of this section. Previously, units rallied out of production buildings would automatically attack all enemy units in their way, often nullifying themselves immediately because they would meet with larger forces. This would frequently make rallying useless, since each new unit had to be handled anyway. Instead, units will now move to where they’re told to go, ignoring enemy units.

ZERG


Infestor


Frenzy spell removed.
Infested Terran spell added.


Overseer


Infested Terran spell removed.


Ultralisk


Now immune to stuns and mind control.

Continuing the trend from the recent patches, the Ultralisk has received another buff. Along with the speed upgrade and the ability to ignore the Protoss Sentry’s Force Fields, Blizzard is certainly gearing the Ultralisk to be an unstoppable juggernaut – just like its design implies. It will be interesting to see if this latest buff will be enough for this purpose.

A few other undocumented changes have already been spotted in the new phase of the beta, both for the interface and the game itself. We’ve gathered a list of changes:

GENERAL

  • All menu sound effects changed
  • Many changes to all races sound effects
  • Changed graphics settings, removed highest level of shaders
  • Engine performenace optimized (not confirmed)
  • “Beta” removed from title screen
  • New music added
  • StarCraft installation directory drops from 10gb to 3.5gb as the patch deletes all previous versions
  • Only 2 placement matches are required (down from 5 before and 10 at the start of the beta) A display bug incorrectly shows that only 2 placement matches are required while 5 are needed in effect
  • Xel’naga towers now look like eyes on the minimap

GAMEPLAY

  • Tabbed browsing through production buildings has been removed. Instead, units are assigned to the most efficient building. Early reports inform about many issues with this.
  • Neural Parasite is no longer unlimited, lasts about 12 seconds
  • Infested Terrans last 30 seconds (from 20)
  • Infested Terran can be cast while the Infestor is burrowed
  • Roaches can no longer move under Force Fields while burrowed
  • Stalkers can no longer blink over “unpathable” terrain, meaning no more blinks across islands

Time to hit the servers!

Rally points now behave as a move command, instead of an attack move command.
Enabled the ability to manually add a StarCraft II character friend using the player’s character code. Character code is a server-assigned numerical code that is displayed within the Add Friend panel.
Battle.net Achievements & Rewards have been updated.
All Quick Match modes are now available: 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, 4v4, and Free For All.
All A.I. difficulties are now available for play.
Cooperative matchmaking versus A.I. players is now available as a play mode.
Enabled cross-game social features between World of Warcraft and StarCraft II.

With just 20 days left until the much anticipated StarCraft 2 gold launch and a massive promotion campaign underway, Blizzard faces a mounting barrage of concerns over Battle.net 2.0’s social and regional features. However, in a fashion not entirely typical of a software development company, Blizzard has responded firmly and directly to these concerns, making official statements about the future features of the platform.

Arguably the biggest concern, seen on the Battle.net forums on a day-to-day basis, was the lack of chat channels during the beta and Blizzard’s stance on the issue throughout StarCraft 2’s development. Kapeselus of Blizzard’s Europe RTS community team has recently addressed the issue, and much to the community’s delight, we should be expecting chat channels patched soon after StarCraft 2’s release on July 27.

There will definitely be “chat channels” coming in one of the patches after the release. The system will be based around groups, where you will be able to join public channels that are based around your interests, which can be virtually anything. Also the system will include private chat channels (in plans for release in the first few months after the release), where you will be able to meet with your friends.

Classic Chat Interface

Unique identifiers will be making a return. However, players will no longer be able to select their own .XXXXX suffix – those will be auto-generated by Battle.net upon account creation, making impersonation quite stupid and expensive.

As for identifiers they are returning for the second phase of the beta. The previous system did not work as intended to some degree and based on feedback received the developers decided to implement a variation of this, which is going to attach character codes. These will be three digit numbers added to your nickname and they will be seen in the UI screens. Thanks to this you will be able to add friends manually, just like previously with identifiers. On top of that you can still add friends using all other methods (using the score screen or RealID).

The number will be automatically generated. Please keep in mind that you won’t be able to see this code everywhere, but only on certain screens. (i.e. it won’t get in the way and it won’t ruin the “look” of your nickname, don’t worry! )

The explanations posted were very encompassing and sincere, clarifying the reasons behind Battle.net 2.0’s feature selection. Even gamers who grew up using chat channels could see how modern social-networking setups differ from the long-existing chat-channel based Battle.net interaction and how they may appeal more to mainstream gamers, less accustomed to arranging games and tournaments using IRC and IM chats.

I agree that Facebook integration was something that some players found controversial, but at the same time I disagree that this is something buyers are not looking for.

Even _if_ majority of people don’t have friends to add there are still some who will welcome an opportunity to use this (even here or on teamliquid of all the places :)). I don’t think that looking only on one side of the issue is the right approach, especially when you can make a case that for example majority of buyers don’t care about chat channels.

You just don’t have the data and there are definitely a lot of people out there who just want to log in and play (I know a few myself). Does this mean that implementing chat channels is a mistake, as there are more pressing features that need to be there? Certainly not and I am sure you will agree with me. I am also not comparing the magnitude of both these features, just a hypothetical situation, especially given Facebook integration definitely didn’t take priority over chat channels and wasn’t hard to implement, as it is a very simple option.

The community’s second-biggest concern, a social, eSports and pricing issue all in one, is the localization of StarCraft 2 accounts and built-in measures for preventing cross-regional play, as was disclosed in the Russian StarCraft 2 pricing announcement.

….the game will be fully localized and playable only on Russian Battle.net servers, and players will be required to pay an additional fee to play on international European servers.

Kapeselus addressed the issue again, stating Blizzard’s intention to patch additional features and infrastructure improvements in after StarCraft 2’s official release.

We are aware of players’ concerns about the cross-region play and they are being addressed. As stated previously out long term plan with Battle.net is to allow players to play together. This unfortunately cannot be achieved at this point, due to various challenges and issues connected to it, making it more difficult to implement than in the past.

On the other hand we are looking into solutions which will allow interested players to get access to different regions without buying another full copy of the game. There will be support for this on the Account Management site in the first few months after the release.

During the beta, it was not uncommon for tournament participants to use alternative accounts, burrowed from friends, in order to compete against opponents from across the sea. Blizzard, obviously acknowledging the fact that such a common situation must not force players into an awkward workaround, has set a goal for enabling cross-region play.

We are looking into ways of letting you switch between servers, no matter whether you buy a European or American version of the game. As for the second question you won’t be able to play in the same game using different servers, as we have never had global servers for our games. It is our goal for the future, but won’t be there for release.

Benzen of Blizzard’s forum community team posted a lengthy reply to pricing concerns, which were mounting as Blizzard revealed its multiple region and subscription based pricing plans for Russia and Brazil.

How is the cost of the limited version reasoned? The money has to be used to support Brazilian datacenters?
One of the main goals was to make our game accessible to a wide array of players (novice to veterans), this also applies to pricing options that we have.

As a scenario, if you know you’re going to play StarCraft II and are expecting to play for a while, you have the option to purchase and download the unlimited version online, directly from us. However, if you’re a new player or, if you’re unsure about how long you’re going to play for, you also have the option to purchase the limited version of the game at a reduced price. Then if you decide you want to play more, you have subscription options readily available for you.

Nothing has really changed in terms of being able to purchase the full version of the game. We’ve simply added additional purchasing options so that the game is accessible to a wider audience.

I wish to elaborate on this as there seems to be quite a bit of confusion surrounding this. Currently, there are no plans to allow upgrading from limited to unlimited. However, it is something we’re looking into.

As I’ve mentioned before, in the scenario where you know you’re definitely going to play the game (and for a while at that), you have the option to purchase the unlimited version. We want to make this game very accessible to everyone and we feel that having diversified payment options will help facilitate this.

Collector's Edition - 99 Dollars, Limited Availability

While the reasoning behind the pricing structure is sound and clear, the flipside is a bit harsh on regular gamers in Brazil. The unlimited version costs twice as much, almost $60, while the 6-month limited version is priced at $27. With no way of upgrading between the two after making a purchase, gamers on a budget will have quite a pricey decision to face when StarCraft 2 hits the stores.

With the nearing StarCraft 2 release and the second phase of the beta hitting any day now, updates will soon return in full gear. Get ready for the summer of StarCraft 2!

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