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Update: StarCraft2.net.pl has a very interested interview with Dustin Browder, lead designer of StarCraft II. See it here!

starcraft 2

As the information surge from the Blizzard June 22 StarCraft II press event winds down, there are a few last things that need to be mentioned.

First up, we have new information on the status of the StarCraft II voice actors. JoyStiq reported that Jim Raynor and Arcturus Mengsk will have their original voice actors return in StarCraft II. Though Blizzplanet has confirmed that Robert Clotworthy has indeed reprised his role, Glynnis Talken Campbell confirmed to us that she will not:

As for Kerrigan, I think things are pretty set in stone. I got a very definitive call from the new audio director when they made the decision not to use me, saying they wanted something different. I can't imagine them changing their minds now unless there's a shakeup in Blizzard's corporate world. I have to say I'm surprised (and pleased) that Robert has been brought back--the fans should be delighted to hear that! If nothing else, all the articles and comments have been flattering, and I thank you for forwarding the links. It's been an honor to serve as your Queen of Blades...

 

StarCraft: Legacy would like to congratule Robert Clotworthy on his return to the StarCraft universe! Indeed, it appears that Blizzard has listened to the voices of the fans in this matter. Yet for one reason or another, it seems that Blizzard is adamant on their decision to not recast Glynnis Campbell.

starcraft 2

Karune, the StarCraft II community manager, gives his thoughts on the no-LAN controversy:

For me personally- I loved LAN parties, but the direction in which Battle.net is headed, I would always choose to play on Battle.net > 99% of the time and even if for whatever reason I did decide to lug my computer to a friend's house in this day of age (<1%), I would still be playing with them on Battle.net against others at their place.

 

starcraft 2

The various media sites have posted up their coverage of the press event. SC:L has extracted and distilled the most important information from their various article:

Gametrailers - Browder Interview Part 1, Part 2

  • The map editor will be in the beta. The map editor is pretty complex at the moment but player feedback will be used to make it more user-friendly.

Escapist Magazine - StarCraft II Will Not Support LAN

  • According to Rob Pardo, the choice to not include LAN functionality is because the planned technology will be incorporated into Battle.net.
JoyStiq - Interview: Starcraft 2 lead producer Chris Sigaty
  • Single-player and Battle.net info some time in July.
  • Mengsk and Raynor's voice actors are back.
  • Unit portraits are lip-synced to phonetically match what is being said in .WAV files.
  • Each custom map can have its own custom score screen so that the map maker can return map-relevant stats after the game is over.
Destructoid Interview with Dustin Browder
  • Terran campaign is currently 20 missions including "missions where you're trying to defend an infested colony. We've got missions where you control a single Ghost, trying to change the tide of a war. We've got missions where you're battling on ancient forbidden space platforms, trying to steal artifacts from under the nose of fanatical Protoss."
  • Zerg Campaign will be about "building an empire".
  • Terran single-player only units include super-Medics, super-Dropships and hovertank Cobras.
  • Blizzard is actively trying to prevent high level players recreating accounts and going up against low level players.
  • There will be casual-level leagues at slower game speeds on anti-rush maps for newer or non-hardcore players.
ShackNews - StarCraft 2 Bonanza: Beta Still Not Dated
  • The Hercules-class Dropship can carry three Thors into battle.
  • There is currenlty a single-player mission where lava rises up and the player must get to high ground or else all his units die.
  • There is a mission where Infested Terrans attack by night, but stay burrowed during the day.
  • There is a mission where the player is defending a Terran colony that's being infested which includes trying to put the fires out while simultaneously fighting off infested units.
  • In another mission the player is a Terran Ghost who is trying to influence the course of an entire battle.
  • There is a mission where the player is racing Zerg trying to get to a Protoss base.
  • There is a mission on an ancient forbidden space platform where the space itself damages the player's units.
Shacknews Interviews Dustin Browder
  • There will be the ability to hire one-use mercenaries for missions which regenerate after every mission.
  • There will be optional quests in missions to research new technologies.
  • Those who are interested in the story can delve into it fully, but others who are not can just speed through to the missions.
G4TV - StarCraft II Pre-Beta Lead Designer Interview
  • The AI has to scout and can recognize when it's outnumbered and will retreat.
  • Mirror matches are very diverse. TvT has become alot more mobile - players can use Reapers, Banshees, Vikings and especially Thors to break strangleholds.
  • Siege Tanks and Lurkers are very powerful due to StarCraft II's pathing system which clumps units together in a group. Attempts to nerf these units haven't been very successful because they're already so powerful.
  • Nukes will be more commonly used for Terrans, especially for infantry builds.
  • Medivacs and Warp-In are seeing a lot of use whereas Nydus Worms aren't.
  • StarCraft II will have charts detailing what you did wrong and there will be many ways for players to improve.
  • Challenge modes are a version of the game with 5-10 matches that teach you how to use techniques for multiplayer gameplay.
  • Blizzard will probably have custom or pro-league maps in the map pool.
  • The StarCraft II beta will last about 4-6 months.

starcraft 2

The StarCraft nation covered the June 22nd press event as well. StarCraft: Legacy has translated the following Korean interviews:

The first interview from GameDonga is an interview with Dustin Browder, lead designer of StarCraft II, and Chris Sigaty, lead producer of StarCraft II:

The two core developers of StarCraft 2 (StarCraft II) talked about the details about the game and an overview of Battlenet 2.0. StarCraft II, which takes place 4 years after the previous game, will continue on to a new view of the world, and of course, Battlenet 2.0 is planned to have support for a variety of replay functions.

The following is an interview with lead producer Chris Sigaty and lead designer Dustin Browder.

Q: What roles are a lead producer and lead designer in charge of, and what is the manpower in the development of StarCraft II?
Browder: I set the game’s release goal and coordinating the work as a whole. I’m in charge of the team’s morale, atmosphere, and schedule among other things.

Sigaty:
I discuss what kind of game to make with key developers like Rob Pardo, and talk to the balance designer about units, builds, and detailed things.
Browder: The manpower of the core team is about 50 people. Other than this if you add the Battlenet development team, cinematic movie team, community team, and others then there are a substantial number of people participating in development. The producer has the job of controlling the relations between these teams. In the case of WarCraft 3, the core team was about 30 people.


Q: Dustin Browder was often in charge of commentating. Do you enjoy watching eSports? Do you perhaps watch Korea’s eSports?

Browder:
I like watching sports and I have that kind of personality. Outside of StarCraft II, I feel inspiration and drama when watching soccer or hockey, and for this reason I enjoy watching a wide variety of sports. I don’t watch Korean eSports often because I don’t understand the language.

Q: The previous game’s fastest speed was “fastest”, but in StarCraft II it is “faster”. The sense of speed is similar, but why is the fastest game speed “faster” in StarCraft II?

Browder:
The previous game’s “fastest” and StarCraft II’s “faster” is the same level. But, in terms of sense, StarCraft II’s speed will feel slightly faster. The current build is set to the fastest speed, so, as always, a faster speed may possibly be added if it is wanted.

Q: What is your favorite unit out of those newly added?

Browder:
Singling out a unit I most like is very difficult. I feel like they’re my own children, but if I really had to choose I would choose the Roach. It’s because there’s diversity in its uses and it provides a different style of gameplay to enjoy.
Sigaty: It’s hard to pick because I can’t play well [laugh]. Lately I’ve been enjoying StarCraft 2 and I usually play as Terran. In the past, I liked the Marine and in StarCraft 2 I especially like the Hellion and Banshee.


Q: What is the level of AI in StarCraft II?

Sigaty:
Compared to the last game and WarCraft 3 it’s been improved a lot. In beginner, easy, medium, and hard mode the AI plays based on what it actually saw. But in the most difficult mode the AI doesn’t have to see anything and plays knowing everything.

Browder: Previously, if a tank took position the AI would charge and attack, but the StarCraft II AI understands the situation and immediately retreats his forces. The AI knows about how much resources the user gathered, and if the user produces Marines then the AI produces Hydralisks to counter. It plays knowing everything about the map. But a gamer with outstanding control will be able to win, and if someone’s progamer level then he will definitely win. If you can match 1 AI then facing 2-3 can improve your skill.

Q: Because it’s a 3D game the large-scale battles the eyes are easily fatigued.

Browder:
We are receiving feedback about this point from many people, and we are working on improving those parts.

Q: What kind of work are you doing right now?

Browder:
Since there’s a lot of work we’re doing I’ll explain simply. Currently we are working on Battlenet, and on the design side we’re making the single-player campaign. This time the campaign is supposed to be strengthened so we’re putting a lot of relative importance on it. Also, outside the build order and balancing the new unit skills, we’re doing a lot of beta-test related work.


Sigaty: We are progressing with operations required for the beta-test and various tests for the multiplayer portion. The current build is not the final one, so it’s possible that it’ll be changed through revision.

Q: How many cutscenes will appear in the single-player campaign?

Browder:
There will be about 20.

Sigaty: Cutscenes include cinematic movies and 3D movies and others.

Q: What are the PC requirements for StarCraft II?

Browder:
It’s not a final decision but a graphics card with Pixel Shader 2.0 and up and a Dual or Quad Core CPU are the requirements we are working towards. But if it’s a single core of the best specifications the game should be playable.

Q: What kind of newly added functions are there in Battlenet?

Browder:
It’s too early to say but we investigated the various latest platforms, and even compared them. A bit of time after previous games were released, only hardcore gamers were left, and to solve this problem we are trying different attempts. Through a system for beginners and rush-proof maps, we are planning to make it enjoyable to beginners as well. The tutorial is being expanded. Also replays are made detailed so that anyone can easily become accustomed to the game.

Q: How is the new ladder system?

Browder:
We can’t really say any details yet but we are preparing a more enhanced version than the past. The speed will be set as the fastest speed.

Q: In the previous game, the only way to have an observer mode was to have a specially made map, but is there any change in StarCraft II?

Sigaty:
Observer mode is possible on all maps. Currently the largest match modes are 4:4, and in these cases 4 observers may join. If 2 gamers were having a match then 10 observers can join.

Q: The past Battlenet had P2P method of matching but what method will Battlenet 2.0 use?

Browder:
It will be similar to the WarCraft 3 router method. Since gamers go through Battlenet you can confirm what actions the gamer has taken.

Q: How will the Terran storyline continue?

Browder:
The StarCraft II Terran segment depicts the events four years after Broodwar. The scenario continues smoothly. Jim Raynor and similar characters will be met, and characters that only appeared in the story concept will be newly introduced to progress the story.

Q: Please explain the considerate development of essential elements of eSports.

Browder:
I can explain two important factors. Firstly, to design the units themselves in the game to be exciting and putting in abilities that are fun to watch to be best suitable eSports. The second is the replays, observer view, and Battlenet and other essentials were input into the game.

Q: If you wanted to hear from a progamer their opinion on the development, who would you want to hear from?


Sigaty: I can’t remember the names of the Korean gamers well but within the company there is a separate eSports team and we hear information from them weekly. I know more WarCraft 3 players than StarCraft players, but it will be helpful to have the most amount of players to participate and give us feedback. When we start beta testing we will open as many slots as possible and hear the views of progamers such as Im Yo Hwan, Lee Yun Yeol, Hong Jin Ho, Jang Jae Ho.

 

GameDonga also interviews Mike Morhaime, CEO of Blizzard Entertainment. This interview is more targeted towards e-sports and Blizzard's affairs in other countries such as China and Korea:

Co-founder and CEO of Blizzard Entertainment, Mike Morhaime, talked about the pre-year-end release and the love and interests of Korean gamers.

Along with the World of WarCraft suspension case in China, the nearing of the release of StarCraft 2 and Battlenet has made Blizzard become the subject of conversation around the world. We met with Mike Morhaime, representing Blizzard, to talk about the current issues and future plans.

Q: Currently, Blizzard has problems with the Chinese government and WoW has been suspended in China. What are your predictions about what is to come?

A: Last June 6, the World of WarCraft contract was cancelled with The9. After that, we started a new partnership with NetEase, so from now on we are going to progress in having clean communication with the gamers in China. We have also introduced new hardware technology for much better service, and we are preparing a variety of services for Chinese gamers.

But the work of making and maintaining new servers is very complicated, so we had to suspend the game’s service without a choice. We are checking to see if the current server and the gamers’ data are the same as when the service stopped, and we plan to start service again soon.


Q: Rumors are that you couldn’t get the gamers’ database from The9. Is it true?

A: The rumor isn’t true. The9 handed over all the gamers’ data and we are in the process of confirming if the content is the same as right before the service was stopped.

Q: To our knowledge, Blizzard is intending to make a keynote address at CGDC. Can we see this as a way to win people over because of the WoW suspension in China, and before the upcoming WWI Asia exhibition? (difficulty in translating this question)


A: It’s not like that. In the past, we had been asked by CGDC to give a keynote speech, so we simply agreed to do it this time as well. There hasn’t been any settlement to the plans to have WWI in China, but it doesn’t seem to be a bad idea to go to China to have speeches there in the future.


Q: Every Blizzcon there has been a new announcement. Is there a surprise announcement prepared for this year as well?

A: It’s true that we have had those kinds of announcements each time. We’ll try to have an announcement for this year’s event but it hasn’t been decided yet.

Q: Keeping the global league in mind, what is your view on the opinion that the Korean version may become poison? (referring to the fact that the Korean StarCraft 2 may have unit names in Korean that are completely different from the original names)

A: We’ve had a lot of discussion within the company and also had some criticisms. It was the same way for WarCraft 3. But in the case that the gamer doesn’t read English, we decided that the game wouldn’t be understood enough without having the service in the native tongue. (this is true, because Korean gamers don’t know anything about the lore, considering the campaign is in English) If you don’t agree with my idea then provide another one.

Q: Since there are times when things cannot be translated into Korean, such as Hydralisk and Mutalisk, what is your solution to this?


A: I would like to hear what the Korean gamers think about the Korean conversion, and I consider this case to be a special case. It’s because the game’s been played 10 years with the English name and people have become accustomed to them. We’ll prepare so that we can keep hearing these opinions.


Q: When StarCraft 2 start beta testing, will the Korean version be available?

A: Yes. The Korean version will be available.

Q: Around when will the StarCraft 2 beta test start in Korea?


A: It will start around summer. That much can be said for certain at this time.

Q: This office doesn’t seem like the typical game company office, and feels like a hardcore gamer’s room. Is there any special philosophy put into this room? Was every related product bought? (related product probably meaning products related to games made by Blizzard)

A: I didn’t decorate it with a particular intention. It’s the products related to Blizzard games that I’ve collected over countless years. But I think I have to move to a bigger office because the merchandise has become progressively numerous nowadays [laughs].

I don’t have memories of every product specifically, but some were bought and some were things given to Blizzard employees. Action figures were things that the company received and products that are not Blizzard-related were purchased by me.


Q: I’m curious about the soldier that sent money from Iraq to the Blizzard museum.

A: We came in contact with a soldier who sent us a letter. The letter was extremely well written. So we kept communicating with him and afterwards, we invited him to Blizzard and he told us about his experiences in Iraq. He is also currently participating as a beta tester.

Other than that there is also Dan Barry (full name Daniel T. Barry; I had to look it up because the article didn’t provide the English name) who went to space with a StarCraft CD who was also a Blizzard fan. He had asked us if he could take a StarCraft CD with him to space, and we gave him our consent. After circling the Earth with the StarCraft CD he told lots of stories during his visit to Blizzard.


Q: In a previous event it was stated that StarCraft 2 will be released this year. Tell us about the release date.

A: As I recall, we said we were aiming for a 2009 release date. Like other games’ releases, when we think StarCraft 2’s completion is good enough to send out is when we will start selling it. (long version of “it’s ready when it’s ready”)

Q: Blizzard has always started selling only after their games reached a set standard of completion. But after combining with Activision I would think that Blizzard can still decide the release date on its own, but is there any difference from before?

A: The merge and the game’s release are completely unrelated.

Q: Someone once said that if you work at Blizzard for over 20 years you are gifted a suit of armor. Is this true?

A: It’s not definitely decided, but we are still discussing it.

Q: Please tell us about your thoughts about the eSports market and the intellectual property rights of Korea.

A: I don’t think it’s not the time yet for detailed talk about the copyright of eSports. But we understand that eSports are important to Korea, and we think we should provide support and promotion of the progression of Blizzard games being used to progress eSports. Of course, we still think that game related copyright protection is important.

Q: What kinds of talented people does Blizzard prefer? (seems like a popular question in Korea)

A: The most important thing is to have passion for the game. Someone who finds importance in the things that Blizzard finds important, someone who understands that Blizzard may create different products compared to other companies, someone who has the ability to create the best game and has a lot of creativity are people that we prefer. To add, the work of developing a game is not easy. We would like it if it was someone who can put his passion into this kind of developing work and has the intention of putting effort into it.

Q: The Korean market is probably important to Blizzard, enough to hold a lot of events nationwide. If you could say something for the Korean gamers?

A: Blizzard considers Korean gamers important enough to hold the announcement of StarCraft 2 in Korea, 2 years ago. We’re not able to have new announcements or hold events in Korea yet, but, to the Korean gamers, we thank you for your constant love and support. We would like it if you also enjoyed StarCraft 2.

 

Sources:
Battle.net - LAN parties
GameDonga - Browder/Sigaty Interview
GameDonga - Mike Morhaime Interview

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