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A new situation report is out, discussing Heart of the Swarm balance.

Our general thinking on new units and abilities is that using them will always be learned faster than defending against them for obvious reasons. Because we’re already seeing some players defend against the new Medivacs extremely well, we definitely want to wait on this feedback to really make sure that it is in fact overpowered before making a change.

 

You can read the full situation report here.

Source:
Battle.net - Situation Report: Heart of the Swarm Balance

Yes, the beta test for Heart of the Swarm is nearing a close, finally ending on March 1st, 2013. But not to fret, Heart of the Swarm will be released on March 12, 2013, so it's not too much time away from the game.

Source:
Battle.net - The Beta Test is coming to an End

General

  • Exciting new replay features have been added to Heart of the Swarm.
    • Watch With Others - This feature allows you to watch replays in sync with other players on Battle.net.
    • Take Command - This feature allows you or your group to take control of selected player armies while watching a replay.
    • Recover Game - This feature allows you to recover a prematurely ended game from a replay.
    • For more details about these new features, please see our overview on the StarCraft II Community Site.
  • Vs. AI Mode has been enabled. Players can now challenge an AI opponent that scales in difficulty.
  • Training Mode has been enabled. In Training Mode, you’ll work your way up from basic StarCraft gameplay skills to greater challenges designed to hone your skills.
  • Lots of tweaks and polish have been made to the new UI throughout the beta.

 

Balance

Terran

Reaper

  • Health increased from 50 to 60.

 

Protoss

Void Ray

  • Supply cost increased from 3 to 4.Activating the Prismatic Alignment ability now causes a timer to display over the Void Ray for the duration of the effect.

 

Zerg

Hatchery

  • The Evolve Burrow upgrade requirement has been moved to the Hatchery.


Bug Fixes

  • The Mac version of the Heart of the Swarm Beta is now working properly again.
  • A full list of documented game and service bugs can be found in our Known Issues sticky in the Beta Bug Report forum.

 

Source:
Battle.net - StarCraft II Heart of the Swarm Beta Patch 2.0.3

With the Heart of the Swarm release quickly approaching, Blizzard has allowed more users into the Heart of the Swarm beta. Any players who pre-purchased HotS on or before December 18 are now flagged for beta access, so if you are one of these people, check to see if you have HotS on your Battle.net account management.

Any players who pre-purchase after December 18 will be allowed into the beta in weekly waves. Be sure to keep checking if you gain beta access!

Source:
Battle.net - Heart of the Swarm Beta Access Expanded

StarCraft II Battle.net 2.0 Concerns

Index:

Introduction

Rarely, in a world constantly consumed by change, does something merely "good" manage to transcend the life expectancy of its parts and become something great. The existence of three perfectly balanced races, an accessible, yet difficult to master, gameplay experience, a strong hardcore community, a thriving e-sports presence, and a host of other factors have led to the creation of a legend among video games. StarCraft is considered by many to be the pinnacle of RTS gaming perfection. By other, less hardcore fans, who played it if even for a short while, it is remembered fondly; yet everyone agrees that its success and vitality was an unintended fluke. Somehow, over the course of a decade, an abundantly flawed game found the correct mix of elements (not all of which were Blizzard's creations) and evolved into a masterpiece. Now, twelve years after StarCraft's intial release, its sequel is about to be unleashed. There are immense expectations. Most popular games have a hardcore fan base, and StarCraft fans take this dedication to a whole new level. Even before the announcement of StarCraft II, StarCraft fans devoted huge portions of their lives to this game. Understandably, we have a stake in the depth, development, and quality of the sequel. However, StarCraft II will be released under a radically different set of circumstances than its predecessor.

In 1998, StarCraft was expected to be a respectable game thanks to Blizzard's previous track record. There was a decent amount of buzz, and even a few fan communities were established pre-release. But now StarCraft has a rabid fan following. Half of us have one foot in the nostalgia and glory of Brood War and the other in embracing the potential of the long sought-after sequel.

A large majority of people are satisfied with StarCraft II's gameplay; it's enjoyable and provides an excellent spectator experience. We understand that it will likely take years for the game to be completely balanced and for the metagame to settle down. That isn't an issue, for we know that Blizzard has a long history of supporting their games reliably long after release. We have every confidence that eventually the gameplay of StarCraft II will be equal to or surpass that of the original. What the community takes issue with is the overall experience: Battle.net 2.0. And herein lies the crux of the success or failure of StarCraft II as a community driven experience and viable e-sport.  

Blizzard has explained that their vision for Battle.net 2.0 centers around an "Always Connected Experience": that is to say that Battle.net is an integral and inseparable part of the entire product. While Brood War's global success as an e-sport was a fortunate accident, StarCraft II is being designed from the ground-up to be an e-sports superstar. With that ambitious of a goal, Blizzard has their proverbial hands full. As the beta and subsequent community dissatisfaction have demonstrated, that goal is still unrealized, and Blizzard's greatest failure may be their unwillingness to communicate with the community that has a wealth of experience and knowledge. While we cannot boast to have produced some of the most successful games of all time, we have been more plugged into StarCraft's uncanny rise than the creators. While Blizzard went on to create other blockbuster games in other worlds, we have continued to live and breathe StarCraft. For our commitment we claim some small measure of understanding. We as a community have grown and evolved along with StarCraft. While we would likely all agree, and rightly so, that Blizzard is the creator, we are the consumers. Our voice needs to be heard. Some will say that our hardcore communities will be a relative minority come release. While this may be true, our experiences granted by our tenure can still provide valuable insight; the thousands of us that have been fans for more than a decade have stayed for a reason.

"

From Diablo to WarCraft III, Battle.net 1.0 evolved over time

The feedback that we can provide in a logical and constructive manner may not fit with Blizzard's vision or plan (that's fine), but it at least needs to be heard and addressed. The uncomfortable communication between the development team and the community can be explained as a groupthink-like phenomenon. Groupthink is thought within a cohesive, isolated group whose members try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. Blizzard Entertainment's communication of concepts is rooted firmly in marketing. Consequently, self-censorship of ideas that detract from the group's decisions occurs publicly. The issue regarding feedback is that the community views Blizzard through this narrow lens; as a result, both Blizzard and the community appear to suffer from this illogical thought process. The Battle.net development team appears to be isolated while the community is heavily restricted in its ability to provide feedback. To some degree it is inevitable, for both are relatively small groups with exclusive interests.

Within the community, the restricted discussion is most readily apparent across the various fan sites and community boards. We've all observed the flavor of the week posts, where Poster A finds an imbalanced, missing, or incomplete feature and the entire community works itself up into a frenzy; Posters B through Z agree, or "/sign", and we all sit around congratulating ourselves on our amazing deductive abilities while subsequently faulting Blizzard for their lack of intelligence. Rarely, does anything constructive result from this process and all too often does it repeat itself. While nuggets of important information can likely be found in these posts, the manner in which they are created and the cycle they perpetuate does not help the community and does not help the development of StarCraft II. As a community, we need to be more respectful of Blizzard and each other. We need to demand more from each other. We have the knowledge and the ability to be helpful toward impacting the success of our beloved game positively. But this outcome entails focusing on explanations and solutions. Feedback on many of the issues important to us needs to be more than pointing out the flaws. Being able to convey our thoughts maturely and constructively demonstrates to Blizzard that, aside for our extensive experience, there are other reasons why we deserve to be taken seriously. Remember, our demographic isn't the only target-audience. For the vast majority of us, a sale is already assured. There's a sense of misplaced entitlement in the community. While we have a vested interest in the game and experience, we aren't "owed" anything. We have to do our best to stay relevant for the journey; it is the only way to positively affect real change. While the community's issue stems from our limited experience with an unfinished product coupled with our desire to be both relevant and have a game worthy of our treasured history, Blizzard's issue with groupthink is slightly different and bit more complicated.

Blizzard's problem is twofold. Firstly, they have tasked themselves with following up a universally adored game and reinventing the entire online gaming experience in the process. This has led to expectations that cannot be met. Without adequate communication to the fan base, the result is disappointment in various shades. To be fair, during the development of StarCraft II Blizzard has been the most open and transparent that they have ever been regarding one of their games. We have been granted Q&A Batches, Battle Reports, and fan site press events. These were incredible, and they helped energize the base. However, Battle.net - the platform upon which the entire system had to run - was kept secret. Obviously, there are many reasons why Blizzard chose to do this. The issue is that Blizzard has promised to revolutionize every aspect of the online RTS experience and failed to account for their limited experiences in many of the areas required for a polished online experience. Their product remains unfinished and flawed. Without engaging the community, with all of our various talents and experiences, in an open dialogue they relied exclusively on their in-house tunnel vision. This isn't to say that there isn't great debate and discussion in-house regarding the various aspects of the game or the service, but rather that there is no outside dissent. This is readily apparent when you read or watch any of the various interviews with the game designers, producers, or officers. They seem woefully out of touch with what the community is really interested in. The exclusion of chat channels is just one example.

"

The expectations were set high with StarCraft

Time and time again we see a developer or a producer ask us if the feature is something we really want. Either our thunderous outcry is being communicated inadequately or the decision-makers inside Blizzard are too insulated. Blizzard's isolated stance in conjunction with the tightly controlled message exemplifies groupthink, and this brings us to the second issue regarding the phenomenon: Blizzard is perhaps a victim of its own success. In many regards, they looked on a very high-level at what they have produced in the past and used that as their basis to move forward. To some extent they must feel that they know what is best, and it is evident from some of the interviews that they are in fact "telling" us what we want. A certain amount of "we know what you want" is noticeable. Realistically, while Blizzard has its own vision and desires for Battle.net 2.0 they can't possibly tell what we want. Now, granted that they aren't catering Battle.net just to us, but our concerns should probably still be addressed. It's just good business.

When people have spent years of their lives working on something very specific, tunnel vision is inevitable. Sometimes that works; look at many of the other products Blizzard has created without outside consultation. However, for many of the things that Blizzard and the community want to accomplish with StarCraft II, an open dialogue is important. This is where Blizzard has missed the proverbial bus. Despite the fact that our feedback could be communicated more effectively, they haven't yet figured out how to best receive and evaluate it.

Traditionally, Blizzard Entertainment has developed games quietly. They were characterized as a disengaged, aloof developer, yet they planned, implemented, and supported games reliably. Marketing and public relations has always been a component of Blizzard, but fan sites have largely been excluded from this. Up until the creation of Blizzard's RTS Community Team in the summer of 2007, community sites were largely ignored by the Public Relations department. In the decade preceding the announcement of the sequel, with the exception of the Sandlot Tournament, we were a dismissed demographic. The PR team judged us to be a superfluous extension of their success. We were never engaged despite our best efforts while general gaming publications and traditional news outlets were granted access to which we had traditionally been shut out of. It is only in recent years that we've been recognized as an important part of the overall target market.

"

StarCraft II introduces the next stage: Battle.net 2.0

The interaction between Blizzard and the online community is improving. We now have the fan site summit, and we are invited to press events. Going forward, more communication and interaction can only help bridge the divide. The community's presence, quality, and professionalism is growing exponentially, and our focus on specific subject matter allows us to be outside experts. Each day, more and more people find our sites and our power to affect the community will only continue to grow. As Blizzard realizes that a StarCraft fan's perception about the game is impacted more by what community partners write than the articles found on a traditional generalized gaming website, hopefully the communication dynamic will realign to be more productive.

With all of that being said, this article is intended to help inform both Blizzard and the community regarding Battle.net 2.0. The criticisms enumerated below need to be aired constructively; however, we have not simply pointed out perceived problems. We have also included our humble suggestions as to how to mitigate the issues presented. While we understand that there are those within the community and within Blizzard that will disagree with our take, hopefully this editorial will help to construct a better understanding between Blizzard and the community. Twelve years has been a long time for everyone, and we should all start communicating now to make the next twelve even better.

 

A History of the Online Identity and Real Identity Model So Far

Battle.net has been introduced as the "always connected experience." It has been described as allowing a Blizzard gamer to interact easily with other Blizzard gamers and play good Blizzard games. One of the largest fundamental problems in implementing this experience is the mentality of how identities exist in the online service. To establish the context, we must define identity. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the most relevant definition of identity is "the distinguishing character or personality of an individual." This section explores the information and iterations of our online Battle.net 2.0 "identities" to analyze what is distinguishing about them.

Originally, before the beta was released, Blizzard provided information regarding the naming convention. When Blizzard's Italian forums were opened, they provided the information that the naming convention would be Name.Identifier. The name component would be a public viewed name that is not unique. However, they never went into detail about the identifier. Italian Community Manager Zhydaris was willing to provide a direct QA session with the community. The second post regarded the naming convention which was later revealed with beta:1

Question: When will you reply to those who opted in through Battle.net? (Or have they already been sent?)  What can you actually test in the beta? When looking at graphics and features, is beta be in a form that's "release ready" or a specific partial version that was created for the beta? When you can create a Battle.net 2.0 beta account?  Will I create the real name ID? How will we register the account? Will those who registered in beta have their information retained in later phases? How does highly common "read-id" names work such as "John". In beta, can I immediately use it to get in touch with my old WoW friends?

Zhydaris: The invitations will start probably a couple of days before the actual launch of the Beta. The beta is multiplayer only, with some features of Battle.Net 2.0 already in the client (friends list, party system, etc..). Nothing campaign. The game version will be updated very often and will often be subject to change, but this does not mean that the graphics will not be complete or whatever.

The exception will be made localized versions, which may have missing sounds (to reduce the size of the client) or placeholder for some translations. Nothing to worry about anyway.

The cross-game functionality will not be present. No chatting with friends on WoW for now :)

Upon first login will be asked to enter a new nickname in the form Nickname.nick (Zhydaris.Blizz, MarioZerg.Clan, etc..). Currently the first part of the nickname is not "unique", so more people can choose MarioZerg, but only one person has the combination MarioZerg.Clan.

"

The Battle.net forums have been instrumental to Blizzard for engaging the community

He then went into further detail in a later post as someone was curious how this naming convention would work with upcoming Clan naming. The reply was as follows:1

Question: Regarding clan names, are you limiting the format of how we write our names? Typical formats are nomeclan.nick (For example, I am SoL.ChoBo) or [nomeclan] nick (would be [SoL] Chobe) and so on ...  It looks like Blizzard has decided to make this format is required (at least in Beta) in the format Nick.Clan (I would be ChoBo.SoL). It is not clear what one should do if they are not part of a clan, I think they should be able to write what they please.  If this is true, it could cause problems as anyone can reserve a clan name without approval for being in that clan.   I'm just speculating but can you clarify?

Zhydaris: No no, it has nothing to do with clan name, which will appear in another way:) It is simply two levels of recognition. The first is the generic nickname, which can be a duplicate. The second is an additional identifier.

Let me give an example: You choose ChObO.qualcosa. Guy chooses ChObO.qualcosaltro. The name will be displayed normally Chobo in both cases (loading screens of games, chat games, etc..), The second nickname comes into play only on statistics, chat outside the game, etc.etc. Another totally random example:"Do you know Mario?" "I know several" "Mario, who live on Mar Sara" "Ahhh FAR Mario, yes, I know!"

Zhydaris noted that the first part of the nickname is not unique, and it lead to the assumption that the second part would be unique. This lead to a lot of speculation in the community about exactly how naming would work. Granted, this shows that Battle.net was a work in progress and we shouldn't hold them to it, but it turns out that subsequently the second part was not unique. This was proven proven by community observation, and it was later confirmed by Dustin Browder during Beta:2

Question: First question is, right now, on Battle.net you can look up someone's match history. So if you're playing in a tournament, then can someone just look up the build orders that you've been using as opposed to getting a hold of replays? Second question is, if people name themselves, Boxer.1, Boxer.2, they all look the same in the game. Could you verify the purpose of identifiers?

Chris Sigaty: I think the "finding a friend", as far as what the intention is at launch as far as getting match history, yes you can get in the system and find somebody there. We are embracing that people can learn about what you do and that sort of thing. That's what every sport is about; you go watch a tape about every football team out there, and they just watch over and over about how the quarterback works and the defensive line tries to study that over and over so they can counter him the right way. Same thing: tennis, soccer, all the way across the board. We look at it the same way. We aren't trying to hide that. We don't necessarily make it easy, but some of our plans for the tournament patch are we're going to make it easy to find who the best of the best are. We don't have all the details to reveal right now, but ultimately there will be a sort a of professional level that you can get the best of the best that are going to be out there. People can watch it. The same way they ultimately can anyway, because they play these games and they watch what build orders they're doing. Ultimately if a player wants to practice and not reveal that stuff, then they would need to get a different account or something and play not as Slayer.Boxer or whatever. Ultimately, they show their hands often anyway as they play in the tournaments. The second part of the question was around the identifier. The identifier is definitely an area that we're exploring. We're still even talking about changing it further and look for further updates in the patches. We still haven't landed on a final answer to that one.

Dustin Browder: The basic goal behind it was to let you have any name you wanted to have instead of trying to guess what names were not yet taken. If we're talking about a service that's going to grow over many, many years, that's going to include Diablo, that's going to include a host of other places, we need to have some way so that if you want to be DarthVader you can be DarthVader.

Chris Sigaty: I want to be DarthVader.

Dustin Browder: Okay, you can be DarthVader. But there has to be some way to distinguish you. But our solution right now has not quite been working out for us in a number of ways.

Question: I've actually ran into a person with the same name as me, it was very confusing when we were talking to each other. Just to clarify, it's common first then unique second, correct?

Dustin Browder: Well, it's a combination of the two together in your name. It's a little confusing.

Blizzard's intention is to allow gamers to select any name they choose. However, there is no way to distinguish your online identity. Currently, the only ways we can connect to others is by either creating a non-unique name, that anyone can copy and imitate, which clearly doesn't differentiate yourself, or by revealing information about your real identity. Blizzard could have been looking at it as first and last names such as John.Doe. There can be many people who are John and other unrelated people who have the last name as Doe, but at the end of the day the only way to identify a person is a combination of the two names. However, the introduction of the Name.identifier is misleading and unfamiliar. With only these two options, our options are restricted resulting in a disconnect between our personal friends and those who we only know in the online realm. In the connected community, anonymity is reduced. While this is healthy in the development of the online community, Battle.net currently misses the mark in allowing casual interaction between users.

Blizzard realized the disconnect, and they attempted to solve the problem by removing the second portion of the naming system completely. This means that the only way to make yourself unique is to give away part of your real identity to online friends. The current system goes against the mentality of being able to play easily with other gamers. For example, if a community member wants to get ahold of another community member to just play games. The only way to do so is to reveal part of your real identity to a person who knows nothing about your real life; sometimes a gaming friend is just another person in the game you enjoy playing with. This new methodology inadequately provides a distinguishing feature for your online identity. In addition, there is a large concern across the community, which is shared here by large portions of StarCraft: Legacy, that there is too much exposure required to share your real identity.

How is Real.id useful if you remove features from it? Obtaining a feature should neither compromise your privacy nor your convenience. Currently, there are significant concerns regarding Real.id. People we play games with, whether we "know" them or not, are frequently strangers to us. We should have the control to provide our own identities. The list of game-related conveniences that Real.id offers could be easily replaced with an Account.id system. Real.id should be an extension of player interaction, and it should provide conveniences throughout the process of integrating gaming into social media.

 

Identification Solutions

There are solutions that allow both identities to exist. These solutions must consider the needs of the user as well as the acceptable standards of the gaming and web development industries. We have to examine a solution that works for both StarCraft II and other associated games as well. We present a suggestion based on a basic string that will look very familiar:

Character.Account

While this looks much like Name.Identifier, there are significant differences. Firstly, your account name will be directly associated with your Battle.net identification when it is created. Before you create a character within a game, you have both your online identity and real identity at your disposal. When you join the online StarCraft II community, you will create your first character for the game, associating it to the account previously created. Essentially, you are creating an alias for your personal identity. The key difference here is that the second identifier is unique.

Example: You can play against "ManofSteel.Superman", "Superman.Superman", "CasualReporter.Superman" and "ILoveLois.Superman".  You can also play against "ManofSteel.Ironman" and "CasualReporter.Spiderman". The real.id of "Superman" is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , the real.id of "Ironman" is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the real.id of "Spiderman" is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The online identity of the gamer and the real identity of the gamer is connected while their characters are still able to be duplicated.

The account names would have to be unique and would possibly include numbers to maintain their unique nature. The community would presumably have less concerns about putting numbers at the end of their account names than giving out private information to strangers who they only play games with. Leave it up to the gamer if they want to reveal personal information and don't influence the outcome by adding features at the expense of privacy. Allow those features to be assessable no matter which option a player chooses. This system is similar to current master-logins available through industry-standard products such as Steam and World of Warcraft. Account.id provides privacy to players while allowing them to distinguish themselves clearly. Character, previously referred to as "name", is renamed to illustrate how Account.id functions like other games, so it is a logical transition for the gamer. This will mean that you could create characters in StarCraft II, and each character can be invited to a party and will be viewed as your common name. Most importantly, this solution does not release your personal email or real name. The system identifies you, and it's up to you if you want to use your game specific id or share your real identity.

 

Implementing This Solution For Other Games

To see how the preceding solution could function for other games, we have to expand the identification system. Including the internal, server-related tags, the identifier for a single character could resemble the following:

Account.Game.Region.Server.Character

Account: This is your account name, or online identity. There is only one identifier for each Battle.net account.
Game: The game which the character resides on. ie: SC2, WoW, D3
Region: The region which the character resides on. ie: US, EU, RU
Server: Most relevant when regions are separated such as they are in World of Warcraft.
Character: The name of the character created to represent you. Depends on the game if the name is allowed to be unique it seems.

"

While it is easy to assume that Blizzard has something regarding all this information in place, we can use this basic example to illustrate how to add a friend in StarCraft II's interface with some of upcoming features implemented. The interface capable of this could be very simple as shown in the mock-up to the right. The interface is simple to understand, and it includes features that were previously concieved to be related to Real.id exclusively. You can add people from other games to your friends list, and this allows their privacy to be maintained. This mock-up assumes that cross-region chat will become available.

At BlizzCon 2009, Blizzard confirmed that cross-realm and cross-game communication was planned between Real.id identifiers on any game associated with a Battle.net account. As you can see in the mock-up to the right, we extend the third pillar, "Connecting the Blizzard Community" by allowing people to connect via chat to others in other games and other regions while maintaining their privacy. Furthermore, Blizzard could bridge data between databases across regions to communicate with each other. This is the company that was faced with replays that couldn't rewind but quoting Rob Pardo, "They said it couldn't be done but we found a way!" The community has provided many signals across the various forums to show that this is desirable.  The image to the right may be something that may not come soon, but the community can yearn for it to become a reality. Blizzard merely has to recognize what the community actually wants.

 

When Will Chatrooms Arrive?

One of the more obvious changes between the original Battle.net and the current iteration is the removal of chat channels. Blizzard has stated that the decision to exclude them was a deliberate choice. According to Dustin Browder:3

In contrast to the campaign the new Battle.Net is probably a huge disappointment for a lot of the fans. That's on the one side because of the fact that features we know from the original Battle.Net won't be included and on the other side we have to read news that even the social networking website facebook will in some way be included. So what can you tell fans who say "Just give us chat channels now and leave it with the other stuff"?

Well we're working on the chat channels but the reason they are delayed is that we have something which we think is much better than what we had in the original games. In the original games the chat channels were used by some of our users but they were largely misused just for spam. It was kind of a mess that they weren't focused on only one particular topic. While we definitely feel the fans sort of enthusiasm to get them back we don't want those chat channels back. We feel like those chat channels were not a huge success for us and we can do them much better. So we will be looking into chat channels down the road that are more focused on specific topics that are better organized around different social structures. We could certainly just jam the old channels back in but we didn't feel like those were a huge success for us. But we really want this thing back just much more interesting than before. So we're definitely working on it and we definitely hear the users' complains but we think we can do better down the road.

I hear what you're saying but as you know there are already a lot of tournaments and other events run through the new Battle.Net and they all need some kind of place to meet without having to know the opponent's account first. So what about implementing just a kind of chat channel system now maybe just for private channels and redo the other stuff later?

It's not gonna happen with the launch it's just a production issue and we don't have the time to do it at this point. We disappointed our fans that is a huge bummer right and that is never a goal we intentionally pursue but it's not gonna happen for launch at this point. We simply got too much polish left to do on the rest of the game to also get that in. And we certainly hear that from some of the players but a lot of players are also enjoying Battle.Net quite a bit at this point. So we surely hear the people's need for additional features that we don't have and we definitely keep working on those down the road. We've got what we've got for launch at this point and it doesn't include chat channels.

The functionality of chat channels will change for Blizzard has decided that they want to make chat channels about something. However the issue that the community has regarding chat channels is the timing of their implementation. While Blizzard has plans to introduce subject and group centric chat functions later they failed to understand and appreciate how valuable they are to the community now. For many of us that grew up with StarCraft and other Blizzard titles many of our online friendships are a product of chat rooms. Battle.net is a social experience and it is one that should remain grounded in a strong community. Chat channels allowed for the out-of-game community to spill into the game. Friends we made on fan sites were able to interact while playing the very game those communities were based on. The chat rooms facilitated that exchange.

By stating that Battle.net was supposed to be an always connected experience Blizzard has been implicitly promising that the service would deliver a community experience as well. Instead Battle.net 2.0 feels like a sterile lonely place. Many people in the community wonder why chat channels have been pushed to a post-release patch: how could Blizzard have completely missed such an integral part of not only the social experience but the "always connected" one as well? Browder acknowledged the mistake but Blizzard needs to understand why their inclusion is important to us. In addition to the reasons discussed above chat channels play a critical role in the execution of tournaments.

Feeling lonely?

It is extremely unwieldy for participants and administrators to add everyone as a friend in order to create a game and communicate on a basic level. When we read comments from Blizzard staffers that suggest that chat rooms only served as spam repositories it feels like Blizzard is looking at data from only the last year and completely ignored or missed the purpose they facilitated almost a decade ago.

At the most recent press event Chris Sigaty and Dustin Browder finally discussed their eventual tentative plans for chat:2

Chris Sigaty:So there's a couple of things. One of the biggest features that I'd like to see get in as soon as possible that won't be in there for launch is Groups. Groups is a concept of creating an entity like a map-making community so they can chat with each other and hang out. I don't have a date on that yet. It's past the tournament patch but its definitely one of the earlier features we'd like to see. Whether it happens in the patch or it happens in Expansion One I don't know yet. There's a huge list of stuff on the Battle.net side that we really want to have happen but we don't have dates on it. Beyond that you're talking about actual constructions different than a group-like clan I don't even have dates on that stuff for now. I don't think that's in right now for the tournament patch.

Dustin Browder: So Groups we're viewing sort of as a social experience like if you want to get together with your friends or if you want to talk about anything. It's just sort of a group of friends or a casual group just like Chris said. If its a mod-making group wanting to get together and discuss these things. It could be a hardcore Zerg strategy group. Whatever kind of groups you want to create. For clans we're thinking more of a competitive construct. Something you would get together and compete with people in other clans. You would probably not have all of your friends especially if they sucked in your clan but you could have anybody in your group and that would be fine. But those are all down the road.

While this does shed some light on the future plans for chat in Battle.net 2.0 it also highlights the obvious disconnect between what Blizzard thinks the community wants and what is actually important to us. Further chat channels something the community feels very strongly about have apparently been pushed back to a patch following the tournament patch. The community escalated the tone and frequency of our concerns after reading an interview with Frank Pierce Executive Vice President of Product Development:4

Another thing I thought you'd promised was chat rooms within Battle.net...

Nope. No plans for specific chat rooms at this time. You'll be able to open up chats direct with your friends and when we add clans and groups there'll be chats for your clans and groups but no specific plans for chat rooms right now. Do you really want chat rooms?

Loads of people within the community are wanting Looking For Group chat rooms and that sort of thing.

Well if we've done our job right in terms of the matchmaking service then hopefully they won't feel like they'll need it for that service.

 

Talking Into The Void: The Concerns We Have

To identify potential solutions the problems must first be identified. Blizzard's replacement in its current form of an Instant Messenger-style chat is clearly inadequate. It's bulky ugly and unconducive to having a conversation with many people at once. It will be important for the clan and group chat functionality to be able to fill the current void. Our suggestion is that Blizzard implement full-screen chat rooms similar to Battle.net 1.0 but these channels accessible via a button near the profile buttons. Furthermore they should give private chat room moderators an accessible effective set channel moderation tools. Users could register channels and have the automated process require detailed information and this information could be used to create a searchable list of channels that players can join. By making these chat rooms an option rather than the Battle.net landing screen people that are interested in this extension of the community can have it tournament organizers can use them and those that have absolutely no interest never need use them. And if by chance or curiosity an unknowning player wanders in perhaps they will explore a gateway to a greater community experience.

Warcraft III Chatrooms

Chat is a huge priority for the players; if Blizzard is willing to listen to its community it should become a priority for them too. If something sufficient is not added shortly after the retail release of StarCraft II many players may not be able to forge a deeper connection to the community. By being able to engage other players in an easy to use setting a player's interest and playtime may increase and the success of the game will ultimately be increased. In business terms this is an extremely important value-added feature that will only increase the synergy between other important features and goals of Battle.net 2.0. However this point must be understood with a grain of salt.

The community needs to relax. Blizzard has realized and admitted the error in judgment. Yes it is unfortunate and slightly ridiculous that Blizzard fumbled on this issue and engaged the community ineffectively but now it is necessary to move on and focus about getting the eventual implementation right. Our feedback and suggestions can provide a valuable resource to those having the design discussion.
 

LAN Exclusion and the Potentially Adverse Affects on the Growth of E-Sports

Early concerns about Battle.net 2.0 emphasized the removal of LAN gameplay from StarCraft II. A vocal minority of players in the community have expressed their frustration with Blizzard as a result. However the exclusion of LAN gameplay from Blizzard's future games is understandable. Firstly the removal of LAN allows StarCraft II to function entirely through an online account. This helps facilitate Blizzard's IP security and vision of a connected community. Secondly it is one less feature to plan implement and maintain in the game's release. Nevertheless it is unfortunate that a significant minority of players will be unable to enjoy the game as they wish.

At least some of the uproar in the community over the removal of LAN was a result of fans who were misinformed or did not understand what the lack of LAN functionality actually meant. The fact of the matter is that the removal of LAN play does not affect the vast majority of gamers who will be playing StarCraft II. This was similar to the community's over-reaction to the campaigns being split between three expansions. One is unable to blame Blizzard for removing a small group of gamers in order to protect their intellectual property. However the effects this removal will have on the growth of e-sports could be very detrimental.

Where the damage of the removal of LAN play may come into effect is in the e-sports scene. Blizzard has emphasized repeatedly their commitment to the growth of e-sports wordwide and there have already been examples of how the lack of LAN play can stunt the growth everyone wants to see so much. Recently Stars Wars a major tournament in China complete with a live audience and stage was ruined because of the massive latency on Battle.net. Understandably the game is in beta but this is a concerning prospect for the future. No one can guarantee a 100% dependable lag-free service 100% of the time. To expect as such would be preposterous. Alternatively LAN play is 99.9% dependable in a tournament setting to ensure the tournament goes smoothly. To facilitate this solution effectively an alternate version of StarCraft II could be released.

Perhaps a corporate license version of the game can be created by Blizzard and it could be sold to organizers and companies running major tournaments. This version of the game could include the LAN functionality while disabling Battle.net functionality and features in all forms. The risk of software pirates getting ahold of this corporate license version and duplicating it is valid. However they would be prevented from interacting with the mainstream of users. There is very little a user can do with a LAN-only game. If a LAN-based option continues to be excluded there may be adverse affects to the development of e-sports.

The Achilles heel with the direction of Battle.net 2.0 is Blizzard's responsibility to deliver dependable service for tournament play. If this is possible then the removal of LAN can be justified. The results are currently looking grim and they are leading to speculation that the competitive scene will suffer. Time will tell the effectiveness of Battle.net. Recently players have been reporting very positive experiences with Battle.net 2.0 in LAN-like settings using the "always connected" experience. Further optimization is planned for beta patches release and beyond.

 

Cross-Region Play

The implementation of Battle.net 2.0 has resulted in significant changes for users. The absence of cross-region play is a primary example of this change. Before Battle.net 2.0 users could select gateways freely; consequently cross-region play is considered a norm. However Battle.net 2.0 requires players to play in the same geographic region from where their copy of StarCraft is purchased. Although it is possible to play on a different region by purchasing StarCraft II from that region this method costs too much for players that want to play globally. This absence of cross-region play has been the subject of extensive criticisms from the fan base and has even been voiced in interviews and forum threads:4

Q: There are many Europeans that have loads of American friends and have a problem finding matches with Americans. I know you've already promised to bridge this divide...

A: [Bob Colayco: That's not the case.]

No it'll be structured very similarly to World of Warcraft where you've got the European region and players matched against the other players within their region.

[BC: We haven't promised anything like that. That's something we'll look into but I just wanted to jump in and clarify that.]


Q: But you're not excluding the possibility €“ you're just saying there are no current plans for it?

A: There are no current plans for it and if you're a European player and you've got friends that are in another region that you want to be able to connect with we definitely want to support that. It might mean that you have to access it through the US client but those facilities will definitely be available in terms of if you want the US client go to the US website download the US client.

Q: So I can use my same account?

A: No.

Q: So I need to buy two clients that's what you're saying?

A: Yeah.

Q: But I can have two of them in my Battle.net account?

A: You'd have an EU Battle.net account and a US Battle.net account.

Here's the last thing that was said on region locking by Chris Sigaty:5

Q: How far in the 'long term' are those plans which allow for swapping to U.S. servers on an E.U. account - or a global account?

A: Jumping to the region you want is definitely in the long term plan for Battle.net although we do have some concerns about communicating properly to the player what's happening if they choose this because it WILL affect the latency of the game. As far as a date on when I don't have one yet. There are a number of features that we want to make sure get out their first and jumping to different servers is lower on the priority list at the moment.

According to Blizzard cross-region play will eventually be available for StarCraft II. Unfortunately these plans for cross-region play are low-priority and uncertain. For players that are willing to pay the extra $60 to play in another region this uncertainty is a major source of concern. Without a relative estimated time of arrival for this feature there may be a situation where players spend money prior to the opening of cross-region gameplay. Furthermore the thought of paying for multiple copies of the game to be able to access players around the world is ridiculous. It is counter to the themes of a connected community and it is a severe concern considering the benefit of meeting international online friends. In addition players are playing for duplicate when they want to play through a different region. A possible solution to this issue is unlocking additional regions could become an account upgrade for a flat fee. However the purpose of restricting cross-region play must be clarified by Blizzard to address the legitimate concerns about intention of such a feature.

 

Cross-Region Play: View-Points

The lack of cross-region play in StarCraft II addresses some issues that existed during Brood War: namely the high latency caused by a player from another region the numerous languages used on only one server and the ease of using unauthorized non-Blizzard servers. High latency is prevented by restricting players to servers that are closest to them as well as making it easier for Blizzard to allocate resources to properly support the higher-populated regions. The problem of having multiple languages on one server is also reduced by restricting players to one region although it doesn€™t work as well in regions such as Europe or Asia. The use of non-Blizzard servers is hindered because of the lack of a server selection menu.

These relatively small advantages however do not fit with Blizzard€™s trademark policy of €œgameplay first€. In terms of gameplay it is much better for the international community to gather and compete collectively rather than remain divided and separate. With the division of regions strategies and tactics are slow to spread resulting a dislocation in the playstyles of different areas; large differences in opinion and playstyle already exist between North America and Asia in just the beta build. For example statistics have shown that the Zerg are slightly underpowered in North America but seem slightly overpowered in Asia. The stronger Zerg strategies have not yet fully transferred over from Asia to the rest of the world which is mostly due to the lack of players attempting and countering builds from across regions. On the other hand it could be that stable Terran and Protoss builds have not moved from North America to Asia. This division of the fanbase means that StarCraft II might feel balanced for some players while unbalanced for others. In contrast the original Battle.net despite its flaws allowed for better communication and a more cohesive community.

Another downside to the lack of cross-region play is the limited communities it forms. Each region is separated from other regions restricting the gamer's social experience. Language barriers may stop players from communicating with each other but this concern is redundant due to the fact that each region already has several different languages particularly in Europe and Asia. Having a global playing field would allow players to form global communities because language isn€™t the most important factor in finding a 2v2 partner or just someone to play custom games with.

Dreamhack - the world's largest LAN event

As a combination of the two issues mentioned above tournaments and as an extension e-sports will suffer without cross-region play. Blizzard has stated multiple times that this game was built for global e-sports so it is ironic that Battle.net 2.0 segregates different regions to be unable to participate in view host or manage a multi-continental competition. The current difficulties competing with foreign players will severely hinder the growth of e-sports and pro gamers which will also result in disjointed skill levels across different regions. Theoretically eventually there will be one region that will be viewed as the most competitive most talented and most skilled that everyone will pay attention to; other regions€™ professional players could be downplayed. This is not the kind of e-sports that will attract global viewers and this is actually a step backwards from Brood War.

Without the option of cross-region play the community already feels disconnected especially within fan sites that have users from around the globe. American players are unable to play with European players and this creates a divide between members that continues to alienate people in different regions. For such an anticipated game StarCraft II is excessively isolating players from collectively enjoying the experience.


Cross-Region Play €“ Suggested Fixes

Considering the benefits of cross-region play there is little reason to exclude this feature. As such there are some possible solutions to the current lack of cross-region play.

One suggestion is to restore the original Battle.net method of choosing a server. However known problems resurface such as a Korean player joining an American game and causing lag. This may be a minor problem for the foreign player but the player hosting the game would be frustrated that his or her game lags unexpectedly. Considering this the old method is the simplest solution.

Another solution is to allow players to add friends from other regions. When the player invites the foreign player to a custom game the foreign player would temporarily connect to the host€™s regional server to allow both gamers to play together. This allows friends across continents to participate in the same game. However it may cause additional lag but unlike the first method the lag is consensual; both players know and accept the consequences of any lag that may occur from playing each other so they will not be agitated by unexpected latency issues. Nevertheless this solution is less globally-minded as the first method. Players are unable test out newfound strategies against strangers in a different country join an interesting custom game that was made in another region and meet new friends through the multiplayer experience. The small progress that is made by this method is less aggravating but it is more restrictive in the possible opponents in custom matches.

Finally the first and second suggestions can be combined. Before players log into Battle.net they could choose a "Regional" option or a "Global" option. The Regional option would be the current system that has no cross-regional play. The Global option would be a method for gamers to play with people around the world albeit with the possibility of high latency. With the Global option players could have a menu where preferred regions may be selected. When being matched with an opponent the player would be matched to an opponent that is living in one of these preferred regions; additionally the opponent that he or she is matched against must also prefer the player€™s region. For example Player A from Canada sets his or her preferred regions to "North America" and "Asia" while Player B from Korea sets his or her preferred regions to "Asia" "Europe" and "North America". Player A and Player B could be matched with each other because they both prefer each other€™s region. Because of issues with lag there should be an in-game option to vote for a draw so that the game can end without a recorded loss or win if everyone unanimously agree to a tie. For custom games there could be an option to sort by region or latency so that players can join any game they want with a general idea of the lag they will experience. Players that wish to host a custom game would only have their custom game displayed to players from their preferred regions. In this way hosts and participants could both have a global experience while reducing most of the problems that the global multiplayer experience creates.

These suggested solutions are only a few basic ideas that seek to incorporate an international multiplayer experience into Battle.net 2.0 which is something many believe could ultimately be the service's Achilles heel. Although the third option is ideal in terms of informing players of probable lag it is a starting point that may be improved and expanded to become something else entirely. A global community is essential for a game as anticipated and as geared towards e-sports as StarCraft II so bringing the always connected experience into an always connected global experience will vastly improve the game's potential and longevity.

 

Compromise: E-sports and Casual Gaming

When viewing Battle.net 2.0 from the "Competitive Arena for Everyone" perspective Blizzard has made great strides to bring the competitive experience to players who were left out previously. Simultaneously they wanted to develop a rich feature-set for competitive and commercial e-sports. StarCraft II multiplayer is attempting to define e-sports and the features of Battle.net 2.0 will be the limit of StarCraft II's e-sports evolution. The feeling of self-improvement and victory in competition is part of the human condition and it is centered around the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

This brings us to the vision of Battle.net 2.0. Blizzard's vision of the platform is a competitive arena at every level where friends test casually while elite players can scrutinize every detail of their game at the same time in the same environment and at all times. Unfortunately recent choices with the utilization of matchmaking leagues and divisions have indicated that the needs of the casual gamer are being met more fervently than the needs of the elite players.  

Blizzard stated several times while expressing their vision for Battle.net 2.0 that they felt the original Battle.net experienced catered too heavily to the elite players while leaving the more casual players to be ignored by the system. This is a noble and just concern and it is certainly not one to be ignored. However it appears that overcompensation is happening with the current platform and the hardcore elite are becoming the new Battle.net orphans.  

In this regard one of the largest concerns is the lack of a mechanism to compare your statistics with everyone else playing the game. Rankings on Battle.net 2.0 are organized up into ambiguous "divisions" that consist of pools of players ranked from one through one hundred. The player can compare statistics and rankings with other players in his or her division and his or her division only. The intention of this setup is to allow more casual players to feel more accomplished: the placebo effect of reaching #5 in your silver division for example is much more encouraging to a fledgling player than observing that his or her rank is 105332. Again this is a noble notion. It is great to make less skilled players feel like they are getting somewhere. Unfortunately the adverse effect of this is system is that the more skilled players feel little momentum or progress. Is being rated number one in your Diamond division actually something to be proud of? The answer is unknown because the ladder is shrouded in obscurity. The system is actually discouraging to players trying to reach the top of the heap for they have no measuring stick by which to compare and evaluate their progress.   

As Blizzard clearly stated at BlizzCon 2009 this was an intentional design decision. The reason they've selected this method is to mitigate an existing disadvantage in Warcraft III: "The matchmaking system favored the elite". This was specifically targeted for resolution in the five points in the BlizzCon. When you look at it from the perspective of the hundreds of thousands of non-elite players it was indeed a disadvantage. However when looking at it from the view-point of the elite players it wasn't an advantage it was a necessity for the competition to thrive. Now that there are divisions and the implementation of a smart match-making system the coin has flipped. The casual players are no longer left out. The problem is now the coin has been flipped; the concerns of and features desired by the elite players have been relegated as collateral damage. Our suggestion to address this inequity is to allow for a regional rank. The technology must already exist to equalize the player's score over a single base-line because of the way players are moved between divisions. One suggestion to address this issue would be to limit the league in which a global rank would be displayed to Diamond or have there only be a single Diamond division. An alternative would be to have the global rank hidden on profiles unless individually enabled by each player in their user options. This customizable part of the interface would be the product of the player's choice. Those that have an interest in tracking and displaying their universal rank would have the option to and those that don't never need to address it. In the end it's about providing more options for different types of players rather than treating all players the same.


To Blizzard's credit Patch 15 brought a universally applauded and necessary change to the ranking system: the Diamond League could no longer be accessed through placement matches alone. Players must instead fight for their promotion to the Diamond League providing a more exclusive feel to the league and the skill required to join its divisions.  This simple change has added a layer of prestige to the Diamond League by it restricting players who have the skill to rise above the skill level of platinum over time.  Without this change the achievement of reaching the pinnacle of skill within the leagues was diluted by the constant influx of players that could have happened into that league by a handful of lucky placement matches.  E-sports needs to thrive by the ability to clearly identify those who have shown mastery of its skills and by removing the possibility of achieving the honor of the diamond rank by the luck of five mere games helps everyone know who to watch follow and aspire to play like.

Adding more challenges and thus layers and levels of achievement will help foster the growth of e-sports.

Despite the fact that this article seeks to provide constructive criticism regarding certain design decisions something that we must recognize Blizzard for is their excellent design and implementation of the match-making system. This is unquestionably one of the most intelligent systems in any game. Because of this the leagues you exist in actually signify skill a trait that not many other games can achieve. By attempting to place you with players of similar caliber it constantly tests your abilities and provides you the opportunity to become better. Even if the system erroneously places you into an incorrect league after the placement matches it will eventually place you where you belong. The system is self-correcting! This is clearly something that Blizzard has dedicated substantial resources to and it stands-out among the rest of Battle.net 2.0's features.

 

Group Replay Viewing

The experience of viewing a replay is an incomplete experience in the current iteration of Battle.net 2.0. Another often requested feature that the community would benefit from significantly is the ability to watch replays in a party. It would be excellent for a number of reasons. Successful e-sports engage the spectator and an effective method of engaging spectators is allowing them to be in a group. While replays differ greatly from the arenas filled with throngs of screaming fans they add a communal casual element to StarCraft II. They also encourage the development of skill as players can critique and help each other. Furthermore the process of connecting and assisting players to improve is a fundamental tenet of Battle.net 2.0 so this feature is sorely missed.

The option to view replays as a group is something that would greatly benefit the StarCraft-commentating community. If multiple people can view the same replay it is much easier for commentators to create videos collaboratively. There is also the use of showing others a particular strategy with friends and having an in-game group discussion about it. The additional statistics and details could be optional. While we recognize that the casual player could be overwhelmed by a deluge of information the implementation of this information should respect the user's desire to dig deeper or remain on the surface of gameplay.

On the topic of the actual replay browser it would benefit greatly from basic functionality such as traversing replays through arrow keys. Right now replays have to be clicked on individually and misclicks can load up an unwanted replay; this is especially a problem as the list grows. It's the same issue with custom games. However this is something that Blizzard might already be working on.


Looking Into Battle.net's Interface


The Battle.net 2.0 interface design is sleek and effective. The community generally agrees that the design of Battle.net is aesthetically pleasing. The menu icons are easy to navigate while the graphics which provide visual interest are placed unobtrusively. The gritty Terran atmosphere is fresh and retains the feel of the game with its blue and steel theme. To add emphasis highlighted facets of the interface receive an orange color to draw the user's attention to important features notifications and updates. The interface feels familiar to the user interface found in Windows such as window buttons in the top right corner and the clock in the bottom right corner.

Considering these comfortable effective components a major issue exists regarding the direction of Battle.net 2.0 since BlizzCon 2009: the user interface appears incomplete. There is a disconnect between functionality and aesthetics. While Battle.net 2.0 is in development both the developers and the community appear to be unaware of what exactly it is capable of. Greg Canessa mentioned that there are great opportunities ahead for the Battle.net team.

Another significant concern about the interface regards the functionality of the layout design. Currently Battle.net 2.0 is a beautiful slightly ineffective shell. It must be optimized and expanded upon. The disconnect between functionality and aesthetics is a limitation of the Battle.net experience. Therefore the poor design choices of the user interface development team are degrading the product. Blizzard is attempting to provide a premier professional online service. However Blizzard's in-house stylization is inadequate considering the established standards of web and web service development. It must be recognized that the greater industry and community as a whole has relevant experience. We encourage Blizzard to note the norms before deciding to revolutionize them. There is a difference between complexity and sophistication and the current Battle.net user interface resides in complexity.

 

The Untapped Potential of the Landing Page

Every patch that was released during the beta not only contained balance changes but also changed the Battle.net landing page. It is as if the development team has some ideas that are being rotated in and being tested using trial and error. They have attempted many different looks with different pages such as the inclusion of a rotating news box and list of recent broadcasts highlighting suggested achievements a listing of informational and survey links Battle.net statistics and placing a large panel of Tychus's ruggedly handsome face for all to admire. There have been many iterations but few concepts have remained throughout the various versions of the home page. The portion with the most utility is the button section in the upper left area that connects you to various external Battle.net features. These buttons are key to demonstrating how the home page can continue develop.

Google is a successful search engine that consists of two main pages. The original page is purely functional which is essentially a header a text box and a selection of plain text buttons. It's simplicity provides exactly what casual/single-use users want. However Google recognized that useful pages for a richer experience can be achieved by providing the ability to customize. Google developed that understanding to create the iGoogle page which allows users to select and organize widgets according to their personal preference. The complete customization granted by this flexible functionality allows each user to personalize the entire experience. Similarly companies such as Valve are continuing to evolve their own services. Valve is currently in the process of adding blog sections to the main-pages of each of their major game's pages. To facilitate this blog development they include a weekly blog entry that includes a poll to engage the community directly. Valve recognizes that the most valuable method to communicate with gamers is through the game itself.


The original BlizzCon 2009 mock-up image Blizzard presented us. Imagine if these were modules you could add/remove

This is the BlizzCon 2009 Battle.net home page. This interface could have been the origin of an entire widget based home; the widgets that appear here could be the start of a completely user driven page. The limited amount of information is provided in a useful way. The current home page needs the combination of limited relevant information and customization options.

It would be interesting to provide cross-account widgets for the user to select from. For example widgets could include achievement trackers Blizzard and community partner newsfeeds game-related news recent broadcasts blue post trackers polls and developer blogs. A user-driven approach provides many opportunities for the community to connect and for the player to interact with Blizzard. For Blizzard it means that their landing page will really serve as the landing page which is the hub of the entire experience rather than just a transient nuisance. Those who wish to get the most out of the choices can and will while those that don't won't need to. In this way everyone derives the greatest benefit according to their desire.

 

The Inconvenience of the Improved Custom Game Interface

While there have been many improvements and goals attained in the new map publishing content there are many small concerns regarding it. This section addresses the concerns regarding the interface itself. They include the inability to name and manage your custom games limitations of finding games and the inefficient lobby.

Pros and Cons of the previous Warcraft III Custom Game Interface (Battle.net 1.0)
Names allowed people to setup specific criteria to join the game
High Level of customization
Allowed Password protection to enable people from not joining who weren't intended
Enabled easy "game remakes" to build comradery and strategies between multiple games
Game lobby very easy to see all players fit
Bot functionality: allowed for auto-starting game when criteria was met
Bot functionality: allowed leaving of game before it reached one
Bot functionality: If someone left the game would auto-stop the start sequence
Bot functionality: Stat-tracking
Multiple same-map games would be open causing them to begin at a slower rate
Named List was difficult to look through and find what you want
Too many duplicate names
Difficulty to get friends in the same game sometimes

Pros and Cons of StarCraft II Custom Game Interface (Battle.net 2.0)

Games start quick as they fill only one to two games at a time.

You can join games together with your friends by the party section
Easy translation across regions overall
Good games can be identified with popularity
Map Publishing allows people to host maps even if they don't have it downloaded


Popularity is the ONLY way to look for a game this can be misleading.
Popularity listing encourages use of "bot" programs to boost popularity.
Lack of consistency in categories create difficulty to search games
Lack of solid filter/search criteria difficulty to search

The games seem to lack consistency not easy to replay with previous comrades
More difficult to make new friends compared to the old methods
No way to provide a private game preventing friends you don't want to join to join
Not easy to find "newly created" or "fresh" games in testing
Can't leave when countdown starts

Game hosts are often clueless that they are game hosts creating delays
Icons that refer to "Melee" skill take up unneccessary space on the "custom" games
Game Lobby requires you to scroll down very inefficient use of space

No way to specify skill for opponents using a melee map
Very little customization in games at this time


The Dilemma of Custom Game Names

At BlizzCon 2009 they provided an example image of what "Type/Genre" (Now Mode/Category) could be like. Note how DotA gets duplicated because of multiple modes.

One of the major flaws in the custom game interface is the inability to name your games. Blizzard has stated that naming custom games is now unnecessary. Their desire has been to remove the large amount of seemingly random games that clogged the "join game" screen of the original Battle.net. We agree that listing games by categories and maps is far more organized than having users name their lobby themselves which leaves the participants to interpret the games' title; also popular maps will no longer block the available games list. However the system stumbles when it comes to game transitions among groups of friends.

In the original Battle.net groups of people could join games in two related ways: either the user talked to another player in a chat channel or the player rejoined a custom lobby after the host remade it using an identical name. In Battle.net 2.0 players are unable to use either method since chat channels do not exist and games are no longer shown by names. Instead map-specific lobbies sort players. The most effective way to remain as a group is to get people you already know to use the party system but this limits informal organization of players.

The inability to name games also impacts custom melee games. Unless the map titles indicate any special quirks such as "fast-money" or "no rush" players could enter into what is essentially not the game they were looking for. Another benefit of naming custom melee games in the original Battle.net was that users could specify the skill level of players they would like to face. For example a beginning player could tag their game with "newbs only." Compare this to what has been going on in Battle.net 2.0 recently. There are practice league players creating and joining custom games alongside upper league players: mismatching is likely to occur. This applies to all players wanting to play unranked matches. One possible solution to this concern would be to institute an unrated matchmaking system for melee custom games. The inability to describe a game creates a lack of clarity and this carries into the custom games list.

 

Lack of Clarity Extends to The Custom Games List

While the planned use of category and mode may assist in partially mitigating the void left by the absence of game names there are just too many exceptions to something as simple as "mode" that would not be covered such as people easily rejoining games defining skill levels or adding a comment about the game. Names are so dynamic and add so much functionality that are unable to be replaced by defining two variables. Furthermore the current filter mode is very simple and can provide much more functionality. It lacks the most basic of features such as a search field and search customization features.

This is the custom game lobby from BlizzCon 2009 and it represents the level of options that Battle.net 2.0 must strive for. The current search interface is simply too devoid of useful search options. Blizzard could look toward modern multiplayer games that have multiple modes that are organized separately. This organizational idea provides an opportunity to alleviate those duplicate lines while enabling game names. In the game listing you can enable a tree listing which creates an icon to the left of the map. When this icon is clicked it would expand the game name showing first the individual modes you can play the specific named games below that and finally a list of automatically generated games.  By double-clicking the header you join a random game with any mode being available.  Double-clicking a mode will join an existing game of that mode or generate a new one.  Double-clicking on a named or auto-generated game will allow you to join that specific one.

Another option to consider is removing the ability for map developers to color the name of their games on the selection screen and instead use colors to provide visual clues to important notes. For example include the ability to color a game name green if a person on your friends list common group or clan is in the lobby of a game. Something similar to this would quickly allow players to connect with their friends in custom games. Different colors could mean different things and these visual filters could be customizable.

The current filter for custom games in Battle.net 2.0 includes some of the basic functionality we would expect but it lacks the neccessary set of dynamic features to allow users to effectively browse the overwhelming amount of custom games that will be added over the next few years. To address these issues map developers and players of custom games need the tools to identify and highlight the games that show potential. Ultimately a mechanism within the Battle.net interface would be ideal to present player suggestions and recommendations.

There must be another method for gamers to identify and recommend maps other than popularity. This can be achieved by implementing a multi-faceted ranking system. Players can have an opportunity to provide feedback by ranking custom content from one to five stars after a match. It will not only allow the gamer to identify their satisfaction but it will also allow a developer to get feedback from the community. Extreme levels of appreciation or disapproval can also alert Blizzard to potential problems or signal extra scrutiny. A good example is the recent "DotA Rick Roll" map which became highly popular while simultaneously loathed due to the inability to exit the map. Constant low ratings could easily bring the issue to Blizzard's attention before anyone sends an email or posts a comment regarding it.  

We can even increase the utility of the rating system by applying a basic color code to the stars. This allows a player to easily follow the progress of the games they enjoy or follow. For example green stars could show the rating they left for a particular map. As we can expect maps to be updated over time a map you've previously ranked that has been updated would show their rating greyed out. If the player hasn't yet ranked a map the aggregate public rank would display instead represented by the color blue and any maps on a particular user's ignore list will display as red.

There are also issues with the current categories. They are are defined unclearly at this time and they limit the potential sophistication they could otherwise bring. The strength of categories depends on their structure allowing them to be used as a tool when searching for what you truly want. When the search structure becomes flexible the public will have a have a plethora of perceptions on how it should be. This will create complications when trying to search as you will find likewise subjects approached in different ways. An example that existed in phase one of beta is the four different games that would fall into the category of Tower Defense: td towerdefense Red's TD and defense.

If the list were standardized with a set selection categories that developers could define it would enable easy searching. A filter button could be added to the custom game selection list allowing a window to open and customize the list to the user's specific desires. To allow expansion the developer could take it to another level by use of an "other/uncategorized" section to define a new genre that fits the game and isn't on the list. Blizzard could use the volume of games uploaded in a given genre to monitor the demand and perhaps use the data to justify the creation of a new category for inclusion in a future a patch. This would allow the system to stay current and evolve as new custom games become popular over time.

Similarly a filter mentality will couple well with the category functionality Blizzard showcased at BlizzCon. There is a great deal of functionality that can be realized by adding a filter button to the top of the list which would open a window that allows the user to select the specific categories they wish to browse through. If Blizzard believes that this is too much information and choice to throw at a casual user everything additional could be relegated to an "Advanced" button. All Filters should be highly customizable and they should feature the web standard of a right-justified search bar. It is all about providing the user with the richest possible experience.

 

A Short Note About The Inefficiency of The Game Lobby

Currently the game lobby does the bare minimum. The artistic style appears to have taken priority over the utility on the players list. Consequently the use of space is inefficient. There are some factors that could improve its functionality. First there is no reason that a game with three teams and six players should require you scroll down to see all of the players. This is largely due to the larger yet difficult to use team headers. If you look at previous iterations of Battle.net the headers are clear and the ability to change teams requires a simple click. The system now requires the host to manage the player area which may be difficult for new players alt-tabbed players or those unfamiliar with this modified interface. Even in the concept presented at BlizzCon the teams are easy to define and take up no extra space in the lobby. It also presents a cleaner less gradient cluttered color scheme in their chat room. We feel there is no reason why a solution that involves seeing twelve-plus people on a list at the same time could not be feasible. 

In Warcraft III third party bots evolved the custom game experience and Blizzard has already imitated some of their functionality in the auto-creation of game lobbies to speed up game creation time. Some features that in-game bots created involved auto-starting when a set number of players were present allowing a player to leave during the countdown cancelling the countdown if a person left and in-lobby stat tracking/inquiries. As it is now in StarCraft II there have been many times when a person joins a game and they suddenly find themselves locked into it because the host hits start as soon as the game is full before a player has a chance to realize they joined the wrong game or chose the wrong race. The experience turns sour when someone leaves the game the moment it starts. Unfortunately in this scenario and many scenarios like it no one is at fault and the situation begets the frustration that should be aimed at an interface lacking rudimentary features. These features could also allow auto-generated games to start upon a certain point defined by the developer or mode but still instate hosts in specific game lobbies to ensure the terms they set are met.

Another improvement that the lobby requires is an extensive set of permission features for custom games. There is also a concern regarding friends being able to easily identify and join games even ones they aren't invited to join. An easy solution to this problem is to have more options for the drop-down permissions menu where the "Open to Public" button currently resides. This drop-down menu could contain "Invitation only" "Open to Friends" and "Open to Public". Simple options such as these would reduce the need to use password protected games as players will have more ways to control the population invited.

The community has provided mixed reviews of the custom game interface as a result of small inconsistencies. While the level of polish is good some minor components appear to be missing. The interface's ease of use is disrupted by an awkward level of functionality. Parts of the custom game interface have been modified and they clash with the otherwise clean interface. For example you must scroll through the player list in the lobby to view all twelve participants or the fact your character is still identified by melee achievement portraits in custom games. These minor annoyances detract from the extended experience and should be relatively easy to address.

 

Other Thoughts on How to Improve the Melee Game Experience

We have a number of suggestions to improve the melee game experience.

The ability to reconnect to a game post-disconnect is a prized feature. The development and optimization of Battle.net is likely to cause instability so any reconnection features will be important. The disconnecting player could have the option to rejoin the game upon reconnecting to Battle.net while the players in game could have the option to drop the player from the game permanently. However there are few technological suggestions for Blizzard for services such as Battle.net are exceptionally complex.

The option to declare a draw mutually could provide a bridge between technical difficulties and player satisfaction. The benefit of this function would be to allow players to admit that there is a stalemate and agonizing waiting could be prevented to avoid a negative impact to rating. Likewise a draw could be declared due to technical difficulties such as lag hardware malfunctions or real-life events. This would also work to create a fairer matchmaking system because people will have less wins or losses as a result of questionable circumstances.

The addition of chat to the post-game score area would provide a transition between the intensity of the game and the general Battle.net environment. It would be a good way to discuss the game extend congratulations and add friends after a ladder game. Considering Battle.net 2.0's deficiencies in social interaction this function would allow people to meet friends that they have played with in a casual atmosphere. Similarly the ability to chat in the game loading screen would further the casual interaction. These are minor additions that would contribute to the elusive satisfaction in the Battle.net 2.0 experience.

Adding the option to save a replay from the score area is a minor convenience feature. This function existed in Brood War and it would allow players to save a replay faster. The result would be joining another game faster.

The option to re-match a player after a game is a desired feature by fans. It would allow players to challenge a previous opponent to another melee game and it would encourage the competitive rivalries common to e-sports. However there are a number of balance issues associated with implementing this. Allowing ladder game rematches to be ranked might be excessive or easily exploitable. For example two friends could be lucky enough to be matched with each other and they could continue to challenge each other to rematches. Unless both players are evenly matched and trying to win abuse could occur. Although this caveat could be mitigated by limiting the number of rematches per player it could still allow unscrupulous players to potentially find ways to game the system. Alternatively Blizzard could make the rematch option spawn an unranked game which makes the rematch an opportunity to improve. Still its addition would make the game more customizable with a greater range of options that once again puts the focus on the players' choices as opposed to fighting with the interface.

 

Map Making/Editor Issues

Battle.net 2.0 has shied away from the standard map hosting system of Battle.net 1.0 where maps were hosted on web sites or users' local hard drives and then shared via a peer-to-peer connection provided by the service. Instead all maps will need to be published to Battle.net 2.0 directly and users download it from there. Blizzard has centralized the distribution of maps into its service. However there are several drawbacks to the current system. IskatuMesk from the TeamLiquid community provides a summary of some of the largest concerns to the map making community:

  • There is no local hosting on Battle.net 2.0 and there probably won't ever be.
  • You can only have 5 maps or "mods" (which aren't even mods) on Battle.net so anything else you've got cannot be multiplayer unless you sacrifice an existing project.
  • You have a 20mb global limit across everything and a 10mb limit individually.
  • The editor censors whatever Battle.net censors and refuses uploads. "Suicide" "God" and "blow" are amongst the words that even if only contained in editor-related strings will prevent you from ever playing your map online. StarCraft was rated M on release and StarCraft II will be rated T on release. Blizzard was not liable for any obscene content on custom projects until they introduced this system.

The 20 megabytes total limit and 10 megabytes per map limit is completely unrealistic for any larger projects. Unless Battle.net will only have multiplayer maps with little to no custom assets then this system cannot possibly stay. The only solution is to either increase the size limit for free or by making users pay for extra storage. For example the system could be like that planned for premium maps. Battle.net 2.0 is still a free service that doesn't require payment in the form of a monthly subscription; now that users are forced to download from Battle.net it's not entirely unreasonable that the maximum size is limited to something like 20 megabytes. However if users are forced to purchase extra storage the "super professional content" that was promised at BlizzCon 2009 will only imply that the map has custom assets in the first place. Similarly this could have a very damaging impact on the community. A map designer would have to be relatively confident in his or her map's success before purchasing the necessary storage to host it. It would also be likely to decrease the total number of larger maps and mods produced for much of the community is composed of volunteers. This would serve only to shrink the talent pool as well as the range of possible exposure.

As for the custom game system itself it is flawed in that it uses popularity. First in the current implementation some maps don't even show up after you publish them and make them public. You can hit "show more" until the button itself goes away and the map that you are looking for is still nowhere to find. Whether this is a bug or the way it will stay remains to be seen. Second the current system needs work because it is easy to abuse in its current form and it doesn't allow new maps to become popular; users can rehost their maps if they want them to be more popular in the list display; custom bots might be created that take advantage of this. As time goes by it will be nearly impossible for a new map to become popular and the original maps that made it to the top will persevere. This is akin to YouTube's just-as-flawed thumbs up system; people tend to thumb up only comments that are already up-voted just like people will tend to play custom StarCraft II games that are only at the top of the list so they are completely ignoring any true benchmark of quality. Xordiah claims this is not a factor and maps will eventually rise to the top themselves by being featured by the community:6

On the last point I saw some concerns in this thread that you guys are afraid that a map that is published maybe five months after release but is really good will never get any attention. I don't really share this concern because of the awesome sites out there that will start promoting good content. I mean even today when map publishing is still doing its first steps and while there is still quite a bit of work ahead of us I have seen so many great maps that are featured on sc2mapster on TL.net and many other community websites. There will always be a map making community like the Hiveworkshop were map makers will find support. And though all these sites through the forums through casters like Husky and especially through word of mouth good maps will be spotlighted and players will find them and make them popular. If a map is good make a youtube video of it and it will spread if players think it is cool.

The major problem with this theory is that if new maps are hard to get to in the first place then they will neither be featured by the community nor picked up by new players due to the saturation of already popular maps. Realistically most of the maps that have been featured on community sites now are either cool tech demos which can be downloaded onto the user's hard drive and played locally or maps that are already popular. Imagine this scenario: a new map that is at the bottom of the list that nobody plays somehow gets featured on a popular community site and somebody decides to create a lobby with this map. The problem is that players are unable to see this map! The inability to name games prevents less known lobbies from displaying and unless a user spams the "show more" button enough times to find this map it won't get played. The best case scenario here is that so much attention gets diverted to the map that it gets enough people to get on at the same time of the day to play a game or two in comparison to the thousands or millions of times other maps have been played. The map fights it out with other equally good maps for the #112th most popular map on the list and after the traffic stops coming people stop hosting games.

 

Facebook Integration

The inclusion of a seemingly frivolous feature such as Facebook integration into Battle.net 2.0 can be frustrating to for many fans who think that higher priority issues are receiving less attention. However Xordiah did note on the Battle.net forum that Facebook integration was fairly simple:7

Please note that the Facebook integration in its current form is a lot simpler to implement than most of you would believe.

Facebook integration does fit in with Blizzard's long-stated goal of achieving a "social networking" like feel for Battle.net 2.0. Since it was apparently simple to implement this optional feature should be of minor significance to frustrated players. As long as Facebook is an optional extension of the friends list and the traditional method of adding friends remains what people are actually looking for then both features can co-exist to create an enhanced friend's list mechanic.

The feedback regarding the Facebook integration is indicative of the greater frustration felt by the community about the development of Battle.net 2.0. It represents Blizzard's community vision and it exemplifies the community's frustration with the design process. According to Xordiah it is an easy way to add richness to Battle.net's features. However the source of the frustration stems from the fact that a Facebook feature was implemented before other critical features. The community emphasizes commitment before cost; as a result the exclusion of fan-desired critical features while other less important features are added is enraging community members. As mentioned above Blizzard has de-emphasized the significance regarding some of their decisions but that still doesn't excuse why Blizzard was unable to understand or engage the community. This is the root of the community's issues with the Blizzard model.

With that being said Blizzard has recently started engaging for more feedback and it is obvious that the community needs to find constructive outlets for its suggestions. It would be reassuring to know that if future third-party features are implemented their implementation would not hinder the progress of other UI features that the community is clamoring for.

 

Conclusion: It's About a Better Battle.net

My name is Greg Canessa and I'm the project director for the new Battle.net service here at Blizzard Entertainment.

Battle.net is a service with a long and storied history very successful for the company very strategic. It launched with Diablo and then moved on with StarCraft Diablo II Warcraft II Battle.net Edition and then Warcraft III. Our vision for the new Battle.net is to build a world-class online game service for all Blizzard games. There are three key design tenets or pillars for the new Battle.net.


The first is the "Always-Connected Experience." This is where you have the concept of a persistent character and many of the benefits of being always connected to Battle.net throughout the gameplay experience. There's a persistent character that's online at all times being able to socialize and chat with friends inside and outside of the game having the connected experience extend into the single-player experience and having a full achievement and unlockable rewards system. That achievement system will be a cross between what you see in World of Warcraft and other online game services. Players can earn single-player achievements in the campaign as well as in skirmish or co-op vs. AI modes. Unlockable rewards in the new Battle.net come in two forms for StarCraft II -- portraits and decals. There'll be an interface in your character profile where you'll be able to see the entire collection of portraits and decals. You'll be able to select any portrait that you've earned as your portrait to show off to the community. Any that you have not earned will be grayed-out and you'll be able to right-click on it and view the correlated achievement. So you'll be able to earn that achievement to unlock that reward and you can collect them all.


The second pillar or tenet is the Competitive Arena for Everyone. That's the design principle that shows our desire to create a great structured competitive play experience for everyone on the new Battle.net while at the same time making it accessible to a whole new audience. These include some of our more casual gameplay modes custom games co-op vs. AI and a practice league. A lot of the competitive features fall under this second pillar.What we€™ve done for the competitive player is we've created a new auto matchmaking system on Battle.net for StarCraft II. This system is the most sophisticated one we've ever created and one of the most sophisticated in the industry. This is a learning system that will learn your skill level as you play through games. You can also play on our leagues and ladders system in a structured team. You can simply invite your friends into a party and have our auto matchmaking system put you into a game and you'll be ranked with your friends on our leagues and ladder system.


The third pillar is Connecting the Blizzard Community. This is where the social networking and communications aspects of the new Battle.net experience come into play. Everything from forming up a friends list chatting and socializing text chat as well as voice chat cross-game communication between StarCraft II and World of Warcraft as well as broadcasts system notifications and other aspects. Battle.net is being built specifically around Blizzard games. Unlike other online game services we can do tightly integrated gaming features specific to our games that other online gaming services can't pull off. We want to take advantage of the opportunity to relaunch Battle.net. We want to create a service with a set of features that not only works for World of Warcraft and StarCraft II but will power all Blizzard games going forward.


That is the opportunity that is in front of us and that is why we're investing so much time in creating the next generation of Battle.net.

This is the transcript of Greg Canessa's public introduction of Battle.net 2.0.8 These statements were our first glimpse into Blizzard's vision for the ultimate gaming platform. For much of the community this video provided yet another reason to be excited for a beta that wouldn't be seen for another nine months. Once the community became aware that the reason for the StarCraft II Beta's delay was to ensure that Blizzard created the revamped Battle.net correctly the anticipation peaked. It was clear however that Blizzard developers needed to fully invest their efforts into making the "world-class online gaming experience" that was promised. This claim became the bare minimum for expectations of the original Battle.net's sucessor which was so successful in pulling together more than twelve million passionate gamers. It seemed quite feasible considering Blizzard Entertainment's track record in the industry.   

At BlizzCon 2009 a full panel was entirely focused on Battle.net 2.0 and it revealed a plethora of information. The panel not only expanded on the three key tenets of Blizzard's Battle.net philosophy upon which the service was being built but it also presented a history behind the vision. The slides of the presentation provided Blizzard's notes regarding their take on the pros and cons of the original Battle.net. They pledged that they had learned from the flaws in their own system and they were constantly working to apply those lessons to Battle.net 2.0.

 

Pros and Cons of the original Battle.net (BlizzCon 2009)

Great matchmaking
Easy to play with friends
Random teams incredibly successful
Icon system for character avatars 

Disorganized chat
Disconnected from single player expirience
New players get pwned
Ladder system served only the Elite
Can't find a custom game except for DotA 

With this information the community has been given the blueprint upon which the service is being constructed. This preliminary rubric allows us to evaluate what we have seen of the project according to the three pillars that Blizzard have established for themselves: The Always Connected Experience a Competitive-Arena for Everyone and Connecting the Blizzard Community. The strength of these pillars will determine the overall success or failure of Battle.net 2.0 and the community has repeatedly measured the success or failure of the current service throughout Beta. However Blizzard is improving and reinforcing their perspective of the design tenets inch by inch. Components of the design philosophy stand strongly ready to bear the weight of a world-wide community at the end of July. However some pillars show the designs of a poor foundation flawed implementation or the lack of cherished features. Blizzard Entertainment's only response has been that these features will be added later. Understandably this has upset the community. We realize that Blizzard will provide solutions for many of the issues presented even if they don't implement the community's suggestions. Blizzard loves to put its own spin on standard ideas. Generally they create excellent experiences but StarCraft II has been delayed for this service; importantly the service feels unfinished and flawed. Furthermore if quality is the key to Blizzard's success why is the game launching next month with much of these issues unaddressed? The purpose of this editorial is to generate constructive intelligent conversation in the community and with Blizzard. We have offered food for thought; the next step is to take the lessons learned in Beta and create a rich environment together.

Notes

1. Italian Open Q&A: http://sclegacy.com/news/23-sc2/591-italian-open-qa-beta-now-global-release-mac-support-to-come-later
2. April 19th Wings of Liberty Fansite Q&A Session: http://sclegacy.com/feature/3-events/670-april-19th-wings-of-liberty-fansite-qa-session
3. InStarcraft.de Interviews Dustin Browder: http://starcraft2.ingame.de/sc2cl/?m=article&s=1034&id=102427&p=1
4. Blizzard's Frank Pearce Interview: http://www.incgamers.com/Interviews/270/blizzards-frank-pearce-interview/
5. BlizzChat Developer Chat #2 on Twitter 4/30: http://sclegacy.com/news/23-sc2/676-blizzchat-developer-chat2-on-twitter-4-30-extended
6. Battle.net Forums: http://forums.battle.net/thread.html?topicId=25170778573&sid=5010&pageNo=6
7. Battle.net Forums: http://forums.battle.net/thread.html?topicId=25170778216&sid=5010&pageNo=3#42
8. StarCraft2.com - Battle.net Preview: http://us.starcraft2.com/features/misc/battlenet.xml


This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) Editorial.

 

starcraft 2 zerg guide

Introduction

At the end of Brood War, Kerrigan was proud of the battle that raged throughout the Koprulu Sector, much of it had been spawned by her web of deception and manipulation. The shattered Protoss heritage, the frail Terran empire borne from unbridled corruption, everything in the Brood War had been masterfully woven. With the Overmind dead twice-over, Kerrigan assumed sole sentient control of the swarm, it was hers now. Yet with the entire sector finally ripe for the taking, she vanished.

Four years have passed and once again, battles rage across the sector; the Zerg have evolved in some definitive ways while maintaining a sentimental connection to their predecessors. Now, even the mighty Ultralisk can burrow its massive frame beneath the surface in ambush, completing the Zerg mastery of the subterranean. Some strands of Zerg genealogy have faded with the constant demands of evolution, while others have been strengthened; more species have been assimilated into the swarm, acquiring the many lethal traits that the Zerg have inherited. The Swarm has risen again.

This editorial is an in-depth consideration of our multiplayer Zerg gameplay experience so far. We'll look into what has changed and provide opinions regarding the new-found uses in the structure of this fearsome swarm. There has been a lot of discussion revolving around this race in the community: a lack of variety in the units, the strength of Hydralisks, the potency of Roaches... This editorial will examine some of these discussions and provide our take on the Zerg as they stand now in the StarCraft II Beta.

Index

"

 

Examining the Traits of the Individual Zerg Strains

The host of various units, and the vital roles they've been bred specifically for, allow the Zerg to retaliate appropriately to any opposition they may identify as a threat. Their skill in quickly adapting the composition of their armies because of centralized production at the hatchery allows the race to adjust in moments with a mix of units that complement and synergize with each other. The following is an examination of each individual unit and also how they weave into the Zerg Swarm as a whole.

Zergling

The Zergling remains one of the staple units in any Zerg army and has kept hold of the same role as it held in Brood War. They can still shield ranged attackers, such as Hydralisks, from engaging more valuable units. The Zergling's speed is neccessary to flank and surround surrounding enemy forces, denying them a retreat. In open areas, such surrounds will usually destroy the opposing army. Their speed, especially with upgrades, makes them useful for fast raids into expansions and undefended bases. These roles make the Zergling very compatible with other Zerg units; the Zergling can give other units some breathing room to maneuver and deal damage. Also, past the early game, Zerglings are a big threat to Thors and Immortals that cannot handle swarms of small units. Although this unit is most effective in the early-game, its usefulness keeps Zerg players producing Zerglings throughout the game.

"

Banelings and Zerglings breaking down a Terran wall

Baneling

The easily acquirable Zergling can morph into the Baneling, which is the Scourge of the ground. They deal a lot of damage against light units (20 +15 vs Light), so Banelings are a good counter to each race's starting units (Zerglings, Zealots, Marines) and also some mid-game units such as Hydralisks and Dark Templar. This makes them a reasonable investment in the small transition from Tier 1 to Tier 2 as long as there is enough aggression; they deal 80 damage to structures, meaning you don't need a lot to take down supply buildings (Supply Depots, Pylons). With a Zergling/Baneling mix, you can cause enough damage to choke blocks to keep your enemy cautious and hesitant to expand. When the going gets tougher for Banelings, which would be when there are sizable amounts of Tier 2 units on the field, there is the option to burrow them and use them as mines (Banelings have the ability to detonate at any time, even while burrowed). Banelings burrowed at Xel'Naga Towers and choke points can guarantee you some free hits to some costly armies, such as M&M balls or even Colossi. This should be done if an ambush could pressure the enemy or if some Banelings are left over, either because of teching up or producing more effective counters. Even when teching up, it is very useful to have at least a few Banelings lying around if you get a Nydus Network or Infestors; Nydus Network can get you inside the enemy base to quickly destroy key structures, and Infestors can use Fungal Growth to immobilize the enemy as Banelings roll out. As a final note, it's essential to make the most out of each Baneling simply because they are very fragile and are a one-time use. If one Baneling can cause enough damage to warrant a price of 50 minerals, 25 gas (25/0 for one Zergling, 25/25 for one Baneling), they should be used in situations that allow for maximum effect.

Roach

The Roach is the most common Zerg unit, dealing decent damage and has high durability. They have amazing harass potential if burrow-move is upgraded. Unfortunately, the timing of Roaches means that the enemy may be able to produce counters, most notably Marauders because of their 10+10 armor damage to Roaches (and reducing the movement speed of the already-slow Roaches). If going for a Roach-centric build, maintaining frequent aggression and acquiring expansions is important for a Zerg player to be able to create a superior number of Roaches or to tech up and get Hydralisks and/or Mutalisks. Because of the Roach's range of 3 and the Hydralisk's range of 5 (6 when upgraded), they automatically make a good double-layer when attacking. Along with a few Zerglings, the Zerg player can get three rows of damage-dealing units. Mutalisks fit well with Roaches because they cover each other's weaknesses quite well: Roaches can eliminate Marines and Missile Turrets, while Mutalisks can chase down Marauders and Medivacs. The Roach remains a reliable unit from start to finish, and is often mixed in with other units.

"

Roaches defending an expansion

Also, the Roach has three different upgrades, all of which give the Roach a significant boost. The Roach's speed upgrade gives it much faster movement speed, which reduces the danger of being kited; without the speed upgrade, many units can kite Roaches with no trouble due to the range and speed differences. The speed upgrade also applies to burrow-move, which must also be upgraded. The burrow-move upgrade allows the Roach to move while burrowed, gives the Roach some stealthy harass options, and can be a very large thorn in the enemy's side. Even with Scanner Sweep, Roaches can move out of the detected area, using their high regeneration to survive some attacks. Unlike the movement speed and burrow-move upgrades, which are available at Tier 2, the regeneration upgrade is available at Tier 3. This regeneration improves the Roach's survivability. There's not too much to say about this upgrade, except that it allows the Roach to withstand more hits, but doesn't create a huge difference in large-scale battles where they may be killed in one shot.

Hydralisk

The Hydralisk returns from Brood War, but now as a Tier 2 unit. It is still very versatile; most Zerg mid-game armies are mainly composed of Hydralisks. This versatility makes Hydralisks very capable by themselves, so other units are commonly used to support the main army or to fulfill more specific roles, such as harassment or scouting (unfortunately with their HP at 80, Thors can one-shot them, Psionic Storms devastate them, and Colossi fry them very quickly, so their versatility is reduced after late mid-game). As mentioned above, the Roach/Hydra mix is very strong because the Roaches act as the front wall, tanking hits for the Hydralisks to spray a lot of damage. In later mid-game, Hydra/Muta is effective because the Mutalisks can harass and contain the enemy as the Hydralisks gain free reign over the map. Mutalisks are also great for taking down Siege Tanks and Colossi, which are the Hydralisk's strongest counters (although the Thor is just as deadly to both Hydralisks and Mutalisks). As for upgrades, the Hydralisk only has the range upgrade, which increases their range by one. This upgrade is a must-have against air units and fast-hitters, because the increase in range compensates for their slow movement.

Mutalisk

Mutalisks are positioned at Tier 2, putting them around mid-game. These fast-moving air units are extremely effective harassers; five of them can kill any worker unit with one volley, be it SCV, Probe, or Drone. Constant harass could put a big dent in the enemy's economy, but many people forget that harassing is double-edged sword. A player who is harassing will not have the same amount of macro as when he isn't harassing, so finding a good balance between Mutalisk micro and unit production macro is essential. There is also the competition between the Hydralisk and Mutalisk; the Hydralisk is greater at head-on battles because of their strength over infantry and air, but Mutalisks are more mobile and able to harass. This unit gives Zerg players many decisions to deal with in Tier 2.

"

Mutalisks attacking a Protoss base

From the enemy's perspective, a possible response to Mutalisk harass is to make a substantial investment into base defenses: Photon Cannons, Missile Turrets, and Spore Crawlers. This gives Zerg ground units a chance to shine; Roaches should do fine against a few Photon Cannons, especially if Hydralisks are mixed in, and Missile Turrets and Spore Crawlers are absolutely no problem. Making a Nydus Network is also recommended, as the large number of base defenses means fewer resources for combat units and more opportunities to use Nydus Worms. Another possible enemy response is the production of hard counters, probably air. If the enemy makes ground counters, making Roaches to kill them or Banelings to destroy buildings could soften them up to the point where Mutalisks can harass again. If the enemy makes air counters, a sharp tech switch to Hydralisks would be devastating. You could, in actuality, win a game by massing Mutalisks, but it wouldn't be likely unless you have a massive economic advantage.

Infestor

The infestor is a spellcaster unit for the Zerg that feels like a mashup of some Protoss casters from Brood War. It currently has three spells: Terran Infestation, Fungal Growth, and Neural Parasite. Terran Infestation spawns an Infested Terran onto the battlefield, but it is very slow and not incredibly strong. It only costs 25 energy, so multiple can be created, but they serve as small distractions at best. With the Infestor's burrow-move it is possible for them to get behind a mineral line, unburrow, spawn a few Infested Terrans and then burrow again. This would be a good form of harassment for the Zerg besides the Roach and the Muta. Fungal Growth is similar to Psionic Storm, except that it immobilizes its targets and reveals cloaked/burrowed units. Neural Parasite is a channeled Mind Control, which is permanent but having a short range, and can only target ground units. Any units controlled by Neural Parasite will be released if they stray too far from the Infestor. Therefore, this skill is best used from up on a ledge and aimed at high damage dealers, such as Siege Tanks, Thors, Immortals, Colossi, and Ultralisks. In practice, the Infestor isn't extremely useful and isn't too effective for its cost. Some patches have changed the Infestor, from removing and adding skills entirely to tweaking pre-existing skills. The Infestor, through all the different patches, had its role shifted from a stealthy frontline support caster to a fragile, vulnerable defensive caster.

Some trivia for Infestors is that any workers captured by Neural Parasite can actually create buildings, even Drones, a Neural Parasited Drone can start spawning a building, and that building will remain yours even if Neural Parasite is cancelled during the spawning process. Infestors can Neural Parasite other Infestors, which in turn can Neural Parasite other Infestors, and so on.

Corruptor

As part of the Zerg air arsenal, there is the Corruptor, which can only attack air units. With a bonus against Massive units, the Corruptor is effective against Battlecruisers, Colossi, Brood Lords, Motherships, and Carriers. Even though it is an air-to-air unit, it is less useful than the Mutalisk because of its air-only limitation, its weakness towards anything not Massive, and a higher resource cost (50 more minerals than Mutalisks). Phoenix are much faster then they are, and Vikings deal more damage and have a longer range. The only effective mid-game uses for this unit are destroying Colossi, as six Corruptors can take down a Colossus in moments, and disabling base defenses with its ability. The Corruptor's ability, Corruption, can disable any building from production or function. For example, Photon Cannons will not be able to fire, and Gateways will not be able to produce units. This ability isn't permanent, but it gives ground units a bit of time to take them out in safety. With only these small, specific roles, the Corruptor really isn't worth producing except for getting Brood Lords in the late-game.

Brood Lord

The unit that the Corruptor can morph into, the Brood Lord, is basically the Guardian redux. It is an aerial siege unit with the unique ability to spawn Broodlings wherever it attacks. The Brood Lord deals damage when it attacks a target, but it also spawns Broodlings next to the target. The Broodlings are ground units with a timed lifespan and little bit of damage, but their function is more to block units from reaching the Brood Lords than to do actual harm. The Broodlings mess with the AI and pathing of ground units, making them change targets and walk back and forth instead of attacking the Brood Lords. Although Brood Lords are rarely seen in large numbers, they are very powerful, and are almost always the endgame finishers of the Zerg army.

As a small note, Broodlings are affected by the Melee upgrade and Carapace upgrade. Broodlings also spawn from all Zerg buildings upon their destruction, excluding Extractors, Spine Crawlers, and Spore Crawlers.

Ultralisk

The Ultralisk returns from Brood War, retaining basically the same role as the Zerg's tanking base-smasher. Ultralisks are rarely seen because of their position on Tier 3. They can take down hordes of smaller units and raze entire bases, but by Tier 3 there are many counters to the Ultralisk on the field (Thors, Immortals, air units). This means that the best way of using this unit is against massed units out in the open (such as massed Marines, Zealots, or Zerglings), or in combination with the Nydus Network. By transporting Ultralisks into a base, they can tear down all the buildings with ease, ignoring enemy forces if necessary. If used properly, Ultralisks can quickly turn the tide of battle.

Overlord

The Overlord is one of the two supply-sustaining units for the Zerg (the other being Overseers), and also has a very useful ability: Excrete Creep. Excrete Creep allows the Overlord to drop and spread creep underneath it while it remains stationary. This ability is automatically researched once a Lair is completed, and doesn't cost energy to cast. Naturally, it works very well with Creep Tumors, which may be unable to spawn up or down a cliff. Excrete Creep can allow Creep Tumors to be made in hard-to-reach positions, thus spreading the creep further. The downside to this ability is that the Overlord must remain stationary to sustain the creep; if the Overlord moves, the creep underneath it will shrink away unless there is a Hatchery or Creep Tumor nearby to keep it alive.

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Overlord providing sight for a Nydus Worm.

The great thing about spreading creep is that Zerg units gain a movement speed boost while on creep. Some creep spread on the battlefield allows Zerglings and Roaches to close in faster, thus taking less damage before attacking and being able to deal more damage before dying. There is also the option to move up some Spine Crawlers closer to your enemy. People have suggested using Excrete Creep to deny expansions, but a burrowed Zergling is cheaper and more effective; an Overlord may be killed with a simple Marine or Stalker, but a burrowed Zergling cannot be killed without detection.

Also, different from Brood War, Overlords do not have detection and have to morph into Overseers to detect cloaked and burrowed units.

Overseer

When Overlords are morphed into Overseers, they lose Excrete Creep but gain detection and the ability Spawn Changeling. This ability allows the Overseer to create a unit that morphs into an enemy unit, proving to be an excellent scout. Although boring in its use, the Changeling can walk around the inside of an enemy base unharmed, allowing you to see everything. This is reminiscent of the Parasite ability that the Queen had in Brood War. In addition, a Changeling wall is also frustrating for opponents, such as when several Changelings block a choke point (Changelings are not attacked by default; the player has to manually attack them). Essentially, the Changeling has some uses that aren't the most interesting, but undoubtedly useful.

Queen

The Queen is a very important unit for the Zerg, providing a large boost to macro. Its abilities Create Creep Tumor, Spawn Larvae, and Transfusion add a whole new level of Zerg gameplay. Create Creep Tumor creates a Creep Tumor on creep. Creep Tumors have the ability to spread creep, are burrowed by default, meaning enemies need detection to see them, and can create another Creep Tumor at the cost of becoming "inert," meaning that it cannot create any more Creep Tumors. This means that a Queen could create a Creep Tumor, and that one Creep Tumor can leapfrog and spread creep all over the map, provided that the enemy doesn't kill them. Creep Tumors can be killed when they are being created however, since during that time they are not burrowed. Create Creep Tumor's main advantage is increasing movement speed and providing vision, also able to be used for linking expansions for better defense and faster reinforcements. This ability really contributes to Zerg being a macro race and allows the Zerg far more vision and mobility.

Spawn Larva is pretty straightforward: it creates four larvae on any selected Hatchery/Lair/Hive. This means that Queens give a big boost to Zerg production rates, and gives Zerg a greater focus on macro. Spawn Larva matches the Larva production of around 1.5 Hatcheries, so not only is the player encouraged to keep up production, there isn't a necessity to create a third Hatchery in the main base (compared to Brood War, where many Zerg players created a Hatchery to keep up unit production). Instead, the Zerg player can take another expansion without severely losing an advantage in production. Unfortunately, another side-effect of Spawn Larva is the importance of each individual Hatchery; if one Hatchery is taken down, the fact that you lose a target for Spawn Larva means that you are actually losing about 2 Hatcheries (rounding down, because there are pauses between each cast). This shifts the Zerg mindset to be much more protective of expansions relative to Brood War.

Transfusion heals a selected Zerg building or unit, and is very useful for healing defensive buildings and healing Mutalisks. Mutalisks, after a sweep over an enemy base, sometimes have only a few hitpoints left. Transfusion heals 125 hitpoints, more than enough to fix the Mutalisks maximum of 120 hitpoints, so extra Queens specifically for Transfusion is usually a good idea. Once the Mutalisks are healed up, they can move out to harass again. In terms of defense, Queens can greatly lengthen the lifespan of Spine Crawlers and Ultralisks, which could prove vital to fending off an enemy push. Even in an assault, a few Queens can really raise the survivability of a Zerg army. Overall, the Queen is really useful for many aspects of Zerg gameplay.

 

Race Matchups

This section will look at the race match-ups for Zerg.

Basic Openings

First thing to do every game is to send the initial Overlord to scout. Against Protoss, you should be able to fly around to figure out what he is teching to, and also have some forewarning about 3-Gate mass Zealots or proxy Gateways (if they are making proxy Gateways, their base will be surprisingly empty). Against Terran or Zerg, the Overlord can't stay as long because air-attacking units can be produced faster for Terran or Zerg (Marines or Queens). What is most important to look out for with the Overlord is fast gas, cheese builds, or rushing. If the enemy is not doing something incredibly ordinary, going 13 Pool is the common Zerg opening. Scouting with a Drone is usually unnecessary, unless the map is very large and your Overlord didn't find the enemy on the first guess.

ZvT

Against Terran, going for an Extractor at 16 Drones is a versatile strategy. It allows you to get enough gas to produce a Zergling/Baneling army or a Zergling/Roach army, both of which are very effective in the early game. Banelings are great at early aggression, being great at destroying Terran wall-ins. If the front wall is broken, Zerglings can move in and swarm Marines and Marauders inside the base. Roaches on the other hand, are durable attackers that can keep Terrans contained and pressured in the early game. Unfortunately, Terran frequently go M&M&M, therefore relying on Roaches for an extended period of time is not recommended. Marauders deal incredible damage towards Roaches, dealing 10 damage +10 damage with their bonus towards armored. Banelings, however, can hinder the tech and abuse the enemy enough for them to be unable to produce a large number of Marauders. But if early aggression is based around Zerglings and Banelings, Hellions could quickly take down your army. Either way, with enough pressure you can expand and tech safely. In Tier 2, going Hydras is better than Mutas because of the strong counters (Marines, Vikings, Thors) and heading a frontal assault or invading via Nydus Worm. If you have an economic or tech advantage over the enemy, you could even get a Nydus Network before Hydralisks and pump Zergling/Baneling or Zergling/Roaches into the enemy base. Throughout the game, keeping the enemy from producing a substantial amount of counters and tech switching to keep them on their toes is important. If the game lasts until Tier 3, getting Corruptors and Brood Lords is the last resort and a probable game-winner. You could also make Ultralisks if you have a Nydus Worm and pump them straight into the enemy base, destroying buildings with the 60 damage that Ultralisks deal towards structures. Resistance inside the base may prove problematic, since the Ultalisks' large size will severely hinder their mobility between buildings. In the case of Terrans making a push with Thors, Infestors can Neural Parasite them from a safe position (higher elevations at a choke, for example) and greatly turn the tide of battle. Because Neural Parasite has an unlimited duration as of patch 5, the Thors can be kept in your base for defense, particularly against air units.

"

 

ZvP

Against Protoss, Banelings are not as potent; it is more effective to give Zerglings the speed upgrade rather than morph them into Banelings. With the speed upgrade, Zerglings can get a fast surround against Zealots and Stalkers, proving to be a cheap and effective army in the early game. Their strength is greatly increased with melee attack upgrades, and because of their attack speed, mobility, and superior numbers, even one upgrade is enough to make them deadly against early-game Protoss. Also, going Roaches is important to push back mass Zealot rushes, and with burrow-move there are more harass opportunities in the early-game and early mid-game compared to Terran. Cannons are stationary so Roaches can maneuver around them, and Observers come out in the mid-game unless the Protoss is allowed to tech up. After Roaches, going Hydralisks if the enemy gets Stalker/Sentry-centric army and going Mutalisks if the enemy gets Stalker/Immortal-centric army is good (although Protoss players frequently build a fast Robotics Facility after seeing Roaches, planning to counter with Immortals). Of course, in either case there needs to be a good mix of Roaches and Hydras or Mutas so that the enemy doesn't produce one mass and swat down your army. With Hydralisks, you want to hunt down expansions and hold out for Nydus Worm to get past the enemy's defenses. With Mutalisks you want to harass enough to gain an economic advantage to mass an army in order to land the killing blow. It's a good idea to get a few extra Queens to heal your Mutas; Transfusion heals 125 hit points which is enough to fully heal any Muta. Transfusion could also be used in the later game to preserve your Brood Lords.

Looking back a bit, at Tier 1.5 Roaches should do well against Zealots and Stalkers, so it's good to keep up pressure and aggression so that they can't obtain Immortals, or worse, Colossi. If the enemy goes Colossi, going Mutas or Corruptors is a must to support your Roaches, and if the enemy is going Immortals, going Hydralisks to save resources to tech to Nydus is a sound strategy. Unfortunately, because of the Roach's short attack range, Forge fast expands are viable for the Protoss. In this case however, Mutalisks are able to avoid the main point of defense to hit the weaker main base or simply to go around and hit the expansion. Stalkers are decent against Mutalisks, and there aren't other units for the Protoss that can cost-effectively counter them. But considering the long-run, Nydus makes the most use out of your ground army, and is a great method of mobilizing slow units on large maps. The sight of Mutalisks means that the enemy will turtle, probably creating a large anti-air zone before you can gather enough Mutas. Nydus, on the other hand, is more difficult to defend against; it can appear anywhere, including inside the base, so unless the enemy invests too many resources into static defenses a Nydus should easily pop up in a blind spot. Also, expanding and defending expos are easier with Nydus. Again, at Tier 3, aim for Corruptors and Brood Lords to finish the game.

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ZvZ

The ZvZ game is focused a lot on Tier 1 and Tier 1.5. Games are usually decided a small amount of time after Tier 2 is reached. Early aggression is key in this matchup, and is decided mostly on macro, seeing who can produce more units and capture more expansions. Zerglings should fight each other in the early game, and the next step up is Roaches. Baneling Nest is not a good option before Roaches, because after Banelings eliminate the enemy Zerglings then you have Zerglings face off against Roaches, which is not an effective use of your remaining Zerglings. So while Zerglings and Roaches are fighting, the builds branch out. A Zerg player may go Baneling to destroy key buildings (especially because Zerg have very few but very important buildings) and obliterate enemy Zerglings, or they may go Mutalisks to harass and have free reign over Zerglings and Roaches. Hydralisks should be teched to if you have better map control than your enemy and they produce Mutalisks instead of Roaches (Hydralisks are very effective against Mutalisks, and are stronger than Mutas cost-for-cost). In this situation, a few Hydras should protect the bases and the rest should aid the main attack force of Roaches and Zerglings. Upgrades in ZvZ are more important than in other matchups because of the constant aggression and focus on macro. Games should not reach Tier 3.

 

Build Orders

Here are some build orders that have been found, produced by the community that are quite commonly used and effective in 1v1 games.

Fast Speedling

  • 10 Overlord
  • 14 Extractor (3 Drones on it when finished)
  • 14 Spawning Pool
  • 15 Overlord
  • 15 Metabolic Boost
  • 15 Queen

Fast Expand

  • 10 Overlord
  • 14 Spawning Pool
  • 16 Hatchery
  • 17 Extractor (3 Drones on it when finished)
  • 16 Queen
  • 18 Overlord

Fast Roach

  • 10 Overlord
  • 14 Spawning Pool
  • 17 Extractor
  • 17 Overlord
  • 17 Roach Warren
  • 16 Queen

Conclusion

This was an overall look at the Zerg race, with its units, army mixes, and matchup strategies. There will surely be more tweaks to the game as the beta progresses, but the topics discussed here should help Zerg players in improving their game in general. The examples and strategies discussed should not be so specific for them to become outdated in one patch We hope you enjoyed this editorial and wish you some happy Zerg gaming.

Zerg Tips and Trivia (From the Zerg section of the StarCraft II UI Tips and Tricks article)

  • Zerg Hatcheries have two rally points which can be assigned.  One rallies drones while the second rally point sets the destination of any other unit.  Each will automatically be set based on if you click on a resource or not.   Queens by default do not have a rally point
  • Hatcheries can all be assigned to the same control group such that when the Larvae is selected it will select every Hatchery's Larvae simultaneously which can all be given the same rally point.
  • Each Zerg egg can be given its own rally point.
  • Nydus Worms can have their own rally points. They can even be used to manually and "safely" mine from a separate mineral spot.
  • When a Nydus worm erupts from the ground everyone can hear the announcement even if they don't see the origin of the Nydus Worm.  It's comparible to a Nuke in that fashion.
  • Overlord troop dropping has no announcement noise along with it which is nice for expanding on islands or trying to sneak units to assault the flank of a base.
  • The Overlord's Creep Drop ability is toggle-able. When activated the Overlord will always drop creep unless it is in transit.
  • Changelings can't be loaded into a Nydus Worm.
  • An Infestor can be instructed to move to a location burrow move to another location while underground unburrow cast two Infested Marines and then sneak out again all in one go.
  • The maximum number of Larva that can be achieved with Spawn Larva is 19 after which Spawn Larva simply replaces existing Larva.
Editor's Note: While many of these will be obvious to anyone who has played the game, or even Warcraft III, we hope there are still some useful tricks here that everyone can benefit from.

Basics

  • You can select units with the left mouse button individually, you can select groups by dragging a selection box around them.
  • To add units to your currently selected force, hold the Shift while clicking on them or dragging a box around them.
  • Alternatively you can deselect units from the current force by holding Shift while clicking on a selected unit.  You can also do this in the command card in the bottom center of the screen.
  • To select all units of the same type on the current screen, hold the CTRL when clicking on a single unit.
  • You can add all units of a single type to your current selection by holding Shift+CTRL when clicking on a unit.
  • You can alternatively deselect all of a certain type of units from the current force by holding Shift+CTRL and clicking on a single unit of that type.  This also works in the command card in the bottom center of the screen.
  • The right mouse button makes the currently selected unit do an obvious action (known as an "auto-action") that depends on what you right clicked on.  If an area of the map is right clicked, the selected units will move there.  If an enemy unit is right clicked, they will attack it.  If an allied unit is right clicked, they will follow it.  If a worker right clicks on a mineral field or a refinery/extractor/assimilator, they will gather from the resource.
  • Using the attack command (hotkey: A) and clicking on ground will order the selected units to attack anything leading up to that point.   This is different than a move command, which they will simply move past units without retaliating.  This is generally known as "attack-move" or "attack-ground" and is the most common command used in the game.
  • An alternate hotkey added in StarCraft II for attack-move is to hold Shift while right clicking the ground.
  • Buildings which produce units have an ability called "Set Rally Point" which allows you to set the destination of a unit after it's produced.  Right clicking on a target area or unit is a shortcut.
  • Rally points emulates auto-actions as if you right clicked the target area or object.
  • Holding down the left-click mouse button on a portrait of a unit that is moving will force the camera to smoothly follow the unit's movement.
  • Holding the middle Mouse button will "pan" the camera across the battlefield in a smooth fashion.
  • In simple summary, left click selects units or the target of abilities, right click performs an assumed action, Shift will add/remove and CTRL changes a selection/deselection action to "all units on screen".

General
  • Any unit in the game can be pushed around by other units, including Archon Warps. However, this only works if the unit isn't issued a "hold position" command or is in the process of attacking.
  • Hit ALT to see the HP bars of every unit on the screen.
  • New Idle Worker Button shows up in the lower left corner of the battlefield area.  It will show you the number of worker units not performing an action.  It's shortcut is F1.
  • Holding CTRL while clicking on the Idle Worker Button or pressing CTRL + F1 selects all idle workers.
  • Holding Shift while clicking on the Idle Worker Button or pressing Shift + F1 will add an idle worker to your current selection.
  • Abilities can be targetted in the wireframe squares in your command card at the bottom of the screen.
  • Hit CTRL + ALT + F to toggle the framerate counter in the top left.
  • Mutating Hatcheries' field of vision is very small. A Bunker can be placed near it without the player noticing.
  • Workers are now targeted by default by enemy units, but repeatedly hitting "S" will lower their priority if you have the workers selected.
  • Assigning workers to a Vespene geyser before the building is finished will cause the workers to start gathering gas after the building is finished.
  • Hitting the Space Bar button after you heard a tactical nuke callout may bring you to the location of the red dot.
  • You can set a complex patrol path by holding Shift while you select the waypoints.
  • Hitting F12 brings up the Help Menu, allowing you to see the tech tree of each race and unit information sheets.  This allows you to quickly identify generic counters and weaknesses if your new to the game.
  • In the settings, you can set some very useful options that are turned off by default, such as default healthbars to always or showing building grids when placing buildings.
  • If a production building is surrounded completely, it will halt production until it has an exit point.
Creating Control Groups
  • Hit CTRL + any number to bind selected units to a control group. Then hit Shift + the same number to add newly selected units to that control group.
  • TAB and Shift-TAB will cycle between control groups.
  • CTRL group selections are not removed if units enter a transport or Bunker and the group is selected, like they were in Brood War. The units will not be able to be selected while they are in the transport or Bunker, but they will be once they leave.
  • In a large selection group of various units, each specific unit type can be cycled through by pressing the TAB key, while Shift + TAB will cycle backwards. This is often used for Terran production buildings, and Protoss can use it to Chrono Boost production buildings without going back to their base. A single unit is selected by just clicking on its wireframe, while CTRL + clicking a unit selects all units of that type. Shift-clicking an individual unit removes them from the selection.
  • The above mentioned TAB method to cycle between sub-groups changes the action card in the lower right, allowing you to change the usable abilities used within a selected mass without deselecting the force.
Creating a queue of Multiple Commands
  • With a unit selected, multiple orders can be used in succession (or "queued up") by holding Shift while clicking the mouse or hotkey.  Actions involve almost anything from basic commands (ex: Move, attack, Hold position) to abilities (ex: EMP, Infested Terrans, Force Field) to changing modes. (Seige mode, Burrow, Warp Prism's Matrix Mode)
  • The maximum number of these waypoints a person can queue for a unit is 32
  • Units can queue up attack commands by holding Shift and giving an attack order on each unit. This will not always work due to the AI and pathing.
  • Multiples of a building can be added to worker construction waypoints by holding Shift. The building does not have to be reselected from the build menu.
  • SCVs and Probes should almost always be ordered to go back to mining after they have created a building by holding Shift and right clicking on the resources.
  • Up to four spots that units will follow once they leave the building can be assigned to a rally point by holding Shift and clicking.

Terran
  • Raising a Supply Depot will force allied units standing on it to move aside.  Enemy units will prevent the action.
  • SCVs cannot be loaded into a Command Center or Orbital Command by simply right-clicking on it with SCVs selected. Instead, the Load button has to be clicked from the Command Center, which loads the 5 closest SCVs.
  • When queueing up attack commands with Siege Tanks it will allow them to conserve their fire and not waste all their shots on just one unit.
  • When making a wall, set the rally point to go into the base so that units coming out of the building spawn inside the wall instead of outside.
  • Type in "/dance" for infantry to start dancing, "/cheer" for infantry to start cheering.
  • Thors will use their GtA attack against Colossi if their GtG attack is out of range.
  • MULEs can be used to either scout, supply fresh expansions or repair mechanical units or buildings. While they have infinite cast range, they must be cast in a visible area.
  • Units can be loaded into transports in order to avoid the effects of the Ghost's EMP.
  • Holding Shift when building Supply Depots can really speed up the process.
  • Remember that you can EMP the opponent's orbital command before dropping a nuke.  If it's their only means of detection this can definately improve your chances of success.
  • Turning on "Show Building Grids" in the options can help with your ramp block ins.
  • When stacking Factories on top of each other, ensure 2 squares are open to the right of their addon to ensure an odd thor can get out if it is produced above the tech lab.

Zerg

  • Zerg Hatcheries have two rally points which can be assigned.  One rallies drones while the second rally point sets the destination of any other unit.  Each will automatically be set based on if you click on a resource or not.   Queens by default do not have a rally point
  • Hatcheries can all be assigned to the same control group such that when the Larvae is selected, it will select every Hatchery's Larvae simultaneously, which can all be given the same rally point.
  • Each Zerg egg can be given its own rally point.
  • Nydus Worms can have their own rally points. They can even be used to manually and "safely" mine from a separate mineral spot.
  • When a Nydus worm erupts from the ground, everyone can hear the announcement even if they don't see the origin of the Nydus Worm.  It's comparible to a Nuke in that fashion.
  • Overlord troop dropping has no announcement noise along with it which is nice for expanding on islands or trying to sneak units to assault the flank of a base.
  • The Overlord's Creep Drop ability is toggle-able. When activated the Overlord will always drop creep unless it is in transit.
  • Changelings can't be loaded into a Nydus Worm.
  • An Infestor can be instructed to move to a location, burrow, move to another location while underground, unburrow, cast two Infested Marines, and then sneak out again all in one go.
Protoss
  • There is an icon in the lower right of your battlefield screen showing how many warp gates are available.  You can click on this icon or hit W to select all Warp Gates.
  • Stalkers can be moved to a cliff, Shift + clicked to use Blink once they reach the edge, and continue moving. This helps avoid the situations where Stalkers are ordered to Blink, but the ones in the back are too far away to make it over the gap or cliff.
  • Carrier Interceptors get a free shot if they're deployed right in front of their target.
  • Archons have three different costs since they can be created by a combination of High and Dark Templar.
    • Two Dark Templar = 250/250
    • Dark Templar and High Templar = 175/275
    • Two High Templar 100/300.
  • Holding Shift when building Pylons can really speed up the process. It also allows you to see their estimated pylon fields to plan coverage.
  • Chrono Boost can be cast on wireframe selections such that the player doesn't always have to go back to their base.
  • Feedback is most useful against Terrans as many of their units have energy.   Prime targets include Ghosts, Medivacs, Banshees, Battlecrusiers and Thors.
Have a tip that we missed or notice an error? Email gradius[at]sclegacy.com.

StarCraft is a game that thrived on macromanagement. Its successor, StarCraft II will aim to capitalize on this RTS feature, while other games, such as Dawn of War II aim to remove it completely. Macromanagement in RTS games is a difficult thing to define. In the StarCraft community, it is generally seen as the accumulation of resources, the building of units, and any other general base management. The resource gathering system in StarCraft II has undergone some dramatic changes, replacing the antiquated UI challenges of the original game with fun and versatile mechanics. Macro in StarCraft involved constantly pumping workers, manually setting them to mine, and clicking on each building separately to build units. This article is also an opportunity to look at the numbers we've found and see if what they reveal will improve players' skills.

Resource Basics

In StarCraft II, the amount of minerals carried by workers is 5 on regular minerals, and 7 on gold minerals. In StarCraft, workers brought back 8 minerals per trip, and gold minerals didn't exist. However, due to the improved pathing, such as workers auto-splitting when all targeting the same mineral patch, and decrease in time spent on minerals, the collection rate is roughly the same as in the original StarCraft on normal minerals. There are two Vespene Geysers per base, and each requires 3 workers to be fully saturated. An average geyser has 2500 minerals, and unlike in StarCraft where the geyser still gave the player a trickle of gas after it has depleted, the geysers in StarCraft II cannot be used at all after they are depleted.

starcraft 2 beta macro

For a mineral field to be "saturated" it needs to have enough workers such that the player's income is the greatest it could possibly be for a period of time, even with the addition of extra workers; in short, once saturation is reached, it becomes redundant to build more workers, since the player will not receive any boost in income. For a saturated mineral field, there are 2 workers per mineral, and 3 workers for pure saturation. The average minerals per spot is 8, meaning that the base saturation for each spot is 16-24 workers. The way saturation works in StarCraft II is that the time it takes to mine a mineral is roughly the same time as it takes for a worker to return a mineral to the building and return to the patch. This means that the worker finishes mining fractions of a second before a worker returns to the patch.

Improved User Interface

Blizzard has also implemented several UI changes for players. Unit tooltips show the time it takes to produce the unit, structure or upgrade. This is important to understand if the player can find out his own mineral saturation. Replays have functionality that allow the player to look over his economic trends and compare it to other players in the game to help him recognize ways to improve his skill. The original StarCraft only had "mineral cost" and "name of unit," and the tooltips were very basic. Blizzard learned from this in WarCraft II, and took that to StarCraft II, showing the mineral cost, vespene gas and now another important stat, time to produce.

 

Saturation Tests

A note about game speeds - most of the tooltips which show how long a unit or ability takes to build or research shows the time as the amount of seconds it would take in normal game speed. The SCV takes 17 units of time to build, but this corresponds to 13 seconds on faster game speed, not 17. It would be useful if the game would show the player the amount of seconds in the speed that he is playing at. But in general, the "slower" game speed corresponds to 1/2 of the normal speed, and the "faster" game speed corresponds to 4/3 of the normal speed.

The following is a chart of several mineral saturation tests done on "faster" speed:

One-minute mining tests on a spot with 6 mineral fields

Amount of ProbesMinerals GatheredMinerals per SecondMinerals per Second per Probe
63555.910.98
1270511.750.98
1882013.670.75


One-minute mining tests on a spot with 6 gold mineral fields

Amount of ProbesMinerals GatheredMinerals per SecondMinerals per Second per Probe
65118.511.41
1297316.211.35
18114119.011.05

 

starcraft 2 beta macro

One-minute vespene gathering test:

Amount of ProbesVespene Gathered
3160
4160

 

As can be seen, two workers per mineral field is the optimal amount for resource gathering. For the standard 8 mineral field starting bases, this means 16 workers. Note that the unit selection area in StarCraft II has a width of 8, meaning that it's easy for the players to judge their position and see when they've reached a good mineral field saturation, as it is simply two rows of workers on the selection area. Creating more workers would produce only marginal gains, and the player might be better off expanding. Gold minerals give and produce a 1.4 times increase. Now, players are sometimes left with much more minerals in StarCraft II than they can use with certain builds, so gold minerals are rarely taken advantage of. Most players will opt for the more easily defended natural expansion. Three workers also seems to be the optimal amount of workers per geyser; it appears that all geysers in StarCraft II are the same distance from the start location, so even if a player desires the marginal gains of pure vespene saturation, even four workers per geyser will almost certainly never be needed.

Now, let's take a look at each race's mechanic:

Protoss

Protoss is one of the most fun races to use in StarCraft II - largely because of their Chrono Boost ability. Chrono Boost increases the operation speed of any selected building for 25 energy by 50%. The ability lasts 20 seconds. The great thing about this is its versatility. It can be used on any building, and the choices it provides are numerous, creating perfect tension between using it on the Nexus for extra resource gatherers versus using it anywhere else.

starcraft 2 beta macro

 

The following is a list of a few of the things that Chrono Boost is useful for: 

Reacting Faster

Did you just scout a pack of Zerglings heading towards your base? In StarCraft II this is not much of a problem. Simply Chrono Boost your Gateway and get your Zealot out faster. In order to then go on the offensive, the player can build Star Gates and then Chrono Boost some Void Rays, which are immediately available. One Void Ray can take out a Queen, so if the Zerg player has no anti-air, a single Void Ray can have its way with the entire base. In general, Chrono Boost can be used to increase the speed of any tech switching, allowing the player to react to his opponent faster.

Chrono Boost can also be used to change build orders and timings. Worker saturation can be reached faster, which makes up for having to "hold off probes to build a building," thus adding more viability in certain build orders

Faster Upgrades

Chrono Boost can be used to speed up the research of any upgrade. Critical unit upgrades such as Charge can be researched in the nick of time before a crucial attack. The Protoss player can fly through his ground weapons upgrades and armor upgrades, giving him a far superior army.

Zerg-like Unit Building Speed

An upgrade to Warp-Gates already allows the player to warp in all Gateway units in effectively 28 seconds. Warp Gates alone have made Proxy Pylon an extremely viable strategy in StarCraft II. Chrono Boost on Warp Gates will greatly increase the speed at which units can be summoned to the battlefield.

Staff opinions:

Gifted:

Chrono Boost is something that feels interesting and does a very good job of providing choice. While other races have the choice of "what do you use?", this is one of a choice of "where do you use it?". It's hard to explain, but you're faced with the early game decision of "fast economy" or "get units to rush/defend". In the early game it can come down to a game changing decision by placing it on what specific structures. There is also a large room for error in Chrono Boost. Often one can boost a slew of Gateways only to find out they require additional Pylons for example. It's an ability that also feels unnatural as it comes around every 25 seconds providing a high stake of attention to allow full mastery of it's usage. I feel it's a challenge to keep up with and admit that I've wasted more energy than I've used. I'm sure a professional will be able to do some entertaining strategies and timings with this ability though.

Crota:

Chrono Boost allows the Protoss army to quickly produce units in times of trouble and saturate mineral fields quickly when used on a Gateway or a Nexus. Although the options are highly useful, Chrono Boast really shines when used on Upgrades or higher-tier buildings. Getting a Colossus built 20-30 times faster changes the tide of a an early battle, or using Chrono Boast to speed the research time for Forge upgrades can easily swing the tide of an early melee battle. The only difficult part behind using Chrono boast is deciding when to use it and what building to use it on.

Gradius:

I have definitely had some fun with Chrono Boost. Though its main use in the early game is providing an economic gain, it's an ability that can be used to rush virtually any unit. It's extremely deadly when used with Robotics Facility units such as Colossi and Immortals, since those units are so powerful. Chrono Boost has been criticized as a "click here every 25 seconds" ability, but this is definitely not true. It might hold for certain players in the early game, but even then they might have to use it for upgrades or building units to either attack or defend. And it's in the late game when this ability becomes truly fun and interesting. When a Protoss has two or three expansions for example, his mineral and gas lines are usually saturated and Chrono Boost is not being used for Probes, making the energy for Chrono Boost stack up. It is then that the player can Chrono Boost his production buildings and get expensive units such as Carriers or Colossi out really fast. Or, the player can Chrono Boost several forges at once to quickly upgrade his standing army.

starcraft 2 beta macro

 

SaharaDrac:

Trying to compete with Chrono Boost is a lot like trying to arm wrestle a robotic rhinocerous: pretty tough, but awkward cause the rhinocerous doesn't have opposable thumbs and you don't want to make fun of him. What I mean is, it's still strong, but it's not nearly as fun or thought provoking as the other two macro mechanics. This abilities efficiency has a ceiling of how well it can be exploited, in that as long as you always use your nexus's energy, then you are using it as well as you can.

Terran

The Terrans have a lot of choice when it comes to macromanagement options. First, a Command Center can be retrofitted with one of two add-ons, a Planetary Fortress, which is an extremely powerful base defense, or an Orbital Command, which allows for Scanner Sweeps and the Terrans' resource gathering mechanic, calldown of MULEs. In the early game an Orbital Command will almost always be chosen, but in the late game Terran players are faced with the decision of either providing extra protection for their important expansions, or building an Orbital Command for Scanner Sweeps and more resources.

starcraft 2 beta macro

Scanner Sweep is a very powerful ability that was present in StarCraft I, with the ability to unveil arbitrary areas of the map and any cloaked units that are within. If a Terran player cannot penetrate his opponent's base in order to scout out what his strategy is, he can easily reveal a good portion of his base with this Orbital Command ability. The Orbital Command also has the ability to calldown supplies on top of an existing Supply Depot. This is important if the player accidentally supply-blocks himself, and it is a free and immediate 100 minerals. Both of these Orbital Command abilities compete with the Terrans' resource gathering mechanic, Calldown MULE, creating tension.

Calldown MULE brings down a MULE to a designated mineral field for 90 seconds, and it gathers 30 minerals per trip as opposed to the standard 5 for SCVs. A MULE carriers 42 minerals per trip on gold mineral fields. A single MULE will gather 270 regular minerals and 378 gold minerals in its lifetime, making 9 trips to the mineral field and back. If it is launched on a mineral field it will automatically start mining. Both MULEs and SCVs have 1.4 times the carrying capacity on gold mineral fields. MULEs can also repair units, and their repair ability can be set on auto-cast. MULEs also ignore mineral field saturation, mining from a field regardless of whether an SCV is there or not.

starcraft 2 beta macro

Staff Opinions:

Gifted:

I'm far more impressed with the MULE than I expected in the beginning. I never realized how it would fit with three aspects of Terran game play. First, the reactor allows it the ability to put minerals directly into the production line, as you can meet the high demands of its mineral requirements. It also allows you to boost forward and produce an expansion. Lastly, in the early game it allows you to push on heavy gas, as it supplements the 6 workers that get pulled off before mineral saturation has been obtained. Overall though it's truly satisfying see the minerals go up in chunks. 

A very dangerous thing that was only speculated at before is the fact that the MULE, if used often as it should be, quickly rips the mineral line up as each time you use it. You rip 1/6th of a mineral vein apart in a very short period. If you use it on the same minerals multiple times, you'll quickly have odd saturation as some minerals are taken down before others. Some people believe these are "free minerals" and use that term loosely when in reality, it places slightly more pressure on the Terran player to expand every time it's used. For this reason, there are certain times in the games where pressuring the Terran and preventing expansions can be a key to victory. Your base may have one third their minerals remaining while a Terran opponent is living off tatters and scraps, struggling to get a new expansion if they didn't get one earlier. The moment that expansion happens, however, MULES can get a massive injection going and the base can be up and running in merely seconds.

KDraconis:

Although I haven't played Terran as often as Zerg or Protoss, I have watched other players use Calldown MULE with surprising efficiency. Calldown MULE can be used to push for that one extra expansion, or to get a boost in minerals for a rush in tech. There's quite a bit of competition between Calldown MULE and Scanner Sweep because of the constant threat of burrowed Roaches or Dark Templar, which gives more complex decisions to make.

starcraft 2 beta macro

Crota:

The Orbital Command is an interesting ability and differs from the Protoss macro ability. Instead of creating tension on deciding where you want to use Chrono Boast, the Orbital Command creates tension by having you decide what ability to use. The Scanner sweep provides detection and instant sight anywhere on the map. Although it is difficult to justify the sacrifice of 270 minerals for a Scanner Sweep from an Orbital Command, high level players using a proper Scanner Sweep can develop the proper counter units and turn the tide of battle.

The Supply Drop is perhaps the least interesting of the three abilities found from the Orbital Command. From gameplay experience, generally if you are ever in the need for additional supply depots, you may also be sitting on a large cache of minerals in your bank. Although it is tempting to use the Supply Drops for instant Supply, there is little to no need unless you find yourself in the most desperate situations where an army needs to be built immediately and can not wait the 20-30 seconds it takes to build supply depots.

Gradius:

I'd say that the Orbital Command provides great tension between calldown MULE and the Scanner Sweep ability. The calldown Supply ability needs to be upgraded, as good players will rarely supply block themselves, or even use this ability if they do so. I feel that Terrans seem to be strapped for detection in the early game. The Orbital Command is always low on energy, so a Dark Templar attack can usually be fatal unless the player already has Missile Turrets already, which, in a Protoss vs. Terran matchup, there rarely are any Missile Turrets.

MULEs can not only be called down to mineral lines, but they can also be called down on your own mechanical units and repair them right on the field. This is easier than dragging along any SCVs, and I foresee this becoming a more common tactic in late games where Terrans already have enough minerals.

SaharaDrac:

My favorite unit in the game. I always play as the green Bonzoid in the original M.U.L.E., and I move that he be added as a Terran unit. He could outbid the Protoss on Smithore and hunt the "wumpus" critters on the ladder maps. oh my god...

Oh, macro mechanic? Yeah, it's cool. It gives you extra money. But it's got dimensions. For example, sometimes you've got to scan. You just don't have a choice. It's your fault; you're the toolshed that didn't make a Turret at your entrance. Do you know how much scan costs? 270 minerals. That's how much a M.U.L.E. pulls in. Think about that next time you use it. Also, you have to be careful about where you use it in your mineral line. Don't cast the M.U.L.E. on the same mineral patch over and over! If the game goes late, then you suddenly have the left half of your minerals all gone while your right side is still ripe, and you lose your mining efficiency and girls laugh at you and then the Zerg take your lunch money and your mom doesn't even care. Trust me, I told my mom earlier about how mean the Zerg were and she just sighed and took a swig directly from the bourbon bottle. 

Zerg

Zerg players have the option to either Spawn Larva, which spawns four larvae after a period of 40 seconds, enabling the player to make more resource gatherers if he wishes. The maximum Larvae per Hatchery is 19. The Zerg's Macro Mechanic is different than the Protoss and Terran mechanics in that there is very little tension. First, the Queen's other abilities, such as Creep Tumor and Transfusion are often not used when the player has to choose between the two. Second, the Queen will usually have more than enough energy for Spawn Larvae as well as its other abilities, especially if the player forgets to cast it as often as he should. Third, more than one Queen can be produced.

starcraft 2 beta macro

Creep Tumor competes with Spawn Larva, and it provides two vital things: sight and movement speed increase. These are crucial during a Reaper raid. One creep tumor can connect two bases allowing for faster transport or defenses. The player's vision can be extended far beyond his base, serving as a sort of warning system. Transfusion is the other ability that competes with Spawn Larva. For 50 energy, the Queen restores 125 hit points to the target biological unit or structure and has a large range and instant cast. Transfusion has been used to restore hit points to a damaged Spawning Pool, saving a Zerg player from a rush; this can be used at any stage of the game really. Transfusion can also be used to restore creep crawlers HP, allowing them to kill more units than they would be able to normally.

The Zerg's mechanic is also different from the other races in that energy does not "stack up" and you cannot use it for something else next time. If a Terran or Protoss forgets to use Chrono Boost or the Orbital Command then they can save that energy for another task later. Spawn Larva takes 40 seconds to get the Larvae out, and this ability cannot be used on a Hatchery that is already spawning Larvae.

Staff Opinions

Gifted:

While my experience with Zerg is lacking, I'll explain it from the angle of playing against Zerg who use it efficiently. This ability has further expanded the mentality of tech swapping to a whole new level. To best describe it would be to compare the 6 pool tactic from StarCraft: Brood Wars to almost every strategy now achievable to Zerg players. 

Where before it was feasible for them to save the 3 larva for the exact moment the Spawning Pool drops, it's amazing to see them do the same with 7 Larva and the final moments of a Roach Warren. Imagine 7 Roaches come coming out at the same time when moments beforehand you only saw a building in creation and 2 zerglings. As an opponent, you constantly have to consider the worst case scenario now after 2 minutes into the game. With a single Hatchery, they have the possibility of injecting 7 fresh units into their military force out of seemingly nowhere. 

It takes some time to get used to, but eventually you will prepare for it and find your macro improve ever so slightly when you realize your opponent is of the evolving variety.

starcraft 2 beta macro

KDraconis:

Having been the race I play with most, I can say that Zerg benefits greatly from Spawn Larva. Spawn Larva gives the Zerg a great advantage in unit production, and also allows players to pull off previously impossible strategies. An example would be doing a massive tech switch in a short amount of time; after scouting the enemy, the Zerg player could spawn a swarm of units that are the perfect counter to enemy units. Spawn Larva helps Zerg with macro and also allows them to hold back on expanding but still have the same unit production rate.

Crota:

The Queen's Spawn Larva ability allows a single Hatchery to effectively produce Larva at a much higher rate. Althought this ability is quite useful, there is no real tension for the Zerg to decide between what abilities to use unlike the Terran. Spawning Creep Tumors, a burrowed building that extends creep, and using Transfusion, healing a Zerg unit or building by 125 hitpoints, are helpful abilities but seem like abilities a player uses if they forget to Spawn Larva. In order to create some tension and open up the decision making procuess for the Zerg, perhaps Transfusion could be used on buildings while they are being built in order to speed up the building of defensive structures during times of attack or speed the construction of key Zerg buildings. This would differ from the "Chrono Boast" ability as the Protoss cant speed up the construction of a building, just increase its production once the building is complete. This of course would need some balancing but it would at least justify the high 50 energy coast of the Queens Transfusion ability.

Gradius:

It seems to me that the Zerg is yet again the hardest race to use, similar to StarCraft. The key in mastering the Zerg's macro mechanic is remembering to use the ability after the 40 seconds are up. The Protoss and Terran macro abilities save up energy over time, allowing the player to used any missed energy later; the Zerg's ability does not. I do feel that there is a bright side to all this however. If the Zerg player can remember to consistently Spawn Larvae, whether he needs to or not, he will not have a surplus of energy, but a surplus of Larvae. One Hatchery can hold up to 19 Larvae. My personal strategy is simply to use Spawn Larvae whether I need to or not, as it allows me to react quickly to my opponent and build a very large army from scratch. Is this tactic merely wasting the Queen's energy on the 3 Larvae that a Hatchery will give you for free anyway? Personally, I don't think so. A Queen is only 150 minerals. I feel it's better to build another Queen and have Hatcheries stacked with Larvae ready to respond to whatever your scouts find.

SaharaDrac:

As a Terran player, I find this ability to be quite rude. I wipe out Zerg's natural expansion and all his Roaches, and by the time my remaining power squad of Terran justice and might goes up his ramp, he's produced another full regiment of chitinous jerks to fend me off? That's called rude. Manners aside, I feel this is the most original of the macro mechanics and the one with the most potential for exponentially giving an advantage to better players.

NOTE: SC:L has kept the original file names for all these images. The file names are one of the level designers' means of documentation, so each image's file name can be viewed for more information about what it is.

Index:

Patch 16 Buttons and Wireframes:

Buttons:

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "

 

Wireframes:

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "

 

Planets:

" " " " " " " " " " "

 

 

 

Icons:
" " " " " " " " " " " "

 

 

Buttons:
"" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "

 

" " " " " " "" """"""" ""

" " " "" """ "" ""

 

Upgrades:

 

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "

 

 

Decals:

 

 

 

Portraits:

 

 

 

Textures:

 

 

 

Wireframes:

 

Models:

The following information has been extracted from a file called "gamestrings" in the StarCraft II Beta .mpq.

Index:

"

Galaxy AI Code Snippet:

//----------------------------------------------------//  Default startup routine//----------------------------------------------------void AIMeleeStart (int player) {    point targ;    if (DEBUG) {        DebugMeleeInit();    }AIStart(player, false, DifficultyAPM(PlayerDifficulty(player)));            if (PlayerDifficulty(player) >= c_skirVeryHard) {                if (PlayerDifficulty(player) >= c_skirCheater) {            AIHarvestBonus(player, 2.0);            AISetDifficulty(player, c_diffNormalVision, false);            AISetDifficulty(player, c_diffLimitAPM, false);        }        AISetFlag(player, e_flagsRunScared, false);         // TODO fix scared and re-add this    }    else {                AISetDifficulty(player, c_diffAdvanceWave, false);        AISetDifficulty(player, c_diffFleeDamage, false);        AISetDifficulty(player, c_diffWaveAvoidDanger, false);        AISetFlag(player, e_flagsRunScared, false);    }    AISetDifficulty(player, c_diffAutoLoadBunkers, false);    AISetDifficulty(player, c_diffEarlyGameRepair, false);        AISetDifficulty(player, c_diffEarlyDefenseScout, false);    AISetFlag(player, e_flagsLateScout, false);    AISetFlag(player, e_flagsClearObs, false);    AIDeclareTown(player, c_townOne, PlayerStartLocation(player));    AISetMainTown(player, c_townOne);    AIHarvest(player, c_townOne);    AISetNumScouts(player, 1);    AIScout(player);    AISetAllStates(player, 1);        targ = AIWaveTargetGatherOPoint(player, c_townMain);    AIWaveSet(player, c_waveMain,     AIWaveCreate(AIWaveInfoCreate(), player, targ));    AIWaveSet(player, c_waveAttack,   AIWaveCreate(AIWaveInfoCreate(), player, targ));    AIWaveSet(player, c_waveDivert1,  AIWaveCreate(AIWaveInfoCreate(), player, targ));    AIWaveSet(player, c_waveDivert2,  AIWaveCreate(AIWaveInfoCreate(), player, targ));    AIWaveSet(player, c_waveClearObs, AIWaveCreate(AIWaveInfoCreate(), player, targ));    AIWaveSet(player, c_waveHome,     AIWaveCreate(AIWaveInfoCreate(), player, targ));    targ = AIWaveTargetGatherDPoint(player, c_townMain);    AIWaveSet(player, c_waveDefend,   AIWaveCreate(AIWaveInfoCreate(), player, targ));    AITransportIgnore(player, "VikingAssault");    AITransportSetPanic(player, 0.6);    AITransportSetReturn(player, targ);       AISpecifiedMakers();    AISetDefaultCombatFlags(player, true);    AIAddDetectionDangerUnits(player);    //AISetNukeConstants(player);}

 

"

Sounds:

Castanar Ultralisk Shacked 1
Castanar Ultralisk Shacked 2
Castanar Ultralisk Shacked 3
Lyote (critter)
Lhassir 1
Lhassir 2
Lhassir 3
Tumar (old-school Metzen Marine)

"

Tutorial Maps/Options:

Terran covert ops
Zerg Infestation
Protoss Psionics
Terran Combat
Protoss Combat
Zerg Combat
Terran Defense
Unit Tactics
Economy
Protoss Advanced Commands
For all challenges
Challenges
Death from above
For all challenges terran
For all challenges zerg
For all challenges protoss
Opening Strategies
Terran Opening
Protoss Opening
Zerg Opening
Round 1
Round 2
Round 3

 

"

Tutorial Dialog:

Welcome, Commander. Your objective in this exercise is to inflict maximum damage on the enemy with the limited forces at your disposal.
The special abilities of your units will be key to achieving a high score, use them wisely.
Enemy forces are invulnerable until you indicate you are ready to begin by pressing the ready button.
You must destroy as many enemies as possible with the creatures available.
Scout the opposing base and when you are ready to begin your assault press the ready button.
Time is short! Attack without mercy and inflict maximum damage!

En Taro Tassadar, student. A protoss warrior must learn to fight enemies as numerous as stars in the night sky.
In this simulation you will command a small force resisting waves of attackers, slay as many as you can.
Use terrain on the battlefield to your advantage, fight only where your superior warcraft will even the odds.

En Taro Tassadar, student. A protoss warrior understands the strengths of their own forces and the weaknesses of the enemy.
In this simulation you will use a limited force to defend three pylons from attack.
The pylons are some distance apart, you will need to divide your forces to protect all three.
Study the opposing force and deploy your units so that they will most effectively counter the enemy.
Once you have deployed your forces press the ready button to begin.
Take heed, attempting to leave the deployment area will invoke punishment.
These three spires are under threat. You must defend them with the forces available.
The spires are widely seperated, you must divide your forces to protect them all.
Study your foes carefully. Deploy your minions to best counter each group of enemies.
When you are fully prepared press the ready button to begin.
Be warned! Attempts to leave the deployment zone will not be tolerated!

Greetings, Commander. Your objective in this exercise is to use limited forces to defend three supply depots.
The supply depots are widely spaced, you will need to split up your forces to create a guard detail for each one.
You should attempt to form groups that will effectively counter the enemy units deployed against them.
When you have completed your deployment press the ready button to proceed.
Warning! You are leaving the deployment zone. Arena turrets activated.

Good afternoon, Commander. In this exercise you must defend all of your structures against a variety of enemy attacks. You will not have the ability to train additional combat units.
In order to succeed you will need to use your SCVs to repair your structures and to fight back against the aggressors.

En Taro Tassadar, student. In this simulation you will learn to control large forces more efficiently.
Begin by organizing your forces into control groups. Examine the units available to you and distribute them into powerful attack groups.
As you can see you have units stationed throughout the simulation area. These are in stasis until you are ready to begin.

Round 1
Welcome back, Commander. A strong economy is key to victory, and the key to a strong economy is efficient resource gathering.
In this exercise your base management skills will be challenged. Begin by collecting sufficient resources to expand to the extra resource area nearby.
By building a second command center at the expansion site you will effectively double the amount of resources you receive.
Complete the exercise by training a force before the time runs out.

Good morning, Commander. Your objective in this exercise is to survive through several waves of attackers.
Each wave will be challenging to overcome with the forces available. Directly controlling the actions of your units will give you the edge you need to prevail.
Press the ready button when you wish to begin.

Welcome, Commander. Your objective in this exercise is to inflict maximum possible damage using only the siege tanks and medivac dropships allocated. You will have a limited amount of time to destroy as much of the enemy base as possible. Scouting the base with your medivacs before making your assault is advised. Enemy forces cannot be harmed until you press the ready button, so conduct your scouting carefully.
Once you are ready strike swiftly! Destroy as many enemies as possible before time runs out!

In this challenge, you will learn a defensive opening strategy for the Terran in multiplayer.
During this challenge, you will be able to see a simulated player, in order to compare his actions to your own.
This simulated ally will help illustrate the optimal pacing and actions you will need to achieve victory.
Your ally is training an SCV.
You should always be training an SCV at your Command Center.
Your Ally is building a Supply Depot.
Set your Command Center Rally point to a nearby Mineral Field.
Your Ally is building a Supply Depot in a spot that will block the choke point leading to his base.
Your Ally is building a Barracks.
Your Ally is building a Refinery.
Your Ally is training a Marine.
Your Ally is using an SCV to scout the enemy position.
Your Ally is upgrading his Command Center to an Orbital Command.
Your Ally is calling down M.U.L.E.s to increase his economy.
Congratulations Commander you have successfully repulsed the Zergling Rush.
Good luck eliminating your opponent.
You have scouted your enemy's base, learning which units he is building. You now have the knowledge to take counter-measures.

In this challenge, you will learn a defensive opening strategy for the Protoss in multiplayer.
Set your Nexus Rally point to a nearby Mineral Field.
During this challenge, you will be able to see a simulated player, in order to compare his actions to your own.
This simulated ally will help illustrate the optimal pacing and actions you will need to achieve victory.
Your Ally is warping in a Probe.
You should always be warping in Probes at your Nexus.
Your Ally is warping in a Pylon.
Your Ally is warping in an Assimilator.
Your Ally is using a Probe to scout the enemy position.
Your Ally is warping in a Gateway.
Your Ally is warping in a Zealot at his Gateway.
Your first two Zealots should stay close to your probes.
Once you have three Zealots, use them to block the choke point leading into your base.
Congratulations executor, you have successfully repulsed the Zergling Rush.
Good luck eliminating your opponent.
You have scouted your enemy's base, learning which units he is building. You now have the knowledge to take counter-measures.

In this challenge, you will learn a defensive opening strategy for the Zerg in multiplayer.
During this challenge, you will be able to see a simulated player, in order to compare his actions to your own.
This simulated ally will help illustrate the optimal pacing and actions you will need to achieve victory.
Your ally is morphing a larva into a Drone.
Your ally is morphing a larva into an Overlord.
Set your Hatchery's worker Rally point to a nearby Mineral Field.
Hatcheries have two rally points, one for drones and another for units.
Your ally is morphing a Drone into a Spawning Pool.
Your ally is using an Overlord to scout the enemy position.
Your ally is birthing a Queen at its Hatchery.
Your ally used his Queen to spawn extra larva.
Set your Hatchery's Rally point to the bottom of the choke point leading into your base.
Unlike other races, zerg starting units should fight on open ground at the bottom of the choke point.
Your ally is morphing a second hatchery at his expansion.
Your ally is sending zerglings out to scout.
Congratulations you have successfully repulsed the zergling rush.
You have scouted your enemy's base, learning which units he is building. You now have the knowledge to take counter-measures.
Good luck eliminating your opponent.
You must destroy as many enemies as possible with the creatures available.
Scout the enemy base. When you are prepared to begin your assault, press the ready button.
Time is short! Attack without mercy and inflict maximum damage!
The Command Card will be disabled in this simulation, so it is vital that you learn which hotkeys are necessary to use abilities and build units.

TIP: In the upper left of the screen you will find the Message Log button. Clicking on this will bring up all previous conversations.
Second Objective: Construct a Refinery
First Objective: Gather Minerals (0/300)
First Objective: Scroll Camera with Mouse
Second Objective: Left-Click on Mini Map
First Objective: Select Marine
Second Objective: Move Marine
Third Objective: Move Marine into Black Mask
Fourth Objective: Select all Marines
Fifth Objective: Move all Marines
First Objective: Kill the Red Marines
Second Objective: Kill the Red Marines and Supply Depot
First Objective: Select SCV
Second Objective: Build a Command Center
Third Objective: Gather Vespene Gas (0/100)
First Objective: Train Marines (0/3)
Second Objective: Construct a Tech-Lab
Third Objective: Train a Marauder (0/1)
First Objective: Build a Supply Depot
First Objective: Mutate a Hatchery
First Objective: Mutate a Hatchery
Second Objective: Morph a Drone (0/3)
Second Objective: Morph a Drone (0/3)
Third Objective: Mutate a Spawning Pool
Fourth Objective: Morph an Overlord (0/1)
Third Objective: Mutate a Spawning Pool
Fourth Objective: Morph an Overlord (0/1)
First Objective: Warp in a Nexus
Second Objective: Warp in a Pylon
Three Objective: Warp in a Gateway
First Objective: Warp in a Nexus
Second Objective: Warp in a Pylon
Three Objective: Warp in a Gateway
Below is a gentle reminder that plays if the player sits at the tutorial main screen for too long:
Easter Egg line if the player leaves the Tutorial main screen idle for 5 minutes.

 

Default Race Portraits

According to the game files, the player will be talking to the Executor as Protoss, Adjutant as a Terran, and a Queen as Zerg in the tutorial missions:

Zerg Base Construction - Queen VO
Zerg - Queen VO
Zerg Unit Production - Queen VO
Protoss General - Executor VO
Protoss Base Construction - Executor VO

"

Obsolete Lines

The following is from a section called "Obsolete Lines":

In StarCraft II you view the battle from above as the commander of an army.
Use the mouse to control your view of the battlefield and issue orders to units under your command.
In the lower left of your screen is a minimap that allows you to see what is happening in any part of the battlefield.
In the lower right of your screen you can find the command card.
The command card is used to issue orders to selected units.
The lower middle of your screen is the unit information panel.
This shows information about the units or structures you have selected.
Above the command card is theTip button.
The Tip button appears when there is new information for your perusal.
Simply click the Tip button to read the Tip, or click on the Help button at the top of the screen.
To change your view, move the mouse cursor to the edge of the screen.
When your mouse touches the edge of the screen, your view will slide in that direction.
You can also use the mini-map to shift your view to any part of the battlefield.
Simply left-click on the mini-map to jump to a new location.
Now that you have a unit selected, right-click on the ground to order the unit to move somewhere.
To move a unit you must first select it.
Use your mouse and left-click on the unit to select it.
Well done commander.
To attack an enemy, select your units and right-click on the enemy.
During the attack, you can mouse over the enemy to see a bar representing their life.
A unit is destroyed when its hit-points reach zero.
You can also mouse over your own units to keep an eye on their life bars.
You can also use the attack-move command to tell your units to move to a location and attack any enemy forces they encounter along the way.
To make an attack-move command, left-click on the attack button from the command card while your units are selected, and then left-click on the ground where you want your units to go.
To create a new terran structure, first select an SCV by left-clicking.
Now left-click the Build Structure button in the lower right of your screen.
Left-click on the structure you want to build and then left-click anywhere on the ground to order the SCV to place the new structure.
The SCV will move to your chosen location, and build the structure there.
The command center cannot be constructed too close to minerals.
When placing the command center look for the overlay to be completely green before left-clicking.
SCVs are your primary means of collecting resources.
While your SCV is selected, right-click a mineral field to begin collecting resources.
Your SCV will start harvesting minerals and dropping them off at the closest Command Center.
You can train more SCVs from the Command Center to gather minerals faster.
Your SCV will continue harvesting until you order it to do something else.
Well done commander.
Harvesting minerals is central to any terran strategy.
To create new units, you must first select a structure that trains units.
Select a Barracks to see what units you can train from it.
Those units will appear in the command card in the lower right of your screen.
Left-click on the Marine button in the command card to order the Barracks to begin training that unit.
Once the unit is complete, it will appear next to the Barracks.
You can queue multiple units at the same time.
Simply click on the button again to add another Marine to the queue.
Before you can train a unit, you must have the supplies to support that unit.
If you do not have enough available supply, you will not be able to train that unit.
To increase the maximum number of units available, you must build supply depots.
To do this, select an SCV and left-click the Build Structures button.
Left-click on Build Supply Depot and left-click anywhere to place the Supply Depot.
Your current supply maximum is displayed in the upper right corner of the screen along with how much supply you are currently using.
The Zerg are a savage alien race made up of a host of different species that all mutate from a single creature type called a Larva.
The Zerg create a thick layer of bio-matter called creep under all of their bases and use creatures called Overlords to provide supply for their armies.
Many Zerg creatures can morph from one form to another on the battlefield.
Zerg structures can also mutate from one form to another, growing more powerful and unlocking new unit types as they do.
The Drone is consumed when the structure is created, so you will need another Drone to build another structure.
Creep is an organic growth that spreads around any Zerg base.
Most Zerg units will move more quickly when they're on creep, and all Zerg structures except Hatcheries must be built on it.
Structures that are no longer on creep will slowly die.
Creep is generated by Hatcheries, Queens, and Overlords, so you can use these units and structures to expand your creep.
To mutate a Zerg structure, first select a Drone.
On the command card left-click the Basic Mutation button and left-click again to choose a Hatchery.
Then left-click to place the Hatchery.
The Hatchery cannot be placed too close to minerals.
When trying to place the Hatchery look for the structure overlay to be completely green before placing.
Zerg units are created from Larva.
To create a Zerg Drone, left-click on a Hatchery and then left-click on the select larva button on the command card.
With a larva selected you can left-click on the Morph to Drone button in the command card to order the larva to morph into a Drone.
Each Hatchery generates additional larva over time.
To create a Protoss structure, select a probe and left-click on the Build Structures button on the command card.
Then left-click Warp in Nexus and left-click the ground to create that structure.
The Nexus cannot be placed too close to minerals.
When trying to place the Nexus look for the structure overlay to be completely green before placing.
The probe can move away and perform another command after the warp process begins.
Before you can warp in a unit, you must have the supplies to support that unit.
If you do not have enough available supply, you will not be able to warp in that unit.
The Protoss are an ancient alien race that employ advanced technologies and powerful psionics to defeat their enemies.
Protoss have shields on their units and structures to protect them from enemy attacks.
Shield strength is represented by a blue bar above the hit-point bar.
Shields are reduced by enemy attacks in the same manner as hit-points, however shields regenerate quickly after combat has finished.
Xel'Naga Watch Towers can be controlled by any player.
Place a unit near the Watch Tower to activate it and reveal a large area of the battlefield.
If several players have units near a Watch Tower then the tower is not controlled and no player can activate it.
Some obstacles can be destroyed by weapons fire, and you can attack obstacles to clear a path for your troops.
Some features like shrubs and smoke will block your vision.
Your units can move through these features freely but only flying units can see past them.
You can put your units into control groups.
This makes it easy to quickly select a group of units.
To create a control group, select your units and left-click the Control Group button.
You can find the Control Group button above the information panel in the lower middle of your screen.
You can hold down the Shift key on your keyboard to give a unit a large number of orders.
The unit will then carry out those orders one after another.
This allows you to give a series of commands to one unit and then move on to command other units in another part of the battlefield.
To chat with people in your game, hit the Enter key and then type a message.
When your message is finished hit Enter again to send it.
You can also chat with your friends by left-clicking the Battle.
net friends button.
This will bring up a list of friends and allow you to send messages to people who are not in your current game.
Many units have special abilities you can access through the command card.
To use a special ability, select a unit and then left-click one of the special abilities on the command card.
In many cases you will then have to select a target for the special ability.
Some abilities require energy; if a unit lacks the energy to activate that ability, it will be grayed out on the command card.
Welcome to the Starcraft II tutorial.
From here you will learn the basic controls needed to play Starcraft II.
You can order your production buildings to send newly created units to a specific location.
Select a production facility, then right-click the ground at your chosen location to order the facility to send units there.
Many commands on the command card have a "hotkey".
Rather than select the button using your mouse, you can order the unit to perform the command by hitting the appropriate key on your keyboard.
Using hotkeys is a good way to improve your efficiency.
Mouse over each command card ability to learn the hotkey for that ability.
It's vital to know what your enemy is up to.
Use your units to search the map for the enemy.
If you learn what the enemy is building you can train units that are more effective against the enemy force.
Scouting can also reveal areas where the enemy has set up new bases.
Scout frequently so your information is up to date, and use fast and inexpensive units like SCVs, Probes or Drones so you lose little if your scout is destroyed.
You have a number of tools at your disposal to help control your forces.
You can start at any time by clicking on the topic you wish to learn more about.
In the upper right of the screen you can see the total amount of minerals, and vespene gas you have stockpiled.
You spend resources to train additional units and structures.
Your supply capacity is also shown here.
This is the total number of units you can currently support.
At the top of the screen is the menu button.
You can left-click on the menu button at any time to access useful features like saving your progress or quitting the game.
On the left side of the screen you will find the mission objectives.
These are the goals you need to accomplish in order to achieve victory.
Well done commander.
Congratulations commander, this concludes the camera control portion of the tutorial.
Congratulations, you've moved your unit.
Initially, most of the battlefield is covered by a black mask.
This shows you what areas you have not yet explored.
Move units into the darkened region to reveal new areas.
The black mask will move as your unit moves further into the darkened areas of the map.
Well done commander.
To move several units at once, first select the units by holding down the left mouse button, dragging a selection box around your units, and then releasing the left mouse button.
Now that you have multiple marines selected, right-click on the ground to order your selected units to move somewhere.
Congratulations commander, this completes the movement tutorial.
Congratulations commander, you have now learned the basic attack command.
Your units will automatically attack any enemy units along the way to their destination.
Once the combat is over your units will continue toward their destination.
Remember to use the attack-move command.
It's the safest way to move your units across the battlefield.
Congratulations commander, this concludes the combat tutorial.
Well done commander.
The command center is the main building for any terran army.
This is where you train more SCVs and return gathered minerals.
Congratulations commander, this concludes the base construction tutorial.
Gas is collected by first constructing a Refinery on a Vespene Geyser.
Select your SCV and left-click on the Build Structure button, and then left-click on the Refinery structure.
Well done commander.
Now place the Refinery over a Vespene Geyser.
Note how the overlay only turns green when the Refinery is completely over the Vespene Geyser.
Nicely done commander.
Now that you have constructed a Refinery, assign an SCV to gather Vespene gas by selecting an SCV, then right-clicking on the Refinery.
When an SCV builds a Refinery, it will automatically begin gathering Vespene gas once construction is complete.
Assign 3 SCVs to gather gas from each refinery constructed to optimize your harvesting.
Vespene gas is important for every field commander.
It allows you to train advanced units and construct special buildings.
Congratulations commander, this concludes the resource collection tutorial.
Many of the unit-producing structures such as a Barracks can construct an add-on such as a Tech Lab.
To construct a Tech-lab select the barracks and left-click on the Build Tech Lab button.
An attached Tech-lab allows you to train the more advanced units.
Mouse over any grayed out buttons to see what is required to train that unit.
Well done commander.
Now that you have a Tech-lab, select the Barracks and train a Marauder.
Some units require more than an attached Tech-lab.
Mouse over any grayed out unit to learn what buildings are required to train that unit.
Congratulations commander, that concludes our unit production tutorial.
Well done commander, this concludes the Supply tutorial.
Most Zerg structures need to be placed on creep, but Hatcheries do not.
The Hatchery produces Larva, which you use to mutate into more Drones or other Zerg mutations.
Well done.
To mutate a Zerg structure, first select a Drone.
On the command card left-click the Basic Mutation button and left-click again to choose a Hatchery.
Then left-click to place the Hatchery.
The Hatchery cannot be placed too close to minerals.
When trying to place the Hatchery look for the structure overlay to be completely green before placing.
The Drone is consumed when the structure is created, so you will need another Drone to build another structure.
Most Zerg structures need to be placed on creep, but Hatcheries do not.
The Hatchery produces Larva, which you use to mutate into more Drones or other Zerg mutations.
Well done.
The Zerg are an alien race made up of a host of different species that all mutate from a single creature type called a Larva.
The Zerg create a thick layer of bio-matter called creep under all of their bases and use creatures called Overlords to provide supply for their armies.
Many Zerg creatures can morph from one form into another on the battlefield.
Zerg structures can also mutate from one form into another, growing more powerful and unlocking new unit types as they do so.
Zerg units are created from Larva.
To create a Zerg Drone, left-click on a Hatchery and then left-click on the select larva button on the command card.
With a larva selected you can left-click on the Morph to Drone button in the command card to order the larva to morph into a Drone.
Each Hatchery generates additional larva over time.
Zerg structures are not built.
Instead, Drones mutate into the structure.
Zerg structures can only be mutated on creep.
Select a Drone and left-click on the Basic Mutation button.
Next left-click on Mutate a Spawning Pool, then left-click on the creep to mutate the Drone into a Spawning Pool.
Creep is generated by Hatcheries, Queens, and Overlords, so you can use these units and structures to expand your creep.
Well done.
Before you can morph a unit, you must have the supplies to support that unit.
If you do not have enough available supply, you will not be able to morph that unit.
The Zerg use Overlords to generate more supply.
To morph an Overlord left-click on a Hatchery and then left-click on the select larva button on the command card.
With a larva selected you can left-click on the Morph to Overlord button on the command card to order the larva to morph into an Overlord.
Well done this concludes the zerg tutorial.
Zerg structures are not built.
Instead Drones mutate into the structure.
Zerg structures can only be mutated on creep.
Select a Drone and left-click on the Basic Mutation button.
Next left-click on Mutate a Spawning Pool then left-click on the creep to mutate the Drone into a Spawning Pool.
Creep is generated by Hatcheries Queens and Overlords so you can use these units and structures to expand your creep.
Well done.
Before you can morph a unit you must have the supplies to support that unit.
If you do not have enough available supply you will not be able to morph that unit.
The Zerg use Overlords to generate more supply.
To morph an Overlord left-click on a Hatchery and then left-click on the select larva button on the command card.
With a larva selected you can left-click on the Morph to Overlord button in the command card to order the larva to morph into an Overlord.
Well done this concludes the zerg tutorial.
Protoss use Pylons to provide supply for their armies and Protoss structures must be built close to Pylons to keep those structures powered.
The Protoss are an ancient alien race that employ advanced technologies and powerful psionics to defeat their enemies.
Protoss have shields on their units and structures to protect them from enemy attacks.
Shield strength is represented by a blue bar above the hit-point bar.
Shields are reduced by enemy attacks in the same manner as hit-points however shields regenerate quickly after combat has finished.
Protoss use Pylons to provide supply for their armies and Protoss structures must be built close to Pylons to keep them powered.
Well done Executor.
The Protoss use Pylons to increase the maximum number of units available.
Pylons also provide power to other nearby Protoss structures.
To warp in a Pylon select a probe and left-click Build Structure on the command card.
Then left-click on Warp in Pylon and then left-click to place the Pylon.
Good work Executor.
All Protoss structures except Pylons and the Nexus must be built near an existing Pylon.
Protoss structures that are no longer near a Pylon will lose power and cease to function.
To warp in a Gateway select a Probe left-click Build Structure and then left-click Warp in Gatway.
Place the Gateway within the Pylon power radius.
Congratulations Executor.
This concludes the protoss tutorial.
To create a Protoss structure select a probe and left-click on the Build Structures button on the command card.
Then left-click Warp in Nexus and left-click the ground to create that structure.
The Nexus cannot be placed too close to minerals.
When trying to place the Nexus look for the structure overlay to be completely green before placing.
The probe can move away and perform another command after the warp process begins.
Well done Executor.
Before you can warp in a unit you must have the supplies to support that unit.
If you do not have enough available supply you will not be able to warp in that unit.
The Protoss use Pylons to increase the maximum number of units available.
Pylons also provide power to other nearby Protoss structures.
To warp in a Pylon select a probe and left-click Build Structure in the command card.
Then left-click on Warp in Pylon and then left-click to place the Pylon.
Good work Executor.
All Protoss structures except Pylons and the Nexus must be built near an existing Pylon.
Protoss structures that are no longer near a Pylon will lose power and cease to function.
To warp in a Gateway select a Probe left-click Build Structure and then left-click Warp in Gateway.
Place the Gateway within the Pylon power radius.
Congratulations Executor.
This concludes the protoss tutorial.
Those units are now assigned to a group number.
When you hit that number on your keyboard you will select that group automatically.
If you double-tap that number you will also jump to that group's location.
The amount of energy a unit currently possesses is represented by a purple bar below its hit-point bar.
Energy slowly regenerates over time.
Creep is an organic growth that spreads around any Zerg base.
Most Zerg units will move more quickly when they're on creep and all Zerg structures except Hatcheries must be built on it.
Structures that are no longer on creep will slowly die.
Creep is generated by Hatcheries Queens and Overlords so you can use these units and structures to expand your creep.
Left click on the topic you wish to learn more about.
I want to be the commander.
I also want legs.
Congratulations commander you now have basic knowledge of the StarCraft 2 user interface.
Now that you have a unit selected right-click on the beacon to move your unit there.
Initially most of the battlefield is coverd by a black fog.
These are areas you have not yet explored.
Now that you have multiple marines selected right-click on the beacon to move your selected units there.
Right click on the beacon in the darkened area to move your unit there.
While your units are selected right-click on an enemy unit to issue an attack order.
You can mouse over a unit to see how much life it has.
The unit's life is represented as a green bar.
When the green bar reaches zero the unit is destroyed.
To issue an attack-move command left-click on the "Attack" button from the command card and then left-click again on the ground where you want your units to go.
Left-click on the "Build Command Center" button and then left-click on the ground to order the SCV to place the new structure.
Gas is collected by first constructing a Refinery on a Vespene Geyser.
Left-click on the "Build Structure" button and then left-click on the "Build Refinery" button.
To create new units you must first select a structure that trains units.
Select a Barracks to see what units you can train.
To increase the maximum number of units available you must build supply depots.
Left-click on the "Build Structure" button and left-click on "Build Supply Depot" and then left-click anywhere to place the Supply Depot.
To create a Protoss structure first select a Probe by left-clicking.
Now left-click on the "Warp in Structure" button located on the command card.
Left-click on the "Warp in Nexus" button and left-click the ground to warp in that structure.
To create a Protoss structure first select a Probe by left-clicking.
Now left-click on the "Build Structure" button located on the command card.
Left-click on the "Warp in Nexus" button and left-click the ground to warp in that structure.
To warp in a Pylon left-click on the "Build Structure" button located in the command card.
Then left-click on the "Warp in Pylon" button and then left-click to place the Pylon.
To warp in a Pylon left-click on the "Build Structure" button located in the command card.
Then left-click on the "Warp in Pylon" button and then left-click to place the Pylon.
To warp in a Gateway left-click on the "Build Structure" button located in the command card.
Then left-click on the "Warp in Gateway" button and then left-click to place the Gateway within the Pylon power radius.
Then left-click on the "Warp in Gateway" button and then left-click to place the Gateway within the Pylon power radius.
To warp in a Gateway left-click on the "Build Structure" button located in the command card.
To mutate a Zerg structure first select a Drone by left-clicking.
Now left-click the "Basic Mutation" button on the command card.
Left-click again on the "Mutate into Hatchery" button and then left-click to place the Hatchery.
Now left-click the "Basic Mutation" button on the command card.
Left-click again on the "Mutate into Hatchery" button and then left-click to place the Hatchery.
To mutate a Zerg structure first select a Drone by left-clicking.
Zerg units are created from Larva.
To create a Zerg Drone you must first select a Hatchery.
Zerg units are created from Larva.
To create a Zerg Drone you must first select a Hatchery.
Left-click on the "Select Larva" button on the command card and then left-click on the "Morph to Drone" button.
Left-click on the "Select Larva" button on the command card and then left-click on the "Morph to Drone" button.
Left-click on "Basic Mutation" on the command card.
Then left-click on the "Mutate into Spawning Pool" button and then left-click on the ground to place.
Zerg structures can only be mutated on creep.
You will not be able to place the Spawning Pool until the overlay is completely green.
Left-click on "Basic Mutation" on the command card.
Then left-click on the "Mutate into Spawning Pool" button and then left-click on the ground to place.
Zerg structures can only be mutated on creep.
You will not be able to place the Spawning Pool until the overlay is completely green.
To morph an Overlord left-click on the "Select Larva" button on the command card then left-click on the "Morph to Overlord" button.
To morph an Overlord left-click on the "Select Larva" button on the command card then left-click on the "Morph to Overlord" button.

 

"

Doodads and Entities:

250mm Strike Cannons (Apply Behavior)
250mm Strike Cannons (Create Persistent)
250mm Strike Cannons (Damage)
250mm Strike Cannons (Dummy)
250mm Strike Cannons (Set)
Acid Spores (Transfer)
Acid Spores (Apply Behavior)
Acid Spores Launch
Acid Spores (Search)
Archon Damage
Arclite Cannon
Arena Turret (Damage)
Twin Autocannons (Damage)
Auto Turret Release
Auto Turret Release
Auto Turret Release Launch
Auto Turret (Set)
Auto turret Timed Life
Suicide (Set)
Suicide (Remove Buff)
Suicide (Target Friendly Building Damage)
Suicide (Target Friendly Unit Damage)
Suicide (Unit Damage)
Suicide (Building Damage)
Screecher Missiles (Persistent)
Screecher Missiles (Missile)
Screecher Missiles (Damage)
ATA Laser Battery (Persistent)
ATA Laser Battery (Launch Missile)
ATA Laser Battery (Damage)
ATS Laser Battery (Persistent)
ATS Laser Battery (Launch Missile)
ATS Laser Battery (Damage)
Blink (Teleport)
Broodling Claws
Broodling Attack
Broodling Escort
Broodling Escort Damage
Broodling Escort Impact
Broodling Escort Launch
Broodling Escort Missile
Broodling Escort Release
Broodling Timed Life
Calldown MULE (Create Persistent)
Calldown MULE (Create Set)
Calldown MULE (Create Unit)
Calldown MULE (Final Set)
Calldown MULE (Issue Order)
Calldown MULE (Timed Life)
Launch Interceptor (Magazine)
Timed Life
Charge (Apply Buff)
Cleave
Cloaking Field
Cloaking Field Search
Twin Thermal Lance (Set)
Khaydarin Beams (Line Damage Delay)
Khaydarin Beams (Line Search)
Khaydarin Beams (Line Search Reverse)
Khaydarin Beams Forward (Persistent)
Khaydarin Beams (Line Damage)
Khaydarin Beams Reverse (Persistent)
Corruption
Corruption
Corruption
Corruption
Corruption
Infest (Apply Buff)
Infest (Damage)
Infest (Missile)
Infest (Set)
D-8 Charge
D-8 Charge Explode
D-8 Charge Explode Damage
D-8 Charge (Launch Missile)
D-8 Charge Launch
Warp Blades (Damage)
Disable Caster Energy Regen (Apply Behavior)
Birth
Disguise
Disguise As Marine With Shield
Disguise As Marine With Shield Issue Order
Disguise As Marine Without Shield
Disguise As Marine Without Shield Issue Order
Disguise As Zealot
Disguise As Zealot Issue Order
Disguise As Zergling With Wings
Disguise As Zergling With Wings Issue Order
Disguise As Zergling Without Wings
Disguise As Zergling Without Wings Issue Order
Disguise Issue Order Default
Disguise Mimic
Disguise
Disguise
Disguise Set Default
Disruptor
Disruptor
Double Damage
Spines (Damage)
EMP
EMP (Search)
EMP2DU
EMP2MU
EMP2S
EMP (Apply Decloak Behavior)
Force Field
Force Field Placement
Force Field Timed Life
Fungal Growth
Fungal Growth
Fungal Growth
Fungal Growth
C-10 Canister Rifle (Damage)
Anti Gravity (Persistent)
Anti Gravity (Apply Behavior)
Anti Gravity (Caster Energy Drain)
Anti Gravity
Anti Gravity (Height Behavior)
Anti Gravity (Initial Set)
Anti Gravity (Periodic Set)
Anti Gravity
Anti Gravity
Anti Gravity
Anti Gravity
Guardian Shield
Guardian Shield
Guardian Shield
Hallucination (Create Archon)
Hallucination (Create Colossus)
Hallucination (Create High Templar)
Hallucination (Create Immortal)
Hallucination (Create Phoenix)
Hallucination (Create Probe)
Hallucination (Create Stalker)
Hallucination (Apply Behavior)
Hallucination Create Unit B Hal
Hallucination Create Unit B Timer
Hallucination (Create Void Ray)
Hallucination (Create Warp Prism)
Hallucination (Create Zealot)
Battle Cannon (Damage)
Battle Cannon (Persistent)
Battle Cannon (Search)
Battle Cannon (Set)
Seeker (Damage)
Seeker (Launch Missile)
Hydralisk Air
Hydralisk Base
Hydralisk Ground
Hydralisk Melee
Hydralisk U
Hydralisk U Air
InfestedGauss Rifle (Damage)
Infested Swarm (Create Egg)
Infested Swarm (Create Unit)
Infested Swarm (Gestation Persistent)
Infested Swarm (Initial Set)
Infested Swarm (Launch Missile)
Infested Swarm (Launch Persistent)
Infested Swarm (Timed Life)
Infestor Terran
Interceptor Beam
Pulse Cannon (Damage)
Kill Hallucination
Larva Release (Set)
Larva Release (Launch Missile)
Launch Interceptor (Persistent)
Launch Interceptor Upgraded (Persistent)
Repair
Broodling (Spawn Set)
Concussive Grenade
MarauderLM
Marauder LM One
Marauder LM Two
Concussive Grenade
Concussive Grenade
Concussive Grenade (Damage)
Gauss Rifle (Damage)
Heal
Longbolt Missile (Persistent)
Longbolt Missile (Missile)
Longbolt Missile (Damage)
Mothership Beam (Damage)
Mothership Beam (Initial Dummy Damage)
Mothership Beam (Persistent)
Mothership Beam (Set)
Move
Mothership Secondary Beam (Persistent)
Glaive Wurm (Missile)
Glaive Wurm Bounce 1 (Search)
Glaive Wurm Bounce 2 (Search)
Glaive Wurm Bounce 1 (Missile)
Glaive Wurm Bounce 2 (Missile)
Glaive Wurm Bounce 1 (Set)
Glaive Wurm Bounce 2 (Set)
Glaive Wurm Bounce 1 (Damage)
Glaive Wurm Bounce 2 (Damage)
Glaive Wurm Bounce 3 (Damage)
Neural Parasite (Apply Behavior Normal)
Neural Parasite (Launch Missile)
Neural Parasite (Create Persistent)
Neural Parasite (Recheck)
Neural Parasite (Remove Behavior Warp In)
Neural Parasite (Set)
Neural Parasite (Apply Behavior Warp In)
Phase Shift (Apply Behavior)
Phase Shift (Dummy)
Phase Shift (Set)
Energy Beam (Persistent)
Phoenix Air
Phoenix - Air LM Left
Phoenix - Air LM Right
Energy Beam (Damage)
Photon Cannon (Launch Missile)
Photon Cannon (Damage)
PlanetaryFortress
Point Defense Laser
Point Defense Drone Release (Create Unit)
Point Defense Drone Release (Launch Missile)
Point Defense Drone Release (Set)
Point Defense Drone (Timed Life)
Point Defense Laser (Damage)
Point Defense Laser
Point Defense Laser
Post Morph (Healing Effect)
Particle Beam (Damage)
Psi Blaster (Damage)
Psi Storm (Apply Buff)
Psi Storm (Damage)
Psi Storm (Damage2)
Psi Storm (Damage3)
Psi Storm (Persistent)
Psi Storm (Search)
Quad Damage
Ground Attack
Air Attack (Damage)
Air Attack (Launch Missile)
Queen Birth
Ground Attack
Ground Attack
P38 'Scythe' Gauss Pistol (Damage)
P38 'Scythe' Gauss Pistol
Repair
Needle Spines (Burst)
Needle Spines (Missile)
Needle Spines (Missile Dummy)
Needle Spines
Needle Spines (Damage Dummy)
Needle Spines (Melee)
Fusion Cutter (Damage)
Salvage
Bunker
Salvage Death
Sap Structure (Issue Attack Order)
Scanner Sweep
Arclite Cannon (Damage)
Arclite Shock Cannon
Siphon
Siphon
Siphon (Launch Missile)
SpawnChangeling (Create Unit)
Spawn Mutant Larva (Apply Spawn Behavior)
Spawn Mutant Larva (Apply Timer Behavior)
Spawn Mutant Larva (Remove Spawn Behavior)
Spine Crawler (Launch Missile)
Spine Crawler (Damage)
Spore Crawler (Missile)
Spore Crawler (Damage)
Entropy Lance (Set)
Entropy Lance (Damage)
Stim Pack (Apply Buff)
Stim Pack Mara (Apply Buff)
Suicide (Target Friendly Switch)
Supply Depot Morphing Apply Behavior
Supply Drop (Apply Behavior)
Supply Drop (Apply Temp Behavior)
Surface For Spell Cast
Swarm Seeds (Launch Secondary Missile)
Temporal Rift Apply Unit Behavior
Temporal Rift Create Persistent
Temporal Rift (Dummy)
Temporal Rift Unit Search Area
Anti Air (Damage)
Anti Air (Launch Missile)
Anti Air (Persistent)
Arm Cannons (Persistent)
Thor Hand Gun Splash Damage Target
Chrono Boost Production
Chrono Boost Research
Chrono Boost Set
Transfusion
Kaiser Blades
Cleave
Ultralisk Cleave Large
Ultralisk - Head Attack (Damage)
Kaiser Blades (Damage)
Twin Gatling Cannon (Damage)
Halo Rockets (Persistent)
Halo Rockets (Launch Missile)
Halo Rockets (Damage)
Void Ray (Set)
Void Ray (Chain Set 2)
Void Ray (Chain Set 3)
Void Ray Charge Chain
Void Ray Charge Effect 01
Void Ray Charge Effect 02
Void Ray Charge Effect 03
Void Ray Charge Initial
Void Ray (Damage Set 2)
Void Ray (Damage Set 3)
Void Ray (Initial Set)
Void Ray MU Base
Void Ray MU Initial
Void Ray (Damage Level 1)
Void Ray (Damage Level 2)
Void Ray (Damage Level 3)
Vortex Apply Disable
Vortex Apply Hide
Vortex (Create Persistent)
Vortex
Vortex Effect
Vortex (Force)
Vortex Search Area
Vortex Unburrow
Vortex Unsiege
Warp In Effect
Warp In Effect15
Wormhole Transit Teleport Move
Yamato Cannon (Missile)
Yamato Cannon (Damage)
Psi Blades (Damage)
Psi Blades
Disable Charging
Zerg Building Spawn Broodling 6
Zerg Building Spawn Broodling 6 (Delay)
Zerg Building Spawn Broodling 9
Zerg Building Spawn Broodling 9 (Delay)
Claws (Damage)
Kill
Nuke
Nuke
Nuke
Nuke
Nuke
Sniper (Apply Buff)
Snipe (Damage)
Suicide (Kill Self - Generic)
suicide Remove
That Supply Depot already has Extra Supplies
Already Spawning Additional Larva
Can't target units affected by 250mm Strike Cannons
Can't target units affected by Graviton Beam
Can't target units that are warping in
Can't target morphing units
Must target a mineral field or open terrain
MULE already en route to mineral field
Must target a Supply Depot
CastanarWindowLargeDiagonalULBR
GasStation
Mar Sara Bridge
Mengsk Statue
Footprint Mar Sara Bridge Vertical
Default SC2 Gameplay Settings
Default SC2 UI Settings
Portrait - Adjutant
Portrait - Adjutant (Left Facing)
Portrait - Archon
Portrait - Baneling Cocoon
Portrait - Baneling
Portrait - Banshee
Battle.Net Glue
Portrait - Battlecruiser
Bel'Shir
Bel'ShirSunset
Braxis Alpha
Portrait - Brood Lord
Default
Portrait - Carrier
Portrait - Changeling
Portrait - Cocoon
Portrait - Colossus
Console
ConsoleProt
ConsoleTerr
ConsoleZerg
Portrait - Corruptor
Portrait - Dark Templar 2
Portrait - Dark Templar
Portrait - Drone
Portrait - Egg
Portrait - Executor
Portrait - Ghost
Glue Background
Glue Foreground
Glue UI
Portrait - Hellion
Portrait - High Templar
Portrait - Hydralisk
Portrait - Immortal
Portrait - Infested Marine
Portrait - Infestor
Korhal
Portrait - Larva
Portrait - MULE
Mar Sara
Mar Sara Day Test
Mar Sara Night Test
Portrait - Marauder
Portrait - Marine
Portrait - Medivac
Monlyth
Portrait - Mothership
Portrait - Mutalisk
Portrait - Nydus Worm
Portrait - Observer
Portrait - Overlord
Portrait - Overseer
Portrait - Phoenix
Portrait - Probe
Portrait - Queen
Portrait - Raven
Portrait - Reaper
Redstone
Portrait - Roach
Portrait - SCV
Portrait - Sentry
Shakuras
Portrait - Siege Tank
Portrait - Stalker
Portrait - Symbiote
Tech Glossary Prot
Tech Glossary Terr
Tech Glossary Zerg
Portrait - Thor
Portrait - Ultralisk
Victory Glue
Portrait - Viking Assault
Portrait - Viking Fighter
Portrait - Void Ray
Portrait - Warp Prism
Xil
Portrait - Zealot
Portrait - Zergling
Zhakul'Das
250mm Cannon Validators
Battlecruiser Upgraded
Terran Building Burn Down (Fire)
Terran Building Burn Down (Heavy Smoke)
Terran Building Burn Down (Light Smoke)
Terran Building Burn Down (Normal)
Terran Building Burn Down (Filters)
Can Spend Energy
Caster Has Energy
Caster Has Energy And Not Dead
Caster Is Animating Weapon
Caster Is Command Center
Caster Is Firing Weapon
Caster Is Scanning
Caster Not Dead
Caster Not Firing Or Animating Weapon
Centrifical Hooks Researched
Cleave Researched
CliffLevelGreaterOrAir
Colossus Cliff Level
Command Center - Transport
Transport SCV
Corruptor Infected TargetFilters Source
Corruptor Infected TargetFilters Target
D8Charge - Can't Target Other D8Charges
Death By Acid
Death By Blast
Death By Eviscerate
Death By Fire
Disguise As Marine
Disguise As Marine With Shield
Disguise As Marine Without Shield
Disguise As Zealot
Disguise As Zergling
Does Not Have Temporal Rift
DoubleDamage
EnemiesNearby
Friendly Target
Greater Observatory
Has Generate Creep Behavior
Has Marine Shield Upgrade
Has No Cargo
Has No Power
Has Repair Bot
Has Vision
Infestation
Infestation TargetFilters
Infested Swarm Placement Check
Kill Hallucination TargetFilters

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