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Summary
  • For BlizzCon 2007's story-mode build, most players would just click through Raynor's dialog lines, ignoring them. Blizzard wanted the player to choose how they want to play the game based on the missions they chose, not based on something they said in a bar, because that doesn't feel appropriate for a game about commanding armies and smashing empires. Choices that gave more meaning were; "Where do I send my army next?" and "How do I upgrade my technology?" The choices you were given when speaking to other characters looked like they were important and meaningful, though they really weren't, that's why Blizzard removed it from the game. Some people would probably have enjoyed this part of the game, but that's not most people. Blizzard cut content because they want to keep the best stuff, and overall this makes it a better game.
  • Blizzard does have interest in exporting replays to a video format, but will probably not get around to it soon due to time constraints. Dustin Browder claims "We're hugely interested in supporting e-sports and this is one of those things we want to do. I don't know what the status on this is, but we will have patches after ship and expansions yet to come."
  • The map editor will be released on beta, but not at day 1. Probably somewhere mid beta. Blizzard wants to beta test the editor itself first and see how it interacts with Battle.net. Also Blizzard wants to let modders try it, so when release comes we will see some cool mods pretty early.
  • Some RPG-style quests in StarCraft II take hours to create, others could take weeks or months, depending on how difficult it was to put together. Blizzard wants some of the quests to have multiple solutions. They did not want an RPG system that implies that there will be hundreds of quests. They want it to be more about the starmap and tech purchase.
  • StarCraft II has alot of unit models that are no longer in the multiplayer, and some who were made specifically for single player. Dustin didn't have a number, but claimed we will probably have to wait until the expansions to reach the same amount of models that were in WarCraft III.
  • The BlizzCon demo takes place at the middle of the beginning part of the campaign, there are three missions previous to the mission branch playable at BlizzCon. The Zerg are making their move into Terran space, but Jim Raynor at the time is leader of a relatively small and helpless faction.
  • Blizzard has put equal emphasis on the importance of single-player and multiplayer.  Many fans of the series that are still active in the community are focused mostly on multiplayer, but much of Starcraft's popularity is based on it's campaign modes.
  • Dustin's biggest hope for the game is racial balance and living up to StarCraft's expectations and legacy.
  • The campaign has a full tutorial system, with videos and interactive missions.  Skirmish mode also includes starting tutorials for the non campaign races.  The campaign also includes multiplayer oriented challenge modes that help practice skills and tactics used for multi-player battles.
  • Internally, Blizzard feels the Zerg are vastly underpowered, namely in tier 2.  Beta will be the period where they direct the game's balance.
  • Racial identities and playstyles are being treated as self-emerging through develeopment.  Terrans have developed into a much more mobile race, but this is not the final decision for their overall playstyle feel.
  • Unit upgrades and unique abililty upgrades are not segregated in order to make the building choices more varied and interesting.
  • Macro mechanics are still being reworked, overall they are happy with spawn larvae and MULE calldown, while Proton Charge is still being looked at for big changes.
  • Dustin feels that Zerg and Terran are close to equal difficulty, with Protoss being the easiest to use.
  • The Raven is close to how they want it designed, with some changes possibly needed for the point-defense turret to make it's role more clearly understood.
  • Infestor's spells are currently being re-worked.
  • Burrowed Banelings contain Terrans until they acquire mobile detection (Ravens).
  • Some Protoss missions are playable in WoL for storytelling purposes.
  • The campaign currently has approximately 15 tilesets.
  • Mutiple tilesets can be used in single maps.
  • The basic idea for the Protoss campaign is the ultimate shattering and re-unification of the Protoss factions.  The basic gameplay idea is to utilize the strengths and weaknesses of different Protoss factions to create your own new Protoss unification.
  • The plan for the Zerg campaign is to be hero-centric than the other two campaigns.
  • The Protoss campaign will be more focused on the Star Map and planet exploration than the Terran campaign.
  • The DLC plan includes additional challenges more geared to the evolution on the current meta game.  Other DLC plans are still not decided.
  • Map editor features not necessary for StarCraft II (such as an inventory and hero system for DOTA clones) are included.
  • Models and graphics from the campaign can be used in custom maps, animations can not.
  • The Zerg have more "iconic" units that they feel could not be removed (zergling, hydralisk, mutalisk), so it is more difficult to make the Zerg fresh and interesting.
  • The campaign will feature a lot of super high powered unit upgrades and abilities that won't be in multiplayer.

starcraft 2

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) BlizzCon 2009 event article.

starcraft legacy

 

Editor's Note: this list is by no means complete. Please see the beta link repository for future updates to this article.

 

starcraft 2

Kotaku.com

101 ways to decorate your Starcraft II space marine

  • Provides an interesting gallery of images of all the Raynor Noobz in decoration.
Lack of Starcraft LAN is no big deal
  • Part of Rob Pardo Interview
  • Overall backlash has calmed down, feels that it should not be a big deal
  • We won't know how big a deal it is until the game is out though
Starcraft II can be played offline
  • Part of Rob Pardo Interview
  • While you can play the game offline, he doesn't understand why you wouldn't want to experience more features if you had the option to.
Starcraft: Ghost lives on in Starcraft II
  • Part of [name] Didier interview
  • Part of Starcraft Ghost's resources contributed to the singleplayer campaign of SC2
Cosplay shodown: Gamescom vs Blizzcon
  • Interesting article showcasing cosplay from both blizzcon and gamescon
Keeping things fresh in the Starcraft II expansions
  • Interview with Samwise Didier
  • Discussion about how things can change over the expansions, where the story in a previous story can impact later visits to the same worlds

IncGamers.com

Blizzcon: Frank Pearce interview
  • Video interview with Frank Pearce
  • Information about WoW: Cataclysm
  • Premium cost mods will be only SC2 at this time

Starcraft.incgamers.com

Blizzcon 2009: Art Panel
  • Good written summary of the panel
  • Panel focused on destruction effects and single player tilesets and doodads
  • There are many single player tilesets and doodads that will not be in multiplayer maps due to balance concerns
  • Expect around 5 death animations per unit
  • Expect around 2 destruction animations per building
  • Many death animations, such as the interceptor, will almost always be unique due to physics integration
  • Expect enough easter eggs to "fill a henhouse" per Samwise Didier
Chris Metzen talks more single player and lore
  • Opinions shared on the beginning of the single player campaign
  • When asked about hybrids, Chris Metzen avoided the subject while saying "It will be bitching when you figure it out!"
  • Heroes are more forgiving in single player. "Instead of letting him just blow up and die he takes a knee, he's hurt, and you got to get a Medic there to get him back on his feet."
  • Tychus will be available in some missions
  • There is a "Thor mission" he's unable to elaborate on.
  • Notable quote: "We have never been able to build a story that is, I think, this emotional. This human. To some degree that is a weird word to use, but like: I feel these characters in a way I did not feel my WarCraft characters."
  • The Xel'naga are the "spine of the overarching story" that may not be evident in the first chapter.
  • His favorite newcomer character is Tychus and explains how he was a very fun character to write for.
Incgamers Liveblog
  • Confirmed that they watched and unreleased battle report for SC2 during their Blizzard tour.
Several new gamescom 09 screenshots[list][*]New screenshots from gamescom '09


Gametrailers.com

Mike Morhaime Interview
  • Video
  • Projects in production: Starcraft 2, Battle.net, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, Diablo 3
  • Also mentions the new MMO IP can be something that's not been done and could "evolve the genre"
  • When speaking on battle.net, reiterates the "Always connected expirience"
  • Confirms that Starcraft: Ghost is only frozen and they can revisit it in the future as teams free up if teams free up
  • Feels that 2010 is going to be an extremely exciting year for Blizzard.
Battle.net Interview with Greg Canessa
  • Video
  • Interview with Greg Canessa, Project Director / Battle.net
  • Goal is to create the "ultimate competitive arena for everyone"
  • "Always connected expirience" that's deeply integrated with Starcraft
  • Creates an avenue to connect future Blizzard titles
  • Inspiration from social networking to create the Real ID to bring people connected on a real life level
  • They wish to unify the Blizzard community together in a single community that will carry across all games
  • Will help with matchmaking community by many of it's features
  • A lot of focus on the leagues and ladder system that allows for everyone to enjoy, not just niches.
  • Admits previous systems had major issues with inaccuracies, wanting to fix it
  • Examples: Auto-matchmaking system that he feels is the most accurate system out there today.
  • There is a "one way door" for the practice league, which means expirienced players are not able to find a way to get into the league and people can "exit" it.
  • Co-op skirmish mode is for more casual fun against the computer.
  • Marketplace is post-ship, not available right away
  • Vision is about enabling distribution to get their works out efficiently.
  • Can be available "Publically" or "only for your friends"
  • Marketplace can handle all maps, be it multiplayer, singleplayer or campaign based
  • Premium services are theoretically available for people to make back money that they've invested into creating solid mods.
Dance Contest Highlights
  • Video
  • For those who enjoy, this is a quick overview of the majority of the good dances in a summarized format.
Battle.net 2.0 Reveal Trailer
  • Video
  • Recorded footage of the Battle.net 2.0 reveal.
Chris Metzen shows off voicework
  • Video
  • Show's off Chris Metzen's voicework from the previous games including Starcraft.
Showing off the Starcraft 2 Map Editor
  • Video
  • Basic explanation of the achievements of the previous map editors
  • Footage of the data editor's demonstration of the "Uberlisk", "FPS Ghost" and "Lost Viking" demonstrations.

starcraft 2

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) BlizzCon 2009 event article.

starcraft legacy

blizzcon 2009 starcraft 2 single player

The single player element of StarCraft II, while arguably not being as important for the lasting legacy of the game, has had a lot of focus recently. While the fansite events that took place at Blizzard HQ provided some insight on how it will work, BlizzCon was the first time it was available to the public. So how was it?

Not that I want to fanboy out here, but pretty bloody amazing. The best part, perhaps, is that it feels like a natural progression from the talking heads, scrolling text of eleven years ago. Instead of an invisible, mysterious protagonist we have Jim Raynor as a player character able to freely move around his vessel accepting missions and such forth. Instead of talking heads, we have talking bodies. Instead of voiceovers on scrolling text we have ... well voice overs on scrolling text but it's so much nicer looking!

At BlizzCon the player was allowed 20 minutes to explore the ship and attempt one of two possible missions. I spent most of my time looking around the ship and investigating the various inter-mission options. This takes the shape of various departments on the Hyperion which Raynor can visit to hire mercenaries, upgrade troops, investigate side missions and ... drink alchohol. The bar was actually one of my favourite areas. Jukebox strapped to the ceiling, it had a really nice feel to it that gave exactly the right environment for the purpose of the area - mostly exposition and the hiring of mercenaries. A TV provides news reports, which during this small period are entirely about the remergence of the Zerg swarm, and there is a trophy rack on the wall: "I don't understand why anyone would want to hang up bits of Zerg" states Raynor, examining a pair of talons hanging there.

A lovely bit of detail is that, while not everyone has a planned dialogue interaction, everyone in a scene will usually have something to say if you click on them; with multiple permutations. For example, there are two NPCs sat in the bar. If you interact with them they do not talk directly to Raynor but instead between themselves, discussing events on the ship. Raynor himself is also clickable, commenting on his current situation when clicked upon.

starcraft 2 hyperion laboratory


My favourite character was probably the scientist, Stedman, who ran the lab. The cans of drink strapped to his body is a nice touch and his attitude towards his research and Raynor is, while classic, very well done. His in-game use, permanent upgrades over large groups of units after completing certain in-mission tasks, seems like a good idea. In comparison to the paid-for upgrades that are purchasable after each mission, they seem a little weak however - since they actually require a reasonable amount of time and resources allocated to acquire. Talking of those upgrades: the interface for their purchase is brilliant. The screenshot provided in our July 20th coverage does not show what is below that panel - a video and fluff/description of the upgrade in action. This is most useful for upgrades which create new units or upgrades that haven't been seen before and have no point of reference from the original StarCraft or what we have thus far seen of multiplayer.

The missions available were Tooth and Nail and The Evacuation of Agria. These were unchanged from our July 20th coverage, which can be read here. The fact that my main complaint is that there wasn't time to do absolutely everything in one play session speaks well of the game. In-game everything was beautiful - the biggest shock being when I told an SCV to build a Barracks, that same SCV went directly to the spot I told him to build, instantly. It was all very smooth. If there were to be any complaints (and it should be noted that my actual in-mission time was less than 8 minutes) they would be that the mission I played (Tooth and Nail) still seemed to boil down to build army and procede to enemy base for destruction. A fancy skirmish, but a skirmish all the same. I am aware that had I actually reached the relic I would come across giant Zealot-Collosi and had a last defence type situation - but until this point it all seemed rather simple.

Overall, my time with the game, short as it was, reinforced my feelings that StarCraft IIs singleplayer is in good hands. I wish that I had had longer to play with combinations of upgrades and finish missions, but am now left impatiently awaiting the game itself.

 

starcraft 2

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) BlizzCon 2009 event article.

starcraft legacy

starcraft 2 blizzcon 2009 galaxy editor panel

The following is a summary of the StarCraft II Gameplay Panel, which focused on the Galaxy Editor:

In StarCraft II, Blizzard is taking a lot of the same ideas from their previous games and pushing these gameplay ideas by really expanding on them and making them as deep as they possibly can. Between the story mode spaces, there is a lot more of the story than in any previous Blizzard games. StarCraft II has more story, deeper characters, more choices, and unique missions. The anguish on Raynor's face can be seen when he has to decide if he wants to destroy an infested colony or if he wants to save doomed colonists. Each mission has its own meta-game that forces the player to stretch his abilities as a commander.

Mining Your Own Business:

This is a mission where Tosh calls up Raynor and he says, “I have a contract but I'm having a really hard time. It's down on this planet called Redstone." Redstone is a volatile volcanic planet infested with Zerg and Tosh needs Raynor's help. Each game is unique. The goal is to harvest 5,000 minerals. The player is faced with decision of building SCVs, defending, and retreating to high-ground. The player has to play chicken in the environment.

In the editor, there are two distinct types of Redstone cliffs: man-made and natural. This is not something that the graphics artists made for this map. The new water tools are no longer locked to the cliff level. Each person can create his own, multiple water levels. This is what Blizzard did for the “Mining Your Own Business” mission. Anyone can just open up a map and start spraying random stuff.  Also, anyone can create custom light; it’s again, not determined by the artists. Users can create any crazy custom worlds they want. The new lighting editor sets the look and vibe of maps apart.

Evacuation of Agria:

There is a character named Dr. Hanson and she is calling Raynor for help. The player chooses how to win. He can build up a squad to defend against the Zerg. There is a map that shows where the truck is going to go; the player can plan tactics before he goes on to the mission.

Alpha texture blending is in the editor. In old games everything is tile based - people could see the hard edges of the textures and the light textures next to the dark textures. But now, anyone can blend textures together and no two parts of the map will look the same. The user can create roads in the editor by pointing and clicking. It’s not an art asset; the editor can do it on the fly. The editor can also change how dense or sparse grass or any other kind of terrain foliage can be.

Mods

StarCraft II has a more powerful editor than in any Blizzard game seen before. DoTA and Tower Defense, for example, were made by Blizzard fans and they are played by hundreds of thousands of players. Studios are trying to figure out how to take advantage of these game types. All kinds of games are based on genres created by our fans. Hard-working folks can receive money from players. The quality of the games everyone will be playing in the upcoming years will be insane. Mod-makers have gotten jobs all around the industry by using Blizzard map editors.

Here’s a few examples created by Blizzard devs without too much time put in:

Uberlisk: This is a custom unit that has Spine Crawlers grafted to his back and can destroy ground itself. It creates a huge explosion and can destroy the ground itself. Spine Crawlers can be made to shoot Banelings as projectiles. This is all created with the data editor - no custom code knowledge required. One of Blizzard's best data editors put this map together in about a day and a half.

FPS game: Nova is running around and the player can control her with a keyboard and in a future build, a mouse. As Nova, the player can go inside a building and go underground. The player can also engage the Cloak ability and talk to people as if in an RPG all using custom UI.

Lost Viking Game: A Viking plays a top-down vertical scrolling shooter game.

There is not a lot of limits to what players will be able to do with this engine. Who can say what will happen when Battle.net 2.0 and the editor gets into the hands of the users?

Q&A

Q: Any plans for group collaboration on maps?

A: Yes, there are plans to give modders and artists products and share it with other people. You can import triggers so a person can work on a different part of a map.

Q: Any plans to stop map stealing?

A: We haven’t locked down on what our exact plans are. But we are going to make it very difficult, if not impossible, for it to steal from you, the mod maker.

Q: To what extent can the UI be customized?

A: We asked for lots of extra things. We’ve tried to give you as many UI customization tools as you can. One of the things we’ve added is an item system, which we don’t need, but it’s useful for modders so we’ve added it anyway.

Q: How will hero system be more flexible?

A: You can do same things as in WarCraft III? The data editor is extremely powerful.

Q: Will it be possible to adjust armor?

A: Yes, we’ve made it possible to be able to reproduce armor systems of past games.

Q: Has StarCraft 2 has been pushed back because of battle.net?

A: Well, it wasn’t just battle.net. We knew we wanted to work on the game longer. As developers we want you guys to play this game ASAP, but we saw a bunch of things in the campaign that we wanted to make better. So really, the delay started with battle.net, but we saw lots of things we could do better to make this game meet your expectations. The delay has been a blessing for us.

Q: Will there be a way to save your characters?

A: We do have support for what we’re calling banks. Basically you can store info on your local system, any kind of info you want to store.

Q: Any possibility to record shoutcasting in replays?

A: Not in shipped version of the game, but it’s a great idea for e-sports. There’s alot of technical details to be discussing and we might implement it in patches.

Q: Can you load multiple maps at once?

A: We supported it in WarCraft III as “campaigns” and we are looking to support it for StarCraft II. Don’t know if it will be in ship.

Q: Will you be contacting your map makers because you track their quality?

A: Yes. Battle.net will show us who made the maps and who authored it. We’ll have access to the map-maker’s account. And yes, we’ve been doing this for years.

Q: Will we see this third-person perspective in any of the actual single player missions? Will editor be in beta?

A: I don’t know if we will include the third person thing in the game. It requires lots of teaching. We are trying to get people used to RTS gameplay in the single player, let alone third-person gameplay. We are planning to ship the beta in the editor. It probably won’t be in day one, but it will be there.

Q: Is there going to be any content filtering for uploading maps? Or is it wide open for everything?

A: Not sure yet, but our plan is to have a rating system where players flag the map and our staff comes by to confirm and the person will be warned/banned.

Q: Can you play a map as a beta or demo map?

A: We are still discussing this.


starcraft 2

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) BlizzCon 2009 event article.

starcraft legacy

- Index -
Dread_Reaper
Zerg Air Force
Q&A
Supersonic
Protoss Air Force
Q&A
SaharaDrac
Terran Air Force - On Steel Wings
Q&A

starcraft 2

Dread_Reaper

Zerg Air Force:

First off, the Zerg air force is comprised of the Mutalisk, which is a relatively inexpensive, agile raider that does well against smaller targets, the Corruptor, which is death to capital ships if you have enough of them and focus fire, and then the Broodlord (which evolves from the Corruptor), which is basically the Guardian from StarCraft except its projectiles spawn tiny Mantalings that ravage the ground.

Against the Terran, the Mutalisk is evenly matched. The Viking, which can be mass produced with relative ease thanks to the Starport reactor, is more powerful and sturdier than the Mutalisk, but less agile. Since the Terran Banshee can do nothing to support the Vikings, I found my Mutalisks and Corruptors often handled any Viking forces with relative ease, especially with focus-fired Corruptors. Battlecruisers also will be easy prey for Corruptors, unless they have the Missile Barrage upgrade. Overall, Terran's lack of an air-based, anti-swarm attack (unless the Tier 3 Battlecruiser has Missile Barrage) makes the Zerg airforce powerful indeed, especially considering that the Broodlord (its predecessor once held in check by the Goliath with Charon Boosters) can basically attack with impunity against ground forces. The Raven's Hunter Seeker Missile is less effective against well microed Mutalisks, which can respond quickly to it to minimize the damage.

The Protoss are a different manner. Also lacking an air-based, anti-swarm unit, the Phoenix (although stronger and having a higher attack than the Mutalisk) is often overrun by the Mutalisks high numbers because of its lack of AoE attack. Void Rays, which are deadliest against large, tough units like Carriers or Battlecruisers, can be easily swarmed and destroyed because of its progressive damage and slow movement speed. The Mothership, however, has an ability called Vortex, which is basically a more effective version of the Arbiter's Stasis Field. This, combined with its cloaking and immense health, can rapidly turn the tide in any air battle against the Zerg.

Q&A:

Q: Are the units that the Brood Lord makes and the units that come out of destroyed zerg buildings the same?

A: Yes, there are only some minor differences in the models, but when the Broodlord uses them they are called Mantalings instead of Broodlings.

Q: Have they changed the Infestor in any way?

A: Nope, it is still totally pointless except for Neural Parasite. It now has an upgrade that allows it to move faster underground.

Q: How effective are Mutalisks in StarCraft II?

A: Fast and maneuverable, and they can still dance like in SC1, but they don't bunch up as much as they did before, making them less vulnerable to AoE attacks like Psionic Storm. However, because they no longer mutate into anything, I found myself building less of them and more Corruptors and Broodlords.

Q: What's the status of the early (ZvP) Zergling vs Zealot conflict? What is the ratio for a balanced battle between these two adversaries.

A: Assuming all stats are starting basic, the Zerg player is going to need 3 Zerglings to every 1 Zealot. If it's 2 to 1, the Protoss win.

Q: What does it look like when you have a Spine Crawler on the other side of an extremely tall wall? In SC1 sunk spines came from underground but, the Spine Crawler is a different case now.

A: Because the Spine Crawler attack tends to naturally arc its barbed tentacle (instead of going straight), there weren't any clipping issues that I noticed when attacking either uphill or downhill.

Q: Try dodging Lurker spines, is it anywhere near as possible as it is in SC1? Since they have 9 range and wider spines after all.

A: Lurker spines are less straight-line-fire now but have a slightly broader area of effect, and are slightly harder to see, making them more difficult to dodge. This combined with their new Seismic Spines upgrade, which gives them a range of 12, makes them very dangerous.

Q: Do Zerglings still get their wings after the speed upgrade or are wings gone for good now?


A: The wings are still in, but you get it after the Adrenal Glands attack speed upgrade. However, they have lost that silly fluttering animation they had before, so it is slightly improved.

Q: What's working in ZvT early game?

A: Zerg can use the Queen's Spawn Larvae ability to rapidly raise a force of Zerglings. The Zergling rush is more deadly than ever, even against the notoriously quick Terran. To counter that, the Terran Reactor means you can pump out a lot of Marines very quickly, which makes for crippling early game Overlord hunting if the Zerg is careless.

Q: What's the Roach, Hydralisk, and Lurker's current status?

A: The Roach feels somewhat useless in its currently status as a Tier 2 unit. It has less range and versatility than a Tier 1.5 Hydralisk, and some of the more powerful weaponry, like the Colossus and the Siege Tank, negate its healing ability. Its healing boost upgrade makes it basically unkillable against infantry, and can only be brought down by heavy weapons like Siege Tanks. 

The Hydralisk is a deadly predator, every bit as dangerous as the original, and comes with its range upgrade already. Was a mainstay in every battle I fought.


The Lurker's late game effectiveness is the same as it was in SC1, until you get the Seismic Spines, which give it the range to get an extra attack off on even the longest ranged units like Marines or Siege Tank. However, the variety of splash damage attacks in high level units like the Colossus make it a less than necessary edition to the Zerg army.

Q: The Zerg macro mechanic doesn't return increased minerals. Will that be a disadvantage with respect to the Terran and Protoss? Won't the extra Larvae make Zerg macro too powerful late game?


A: Its actually much more versatile than the other races' abilities. You can use the spawned larvae to jump start mining expansions or recover from a tough raid, or you can rapidly raise defenders or rapidly grow an army. In terms of late game imbalance, it has basically the same effect of building a few extra Hatcheries, and in the end, the amount of units you can produce will always be controlled by the amount of resources you have.

Q: Have there been any changes to the macro mechanics?

A: None.

Q: Of the three main harassment units (Reapers, Mutalisks, Stalkers), Mutalisks are the most expensive per unit. Are they equivalently cost-effective compared to Reapers and Stalkers at base raiding?


A: The fact that they can fly and have splash damage make them devastating raiders; however, because they are Tier 2 units that require more time and money than the other races' raiders to produce, I often found my Mutalisks encountering dug in defenses that shut them out when I tried to raid. if they are allowed to enter, though, Mutalisks are the deadliest raiders.

Q: Which units got model changed or updates?


A: The Zerg overall look like they received the biggest face lift. All of them, especially the Queen, look immensely improved. After talking with Dustin Browder, he told me that all units for all races had recently received another pass on their graphics, and that several more were planned before release. Overall, the game looks fantastic.

Q: What is the status of resource trading in team games?

A: All BlizzCon matches were 1v1.

Q: What is the criteria for a victory in a multiplayer game? Shall we assume the destruction of all buildings still? Furthermore, will all building be revealed once a player's last main is destroyed?

A: You must destroy all opponent buildings to win the multiplayer match, yes. Once you destroy their last mineral gathering structure, the player is revealed.

Q: Are the macro mechanics working like expected, or do they get too repetitive after a while? What about their mineral-only aspect? Does that work late game, or the mineral-only units are getting smashed by superior tech, anyways? Won't the mineral/gas ratio skew gameplay to basic units and static defenses?

A: The macro mechanics are something you have to train yourself to do. This is just something you have to remind yourself to do, and while it doesn't really seem to make a huge difference over the course of the game unless you're constantly recasting it, it can make a crucial difference in same race games. The most obvious one is the Obelisk's Proton Charge, which you just cast on your busy little miners to make them bring back more loot per trip. The MULEs I used less actually until late game, because they have to compete with the all important Comsat Scan for energy, which is the only thing that compensates for the fact that the Terrans have no mobile detectors until Tier 3. The Zerg Spawn Larvae is less obvious, and admittedly I rarely used to it generate miners because I was too tempted to beef up my army. However, I saw its greatest use in creating expansions.

The mineral-only aspect of the macro mechanics is there to directly balance the dual vespene geysers, which makes teching much faster. As it stands, the amount of vespene you bring is in basically the same ratio to the minerals, but you just have a lot more of it. This simply makes the game faster and more fun.

Overall I actually enjoyed the macro mechanics, but I feel that as the skill of the everyday player increases, the pressure to constantly be managing them will become excessively tedious.

 

starcraft 2

Supersonic

 

Protoss Air Force:

The Observer is more or less the same as in StarCraft with the exception that it is no longer needs the Observatory to make, no longer needs the sight upgrade, and the new model makes it look very much like a scouting unit. Having the Observer so readily available from the Robotics facility makes getting mobile detection a lot easier, and the fact that you only need to upgrade speed is great.

The Warp Prism is the carrying unit for the Protoss, although I rarely used it for that because it's much more effective to use it for its other ability which is setting up pylon power and allowing you to warp-in units. This combination is so strong that, if you can manage to get this into a base and warp-in units, you can bypass all defenses and take out main tech buildings. The only upgrades are for the movement speed, and, of course, air armor. The change from "Phase Mode" to normal mode is about three seconds. Warping in units with the Warp Prism is still an effective way to get more units to aid you on the battle field, without having to walk them all the way across the map.

The Phoenix is produced from the Stargate. What many people may or may not know is the Phoenix is an AtA only unit. I had originally bought a fleet of 12 to crush my opponents expansion, only to find out the hard way that it couldn't attack the Hydralisks and Missile Turrets. As far as AtA goes, however, they are very effective because of their high movement speed and that they have a fairly strong attack, which allows a lot of space for intense micro. The speed of the Phoenix allows it to hunt down just about every air unit with ease, and because of their cost 125m 75g, building a fleet is no problem at all. The ability that they have is the "Gravitation Beam" and, even though they cannot attack ground, this adds a layer of depth to the unit so that you can pick up ground units (except massive units like the Thor and Colossus) and easily kill them in the air. The ability costs 50 energy to use and 4 more for every second it has the unit in the air. This is more effective against expensive units like the Siege Tank than it is against smaller, less expensive units such as the Marine.

Next up is my personal favorite: the Void Ray (the building eater). This unit is extremely deadly against buildings and units with high hitpoint pools because once it gets up to the third rank of its beam, the damage it deals is huge. This even shows with a single unit. It has an upgrade that allows the beam to scale up faster and also increases the acceleration of the unit itself, as to keep on the tail of moving units. The Void Ray will auto follow things that try and move away, so this upgrade is key. To get an idea of the power of this unit, 3 Void Rays with +1 air attack upgrade and beam speed, will kill a Command Center in under ten seconds. The thing will just drop! I usually build this unit to go around and harass the opponents buildings, and would run away when they came to defend. This distracted them from focusing on microing around their units when fighting. Even dedicated anti-air units like the Thor fall quickly to this unit because of the intense speed and power of the beam when fully charged. Although they are strong to larger units, smaller units like the marines are a perfect counter (even more than I had expected). 6-8 marines will take down 3 Void Rays with ease because they are very weak without that scale in weapon attack damage. Overall, the Void Ray's speed and flexibility is very good. Although not as fast as the Phoenix, it is still a great unit added to the Protoss air fleet.

 

Q&A:

Q: What is the role of the Carrier? How well does it integrate into the current version of the Protoss fleet?

A: I didn't use the Carrier much without the "faster interceptors" but what I can say about how it played with this upgrade is that it's VERY strong. It dishes out some major fire power. I was able to take down many Battlecruisers and other anti-air units with only a small amount of Carriers.

Q: What abilities does the Mothership have have right now. What's the status of uniqueness, and  its speed/usefulness?

A: Once again, the Mothership is a "Special" unit that you can only have one at a time. It's attack has been changed from the "blue missiles" to 2 lasers that can fire at 2 different things at once. Its attack is decently strong. As for abilities, it has the "Time Space Transit" (I think that's what it's called?), warping to your own buildings, it's only really effective if you have already build some "proxy pylons" around the map. Next is the time bomb, which is only really effective on about 1-2 missile turrets depending on how close they are to each other, because of how small the radius is. Last is the "Black Hole" which works just like stasis from arbiters except it can pull more units in if they get to close. Speed itself is terribly slow, slower than Terran buildings moving in SC1.

Q: Status of the early (ZvP) Zergling vs Zealot conflict? What is the ratio for a balanced battle between these two adversaries.

A: Zealots I feel eat up Zerglings more than they used to in SC1, but thanks to the improved pathing larger numbers of Zerglings do stand a better chance than usual vs Zealots. You do still need to play reasonably safe not to attack in too small of numbers with Zerglings because they can get wasted.

Q: Have they decided to keep that "only Colossus traversable water?" The water type that's very deep and only traversable by the Colossus.

A: Not really sure, I don't recall there being water in any levels although I wasn't looking.

Q: How long does Forcefield last?


A: Give or take 10-15 seconds. It's a very effective tool and only costs 50 energy.

Q: How much damage does Psionic Storm do now? And how long does it last?

A: I didn't use High Templar very often just because gas has become a pain to get and I never seemed to have enough. Although Storm has a shorter duration but does a little more damage, as for radius it's about the same, maybe a little bigger.

Q: Hallucination, how many of each unit does it produce?

A: Hallucination was something I wasn't really interested in using until I figured out exactly what it did. The way the new Hallucination works gets me very excited on the types of ways you can use it. How it works is you click the Hallucination icon, and it will then give you a list of (I think) all the units Protoss can produce, with the exception of the Mothership, and I think Carrier? It will then create the unit on the spot, making 2 of the lower tier units (Zealots, Stalkers etc) and 1 of the higher (Phoenix, Colossus etc). Now what gets me so excited about this is, if you are not letting your opponent scout (or they just don't scout at all), if you micro correctly, you can make them think you are teching something that your really not. Which can be very effective to predict what they will counter with so you can have the 1 up on them.

Q: Is it possible to dodge something like a Yamato shot by Blinking with the Stalker? Or will the Yamato shot trail the stalker until it hits it?

A: Yes the Yamato will follow.

Q: Any news about the Archon? We haven't seen it since a really long time.

A: Didn't get to try out the Archon because it really didn't come up, the Colossus deals with basically all Zerg ground unit problems, and Stalkers are very effective at hunting down Mutas with Blink.

Q: Have there been any changes to the macro mechanics?


A: For macro play, MBS helps a lot, and the fact you can rally a Probe to set up everything you could ever need built in your base and then go back to mining after takes a lot of base macroing away. For building units however you still need to click once for every unit you want made, even if you have 4 Gateways selected, you still need to hit "Z" for Zealots 4 times. So although it doesn't even out, it does help add a little macro to where a good bit has been lost.

Q: Can you rotate the camera? If not how do you see a unit that is behind a cliff or structure?


A: No camera rotation, only zooming in and out. As for units getting behind something where I couldn't see them, it didn't really happen, the only time it did was for Probes behind my Stargates, and I had the "Idle Worker" icon to show me where they were.

Q: Of the three main harassment units (Reapers, Mutalisks, Stalkers), Mutalisks are the most expensive per unit. Are they equivalently cost-effective compared to Reapers and Stalkers at base raiding?

A: YES! The fact that you can hold more than 12+ Mutalisk means if you let your opponent get too many they can start one shotting stuff, as in taking out Missile Turrets in half a second, and completely pwning Probes that are mining + they can fly so it makes them that much more effective for running raids.

Q: Which units got model changed or updates?


A: Zealot got changed according to Karune, but I didn't notice too much. I think the Lurker got updated, as well as the Hydra.

Q: What is the status of resource trading in team games?

A: The games were 1v1.

Q: What happens in team games when a teammate leaves?

A: I believe you get their units and buildings.

Q: What is the criteria for a victory in a multiplayer game? Shall we assume the destruction of all buildings still? Furthermore, will all building be revealed once a player's last main is destroyed?

A: To win a match you need to destroy all the opponents buildings. Once all the Command Centers, Nexuses, etc all the players buildings get revealed in about 30~ seconds.

Q: Are the macro mechanics working like expected, or do they get too repetitive after a while? What about their mineral-only aspect? Does that work late game, or the mineral-only units are getting smashed by superior tech, anyways? Won't the mineral/gas ratio skew gameplay to basic units and static defenses?


A: One thing I did not like about the game how it is, is the fact that while playing Protoss and using PC I got a TON of minerals, like a LOT!! And I could make a bajillion Zealots, Terrans "Mule Calldown" is almost counter productive, you have to pay 150 minerals to have your Command Center stop doing anything for about 60 seconds at least just to upgrade to Orbital Command.

As for is the new econ stuff just a APM sink or is it effective, Mule felt like an APM sink because you didn't feel the minerals coming in, I'm sure you got a more then usual amount but you don't feel it, and hitting 1, E, and clicking on a mineral field is hardly APM sink. For PC you REALLY feel it, it adds 1 mineral for each trip for your Probes, and it shows a LOT. Protoss gets so much more minerals than the other races (at least early-mid to early late game) that if you got the Obelisk rather quickly for PC than you would basically win every time because you can now make 1 Zealot for every 2 Zerglings or 2 Marines.

That being said it felt like since the Mule Calldown was so poor for mineral gain, the Terran was VERY behind on the economy race. Zerg has the Larva Spawn which gets expansions up in about 3 seconds, and Protoss can kill people with numbers alone. I did actually test this theory and my body was able to make as ALMOST as many Zealots as I has marines in the space of about 10 minutes, Terran Econ just feels realllly slow, and it hurts them a lot because their units are not all that strong, and the new pathing helps melee units a lot.

As for gas, once you got an expansion or 2 it wasn't to too bad, it did feel just about balanced. What they need to do though it either take out PC, Mule, and possibly Larva Spawn out completely, or take a hard look at balancing the fact that Protoss can produce as much as Terran, but all their units are at least double the strength.

 

starcraft 2

SaharaDrac

 

Terran Air Force - On Steel Wings

I have had the good fortune to have the opportunity to play StarCraft II on three separate occasions, at three separate BlizzCons. The first couple of times, I spent my time playing and experimenting with all three races equally. I would dream up something ridiculous to try to beat my opponent with in line, try it out, then hop right back in line and reflect on the game I just played. This year, I played only one race, the Terrans. I wanted to go in depth with them, specifically with their air units, and really take them apart. I played games with mixed air forces, masses of one air unit, spamming the Ravens spells, and combinations of all of these with one-base builds, fast expands, and rushes. (The Community tournament area had a glorious 2 hour time limit, as opposed to the main SCII demo area, which was constricted to 20 minutes of play time, so I was even able to do things like turtle in and mass Battlecruisers.) This article is my hindsight thoughts and feelings on the Terran Air Force.

A good way to begin our analysis would be to go unit by unit. The first unit available to you when you create your Starport (which requires a Barracks and a Factory, just like SC1), is the Viking. As many of you already know, the Viking's main role is as an air superiority fighter, with the mechanic of being able to "transform" into a Goliath-like mech ground unit, with a ground to ground attack.

VIKING -- 125 Minerals, 100 Vespene Gas, 2 Supply.

starcraft 2 viking

I'm a big fan of this unit. Not much has changed with it since previous BlizzCons, but I think that may be because it works well and is a lot of fun as it is. This unit is the epitome of the Terran's new "metal mobility" philosophy of play style. Against the Zerg's air-to-air unit, the Corrupter, it just barely loses out in a straight dogfight. Of course, the Corrupter doesn't turn into a ground unit, and I'm not completely certain on this, but I also don't think it carries the +10 damage bonus against the "massive" unit type. The Viking fires missiles in a very similar fashion to a Wraith, which are especially effective against end game air units like Battlecruisers and Carriers. I can't count how many times my Terran opponent would try to float their last building away after I attacked them (Really dude? It's not going on your record. Let's get to the next game.), and the Viking's air to air attack came in very handy in this situation. It's also really nice to be able to fly around the map looking for expansions, and having the convenience of being able to land and destroy undefended enemy workers once discovered by landing in their mineral line. All in all, I would say that the Viking is an awesome unit. I miss their old voice though. They used to sound like meathead football high school bullies, and it was really funny. Now they're much more generic. I like to know my Terran units could stuff me in a locker or give me a wedgie on a whim.

MEDIVAC -- 100 Minerals, 100 Vespene Gas, 2 supply.

starcraft 2 medivac


This has been a hotly debated and controversial new unit for the Terrans. The Medivac is a Dropship unit that holds a similar number of units to it's counterpart in SC1 (8 marines, 4 Marauders, 2 tanks, etc.).   What makes the Medivac stand out is it's secondary ability: healing. The medivac automatically heals friendly biological units beneath it, in the fashion of a Medic from Brood War. As a game mechanic, I love this abilty. It lends itself so naturally to infantry drops, and gives you another reason to micro your dropships. Aesthetically, I still find it awkward. I just think a ship beaming down healing green light borders too closely on the magical rather than science fiction. Perhaps the graphics could look more like a "stim mist", a cloud of healing drugs, or little doctors on ropes jabbing with needles and cackling manically. I'm not sure, but I'm willing to suspend my disbelief for such a fun game mechanic combination. One thing to note is that Ravens, with the new Laser turret spell, countered Medivacs quite quickly. I also noticed that it was still very important to keep these ships safe during transport, as they were quite fragile if caught by a roaming group of hydralisks or other anti-air units.

RAVEN -- 100 Minerals, 200 Vespene Gas, 2 Supply. The Raven requires a Tech Lab to be attached to your Starport.

starcraft 2 raven

 

The Raven is the Terran's new caster air unit. It has a design that I really like, with sleek wings flowing back from a central ebon cockpit. I had heard from other users before this BlizzCon that spamming the Raven's auto-turret ability was highly effective against unprepared opponents. The Auto-Turret is a 50 energy spell that drops a small machine gun turret at a target location, with a ground to ground attack. The damage of these turrets was nothing to write home about, but the length of their lives and their durability were quite impressive. If left untended, 2 turrets had enough lifespan to destroy a Protoss Nexus, slowly but surely. Another fun use I found for the Turrets was when someone came up my choke with a Terran infantry squad and ran into my Siege Tank fire. I used my two Ravens to block the ramp they came in from, and they found themselves trapped, trying to take down the sturdy turrets while they took fire from my tanks behind them.

The second spell on the Raven was one that I hadn't heard of before, and I'm sorry but I don't remember it's exact name, I believe it was something like "Laser Turret". This spell cost 100 energy and dropped another small turret, which fired a ground to air only laser at enemy air units. This saved my base more than once, when I would see approaching drops and not be prepared with regular missile turrets, I would drop these behind my mineral line and focus fire on the Medivac Dropship or Warp Prism as it tried to sneak in. It was effective against the Warp Prism, but couldn't stop the Medivac in time. I could also see this ability being very useful for a hard push style attack. Instead of building actual missile turrets next to their tank pushes (which seems more than viable again, as a side note), Ravens could build these Laser turrets to quickly prevent enemy air units from destroying their tanks. Also, since a tank push without turrets is a "soft" push, and one with Turrets is a "hard" push, this could be called a "semi" push, or perhaps a "chub" push, and what's not funny about that, honestly?


The Raven's third abilty is a beastly one: The Seeker Missile. This 150 energy ability fires a slow moving but highly devastating missile at a target ground area. This ability must be researched at the Tech Lab attached to the Starport. It's similar to the shot of a Reaver in StarCraft, where it is slow moving and dodgeable, but very powerful in an AOE area if not avoided. The missile is obviously much slower than a Reaver shot, of course, and appropriately does much more damage. I would estimate the damage to be around half the power of a nuke, though it doesn't hurt your own ground units. Because everyone playing at BlizzCon was still unfamiliar with the game, very few players I used this ability against moved their troops out of the way in time. It was pretty bloody, overall.


Banshee -- 150 Minerals, 150 Vespene Gas, 3 Supply. Requires Tech Lab attached to Starport.

starcraft 2 banshee


The Banshee was the MVP of BlizzCon '09 for me. I had previously made this unit and been a little underwhelmed by it. I suppose someone agreed with me because Banshees pack a serious punch these days. They come equipped solely with an air-to ground attack and can be given a cloaking ability. The ground attack they have is similar to the air attack the Wraith had in the original StarCraft that is to say it's fast strong and deadly. These things are a nightmare for mineral lines even in small numbers. Their cost is steep but worth it. I also think they did bonus damage to buildings though I'm not 100 % certain on that. Also I'm a bit of a sound effect nerd and I kind of get all warm and fuzzy inside when the Banshee fires. It's missiles have a smoky hiss as they stream through the air then a satisfying impact explosion. The way the Zerg blood flies upon impact is also quite nice.

Battlecruiser -- 400 Minerals 300 Vespene Gas 6 Supply.

starcraft 2 battlecruiser


Near and dear to every Starcraft fan's heart the Terran's Capital Ship returns in SCII in all it's glory plus all kinds of new glory to go with it. The BC is mighty massive lumbering and intimidating as it should be. It especially looks great when you pick Dark Grey or Black. It has a normal attack very similar to it's traditional one but what makes it really exciting now are the "tech paths" you can choose for it now. Every BC that builds can now be outfitted with one of three permanent rigs: The Yamato Cannon Missile Pods and Defensive Matrix. None of these abilities needed to be researched but when you slsected one it had a build time and could not be reversed. Yamato was exactly like it's predecessor which is not to say it's boring or anything to be underestimated. It still one shots base defenses supply buildings and heavy ground units with ease. The Missile pods were a great upgrade; instead of one heavy big shot against a single target the Missile pod upgrade rains down fiery orange laser missiles into an area on the ground beneath them decimating small ground units like Marines Zerglings and Zealots. Overall my favorite of the three was the Defensive Matrix. Similar in function to the old Science Vessel spell but different in that it can only be cast on the BC that has the upgrade not on any other friendly units. It was a lot of fun to set a couple of BCs with Defensive Matrix as the "flag ships" absorbing damage from base defnses and armies while the ships behind it fired down from the back.

All in all my overall statement about the Terran Air Force is that I'm very impressed. Terran Air is incredibly strong rivaled only by Zerg Air at the moment. (Don't let them tell you Zerg is that weak! They are definitely the weakest of the three as it stands but their air force is amazing!) A combination of Banshees for ground destruction with Vikings for anti-air defense was very rarely thwarted. The Raven is not only a killer during pushes and raids but a great stay at home defensive unit. Medivacs will haunt people's dreams for years reliving the horror as stimmed marines and marauders happily stay in the green while firing on their workers . The Battlecruiser is the self indulgent mega unit it needs to be. I think the most important thing this play through of the Terran air force has done for me is reinforce my happiness to be a StarCraft fan. I'm confident as always that the game is in good hands and that I will have a platform to be passionate and competitive about for years to come.

 

Q&A:

Q: What changed with the Raven?

A: The Raven and it's changes are covered extensively by my Terran Air article.

Q: What is the effectiveness of the medivac infantry combo? As the medivac is quite higher in the tech tree than the old school medics.


A: It's highly effective in the mid-game because of the mobility and ease of dropping with heals. You're going to be dropping anyways right? Now you get heals free of charge with it. I wouldn't say that the lack of medics early hinders the power of a fast infantry rush however. Marine shield upgrades Repaers and Maruaders more than make up for the loss of the Medic.

Q: What's the detonation time on the D8 Charges?

A: The detonation was FAST. I'd say maybe too fast. You throw your charges they beep three times and BOOM. It's actually pretty difficult for your own forces not to take some collateral damage in the process. I would say sacrificing a Reaper to throw down a mine and allow the rest of your forces to escape chasing units would be a great tactic.

Q: What's the throwing range of the D8 Charges?

A: Quite short. This goes with the previous question in that its tricky not to blow up your own Reapers. I'd say 2 or 3 steps is the throwing distance.

Q: Is it possible to dodge something like a Yamato shot but blinking with the stalker? Or will the Yamato shot trail the stalker until it hits it?

A: Blink will render a Yamato shot ineffective.

Q: Have they changed the lift off and landing animation of Terran buildings? It's really lame right now with it rocketing up and slamming into the ground.

A: The building lift off animations have not changed. I like them a lot however so c'est la vive.

Q: Using supply drop the supply depot has a permanent visual change when it's lowered into the ground is it still visually differentiable from normal supply depots?

A: No it is not.

Q: What's working in ZvT early game?

A: I played only Terrans and I can tell from from my experience not much. Zerg ground seems incredibly weak. Banelings were alright but those are more mid game.

The Hellion's attack bonus vs Light does look really impressive specially with the upgrade. Isn't that completely negating the use of melee light units like the Zergling and the Zealot? Or the Hellion's low health prevents that from happening?

Hellions make Zerglings and Zealots pretty much useless a lot like it's predecessor the Firebat. Only now they have an AOE and some quick quick speeds!

Q: Have there been any changes to the macro mechanics?

A: Not that I could see no.

Q: Can you rotate the camera? If not how do you see a unit that is behind a cliff or structure?

A: Yes using insert and delete.

Q: Of the three main harassment units (Reapers Mutalisks Stalkers) Mutalisks are the most expensive per unit. Are they equivalently cost-effective compared to Reapers and Stalkers at base raiding?

A: Mutalisks are just as much of a nuisance as they've always been. I wouldn't classify Stalkers as a "harassment" unit however. They are the Protoss bread and butter in most armies at the moment.

Q: Which units got model changed or updates?

A: Hmmm....None of the Terran units as far as I could tell.

Q: What is the criteria for a victory in a multiplayer game...shall we assume the destruction of all buildings still? Furthermore will all building be revealed once a player's last main is destroyed?


A: All buildings must be destroyed to win and yes when your last resource gathering main building is destroyed you are revealed. Which is good. Unless you love prolonging lost games by hiding a pylon in which case don't add me to your friends list when Battle.net 2.0 comes out.

Q: Are the macro mechanics working like expected or do they get too repetitive after a while? What about their mineral-only aspect? Does that work late game or the mineral-only units are getting smashed by superior tech anyways? Won't the mineral/gas ratio skew gameplay to basic units and static defenses?

A: I enjoyed MULE calldown immensely. It gave me something to remember and something to do. I would definitely feel the effects if I kept forgetting it. That said it's a decision to use MULE because it does sap valuable comsat energy. As far as late game even if the units get gas heavy having more money is never a bad thing. It lets you expand. As in you don't tend to "use" your extra minerals to make only mineral heavy units you use it to build your economy further so you can better afford gas heavy units. At least that's what I did.

 

starcraft 2

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) BlizzCon 2009 event article.

starcraft legacy

The art panel itself did not contain any new information apart from the Q&A. However, many new animations and graphics were showcased. The BlizzLive Flickr has many photos of the art panel. This kind of panel is best presented in a video; luckily gamespot has taken one such video:

Click here for HD 540p quality.

Rough summary:

Panelists:
Samwise Dider
Brian Sousa - Lead Technical Artist
Alan Dilling - StarCraft II Art Lead (specialty - effects)

The last few months have all been about polishing Zerg units i.e. adding lots of detail, working on the specular mat (making things shiny), and having the team color integrated into the Zerg carapace as opposed to just being a big splotch of color.

Fun note: The Terran Goliath portrait in StarCraft II is based on Brian Sousa (who even had the goggles).

StarCraft 2 Art Panel - BlizzCon 2009

StarCraft 2 Art Panel - BlizzCon 2009



There will be 15 full tilesets but many combinations can create more. Doodads are specific to tilesets - have their own destruction animations i.e. Terrazine Shrine (Protoss doodad, nuclear reactor - some of this was talked about by Dilling)

Names of Tilesets:
Castanar
Monolyth
Redstorm
Port Zion
Char
Korhal

There are four to five death animations for each unit which are Havoc Physics engine-driven. Immortal pieces will fall down cliffs, etc. Some deaths are specific i.e. Zerg getting destroyed by fire. When units die their team color becomes black for easy recognition. It's the same philosophy with buildings: two to three death animation types. Zerg buildings have far more crazy deaths - much bloodier, creepier, etc. The iPistol will play on TVs in the game between news shows.


Q&A:


Q: Will there be any Easter Eggs in Starcraft II?

A: I think we have enough Easter eggs in this game to fill up a henhouse.

Q: How many wings are you planning on putting on the Zergling?

A: It depends on how many people complain.

Q: When it comes to gameplay units, when you design stuff like the Thor, is it the gameplay guys that make the Thor a mobile fortress with guns on top. Or is it your guys' concept getting into the gameplay?


A: The Thor is the designers way of saying, artists, you are awesome, we will try to fit this in the game somehow, because this was purely from the art side. We wanted a big giant mech in the game somewhere. This just seems like an area of the Terrans that we never hit before and we wanted to put it in there. So the designers made it a functional unit and you see 3-4 of them running around in a mid to late level game. We actually shrunk them down a little too because people are building them all the time.

Q: For StarCraft II, what race's units and buildings requires most detailing and graphics.

A: That's a tough call. I have to say the Zerg are more time consuming because they're more organic and have all these crazy shapes. It's like controlled chaos. It's pretty even, but Zerg are a little harder to handle.


Q: In regards to the new explosions and physics, how much do they interact with each other?

A: We have to have the physics in there and we can control that where buildings can have a general kind of shape around it. It's not super detailed, but in general the main thing to worry about is the terrain. Lots of the SP stuff too, we love where a building blows up and catches fire to this and that. But in the multiplayer we want to keep it a little bit more tame.

Q: For the death animations, how do you decide how long to make them so they don't clutter the field? And does this change because this is an RTS?


A: It definitely changes because if we were doing an FPS or World of WarCraft, we definitely have to change it up. A death will be 2-3 seconds and the blood might last 10-20 seconds and the body might last an extra 5 seconds. It depends on the unit, so we try to change it up. There's lots of variation and flavor there
.

Q: It appears you've come a long way in the artwork. What is the art team doing now?


A: We're still working on single player mission. If we find out we have an extra week that means we're going to go back and try to redo something to fit to our standards. Right now though we just finished up going over alot of Zerg. Single player is our big focus right now and now we're even going over and tweaking things and adding unique artwork to a tileset because we were using alot of leftover stuff from another planet. So we're still focusing on getting all the art up to our level of perfect. If we have more weeks we might add more critters and just more things to bring the single player and planets more to life.

Q: How much different are the Protoss from the Xel'Naga?


A: They're different because they don't have any art. We haven't really gone too far into defining Xel'Naga other than defining a few temples and things. We on purpose don't really want to showcase what exactly a Xel'Naga is, because who knows what the future brings and we may decide we want to do something more with them. The Xel'Naga, artwise, they don't have lots of art. Now, Dark Templar and Protoss, their schemes are sort of the same i.e. curving and arcing armor, but dark templar are a little more archaic. Their metals are platinum, silver and blue hue where the Protoss are more warmful, bronze even some ivories and things like that.

Q: I remember in StarCraft, the Jim Raynor hero was a teal Marine. Now in StarCraft II will heroes have a different character model? Have they been differentiated from regular units?

A: That's a great question - we've really stepped up for hero artwork. They have unique artwork, animations, weapons, so when you do play them you'll be able to recognize them.

Q: Can you give me some sort of idea of how big the texture maps are?

A: Background tilesets were 1024s. Basically I think that's the largest in this game. For anything else it depends on how big it is or how large the doodad/object is. We don't want to put too much detail on something that's too small. So we'll have anything that's from 64x64 to 1024x1024.


Q: Do you use more than one texture map for a model? Or do you get to use one?

A: We didn't use more than one but it has been known to be done. So some of the larger buildings I've been working on I'd use more than one - especially diffuse maps, we have a specular channel, a normal map channel an opacity channel, we have increments of channels. So in one object you might have seven different textures that are 1024 so that's why you might not want to have more than 1 texture on it because of all the other passes that are going through.

Q: Can you describe to us your general design icon, going from the design team to artists, modelers, etc.

A: So sometimes the artists might have an idea and the concept of a picture or show us a design. Alot of times the designers will need an idea i.e. a GTA unit that can siege. So we'll do concepts, finish up the concepts, go through a few rounds of that, then start the modeling, then texture and animation, then we put in a couple deaths just to make sure he's not to cluttered on the battlefield, and now the real work begins. We'll have him in the game and we'll be playing and the designers will decide the siege range isn't working so we want to make it melee range so we have to tweak the art. Then our own artistic comments start coming in i.e. "I don't like how he walks around with this - we should make him look more powerful". Take the Thor for example - we had to shrink him when people started making more of them in gameplay. That's usually the last stage of the art - we'll go through their effects, we do a real death and polishing and then the unit might be taken out of the game.

Q: Are we going to see all the models in this game be available in the editor?

A: Yes. I'm actually doing a pass right now, because we're doing lots of stuff for single player and the levels, and they want us to do it for every level so that if someone is making a mod they have access to that art even though we're not using it. So we're doing lots of extra work just for the editor and making lots of cool and dynamic stuff for you guys. The thing is that someone will come up with a cool little critter or civilian vehice, and even if it's awesome we will do extra work to put team color on it.


Q: Is there specular mapping or new layers delaying the game?

A: The specular mapping, once you create the art you can create those things like that. There are programs that can create those things for you. But no, the art is right on schedule. We'll have time to put in more art than the game even needs and put in some unique units. The art will be pretty easy to take care of.

Q: What kind of programs do you use?

A: We use mainly photoshop and 3d studio max for texturing and modeling. We'll use mudbox and zbrush to do some normal maps and portraits. That's basically the core right there.

Q: Weather was a big feature in WarCraft III. Are you guys including weather?

A: The ones we have with the rainstorms going on there's so much more atmosphere in them. It looks really nice. Besides rain, we try new things like death storms coming through, mystical smoky clouds that wave off the ground so it looks like they're wagging or parallaxing. We also use fog effects in the editor. If you go in the canyons we'll have a flash of lightning and smoke, so there's a whole bunch of things that will be available for modders.

Q: In regards to having the unique hero models and you all working on multiple death animations, even though hero death is something you'd want to avoid, would you create some sort of over-dramatic hero death animations?

A: Right now we haven't established all the hero death ends yet, but we've been thinking in the context of the levels, but it really depends on what the game needs. As artists we love doing that kind of stuff.

Q: What's the most detailed scene in the game right now?

A: Probably our Korhal levels, city based tileset. There's alot of civilian vehicles and people running away in fear. When you're walking around as Raynor some of those sets are just really hardcore detailed. The Terratron might be the most graphically expensive unit in the game...so I think that's why he might not be in there.


Q: Are there any plans extra texture effects at least in single player? i.e. weather after-affects like rain dropping off of leaves.

A: We don't necessarily have that for weather, since raindrops coming off leaves would be too small to see, but one thing we have is the Zerg effect. If there's an infested Terran colony, you will know. It's not just going to be brown team color. They're covered with all sorts of nastyness and stuff. This stuff is sort of the things we try to ninja in at the end of the project.

Q: Do you guys work on pre-rendered cinematics as well as in-game models? Do you base your art off the cinematics or vice-versa?

A: We work with the cinematics team alot. In fact, the cinematics team is doing all of our pre-rendered cinematics and in-game spaces right now. The units themselves, they made the Hydralisk 360 - full model. Some of our models are too big for cinematics i.e. the Marine is too bulky to do a salute. But vice-versa that's no problem since everything is so small.

 

starcraft 2

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) BlizzCon 2009 event article.

starcraft legacy

starcraft 2 blizzcon 2009 lore/voice actor panel

 
The BlizzCon 2009 StarCraft II Lore Panel took place on Saturday, August 22 at the Anaheim Convention Center. It was hosted by Chirs Metzen, Blizzard Entertainment's Vice President of Creative Development.
 
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StarCraft II Cast

Actor: Character:
Andrea Romano Casting Director
Robert Clotworthy Jim Raynor
Fred Tatasciore Zeratul
Neil Kaplan Tychus Findlay
Dave Fennoy Gabriel Tosh
James Harper Arcturus Mengsk
Tricia Helfer Sarah Kerrigan

 

blizzcon 2009 starcraft 2 lore panel

 

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Announcer: Welcome to the StarCraft II open question and answer panel with Chris Metzen, [Blizzard Entertainment's] Vice-President of Creative Development.

Chris Metzen: What up, BlizzCon! Well, I might as well stand. Guys, thank you for being here this afternoon. In past years we've done StarCraft II lore panels, we've done a number of things. Usually we talk about what's going on, we talk about the characters, we talked about some of the storyline going on, some of the ancillary products a few years ago. This year, we want to try something a little different. For the past - I can't tell time anymore, someone told me it was a year now - we've been working on the VO component for StarCraft. We've got our scripts together, we got the story together, we have cast the game, and we've been diligently recording all of the really wonderful actors that we found to portray these characters. So what we figured we'd do today is actually bring the cast of StarCraft 2 out to Blizzcon so that you guys can get to see who they are and vibe out, you know, with really hearing what they brought to the role. We'll have a Q and A towards the end of the panel, so you guys can ask whatever, right? One caveat being, not all the actors know the lore as well as you do. And you probably know it better than I do, but I will try to, you know, play goalie, you know, the tougher lore questions, but you'll take it easy on 'em, right? They're not necessarily experts. I think I'm frothing, do you see that spit come out? That was bitchin'. In HD. So guys, as we get started, we're gonna bring all the actors out, and the first character we want to bring out you guys will recognize. Old-school, been with us from the start. The one, honest man in the universe. The hard-hittin', hard-livin' Jim Raynor. We got a clip for ya. Play the clip.

*no audio on clip*

Chris Metzen: Audio helps. You know what, folks backstage? Let's play that again. 'Cause it rocks.

 

 

Chris Metzen: There's our boy. So ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to old-school Jim Raynor and hell of a guy, Mr. Robert Clotworthy.

*Robert Clotworthy walks in*

Chris Metzen: What's up, baby? Booyah. For our next character we want to introduce-- oh boy, I hope I have this right. Oh indeed. This is a wild one. The gentleman that played this character-- what's it been, 12 years ago, is actually no longer with us. We did have to find another actor that we felt had the same amount of soul, the same gravitas, the same power, right? So, in introducing this next character, you should know who this is. Let's roll the second clip please.

*clip of Zeratul*

Chris Metzen: Everybody's favourite alien assassin, Zeratul. Playing Zeratul, guys, give a warm welcome to Fred Tatasciore.

*Fred Tatasciore walks in*

Chris Metzen: Yeah, yeah. What's up baby? Guys, for the third character we're going to bring out. Is one of my personal favourites, a new StarCraft character that we made up a little after we began the story process for the game, but this character has quickly just taken over and just, just rocks. He's so funny. And the sound of his voice just lights us up. You'll recognize this character from the intro of the game. Can we roll clip number three please?

*clip of Tychus Findlay*

Chris Metzen: Ladies and gentlemen, as Tychus Findlay, Mr. Neil Kaplan.

*Neil Kaplan walks in taking pictures*

Chris Metzen: Ahaha. Hello, BlizzCon. Right on, baby. For the fourth person we're introducing, this person is not actually playing a character. This lady has become one of my favourite people on Earth. She is one of the best voice directors in Hollywood that we've had the great privilege of working with and learning from. She's directed all sorts of animations for Warner Brothers. You know, the Batman Animated Series, Superman, Justice League, Green Lantern: First Flight, Death of Superman, all the big Warner Brothers stuff. She's done, what, little tiny shows, like Spongebob Squarepants, Avatar, you know, she just absolutely rocks. Ladies and gentlemen, our voice director, Andrea Romano.

*Andrea Romano walks in*

Chris Metzen: Rolling right along guys, the next character we're going to bring out, again, is a new character who we've woven into some of our other existing lore. Not too much is known of this guy yet, but he's just a fun character to write. I think you guys are gonna get a kick out of him. Let's roll clip number... I guess it's number four, guys.

 

 

Chris Metzen: So guys, as Gabriel Tosh, Mr. Dave Fennoy.

*Dave Fennoy walks in*

Gabriel Tosh Voice Actor Dave Fennoy

Chris Metzen: Who, you really have to understand, looks so much cooler than Gabriel Tosh. So, guys, for the next character we're bringing out, it's another old-school character. The insane tyrant you kinda love to hate. Let's roll clip number five, guys.

 

 

Chris Metzen: Ladies and gentlemen, as--returning as Arcturus Mengsk, Mr. James Harper.

*James Harper walks in*


Arcturus Mengsk Voice Actor James Harper

Chris Metzen: Good sir. And greetings, fellow Terrans. This is where you sit sir--I said boy. So guys, for our last character, you might notice that someone is conspicuously missing from the panel. Let's roll the clip. You know who this is.

 

 

Chris Metzen: Who is she? Kerrigan. Indeed. Guys, there's been a lot of speculation, a lot of rumor on the internet about who our new Kerrigan was gonna be. We got pretty stoked. We hooked up with an actress that is just absolutely amazing, has taken this role and just owned it and brought out nuances I can only hope for. And it's been an actual pleasure to work with her. You may recognize her from a little show on Sci-Fi Network called Battlestar Galactica. Ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Tricia Helfer.

*Tricia Helfer walks in*

Chris Metzen and Kerrigan Voice Actor Tricia Helfer

tricia helfer starcraft

Chris Metzen: Ms. Helfer, hello. Thank you. Guys, actually, that was all I had planned, so, you know. What do you wanna talk about? You know, guys, we've never done a panel quite like this before, I think I said it up front. But we were gonna do just an informal discussion, and I'll attempt to moderate. I tend to talk a lot, as you know, so I'll try and knock that off. And we'll just talk to the actors, and when we're done with that we'll go to Q&A. Did I mention that before? The senility is setting in, so I guess we'll just start at the top-- I can't see anybody-- Mr. Clotworthy.

Robert Clotworthy: Yes Mr. Metzen?

Chris Metzen: Wax philosophically, if you would, good sir. What's it been like? To come back and play Jim Raynor?

Robert Clotworthy: First of all, I want to say that I am thrilled to see so many people here. I mean as a-- you know, as a voice-over person. We usually stay in the background. And I'm just thrilled to be a part of this experience, to have so many fans here. I want to thank you all for your support, and I'm absolutely thrilled to be back. And I'm telling you: this game rocks. Chris Metzen is a friggin' god.

Chris Metzen: Thank you. Guys, you know it's funny. By way of anecdote: you know, Raynor was one of those characters--it's hard to remember, what was it, twelve years ago? I can't tell time. I don't know when we started writing the original StarCraft, but we thought the idea of, you know, these epic alien civilizations crashing for supremacy, that in the midst of all that you got pretty much this one honest man, right? This kind of uncompromising dude, kind of caught in the midst of all that, and the idea or the theme that one man can make a difference in the midst of all these titans at war, and there was just something about Robert's voice, right? When he came in, you know, that first--many years ago, and he just started talking as this man. Sometimes as a writer you never quite know how the character's going to sound or feel. And Robert just owned it. And, again, we are just so glad to have him back. You know, Andrea, actually I'll ask you a question. Cuz, you know, you may serve as a goalie, interestingly enough, during the discussion. What do you hear? Like as Robert, you know, gets going, and you had a chance to kind of meet Raynor, and direct him over the course of this campaign, what has been your impression? What do you think sings about his take on the role?

Andrea Romano: What's so interesting about voice directing in general is you can never anticipate what voice is gonna come out of an actor. You can look at what an actor looks like and assume that's gonna be what their voice sounds like, and then they completely surprise you because they've got this enormous arsenal of a thousand different voices inside them. And I had worked with Rob many, many times over the years on everything from Batman, and Justice League, and Superman, and many different series, and some of the more cartoony ones - if you will - the Animaniacs, and Pinky and the Brain types of series. And when Chris contacted me forever ago through my good friend Russel Brower, who I have to thank publicly for bringing me into this Blizzard family, and told me that we were going to be working on this project, and I was listening to Rob's voice, and I said, "No no, you mean Rob Clotworthy?" And I heard his voice, and I--"No no, Rob Clotworthy." And then I hear this wonderful voice come out of Rob which I had never ever heard before. It's one of the joys of directing voice actors, is to hear these things that surprise you, after years and years of knowing an actor, to hear something new and different I had never heard before. And so, as we worked together, and we worked--now what, six, eight months on this together? And the voice even evolved during that time, as we worked through some of the scenes and we discovered some more levels to this character, we'd hear this depth and this range of emotion that would come out in the voice and it's been just an absolute joy to discover this actor that I've known for so long, to do these different things. Did I answer your question, in fact?

Chris Metzen: Handily.

Robert Clotworthy: I was gonna say that Raynor is a very unique character in that he is the reluctant hero (for those of you who've studied mythology). And he's something that a lot of us can identify with. Lot of us wish we were him, but he's a great role model as well. And I also understood that there's a great responsibility in performing this role, because it does mean so much to so many people. And also I want to tell Andrea: you may have six Emmys, but I've got--

 

Andrea Romano: Seven.

*laughter*

Chris Metzen: She's keeping it real.

Robert Clotworthy: Snap. Still, you may have seven [sic] Emmys, but I have a n00b.

Chris Metzen: Yes. Yes he does.

Robert Clotworthy: It's a doll. I have a doll. A Raynor doll.

Chris Metzen: It's pretty good.

Fred Tatasciore: He has an action figure.

Chris Metzen: You know, Fred, I guess we'll just kinda move down the line. Guys, you may not know: we had met Fred, and we were in need of a new Zeratul. Unfortunately, the gentleman that performed the role back in the day was a man named Jack Ritschel. And Jack was Zeratul and, actually, General Duke. Just a really cool guy, and he passed away a number of years ago. So as we were looking at Zeratul these days, and wanting to find someone to really round out that character, we found Fred, a man of a thousand voices, and it's funny, there's another character in StarCraft 2, we didn't put it up here, but Fred also does Rory Swann. You know, who's Raynor's mechanic, the guy down in the engine room. He's also just a terrific character. I hope. And, uh... So Fred, what was your impression, coming into this really zany universe, and--

Fred Tatasciore: [squeaky voice] Well, well doing the voice of Zeratul--and this is actually my normal voice. We start off that way and then it goes through processors. And we-- [normal voice] No, actually, seriously--I'm sorry. Really, it was Jack Ritschell who really captured the spirit of this 600 somewhat year old knight templar. Amazing character, one of the best characters I love playing. So I really just trying to voice-match, voice-print what he brought. And then anything after that, without giving away too much, was just filling in those spaces. I really, really enjoyed playing something like that was almost a--I heard him being called almost a good Darth Vader type, you know, something that really invests so much in the survival of things, and just an incredible character. So that's kind of what I did, then I just-- [Zeratul voice] Then I just went further. And now you have to talk without a mouth. [normal voice] So that's kind of interesting too. It's all psychic stuff. And then Swann was fun, 'cause that was just basically my New York family. [Rory Swann voice] You know, we were going to fix a few protoplasm things over there, don't worry about it. It's easy. Gonna be do that. Oh, no no you guys. [Zeratul voice] It's wonderful to be here. Thank you for being here. Many blessings upon you. Many blessings.

Chris Metzen: So, one of the funniest things with Fred is, we were joking with him about having to do lip-synching for Zeratul when he actually has no mouth. He's like, "What the hell are you guys talking about?" So, it worked out where we didn't actually have to, you know, go there... That was a terrible joke, guys, I apologize. I'll get better as we go. Is the bar open? So, Neil, you know we talked a lot about Tychus and how he came to be. I was remarking to the crowd a little earlier, I just, I love Tychus' voice. Like, once that voice came out of your body, which was so wild, you know, "How are you making that sound?" Suddenly, we wrote the character in a totally different way. The voice just took over, guys, and this whole different kind of personality started to come out, that became just the perfect foil for Raynor. You know, this good honest cop, and suddenly there's this guy--you know, give 'em some Tychus, man.

Neil Kaplan: I guess I should probably say the line which most everybody is familiar with. [Tychus voice] Hell. It's about damn time. [normal voice] 'Cause, you know, since I first did the scratch tracks for the character, I've been sitting on this news for a long time, not being able to say anything and seeing this face everywhere.

Chris Metzen: It sucks, don't it?

Neil Kaplan: But I'm gonna echo what was said previously: this is the coolest character I have ever played. Plain and simple. I've played characters that were made famous by other voice actors, and that was really a lot of fun, but this was the chance to create my own thing. And then, quite frankly, Chris, when you told me what you said, it was the greatest compliment that any actor could ever hope for in their career. You know, that I came in, and read lines that you wrote, and because of the performance I did you changed things? I mean, holy heck. That's--that was, I mean, I don't know if I touched the ground walking home that day when you said that to me. And the greatest thing, I've to say, about playing Tychus, is, you can stay up 'till five in the morning drinking scotch and not have to worry about how you sound the next day. [Tychus voice] 'Cause it's always--

Dave Fennoy: Actually, you have to stay up 'till five in the morning drinking scotch.

Neil Kaplan: Haha, exactly. Well, we actually did have one session where I had really bad food poisoning. And could barely make it out of bed, got into the car, drove to the session, spent about a half-hour in my car working up the energy to get in, did the session - everything went great - and then took about another half-hour in my car waiting to drive home. But it worked perfectly! 'Cause it's that kind of character. But I've never had a character I felt that devoted to. You know, it's basically there are 88 keys on the keyboard, and Tychus is one of those characters that gets up and plays 86 of them. And thank you, and to the rest of the StarCraft II team, to the artists, to, you know--and of course, working with the greatest voice director that's ever walked the planet. This has just been a surreal ride for me, and I hope it goes on for [Tychus voice] an awful long, long time.

Chris Metzen: Indeed. Indeed. Yeah, Dave, I was going to ask you, you know, about Tosh. He was one of those characters that we-- Sometimes, the story demands a certain character, but what's funny in video games, is that sometimes the artist will just conjure a character, and the visual design is so engaging, that, you know, we as writers, you know, go like, "Holy cow, we have to input that. I don't know where it fits, I don't know what he's gonna do." But there was just something so engaging about Tosh in the ide[sic]--oh, I can't tell you. Anyway, there's really good stuff with Tosh guys. You know, panels like this are a bitch when you actually haven't played the game yet? Just trust me. But, Tosh was one of those characters where the visual design, you know, a bunch of, I think cinematics artists were just kinda concepting out, and like, wow--he actually started as a mercenary--and as we got this kinda visual solution, there was just so much magnetism to it, that, you know, we sought out the voice actors, and the day you came in--I think we had tried a number of actors--and you just kinda had this very dark, you know, kinda, you know, raspy thing going on, and like, "Oh oh oh! That's it!" What was your impression of this guy? You know, this kind of very zany character, right?

Dave Fennoy: How many of you, first of all--you've never heard Tosh, right?

Chris Metzen: I don't think anyone's seen the video clips yet.

Dave Fennoy: It's a brand new character in the game. And Tosh, [Tosh voice] is kind of, got that accent like this, man. And everything is very, very -- bad. I like to kill people. Mmm. Let me cut him up. [normal voice] And yet, somewhere deep inside, he has a heart of gold.

Chris Metzen: Way deep inside.

Dave Fennoy: Waaaaay deep inside. Tosh is a -- I think he fits in with the game so well because he really is a product of the environment that he's in. This is a guy, that, like I said, someplace deep inside, I think he--there's something good about him, but he knows, that if he's gonna survive, it's gonna have to be about number one.

Chris Metzen: Yeah. It's a rough universe.

Dave Fennoy: He has this thing with Raynor. *pause* Not that kind of thing.

*laughter*

Chris Metzen: That's a different game. That's the expansion.

Robert Clotworthy: So, Tosh fantasizes a lot.

Chris Metzen: You know, the Kerrigan thing may or may not work out, so it's, you know, progressive... I don't know. But, uh, the uh... Oh hell, I lost my thought. We'll just sit. It's okay, we got time.

Dave Fennoy: Have a sip of that Mountain Dew, that'll handle that for you.

Chris Metzen: You know what, it's uh, been freebasing Mountain Dew for, like, twenty-four hours. The thing about Tosh, guys, you may not know, I know it's a little difficult not having played the game, it's hard to understand just what his role is, but when we included Tosh in the storyline, the trick is, in a lot of ways, Tosh counters a character named Matt Horner. The actor that plays Matt, I think was out of town this weekend. He couldn't be here with us. But if Matt did the kind of like the angel and the devil on either shoulder for Jim. We wanted to have characters that kind of contrasted whatever his inner struggle is, whatever his path is gonna be. You know, the universe wants to pull him in many directions. In a lot of ways the Matt Horner character kinda represents Jim's idealism. His willingness and need to fight the good fight, do the right thing, seek justice, almost to a fault, where Tosh, like Dave said, Tosh is much more the kind of "do as thou wilt", number one is everything, you know, Tosh, as you said, is a product of a very hard universe. The StarCraft setting, apart from ravenous insect swarms of aliens and giant golden demigods, it's a rough universe anyway. You have the Dominion, and you know, Arcturus Mengsk--thanks a lot, man. And you know, just these tyrannical overlords, and, you know, just all the compromise, you know, that you find in the Dominion, Tosh is very much an expression of that, you know, as he's graduated from his army experience. He's just a very nihilistic man and he creates a really fascinating counter to Raynor. And something just to geek out on: while Tosh was constructed, I don't know, over the past two years... I guess I won't tell you exactly what his unique storyline is, but we've woven it in such a way that he has a very interesting tie to another StarCraft character, Nova. So you guys might remember from the game Ghost many years ago, may it rest in peace. The character of Nova will also make a little cameo in the game, it's very cool, and it turns out that Tosh and Nova, again, not necessarily in that way, have a shared past, and it'll be very cool to see that unfold. Uh, whew. So. Arcturus. Emperor, what was it like, in the early years, as the Guild Wars ravaged the Confederacy, and you found yourself angry with the former government, and seeking to overthrow the--how was it man? How was it for 'ya?

James Harper: [Arcturus voice] It was rough. It was really, really rough. How did we come upon this voice anyway? That's what I wanna know. I don't remember. I absolutely do not remember. [normal voice] You know how--what I have discovered here today is why Jack Nicholson and those other people always keep their sunglasses on. Man, it's bright up here! But--I can't stand it when they keep their shades on, so here's my eyes. Now you can see me. I haven't had as much fun doing something in probably, twenty, thirty years. This has been a phenomenal experience cramped down into a very short period of time. I mean, this whole character in the sequel, what, is maybe about three and a half hours over a couple of days to do this. But just in brief, I'm getting older, and so my memory is going. So I don't remember a whole bunch about the 12 years ago, except that you weren't as big back then, and it was the first time, and your studio offices were in this little industrial complex I believe, hole in the wall, with no air conditioning, by the way; the air conditioning didn't work.

Chris Metzen: That's the continuity here.

James Harper: That's right. And I got hired for that and I drove down to Irvine to do it there. And I had kind of, you know, it was-- I still have, on my shelf, by the way, an unopened, unplayed, original StarCraft game. Because it was for Windows only then, and I'm a Mac user, so I never even--

*cheering*

Chris Metzen: Mac users in the house!

James Harper: Anyways, so I never opened it. So I don't really remember too much.

Chris Metzen: I was going to ask; guys, what do you think we can pull for an unopened StarCraft on eBay these days? 'Cause that might be-- That would be mega.

James Harper: Look for it on eBay soon. Along with some of my favourite cowboy shirts. From Wrangler, etcetera. Anyway, so I had actually forgotten what character I did. Sorry, I really did, no offense. But I had done more than one, this is why. And then I came back a few years later, anyway. So there's a website out there called imdb.com: International Movie Database [sic], which has every actor's history. Except that it can be wrong much of the time, in case you're not aware of that. But it can be very very wrong. And imdb has me, "StarCraft: Zeratul". So all these years I'm thinking, "I did Zeratul."

Chris Metzen: You did better than you thought!

James Harper: "I was Zeratul." So, breakdown services, they start casting this sequel. And I see it one day--my agent sends it to me--and they're looking for the character Zeratul. And it was, "Those sons of--" I was really good!

Chris Metzen: Haha! "I'm the emperor, dammit!"
James Harper: "What are they-- They're not even calling me to see if I'm available?"

Chris Metzen: Yeah, those Blizzard guys.

James Harper: So a couple of months later, my agent gets a call and he says, "Oh, I got a call from this thing, this Blizzard stuff. They're doing a sequel. They want you to recreate your character of Arcturus Mengsk." And I went to myself, "Self: never mind." And I'm really happy to be back doing this again, [Arcturus voice] 'cause it's so much fun.

Chris Metzen: Arcturus Mengsk, everybody.

James Harper: And it's all true.

Chris Metzen: So. So Tricia. You've been very patient, by the way. Thank you.

*cheering*

Chris Metzen: So, I have to wonder-- Oh hell, it just has to be done; we got any Galactica fans in the room?

*wild cheering*

Chris Metzen: Booyah. Very good. You know, it's funny. The character of Kerrigan is just so -- principle. She's the heart of all that is StarCraft. How was that? You know, stepping into this role? I know you read a little bit about it before we got going, and certainly I geeked out on you hugely as we were recording. What do you make of this character? How was this for you?

Tricia Helfer: Well, first off I have to say, it's intimidating to come into a game that, you know, and to do a job that you don't really know the history of it. I've said before, and this is the wrong room to say it, but I'm not gonna pretend: I'm kind of a video game virgin in terms of playing. I've played a robot, I uh-- Frogger was the last game I ever played, in the eighties, and I don't think I could make it past the first level. So, personally, I'm not very technologically savvy. So it was intimidating kind of coming in not knowing the backstory and the history and everything. It's an honor to be up here on this panel with everybody because you just hear all the voices and everything and I kind of just go out and do my thing, but I certainly don't have a bunch of different voices. So it's wonderful to be up here with you guys. Kerrigan, you know, from playing numerous characters on Battlestar, it wasn't threatening to come in and go "Oh my gosh I have to play two different characters in this." It's an evolution. And I think the first time I came in all I had really to go on was two pictures of Sarah and the Queen of Blades. And Sarah--

Chris Metzen: "Guys can you make up your mind?" You know?

Tricia Helfer: Yeah. And she looked so sweet and you know young and pretty and everything and I'm "I gotta have a little bit higher voice for this and everything. And I think it was Andrea you're like "No no. Do your voice." Which is not so high and pretty you know? And then the Queen of Blades it's really just finding the-- You know they stem from the same person--they are the same person--and just obviously something has happened. [pointing to James Harper] Because of you dammit! You know it's really fun because you don't get to work with each other with the other actors so you're kind of-- when you're a newbie you come in and you're just like "Okay I have a line on the paper." And thank gosh for these guys being the room you know Andrea and Chris and everything to answer my little silly questions or to say "No well that's not really what's happening this is what's happening." At the time I didn't know what Zerg and all these things were so it's really important to have everybody in the room to kind of direct you in the right way. And it's certainly fun to try and find the small differences; how do you bring in Sarah Kerrigan into Queen of Blades without you know completely changing it? Obviously Sarah doesn't know anything about the Queen of Blades so that's more kind of innocent but then when you go to Queen of Blades-- I mean she's fun. She's just fun to play because you just get to just be that evil side. And somehow--I think I'm a fairly nice person--but somehow I do a pretty good job of bringing out evilness.

Chris Metzen: Is it very therapeutic?

Tricia Helfer: It's therapeutic and I guess it saves on therapy bills.

Chris Metzen: Indeed.

Tricia Helfer: Get to go to work and be mean. So yeah for me it's a work in progress. I'm fairly light in the first you know part of this--

Chris Metzen: Installment.

Tricia Helfer: In the first installment I'm fairly light so I certainly don't have a lot of the story to go on yet but cut to next year here and I'll have a lot more to tell you about the character per se.

Chris Metzen: Guys you may not know: in this in the Wings of Liberty installment you know the first of the three chapters of StarCraft II obviously Kerrigan is the Queen of Blades. All the way through. And there are certain sequences certain cinematics we've created where we actually flash back to StarCraft 1. I think it was Mr. Harper's clip where you saw Arcturus. Actually it was a cinematic of the scene in StarCraft 1 where Kerrigan gets left behind. You know to get pulled away by the Zerg. And it's kind of one of Raynor's kind of recurring nightmares. You know that moment where everything in his life fell apart and this really great girl that he loved got taken away from him just as she was getting interesting. And boy did she get interesting. So a lot of the scenes Trish is talking about are kind of flashbacks of where we see Sarah as she was which was a lot of fun to write. And uh you know uh-- Oh once again I forgot what I was saying. Like I was really going somewhere and then POW! Hit the wall you know? All good. Andrea you know getting back to you. We haven't been avoiding you. Little? Little? Nah no no-- Little? Yeah. So what have your impressions been of just the arc of this thing? With all these characters right? And with this big high-falutin' storyline right? What has your experience been in terms of like I guess I want to say corralling all of these characters right? Or compensating for the different vocal textures and just the different personalities like what have you made of that? Like what do you make of the arc of the cast?

[...]

Andrea Romano: I came into this game about a year ago we started playing together. So I had to learn a lot about the history of what all had happened in the past and where we were going in the future. I just asked Chris backstage a little while ago did he know from the very beginning when he first started creating this game what the whole arc was going to be and where we were going to end because it's important for us to know as performers and as a director where the peak in the story is where the emotional arc is what's going to happen eventually and what do we need to foreshadow some point maybe in the first installment and it's going to pay off in the last. So I'm very lucky to have Chris sitting next to me every single session to keep me on course so that I know what to get from the actors. Chris is very articulate; he understands what he needs and then he can communicate that to me and then I can communicate it to the actors in specific acting terms that helps us all get together and get it done. We don't record the actors together those of you who know some of my work and know some of my backstory I like to record in what's called ensemble records which is I like all the actors in the room at the same time. I like to rehearse them together; I like to record them together. It gives us a really nice opportunity to have actors act and react and you guys reacting is as much a part of what we do as anything. You want to actually be able to have the actor respond to what the other actor before them has done. We don't always have that luxury and especially in recording for video games. So it's key that we remember what the actor before did and what the actor afterwards is going to do so that we actually have continuity. Now we do have the great luxury in video game recording that we have a very long production period. We actually have the chance [...] to record it once to edit it together with the other scenes with the other actors play it back and then go "You know what we can improve that." We can actually make that make a little bit more sense by playing it for the actor not only with the other actors' performances but then with picture so we can actually see what's physically happening. And there is lots of tweaks we can do which is again not to overuse the word but it's a luxury it's really nice to be able to go in and fix things afterwards.

Early on in my career I started doing video games and then I stopped for a long time because they got to be pretty much directing 75 different versions of "Urgh!" or "orghh and it really wasn't really very challenging for me because video games got to be a lot of slugfests. But these games created by Blizzard are cinematically and theatrically so interesting and so stimulating; they are like directing a movie. And so it's Blizzard that brought me back into directing video games and so when you see some of these scenes for this new game that's coming out StarCraft II you're going to be blown away! They're stunning! And so it made all of us bring our A-game - all of the actors myself as a director - to bring the best possible theatrical work to it and it's stimulating it's interesting it's wonderful. And again I don't know if I've answered your question at all I've just sort of gone off on a tangent. But in fact what we have here is a really interesting beginning because we have several more installations to go yet before we're done. We have years to go. I hope that you guys enjoy playing it watching it enjoying it as much as we do making it. I'll tell you the recording sessions are intense and a tremendous amount of fun. And before I forget I really have to thank Andrea Tores who does the casting and organizing of all the recording sessions and she's just an awesome awesome talent herself and so please a big shout-out to Andrea Tores.

Chris Metzen: Thank you Andrea! Ladies and Gentlemen Andrea Tores!

[...]

Q&A:

Q: Hi this question is actually for Andrea. You guys have an amazing cast for StarCraft II. I actually wanted to ask one quick question and then a main question. Quick question is are you also doing the stuff for Diablo III? And then the other question is for people like myself who actually want to get into voice acting what would you recommend? Do you do anything like that and for StarCraft II? And working with these actors what do you look for?

[...]

Andrea Romano: You've probably heard me answer this before but for people who are trying to get into voice acting the key number one most important thing to do is acting. You have to take acting classes if you're not just an instinctual wonderful actor from birth. Because it's wonderful if you can do lots of different voices but if you can't act you're probably a lot of fun at a party but whether or not you can actually get employed doing voices it's questionable. So it's all about the acting. And then after you take the acting classes and learn the acting terms so you understand what motivation is and what subtext is then you take voice-over classes to learn how to do different everything from microphone technique how not to "pop" into a microphone how not to get "whhind" in the microphone how to do different voices how to manipulate the voice so that you can use the entire range that you have. Now you may only be able to do one voice. That doesn't mean there isn't a place for you in the animation industry you just have to be able to do it better than anybody else. You have to be able to know how to use that voice to the absolute full extent we might need you to use it. And then the answer that I always give about how you actually get employed is you know pretty much large expensive gifts sent directly to my office. I'm kidding! Somebody actually sent me an enormous gift basket to my office and I had to send it back because I was just kidding when I said that. The truth is then you put together a demo; you send your demo to agents. You hopefully find yourself a really good agent who's going to get your demo out there to all the animation companies and all the game companies. They turn us on to it we listen to you we bring you in. The very most important thing you need to know guys there is always room for excellence. If you are really really good at this and you persevere and you follow your dream there is room for you in this industry.

Q: My question is directed to all the voice actors. Do you have all your own version of the character? Even though it's all illustrated already. Like when you act do you visualize yourself or do you see the other character?

[...]

Neil Kaplan: I'll start off. Yeah. Because I Neil Kaplan am a smaller guy not quite as energetic as Tychus so I kind of put myself in that place of having no fear and cajones the size of cantaloupes kind of thing. So yeah I kind of do visualize that situation and they are kind enough to bring whether it's pictures of the character or pictures of the set or of the characters that you're working with. 'Cause every little piece of that information helps at least me set myself in that place and get more attached to the character.

Dave Fennoy: Hitchhiking off of your answer I love to see the character I'm playing looks like because that gives me a lot of ideas about who he is. But more importantly I want to know what is the backstory on that character. Where did he come from? How does he feel? What are the things that he does? How does he feel about the other characters that he's working with. What's inside of him what's inside his heart and what's in his head? Those are the things to me that really start forming that character for me.

Fred Tatasciore: And also what does your character want? That's the biggie. What do you want? Are you trying to have the survival of the universe? That's a big one. It all depends on the yeah you do inhabit the character's soul. Basically it's like you join up with it. But it's a "who are you? what do you want? and where are you? and where have you been?" Those are the big ones for me anyway.

James Harper: And on top of that not only what do you want but what are your obstacles to achieving what you want? And how do you go about crossing those hurdles going around those obstacles? Basically the subtext of your character. It's everything that Andrea said it's not just doing the voice it's acting.

Robert Clotworthy: I also look at it as "How do I serve the story best?" I mean where is my character within the story? And also one of the first things I said to Andrea when we started working I said "Keep me honest." And as an actor that's critically important that you honestly share and convey those emotions and those feelings. That's what I think people appreciate about a performance.

Tricia Helfer: Exactly what Andrea said is you really do have to you know-- taking acting classes if you're interested in getting into it because that's where you sort of start to understand all these things you need to do yourself prep work as an actor coming into something. For me I'm newer at voice work and I find I actually have to almost visualize the character more so than I do in front of the camera because in front of the camera you're actually running around the scene-- you know if you're running around with a gun like what I was doing with Sarah the other day--I think last week--you know I'm running I'm shooting the gun everything like that. In front of the camera you're actually doing that. I mean mind you it's a prop gun but you're still actually running around doing that. So it's easier to become the character and feel like you are the character. But when you're sitting there with earphones on and you have to stay this close to the mic you can't be jumping around or they hear the sound. I mean your stomach gurgles and it's like the loudest thing possible. It's like I get so embarassed in the sound booth because it's like "Okay do I eat beforehand? Because then I'm going to be digesting and if I don't eat beforehand then I'm going to be hungry." Then I'm like "Your voice makes like--" You know. So you're right here so for me personally I have to even visualize more so than if I'm on camera because that's all you have to go on is your mind. Because you can't be bouncing around you can't be running around with a gun you aren't being cradled in Jim's arms or whatever--or Robert's. Or--

Robert Clotworthy: You can cradle yourself. My arms are ready for you.

Fred Tatasciore: And that being said you really do use your imagination quite a bit. That's the whole point.

Robert Clotworthy: I'd rather experience it! Create a little experience!

Fred Tatasciore: Oh okay acting is experience. But then you are teamed up. You got this great-- you know like in this case you have the wonderful writing-- writers right there in the right direction. So you really are teamed with the animators the writer and the director to create this one character. It's kind of extraordianary it does require all that.

Chris Metzen: Guys really quick that just reminded me. I just want to give a quick call out to Dustin Browder and Andy Chambers who are not up here but just cohorts in writing the game designing the game Nick Carpenter the cinematic director. A lot of people aren't up here right now but you know you guys know what's up. You've been here last couple years. The writing team is just exceptional and it's been just a blast to develop these characters with the boys. You know and do this thing as a team effort. Just wanted to say that boys if you're out there thank you.

[...]

Q: I have a lore question for Wings of Liberty.

Chris Metzen: Real loud brother.

Q: At the end of Broodwar the hidden map where you find out Duran's plot--

Chris Metzen: "Dark Origins".

Q: Yes. Will that have any pact on Wings of Liberty? Or will that come in later perhaps?

Chris Metzen: Uh-- It heralds everything. A little bit of that plays out in Wings of Liberty. In some really cool ways. We see Zeratul creeping around kind of going Dick Tracy trying to get to the bottom of that mystery. What is going on? What's happening under the surface of this great war? It plays out a little bit in Wings of Liberty but it really is if you can say that-- At some level the heart of StarCraft 2 and StarCraft in general as far as I'm concerned is Raynor and Kerrigan. Right? And that thing that might or might not happen with these crazy kids. Right? If that's the heart of the story the theme that Dark Origin kind of sets in our minds is essentially the spine of ultimately-- the great questions of the StarCraft universe will be unveiled overall. Like in it plays out every three chapters. And I probably could have answered that with a third of the words but you know. So. Did I answer that question satisfactorily? You guys gravy? All gravy? Thank you.

Q: My question was I was wondering is the core cast signed for all three chapters so the voice acting continuity is right there all the way to the end?

James Harper: Sure we are aren't we?

Andrea Romano: We certainly want that to happen. We certainly want that to happen.

Chris Metzen: Other than requests you know to have all the brown M&Ms out of the bowl and you know just crazy rock star requests I think we'll try and make everybody happy and make sure the continuity is maintained.

Robert Clotworthy: Well let me ask you: do you guys want us back?

*cheering*

Robert Clotworthy: Okay.

Q: My question pertains to the StarCraft lore. Do you have any intention to purge Kerrigan ever her Zerg infection and liberate her from her involuntary role as queen of the Zergs?

Chris Metzen: Well uh that's a hell of a question man uh--

Tricia Helfer: I know you don't I know you don't.

Chris Metzen: Ahaha. I'm going to leave it at that. And seriously dude like in a room with this many people I'm not comfortable telling you about my intentions you know what I mean? Like it's really personal you know? I don't know. *scoff*

Q: Hi. This one is for you Chris. Did you play any role in like World of Warcraft and StarCraft and maybe Diablo?

Chris Metzen: Did I play a role as an actor? As an actor?

Q: Yeah.

Chris Metzen: Well I hesitate to use the term "as an actor" but uh-- What did I do? In StarCraft I'm the Terran Battlecruiser. You know [Battlecruiser voice] "Battlecruiser operational." [normal voice] You know I'm the uh--

*wild cheering*

Chris Metzen: Wow. Well how about [Marine voice] "How do I get out of this chicken-shit outfit?" [normal voice] I'm the Terran Marine. The original Ghost you know [Ghost voice] "Ghost reporting." [normal voice] I'm the original Ghost. World of Warcraft I am Thrall. Actually I did Lo'gosh as well which is not very good but forgive me. [Thrall voice] "I am Thrall [normal voice] you know? So all that. I don't know guys. All sorts of stuff like Ragnaros I think I did a number of bosses. But I hesitate to use the word "actor". I have had the priveledge of serving with distinction in that geeky capacity.

Andrea Romano: It's a shame he has no skills huh? Slug. Slug.

[...]

Q: This is for Robert and James. In the original there's a lot of talking directly to the player who is a character. Is there a lot of difference in acting when you have to talk to someone who doesn't exactly exist as anyone you hear? And as a side question does the Magistrate still exist or in the lore is he going to be kind of pushed aside?

Robert Clotworthy: As an actor when you're acting you're alwyas talking to someone. And we use substitution. I mean at least that's what I do. So that I have somebody specifically in mind that I'm talking to whether that happens to be a character I'll personalize that. I'll use somebody from my own life so that I'm actually talking to somebody that I know somebody I have a relationship with. And I'll find a relationship-- I'll use somebody where that relationship makes sense for the person I'm talking to in the game. So that way where I'm coming from is a place of truth and reality as opposed to just you know talking to something that doesn't exist. 'Cause as an actor for me I can't connect to that. But if I want to communicate with somebody if I want to talk to like I'm talking to you now I'm talking to you specifically and you know that I'm talking to you. As far as the lore is concerned Chris?

Chris Metzen: As far as the Magistrate goes at the end of it guys in the original game the Magistrate was really a contrivance to help tell the story. Right? It was never intended to be a really fleshed-out character. But it's funny that it fees that way right? In some ways our tools for telling story in the original game were very crude. Right? You know you put in a map there wasn't a whole lot of story in the map like you saw with things like Warcraft III. But you bounce into these screens where you had these goofy windows and these little heads you know yelling at each other and you know the Magistrate-- It did feel like a fictional part of the universe but with this game we wanted to bring the characters a little more forward and not have that half-step in between the player and Raynor for instance. So we've kind of done away with it but it does pose an interesting question: is that character still out there in the lore somewhere? Perhaps.

James Harper: Also just to continue with the talking to someone-- One of the things that I mentioned about it seemed to go so quick this whole game and I'm only there for you know couple of days you know three and a half four hours something like that. One of the reasons why it went so quick is because of our director right here Andrea. She is so freaking good at getting what she needs from the actors and the characters and bless her as well she reads with you. So you're not just-- I'm not just blanketly saying words but you do sometimes in some voice-over situations. You don't get the benefit ever of the other line just what you're reacting to. And what she said I really want to stress: most acting is reacting. That's what acting is. So it was great to have her in the booth be able to read not only just your que line but read the other characters if there are five or six paragraph of lines ahead of that which you may need as an actor for the situation to be alive in and be reacting to until such time as your actual line comes up. So I was never speaking in a void. I was always actually speaking reacting to a very specific voice and a very specific word. Which really is a huge help.

Announcer: Looks like that's going to end our Q&A. Let's give it up again for our panelists.

[End]


starcraft 2

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) BlizzCon 2009 event article.

starcraft legacy

blizzcon 2009 battle.net panel

The following is a summary of the StarCraft II Battle.net Discussion Panel narrated by Rob Pardo:

Battle.net hasn’t been talked about lately because World of Warcraft is Bilzzard's most popular game. The goal of the new battle.net is to improve it so that it will be a premier matchmaking service. It was the first matchmaking service integrated completely into the game. Launched in 1996 for Diablo, it was updated in 2003. There have been more players on it in total than World of Warcraft. StarCraft II and Diablo III will take this prospect further.

As always everything presented in this panel may or may not change.

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In Warcraft III, automated matchmaking was introduced and it worked well. This made it easy to play with friends and Blizzard felt that this was really important to the game. Warcraft III ended up being extremely popular because of, in part, the effective matchmaking system and ladder. Randomly-selected teams were put in and were by far the most popular way to play the game. The thinking was that "if you’re going to lose, it might as be with teammate you can blame". The icon system, a poor man’s version of an achievement system was introduced. Once a player won a certain amount of games as an orc or as a human he would gain new icons and be able to display it as his 2D avatar on battle.net.

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There were some features of the latest Battle.net that Blizzard didn’t like, such as: feeling the chat system was too disorganized, gameplay being disconnected from single player, as well as new players being thrown into the thick of ladder and custom map play. They felt that the ladder system only served the best players. In a community of ten thousand players, the amount of people that cared about ladder was maybe only one hundred. How satisfying was it to be number 5329 on the ladder? It wasn’t as successful as it could have been.

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How games were displayed and supported was a problem. For example, if someone wanted to play something besides DotA or Footmen Frenzy, too bad because it's too hard to find a game. So Blizzard has decided to break down battle.net 2.0 into the following segments:

starcraft 2 battle.net 2.0

 

Always-Connected Experience

The goal for StarCraft II’s Battle.net is to provide much closer integration than in previous games and bring the Blizzard community together. Blizzard wants to make sure you’re connected to news, content, and friends. Blizzard gamers need to know what’s going on in the community. Blizzard has learned from WoW and the support of the WoW community.

In Blizzard's previous games, they had a different account structure such that they didn't know who a player was, which made it hard to have persistent characters. For example, in Diablo II, you only got to keep characters for three months. This won’t happen again. Battle.net accounts will be updated and connected to emails.

In the login screen the user enters the Battle.net account from the very beginning. It’s the first screen he sees, with access to single player, multiplayer, skirmish games, new content, widgets, and news. This will happen before the first game, so that everyone is connected to a larger community. Users will still be able to play as guests in offline mode if they select single player.

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Challenges Are Fun

The single player screen is kind of large because Blizzard assumes that new players will want to jump into it first. From the single player screen a user can also play custom/skirmish maps. Single player maps will attempt to teach more advanced multiplayer mechanics (current gaming example: Guild Wars attempted this through the Zaishen Challenges). The player will be able to try as many times as he likes to improve his time and score, as well as compare it with his friends. He’ll be able to access his friends list even when he's playing single player. Compare this to battle.net where someone has to log into battle.net, log out, be sight-unseen for a while, etc.

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One of the features of the replay screen is the ability to rewind. Rob Pardo claimed "they said it couldn't be done but we found a way".

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The goal of the profile is to be useful to the player, so that he can see where he stands and what he needs to improve on; it will feature things like achievements, statistics, and match history, which can also be browsed by and compared with other people.

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Achievements

WoW’s achievement system is great, but Blizzard will try to improve StarCraft II’s achievement system further. The awards for achievement are the avatars. A user's achievements will unlock a variety of avatars that he will display. Just like in World of WarCraft, when people accomplish an achievement their friends get a little toast that shows up. This will create a little competition. In StarCraft II, the avatar system will have a 2D avatar representing a player on battle.net, which will be based on the number of achievements a user completes. On top of this, decals, which are unlockable through the achievement system, will show up on units themselves. There will be many things players can unlock and display to their friends. The pool of unlockables will be added to over time.

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As soon as a user is logged in the game can check for patches and make sure everything is up to date.

Cloud Storage

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If someone plays the game from work he can actually play a couple missions of the campaign so that when he goes home he can leave from where he left off without saving and doesn’t have to bring a flash drive.


Competitive Arena for Everyone

Another feature is improved automated matchmaking. Blizzard hired a PHD statistician to come in and develop a system even better than TrueSkill, though Blizzard is not going to go out and create fancy labels and trademarks for this system. The goal is to offer play options for everyone to enjoy; battle.net needs to make sure it's easy for people to find their friends in organized games.

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Ladder play doesn’t have to be for hardcore gamers. Many people all have experience playing competitively in their daily lives i.e. basketball league at gym with six other teams. Everyone can compete in a fun, structured, organized way, instead of playing against Michael Jordan. People can have a fun experience without being the best. This concept will be key to battle.net.

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Leagues & Divisions

When a player is on battle.net for a certain amount of time, he can get put into these leagues: Practice league, Copper league, Bronze league, Silver league, Gold league, Platinum league and Pro league.

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For example , someone can be known as bronze player, etc. He’ll be in a division with 100 other players of his skill level. Battle.net will make sure that he can actually win against each person in his division and that it’s realistic. So everyone has a chance to win in his division. At the end, he can go to end of season tournaments and prove who’s going to win the league.

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Here are the casual play options: practice league, co-op skirmish, random teams, challenges, custom games. In the practice league game speed is slowed down, there are anti-rush maps and an all-around friendly experience so players don’t have to get 4-pooled rushed on their first game.

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Party System

This is something that’s been around most notably in WoW. Blizzard didn’t feel any reason why they couldn’t bring it over to StarCraft II. Players can invite someone to a party and see party members, etc. Whoever the party leader is can select which game the players go into. All the players automatically go into a game together and when it's over return to the service together. They can play as a persistent party as many games as they want until the party breaks up.

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Custom Games

In WarCraft III, the custom games list was kind of this mish-mash; there would only be DOTA games in the game list. If someone wanted to play something else they couldn’t play it. All different games will be consolidated into one line. There is a “filter by genre” so players can subdivide and filter even more. For example, the player can select co-op skirmish, and DOTA will go away.

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One of the things that’s very cool is a player can have the game lobby be private, invite his friends, configure the teams how he wants and hit the “open to public” button, which broadcasts the game to the game list. So he doesn’t have to go through the whole trying to sneak your friends in and coordinate when they will join ordeal.

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The battle.net account system helps to ensure fair games. Smurfing, which is basically expert players creating new accounts to stomp new players, is over. Players can only use one Battle.net account to play StarCraft II.

Connecting The Blizzard Community

Blizzard wondered "why not celebrate all of our games and bring them under one roof?" The idea here is that if someone is a StarCraft II player but also has WoW accounts, he will still be able to be informed about what’s going on in WoW. In battle.net players will be informed about all the games they are involved in.

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There are no more chat rooms. Battle.net has switched chat over to instant messenger style chat. It’s easier to organize and chat with one person or multiple people.

People often play with real-life friends. The other thing we’ve noticed is, especially with World of WarCraft growth, real-life friends are created from in-game friendships. When new games comes out, someone might want to play with his group of friends. It’s hard for WoW players, even if they’re in same guild, to coordinate this.

Realms keep friends apart and they’ve got the concept of trying to keep track of character names, etc. Blizzard looked at xbox live for inspiration. Their employees added each other to their friends list. But once all their friends started popping online they couldn’t remember who each person was. Then they looked at myspace: the only challenge they had was to find new friends. They could name themselves something goofy or use their real name. Even if someone used the search function he still might not find all of them. In google talk, once someone has been added an alias can just be assigned to each person.

So Blizzard has decided to introduce the concept of battle.net RealID. In real life people know each other by real names, so the goal is to introduce this to the service itself. It doesn’t matter what game or realm friends are on in battle.net, they will be able to communicate with each other all the time.

RealID

Once the user has battle.net RealID, he doesn’t have the pressure of staying on the same character because once he’s accomplished an achievement it doesn't go away. People can communicate with friends across entire realms/regions and Blizzard games.

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Someone might play StarCraft II for 6 months and play other Blizzard games. What’s going to happen is he's going to know which of his friends are playing Diablo III  and he will have a friends network right at beginning of the game. He doesn't have to start his friends list from scratch. With RealID users can have additional functionality in addition to friends. They can be in StarCraft II but also be talking about something in WoW.

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There is also the concept of a broadcast. The way it works is if someone is playing WoW, WarCraft III, or StarCraft II, they can tell their real-life friends what they might want to play later. Real-life friends in battle.net are mutual; Blizzard is taking a page out of the social networking sites' book. They will also be making these changes in WoW to reflect real-life friends.

Privacy options and parental controls will be there - it's something they are totally adding to the service. There are lots of knobs and dials. There are many levels of friendship i.e. acquaintances or parents. The goal is for users to choose what information they want to share with friends.

Custom Map Community

This is something Blizzard hasn't always talked about. Two years after WarCraft III was out, the popularity of games actually shifted to playing custom games. 99% of people played Reign of Chaos when it was released. The modding community eventually shifted this towards custom games.

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The StarCraft II editor will be much more powerful than WarCraft III’s. These editors are the tools Blizzard uses to build the campaign - the entire game as well as past games can be recreated. Everything Blizzard can do, a modder should be able to do, plus there is more functionality even Blizzard doesn’t need, such as items.

Map Publishing

There is the new concept of map publishing. Once someone actually makes a map he can publish it up to the service. He can make it so that everyone can get a hold of it. A user can download maps without joining a game. When a user pulls up a list of maps, he can browse all the maps on the service. He can see all maps on battle.net – everything that’s been published. [Editor's note: this means that maps will no longer be hosted on websites, but on battle.net]

The big things to discuss in the future i.e. not at the launch of StarCraft II are the following:

StarCraft II Marketplace

In the marketplace players can see all the different maps and it is easy to browse. There is the concept of ratings, and people can comment on maps. Users will be able to browse, search for maps and they’ll be rated and sorted by stars or popularity. There will be free and premium maps. A portion of the revenue will go to the map creator.

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This is all aimed at making this awesome, awesome, map community. What happens when people have a budget? To find out simply take a look at all the sorts of things people can create i.e. Counterstrike and Day of Defeat. Imagine if a company could hire a small development team and create a game using StarCraft II as their engine. This creates a much larger selection of content for players.

Blizzard wants to see what new genres people can come up with. Tower defense came from WarCraft III; now it’s in other games.

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Defense of the Ancients and other maps will be a free map, because in StarCraft II they are not an original concept. Blizzard totally intends for there to be lots of free content i.e. the iPhone apps store. But there will be a layer of super-professional content on top of that. Blizzard can look at maps that rise to the top and can create automated matchmaking or achievements for these maps.

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All this adds greatly to the longevity of the game. Get prepared to start making awesome maps! Blizzard wants modders to have a head-start – it takes a long time to make an awesome game.

Q&A:

Q: Any plans for add-ons for forums, fansites, social networks?

A: Yes we have some aggressive plans for this area after the game launch.

Q: For achievements, what about offline play – for people who can’t connect for two weeks? Does that get factored into battle.net?

No. If we allow people to bring offline games into achievements, it allows people to hack the system.

Q: Will you be discouraging cheating by banning IDs? Will it affect other games?

A: In WarCraft III we could ban your account, but accounts were free. Now we can do any of these things. The question is what the person did.


Q: With battle.net, should we expect significant reduction in latency?


A: We are looking at various solutions to decrease latency especially for other countries.

Q: Are you guys doing anything to make people liable for leaving games?

A: It’s really hard for us to enforce something like a custom map like that from a Blizzard point of view. Our solution in WarCraft III was that we had a concept of shared control. If your partner drops you can control all his units. We’re looking for solutions but there are things that will be tough to enforce. People might have a legitimate reason to leave, so it’s really hard for us to be the bad guys to enforce this.

Q: Do you have any plans for realtime spectators & pro-league replays?

A: Yes, we’ll have realtime spectators for ship & pro-league replays on ship.

Q: Matchmaking system – how does that mix in 2v2 if your friend is different rank?


A: We track your ranking as a team.

Q: Will we be experiencing new battle.net changes for legacy games?

A: No, not for now.


Q: You guys have plans for allowing people to incorporate their own models, etc?

A: Definitely. But I’m not sure of the extent of that.


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This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) BlizzCon 2009 event article.

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