Resources - without them there would be no great empires. Throughout this world's history, and that of the Koprulu sector, the rise and fall of people and races has been dependent on the ability to control and extract the resources necessary to produce and grow as a civilization. In StarCraft, the expansion to control more mineral deposits and Vespene geysers is absolutely necessary and just as important as the units and buildings that will ultimately be produced to fight in your games. Since the announcement of StarCraft II, there has been quite a bit of discussion about whether or not the game is too easy for the hardcore player. With the introduction of MBS (multiple building selection), auto-mine, smart-casting, and virtually unlimited unit selection, the emphasis on some aspects of both micro and macro seems to have decreased. That isn't to say that there is no micro or macro is present in StarCraft II just that our traditional, ten-year-old understanding and expectations of micro and macro are being challenged.

Blizzard's StarCraft II team is well aware of the role that micro and macro have played in the development of StarCraft as an e-sport as well as the overall success of the game. However, there is a perceived need to balance the game with a mixture of StarCraft's traditional expressions of micro and macro with modern user interface improvements. Therefore the development team is constantly trying to introduce new ways to add game-play elements with an emphasis on encouraging good micro and macro that are independent of the user interface. Abilities like the Stalker's blink, the Reaper's mines, the cliff-walking, and any other unit ability that you can think of all will work without knowledge and good use of micro but those same abilities used by a player with micro understanding will have a far richer and more complete experience, not to mention the obvious advantage. Likewise, the Terran's ability to swap out building add-ons, the removal of the Zerg's ability to mass select-build mechanic, and the introduction/changes to resource collection are all efforts to promote and reward macro-management.

One of the most important aspects of macro-management in StarCraft and Brood War was the emphasis on properly managing your economy. Players that understood when and why it was necessary to expand, build more probes, or when not to, had an enormous advantage over their opponent who did not. In the same vein as the principles of macro that were inherent to the original game, the developers of StarCraft II introduced two changes to the resource collection mechanics in the recent World Wide Invitational (Paris) build.

The first and most obvious change in the WWI build was the addition of a new macro element to extraction of Vespene gas. Here is an updated explanation of how it and the rest of the resource system works via our Blizzard Blue Updates page:

Cavez elaborates on the new gas mechanic:
Here is how it works. All numbers are subject to change. We have changed the balance since the WWI build and will be fiddling with the balance this coming week for sure.

You start with two Vespene Geysers in your base and at every expansion (some maps will not do this of course, but all the WWI maps do). Optimal number of workers per gas collection building is 3 (so you need 6 total).

All gas collection buildings start with a certain amount of gas (like SC1). I believe it's 1000 in your WWI build.

When a gas collector runs out it becomes "depleted" (like SC1). A depleted gas collector still allows you to harvest some gas (like SC1). In the WWI build you collect 6 gas per trip from a working gas collector and 2 gas per trip when depleted.

All gas collectors have a "Restore Gas" (name temp) button that you can use to return your gas collector to a non-depleted state. In the WWI build this gets you 400 gas back into your collector. Restoring Gas costs 100 minerals and takes the gas collector down for 45 seconds (all numbers temp).

Like all things this is work-in-progress, but here is what we have seen in the games we have played:

1) You can choose how much gas you want. The more gas you want, the less minerals you will have. If you build your 2nd gas collector too soon, you may have the wrong resource mix. If you go gas too late, you may have the wrong resource mix. If you use "Restore Gas" too few times you may not have enough gas to do some of the crazy end-game stuff. If you use it to often early on you may have too much gas and not enough minerals.

2) Some of the more mass-able units are very, very gas heavy. You can scout a player and gain some sense which way he is headed based on how quickly he goes for double gas.

3) Sometimes you don't want to "Restore Gas" if you need just a little more gas in the short term because you are trying to tech or build something critical. Since it takes down your gas collector for 45 seconds you may need to hold if you are close to being able to afford something that requires gas. This of course damages your gas collection for the long haul which makes the choice difficult.

Why we are trying it:

1) We think gas could be more interesting than it was in the original StarCraft.

2) We think StarCraft 2 can benefit from additional economy choices.

I think that's all of it. Now that you have complete information, please discuss. =)

Cavez talking about the mineral collection rate:

Minerals are down to 5 per trip, but they harvest a little more quickly. We have been doing some timed comparisons of minerals in the original SC to SC2 and we have been really putting a lot of effort into getting the collection rate to be the same. The pathing is SO much better in SC2 that we were collecting minerals at a ferocious rate.

So now mineral collection is pretty close to SC1.

Cavez answers a rumor that gas collection buildings have an ability to let peons harvest gas two at a time with cooldown:

We aren't doing that currently though we did discuss it. We certainly wouldn't add it to what we have at WWI. It would be one or the other. Generally the "cooldown" type abilities we tried were a bit dull because you just mashed the button whenever the cooldown came up. Putting a minerals cost to the ability has so far been much more interesting.

Cavez answers the following questions posed by Blazur:
1) Will there be any way to regenerate minerals?
2) Can you Restore Gas an unlimited number of times?

1) No. At least not right now.=)
2) Yes.

I'm a little worried about some weird end-game scenarios where you have way too much gas but so far it hasn't been as much of a problem as I thought it would be.

Each mineral field still has 1500 minerals:

Still 1500. We are only trying to lower the rate of minerals collection. We still want an expansion to have the same minerals value that it did in the original game.

Now how did this impact the gameplay? The most noticeable difference is that the higher tier units' gas prices appear to have been doubled. For example, a Carrier cost 400 gas - the same as a Mothership's gas price. That made it quite difficult to mass any later-tier units. I found that this gas trade-off encouraged players to use a balanced force to attack instead of massing a single unit. Of course, the better players that expanded and were able to keep their resource numbers high were able to do whatever they wanted - but by that point the game was over anyways. Since there were two geysers and you were able to replenish them an unlimited number of times (even at the cost of 45 seconds and 100 minerals) I didn't find the mechanic to be overly prohibitive - just different. But, for many of the hardcore and older StarCraft: Brood War players they felt rushed to expand because they weren't used to being pressured by gas requirements. One or two Colossi in conjunction with a balanced force of cheaper gas units (Stalkers, etc.) was more than enough to win any pitched battle. As a matter of fact, it encourages, shorter, more intense games, especially since each of the races' forces are so mobile. Most games I witnessed ended under 15 minutes, and well below the 20 minute limit. It did however have an adverse affect on some units, including the Carrier, which was particularly weak in this build; the firepower that one, or even a few of them, provided was a waste. It looked as if once again, some units were only influential en mass - but this particular mechanic seemed to contradict and discourage that play style.


However, it did feel that this mechanic was a "forced" attempt to artificially create macro. Perhaps it was because the games were so short but the strategies that Blizzard seems to wants to foster with this mechanic never really came into play. Once one of your geysers was depleted a warning beeping sound would be played and the Assimilator would glow red. That made it easy to know which Assimilator was depleted even if you weren't keeping track of how much gas each of your geysers had remaining. Since the only decisions you have to make, as mentioned above by Cavez, are when to begin extracting gas and when/if to recycle your geysers. Both of these seem to be no-brainers, almost all units require gas and unlike StarCraft, for the small price of 100 minerals you aren't ever forced to move your primary gas extraction points. That isn't to say that two geysers in your main is the best or most effective way to play - expansions are still incredibly important, but that it's no longer necessary for the casual player. I too think gas could play a more interesting role; I'm just not convinced that this is the way to do it. Doubling the gas costs for some units changes an entire gameplay dimension. It forces you to be more careful when selecting which units to purchase - or at least it's intended to, but it doesn't always accomplish that aim because if you're smart, gas production isn't affected all that drastically. If it cost more minerals it could have a drastic influence on the game.

Minerals are down to 5 per trip, but they harvest a little more quickly. We have been doing some timed comparisons of minerals in the original SC to SC2 and we have been really putting a lot of effort into getting the collection rate to be the same. The pathing is SO much better in SC2 that we were collecting minerals at a ferocious rate.

So now mineral collection is pretty close to SC1.


Q: Does each mineral field have 1500 minerals still, or has that been lowered as well?

Still 1500. We are only trying to lower the rate of minerals collection. We still want an expansion to have the same minerals value that it did in the original game.

As stated above, mineral collection is really quite similar to StarCraft and I didn't notice to much of a difference in collection rates. But the addition of two new probes at the beginning of the game (up from 4 to 6) really speeds up the early game. Everything just comes faster. This is, generally speculating, a good thing. Since all three races are affected by this change - there is no one-sided advantage.

One of the newest aspects of StarCraft II is the automation. With the option to make many things an "auto-cast," the micro-management has lost some of its steam. In the original StarCraft, the player was able to rally their newly built workers near the resource nodes (both gas and minerals), but the workers had to be individually selected and told to mine a mineral node or harvest a vespene geyser. This has now been changed to suit more automation and less micro-managing in the base. When mineral deposits are selected as a Nexus' rally point, any new workers built from that Nexus will automatically start mining once warped-in. This makes the game fast-paced and allows the player to focus more on the battle than the economy, which irritated many older players. Auto-mine by itself isn't destructive - but coupled with several other UI changes, including MBS and the ability to queue buildings, makes the game a different experience. It's important to note that no one is forced to use these features, but the advantages or disadvantages have yet to be fully explored.


The other large mineral change from the original StarCraft that was still in the WWI build was that the yellow minerals still exist. These golden high-yield minerals will return eight units per trip instead of the standard five. They were usually placed in difficult-to-defend positions, and the idea is that they'll foster new strategic opportunities for both the player and the map-maker. I did notice that during some games that the yellow minerals were pivotal and heavily influenced late game strategy - it's just far easier to pump out more units when you have more minerals.

The last change that seemed to influence resource gathering was the fact that like WarCraft III, the maps are pre-scouted and are just covered by the fog of war. This means that even on maps which you don't know well, you know where to send your units to establish expansions, scout for the enemy, etc. This also means fewer mis-clicks and less time wasted accomplishing the same task. The larger effects of this lifted shroud of darkness remain to be seen - assuming that this wasn't just for the WWI build and all games will be begin with the map pre-scouted.

At the end of the day it felt like all the WWI build resource gathering attributes and mechanics are innovative to the StarCraft franchise and are attempting to make the game more interesting - without being prohibitive. All together they add different takes on classic mechanics. The gas mechanic, I'm sure, will be tweaked extensively, hopefully to the point where it doesn't feel forced, but rather that the player is being rewarded for having the skill to manage the entire map. One of the things that made StarCraft so unique was that those that could do it well - dominated those that couldn't. It wasn't something that the game taught - it was something that you had to learn about playing the game at the highest level. Casual players weren't able to grasp the depth of StarCraft's unique brilliance in that regard; it was rich and had so many intricate levels of play; we hope that in StarCraft II - the acquired skill to macro awesomely will be a worthy successor to the legacy created by the original.

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