Thursday, May 31, 2007

StarCraft 2's Art Design

How units and environments are being created in the sequel.


The second day of Blizzard's Worldwide Invitational 2007 in Seoul, South Korea shed light on some of the artistic efforts that went into creating StarCraft 2's units and environments. On hand during a panel discussion were Sam Didier, Senior Art Director for the game, Rob McNaughton, Lead Technical Artist, Trevor Jacobs, Senior 3D Artist, Allen Dilling, Senior 3D Artist, and Dave Berggren, another Senior 3D Artist. Didier started off the discussion, which was first a powerpoint-style demonstration from all five panel members followed by a question and answer session from fans in attendance. All these guys with the exception of Allen Dilling (considered a "youngster" at Blizzard, having only worked there for eight years) contributed to the art design for the original StarCraft. Dilling contributed to the visuals for WarCraft 3 and its expansion, The Frozen Throne.

Emphasized was Blizzard's commitment to creating exaggerated, stylistic characters, something indicative of the company's visual form. When characters are so small onscreen, they need "bold and saturated colors," along with "strong silhouettes" according to Didier.

Rob McNaughton then took the stage to speak briefly about creating units. Blizzard is using Photoshop for texturing, 3D Studio Max, and StarTools to integrate custom art into the game. StarTools is planned to be made available to the public along with ScummEdit for map creation. McNaughton went on to say the map editor will feature new scripting and trigger mechanics, and be a more powerful version than that found in WarCraft 3. In terms of fancy technical effects, StarCraft 2 is built on a DX9 engine and uses per pixel lighting, normal mapping, high dynamic range bloom, rendering and tone mapping, as well as integrated havoc physics. Using their engine, Blizzard is hoping to have up to 300 units on screen at once.

Also detailed was the process of creating the actual models in the game. McNaughton showed a Protoss Zealot as an example. The base wireframe model was comprised of 1500 polygons, given the normal mapping treatment, textured through Photoshop, and through the process emerged as a pleasantly detailed, furious Zealot face with moving eyebrows, glowing blue eyes, and a metal goatee. Trevor Jacobs spoke next to briefly relay how models had to be adjusted from the concept art phase to final. He singled out the Protoss Immortal as an example, describing how the shoulder pads had to be enlarged and facial angle tilted to adjust for StarCraft 2's top-down view.

With so many Zerglings, Marines, or Zealots crowding the battlefield, Blizzard is focusing on "personality, life, and emotion with animation," says Allen Dilling, "we're not really worried about being realistic." Each unit will have three variations of animation to make the screen more interesting when multiple units of the same type occupy the screen. Protoss Phase Prisms, for instance, have differentiated effects for transformation between mobile mode and phase field mode. Dilling also described how the Protoss Mothership's Planet Cracker attack, which drills three rings of rotating concentric lasers into the ground, was originally designed as a large single laser blast. It was changed to the present state because the single beam obscured too much of the action behind it. "[We] try to be fast and quick with effects and make sure they don't interfere with gameplay," says Dilling. He repeated the phrase "tight and concise" when referring to animations, and said the art team was focusing on eliminating clipping between units. Exceptions are made for special cinematic effects, such as the elaborate warp-in animation for the Mothership.

Next Dave Berggren took the stage to comment on StarCraft 2's environmental design. Three environments were shown, including a Protoss forested temple world called Bel'Shir, the Terran space platform shown in the demo videos, and the fierce Zerg world of Char. Demonstrated were a number of "doodads," apparently Blizzard's term for environmental objects. For Belshir this includes stone arches and rocky structures. Heavy industrial structures, energy pipes, generators and exhaust vents were used for the space platform, and bone finger structures extending from the earth, fleshy fins, and lava canyons on Char. Berggren continued with his process of creating ground tiles, focusing on the brick floor featured on Bel'Shir. He starts out with a line drawing of brick tiles, adds light and dark areas for texture, overlays an actual picture of dirt, adjusts a few details by hand, the drops in a normal map and imports it into the game. The result, for better or worse, looked like a dirty stone floor.

After the prepared comments, the floor was opened to fans. The art panel had to field some rather strange questions, including one asking whether there'll be a StarCraft-based movie. Of course there's been no announcement yet, but Didier enthusiastically responded, "we never put anything off the table." Another crowd member asked if we'd ever see a StarCraft-based RPG or MMO, to which Didier said, "that sounds awesome, I would love to play it, but at the moment we have nothing announced."

Read full article: StarCraft 2's Art Design

Dear Blizzard/Vendini, we want some ******* Linux ports.

give us the ports!
Stop WINEing and actually tell them we want ports.

... Another call for signing the petition and proving Bizzard that the Linux installers ARE needed!

[source: Ubuntu Gamers Arena]

We all know the old story: Blizzard releases game, game runs on ***dows (and mac), Linux gamer complains. Nothing happens, Linux gamer uses WINE to run game in OpenGL mode, Blizzard wins either way. Well speaking from personal experience, it's getting a bit tiring. The Linux community is tired of being largely ignored by the gaming industry taking a big old crap on us, and with the upcoming release of Starcraft 2 some of us are attempting to do something about it. *INCOMING JOKE* Kidnapping CEOs, burning their dogs, and selling their houses on Ebay. *END JOKE* But seriously a petition has been started, and at the moment of writing this it's up to 3741 signatures. It may not help, or it may tip the scales, who the hell knows. But trying to do something is a whole lot better than just complaining.
Truth be told an online petition does not amount to alot anymore, but it's a start. Just seeing over 3000 signatures might just be the confidence boost some of you out there need to do something more. The best idea is to send a physical letter to Vendini or Blizzard on this subject (addresses for both here) being polite and to the point, listing the games you've purchased from them in the past and letting them know you are tired of having to dual boot or use API emulation to play the games you love. Like has been said on the Ubuntu forums, real letters get real responses, and I'd imagine getting several thousand actual letters from their customers could possibly make an impact. Think it over, sign the petition, and if you're up to it buy a stamp and pour your heart out.

Read full article: Dear Blizzard/Vendini, we want some ******* Linux ports.

No to a DotA-like mod/map for StarCraft II

Here's another petition... This time not for Linux installers, but for banning DotA in SC2 =)

I can't see why would someone mind StarCraft 2 DotA, but here's the quote anyway:



Mods/maps are good, they help introduce more new blood to the gamer gene pool. There is Counter-Strike a mod for Half-Life; Counter-Strike: Source a mod for Half-Life 2; there is Defense of the Ancients or DotA as commonly known, a mod-map for WarCraft III RoC/TFT.

These mods served its purpose, there are countless new gamers today, and still even added everyday. But it has reached the point where it must sleep for now. As too much of it only kills a game it was based on, and the genre it belongs to.

Look at how Counter-Strike killed "real" FPS and the game Half-Life. The same thing was repeated again with DotA, killing WarCraft III and the "real" RTS world.

These mods are good, yes, no question about that, but these "type" of mods have a purpose and they did their job well. Let us put it to sleep until we need it again when the time comes.

We, the undersigned, call on Blizzard, Inc. and the mod/map makers to not provide tools and/or maps that will enable the creation of another CS/DotA-type modification and/or maps.

We are not against any of those type of modifications/maps but rather, we all want to keep the spirit, the essence, and the very aspect that makes StarCraft "the god of the RTS" genre intact.

We ask that we keep StarCraft II a true RTS game where RTS and non-RTS players can learn to be a better "real" RTS gamer, and have fun together, using our brains and creating "Real-Time Strategies".

We believe that an RTS should be fun, educational, and healthy. Giving the gamers a chance to develop new skills and to enhance their existing skills. Which a "Real-Time Strategy" game like StarCraft II can provide, and a CS/DotA-type mod lessens.

Thank you very much and we want to reiterate that we are not against the creators of CS and DotA, or even to the mods itself. Let's just put some limits to these type of mods, and choose which games to implement it.

Definitely it is not StarCraft II.

Read full article: No to a DotA-like mod/map for StarCraft II

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Can Blizzard top itself with 'StarCraft 2?'

Rob Pardo talks about long development cycles — and keeping secrets

[source: MSNBC]

By Kristin Kalning
Games editor

Blizzard Entertainment is one of the most successful game developers in the world, with an unbroken string of hit games including “World of Warcraft,” the “Diablo” franchise, the “Warcraft” series and “StarCraft.”

The only hitch? The company famously will ship no game before its time, which means fans often have a long wait between new releases.

Ask any game fan which Blizzard sequel they’d most like to see and the answer will inevitably be “StarCraft 2,” even from the most hardcore “World of Warcraft” addict. Released in 1998, the real-time strategy game about a war between three galactic species is considered one of the greatest games of all time. "StarCraft," and the expansion “Brood Wars,” have sold nearly 10 million units.


What took so long? The first “StarCraft” shipped nine years ago. Why has it taken so long to circle back to this franchise?

Mainly because we make our decisions on what game we’re going to work on from a creative standpoint. The team that worked on the original “StarCraft” wanted to revisit the “Warcraft” universe, and they went on to work on “Warcraft 3.” When that game finished up [in 2002,] they were excited to go back and work on the “StarCraft” universe.

We did break ground on “StarCraft 2” in 2003, but wasn’t in full production for another year or so.

How’d you manage to keep it secret for so long?

Well, Penny Arcade figured it out!

We keep games under code names and we teach developers to refer to games by their code name. And we’re just really careful about talking about the game internally. We don’t bring external folks through unannounced product areas. But I think even I’m surprised that we were able to keep it under wraps all the way to the end.

Speaking of secrets, what is your timeline for release for “StarCraft 2?”

It’s a secret! I can give you the old Blizzard mantra of: “It’ll ship when it’s ready,” but it’s something that historically, we’ve learned to keep release dates really close to the vest. I think all game developers are extremely optimistic, and we used to give optimistic dates and we’d disappoint our fans when we didn’t hit them. So now, I think we’ve just gotten more gun shy. The only thing I can give you [that’s] concrete is it’s not going to be this year. Some people were hoping, because of how advanced the game looks, that we’d have it out by Christmas, but that’s definitely not happening.


Are all of the key roles filled on the “StarCraft 2” team? And what’s the size of the team now that it’s in full production?

All the key roles are filled, and we’re running approximately 40 people.


“StarCraft 2”s biggest competitor probably is “StarCraft.” How will you top that game and convince players that this isn’t just “StarCraft” in 3-D?

That’s a really good question. It’s not so much beating “StarCraft” that’s the problem, it’s beating people’s perception and nostalgia of “StarCraft.” “StarCraft” was and is a great game, but it’s certainly an older game. Across the board, “StarCraft 2” is a better game in a lot of ways.

Will it live up to that nostalgia? Time will tell.

What new technologies can players expect to see in “StarCraft 2?”

The first one is an enormous graphical improvement by going to 3-D.

We’ve also added things like a physics system in the game…we’re not really utilizing it for gameplay as much as for graphical improvement. Like, you’ll see things like debris that will actually fall apart, which adds more immersion and a lot more realism.

Online, we’ve learned a lot. In the original “StarCraft,” there was no online matchmaking system. That’s going to be huge…for “StarCraft 2.” In “Warcraft 3,” you had to press the “play game” button and it’d put you in a game with similarly skilled people. We’re going to do yet another improvement on that system for “StarCraft 2,” which is going to be huge for the online market — especially broad market users.


Given the popularity of “WoW,” do you have any plans to go to subscription model with “StarCraft 2” or any subsequent releases?

We’re going to do what’s right for the game. We made “WoW” to be a subscription game from the very beginning. With “StarCraft 2” it’s probably going to follow more of a box model. But we’ll decide more of that stuff down the line. is pretty expensive to maintain, isn’t it?

It’s not as expensive as “WoW” to maintain! (Laughs)


But no fourth race?

No fourth race. We talked a lot about it. We ultimately decided we wanted to focus on the three races we had.

Will Blizzard remain a PC developer?

I don’t know. If you talk to our biz guys, they like the PC for a lot of reasons, but we don’t make our decisions based entirely on business or even primarily on business. We make our decisions based on the games we want to make. After that point, we make the decision on [what system] that game is going to live. And up to this point, the games we wanted to make worked best on the PC.

Read full article: Can Blizzard top itself with 'StarCraft 2?'

The ultimate Blizzard sequel: Starcraft 2 or Diablo 3?

blizzard logo

Ever since Starcraft was released, it has been an extremely popular game all around the world and even played professionally for money in several countries. Many gamers had been waiting for years with no visible hope for a continuance of one of the best RTS games that was ever created. Then Blizzard decided to drop the ball on everyone and give the good news to the millions that Starcraft was having a sequel and was going to be released in 2008. The whole gaming community went into frenzy and everything that had anything to do about Starcraft 2 exploded on websites and appeared everywhere. Hell, there was even a story on Yahoo’s homepage about SC – that’s how big it was. I was filled with joy yet at the same time torn apart because the news of Starcraft 2 meant fewer chances for the creation of Diablo 3.

The Diablo franchise is Blizzard’s best selling (counting WoW and Warcraft RTS as two different franchsies) with a total of number of around 17 million sold, crushing Starcraft’s 9.5 million. Diablo and its sequel can be qualified as an action RPG that is set in a dark fantasy world around medieval times. You can play many different classes which you gain experience, level up, buy/find items, and much more. The sheer depth of the game is breathtaking and a gamer can easily play the game for years on end while having unique experiences each and every time. This is because most of the levels and items are randomly generated which give tons of possibilities, as well as having an engrossing storyline, and amazing multiplayer. Both games are definitely some of the best ever produced and in my opinion are almost flawless in every single way.

Now I love Starcraft just as much as the next person but ever since Diablo 2 was released back in 2000, I have been hooked. I took a little break for a while but since the announcement of Starcraft 2, I decided to fire it back up and have been playing it for the last week or so. I can’t stop playing again and I am coming to realize why it is my favorite Blizzard game and probably a top 5 favorite game of all time. Yesterday, I sat home and thought about how the release of Starcraft 2 means that Diablo 3 will most likely be put off for at least a few more years if it even becomes a reality. Then I thought to myself, “What happened if Blizzard said they would only release either or game and that’s all they would be creating?” I sat long and hard and came to the realization that I would rather see Diablo 3 be produced because I believe it would set a precedent in the gaming world once again.

Diablo 3 would be groundbreaking in my opinion, and have more affect on the gaming industry then the release of Starcraft 2 will. SC 2 is going to have all the new graphics, new units, maps, and more but in turn will be another RTS which we have seen for the last 10+ years. I think SC 2 will be absolutely perfect but in the same time I believe that it will inspire new ideas like the release of Diablo 3 would. With each of the Diablo games released, they really pushed the limits of gaming at their relative time and took leaps that not many other games have. They encouraged so many other companies to create new and unique games, as well as striving for quality with their releases. Some of the best games ever created were spawned because of Diablo, such as the Baldur’s Gate franchise, Dungeon Siege, Ragnarok Online, and the upcoming release that looks stunning, Hellgate: London. Without Diablo, we wouldn’t have some of the greatest games ever published.

So with all this in mind, I ask you this one simple question: If Blizzard was going to create only one, which would you have, Starcraft 2 or Diablo 3? Think long and hard about this and reply back in the comments for me. I want to see everyone’s’ take on this subject and see who agrees with my choice, Diablo 3. Also, has anyone found themselves playing Diablo 2 again, especially since the news of Starcraft 2 or am I the only one?

Read full article: The ultimate Blizzard sequel: Starcraft 2 or Diablo 3?

Top 10 Reasons to Play Starcraft 2

top 10 reasons to play starcraft 2

If the massive success of Starcraft is anything to go by, and Blizzard has indeed spent the last four years making sure they don’t mess with success, then Starcraft 2 is going to be an overload of fun. Below are the top ten reasons why Starcraft 2 has all the potential to be the best game to play for the next ten years.


10.) Historical Event
Missing out on something everyone is talking about is never fun. You feel like an outsider and you’re not able to easily relate to what other people are discussing. The release of Starcraft 2 will be an epic moment in the history of the RTS timeline of events. No RTS title has been as anticipated (or expected) as the second coming of Starcraft. While you can always get into Starcraft 2 at any time, there’s nothing like playing a new game from the start. Starcraft 2 might very well be your only chance to play a new Starcraft game at release for quite some time.

9.) Accessibility
The challenge of any RTS game should be in fighting against your opponent, not fighting against the gameplay mechanics. Starcraft 2 is not going to be an overly complicated game. While the legendary reputation of Starcraft’s best players can make the franchise seem like it’s overwhelmingly hard to play, it’s really not. There’s a difference between complexity and depth, and Starcraft 2’s mechanical simplicity, but strategic and tactical depth, will make it enjoyable at every skill level.

8.) Replayability
Starcraft is arguably the most played RTS game in history. The reason is simple: downright good gameplay, which is something Starcraft 2 will have plenty of. Combined with good support and a strong community, playing Starcraft 2 will never get old. Each game will offer something different, and even the most common strategies will still be fun to use and fun to try and overcome. If you want a game that will stick with you as much as you stick with it, Starcraft 2 is your best bet.

7.) Strong Competitive Environment
For those that play RTS games competitively, you can feel confident that Starcraft 2 will be very well received by every major competitive gaming establishment throughout dozens of countries. The original Starcraft created the most competitively saturated RTS environment ever. There will be an abundance of local, national, and international LANs and tournaments to play in. There will be online competitions and leagues offering prizes and rewards for being the best. Essentially, there won’t be a shortage of competition or ways you can earn a little something extra for doing what you love to do: play games.

6.) Unique Factions
As elementary as this sounds, it’s something a lot of games simply get wrong. Unique factions do two important things: they add depth, and they add replayability. Depth comes from the fact that the strategies you use to beat one faction will not be the strategies you use to beat another faction. It will require different build orders, different unit mixes, and different uses of those units from one faction to the next. It adds replayability because the strategies you’ve learned for one faction, will not be the same for the other factions. Essentially, once you’ve mastered one faction, you still have two other factions to master. In games where the factions are almost identical, once you’ve learned one, you’ve basically learned the whole game. Starcraft 2’s truly and fundamentally distinct factions will keep the game feeling fresh for a long time.

5.) Unit Abilities and Micromanagement
Part of what real time strategy is all about is being in control of your army. What’s important is for that control to have an impact on the outcome of a game. Otherwise you’re just wasting your time. Many of Starcraft 2’s units will have secondary abilities that allow them to be used in interesting and creative ways. Essentially, these abilities provide a player with the means to extend a unit’s effectiveness beyond its default behavior so that being out numbered doesn’t necessarily mean being beaten. Moreover, these specialized abilities will help to contribute to each faction’s unique identity and playstyle. It will simply feel fun and rewarding using your units as you try and use them to their greatest possible extent.

4.) Huge Community
A large community of players is arguably the most important part of a game, even for singleplayer. For starters, Starcraft 2’s community will more than likely have a very low depreciation rate, meaning it will stay strong for a long time. But even as it starts to decline, the player-base will be so large to start with, that by the time the next Starcraft comes out, you’ll still always be able to find a good game. There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting to find a match against someone who is worth playing against, only to wind up with an opponent or team that just ruins it for you. A shortage of players means a shortage of good games. Starcraft 2 just won’t have that problem. Outside of the game, a strong community means active forums, and more resources available, such as technical help, strategy help, mission help, maps, and replays.

3.) Balance and Polish
These two words are part of Blizzard’s namesake. The game will be polished quite well at the start, and there will be tons of little features that Blizzard thought of. Everything from the way the ladder works, to the communication system, to replays. Balance will of course, be continuously fine tuned as new balance problems emerge from the vast amount of strategic depth that Starcraft 2 will no doubt have. Excellent balance will minimize any frustration of losing due to factors outside of your control, and will put the responsibility to win squarely on your shoulders.

2.) Strategic and Tactical Depth
What is the purpose of real time strategy game if not to have amazing strategic and tactical depth? While all RTS games have their own flavor of strategic and tactical depth that sounded good on paper during development, Blizzard will have made it a point to make sure the implementation of gameplay elements works in practice. The strategy and tactical depth will feel real, and provide almost tangible results. The bottom line is that the game will be fun and rewarding to play. Everything will feel like it has a purpose and everything you do will feel like it matters.

1.) Blizzard and
It would literally be enough to say "‘nuff said". However, this is the number one reason because it’s the only reason why the other nine reasons are reasons at all. Blizzard commands the same sort of market reaction to its products that Apple does. The driving force behind this is simply Blizzard’s commitment to quality and support. Blizzard is the reason why Starcraft 2 will have phenomenal gameplay. is the reason why Starcraft 2’s multiplayer is going to be so substantially better than virtually every other RTS game. If Blizzard settled for being average, this list would be pointless.

Moreover, Blizzard will take the time to deal with cheaters and disconnectors. The amount of money and effort Blizzard puts into this goes above and beyond what’s expected of a gaming company. At a minimum, people just want some form of passive anti-cheat capability built into the game or server system. Blizzard recognizes that this isn’t good enough, and takes an active role in fighting cheaters.

It’s also a company with a sense of humor and personality. The idea of World of Starcraft was a classic. It made some people laugh, it made some people cry. In the past, Blizzard has released bogus (but temporary) patches or patch notes on April Fools, just to mess with people. You just don’t really see that in other development companies. Blizzard is simply a company for gamers. They just get it.

Read full article: Top 10 Reasons to Play Starcraft 2

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Starcraft + Linux + Touchscreen = New way of playing games


Aren’t you tired of gaming in the same fashion, pointing the mouse, keeping your left hand on WASD combination and looking concentrated at the screen. Wouldn’t it be nice to control everything in a more natural way? Well, what do you say about Starcraft on a touchscreen monitor. The next video shows how it can be done in Linux. Pretty amazing. I hope someone tries to bring this idea to masses.

Read full article: Starcraft + Linux + Touchscreen = New way of playing games

How Could StarCraft MMO look...

Starcraft MMO


Read full article: How Could StarCraft MMO look...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

StarCraft II: The Response

Dan, Steve, and Charles chat it up about the recent StarCraft II announcement. Straight from the mailbox to the website.


So obviously the StarCraft II announcement was a big deal judging by the ridiculously huge amount of reader traffic that tried desperately to break the site. Unfortunately for Steve and Dan, the announcement was made in Korea so they missed out on the pomp and circumstance. Luckily, Blizzard was kind enough to provide Charles with a good amount of information that he was able to turn into a live update, art preview, gameplay preview, and unit overview based on what was shown. Blizzard also provided plenty of screens and a bunch of videos to get everyone excited, and I think for the most part that it worked. We're officially excited. Shortly after Dan returned from vacation and email thread started between all three of the IGN PC editors about StarCraft II spurred on by the simple question "What'd you think of SC2?" While there's a lot of things we ended up talking about like the new Protoss units, what we think the campaign might be like, where the story is going, the art and engine, and any speculation on the new Terran and Zerg units, we started with Blizzard's decision to stick to the tried and true that they've been perfecting for so long.

Read full article at

Read full article: StarCraft II: The Response

Friday, May 25, 2007

Starcraft: Dark Templar Trilogy - Book One

Firstborn Q&A with Christie Golden


Blizzard Entertainment and Pocket Star Books - a division of Simon & Schuster, inc., A Viacom Company - bring you Starcraft: The Dark Templar, a trilogy novel series written by Award-winning Christie Golden. She has a track record of over a million books in print sold, fascinating sci-fi and fantasy readers. Among her outstanding twenty-five novels and several short stories in the fields of science fiction, fantasy and horror are Steven Spielberg's novelization of Invasion America, TSR Ravenloft line (1991) with her first novel, the highly successful Vampire of the Mists; Star Trek novels: "The Murdered Sun", "Marooned", "Seven of Nine", and "The Dark Matters Trilogy," "Cloak and Dagger", "Ghost Dance", "Shadow of Heaven" and "VOYAGER: HOMECOMING" among others.

In the Blizzard Entertainment universes, Christie Golden has given us Warcraft: Lord of the Clans, and World of Warcraft: Rise of the Horde ... novels that have influenced canon content in the MMORPG.

The questions of this interview have mostly been provided by fans of the Starcraft Community. Find out more about Starcraft: The Dark Templar trilogy -- which immerses fans into the Protoss history, showing us a glimpse of what to expect in the Starcraft 2 storyline.

Will we see protoss characters we have been previously introduced to, such as Raszagal, Zeratul, Adun, Tassadar and Artanis? Will there be terrans such as Raynor, General Edmund Duke, Arcturus Mengsk, Dan Liberty or other characters from previous novels or from the game? What role will they play?

Christie: Yes, you will see all kinds of familiar faces throughout the series. Since this is set after Brood War, though, no Duke I'm afraid. Don't want to give too much away, but this is a very big and important series and many of the main players in the game will make appearances. Some of them have very significant roles indeed! It's been very exciting to be able to use well-established characters in addition to creating my own. I hope the readers enjoy it!

What timeframe is the Starcraft: The Dark Templar novel trilogy based on?

Christie: Post Brood War, about four years on. Many things have changed …and some things remain the same.

Will the novel trilogy fathom into when, where, and why the templars broke away from the other protoss, becoming the dark templar and Adun's involvement? How much of the protoss history and culture will be covered?

Christie: You're going to get to see a lot of protoss history revealed in this series and you'll meet some major historical figures. Some of the most important moments in their development will be portrayed. Again, I don't want to give too much away, but you'll learn some things that will, I hope, be exciting and fresh. It was very fun for me to be able to address these moments in history and be the author who got to bring them to life. I find the protoss fascinating and I've really enjoyed getting to go in depth with them, their culture, and their history.

Will we read about the Xel'naga, hybrid experiments, abandoned temples and such?

Christie: The Dark Templar Trilogy is going to touch on many, many things that have been mentioned, hinted at, or left unexplored. While on the one hand it is a very intimate story, focusing on three primary characters, it's also rather universal in scale as well. Big things are happening in the StarCraft world, and this series will reflect it. There is indeed a temple, with something unique inside it that our main character will discover.

What locations and planets will the story take place in throughout the trilogy?

Christie: Hmm ... well, there are few backwater planets that many events occur on. But we'll also travel to places that have great meaning to the protoss, like Aiur and Shakuras. As I haven't yet started Book 3 … who knows where else we'll go?

How much will Firstborn vary from the plot of the game and the manual?

Christie: Since it's not a direct novelization of any segment of the game, hopefully it won't vary at all! I want to keep the flavor of the game—dark and gritty and rough around the edges — and augment it at the same time. My hope is that this will be a great addition to the game.

What is the basic plot of the trilogy? Who is Jake Ramsey, what Terran faction he works for, and what is his role?

Christie: Ah, my poor Jacob Jefferson Ramsey. He's no superhero, just a rather ordinary guy with a few extraordinary traits who's gotten caught up in the whirlwind of a desperate moment in the galaxy's history. Jake is an archeologist, a very good one…known for some rather outrageous theories and for having a mind that has a knack for puzzle-solving. He's been given the task of getting inside one of the Xel'naga temples by a benefactor known as Mr. V. Eventually, of course, he figures it out … but what he finds there is completely unexpected and changes his life—and those of everyone he touches—irrevocably. He's our main point-of-view character, a sort of Everyman who is much more special and unique than he first appears. He's a wonderful character to explore this storyline with.

Where is this Xel'naga temple located at? Is it the same temple from StarCraft: Shadow of the Xel'Naga book?

Christie: No. It seems as though new temples are, more and more, coming to light….

Did you play Starcraft and its expansion: Broodwar to research info about the dark templars for the creation of this trilogy?

Christie: My husband played it through while we were abroad for six months. I watched over his shoulder and got a pretty good understanding of it, as well as the chance to see all the cut scenes. I understand why StarCraft fans are so die-hard in their admiration of the game.

Did Chris Metzen give you an outline of how the trilogy should start and end, and most of its plot? How much freedom do you have when writing Starcraft: The Dark Templar? Have you been given specific guidelines in terms of story elements and/or characters and then your job is to flesh things out, or can you come up with pretty much anything you want and hope that Blizzard thinks it's a good idea and goes with it?

Christie: When I wrote Lord of the Clans, I definitely worked from a very well fleshed out outline. For Rise of the Horde of course, it covered a part of history that was already pretty well established. With this series there were a few things that Chris really wanted to see addressed, and we did a lot of back and forth about where we wanted to take the story. I also consulted with Andy Chambers and Evelyn Fredericksen, who have ended up being my chief points of contact. All are wonderful and creative people who are very excited about the game and the trilogy.

Since it is a trilogy, it is obvious you have a lot of time to get back and forth with Chris Metzen over the phone and email. How often do you both discuss details of the book? Does he check each chapter as they are written?

Christie: Chris, Andy and Evelyn are very "hands on" and accessible when I have questions, which is rare and wonderful in the world of tie-in fiction. Most of what we need to do is handled by email. Because of a time crunch for Book Two, "Shadow Hunters," they did start perusing the manuscript before it was finished, but they certainly don't look at it chapter by chapter.

Is the trilogy canon enough to impact, influence or carry-on into future StarCraft projects such as your Rise of the Horde did in World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade?

Christie: A good question. Rise of the Horde was truly a unique and wonderful experience. I was inspired by the story and the anticipation of the expansion, and Chris and the designers in turn were excited by some of the things I was developing. It was such a thrill to be invited to play-test and actually see some of the thing I had created come to life in the game. I'm currently grinding warbeads for a talbuk—hey, I gotta ride the thing I created, don't I? Considering the nature of some of the events that are portrayed, I can safely say that yes, Starcraft: The Dark Templar series is going to be considered canon.

How much of StarCraft Ghost: Nova plot will affect the trilogy?

Christie: To the best of my knowledge, the plot of StarCraft Ghost: Nova has been pretty completely novelized by Keith R.A. DeCandido. Some of the information about how things work in the government, though, particularly the structure of the ghost program, have found their way into the series.

I know writers are given freedom to an extent to write material of their own, specially in a trilogy. Lot of ground to fill in. Since you have played World of Warcraft and interact with the roleplaying community, I got to ask. Have you had contact with the starcraft community for feedback, read fanfic at, or heard community petitions that might be useful in your book to satisfy what fans want to read?

Christie: Actually, I did not, other than to understand that people were very hungry for more protoss. Other stories are being developed to tackle specific things Blizzard knows the readers want. This is more of an epic storyline that encompasses much of what it is to be protoss…oh, and a leeetle secret of galactic proportions.

Do you listen to the voice-acting in the game to learn the personality of the characters?

Christie: It's nice to be able to do so! Yes, I did. Blizzard always does a great job with the voices.

The book description says Jake Ramsey finds the remains of a dark templar and its spirit merges with Jake. This brings up an interesting thought. Tassadar learned to wield dark templar energies. Do you think Tassadar's spirit could be lingering on somewhere?

Christie: As you say, that is an interesting thought. Actually the being Jake finds is known as a preserver, a protoss who has all the memories of all protoss who have ever lived. And as I said…you're going to learn some things about key moments in protoss history. To say more might spoil things.

Will you write new Starcraft, Diablo or World of Warcraft novels after Starcraft: The Dark Templar? We hope you do =)

Christie: Why thank you! I hope so too. As many of you already know I am an avid fan of World of Warcraft, and I have thoroughly enjoyed writing both the books set in that game. I'd be thrilled to do more.

If Blizzard gave you the freedom to let you choose a timeframe or event set in the protoss or terran history for a new book or trilogy, which would it be and why?

Christie: Wow, excellent question…I think I'd love to get really in depth with more of protoss history. In this series, it's a subplot, though a major one. Doing it that way seemed to whet my appetite for exploring their past more thoroughly. They're a fascinating people.

Thank you, Christie for answering the community submited questions. And thanks to Chris Metzen and the folks over at Blizzard Entertainment. No hard feelings for the long wait. It is obvious the Q&A was held this long due to the massive, lovely and long-awaited announcement of Starcraft 2 at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals. For those wondering, this Q&A was pending approval from Blizzard Entertainment some two months. I have been waiting a year in the background, knowing this novel trilogy was on queue. it's been worth the wait. The local Library confirmed the first novel in the trilogy is on stock. Go grab your copy or order online Here.

Now that the Q&A is out, and you know what the novel trilogy is about, feel free to submit further questions. Christie is open and excited to discuss more details of the trilogy with the Starcraft Community. Visit the official Starcraft 2 website for features, screenshots, gameplay video and teaser trailer.


Archeologist Jacob Ramsey has spent the last two years on a fruitless excavation. It seems like a miracle when he gets an invitation to join an elite group of archeologists in the excavation of one of the Xel'Naga artifacts that are suddenly appearing on various worlds. When Jake stumbles across a dying Protoss and attempts to revive him, the alien psychically and violently begins to "upload" its memories, essentially rewriting and rewiring Jake's human brain. Jake soon learns a terrible secret -- one so important that the dying alien was willing to pass it on to an enemy in order to ensure that the knowledge survives. And what Jakes decides to do with the information will seal the fate of worlds throughout the galaxy.

The marketing info provided by the catalog says the novel will be showcased at BlizzCon 2007. Hopefully that means Christie Golden will be at the Pocket Books booth, book signing.


"Jake Ramsey -- an unassuming, yet talented archaeologist -- has been given the chance of a lifetime. Hired to investigate a recently unearthed Xel'Naga temple, he knows this latest assignment will open up whole new possibilities for his career. Yet, when Jake discovers the remains of a long-dead protoss mystic, his hopes and dreams are irrevocably drowned in a flood of alien memories. Bonded to the spirit of the dead protoss, Jake has become the sole inheritor of the protoss's total history -- every event, every thought -- every feeling.

Struggling to maintain his own fragile identity amidst the raging psychic storm in his mind, Jake soon realizes that he has stumbled upon a secret so cataclysmic in magnitude -- that it will shake the very foundations of the universe."

Read full article: Starcraft: Dark Templar Trilogy - Book One

Warning: A Starcraft 2 scam on World of Warcraft


A poster named Goolz on the European World of Warcraft forums gave out some news on a scam that attempts to take advantage of people's anticipation of Starcraft 2. He posted an e-mail that asks for the contact information, CD-key, and even the player's actual name and address.

If you receive an e-mail asking for any of that information, don't respond to it. Blizzard would never ask for that information from you via e-mail. The e-mail came from a Hotmail account, Blizzard poster Vaneras spoke about this saying, "Yup, that is a bogus email for sure... I hope nobody falls for it. Just to make sure that everybody knows; We do not use hotmail addresses to send out emails to people."

Personally I believe that poster Pokerfaze said it best in his post about this scam: "A 12-14 year old could and will probably fall for this, all i can say is id like 20 min in a room with the person who made that scam preff alone and without cams."

You should check out the full details on the e-mail via our read link. Be sure to check back for more news on World of Warcraft.

Read full article: Warning: A Starcraft 2 scam on World of Warcraft

GameStop gives StarCraft 2 a tentative release date

game stop


When the development of StarCraft 2 was announced last week, we thought the long wait was finally over. Unfortunately, we still have to wait for the video game's release on the shelves. GameStop seems to have an idea when we'll be seeing the sequel to the popular sci-fi strategy title.

GameStop has it listed under a pre-release shipping date of 10/1/08 at a retail price of US$ 49.99. That's right, October 1, 2008. That's about 18 months more of waiting. But for the fans, it will all be worth it. After all, we've been waiting for almost ten years for the sequel. Though it may be too early to give an ETA for Blizzard's StarCraft 2, this might be a good measuring stick for some. Better wait a while longer than get an unfinished game, right?

Anyway, we'll keep you posted on more StarCraft 2 news and updates when they become available.

Read full article: GameStop gives StarCraft 2 a tentative release date

SC2 Statue - FAQ

[source: Official StarCraft 2 Statue FAQ]

  • How big is the actual collectible?

  • The dimensions of the product are approximately: 15” W (381 mm), 18” H (457.2 mm), 12” D (304.8 mm). The product weighs approximately 17 lbs. (7.71 kg).

  • What other costs are associated with this item?

  • In addition to the price of the item, buyers will be responsible for paying all applicable taxes as well as shipping and handling.

  • Why was this statue created?

  • We created the Tychus Findlay Limited Edition Statue to commemorate the announcement of StarCraft II. This highly detailed collectible is a great opportunity to own a piece of StarCraft history.

  • Does this product come with a pre-order for the StarCraft II game or anything else related to the game?

  • No, the object of this offer is the Tychus Findlay statue only. The purchase does not include any other products, information, or goods.

  • Will each piece be numbered?

  • Yes, there will be individual numbering on each piece.

  • Do I get to choose which number I get?

  • No, the numbering will be done at random.

  • What countries do you ship to?

  • Below is a list of the countries to which we will ship.
    • Austria
    • Belgium
    • Bulgaria
    • Canada
    • Cyprus
    • Czech Republic
    • Denmark
    • Estonia
    • Finland
    • France
    • Germany
    • Gibraltar
    • Greece
    • Hungary
    • Ireland
    • Italy
    • Latvia
    • Lithuania
    • Luxembourg
    • Netherlands
    • Norway
    • Poland
    • Portugal
    • Romania
    • Slovakia
    • Slovenia
    • Spain
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland
    • Turkey
    • UK - Mainland
    • UK - N. Ireland Isle of Man & Isles of Scilly
    • UK - Scottish Highlands & Islands of Scotland
    • United States

    Shipping costs will vary depending on the country in which you live.

    If you are a resident in North America (US or Canada), please click here:

    If you are a resident in Europe, please click here:

  • What if I need to change my shipping information?

  • Please send an email to . In the subject line please type in “Change of Shipping Address” and be prepared to provide:
    • Name
    • Old Shipping Address
    • New Shipping Address
    • Invoice Number
    • Phone Number

    Please keep in mind that any shipping address change requests made without providing ALL of the items listed above will NOT be processed.

  • On my page I see that it is sold out, but I have heard that there is stock still available in other territories. Why is that?

  • Individual territories have been granted specific allotments of the production run. The quantities in stock for those territories have been set to ship only to customers residing in those territories.

    If you are a resident in North America (US or Canada), please click here:

    If you are a resident in Europe, please click here:

  • How many collectibles am I able to purchase?

  • There is a limit of one per person.

  • Why is there a limit of one per person?

  • To make sure that as many people as possible get a chance to purchase this product, we are limiting orders to one per person. (The limitation is one per credit card number.) The collectibles will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • I have just received a confirmation that I have successfully pre-ordered the item. How can I check on the status of my order?

  • Please retain and print the email invoice for your order. The next communication you will receive will be approximately two weeks prior to when the product ships in October. You will be able to track your shipment at that time.

  • I have just received a confirmation that I have been placed on the wait list. What do I do now?

  • If you have been successfully placed on the wait list, you will be contacted if an item becomes available for purchase. If an item does not become available for purchase, you will not receive further communication. Being placed on the wait list does not guarantee you an item.

  • What is the wait list? How does the wait list work?

  • Given the limited quantity of this product, the wait list was designed so that cancelled orders or declined credit card payments could then result in other customers being able to purchase the product. This wait list takes names on a first–come, first-served basis. By placing your name on the wait list, you are not guaranteed a product. Should one become available, the person currently in the top position on the wait list will be notified via email with an opportunity to purchase the item.

  • Can I find out what position I am in on the wait list?

  • We will not be assigning numbers to positions on the wait list and are unable to provide this information.

  • I was placed on the wait list and have just received an email saying that an item has become available for me to purchase. What do I do now?

  • That email notification will have directions on what steps to take in order to purchase the item. You will have one week (starting from when the email is sent) to complete the purchase process. If you do not complete the purchase by that time, the offer to purchase will expire and your position on the wait list will be forfeited. If you are no longer interested in purchasing the product, you do not need to take any action.

  • Are there different versions of this collectible for different territories?

  • There are no plans for different versions or variants based on territory at this time.

  • Will this product be available in stores at all?

  • No. This product is available direct to customers only as a Blizzard online exclusive.

  • Do you plan to produce more of this collectible in the future?

  • This is the only production run that will be done for the Tychus Findlay Limited Edition Statue. There will be no reissues.

  • I was too late and was unable to pre-order or get on the waiting list. Will there be another opportunity to sign up and purchase?

  • Once pre-orders and wait list opportunities have closed, they will not be reopened.

  • What happens if I receive my item and it is damaged?

  • When you receive your item, please save the product, packaging, and shipping carton. Email with your problem, and it will be addressed to the best of our ability.

  • Do you have plans to create more collectibles based on the Blizzard universes?

  • Yes, we intend to explore and support all the Blizzard universes with high quality collectible products sometime in the future.

  • I have other questions about the collectible. Who should I ask?

  • If you still have questions after reading this FAQ, please write to, and we will answer your question to the best of our ability. Questions about StarCraft II, our other game products, and topics unrelated to the collectible will not be answered at this address.

Read full article: SC2 Statue - FAQ

StarCraft 2 Statue Available for Preorder now!

tychus findlay statue

This is not really a great deal, but this is a deal for the StarCraft fan out there.

The statue cost $249.99 + shipping (around $25-30)
it will be ship from their US warehouse in October 2007

It is limited and first-come, first-served. After all preorder is full, there will be waiting list too.

Tychus Findlay Limited Edition Statue

Worldwide Announcement Exclusive
Estimated Ship Date: October 2007
Limited Edition
Price: $249.99
Limit One Per Customer


To commemorate the announcement of the highly anticipated StarCraft II, Blizzard Entertainment is proud to present the Tychus Findlay Limited Edition Statue. This collector's item is a product of a collaboration between Blizzard Entertainment's famous cinematics team and the incredible sculpting of Sideshow Collectibles. Players can now own a piece of StarCraft history with this highly detailed, 18-inch tall statue of Terran Marine Tychus J. Findlay standing atop a freshly dispatched Hydralisk. Cast in high-quality polystone and hand painted to exacting standards, the power of the Terran Marine Corps stands triumphantly in this beautiful museum-quality piece.

Pre-Order Notice: A valid credit card is necessary for pre-order. Credit cards will not be charged until product is ready to ship.

Questions? Please consult our FAQ.

statue - screenshot 1 statue - screenshot 2
statue - screenshot 3 statue - screenshot 4
statue - screenshot 5 statue - screenshot 6
Product Specifications (Approx.)
15" W (381 mm), 18" H (457.2 mm), 12" D (304.8 mm).
Weight: 17 lbs. (7.71 kg).

Read full article: StarCraft 2 Statue Available for Preorder now!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Top 5 differences between Starcraft 2 and Warcraft 3

Gamespot has a detailed interview with Blizzard’s top creative talent, including Rob Pardo.

Here’s some of the key points that have surfaced about Starcraft 2 gameplay:


1. Quantity vs. Quality

As opposed to Warcraft III where the player controls a few units with many different special abilities, Starcraft 2 will be a numbers game, says Pardo:
Starcraft 2 [units] will instead act as “movers and shooters”–mostly autonomous forces that generally lack special abilities, but will instead be used in large control groups to “do their own thing” in battle, rather than requiring the micromanagement of high-level Warcraft III play.

2. More emphasis on economic activity

Another comparison to Warcraft III which had relatively little emphasis on the economy, so players can focus on battles instead. Starcraft 2 will have its pronounced emphasis on bases and expansions as a means of achieving victory.

3. Rushing - strongly encouraged

Unlike Warcraft which introduced neutral creeps to keep the players occupied, Starcraft 2 will put more emphasis on rushing. Engaging the enemy early and keeping him occupied will distinguish good players from mediocre ones. Which leads us to…

4. The good, the bad, and the GOSU

According to Pardo, Warcraft III was more forgiving to beginners (and lamers!). In Starcraft 2, the gap in the level will be a lot more evident. Pro players will be able to mow down their opponents in record time by way of builds, multitasking, and quick expansions:
Starcraft 2 … will appeal to hardcore fans by being geared toward “highly competitive, skill-based gameplay,” as well as by efforts to “continue to drive new features onto”.

5. Beyond rock-paper-scissors

Starcraft 2 units will introduce more and more subtle ways to counter the opponent’s strategy. The key to good counters will be timing, maneuverability, and position (there’s a brand new implementation of higher ground - more damage, fog of war).
The protoss phoenix, a flying unit, has a special “overload” ability that creates a damaging energy field around itself, then renders it immobile and helpless shortly afterward. In a simulated battle between a player with six phoenix units and another player with only four, the player with six phoenixes apparently chokes and uses the overload ability too early, allowing the other player to dodge out of harm’s way, then arrange the four phoenixes around the now immobile six in a loose formation and overload the six into oblivion.

Read full article: Top 5 differences between Starcraft 2 and Warcraft 3

Artwork Trailer, 1:35

Interesting conclusions based on a screenshot from the SC2 artwork trailer

artwork trailer shot

Obviously it has Zerg features. Looks like a small Lurker...
Look closely... is that... a humanoid had?
And we know Duran raised the Hybrids in Statis Cells...

Looks like a Goblin in Protoss Armor. Hybrid?

Looks like Zerg eggs maintained by Protoss tech (notice the Golden texture)

Read full article: Artwork Trailer, 1:35

So, Diablo 3 wasn't announced, now what do you do?


Yeah, I know, you've beat Hell Cows and Diablo with every character, level 99, got your Top Level items, 20 mules, your hardcore characters have finally been completed. Now .... what do you do? You were sitting on the edge of your seat, hoping for Blizzard to announce Diablo 3 to the world, but you got Starcraft 2 instead. Fair enough you may say, maybe not. But now, in your Diablo 3-less world, what do you do?

Well, your cries, your pleas have not fallen upon deaf ears. There's a team of guys who left Blizzard after Diablo 2 and joined another studio, Flagship Studios. You're not getting Diablo 3, but I'm pretty sure this will be the next best thing for you hardcore Action-RPG fans. Hellgate London will be released this summer. One part single-player, one part MMO, you'll be taking you and your party of post-apocalyptic adventurers to rid the streets of London of demons, hellspawn, and etc*. Really, did we ever play D2 for it's story? Nah, we just wanted to horde tons of randomly dropped items on 20 mule characters and level up 9 guys to lvl 20.

It's going to be 6 different character classes from 3 different factions. Templars: Holy knights, swords shields, etc*
Cabalists: Spiritual conjurers and summoners
Hunters: Military survivors, mercinaries, and specialists. The special part of these guys is they play like an FPS. First person, aiming with your mouse and keyboard. Your guns will still do "1-4 damage" or whatever, but it'll register per shot landed. It should be a cool change of pace.

I don't know what else to tell you. It's 3D, good graphics, at least a decent storyline to go through, I think. The item drops will keep you coming back for repeat visits nightly ... and all day ... and all night again. Here's a link to the trailer, it's a good one.

Read full article: So, Diablo 3 wasn't announced, now what do you do?

StarCraft 2 Domain Names Getting Popular

A keyword domain can be very expensive. To be able to make it in the domaining business, online entrepreneurs take a look at at popular trends and invest in keywords related to upcoming movies, tv shows, or even games. Just take a look at one entrepreneur did - he bought some new starcraft2 domains. Tyler indicates:

…I’ve already received a bid close to 5-figures for and from a known contact. I haven’t even put it up for sale and already there is demand for it :) However, I’m not selling it, at least not yet. I really am going to develop it, so I’d want an “offer I can’t refuse” if I were to sell them.

Read full article: StarCraft 2 Domain Names Getting Popular

Online Petition - Linux Installers for Blizzard Products

Feel free to sign the petition yourself. As a Linux user, I'd be very happy to see SC2 natively running on my Linux box, just like on Windows or Mac... And, as I can see, I'm not the only one :)))

The open source community voice:

To: Blizzard Inc.

We the undersigned would like to see native Linux installers for the products of Blizzard Inc. It is only fair that Blizzard's products designed for both Windows and Mac should be made compatible with Linux as well, especially due to the popularity of Blizzard's released products (StarCraft, WarCraft, WoW, etc.) and their upcoming releases (StarCraft 2).
The computer world is about choices now. Not everyone wants to be stuck with a Windows or a Mac. Some people use Linux, BSD, and other OS types.
It is also suggested that perhaps the installers be released with open-source code, to adjust the installers to other various systems (BSD, Solaris, other distributions of Linux)
The installer should be in a .run file, and require the user to have already bought the product (hence a CD detection)
Blizzard's games are hailed as some of the most influential games around, and it is about time that companies start adopting the business practices of id Software.

The Undersigned

The game will be developed for Mac and PC, but unfortunately there is no PC version announced for Linux so far. Therefor an online petition has been started to convince Blizzard to release a native Linux installer and maybe even make it open source, so it can be ported to other platforms. recommends to sign this petition and hopes for a positive feedback from Blizzard.

Read full article: Online Petition - Linux Installers for Blizzard Products

Treachery Manifest

Another comics from Penny Arcade studio...


treachery manifest

So it's true! You bastards.
People are already dying playing World of Warcraft!
They don't pee anymore! They just stop peeing.
This is a picture of my son! He needs his father.

What did he say?
It sounded like a cash register opening and closing. Kinda like, "Ch-ching, ch-ching."

Read full article: Treachery Manifest

StarCraft 2's Gameplay Balance

The evolution of Blizzard's RTS mechanics.


There sure are a lot of panel discussions at Blizzard's Worldwide Invitational 2007 in Seoul, South Korea, and they're all focused on StarCraft 2. In fact there's so much buzz about StarCraft 2 you may forget the traditional focus of this event, mainly the high-intensity professional StarCraft and WarCraft 3 tournaments. This time the panel's focus was specifically on gameplay elements, and featured Vice President of Game Design Rob Pardo, Senior Game Designer Dustin Browder, and Creative Director Andy Chambers.

Pardo kicked things off by tracing Blizzard's RTS history. WarCraft II was the root of Blizzard's competitive RTS game experience, as it was one of the earliest to go online. When StarCraft came out, it was the first that Blizzard did to feature three truly asymmetrical factions. Then it was WarCraft III's turn, which Pardo explained as a drastic departure from the gameplay underlying StarCraft. It slowed the pace of gameplay, focused battles on smaller numbers of units, introduced more RPG elements, powerful heroes, and more micro-management of unit abilities.

With StarCraft 2, "we're really going back to our roots," says Pardo. By this he means the sequel will be more StarCraft, more focused on fast-paced gameplay and lesser amounts of micromanagement, rather than an evolution of the WarCraft 3 formula. There won't, for instance, be anything approximating WarCraft 3's "creeping," whereby players hacked away at NPCs on the map to increase hero experience levels and acquire items. Unit abilities in StarCraft 2 are largely automated, and there will still be a focus on proper resource management, at least to a greater extent than in WarCraft 3.


One of Blizzard's primary design goals with StarCraft 2 was to cater to professional gamers' demands. "A lot of the concepts we put into the unit design [in StarCraft 2] is so there's skill differentiation," says Pardo. By this he means that truly skilled players will be able to absolutely crush those of lesser ability. This differs from WarCraft 3, says Pardo, in that skill level had a lesser impact on the game's outcome, or at the very least prolonged games featuring players of widely varying skill levels.

Though few details are available at this point, Pardo says Blizzard is aiming to, "provide a great solo experience." He continued with, "We're really going to focus in on the story; we have a lot of new ideas for how the campaign unfolds." Andy Chambers filled us in a little more during the question and answer session by saying Mengst's Terran Dominion would act as the main Terran force, "Raynor's been having some adventures," and the Xel'naga will have, "a rather epic tale for StarCraft 2." He went on to say, "A lot of those plot elements [in Brood Wars] get played out to their fullest extend in SC2" says Andy Chambers. The interesting point is the implications of the final secret mission in Brood Wars and the mention of a Protoss-Zerg hybrid race. Note that there will only be three playable races in StarCraft 2, the Protoss, Terran, and Zerg, and the storyline takes place four years after the original.

Pardo highlighted a number of bullet points for design goals in the new game, mainly speed, saying the longest a StarCraft 2 match should take is around 20 minutes. Blizzard is emphasizing each races significantly different play styles, though they won't yet reveal how the Terran and Zerg can hope to counter the impressively powerful abilities of the Protoss' Mothership. Specific attention was paid to low-level tech tree abilities, as Pardo explained Blizzard has taken steps to expand the available options and make early-game mechanics more varied.


One small gameplay difference revealed during the panel was how unit positioning is affected by the fog of war. Now when one unit attacks another from higher ground, the fog of war surrounding the higher unit is no longer automatically revealed, meaning the unit at the lower position can't return fire. Obviously this makes having high ground positioning much more valuable. It affects mechanics for new units like the Protoss Stalker, who can blink forward and traverse differences in terrain height. They can't, however, hop up to a higher ledge if the fog of war at their destination has yet to be revealed. This can be rectified by flying in an air unit to push back the fog a bit, letting the units to blink up to the ledge and assault whatever lies beyond - an excellent tactic for surprise attacks. The Stalker blink ability is also useful for kiting enemies, which was demonstrated with a group of them blinking around zealots and blowing them to bits.

Dustin Browder explained a few more unit specifics. He again explained the Protoss Immortal's ability to put up near-impenetrable shields when under heavy fire, such as that from siege tanks, yet being vulnerable to weak attacks that won't activate their shields. The Immortal is designed to be a slow moving unit, so they're not skilled at escaping an attack. Though they possess heavy armor, their maneuverability is a severely limiting factor when fighting Zealots, Marines, or Zerglings.

Explained again were the mechanics of the Protoss Pheonix, which can perform an overload attack to shoot out multiple energy blasts. After the attack the unit is rendered inert for a short while, meaning careful implementation of the overload is required. Finally he demonstrated an advanced use of the Protoss' warping ability, which can be done within phase fields surrounding Pylons or the new Phase Prisms. He warped a few Zealots to cut off an enemy's advance into his base, trapping the invaders between the units and a structure. He followed up by warping in Stalkers to pepper the enemy with laser fire from behind a barrier row of Pylons.

There was no date announced for the eventual StarCraft 2 beta, but Pardo said they'll eventually take applications for play and accept a certain percentage. A number of professional StarCraft gamers will also be specifically invited. In response to a question from the audience, Browder noted, "we have no plans at this time for naval combat." Yes, naval combat in space…

We'll have more as soon as we can.

Read full article: StarCraft 2's Gameplay Balance Screenshot upcoming stories page - just minutes after the official announcement...


screenshot of digg

So blizzard announces starcraft 2... 20 seconds later i go to digg gaming and refresh...

Man we're sad fanbois.

Read full article: Screenshot

Why You Should Be Excited for Starcraft 2

"What I’m presenting to you now are several reasons you should, in fact, be excited for Starcraft II."


If you look through the limited information that is on the game’s website, you begin to get a glimpse of what is behind the curtains. At this point they’ve revealed a very small amount of the Protoss’ new units each with great descriptions and backgrounds as to how they’ve been changed since the original game. Here’s where you find one of the first cool additions to the franchise, toward the end of the page for the returning basic units the Zealots:
Some Zealots have even developed the ability to turn their body into pure energy for a few microseconds. This allows them to move at lightning fast speeds and strike suddenly against an enemy that thinks they are out of range.

Zealots used to be a very tough and effective melee unit, and once mid/late game hit they could be upgraded to become an extremely fast tough/effective melee unit. Now, what we see is that they are focusing in on this idea and giving the unit a special ability which functions in a more direct and circumstancial way then simply an overall speed boost. Instead of being fast all the time, they are now fast when in a charging situation, which causes you to put much more consideration into how you use the unit in combination with others.

As you continue through the page, you come to the unit that is replacing Dragoons (I assume) as the protoss’ primary ranged unit, they are now aptly called Immortals. At the very beginning of the history for this unit I stumbled upon a very intriguing tid-bit:
The sacred shrine that was dedicated to the creation of the dragoons was infested by the zerg and lost along with the protoss homeworld itself.

There you have it, Blizzard is basically smacking you in the face with a not-so-subtle hint that the Zerg are changing in just as many ways as the Protoss. They’ll have some amount of access to infested Protoss units, possibly only as Dragoons but maybe more? This prospect in itself is very exciting, as the Zerg becomes more of a amalgam type race and begins to use their enemy’s units and strategies against them. Furthermore, the Immortal unit illustrates how Blizzard is changing the basic workings of the game. In the first Starcraft each unit had a certain type of armor and a certain type of attack, and some attacks did more/less damage to different units depending on what type of armor they had. This was amazing, and could be used quite effectively to turn the tide of an entire game, the biggest problem was one of the few places you ever really read about it was in the game’s manual or from a player who knew all of it and could explain it to you. The use of different types of attacks against different units was not intuitive within the game, it required something outside of the game to let the player know how effective it was. These new units, Immortals, have shields that activate and surround the unit preventing a large portion of damage ONLY when they are struck by very strong/heavy attacks. Light munitions and weapons go through this shield and do a lot more damage to the unit, and so there is very obvious and clear attention being paid to unit/weapon/armor choices as the player fields their army strategically across the battlefield.

There does not seem to be much beyond the obvious coolness of the Protoss having access to Dark Templar Dragoons, called Stalkers. They can blink, which is a clear development from Warcraft 3, and I have to admit I’m happy to see it here also. Next we come to a new Protoss ship, the Phase Prism, which has the ability to transform into a temporary/portable Pylon and spread power to distant parts of the map. This allows the Protoss to not only return power to disabled buildings, but also to expand quickly and easily. In combination with the new Gateway ability to transform into a Warp Gate, which allows the player to build (actually, teleport) new Protoss units to any part of the map that their power grid extends to, and you can see that they are focusing the Protoss race on being just as strong, elite, and high-quality for high-cost as they were in the first game but also combine it with unique methods of mobility and speed. They will be able to fast expand, and quickly reinforce these locations with various types of units.

The last big reason that you should be excited about this game can be seen in the Gameplay trailer, which if you have not seen is 20 minutes of excellent footage that reveals even more Protoss units than the website shows. One of these is called the Colossus, which is a very War of the Worlds-esque giant walker with fire beams. The most interesting aspect of this unit is the introduction of the ability to walk between low/high ground without being a flier. In the original game, ground units had to either find a ramp or air-transport to get from one-level to another and no units could travel between the levels freely. Now we see the introduction of an additional layer of complexity, as you get Air Units vs. Ground Units, and Small Ground Units vs. Large Ground Units. You spend a lot of time placing your siege tanks up on that cliff to take out that ‘Toss expansion, only to find he has a handful of Colossus’ waiting to stroll on up there and take them out at a close range? Nothing like this happened in the original game.

To me, this displays outsanding potential for greatness in this game. With the announcement of only 6 units for one of the three known armies, we have a healthy list of new features that change the ways the fundamental game works, while still retaining the feeling of large armies fighting one another on futuristics worlds. Think how much can change with all of the new units for all of the races and potentially a new race on top of that? Get that bitter taste out of your mouth and look at what’s new that’s being shown to you, and above all else ask yourself: How different do you want this game to really be? Do you want it to be as different as Dawn of War was to Starcraft? Or do you want it to look, play, sound, and FEEL the same as Starcraft, but be something new at the same time?

Read full article: Why You Should Be Excited for Starcraft 2

Dota abilities already in SC2

Some guys from DotA Allstars community simply can't explain themselves that their favorite Wacraft III map is not the center of the world...


If you downloaded the gameplay video of Starcraft 2, you may have noticed.

At 14:45 the Protoss Mothership activates an ability called Time Bomb, which is very similar to Darkterror's Cronosphere, except that it stops projectiles too. It's also a big blue ball, with better graphics, of course.

At 16:45, this same Protoss unit creates a Black Hole, sucking air units inside it. Enigma FTW?

That means at least two things.
  1. Blizzard never supported DotA (other than mentioning it as one between thousands of custom maps on their mods site), BUT they kept an eye close and now are using its ideas on their new project.

  2. We gonna have a lot of pre-made DotA abilities on SC2, making it easier to migrate, if at some point the crew decides to.

Now, don't be surprised if you see a new robot called Pud-G hooking... I mean... pulling units with a laser beam and dismembering them with his mechanic arms.

Read full article: Dota abilities already in SC2

Desktop Backgrounds - SC2 Logo Variations

[source: StarCraft 2 Wallpapers]

Made of the official announcement image showing up on and

makes me happy
The guy expressed his feelings... :)

Read full article: Desktop Backgrounds - SC2 Logo Variations

Starcraft 2 Must Be Perfect

[source: Heartless Gamer]

Blizzard's big announcement was not the shocker everyone had anticipated. It was simply Starcraft 2, as predicted just about everywhere. Starcraft 2 will be an RTS; not an MMO.

I will start this out by saying I was wrong. I didn't make any big prediction posts. Everyone else took care of the predictions just fine, but I did open my mouth in a few places and bet against the odds on favorites. Knowing Blizzard and their un-innovative history, Starcraft 2 or Diablo 3 were very probable. Blizzard does not step outside of familiarity. Factor in that this event was held in Korea and you could of easily bet money on Starcraft 2.

So, I was wrong, and the streets of Korea did not erupt into a fiery cataclysmic pool of rioters. However, I don't really believe any of the hardcore Korean Starcraft fauthful are won over by this announcement. To please them, and the majority of Starcraft faithful, Starcraft 2 will need to be perfect. Perfect is not something that exists in the gaming market, and Starcraft 2 won't be the first.

Don't get me wrong. Starcraft 2 will sell well and knowing Blizzard's approach to game design, Starcraft 2 will be a solid, polished, and complete game. However, it will not be a giant leap in RTS gaming. There is already so much that Starcraft 2 has to deliver, that there is literally no wiggle room. Blizzard has to get it right, or face a very, very angry Starcraft community.

On the other hand, World of Warcraft wasn't a giant leap forward for MMORPGs, but it is now the king of the MMO jungle. Can this happen with Starcraft 2? With the same "easy to learn, hard to master" approach, it could be possible. Sadly, Starcraft 2 comes with strikes against it.

First, it is in a Sci-fi setting. Sci-fi has never been as popular as swords and sorcery fantasy.

Secondly, the original Starcraft is still extremely popular. How many of the current diehards will be willing to move to the new game? How many gaming leagues and professionals Starcraft players will be willing to move? How will the fans of these leagues feel about the new game?

Finally, the original Starcraft developers are no longer with the company. Blizzard has a great group of developers, but how good are they compared to the fathers of Starcraft? Starcraft has existed for a long time, and benefited from tons of updates, in order to become the game it is today. Starcraft 2 has to come out of the box nearly perfect or we'll just be back playing the original.

In conclusion, Starcraft 2 must be perfect. Good luck Blizzard, you'll need it.

Read full article: Starcraft 2 Must Be Perfect

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On The Keeping Of Secrets...

I always wondered how did they managed to keep the SC2 secret. I mean, the people are working on it, not machines! They got friends, families... They got drunk sometimes, do stupid things! ... But nothing! Not a word got out of their magic circle!

I don't know what to say, except: Good job all!!

[source: Penny Arcade]

starcraft2 secret

Read full article: On The Keeping Of Secrets...

Starcraft II Boy, epic

Asian Boy's Mind is Blown by Starcraft 2 =)

Read full article: Starcraft II Boy, epic

Night Elf Easter Egg

Blizzard is known for putting little Easter eggs in their games from their previous titles. This is another example, showing up in the gameplay video.
To the right of the screen you can see a hologram of an elven woman dancing. This little Easter egg is of course is borrowed from Blizzard’s most popular MMORPG World of Warcraft and if you ever played the game and did the "/dance" with an elven female, then you know what I am talking about. Cool stuff!

[source: YouTube]

Read full article: Night Elf Easter Egg

Pre-Release Ships 10/1/08?

I've just bumped on a sc2armory forum thread where a guy accidentally came across Starcraft II already selling at the store!
That wouldn't be so strange if they haven't set the release date (Pre-Release Ships 10/1/08)...

Of course, the quote above the item description says it's not the official information. But where did they dug the date from?

Official pricing and release dates have not been announced by Blizzard. Price and release date listed are estimates only and subject to change. Worry Free Guarantee - if the price decreases between the time you place your preorder and the release date, you’ll receive the lower of the two.

[source: sc2armory forum thread]

Kind of interesting, I was checking out Ebgames store and came across Starcraft II. Im assuming you can back order, and Pre-Release Ships 10/1/08. So a good year from now, generally speaking, Starcraft II will be shipped out.

You can view the store information here:

Not sure if this is an exact date or a guesstimate.

Read full article: Pre-Release Ships 10/1/08?

1 More Wallpaper

Another StarCraft 2 wallpaper, this time made by a fan. I hope more will be made soon :)

[source: StarCraft 2 Wallpapers]

StarCraft 2 Wallpaper - Tweaked

Read full article: 1 More Wallpaper

Blizzard outlines Starcraft II gameplay

Studio's top creative talent discusses Starcraft II gameplay details at a Worldwide Invitational panel discussion.


Believe it or not, even though the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational 2007 event is home to music concerts and some of the biggest game tournaments in the world, one of the most intriguing activities is actually sitting quietly in a theater. Three of Blizzard's top creative talents--creative director Andy Chambers, senior game designer Dustin Browder, and vice president of game design Rob Pardo--sat on a panel to discuss gameplay details for the company's newly announced sequel, Starcraft II.

Pardo began the discussion by revisiting several of the studio's previous games, going back as far as Warcraft II, which the vice president cited as the first Blizzard game to garner a significant following as a competitive multiplayer game. Pardo explained that the original Starcraft arose from the team's desire to create a fast-paced real-time strategy game like Warcraft II, but in a different universe, then described how Blizzard's subsequent RTS project, 2002's Warcraft III, took a very different approach by offering slower-paced gameplay with smaller armies, hero units, and many units with activatable abilities to appeal to "the average gamer." Pardo suggested that the units in both the original Starcraft and in the sequel will instead act as "movers and shooters"--mostly autonomous forces that generally lack special abilties but will be used in large control groups to "do their own thing" in battle, rather than requiring the micromanagement of high-level Warcraft III play.

Pardo continued to contrast Warcraft III against Starcraft II, explaining that Warcraft III had less of an emphasis on economic buildup to allow more focus on battles. The 2002 game, suggested the VP, also was much less about early-game victories. While that game did introduce "creeps"--neutral creatures that could be fought to gain experience points for your hero units--early armies in Warcraft III were generally capable of only harrassing your enemies, not defeating them outright. Pardo suggested that "with Starcraft II, [Blizzard is] really going back to its roots to make a true sequel to Starcraft"--a sequel where resource management will be much more central to gameplay, with less micromanagement of different units with special abilities, and in which full-on early-game "rushing" (making an all-out assault at or near the beginning of a new game session) will be much more viable.

In fact, the VP went on to state that the game will probably offer more early "tech tree" options--different development paths players can take by building different structures and researching different upgrades--which will make early-game scouting more important, and will make early-game rushing a more diverse, deeper strategy.

Pardo also suggested that Warcraft III might have been a more forgiving game for beginners--differences in skill levels seemed less pronounced in that game. The VP said that in Starcraft II, there will be many more nuances that will separate highly skilled players from beginners, and good players from great ones. So in contrast to the sometimes-protracted matches of Warcraft III, Pardo expects the average Starcraft II multiplayer match to last about 20 minutes of real time, possibly even as little as 15 minutes when played by the pros. Pardo pointed out that there will be numerous subtleties added to the game that expert players will learn to use to their advantage, such as a revamped "high ground" system. In the previous Starcraft, ground units that had a height advantage by standing on high ground gained attack bonuses, but would also reveal themselves when attacking. In the sequel, units with high ground will still gain the attack bonuses but will remain concealed by the "fog of war" (the black shroud that covers unexplored areas)--a fact that can be used together with other line-of-signt nuances to your advantage.

Pardo ended his part of the talk by emphasizing that Blizzard remains committed to making the three factions distinct, and to making Starcraft II's gameplay true to the original game, but also different and new. For instance, the VP cited the new Protoss units and abilities that have been shown, such as the ability to "warp-in" to different locations, and the powerful mothership unit. Pardo said Blizzard could have also attempted to create a "Terran version" and a "Zerg version" of these new units and abilities, but the team did not. It is instead looking to balance the factions against one another while keeping them distinct.

Pardo suggested that Starcraft II will, like the original game, be a game about "hard counters"--how certain units can be directly "countered" (defeated decisively) by specific counterunits. As an example, Pardo showed a brief demonstration of Protoss templar units, which are the counterunit to zerglings, annihilating a swarm of the tiny Zerg infantry with their "psi storm" ability. Said Pardo: "Yes, [Starcraft II] will stil be fast-paced and have 'multitasking' for resources and combat, but it'll be a very different game."

The floor was then given to game designer Dustin Browder, who used his time to cite specific examples of different units in play. To begin with, Browder showed a demonstration of the Protoss stalker, a ground-based unit that can attack both air and ground enemies and isn't all that tough, but can "blink" (warp in and out) to any location to which they have line of sight. The obvious uses of this handy ability include pursuing fleeing units by constantly "blinking in" in front of them, but they can also apparently be used as powerful base raiders.

In addition, extremely skilled players will be able to defeat slower-moving melee enemies with stalkers by sticking and moving, repeatedly blinking in and out of range. The designer showed a demonstration of stalkers up against a group of Protoss zealots, somewhat slow melee units that simply weren't able to close in for a hit as the stalkers kept blinking away and firing constantly, eventually winning the battle.

Browder showed how the new units and new abilties for existing units will help diversify gameplay and work within the counterunit system. For instance, the Protoss immortal, a ground-based tank unit, is extremely tough, but slow. It can therefore be countered by quick-thinking players with enough resources to build up counterunits, and therefore is also unable to effectively flee from a losing battle. However, it does possess a powerful energy shield that is triggered only from heavy-duty fire. This makes the immortal a natural counterunit for the Terran siege tank, whose powerful cannons can't do much against the immortal's energy shield. However, the slow-moving immortals themselves can be easily countered by a large swarm of zerglings, which don't deal enough damage to trigger the immortals' shields, and are too quick for the tank to outrun.

Browder then showed an additional example of the kind of subtleties that will separate skilled players from unskilled players. The Protoss phoenix, a flying unit, has a special "overload" ability that creates a damaging energy field around itself, then renders it immobile and helpless shortly afterward. Browder showed a simulated battle between a player with six phoenix units and another player with only four. The player with six phoenixes choked and used the overload ability too early, allowing the other player to dodge out of harm's way; then the player arranged the four phoenixes around the now-immobile six in a loose formation and overloaded the six into oblivion, which suggests that sheer numbers won't always prevail in the face of high-level skill in Starcraft II.

Browder then showed a demonstration of Protoss warp-in technology, which can be used to mount a powerful surprise offense by summoning a large army seemingly out of nowhere. However, the same tech can apparently be used for base defense; the designer showed how an early zergling raid on a Protoss base went sour as the tiny Zerg suddenly found themselves boxed in between Protoss buildings and a small contingent of melee-attacking zealots, with immortal tanks lobbing fire from a distance. The designer closed by stating that the team's goals are to "recapture the magic of the original Starcraft, which was a wonderful, wonderful game," and to "make Starcraft II about these three unique races by generating new tactics and strategies."

The panel then took questions, which revealed some intriguing new details about the sequel. An audience question about future beta plans prompted Pardo to state that Starcraft II will likely have a "closed beta by invitation, similar to [Blizzard's] other products--though this time, [Blizzard] will also enlist the help of pro players to help test for balance."

When asked about the status of the Terrans (who were decimated at the end of the Brood War expansion pack for the original Starcraft), creative designer Andy Chambers explained that "the UED terran forces were destroyed by Kerrigan's Zerg armies (though a few surviving companies may still be around somewhere)," and that the Terran faction in Starcraft II will primarily consist of the "evil empire" of the Terran Dominion. When asked about the status of lead character Jim Raynor, Chambers replied that since Starcraft II takes place four years after Brood War, "Raynor has been having some adventures for sure," but he declined to comment further.

Chambers also suggested that the ancient Xel'Naga, which helped both the Protoss and Zerg races become what they are (but were later destroyed by the Zerg) will also figure into Starcraft II's story "in a rather epic tale." To cap the presentation, Browder fielded a final question that may come as a relief to some players: There are "no plans at this time for naval combat in Starcraft II."

Read full article: Blizzard outlines Starcraft II gameplay