Monday, March 24, 2008

StarCraft 2 Developer Interviews!

In the wake of the Zerg announcement this past Monday, the press has been hard at work tracking down anyone they can to ask them about how StarCraft 2’s development is progressing. The result has been a whole host of new interviews provided by a multitude of different sources. We here at have taken the liberty of compiling them for your viewing pleasure.

The first of these was released by, who interviewed Lead Designer Dustin Browder about his work on the StarCraft 2 project. Topics of interest include the Queen’s role in the Zerg army, destructible terrain, and the inclusion of Xel’Naga Observation Posts in multiplayer action. These Observation Posts will be capturable structures that function as a scouting structure, each revealing a large portion of the map. also scored an interview with Browder. While the Queen does make it into discussion here, GameTap decides to spend most of their time talking with Browder about how the development team decides what units from the original ultimately make it into the sequel, and about the process by which new units are added. interviewed Lead Producer Chris Sigaty about the progression of StarCraft 2. Topic of discussion included the Zerg Queen and the game's progress towards Beta.

GosuGamers compiled a brief Q&A session with StarCraft 2 Art Director Sam “Samwise” Didier, asking him questions both about his own artistic style, and how art direction for StarCraft 2is moving along. This interview also brings word that winged Zerglings have officially been removed.

And finally, while not actually a developer’s interview, I think that it is important to include a collection of quotes from professional gamers compiled by StarCraft: Legacy following their hands on with the Zerg.

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Terran Unit and Building List


Below you'll find all the units and structures currently available to the Terran faction, StarCraft's human race. A few of their traditional characteristics include the ability for several base structures to lift off the ground and fly through the air on rockets to safer locations, nuclear strikes, and defensive Barracks garrisoned by Marines. Though you'll see familiar units like the Siege Tank and Battlecruiser, a few additions like the Thor walking tank and transforming Viking make things feel new. On a few structures you'll be able to build add-ons that open up different research or unit production options.Brood War fans will notice an absence of Medics, something Blizzard is still considering. As it stands, the Medivac Dropship is the only unit capable of healing infantry. Like in StarCraft, mechanical units can be repaired by SCVs, the Terran build unit and resource collector.

Basic StructuresCommand Center – Primary base where SCVs return minerals and vespene gas. Can store up to five SCVs in case of attack. Can be upgraded to a Planetary Fortress (requires Engineering Bay) or Surveillance Station (requires Shadow Ops). Produces SCVs. Can lift off the ground.Planetary Fortress – Upgraded version of the Command Center with more armor and a large turret on the structure's top. Can lift off the ground.Surveillance Station – Upgraded version of the Command Center with increased range of sight and Scanner Sweep ability (reveals area of the map / hidden units). Can lift off the ground.

Supply Depot – Increases the number of units you can have out on the field. Can be raised or lowered to let units pass.Refinery – Built on vespene gas deposits to allow for harvesting.Barracks – Produces Marines, Marauders, Ghosts, and Reapers. Can be upgraded with Reactor add-on (allows for an additional build queue) or Tech Lab. In the lab add-on you can research Stim Pack (causes damage to unit but temporarily speeds movement and attack) and Combat Shield (blocks an initial attack made against Marines). Can lift off the ground.Engineering Bay – Offers upgrades for infantry armor and weapons.Missile Turret – Air defense structure. Also works to detect hidden units.Bunker – Defensive structure that can be garrisoned by four infantry units, giving them a slight range bonus.Sensor Tower – Expands your range of view on the map. Detects hidden units.
Advanced StructuresShadow Ops – Unlocks Ghosts at the Barracks. Contains research options for Ghost such as EMP (lets Ghost damage shields and energy reserves of enemies) and Personal Cloaking (requires a Starport, lets Ghosts turn invisible to units without detection while energy lasts). Can also be armed with a Nuke (requires Starport), which does 400 damage to enemies and 1000 damage to structures in a large radius.Factory – Builds Jackals, Siege Tanks, and Thors. Can be upgraded with Reactor (adds a build queue) or Tech Lab. In the lab you can research the Siege Tanks' Siege Mode ability. Can lift off the ground.Merc Haven – Lets you train Reapers at Barracks.Armory – Contains upgrades for vehicles (vehicle plating, vehicle weapons) and ships (ship weapons, ship plating).Starport – Air unit production structure. Builds Vikings, Medivac Dropships, Banshees, Nomads, Battlecruisers. Can add-on Reactor (one additional production queue) or Tech Lab. At the lab can research Cloaking Field (lets Banshees cloak) or Mine Drone (lets Nomads build cloaked spider mine defenses). Can lift off the ground.Deep Space Relay – Lets you build Battlecruisers at the Starport.
UnitsSCV – Terran build unit. Harvests resources and can repair mechanical units. Has a weak attack. Light armor.Marine – Basic infantry unit, attacks air and ground targets. Can use Stim Pack and Combat Shield abilities once researched at an add-on Tech Lab. The shield actually becomes visible on the unit – it's not a toggle ability. Light armor.Marauder – Attacks ground targets. Large infantry unit that blasts out concussion grenades, slowing enemies. Can use Stim Pack. Light armor.Ghost – Infantry unit capable of attacking ground and air units. Can Snipe, activate a personal cloaking field, trigger EMP blasts, and call down Nuclear Strikes. Light armor.

Reaper – Infantry unit that attacks with guns and throws timed mines. Can attack ground units. These guys can also hop between different tiers of land, meaning they don't have to look for ramps. Light armor.Jackal – Vehicle capable of attacking ground units. Resembles a futuristic bike. Moves fast, and has a flame attack that damages all units within its cone of fire. Armored unit.Siege Tank – Vehicle capable of hitting ground targets. Has a fast-firing main cannon. Once upgrade to siege mode, range of fire increases and it does area of effect damage, but unit must remain immobile. Armored unit.Thor – Massive walking tank capable of hitting air and ground targets. When near death will immobilize, but can be built back to full functionality with repairs. Armored unit.Viking – Strong air-to-air attack flying unit. Can be put into assault mode, which drops it to the ground, turning it into a bipedal mech. It can then only attack ground units. It can be switched between modes rapidly, and can go back and forth as many times as you please. Armored unit.Medivac Dropship – An air transport unit that can heal non-mechanical units. This heal can be set to auto-cast. Armored unit.Nomad – Flying detector unit capable of creating auto-turrets and spider mine drones (with Tech Lab upgrade). Both these structures build rapidly on the battlefield. Armored unit.Banshee – Flying unit capable of attacking ground targets. Can cloak. Armored unit.Battlecruiser – Massive flying assault craft capable of striking air and ground targets. Once constructed, the unit can be specialized for either the Yamato Gun (single blast for 260 damage) or Plasma Turrets (does area of effect damage to targets on the ground over a period of time). Specialization is permanent per unit. Armored unit.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Star Craft II Zerk - Mutalisk

Type: Medium Attack Flyer
Core Genus: Mantis Screamer
Primary Attack: Glave Wurm

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The mutalisk has been little changed from its original form, the roving mantis screamer of the desolate Dinares sector. In their original forms these creatures were capable of atmospheric and deep-space flight, although how they accomplished such a feat is poorly understood. Apparently they were even capable of migrating between stars, presumably while in some kind of larval form.

Proof of this amazing interstellar capability can be observed from the towering aeries of the mantis screamers that are a common sight on lifeless worlds across several star systems. Most such nests are empty and abandoned now that this highly successful and adaptable species has been infested by the zerg and evolved into mutalisks.

Conversely powerful air defenses have succeeded in keeping mutalisks at a distance, for the creatures are limited in vitality. However, they remain agile and dangerous opponents. A mutalisk can attack foes both in the air and on the ground by expelling a glave wurm: a voracious symbiote that can rapidly strike at several opponents as it explosively disintegrates. In large numbers or against weak defenses, mutalisks will always be a deadly threat.

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Star Craft II Zerk second look


"It’s official, and the zerglings are out of the bag. Following closely on the heals of yesterday’s zerg announcement, we’ve got more juicy details on the third faction in Starcraft 2. Like the Protoss and Terrans, the Zerg are a mix of familiarity and significant differences. While virtually all of the staple units remain intact, there are some new additions and changes to the tech tree which fundamentally alters the way the Zerg are played."

Units & Tech tree (values follow this format: minerals-gas-food-build time):

Drone 50-x-1-16

Overlord 100-x-x-25

Zergling 50-x-1-23 (comes in pairs) - Requires Spawing Pool

Roach 75-25-1-23 - Requires Roach Den

Hydralisk 100-50-2-23 - Hydralisk Den

Morph to Lurker 25-75-33 - Deep Warren (upgrade from Nydus Warren)

Nydus Worm 100-100-2-33 - Nydus Warren

Infestor 100-100-2-33 - Nydus Warren

Mutalisk 100-100-2-33 - Spire

Morph to Swarm Guadian - unknown

Corruptor 150-100-2-40 - Spire

Ultralisk 300-200-4-70 - Ultralisk Cavern

Queen Limit 1 - 150-x-x-25 - Spawning Pool.

The QueenThe most notable difference to the Zerg of Starcraft 2 when compared to the original Starcraft, is how creep, defenses, and the Queen work. To start with, the Queen is completely and radically different. She has a build limit of one, is available very early on in the tech tree, and is the primary means by which creep and defenses are built. She builds defenses and creep by laying eggs, much in the same way a Protoss drone initiates the warp in sequence of a building it wants to construct. First is the Creep Tumor, which is more like a Creep(y) Eyeball that is embedded in the ground and looks around frantically (possibly because that‘s what strange eyeballs do, but probably because it acts as a stealth detector (unfortunately we didn‘t have a chance to test this theory). The Creep Tumor has one function: extend the creep. It’s also stealth, which helps it survive since it’s so fragile and totally defenseless. The next thing the Zerg Queen can do is lay Zerg’s primary defense: the Swarm Cluster. This is basically a battery of tubes that launch suicidal bug-like things at approaching enemies. They are high DPS, but have very low health and a relatively limited range. The limited range, however, is by design. The Queen can also lay a Shrieker, which is a small tower that does what its name implies: goes mental and starts shrieking when there are nearby enemy units. What this is does is effectively extends the range of a Swarm Cluster to anywhere inside of that Shrieker’s radius. So by positioning the Shrieker carefully, a player can basically double the range of the Swarm Cluster (as it will attack as far as the opposite side of the Shrieker’s radius). This effectively means Zerg’s defenses have directional range, depending on the layout of the Shriekers. But wait, there’s more. The queen has features and abilities that makes it the closest thing to a hero unit that Starcraft has ever had. She’s also capable of “teleporting” around the creep to any building placed on it. So if she’s by your hatchery, and one of your expansions is under attack, you can instantly “warp” her near a building at that location. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to test whether the creep needs to be connected in order for it to work. The Queen can also give Zerg buildings defensive weapons in the form of four small bugs that fly around the top it, allowing it to attack nearby enemy units. She can also cast poison creep in a small area, and she can be evolved into larger and scarier versions as you climb the tech tree. While the Queen sounds like a Warcraft 3 hero, she’s not. She’s incredibly weak, and can’t level up through experience. Her role is mainly defensive, though we can expect to see her used in some creative cheese, Starcraft 2 style.

Other Gameplay NotesThere are some minor tweaks to the gameplay, not just for zerg, but also for all the factions. Unlike in Starcraft 1, where money wasn’t spent until the drone started morphing into the structure it was instructed to, the cost of a structure is now deducted immediately after the location of the structure is chosen. While minor, it’s one of many small changes made to make the gameplay a bit more accessible to casual players. The Zerg Tech tree has also undergone some changes. The Hydralisk den now requires a Lair in order to be built. To compensate, Roaches have effectively replaced the Hydralisk as the more advanced tier-1 (T1) unit. However, Roaches are not anti-air, which leaves Zerg without a mobile T1 anti-air unit. The tech tree, units, and their corresponding upgrades overall makes it a bit harder for Zerg to adapt on the fly as easily as it could in Starcraft 1. The lack of of a T1 anti-air unit means the only way to respond to air units is quick tech to Lair and then either Spire for Mutalisks, or Hydralisk Den for Hydralisks. Because of this, the tech tree has not been locked down yet. Dustin Browder still wants to play around with moving Banelings to T2, and Hydralisks back down to T1. This is of course all part of Blizzard’s obsessive compulsive desire to test, re-test, and test again to get a proper feel about which option is the best to go with.

Read full article: Star Craft II Zerk second look

Star Craft II Zerk first look


Dustin Browder, lead designer on Star Craf II, took the stage at Blizzard's studio in Irvine, California to present the Zerg race to North American and European game media, giving us a brief overview of what's new and what's changed. While no storyline details were really revealed, the start of the trailer we were shown featured a voice over by Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades, exclaiming, "We are the swarm" and "We are becoming much, much more." We'll have to wait to find out exactly what that means in terms of narrative.

So far, the following units are confirmed for StarCraft II's Zerg race. Blizzard pointed out that since StarCraft II is still pre-alpha, most things are subject to change.

Nydus Worm

If that list means nothing to you, we'll try and fill you in. One of the more notable changes about the Zerg is the elimination of their traditional base defenses. No longer will drones construct air and ground type defense structures. Instead, the whole system will be overseen by the retooled Queen unit.
A single Queen can be built from your hatchery as soon as a drone sets up a spawning pool, a tier one structure that allows for Zerglings to spawn. The Queen is a menacing unit to begin with, but will become more so when you increase her physical size by upgrading your hatchery to tiers two and three. Along with the imposing physical growth, the Queen gains new skills with each tier upgrade. Initially she functions as a basic base defense unit, able to attack air and ground units. She can drop creep tumors into the ground to extend the Zerg's filthy ground slime, lay clutches of eggs in creep that hatch and attack when the base is in danger, and drop down structures called Shriekers that work to detect enemy units and extend the range of the defenders that spawn from the eggs.After upgrading your base she gets even more powerful, gaining the ability to create toxic creep, which does damage over time to defenders, and she can instantly heal structures for several hundred hit points and spawn base-defense insects. She'll also get an instant-travel ability that allows her to burrow instantly to any part of the map covered in creep, letting her quickly travel to the aid of any base expansion. There is about a 15 second cooldown on this ability, however, so it can't be spammed.Overlords, a floating Zerg unit that determines unit cap, no longer have transport or detection abilities. Transport is now given the responsibility of Nydus Worms, and Overlords need to be upgraded to Overseers to detect. After the upgrade, Overseers gain an increased detection range the longer they remain still. As for Overlord abilities, they can generate creep as well as slime and thereby disable a resource node or observation tower.As far as new units go, we've so far got some hands-on time with the Roaches, which are ground units with a remarkably quick regeneration rate and are capable of attacking land and air. With a group of only six we were able to take down several Terran Thors (massive walking tanks) without a single unit loss. It seems Roaches can be defeated only through concentrated fire, and even then attackers still have to contend with their burrowing ability.Then there's the Corruptor, an air-to-air unit that can turn any unit it attacks into a friendly. With a group of these together it's possible to quickly corrupt units like Terran Battlecruisers and Protoss Motherships. On the ground, units called Infestors can move while burrowed, allowing them to sneak into enemy bases, pop up, and blast corrupting bile at enemy structures. Once a structure such as a Terran barracks is corrupted, it'll start churning out infested Marines until the ability times out.As seen before, players can also mutate Zerglings into Banelings, which are basically suicide units that perform kamikaze runs into opposing bases or burrow, essentially functioning as land mines. The Ultralisk, a massive Zerg melee unit, has been tweaked in the sequel, now possessing the ability to burrow. Its monstrous mandible blade attacks now do area damage as well, making it even more deadly. And that's it for now. We'll have more on how the Zerg, Protoss, and Terran factions have changed in this latest StarCraft II build as we continue to play at Blizzard's studio.

Read full article: Star Craft II Zerk first look