Blizzcon Updates

Discussion in 'StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty' started by Emperor Pan I, Aug 4, 2007.

  1. Emperor Pan I

    Emperor Pan I Respected Member

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    Blizzard's Rob Pardo, Senior VP of Game Design, was on hand at a gameplay panel for StarCraft II to deliver the most interesting details of the conference so far - the single player campaign. The focus at BlizzCon 2007 with this game has so far been the Terran faction, and so it was the race featured for this walkthrough. Things kicked off with the bridge of a Terran battlecruiser called the Hyperion. From here, players control Jim Raynor, the protagonist of this campaign.

    In an attempt to advance their story mechanics beyond what was present in Warcraft, StarCraft, and Warcraft 3, Blizzard has implemented character dialogue trees into the mix. So, instead of just watching in-game cut-scenes (WC3) or non-interactive dialogue panels (SC), you can click on characters surrounding Raynor on the bridge to engage them in conversation. Pardo first instructed Raynor to speak with Tichus Findlay, the Terran marine you've likely seen in the SCII cinematic trailer. Raynor engages in a gruff one-on-one with Findlay, then starts talking with Matt Horner, a more official-looking Terran who doles out most of the campaign's mission information.

    Note that Raynor isn't actually walking around the room, it's merely click-and-point. Once actually engaged in conversation, however, the characters involved animate in a lively fashion, with mouth movements synching with their words. Aside from the NPCs, Raynor can also interact with the front window of the Hyperion, allowing him to look out on whatever galactic environment lies beyond. A few computer screens can also be clicked on to review mission progress.

    Raynor's conversation for Horner reveals he's involved with some sort of Artifact, which he's trying to sell off to fund his rebellion against the Dominion. By clicking on an elevator, Raynor then descends down to the armory where he's greeted brusquely by an engineer. This is another room, like the bridge, in which NPCs can be talked with and other things clicked on. Raynor turns to Chief Engineer Swann and learns a mutiny is brewing on board, as the crew hasn't seen pay in some time. As the player, you can either choose to pursue this side-story or simply return to Horner to continue the main quest.

    Other things to do in the armory include play around with a mechanical lifting claw, which is purely superficial, or check one of the computers to purchase upgrades. The new unlock system in StarCraft II allows players to pick and choose which units and research options they have for successive missions, instead of being fed upgrades over the course of a linear story. Using money earned from completing missions, Pardo chose to unlock the Terran viking, a ground unit that can, with the click of a button, transform into an assault plane.

    Back on the bridge, a star map can be accessed showing locations of planets reachable by the Hyperion. Instead of a set story path, players can instead choose which missions to take on and complete. In combination with the entirely player-determined upgrades, this should make for a more open-ended experience.

    Clicking planets on the star map brings up a detailed description, including a three-dimensional model of the world, the history, environment, politics, and mission description. Pardo chose a planet called Jotun and launched into a mission to recover an Artifact from Protoss clutches. The newly acquired viking units were on the field, and popped up into ship form to avoid some Protoss defenses. Alas, it was all for naught, as the Protoss had the Artifact surrounded with colossus units and immortals, which used their heavy weapons to handily defeat the viking assault.

    Pardo countered with cheat codes, instantly warping in thors and battlecruisers, blasting the Protoss force to small, fiery bits. After returning to the Hyperion with the artifact, he found Findlay was missing and then, because that's just he kind of guy he is, decided he needed a drink. There's apparently a canteen in the ship, though we didn't get to see it. On his way there, Raynor's walk was interrupted by the sudden appearance of Zeratul, who warned the artifact had Xel'Naga origins, and threatened the existence of humanity. Drama!

    After seeing this little bit, we definitely want more - specifically to see how the various missions are actually structured. Keep checking the video page below, as the whole demonstration should soon be published.

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    - After playing StarCraft II for a little while longer, we can say the experience definitely retains the feel of the original. Of course there are plenty of changes with how the units work and the rock-paper-scissors gameplay, but it's still fast paced, still features eye-catching unit animations, and runs quite smoothly. The economy is largely unchanged, as you're still commanding SCVs or probes to mine mineral and vespene gas. While putting together a base, things are convenient since you can queue up build orders using the shift key, something especially useful for creating additional unit cap space with pylons or supply depots for either race.

    A recent interview we had with Chris Sigaty revealed that even the content we see at BlizzCon today and tomorrow is entirely subject to change. For instance, since E3 2007, the Protoss soul hunter unit has been completely axed from the game. The Zerg, not present at the show, will apparently be revealed at some time later this year, but Chris gave no indication of precisely when. In terms of the mysterious beta keys handed out, we're told it could apply either to StarCraft II, which is still in its pre-alpha phase of development, or something regarding the newly announced Wrath of the Lich King expansion for World of Warcraft. Blizzard was still unwilling to divulge details regarding the significant changes they've mentioned coming to battle.net.

    Motherships, a Protoss super unit, have been altered in significant ways. They're still powerful units, but they no longer have the black hole attack which, if you've seen the footage from this past May's Worldwide Invitation, was incredibly powerful. They also don't seem to have the ability to create a missile blocking field around them. Instead, they use a cloak field, something we didn't find all so useful once we'd already moved them directly over a Terran base and were getting nailed with anti-air missiles. They also are no longer capable of attacking air units, though they possess an extremely effective laser barrage against those who reside on the ground. To balance this, it's now possible to have multiple motherships out on the field of battle.

    One ability we particularly enjoyed was the Protoss phase cannon's ability to go mobile and redeploy. In the original, these things were strictly for static defense, which they still are to a degree. Only now they can rapidly transition into a mobile form and traverse the base, able to set down again anywhere in phase field range. These fields are generated by pylons, structures that govern the Protoss unit cap, and phase prisms that can be moved around the battlefield. While mobile, the phase cannons can no longer fire and are still susceptible to damage, something we found out the hard way. Even so, we managed to fend off a few Terran attack waves by properly redeploying these things.

    Protoss gateways, the production facilities that bring Zealots to the field, can be switched into warp gate mode. Doing this allows units to be called down much faster, though you sacrifice the build queue and there's a significant cooldown between each individual unit construction.

    Back on the Terran side, we played one round specifically to assemble as many Thor units are possible. These are high level ground units, and are actually constructed on the field of battle by an SCV, instead of built at a facility. They're about as big as a building too, brandishing two gigantic arm cannons. While their shots are powerful, these thing are extremely slow to turn and fire, so they didn't seem that effective at attacking by themselves. They're big targets too, and with only a few siege tanks to back them up, the aggressive AI quickly took them out, even though we had a few SCVs assigned to repair each of them. Thor also have a special gun attack that, once triggered, unleashes an artillery barrage for several seconds from four cannons mounted on the unit's back. One unit we kept getting railed by while using Terran is the Protoss immortal, a heavily armored land machine with some extremely powerful cannons. It attacks fairly rapidly, but they're particularly difficult to take out, at least with the Terran army we were putting together, consisting mostly of heavy attack units.

    Anyway, these are still initial impressions. We have to run off to a live SCII demo right now, and will come back with plenty more details, and continued hands-on impressions tonight and tomorrow.

    When BlizzCon 2007's show floor opened earlier today, thousands from the rabid mob darted directly for the StarCraft II playable demo section. Hundreds of PCs are set up running single-map skirmishes against the AI, as well as multiplayer matches. To entertain the sizable crowd waiting in line, a large display is projecting multiplayer footage and previously released videos.

    Blizzard is about to have their opening ceremony in a short while, but we still managed to get some hands-on time with SCII. We chose a machine running the single-player skirmish, and picked Terran to play, with Protoss being the other option. Note this was just a random battle unrelated to the campaign. Below is what kinds of units the Terran currently have, as well as how their tech flow generally works.

    From the start you can build any number of basic structures with the SCVs, including a refinery, missile turret, sensor tower, bunker to store marines, barracks, engineering bay, and a supply depot. From there, you can go in any number of directions. You command center, the central hub of your base can be upgraded along two paths. You can choose to make it upgrade it as a planetary fortress, which increases armor and drops a huge defense turret on top, or turn it into a surveillance station, which extends the structure's range of sight and makes a scanner sweep ability available.

    Once a barracks is up, marines and medics can be cranked out. To get the ghosts on the field, you need a merc haven building, which comes with a holographic dancing Night Elf on top. Afterwards, you can construct a shadow ops building, you need to add on a tech lab where you can research cloaking fields, nuke and drop pod call downs, usable by ghosts. Nukes, as you might expect, have a devastating effect on the enemy. Drop pods can help buffer an attack by bringing down troop carriers that spill marines onto the battlefield. Otherwise, ghosts can attack conventionally or set up sniper shots that can wipe out enemy infantry in one hit. If you choose not to go the ghost upgrade route, you can stick with a merc haven and pump out reavers at a surprisingly quick rate. There's no queue for these guys, instead a set number that can be created at one time. The number has a cooldown of about thirty seconds before it ticks up by one. Reavers have an extremely low resource cost, and their build time is only one or two seconds long. With a few merc havens, you could get a sizable force on the field within a very short time.

    A tech lab can be added on to the barracks for additional benefits. Here you get, for a fee of course, stim packs which increases movement and attack speed while slightly hurting marines. U-238 shells increases the range of marines from 4 to 5, combat shields increase marine hit points by 15, the caduceus reactor increases the maximum energy of medics by 50, and flare lets medics use this to reveal the targeted area for 10 seconds.

    At a factory you can construct siege tanks, cobras, which are fast tank hunters and anti-air units, as well as vikings, bipedal armored support armed with chainguns. With the right upgrade, these guys can turn into planes. Siege tanks can also be upgraded with siege mode from a tech lab attachment. Tech lab and reactor add-ons to barracks and factories are interchangeable, meaning if you instruct one facility to lift off the ground, another can drop in, take it's place next to the add-on, and access all the appropriate upgrades. We really enjoyed using the cobras, which are capable of blasting out dual railgun blasts that seemed extremely effective against protoss armored units.

    The most interesting thing were the thor units, gigantic tank-like Terran assault units. These guys aren't actually built in a factory, though you need one called a munitions depot to allow their construction. It's the SCVs that build the thor, though, right out on the field of battle.

    For air units, there's the spaceport, where you can build predators, dropships, banshees, nomads and battlecruisers. Predators are fast fighters that attack other air units, but can also be switched into intercept mode to block incoming fire. Banshees boast air-to-ground fire, and require a tech lab attachment on the starport, which allows you to research a cloaking field ability. The most interesting were the nomads, who are primarily support craft. They look like a floating contruction crane that's been bent into a square, and can repair units, blast out EMP, and set up a defensive matrix that reduces all incoming damage by 50 percent. Then you've got the battlecruisers, who now have a new special ability. They were the most powerful Terran unit from the last StarCraft, and retain their devastating yamato cannon blast, which affects single target. A new attack ability, called a plasma turret, can blanket an area with a hail or glowing projectiles, making the battlecruisers even more formidable.

    The smaller air units are useful for scouting, but the Terran have an even more effective radar towers. The signal emitted from these can actually reveal units still hidden behidn the fog of war, making them show up as red hexagons, giving you a little more time to marshall forces before the attack.

    http://pc.ign.com/articles/810/810676p1.html
    http://pc.ign.com/articles/810/810339p1.html

    -------------------
    As longtime Starcraft players ourselves, we felt an immediate sense of familiarity when we sat down at the demo's controls. Everything from the graphical interface and the cursors to the speed and smoothness of the map scrolling felt exactly like vintage Starcraft. So there ought to be literally no learning curve whatsoever--aside from learning the intricacies of all the new and modified units--for anyone who's spent some time with the original game. Quite a few of the original voices for familiar units, such as the SCV and marine, are still present in this demo. The terran and protoss background music is also present. We expect these will change in the final game, but we were pleased to hear some familiar voices as soon as we began playing. The voice work of the new units that we've heard so far is of precisely the same style and quality that you'd expect, if you played the first game.

    There have certainly been some nice tweaks made to the game's interface, though again, everything looks and feels overwhelmingly like the original Starcraft. Setting a production waypoint will indicate a visible line to that waypoint whenever the building is highlighted (which we don't remember from the original game, though our memories can admittedly be a bit rusty). Unit pathing seems more intelligent now because units will move out of the way to allow other moving units a direct path to their destination, rather than forcing the moving units to route around the stationary ones. And of course, Blizzard has already noted the ability to select as many units as you want at one time. This simply causes each unit's portrait in the lower status window to scale down in size, and we must have had 40 or so units all moving in a destructive mass at one point, which was awfully satisfying.

    The multiplayer demo we tried briefly proceeded exactly as you'd expect if you've ever played a Starcraft multiplayer game. We started off with five SCVs and a command center then had to build up a base with our ally against two other players, who wasted no time rushing us with zealots and marines in the first 10 minutes of the game. Yep, it's the same old Starcraft. But from what we've seen of the new units and evolving tech tree so far, we're looking forward to devising some new defenses and strategies to keep the dreaded rush from taking us out in the future.

    According to the Blizzard mission statement, Starcraft isn't as big on graphical complexity as some other recent strategy games. For that reason, it's already running as smoothly as butter in high resolution, likely 1680x1050 on widescreen monitors on the demo machines here. (Admittedly, those machines have beefy, two-slot video cards--likely GeForce 8800s--and a massive amount of memory because all four DIMM slots are visibly filled.) However, don't take that as a negative; this is a beautiful game. The units and terrain were already showing off as much detail as you would want out of a strategy game like this one. Signature Blizzard touches, such as a highly polished interface and animated unit portraits--now in full 3D, also rounded out the impressive presentation. Look for new video of the game to hit GameSpot during BlizzCon to get a new look at the game for yourself.

    We've barely scratched the surface of Starcraft II so far. For instance, we've had a blast laying waste to our foes with massive new units, such as the protoss mothership and the terran Thor, which is an enormous mech with stationary artillery capabilities. But we've also noted some interesting changes to existing units, such as the terran battle cruiser, which can now specialize between air and ground attacks, as well as the terran command center, which can now add on some impressive new defenses. We wanted to give you our initial impressions of the game before dashing off to a demo of the new World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King (look for a live blog of that at 1 p.m. PDT), but we plan to give the Starcraft II demo plenty more attention at BlizzCon. Look for in-depth gameplay information on each race very soon.

    http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy...topslot;title;3&om_act=convert&om_clk=topslot
    http://www.gamespot.com/video/939643/6176218/starcraft-ii-official-movie-5
    http://www.gamespot.com/video/939643/6176216/videoplayerpop?rgroup=blizzcon07_videos
     
  2. Wing Zero

    Wing Zero lol just as planned

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    i only read teh first part of the post. reading rest later

    so is ti going to be like Battle for middle earth where we can carry untis over?
     
  3. Emperor Pan I

    Emperor Pan I Respected Member

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    In SC, in the first mission you could only build Marines, and in the second you could build firebats etc. I'm pretty sure this is a way of unlocking the locked features by buying them. The one video had him do a mission on the planet Jotun, where the mission suggested that the unit "vikings" were unlocked. Thats what i think it is for.
     
  4. Wing Zero

    Wing Zero lol just as planned

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    finished reading and saw the vids. i dont think ill get good at this game either :/
     
  5. Renzokuken

    Renzokuken Saved

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    It's about having fun, not being the best player ever.
     
  6. Wing Zero

    Wing Zero lol just as planned

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    always the reason i play anything but i dont like it when someone gets stuck with me and ends up with the same results most of the time. makes me feel unwanted
     
  7. Laharl

    Laharl Guest

    Instead of realizing that this is a RTS game, they're going to defile it further by trying to mimic a true RPG

    Way to suck Blizzard.
     
  8. Renzokuken

    Renzokuken Saved

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    Dispatch? Yeah we've got a situation here, we need someone who cares.
     
  9. Phoenix2003

    Phoenix2003 BattleForums Senior Member

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    Ditto.
    I like being a casual player.


    Anyway(about the news), the part about Zeratul appearing on the Hyperion and telling Raynor about the Xel'Naga was the most intruging part to me. I smell an expansion. Though, I think Raynor's changed for the worst, now. :(
     
  10. Laharl

    Laharl Guest

    Any updates on the graphics being made... less bad?
     
  11. Emperor Pan I

    Emperor Pan I Respected Member

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    my problem is they really havent had the voice actors hired yet.
     
  12. Phoenix2003

    Phoenix2003 BattleForums Senior Member

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    Also, isn't Mar Sara suppose to be .....................I don't know, gone? The video showed that the planet is still there. Curious.
     
  13. Emperor Pan I

    Emperor Pan I Respected Member

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    The surface was just incinerated by the Protoss in Episode I. I'm pretty sure they just extinguished life, and that the planet itself was still there.
     
  14. Laharl

    Laharl Guest

    All life was extinguished by the bombings. But not the planet.

    That would take more firepower than the protoss have readily available.
     
  15. Emperor Pan I

    Emperor Pan I Respected Member

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  16. Laharl

    Laharl Guest

    I remain unimpressed.
     
  17. Ntrik_

    Ntrik_ Premium Member

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    man.. i really wanna play single player
     
  18. Emperor Pan I

    Emperor Pan I Respected Member

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    And I asked for your opinion when?

    If you are so disgusted so much, why do you even post on a Starcraft II forum. Go to the battle.net forums with all the other whiny 6 yearolds.

    I'm impartial. While i like the idea of a story line with multiple side missions, I kinda just want it to be like SC and WCIII with a linear but strong story. I want to run through The story, and not have to have multiple branches of what might happen etc.
     
  19. Renzokuken

    Renzokuken Saved

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    [​IMG]
    How does that look like WC3? And how does it look bad? Grats getting owned, MT.
     
  20. Wing Zero

    Wing Zero lol just as planned

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    Its WoW graphics but better(i really dont see it in there)
    but going by his hatred its going to be = to wc3