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Blizzcast Episode 3



The third Blizzard podcast is up! And following in the footsteps of podcast #2, this one is madd lengthy, reaching to a total of 57:12 minutes long. It involves interviews with Dustin Browder concerning Starcraft 1&2, Jeff Kaplan (Lead Designer on World of Warcraft) for WoW, and Joeyray Hall (Manager of Video Production) for those interesting videos and DVDs that Blizzard doles out. The Blizzcast also features a Community Q&A that talks a bit more about the Zerg.

Summary
Kevin 'Karune' Yu, the RTS community manager for Blizzard, starts off the podcast by introducing the people lined up for this episode. These include Dustin Browder, Jeff Kaplan, and Joeyray Hall, however, this summary will be aimed directly at the Starcraft 2 Q&A areas only.

Interview
"Dustin is our Lead Designer for StarCraft II, which can definitely not be an easy job, creating one of the most anticipated video game sequels ever. Recently, we’ve just announced the Zerg faction for StarCraft II, and everyone has just been dying to know more. So, to jump into it…"

---Karune: About the Zerg evolution from StarCraft to StarCraft II in terms of gameplay, how would you say that has gone so far?

Dustin begins to explain how the Zerg in Starcraft 2 is very like the original and that there is much room to innovate and reimagine in terms of races. He specifically notes that the Zerg is fun to play but not as exciting as the Protoss. In terms of the weakest race, Dustin believes it is the Zerg at the moment.

---Karune: What elements of the original Zerg did you feel were crucial to maintain for StarCraft II?

In Dustin's eyes, he saw that the Zerg had to maintain its feel, such as speed, aggression and the feeling of constant fear when being hunted were important. The main idea he staples down through this is how he wanted the feel of the Zerg to be maintained through the transition from Starcraft 1 to 2. This means that you should feel more or less the same feeling when playing the Zerg in Starcraft 2. The concept of infestation was a definite theme to bring over from the original Starcraft and Dustin explains how the Blizzard team definitely wants to highlight that concept and use it a bit more.
"All of these things, the speed, the aggression, the feeling of constant fear when you are facing them, that these things are hunting you, is really important to us for the Zerg."

---Karune: So with the Queen unit being one of the new units that have been changed significantly from StarCraft one, could you tell us a little bit about where you are going with the Queen and how that has changed?

The original "Queen didn’t really meet the name 'Queen.'" says Dustin. He explains how the team talked about it for years and years to redo her, possibly into more of a leader and a creator of the Swarm. "And obviously, in the story evolved, the Queen of Blades became a big part of the experience and the side changed a bit, but the team still wanted to explore this idea of a classic ‘insect-like’ Queen that rules over her whole hive." He explains how the Queen currently is a mobile buff that you can apply to your base defenses and how the Queen is extremely important. This, he explains, will lead to enemy players into a Cat and Mouse game where players will be hunting for the queen to to remove the threat of this defensive buff before they invade the base.
"Players will be hunting for the queen ... before they invade the base"

---Karune: Is that always what you were going for, for the Queen, as far as being the mother of the whole entire hive?

"The queen has gone through a lot of different iterations... " simply states Dustin. He then talks about how they wanted to make the Queen like a monster from science-fiction, through many original ideas like having the Queen lay eggs and make specialized units. One problem the team found with this idea was that even with higher tiers of Queens in the later stages of the game, she was your core, your techtree, your most critical unit, which could obviously lead to huge problems if she died.
"I know base defenses are pretty important, but even only to have some units that only she could build was even worse, and even harder to balance, harder to make it work"
"The Queen has gone through a lot of different iterations as we looked for some way to make this concept of this character work"

Karune now changes the focus from the Queen to arguably the largest, meanest, Zerg unit there is - the Ultralisk.

---Karune: So the next new unit, actually an old unit with new abilities and new attributes to their attack is the Ultralisk. So about the new cleave attack, I know it is something that a lot of people wanted to see since the original StarCraft – how do you guys go about designing that and what has the Ultralisk been up to since StarCraft one?

Here, Dustin launches into a speech regarding his favourite unit and talks about how there were lots of opportunities to do with the unit but was hindered by the level of complexity involved. They wanted to make sure that all units were 'clean and crisp' like Starcraft 1. "The cleave attacks seemed like an obvious thing for it to do just by the shape of its blades" He talks how the cleave attack would take out tier 1 units much quicker, and thus balance the truth that the Ultralisk would definitely have less play time, as its near the end of the tech-tree.

Dustin begins to talk about the concept seen in the Zerg announcement videos - where the Ultralisks pop up and owns everything, and how cool it really is. However he lays down the truth that the Ultralisk has problems getting into the enemy forces to wreak its cleaving havoc. He then focuses on the burrowing and un-burrowing concept and how the team is still balancing it. "...[it] is a little bit useful, but we’re still trying to work out, is this as useful as we want it to be? Is there something else we should be doing with this unit to see if that is a good hit for that unit or not?"
"the Ultralisk has a lot of trouble getting into the middle of enemy forces right now."

---Karune: We’ll you guys have definitely done a great job of instilling that fear from the Ultralisk when you see him burrowing out of the ground.

He is terrifying. If you walk into an enemy base and suddenly there were three Ultralisk that you didn’t expect to see there, it can be quite a shock!

The next topic was then changed to Increasing Macro management and MBS (Multiple Building Selection).

---Karune: So some of the other concepts that have been brought up were about multiple building selection and increased macro management for StarCraft II- How are you dealing with that issue that is coming up on the boards?

"As soon as I have an answer for ya, I will roll it out to you." Dustin says. And It's as simple as that. He talks about the interface plays a large role in gameplay for mid-ranged players to be remotely competitive. He acknowledges that they have lost some macro and a bit of micro in Starcraft 2, and have tried to fix it like making 'warp-in' a lot more effective than before. By meaning of 'effective' he explains that you would be required to use 'warp-in' to be as effective as a high level Protoss player. However he points out that even this is not enough to give the macro feel. "We have had some of our ex-pro gamer play and at first they were really enjoying the extra challenge and about a week they had learned to handle ['warp-in'] and it was still far too easy for them to macro, so this is still something we’re looking into to tackle." says Dustin, however this doesn't explain anything, as it merely shows how ex-pro gamers can master these tactics in a week (considering ex-pro gamers are still above the norm).

---Karune: What are some of the other ways you are increasing macromanagement for the other sides, maybe for Zerg?

Dustin: If I had a good answer, I’d give it to you, though I really don’t have one.

---Karune: No problem.

Dustin frankly explains that they've only been thinking up bad ideas. "We have different bad idea every week, but we’re trying lots of different ideas to do it." He talks about rolling back to the Starcraft 1 interface, but on the other hand, they wanted to improve the interface that has become "standard both for our games and our competitors titles". He notes that hardcore games and others probably wouldn't like the idea, but he clearly states that the ultimate goal is to make everyone happy and they are working hard at it.

---Karune: With the Zerg’s expansionistic strategy that you touched upon before – How is that going to play in StarCraft II and are there new tactics that will be able to contain that type of Zerg expansionistic strategy?

Dustin explains how the Zerg are able to expand even more quickly than they had before due to number(cost) and speed balancing. He talks about offensive strategies like the Overlord's ability to excrete creep and how the Zerg can move their base defenses (the photons cannons nolonger can move around) to make the Zerg feel a lot more aggressive and a lot more dangerous. "It feels like sometimes their base is invading your base, which is very Zerg and feels very, very cool" Mobility is definitely something, Dustin states, that makes the game have much more opportunities. With Reapers, Vikings, Stalkers, and Nydus Worms to move about, "you really never know where you will encounter an enemy and you can’t rely on the map alone to wall off and protect you." You must be on your guard - everywhere.

---Karune: So overall, the Zerg compared to the other two sides, what do you think has been the most challenging to design and why do you think that is?

Dustin takes it all back down to the roots - the most challenging part would be to live up to the "greatness of the original Starcraft while trying to give new strategies and tactics to players." He notes that currently there are plenty of strategies to be used, mostly old ones, and that is the biggest challenge - to make new tactics for players to learn and master. The biggest pain to deal with on the other hand would be the Queen. He talks about how they've tried variations for her for two years straight and he doesn't believe they are done.

---Karune: Lastly, so, the direction of the Zerg overall – Are you pretty happy with how it’s going right now? Do you still expect a lot of changes before beta happens?

Dustin expresses his satisfaction on the progess with the Zerg and reiterates that it still needs more work. In terms of the most enjoyable race, Dustin believes the Protoss is the most enjoyable to play. They feel the crispest, the sharpest, and feel the meanest in a lot of ways, and have the best counters, and the most interesting new strategies. Next would be the Terrans, and in third - Zerg.

---Karune: Well thanks a lot for your time Dustin

Dustin Browder: Well, sure, thank you very much!

Community Q&A

---Bornakk: "Hi everyone this Bornakk with another Q&A portion of BlizzCast. With the recent unveiling of the Zerg in Starcraft 2, there have been a lot of questions on the forums regarding their game play and we have Dustin Browder here, our Lead Designer, to answer these questions from our fans. Welcome to the show!"

Dustin Browder: Thanks man.

---Bornakk: The first question is: Can the Zerg unit, the Queen, build on enemy Zerg player’s creep? And what strategies would this allow?

Dustin firstly points out that player owned creep is something they're not aiming at. This means that you could build buildings on the enemy base's creep. One thing to note is this: "we have slowed the Queen down a lot when she’s not on creep", this is a definite handicap from allowing the Queen rushing. In fact, "... we’re really not seeing a lot of Queen rushing, in our opening game in Zerg versus Zerg ... currently we’re not seeing any right now." says Dustin. He says its not viable, but its definitely something players can do if they wish to catch the enemy off guard.

---Bornakk: With the ability to do Multiple Building Selection, it will be easy for a Zerg player to build a huge group of reinforcements over a small period of time once you have the Hatcheries setup. Are you increasing macro for the Zerg player to balance this out?

In a nutshell:
"I do not have an answer for you today as to what specifically we are going to do but it is definitely real and we are totally aware of it."

---Bornakk: Is there anything else you would like to say to the Starcraft players out there that you have on the edge of their seats right now?

He labels two main groups, the fan sites and the fans that post on their forums. He encourages fans to voice their opinions - their likes and dislikes (politely) and points out that they are always listening to what fans think. He emphasizes that the game is never done and anything they see, be it in the Zerg announcement or beta, they are always polishing and improving it. He finishes off by restating that they are "... [trying] to give them the best game [they] possibly can."

---Bornakk: Alright, awesome. Thank you very much for the information Dustin, we look forward to having more discussions on this as the game continues to develop.

Source: sc2armory.com

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Starcraft Q&A 39 is up



Another Q&A in the map maker series has been posted by Karune, Blizzard’s RTS community manager. This one explores the map making capabilities of ScumEdit even further by answering eight fan-submitted questions.

First, Karune gives us an update about an issue that we learned about in the last Q&A, regarding the mobile Zerg defenses:

Q. Are the Zerg Sunken and Spore Colonies capable of moving out of the bounds of creep?

Yes, they are able to move and plant themselves outside of the creeps boundary. Keep in mind that all Zerg buildings not in the boundaries of creep will slowly degenerate and eventually die.

Karune informs us that this does not apply anymore:

In Batch 38, it was mentioned that Sunken and Spore colonies could move and plant off of Creep while also taking damage when not on Creep. To update, Zerg defenses will not be able to plant off of Creep.

Even though off-creep Colonies would lose health constantly, Blizzard has likely determined that this new ability is just too powerful. The purpose of a static defense building is to be cost effective in battle, but only in its limited sphere of influence. By allowing the Colonies to both become mobile and to be planted anywhere, the disadvantage that keeps them balanced is removed.

Next, a Chat with the Devs, featuring Brett Wood, Blizzard’s Map Editor designer:

Chat with Devs: Batch 39 focuses on the development of StarCraft IIs Map Editor and I got a chance to chat with our Map Editor Designer, Brett Wood. Brett was able to answer quite a few of our community map editors below. Furthermore, he wanted to also add that the StarCraft II Map Editor will improve upon the World Editor from Warcraft III in every way, with several new features such as having all abilities in the game being data driven. Brett Wood elaborates here on what it means for all data in the game to be data driven:

[Brett Wood] Lets say you have a cool idea for an implosion type of ability that will rapidly shrink down a targeting unit, then cause an energy shockwave that damages all nearby units within a certain area. Since there is no standard ability with a shrink-down effect, in Warcraft III youd have to resort to some fancy trigger work to achieve this effect. In StarCraft II, this kind of effect can be set up completely in the data files, and you could make the entire ability without having to use any triggers or scripting at all. Generally speaking, setting up abilities and effects will be easier through data customization than using triggers, although there will definitely be a learning curve there as well.

On to the Q&A:

1) Will the new map editor support placing of traps, doors, and other things commonly referred to as doodads in unorthodox situations? (ie doors, auto guns, wall traps in a jungle map)

Yes, any object defined in the data files can be placed on the map, regardless of which tileset it is normally associated with.

2) Will the new map editor support extended upgrade values? (ie, 30 upgrades)

Yes, upgrades are arbitrarily extendable, as they were in Warcraft III. In addition, upgrades will now be downgradeable via triggers as well (by using a negative value), which was a very common request in Warcraft III.

3) Will the new editor still support all the other ideas currently implemented in StarEdit?

This question is a bit vague. As far as I know, everything the original StarCraft could do, StarCraft II can do.

4) What additional features will the new editor have?

How much time have you got? Very broadly speaking, the biggest improvements over Warcraft III will be found in the data editor, where literally every game database file is exposed for modification, and in the trigger dditor, which now features the ability to define custom functions and libraries. That said, virtually every aspect of the editor has at least some improvements over Warcraft III/StarCraft.

5) Do you plan to take ideas from third party programs and update the editor frequently to meet the demands of the map making community?

Absolutely. We are very much committed to supporting the map/mod community as much as possible, and well be keeping an eye on the forums and updating the editor as often as we can to incorporate new suggestions.

The C syntax style scripting language, while already providing much added functionality, will, as with any innovative Blizzard product, greatly rely on feedback from the modding community for further evolution.

6) Will be a tool to transfer WC3 models to SC2?

No, there will not be, as StarCraft II is built with a totally new engine.

7) Given that we know the Roach regenerates faster than normal, will players be able to change the regeneration rates for Zerg units?

Yes, all regeneration rates can be easily changed.

8 ) Will players be able to give units Protoss shields or Zerg regeneration that don’t normally have them? ie, a regenerating Zealot, a Ghost with shields, etc.

Yes, you could create a Roach-Zealot hybrid if you would like. Many passive abilities can be interchanged similarly.

As has been the trend in Q&As of the Map Maker series, we now know even more about how powerful the new StarCraft 2 map making tool is going to be.

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Official StarCraft 2 Requirements Officially Denied



An official denial from Blizzard has put an end to the recent rumors surrounding the supposed system requirements for StarCraft 2. Despite the fact the requirements were published in a respectable, well circulated Spanish magazine, they were nothing but fictional.

"Many fan sites are mirroring an article published by a Spanish Magazine called Micromania. To clarify, all system specifications made in that article are only speculations and are not official system specification for StarCraft II at all.

Like all Blizzard games, we aim to have a vast majority of PC owners to be able to run StarCraft II, but there are no official optimal or minimum specifications for the game at this time."

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Starcraft 2 System requirements are in (unofficial)



The Spanish game magazine Micromania has visited Blizzard and written an article about SC2. That is not interesting in itself, if they hadn't included the system requirements for the game! If you want to figure out whether you need to upgrade your PC or not, keep reading. Acorrding to Micromania, the system requirements for StarCraft 2 look like this:

Minimum System Requirements:

-Graphics Card: GeForce 7/8 Series or Radeon 1000/2000 with 256 MB RAM

-CPU: Pentium 4

-RAM: 1 GB

-Internet: ADSL 1 Mbit

Recommended System Requirements:

-Graphics Card: GeForce 8000 or Radeon 2000 Series with 512 MB RAM

-CPU: Core 2 Duo or Athlon X2

-RAM: 2 GB

-Internet: ADSL 3 Mbit

Optimal System Requirements

-Graphics Card: GeForce 9000's or Radeon 3000's series

-CPU: Core 2 Duo 3 GHz or Athlon X2

-RAM: 2GB with DualChannel mode

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Conspiracy Tubes



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It's game time!



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Massive forum database failure!



Guys, hang on in there, the forum/arcade is down, whoever can contact LocoPyro, please do so and tell him to check his ciateam email. I encountered a sickening amount of errors this morning while online with Canis, and it seems by trying to run a repair table thingy, the entire bonanza went bananas!

So please, if you have his number (I have it, but it's stored in my inbox on the forum, dang!) send him an SMS if you can!

Thanks!

EDIT: Wohoho lol, dunno, I seem to have fixed it dumbo style! I tried whatever I once thought I should never do in case of database failure, and somehow it's up and running again? WTF! Wooooosh, I really thought everything was well and gone by now... If it happens again, I sure hope Loco is around ;D

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Assassins beware!



Check announcement on forum & Assassins council for an overdose of gaming!

It's the fix your inner child has been waiting for...

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Ign SC2 video PREVIEW



Check it out, IGN posted a new video about SC2, showing a quick overview of everything we've received so far. Nothing new, but at least something to make the wait a little easier!

http://media.pc.ign.com/media/850/850126/vids_1.html

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Starcraft II Q&A 38



Alright, I'll do my best to keep you up to date on the latest SC2 developments by posting their Q&A sessions. I'm only starting now because of the quite significant changes and new units we see unfolding the last few weeks, so the next batches should be quite interesting!

--StarCraft II Q&A Batch 38---

1. If the Roach is hit by any spell like "plague" or "psi storm," something that reduces hit points per second, will this be negated by its HP regeneration, or result in fewer hit points gained per second for the duration of the spell? (sclegacy.com)

To clarify, a Roach regenerates at a set rate and Psi Storm does a set amount of damage at intervals in the area of effect. Put that Roach under a Psi Storm in the current build for the full duration and the Roach will have approximately 50% of its original health after the Psi Storm is over. With a new upgrade ability at the Hive which allows the Roach to have an even more increased regeneration rate, the Roach will emerge from a full duration of Psi Storm at approximately 80% of its original health.

2. Will Starcraft 2's heroes showcase new models for each hero, or will SCII follow in SC:BW's footsteps, leaving heros as normal units with improved stats? (starcraft.org)

StarCraft II Heroes will have unique models in game, which will be different than standard units.

3. Will the ranking/experience system that Terran units used to have be available in the Map Editor as on option in Starcraft 2? (starcraft.org)

We will try to have this feature in.

4. Will it be possible to change (cancel, tie up, etc.) alliance during multiplayer game? (starcraftcz.com)

Yes, players will be able to have all the original diplomacy features as the original StarCraft and possibly a few extras in regards to controlling units and spending ally resources.

5. Will StarCraft 2 feature new map tile sets and will any from StarCraft be removed? Reiko.Cry (wgtour.com)

Many of the original map tile sets such as Mar Sara, Char, Shakuras, and Space Platform will be back in StarCraft II, as well as a few additional ones including a new Shattered City tile set.

6. What creature did the Zergling gain the inspiration to evolve into a Baneling from? (starcraft2.com.au)

The idea of the Baneling didnt actually come from a certain creature. In actuality, it started from the need of something to fill the role of a ground-based, area-of-effect, suicide unit. To give added versatility to the Zergling, they had the Baneling evolve from the Zergling at tier 1 in current builds. For a suicide unit, the art team then took that idea and created a creature with huge sacs of volatile liquids, which you can see on the Banelings in StarCraft II screenshots.

7. Can you provide more details on the Reaper's mine ability? How much damage does it do? Is it effective vs. both units and buildings? Is it detectable without stealth detection? What's the cooldown on it? - Solesteeler (teamliquid.net)

The Reapers mines currently do 30 damage plus 30 additional damage to armored units (including buildings). These mines are not stealthed, have a 30 second cooldown period between uses, and are definitely small enough to make focus firing on them very difficult. In the current build, an upgrade is needed to allow the use of mines by Reapers.

8. Are the Zerg Sunken and Spore Colonies capable of moving out of the bounds of creep? Elsoron (battle.net)

Yes, they are able to move and plant themselves outside of the creeps boundary. Keep in mind that all Zerg buildings not in the boundaries of creep will slowly degenerate and eventually die. Creep which moves into an enemy base will also damage enemy buildings at a slow rate as well, allowing for new types of creep pushing strategies in StarCraft II.

9. Will the Map Editor support letters from non-English alphabets (ó, ű, ő, ú, á, é, etc.)? (starcraft2.hu)

Yes, these characters will be supported.

---End of Transmission--