StarCraft II is a sequel to the real-time strategy game StarCraft, announced on May 19, 2007, at the Blizzard World Wide Invitational in Seoul, South Korea. It is set to be released as a trilogy. Mike Morhaime expected the game to launch by the end of 2009 but this has been delayed to at least 2010 to give adequate time to prepare Battle.net. Blizzard is aiming to release it in the first half of 2010.
StarCraft II's multiplayer mode will be available at no cost. Internet access will not be required to play the game but will be required for installation. StarCraft II will be available through digital distribution.
Blizzard intends to continue support StarCraft II years after release, in a similar manner to the StarCraft patches, which have been updated more than ten years after the release of the original StarCraft.
The game will be split into three separate products, based around the terran, zerg and protoss campaigns respectively. The first will be called StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, the second will be called StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and the third will be called StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void.
Little to no work is currently being done on the expansions, as Wings of Liberty is Blizzard's current focus.
Blizzard Entertainment chose this route due to the challenges they faced creating the campaigns. Through a trilogy, they can create more content per campaign, such as movies, sets, props, characters, missions (including Easter egg missions) and so forth. Each character will have their own arcs, missions and dialog. The story has been designed so that no previous knowledge of StarCraft is required to enjoy it.
The three campaigns do not occur simultaneously in-universe. Rather, they occur in chronological order, each campaign beginning immediately after its predecessor. Each campaign will have 26-30 missions in total (including branching missions) and a set ending, rather than a cliff-hanger.
Each will upgrade and expand multiplayer content in addition to containing a campaign, such as the possibility of new units, abilities and structures. New units available in the expansions can only be accessed if a player buys the expansion. Each product would have upgrades to the multiplayer, "that's the whole point of the expansion or the second part". Each race will be enhanced in some way.
Blizzard plans on adding "drawing" functionality for referees in Heart of the Swarm.
Template:Quote Development on the game began shortly after Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne back in July 2003. The game entered full production c. 2004. The development was ramped up shortly after the production of World of Warcraft which was when Blizzard Entertainment hired Dustin Browder: March 14th, 2005 to the position of senior designer. He later became the lead designer. The conception was for a re-imagining of the original game, having more units but staying true to its spirit.
Game development is "very far along," and already playable in multiplayer. The game was still in internal alpha/pre-alpha in August, 2008. Two weeks before BlizzCon 2008, the entire company played StarCraft II, an important milestone. The exposition match played at BlizzCon 2008 was referred to as an "alpha" version but also a "pre-alpha" version and in Battle Report II it was referred to as an alpha version.
- Main article: StarCraft II beta
In February 2009 Blizzard COO Chris Sams said the beta was "months away". That same month Dustin Browder addressed criticisms that the beta was taking too long to announce, saying they Blizzard still needed to do work on the campaign and on battle.net, and that the beta would be announced when they had an idea what the release date would be. He also believed the beta would be announced in 2009.
In August 2009 Blizzard announced that StarCraft II would not be released in 2009, and would instead be released in the first half of 2010. The beta was announced in February 2010 and released on the 17th of that month.
The team devoted to StarCraft II consists of only about 40 developers in 2008, including twelve people who worked on the original StarCraft. The team consists of four or five managers, 12-14 programmers, 8-10 artists and the rest consist of designers. It has its own internal leadership structure. A "couple" of ex-progamers are part of the team, working on balance issues such as mutalisk micromanagement and creating strategies against each other. By June 2009 the team had expanded to about 50 members and by August it had expanded to 60 members.
As of September 2009 StarCraft II has 58 unique voice actors. Some play more than one role.
StarCraft II retains some units from the original game, although some of these units have been given new abilities. Due to story events from the previous game, some units have been phased out or replaced. For example, the conquest of the protoss homeworld of Aiur has prevented the creation of more dragoons - the transplanted forms of protoss warriors in exoskeletons - resulting in the remaining dragoons to be redesigned with different weaponry and a shield that absorbs heavy damage and renamed to "immortals".
The demo reveals new abilities that involve more complex interaction with the game environment than in StarCraft. Terran units known as reapers can swiftly leap over cliffs, and protoss stalkers are capable of short-range teleportation to pursue fleeing enemies. Additionally, new abilities have been extended to structures. The protoss are able to warp prefabricated units within range of their pylons, and also possess the warp prism, a unit that acts as a mobile pylon, providing power to protoss buildings in the absence of conventionally built pylons.
As of August 2009, four levels of AI script difficulty exist for the campaign—Easy, Moderate, Hard and Insane. For multiplayer and skirmish games, a fifth difficulty, Beginner, is available. The Insane AI mode is the only one which "cheats".
StarCraft II is also designed to focus more heavily on the multiplayer aspect, when compared to the original StarCraft. The changes include overall improvement in Battle.net, a new competitive "ladder" system for ranked games, and new automated matchmaking mechanics – designed to "match-up" players of equal skill levels.
Resource sharing between allies will also be allowed after 2 minutes.
The game is currently set to have eight players. The number of players in custom games is expected to be at least 8, and Blizzard is "shooting" for 12 or more. At present, there are sixteen slots, up to eight of which can be filled by players, the rest by observers. Up to 12 players can play in custom games.
As each installment of the trilogy is released, multiplayer will, for all intents and purposes, be updated in a manner similar to the relationship between StarCraft and its expansion—both can be played, but the latter features more content.
Players can communicate with a minimap ping/telestrator.
Players can each pause the game three times in a skirmish.
Gameplay Differences from StarCraftEdit
- The script-driven AI, programmed by Bob Fitch, has been improved; it will scout more and make decisions accordingly. It won't be able to see everything its opponent player has, except in insane mode. The AI will even surrender, saying GG when it does so.
- The damage system has been significantly altered. Units now do base damage with bonuses against certain unit classes.
- Certain zerg units can not only burrow but also move underground allowing these units to move right past enemies and possibly into their bases more easily.
- When a player's main buildings are destroyed, they are eventually revealed.
- Given time, Blizzard would like to make various upgrades be seen visually on the upgraded units, similar to marines' shields.
- Units will be able to pass through shallow water.
- Destructible rocks will have viewable hit points and can be destroyed by any attacking unit.
- Xel'naga towers are neutral structures or doodads which can be temporarily captured by units. This expands that player's viewing area.
- Customizable decals can be added to terran structures and units, showing various faction logos. Blizzard has designed the Raynor's Raiders decal and is working on others, hoping to allow players to choose which decals their side will use.
- Multiple animations exist for units that are idle.
- Players will be able to choose their color before a custom match starts.
- In some allied games, the allies share a choke point.
Line of Sight RulesEdit
- Maps start out explored (but hidden due to the fog of war) rather than completely blacked out as in StarCraft I.
- Terrain combat bonuses have been removed. However, terrain is still important in a battle. For instance, units that attack from a ledge will not be revealed to the player of the units being attacked.
- Units at the base of a ramp will not be able to target opponents beyond the top of the ramp, but will be able to see brief flashes of attacking units. Units that reach halfway up the ramp will have unrestricted vision above the ramp.
- "Line of sight blockers" will enable units to ambush each other, resembling bushes, smoke (emitted from vents on space platforms) and tall grass. Air units can easily see through the blockers.
- When a ghost paints a target area for a nuclear missile, a large visible nuclear symbol appears to the player. The small red dot is still all that is seen by other players.
- A player can select 255 units in the latest build.
- Up to 200 units can be held within a numbered control group but they form into "subgroups" of 24 or 36, each with a little number beside their icons.
- The selection UI displays how many units are in the group.
- Control group tabs will display what units are bound to each group number.
- If there are different types of units within a selection, each type will get its own tab.
- Subgroups allow the player to scroll through different type of units in their current selection with the Tab key. If a group of multiple unit types are selected, the player still has access to their abilities by tabbing through the subgroups.
- Some spellcasting units will use "smartcasting"; when multiple units are given the same spell order, only one of them will comply, preventing a serious waste of spellcaster energy.
- A player can select multiple buildings.
- Multiple selected combat buildings can "focus fire" on enemy units.
- They can be put into selection groups. The player pushes a button to create each individual unit from the group of structures. This applies even to larvae. Buildings with reactors will go into their own subgroup.
- Each structure will show how many units they are creating or (in the case of zerg hatcheries), how many larvae are available. Units will be produced at the structure with the shortest queue.
- A player can set a rally point for a "town hall" to a mineral or vespene source and workers will mine the resource automatically when built and will split up over multiple mineral patches. Combat units will attack-move to the rally point. Units exit a building closest to the rally point (rather than at one specific point).
- Units can be rallied to bunkers and transports.
- Units can be rallied to follow other units.
- Idle worker units can be quickly selected with F1, the idle worker button.
- Player units "won't line up like ants" when given a move command. Units will not bunch up unless given a manual attack command against a specific enemy unit. If so, they will spread apart when the enemy unit dies or they become idle. Units won't pass through each other. However, idle units will move out of the way of moving units. (Active, directly controlled forces would rarely display this behavior.)
- Holding the Alt button will show unit and building hit points overhead. The player can change the option on the menu for this: normal (only show when holding Alt), selected (selected units only) or always (show all unit bars).
- SCVs can autocast their Repair ability. Carriers can auto-build their interceptors. The new medivac dropships can autocast Heal just as medics could in StarCraft: Brood War. Changelings autocast their shapeshifting ability.
- Spellcasting and burrowing can be set into waypoints.
- Allies will be able to see each others' resources. When an allied player leaves, the remaining ally gets the rest of their resources and units.
- Workers can queue up building orders with the shift key, but will need to have the resources for all the buildings to be constructed. If they don't have enough, they won't pause until there's enough resources and then start building again.
- Control groups are shown as "panels" above the minimap (for units) and portrait (for buildings) in the UI.
Macromanagement and Resource MechanicsEdit
High Yield ResourcesEdit
Gold-colored "high yield mineral fields" have been added to the game. These minerals are worth more per "chunk" transported by a worker unit. Expansion sites containing gold minerals will be worth fighting over, creating a new strategy around which expansion sites to claim. They provide 7 minerals per trip.
Battle.net and Metagame FunctionalityEdit
- Main article: Battle.net 2.0
Blizzard Entertainment intends to release a new version of battle.net with StarCraft II. Frank Pearce said they probably won't be able to implement all plans by the time StarCraft II launches, but they can add more features to battle.net "as we go".
StarCraft II will not have LAN support. Battle.net developer Greg Canessa says that Blizzard is actively working on a LAN-like solution for battle.net, something which would require maintaining a connection to battle.net but still allowing a peer-to-peer connection.
Internet access will not be required to play the game but will be required for installation. Blizzard expects requiring internet access for some features to not be a problem, since computers come standard with internet connections now (unlike when StarCraft came out).
Players of StarCraft II and Diablo III will share "gamer achievements", adding up to a Blizzard Level, in a similar manner to the system in World of Warcraft. While achievements can be accessed in the single-player game, this is only possible if the gamer is connected to battle.net. Players will not require internet access to play single-player games, although they are encouraged to do so.
The game will not launch with the ability to display replays to multiple users.
Custom games will allow "handicaps" for different players. This is set before the match.
- Main article: Replay
Replays will be available in StarCraft II as well, for both singleplayer and multiplayer games.
- None (no menus)
- Resources (gathered resources and supply count)
- Spending (on economy, tech and units)
- Unit (number of units)
- Production (units and buildings being created)
- Army (resources spent on the army)
These will be available in "real time".
In Observer Mode, a viewer can watch in the "old style" or in a newer "first person view" in which they see the camera view, selections and commands issued from the player's viewpoint. An observer won't be able to see the actual mouse clicks, however.
At the end of the game, build orders, an army graph showing the size of the army over time and a resource graph showing income over time can be displayed.
Teaching the GameEdit
The campaign will not act as a tutorial for teaching game mechanics. Instead, the game will include pre-recorded tutorials which players can watch, as well as "challenges", small missions which train players in specific tasks suited for multi-players games such as efficient resource gathering. A challenge would last 5-10 minutes and the player would get a score. There were about 12 challenges in August 2009 and they would cover topics important to multiplayer, such as resourcing, hotkeys and counters. In addition, players will receive help on why they won or lost a game.
- Main article: Leagues
Leagues are part of the tool system making multiplayer StarCraft II available for all skill levels, along with the automated matchmaking system. There will be copper, bronze, silver, gold and platinum leagues.
There is also a "safer" Practice League, which would involve players of lower skill levels playing on maps designed to prevent rushing at "normal" rather than a faster game speed. Blizzard intends to take steps to prevent "smurfing", when higher-skilled players participate in battle.net games they shouldn't be and disrupt other players.
Races and UnitsEdit
- Main article: List of StarCraft II units
StarCraft II will only feature the three original races in standard multiplayer: protoss, terran, and zerg. It has been confirmed that there will not be a fourth race introduced. However, when asked about the possibility of hybrids and xel'naga in the game, Blizzard Entertainment employee Karune replied that "we are planning to explore the mysteries surrounding the Xel'naga for the single player campaign. In the campaign you will encounter several unique units that would not otherwise be seen in multiplayer."
Blizzard discussed the possibility of a fourth race early on in the game's development. However, the development team felt that had a finite amount of ideas and wanted to make sure that they focused on the best ideas for the existing three playable races rather than diluting those ideas across four races. In August 2008, Frank Pearce stated that adding a fourth fully playable race would likely be discussed if Blizzard decided to make an expansion for the game, three months before the expansions were announced.
Some units will have animations such as air banking, starting and stopping.
Campaigns and LoreEdit
The game takes place four years after StarCraft: Brood War, approximately the same time as the storyline of StarCraft: Ghost. The storyline is being written by Chris Metzen and Andy Chambers, concurrently with The Dark Templar Saga which is written by Christie Golden.
StarCraft II will take place both on new worlds and on worlds that appeared in the original game. Char is back as is Mar Sara. One of the new worlds is Bel'shir, a jungle-covered protoss-colonized moon that was a religious retreat until it was attacked by the zerg; it now houses many ruined temples. The world shown in the cinematic is Braxis Alpha. Other new worlds include Red Stone and Jotun.
- Main article: StarCraft II introduction.
- The biggest terran faction in StarCraft II will be the "evil empire" of the Terran Dominion. The Kel-Morian Combine and Umojan Protectorate are currently independent from the Dominion, which is trying to consolidate its power. However, Raynor's Raiders are the main playable faction, and Jim Raynor is referenced as the central character of the terran campaign.
- The zerg, under the command of Infested Kerrigan, have pulled back to Char and been quiet for four years. No one knows what Kerrigan is planning as her forces kill all enemy scouting parties. Kerrigan herself says the zerg have evolved and thrived during this period, and are becoming "much, much more, for the final metamorphosis has only just begun." Kerrigan is planning on invading many worlds.
- Raynor's Raiders have been outlawed by the Terran Dominion. Arcturus Mengsk has continually hounded them, but refused to assassinate Raynor as that could make him a martyr.
- The United Earth Directorate forces were destroyed by Infested Kerrigan's zerg armies (though a few surviving companies are still around somewhere in the Sector).
There will be many connections between the StarCraft: Ghost franchise and StarCraft II. For instance, Gabriel Tosh, a character from StarCraft: Ghost Academy, will appear on the Hyperion in Wings of Liberty and will serve as a connection between the two storylines. The StarCraft: Ghost storyline, especially parts revolving around the Terran Dominion, acted as a building block for StarCraft II.
Terran Campaign: Wings of LibertyEdit
- Main article: Wings of Liberty
- Zeratul: "I bring tidings of doom. The xel'naga return, the cycle nears its end, the artifacts are the key."
- Jim Raynor: "The key... the key to what?"
- Zeratul: "To the end of all things."
- ―Zeratul delivers a warning to Jim Raynorsrc
Zerg Campaign: Heart of the SwarmEdit
- Main article: Heart of the Swarm
Protoss Campaign: Legacy of the VoidEdit
- Main article: Legacy of the Void
Campaign Structure and DevelopmentEdit
Blizzard considers the old technique of using the campaign to teach new gamers how to play multiplayer games online to be something that doesn't work. Instead, Blizzard will use tutorials, challenges, and improved score and replay screens to teach new gamers how to do so, giving them the freedom to add many new units and upgrades to the campaigns.
The campaign will teach the players some gameplay skills, often without them realizing it as they're being immersed in the story.
The campaigns will be a tree-shaped arrangement, enabling players to choose different passages, level-ups and bonuses. Each campaign will have a distinct beginning and end, but the center portion will vary considerably when played by different people. Each person might try a different set of subquests, and finish them in different ways. Usually the player can go back and play "missed" missions; only in rare instances will a choice prevent a player from playing another mission. Decisions made in one campaign will have no effect on the campaign in the next expansion.
Players can get closer to the main characters in interactive sets.
As of August 2008, Blizzard has been "implementing certain ideas and trying out certain things to finalise decisions on the direction that's going to go." While Blizzard has a general idea of the storyline they want to tell, they must still put it into the context of missions, which they weren't able to do until recently until they had devised the framework of the different factions and how units are built.
It has been confirmed that StarCraft II will not feature a co-operative campaign mode, at least when the game launches. However, Blizzard hasn't excluded the possibility and may install such a function in a future patch or expansion pack.
Heroes and NPC unitsEdit
Heroes will not be buildable in melee maps. Each will have a unique appearance. They will fill the same role they did in StarCraft I, "but they will have even more unique abilities from standard units".
Heroes will not often appear in campaigns, and will have little impact in gameplay. Their role is mostly restricted to "story space". They will only appear in a few missions. The mission would end if the hero dies, but Blizzard is working on a mechanic where they fall to their knees and wait for a medic to revive them. Heroes will have unique appearances, including weapons and animations. More generic mercenaries will be available in some campaigns.
Some units that were "cut" during StarCraft II's development will appear in the single-player campaign as well. "Several" units from the original StarCraft will be present in the single-player campaign.
The xel'naga will fit into the story "in a rather epic tale" and will be part of the backbone of the trilogy. According to Zeratul, the "cycle nears its end." This involves the finding of alien artifacts.
When Blizzard Entertainment employee Karune was asked if there would be any hybrid units in StarCraft II, he replied "we are planning to explore the mysteries surrounding the xel'naga for the single player campaign. In the campaign you will encounter several unique units that would not otherwise be seen in multiplayer."
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