srijeda, 11. srpnja 2007.

StarCraft 2's Gameplay Balance

May 19, 2007 - 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…

1 komentar:

koledic kaže...

O cigo, potrudio si se vidim, svaka cast, samo tako dalje.