At the time of this writing, only ours is up, but more will come along I'm sure.
If you recall the topic about the special Q&A submissions about 2 weeks back, I just got an email with the answers Almost all of the questions were answered, so thanks to everyone for coming up with such interesting questions!
Personally, I'm happy with pretty much every answer, especially #10, assuming it's saying what I think it is - now you can finally watch reps while eating!
Hope you all enjoy, and thanks to Blizzard for answering almost every question we sent in, and answering them well =]
Q: How's the current balance and what balance issues have you faced?
A:One of the design challenges we are currently dealing with relates to the Dark Pylon, which doesn’t seem to have enough energy tension between probe buffing and acting as an energy reserve for caster units. With Mules, Terran players have a clear strategy decision every time they chose to call down a Mule, instead of saving for a comsat scan. Similarly, Queens have to use their energy carefully, choosing between expanding creep, producing more larva, and protecting her base as a base defender. Dark Pylons on the other hand, are relatively cheap to produce at 150 minerals, provide Pylon power, allow warp-in and proxy play, cloak units, and act as an energy well for casters in strategic positions, while also supporting an economy with macro resource collecting benefits.
Q: The new lower tier availability of mass mobility such as phase prisms and nydus canals seems to prompt for an even greater need for timely 'snipe' abilities for players, but with removal of units like the scourge, Blizzard seems to go in opposite direction. The games of SC2 I played so far clearly presented me with the problem of being forced to deal with the consequences of certain types of harass or assault while I saw them coming a mile away, in contrast to being able to effectively prevent them. There were for example, no efficient ways of 'sniping' enemy observers and nomads to kill their stealth detection or destroying their medivac dropships before they dropped or finishing off that phase prism before it could deploy and warp-in a dozen or more units into my base. How does Blizzard view these issues and aim to prevent a purely reactionary type of gameplay?
A: It is true that in StarCraft II, the races have become comparatively more mobile than the original StarCraft. To deal with the new threats mentioned above, scouting and vision have become an even more crucial part in gameplay, as well as building placement to defend against such incursions. Observers are now lower on the tech tree compared to the original StarCraft. Missile turrets can be upgraded with larger range and hit harder as well. Sensor towers can provide early warning of incoming attacks. Additionally, Zerg base defense is now mobile, allowing for quicker adaptation to deal with incoming threats
At higher levels, an RTS will always have some reactionary play, though in some cases you can react preemptively as well, which could force the opponent to react in another way. With these new methods to both scout and defend, it will help a player deal with opponent decisions on attacking more potently. It is true, with all the new mobility mechanics, it is more likely that you’ll have to pull your probes more often and dodge attacks, but at the same time, with better defenses and new abilities like the Queen’s Razor Swarm, warp-in, and many more – you’ll be able to make the enemy pay a much higher price in performing these attacks as well.
Q: In StarCraft, there are certain upgrade thresholds where some units start to perform vastly better against certain units. For example, + 1 attack zealots kill zerglings in 2 hits instead of 3, or +1 armor marines can take 3 lurker hits instead of 2. These elements add another layer of depth to the game by making upgrades a crucial part of strategy. Do these thresholds exist in StarCraft II, and is the game being designed with them in mind?
A: While we don’t try to develop too many of these relationships, there are times we do try to make more rigid balance points like these when we see the need for them.
1. Zealot –Zergling relationship is still there
2. Roach vs. Zerglings have this relationship- 3 shots to kill before, and 2 shots after (then gets countered by +1 armor by zerglings)
3. Reapers scale better than most other units in the game as they normally do 4+4dmg but get +2 per attack upgrade since they fire twice(25% per upgrade compared to the normal 10%)
4. Marine dies in 1 hit to baneling, 2 hits after combat shield upgrade
5. Marauders get just under the shield of Immortals (counters them early game), but as both sides get more upgrades, the relationship becomes muddier and goes in favor of the Immortals. (Immortals with 3 shield upgrade takes only 7 damage per hit currently)
6. The Colossus kills Marines in 1 shot until they get either armor or combat shields, after which they take 2 shots to kill.
Q: In the original StarCraft, upgrades would give different units different degrees of improvement, such as a fully upgraded zergling gaining a total 60% attack increase, compared to a dragoon that would gain 30%. In comparison, Warcraft III upgrades were designed so that the percentage improvement per upgrade was approximately the same for each unit. Will upgrades scale in this manner in StarCraft II as well?
A: Yes, StarCraft II will follow an upgrade system similar to that of the original StarCraft. Many of the new upgrades really help in almost creating a new type of unit out of a previous one. For example, in early game Stalkers can kite Zealots and easily handle them with micro. When Zealots gain charge, they will easily catch those Stalkers and tear them up. Similarly, when Stalkers get blink, they can continue to micro and use terrain advantages to fight those Zealots. On that same note, Zerglings with their attack speed upgrades make it a far deadlier unit, in line with the original StarCraft. As a design philosophy, we really wanted to make several upgrades allow a shift to the balance of power, creating new battle scenarios as players tech up.
Q: In SC and WC3 you can dodge attacks using dropships/zeppelins, or with teleportation spells (ie. blink), or even just superior mobility (in the case of lurker spines).
Can projectiles (and lurker spines in particular) be dodged in SC2?
A: Yes, certain projectiles/abilities like the Lurker spines, Psi Storm, nukes, and the newly-introduced Hunter Seeker missiles can be dodged.
Q: Are submerged supply depots any different than regular supply depots other than the way that units can pass overtop when they are submerged? I.E. Does the opponent need detectors or anything to see/attack them, do they have the same health, armor, and additional supply count as un-submerged supply depots? Are there any benefits to not having supply depots submerged(other than walling purposes)?
A: The only difference between a submerged supply depot and a raised supply depot is the ability to path (or not path) over it.
Map Editor Questions
Q: Is it possible to create maps which wrap around? So that the right edge leads back onto the left, creating a spherical space?
A: Yes, it is currently possible to create a map in which units can move from one side to the other, though there isn’t coding provided yet that would allow units to shoot from one side to the other.
Q: We have heard many times that the map editor is capable of almost anything, but does this hold true for melee as well? Will you be able to implement map related features, such as different types of terrain (slowing, damage over time, energy regenerating, etc.), portals, or bridges and such, for ladder/melee maps?
A: Yes, players will be able to create special areas on the map as mentioned, though players will probably have to create them using invisible objects with those properties rather than have those properties be tied with the actual visual texture itself.
Q: What, if any, function will the F2 through F4 keys have in StarCraft II? Has there been any thought of adding additional keys (F5 through F8) to serve as location hotkeys?
A: We are working on this now and will give the community an update when the roles of those keys have been decided.
Q: Will observers and replays have a player's view option, not just see what they have selected but actually move the screen to what they are viewing?
A: Yes, viewers will be able to watch from any player’s perspective.
Q: Will people be able to join games after they've started (as an observer) and will you be able to boot observers (or people that abuse the ping function) from games?
A: No, players will not be able to join after a game has started, though we have yet to decide how to handle observers in a game and who has the right to boot players.
Oh and let me know how you feel about the formatting, I can change the answers into regular non-italic font if you prefer.