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July 27, 2010
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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.
StarCraft II's multiplayer mode is available at no cost. Internet access is not required to play the game but is required for installation. StarCraft II is 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.
As of 2011, there are no plans to port StarCraft II to any console platform.
The game is split into three separate products.
- StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, the terran campaign
- StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, the zerg campaign
- StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, the protoss campaign
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 has their own arcs, missions and dialog. The story has been designed so that no previous knowledge of StarCraft is required to enjoy it.
In-universe the campaigns occur in sequence, each campaign beginning immediately after its predecessor. Each campaign has 26-30 missions in total (including branching missions) and a set ending, rather than a cliff-hanger.
All three races were completely developed for the multiplayer skirmish mode.
Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void are considered to be expansion sets and will be priced as such. Rob Pardo later described them as expansions from a multiplayer standpoint (much like Brood War) but sequels from a campaign standpoint. As of the announcement of the release date of Heart of the Swarm, the cost of the first expansion is $40 USD for the standard edition, and $55 USD for the deluxe edition.
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.
Campaigns and Lore
The trilogy takes place four years after StarCraft: Brood War. The storyline was written by Chris Metzen and Andy Chambers, concurrently with The Dark Templar Saga which was written by Christie Golden.
Each of the three campaigns – terran (Wings of Liberty, zerg (Heart of the Swarm) and protoss (Legacy of the Void) – will be released as separate products. The trilogy has an overall arc of escalation, beginning small with Wings of Liberty (rebellion against the Dominion), escalating to Heart of the Swarm) (where Kerrigan commands the fate of an entire race) and culminating in Legacy of the Void, in the final battle against Amon.
StarCraft II takes 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. Other new worlds include Redstone III and Monlyth.
- The biggest terran faction in StarCraft II [s 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 Kerrigan, have pulled back to Char and been quiet for four years. No one knew 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."
- 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 are 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 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 Swarm
Protoss Campaign: Legacy of the Void
StarCraft II multiplayer gameplay features the original three gameplaying races and no new races.
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".
There are six levels of AI script difficulty: very easy, easy, medium, hard, very hard and insane.
The insane AI mode is the only one which "cheats".
Races and Units
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 have animations such as air banking, starting and stopping.
StarCraft II features fewer, more epic movies compared to the original. In addition, there are several in-game cutscenes of higher quality than the original games' pre-rendered movies. The number of in-game cinematics exceeds that of pre-rendered cinematics. This is due to the need for fine-tuning cinematics and that pre-rendered cinematics must be planned early on in the development process.
Campaign Structure and Development
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 uses 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 teaches the players some gameplay skills, often without them realizing it as they're being immersed in the story.
The campaigns is 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.
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 units
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 on gameplay. Their role is mostly restricted to "story space". Heroes have unique appearances, including weapons and animations. Heroes have special hotkeys to select them.
More generic mercenaries are available in some campaigns.
Some units that were "cut" during StarCraft II's development appeared in the single-player campaign as well. Units that have been completely cut, however, did not appear in the campaign or map editor.
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. 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. 1v1 is considered to be the most competitive multiplayer dynamic.
The supply cap is 200.
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 StarCraft
- 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.
- 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 Rules
- 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 cannot be targeted by 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.
- F-key functionality for screen-switching is in StarCraft II, accessed by pressing F4 through F8.
- When a ghost paints a target area for a nuclear missile, a large visible nuclear symbol appears to the player and his allies. The small red dot is still all that is seen by other players.
- A player can select 255 units.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Units will 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 and will enter them if there is available room for them.
- 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 Mechanics
Resource clusters will generally have two vespene gas geysers.
High Yield Resources
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 Functionality
- Main article: Battle.net 2.0
Blizzard Entertainment released a new version of battle.net with StarCraft II.
Frank Pearce said they wouldn'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".
Internet access is not be required to play the game but is 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 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 did not launch with the ability to display replays to multiple users.
Custom games allow "handicaps" for different players. This is set before the match.
Replays are available in StarCraft II as well, for both singleplayer and multiplayer games.
Multiplayer games include menus, leaderboards and overlays displaying statistics. StarCraft II features seven observer modes:
- 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 are 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 Game
Blizzard intends to train new players for the multiplayer game, eventually transforming casual gamers into hardcore gamers.
The campaign does not act as a tutorial for teaching game mechanics. Instead, the game includes 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. Challenges 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.
There are tutorials for protoss and zerg which players can view before playing them on battle.net.
Blizzard expected players who start on Battle.net to play cooperatively vs the AI, then move into team play before finally graduating to 1 vs 1. Blizzard considers team play less hectic, as the teammates can support each other. Achievements will be used to direct players along this path. Blizzard expects players to play 30-60 hours of the game before they begin playing 1 vs 1.
By 2012 Blizzard changed its training techniques. As of patch 2.0.4 StarCraft II comes with a training mode. The training mode shows four windows going left to right—Training, Versus A.I., Unranked, and Ranked.
Each race has three training missions. For each there will be three stages. The player is given simple goals against an AI opponent. Stage 1 goes at normal speed and gives ground units. Stage 2 gives more advanced ground units and increases the game speed to fast. At stage 3, all units are available and the speed is set to faster.
The player can then play against the AI either singly or in groups. A matchmaking vs AI system has been introduced, where players will match off against an AI level that matches their skills. This is called the AI Challenge Mode. This is determined by three placement matches.
Next is Unranked Play, which will not affect a player's ladder ranking. Matchmaking is still be used to pair off players. The game will use the ranked ladder rating if the player already has one, but will begin to diverge at this point.
Finally there is the traditional Ranked Play. This gives access to the ladder and leagues.
- 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 are copper, bronze, silver, gold, platinum and diamond 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.
The trilogy's lore lore is supported by several novels authorized by Blizzard Entertainment. The Dark Templar Saga serves as a prologue to StarCraft II, I, Mengsk is a tie-in to StarCraft II and the StarCraft: Ghost novel Spectres also served as a tie-in.
StarCraft: Ghost in StarCraft II
Nova and Gabriel Tosh, the latter introduced in the Ghost Academy graphic novel series, feature in a subset of missions centered around spectres. Tosh hires Jim Raynor to collect jorium and terrazine to assist in the production of spectres, and the player may ultimately either side with Tosh and break Tosh's fellow spectres out of New Folsom Prison, or side with Nova to kill Tosh and destroy his spectre production facilities. The player receives the ability to use either spectres or ghosts depending on who they side with.
The following section contains information from a previous version of StarCraft II which is no longer valid.
A Nova-centered cinematic appears on a TV screen in StarCraft II.
StarCraft II supports the DirectX 9 (Pixel Shader 2.0) software. It will be fully compatible with DirectX 10 as well, which provides access to enhanced graphical effects. The game is compatible with DirectX 11, but will not support features specific to it. The Mac client utilizes OpenGL, instead. The game also features the Havok physics engine, allowing realistic interaction with the environment, such as "debris roll(ing) down a ramp".
The game supports a variety of video cards; ATI Radeon 9800/NVIDIA GeForce FX to ATI Radeon HD 4800s and NVIDIA GeForce G200s.
StarCraft II supports screen resolutions from 5:4 to 16:9. Wider screens will have a slightly larger viewable range. The game supports wide screens but not multiple monitors. The minimum resolution is 1024 x 768 x 32 bits. StarCraft II will support a windowed mode.
Game unit models feature about 2000 polygons.
Gore can be disabled, but doing so will require restarting the game.
StarCraft II is written in 32-bit code but will support 64-bit systems. It has multi-core capability.
The game supports lighting effects, including a light/dark cycle used in some missions.
Galaxy Map Editor
The game comes with a map editor. The StarCraft II Map Editor will improve upon the World Editor from Warcraft III in every way.
Blizzard intends to support the modding community. Some mods will be available for pay.
Development on the game began shortly after Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne 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.
Blizzard designed the races around "cool units," rather than having specific plans for the races.
StarCraft II was featured at E3 2007, July 11th 2007. Only a demo was viewable, not a playable version. StarCraft II was featured at BlizzCon 2007, August 3rd to 4th, 2007. Terrans and Protoss were playable. The same two races were playable at GenCon Indy. The game was available at the 2007 Games Convention in Leipzig, Germany, August 22nd to 26th 2007.
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.
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.
As of August 2011 the "Starter Edition" became available. This gives access to the first three missions of Wings of Liberty plus either The Evacuation or Smash and Grab (player's choice), the first two challenges: Tactical Command and Covert Ops, access to terrans in Single-Player vs AI and Custom Games in the following maps: Discord IV, High Orbit, The Shattered Temple, Xel'Naga Caverns and the custom map StarJeweled, subject to change over time. Achievements and campaign progress will be saved in case the player upgrades to the full version of Wings of Liberty.
The generalities of the overall story were present before the decision was made to extend it over a trilogy. The trilogy's arc was designed by Chris Metzen, James Waugh, and Jason Huck. The larger points were agreed on and were given to the design team.
The team devoted to StarCraft II consisted of only about 40 developers in 2008, including twelve people who worked on the original StarCraft. As of 2008, the team consisted 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.
As of July 18, 2011, six regions were merged into three: North and Latin America, Taiwan and Korea, and Russia and Europe.
StarCraft II has both download and subscription models in Russia, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Chile. Players can either download the entire version of the game, or pay a reduced price (about half), which will only offer gameplay for 60 days. Players could then pay another fee for more gameplay.
South Korean gamers are be able to play three versions of the game. The full game can be purchased for 69,000 won, but a monthly and daily pass version of the game will be available (the game would be unlocked with purchased passes). South Korean players who own a World of Warcraft account can play StarCraft II for free without purchasing passes. Players can play at PC baangs for a low price.
Trailers, Demonstrations & Other Videos
The official videos featured Blizzard Entertainment employees making official announcements. Most are stored on the official website for StarCraft II, established and maintained by Blizzard Entertainment.
WWI 2007 Videos
- First artwork trailer, showing a large number of scanned concept art drawings/paintings for StarCraft II and another protoss/terran battle on a different map than the first official gameplay demo video.
- First cinematic trailer, introducing Tychus Findlay and showing in detail the involved, robotic process of installing Tychus Findlay's marine armor.
- First official gameplay demo, giving a tour by means of a video recorded from an apparently mission-like game from the protoss view point that demonstrates and describes the protoss warp gate ability, updated zealot, the new immortal, the new terran reaper, the (now renamed) phase prism, the stalker, the new zerg nydus worm and classic zerglings, the ability to combine phase prisms and warp gate ability to create a significant force anywhere on the map, massive new colossus units, the ability for classic zerglings to mutate into new banelings, the classic mutalisks, new Phoenix, classic terran battlecruiser, new (now renamed) warp ray, and the "ultimate" unit of StarCraft II: the mothership. It finished with a terran/protoss brawl which ended with three ghosts each launching a nuke that wiped out the entirety of the protoss and terran forces involved in the brawl (with the exception of the ghosts) and then zerglings killed the ghosts and forming up the letters 'GG' as they mutated into banelings.
BlizzCon 2007 Videos
- Terran Gameplay Trailer: Shown at BlizzCon 2007, this video demonstrated terran units such as the Banshee, ghost and Thor.
- Terran Campaign Trailer: Also shown at BlizzCon, this video demonstrated some of the mechanics behind the new terran campaign, as well as discussions between Jim Raynor and other characters.
- Art Video: A discussion featuring the artwork of StarCraft II.
- Lore Video: Chris Metzen and Andy Chambers discussed the lore of the StarCraft universe.
March 2008 Videos
Blizzard Entertainment held a press event in March 2008 to showcase the zerg.
- Zerg Reveal Trailer: At the event, Blizzard Entertainment showed a video featuring the zerg including a voice over.
Ghosts of the Past
The list of authors can be seen in the page history of StarCraft II.
Wikipedia content was licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License prior to June 15, 2009 is. Wikipedia content from June 15, 2009, and StarCraft Wiki content, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported).
- Official StarCraft II website
- StarCraft II at Wikipedia
- StarCraft Legacy
- Blizzard Artwork Trailer (YouTube)
- Gameplay screenshots of StarCraft II courtesy IGN
- Order Starcraft II @ Amazon
- StarCraft II GPU and CPU Performance Report