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starcraft 2 blizzcon 2009 galaxy editor panel

The following is a summary of the StarCraft II Gameplay Panel, which focused on the Galaxy Editor:

In StarCraft II, Blizzard is taking a lot of the same ideas from their previous games and pushing these gameplay ideas by really expanding on them and making them as deep as they possibly can. Between the story mode spaces, there is a lot more of the story than in any previous Blizzard games. StarCraft II has more story, deeper characters, more choices, and unique missions. The anguish on Raynor's face can be seen when he has to decide if he wants to destroy an infested colony or if he wants to save doomed colonists. Each mission has its own meta-game that forces the player to stretch his abilities as a commander.

Mining Your Own Business:

This is a mission where Tosh calls up Raynor and he says, “I have a contract but I'm having a really hard time. It's down on this planet called Redstone." Redstone is a volatile volcanic planet infested with Zerg and Tosh needs Raynor's help. Each game is unique. The goal is to harvest 5,000 minerals. The player is faced with decision of building SCVs, defending, and retreating to high-ground. The player has to play chicken in the environment.

In the editor, there are two distinct types of Redstone cliffs: man-made and natural. This is not something that the graphics artists made for this map. The new water tools are no longer locked to the cliff level. Each person can create his own, multiple water levels. This is what Blizzard did for the “Mining Your Own Business” mission. Anyone can just open up a map and start spraying random stuff.  Also, anyone can create custom light; it’s again, not determined by the artists. Users can create any crazy custom worlds they want. The new lighting editor sets the look and vibe of maps apart.

Evacuation of Agria:

There is a character named Dr. Hanson and she is calling Raynor for help. The player chooses how to win. He can build up a squad to defend against the Zerg. There is a map that shows where the truck is going to go; the player can plan tactics before he goes on to the mission.

Alpha texture blending is in the editor. In old games everything is tile based - people could see the hard edges of the textures and the light textures next to the dark textures. But now, anyone can blend textures together and no two parts of the map will look the same. The user can create roads in the editor by pointing and clicking. It’s not an art asset; the editor can do it on the fly. The editor can also change how dense or sparse grass or any other kind of terrain foliage can be.

Mods

StarCraft II has a more powerful editor than in any Blizzard game seen before. DoTA and Tower Defense, for example, were made by Blizzard fans and they are played by hundreds of thousands of players. Studios are trying to figure out how to take advantage of these game types. All kinds of games are based on genres created by our fans. Hard-working folks can receive money from players. The quality of the games everyone will be playing in the upcoming years will be insane. Mod-makers have gotten jobs all around the industry by using Blizzard map editors.

Here’s a few examples created by Blizzard devs without too much time put in:

Uberlisk: This is a custom unit that has Spine Crawlers grafted to his back and can destroy ground itself. It creates a huge explosion and can destroy the ground itself. Spine Crawlers can be made to shoot Banelings as projectiles. This is all created with the data editor - no custom code knowledge required. One of Blizzard's best data editors put this map together in about a day and a half.

FPS game: Nova is running around and the player can control her with a keyboard and in a future build, a mouse. As Nova, the player can go inside a building and go underground. The player can also engage the Cloak ability and talk to people as if in an RPG all using custom UI.

Lost Viking Game: A Viking plays a top-down vertical scrolling shooter game.

There is not a lot of limits to what players will be able to do with this engine. Who can say what will happen when Battle.net 2.0 and the editor gets into the hands of the users?

Q&A

Q: Any plans for group collaboration on maps?

A: Yes, there are plans to give modders and artists products and share it with other people. You can import triggers so a person can work on a different part of a map.

Q: Any plans to stop map stealing?

A: We haven’t locked down on what our exact plans are. But we are going to make it very difficult, if not impossible, for it to steal from you, the mod maker.

Q: To what extent can the UI be customized?

A: We asked for lots of extra things. We’ve tried to give you as many UI customization tools as you can. One of the things we’ve added is an item system, which we don’t need, but it’s useful for modders so we’ve added it anyway.

Q: How will hero system be more flexible?

A: You can do same things as in WarCraft III? The data editor is extremely powerful.

Q: Will it be possible to adjust armor?

A: Yes, we’ve made it possible to be able to reproduce armor systems of past games.

Q: Has StarCraft 2 has been pushed back because of battle.net?

A: Well, it wasn’t just battle.net. We knew we wanted to work on the game longer. As developers we want you guys to play this game ASAP, but we saw a bunch of things in the campaign that we wanted to make better. So really, the delay started with battle.net, but we saw lots of things we could do better to make this game meet your expectations. The delay has been a blessing for us.

Q: Will there be a way to save your characters?

A: We do have support for what we’re calling banks. Basically you can store info on your local system, any kind of info you want to store.

Q: Any possibility to record shoutcasting in replays?

A: Not in shipped version of the game, but it’s a great idea for e-sports. There’s alot of technical details to be discussing and we might implement it in patches.

Q: Can you load multiple maps at once?

A: We supported it in WarCraft III as “campaigns” and we are looking to support it for StarCraft II. Don’t know if it will be in ship.

Q: Will you be contacting your map makers because you track their quality?

A: Yes. Battle.net will show us who made the maps and who authored it. We’ll have access to the map-maker’s account. And yes, we’ve been doing this for years.

Q: Will we see this third-person perspective in any of the actual single player missions? Will editor be in beta?

A: I don’t know if we will include the third person thing in the game. It requires lots of teaching. We are trying to get people used to RTS gameplay in the single player, let alone third-person gameplay. We are planning to ship the beta in the editor. It probably won’t be in day one, but it will be there.

Q: Is there going to be any content filtering for uploading maps? Or is it wide open for everything?

A: Not sure yet, but our plan is to have a rating system where players flag the map and our staff comes by to confirm and the person will be warned/banned.

Q: Can you play a map as a beta or demo map?

A: We are still discussing this.


starcraft 2

This is a StarCraft: Legacy (http://sclegacy.com/) BlizzCon 2009 event article.

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