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 Click here for Blizzard's own recap of the events.

Panelists:
Matt Morris - Lead Level Designer
Richard Khoo - Senior Level Designer
Jason Huck - Level Designer
Matt Gocher - Level Designer


When we were improving the editor, we started talking about game types. DoTA, RPG, TD, etc. The purpose was to know how difficult it was to create this stuff that people go through when making such  maps, such as heroes and inventory. Another thing we wanted to do was working on dialog buttons. It's not entirely new, but it was really hard to use in our old editor, so we focused on improving this in StarCraft II. This is the reason we're creating custom maps.

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The first thing to focus on is the fun factor. Maps also need to be easy to learn. You guys don't create a map to teach a player how to play a map. You have 2 minutes to try to figure out how to teach the player. The chances of players to replay maps with a high learning curve is low. Feedback is also important. This is the point where you think the map is done, and you ask "what do I do now". Battle.net allows you to publish maps where you can get direct feedback. You can also get feedback from other map makers who share their knowledge.

Starjeweled

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Starjeweled is a 2v2 game that combines match puzzle gameplay with tug-of-war style combat

 

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Players earn energy from the match puzzle game which can be used to purchase units and spells


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Marines constantly spawn from each side to attack the enemy

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Final Victory

Impressions by SaharaDrac:
 


Anyone familiar with the hit game Bejewled or any one of its dozens of impostors will immediately feel right at home in Starjeweled. The basic gameplay involves a grid of jewels, and players must swap one jewel at a time to make a match of three or more in a row, which will cause the matched gems to disappear. Where Starjewled differs from the standard puzzle game genre is that instead of simply earning points, you earn resources. With this simple deviation it adds Tower Defense elements to an already established game type. Resources are used to purchase units that automatically move towards your opponents base, a feature similar to the classic Warcraft 3 Tower Defense map, Wintermaul Wars. The more gems you clear and the more chain reactions you cause, the more resources you earn, and the more resources you have, the more powerful units you can send. However, you must act fast, as your enemy will be sending units to your base simultaneously.

A working knowledge of the Starcraft II units will come in very handy as well, as the units sent have the same strength and weakness as they do in vanilla Starcraft II. For example, if you see a force of enemy Siege Tanks approaching, Immortals would be the perfect counter - but only if you have enough accumulated resources to afford them. In addition, your resources can also be spent on a variety of spells that you can cast on the battlefield, including shields and healing for your units, and the ever-popular Psionic Storm.

Starjeweled's fast pace and addictive nature will serve as a nice change of pace from the hectic pace of ranked Starcraft II games, and will also appeal to players who are not normally in to Real Time Strategy games. It is the kind of game that is easy to pick up, but hard to put down, and has a very broad appeal. After a few games, we found ourselves hooked, and we waited in line several times to play it, even with bigger name games like Diablo 3 dominating the floor of BlizzCon.

 

Left 2 Die

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This is a cooperative version of the "Outbreak" mission - where the player fought zombies at night. Magazines and forums really loved this mission - they love killing zombies. So focusing on the fun factor first, I created different types of Zombie. This is different than the design of Left4Dead, since you can see around all the units and your unit shoots at anything that moves.

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Left2Die is a cooperative map where players hold out against hordes of zombies.

 

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Choose technology wisely against the enemy.

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Keep defenses stout against the onslaught.

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Players can earn currency to purchase tech upgrades.

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Special infected are larger more powerful enemies with special abilities.

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The base can be easily overwhelmed if players don't work together.

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Two special infected threaten the base entrance.

 

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The first thing introduced is biomass. It can be pulled together to purchase technologies for all the players so that they don't feel like they're competing against each other. I wanted to make a game for everyone - I wanted to be able to play a game even with my wife. The map starts with a cinematic explaining to the player why he's there. There is also a difficulty level that players can choose. The biggest piece of advice I can offer is to go out of your way to make the gameplay easy to learn. There are too many players who will disregard your map otherwise.

Impressions by LordofAscension:

Left 2 Die, one of the four professionally developed StarCraft II custom mods announced and previewed at BlizzCon 2010 is Blizzard's tongue-in-cheek homage to Valve Software's popular zombie apocalypse survival FPS franchise, Left 4 Dead. By combining the frantic survival zombie-vibe of Left 4 Dead with StarCraft II's RTS engine and gameplay, Blizzard has crafted a simple but engaging co-op mod to bridge the genres and broaden the game's selection and appeal.

Left 2 Die is an expanded version of Wings of Liberty campaign mission "Outbreak", in which you must survive the nights on Meinhoff against hordes of the undead, while destroying the infested structures in the daylight hours. This mod offers a story driven opening in-game cut-scene, similar to Outbreak's, that introduces the players to their plight and their objectives.

The starting base is almost identical to Outbreak's. Each player must continually mine and produce armies to defend the shared base from the numberless undead. In addition to the normal undead, special infected units occasionally spawn as well. Modelled after their Left 4 Dead counterparts, they each have a unique attack or ability and are more difficult to kill. For example, one of the special infected is a "Hunterling", inspired by Left 4 Dead's "Hunter", that leaps on your units and a "Choker", that is similar to the Smoker, that grabs and consumes a few units at a time.

While killing the normal infected grants you some "biomass", destroying a special infected grants you larger quantities of this precious resource. Biomass can be used to unlock new units (such as the Medic, Reaper, or Hellion) or new technology (such as reinforced and expanded Bunkers or Tech Reactors). Each player accumulates their own biomass but any units or technologies unlocked are then available for both players.

The mission is a fun twist on vanilla campaign play and it demonstrates how a co-op campaign Blizzard-style could play out. In the build available at BlizzCon, my co-op partner and I didn't find brutal difficulty to be overly challenging for anyone who has experience playing the single-player campaign on brutal. In the mapping panel, the map's creator expressed a desire to create a mod that his wife could play with him. He explained that one of the most important elements in creating a mod is accessibility, making the controls and objectives easy to understand and pick-up. Part of that goal was realized by having four difficulties to choose from, which mirror those of the campaign.This mod is not incredibly hardcore, but it serves its purpose. It's a fun mod to play with friends and it will likely be popular for its creative novelty and engaging gameplay.

Blizzard Entertainment and Valve Software are two of the most successful, respected, and beloved PC developers of all time. While their games are created in different genres and are generally stylistically unique, Blizzard has tried to bridge the genre divide. In doing so, they have created a compelling, fun, experience that elevates StarCraft II's mods potential - not only technically but also in their broad appeal.

Aiur Chef

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This is about a game where you are a Zealot skilled in the arts of cooking and killing, traveling along Aiur gathering ingredients. The inspiration for this came from the fruit models found in the editor. One of the first things I changed was that players wanted to fight with another more instead of just gathering ingredients. For the gameplay itself, it is played over three rounds. The player with the most points at the end wins. So all of the fruist models will be coming to the map/mod community.

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Aiur chef is a free-for-all competition to cook recipes.

 

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Collect ingredients and return them to kitchen stadium to cook.



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Compete against opponents for points over three rounds.

 

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Each competitor is armed with psi frying pans and other fun weaponry.

 

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En taro cuisine!

 

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Explore the map for ingredients.

 

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Impressions by Zero:

Aiur Chef was one of the four professionally developed mods featured and playable to attendees of BlizzCon 2010, and soon to be available publicly via Battle.net 2.0. In this excellent parody of the popular television shows Iron Chef and Iron Chef America, up to eight players can play and like most party-style games, the more participants there are, the far greater the gameplay variety and potential.

The map for Aiur Chef is relatively small in comparison to standard multiplayer-style StarCraft matches, but is organized beautifully. The center of the map consists of the Aiur equivalent of Kitchen Stadium, a raised section decorated with elaborate Protoss structures with four ramps allowing access from the northwest, northeast, southwest, and southeast. Two multiple-resource rich areas exist, mirrored across the map from each other. Such resource-gathering areas include farms, Vespene refineries, water and waterfront beaches, creep-infested Zerg Hives, and Protoss encampments. Each of the many ingredients in Aiur Chef can be found in one of these sections, however, not all ingredients are as plentiful and easy to locate as others.

The in-game models are done wonderfully and are noticeable from the very beginning of the match. Each Protoss chef has a chef's hat on their head and holds in each hand one of a variety of different psionic cooking tools, such as a frying pan, a whisk or a spatula. Many of the different ingredients are not typical StarCraft models, and were added for the mod. These include various vegetables, animals, as well as some of the ingredients that appear after butchering a creep or StarCraft II unit, such as a High Templar. While some of the custom animals don't have the same graphic style as the StarCraft II units we're familiar with, they are still clearly identifiable and there was no visual confusion their addition into the mod.

The user interface has been customized as well. A list of the available recipes and their ingredients can be found on the upper-left of the player's screen. Above the standard user interface options is a set of six boxes arranged horizontally, which represents the player's current collection of ingredients and special abilities, limited to holding a combined six at any given time.

At the start of each game, the player is automatically given their aspiring Protoss chef. Each chef is identifiable by their individual color, and the player's view automatically centers on their chef at the beginning of each round. Before the game begins, Tassadar, the host of Aiur Chef, provides a brief introduction and explains the rules. There are three timed rounds in each game of Aiur Chef. To start each round, Tassadar swiftly announces the secret ingredient, and sends the chefs off with a booming "EN TARO CUISINE"!

Each player can control their Protoss chef through the standard Move and Attack commands. The recipe list in the upper-left of the player's screen contains three recipes, each with a different point value and each utilizes the secret ingredient in combination with other more plentiful ingredients. By hovering the cursor over the ingredients on the recipe list, a small description will pop up, giving brief advice to the player in regards to the location of the ingredient or the creature that must be killed to obtain it. Each recipe will require anywhere from four to six ingredients, of at least three different types of ingredients. To grab an ingredient on the ground, simply have your chef walk over it. If you're already carrying six ingredients, an attempt to carry more will be ignored. To remove an ingredient from your collection, you must right-click the particular item box, and your cursor will have a small icon next to it designating the item you chose. Then left-click a spot close to your chef, and it will be dropped. Selecting a location too far from your chef will cancel the drop, and may cause you to lose precious time if it happens too often.

In order to obtain certain ingredients, a type of creature may have to be killed for the ingredients to appear. A simple attack is all that is required for most quarry. Some creatures are docile and won't become aggressive, even after being attacked. However, others are not as passive, such as some of the Zerg units, and will pursue you as soon as they see you. Caution must be taken when facing some of ingredient-holding creatures; some are very powerful, and even the weaker targets may re-spawn quickly and overwhelm your chef.

Once all of the ingredients necessary to complete a recipe have been acquired, the player must send their chef back to the center stadium to cook their dish. Upon reaching the center beacon, a circular button appears next to the recipe list. Clicking on the button will allow you to cook, removing the ingredients from your collection, awarding you the points for that particular dish, and giving your chef a potential power-up or special ability. After cooking your dish, you send your chef out again, to cook as much as possible before the end of the round.

Once a player realizes the locations to find certain ingredients, it may be tempting to repeat the same dish several times. However, the player would do well to notice that repeatedly preparing the same recipe multiple times will reduce the amount of points awarded each time, and may not yield any power-ups or special abilities.

The default awards for cooking recipes vary in value. Through observation, it would appear as if the special abilities and power-ups are awarded for cooking dishes that don't provide the highest amount of points. Each ability or power-up will take up a space on the player's six space collection. One ability allows for a temporary boost in your chef's movement, while another forces your opponents to stop and uncontrollably dance in place for a few seconds. The Protoss chefs do have the ability to attack each other, but using anything other than the special abilities may prove to be more of a detriment to the offensive player, since pursuing your opponents for a fight wastes valuable time. If a player's chef were to be killed, regardless of the cause, the player will be re-spawned back at the center stadium.

At the end of the three rounds, Tassadar, the host of Aiur Chef, announces the winner based on the highest cumulative score obtained, declaring them to be the next Aiur Chef.

The survival of Aiur Chef over the course of time is questionable. Over the course of several matches, the game may lose appeal as players begin to master it, determining the best strategies and learning the locations to every ingredient. However, it is unlikely the newer chefs will give up. There is a short learning curve to the game, so even after a few losses, new players will still be rewarded with better strategic understanding. Eventually, as most players become accustomed to the game, the even playing field will inspire harsher competition and may introduce new tactics to the game that even the designers hadn't predicted.

In conclusion, Aiur Chef is an excellent example of the modding capabilities of the StarCraft II Galaxy Editor. Where it will stand after the test of time is uncertain. However, it is an excellent party game, is wonderfully made, and will likely see plenty of activity when it becomes open for play on Battle.net 2.0. The mod does a great job of capturing the spirit and quirkiness of its inspirations while adding a uniquely StarCraftian twist. This writer strongly suggests playing at least a few games of Aiur Chef when it is available, if only for the humor and charm its parody of the famous television shows provides.


Blizzard DoTA

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The inspiration for this map goes back all the way to the original StarCraft: The Aeon of Strife. It spawned a whole genre of mods including the immensely popular DoTA map in War3. We created our own hero selection screen using our own trigger dialog system. This is true for everything we created. There were a whole bunch of people who helped out. There were artists, programmers, etc. There was an enormous amount of feedback - some times it was harsh. It's a great opportunity to improve your map whenever you get any type of feedback because it shows people actually care about your map. If you can keep iterating improvements onto your map you'll have a really cool and polished map to show for your efforts.


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Breaking into the enemy base can be tough.

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Currency earned from battle can be used to purchase upgrades at shops.

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Fight alongside allied creeps for maximum efficiency.

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More combat.

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Muradin and Sylvannas destroy an enemy tower.

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The final objective - destroy the enemy base's center.

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Towers can pack a punch.




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Blizz DoTA Heroes:

 




Impressions by SaharaDrac:

In the mid 2000's I became bored of laddering in Warcraft 3. A great game in it's own right I had played thousands of 1v1 and team matches for more than a few years. In my search for something else to keep me interested I was introduced to the original DotA mod at the time recently being developed by the now Valve Software employed mod-maker "IceFrog". Within the first couple games it became apparent that Warcraft 3's shelf-life was about to be extended by another four to five years. What made the then innocent simple custom map so appealing was that it took the most fun and engaging elements of WarCraft III (battling with heroes) and removed all the other elements of the game that non-RTS purist gamers find less than appealing about the RTS genre: namely base management making buildings dealing with an economy and micromanaging many varied units. The Defense of the Ancients map had birthed a new type of RTS; the "Action RTS" or "Arcade style-RTS". The player selects a hero from a large and varied list then follows up one of three lanes on the map supported by uncontrollable "creep" units and vies for control of his lane. The eventual goal is for your team to push all the way up your lanes and finally destroy the opposing team's base. This style of game became popular very quickly and a new phenomenon of PC gaming breathed new life into the slowing Warcraft III Battle.net scene.

It wasn't until knock off games such as "Heroes of Newerth" and "League of Legends" with full ladder support and matchmaking came along years later that gamers began migrating away from the original DotA.

Now Blizzard has stepped in letting companies like S2 Riot and even the mighty Valve know that they have plans to make the best offering possible in the freshly minted genre of "Action RTS". Their mod "Blizzard DOTA" was playable at BlizzCon 2010 and I had the opportunity play several matches with the new game. The following are my thoughts on the early pre-release version of the game.

Having recently played a fair bit of League of Legends the first thing that one notices about Blizzard DotA is the graphical presentation. The game is gorgeous and makes the less than appetizing visuals of LoL seem even more unappealing. The map is rendered beautifully the hero models are highly detailed and the spell effects are colorful and impressive. The second thing I enjoyed about the game's visuals was the sci-fi setting. Thus far with the exception of the fan-made SCII DotA mod "Storm of the Imperial Sanctum" all games of this genre have been in the fantasy setting. Heavy sniper rifles nuclear missiles lasers and Templar blades all make appearances here and it's a refreshing break from the swords sorcery and plate mail of the past.

From the second the game begins unless you are new to the game type and just trying to figure out how to play the game obviously reeks of Blizzard quality. It's hard to put an exact finger on but the game feels clean crisp and polished in it's early state more than fully released and often patched competitors feel even now.

That being said the game is not without it's flaws. There was a control issue where a strange delay would occur when issuing commands to your hero. This delay obviously does not exist in StarCraft II so the problem is apparently an issue within the mod itself and therefore likely easily remedied. Other places the game seemed lacking were also trivial matters that one must assume are already in the process of being addressed: the limited number of items and heroes. The heroes that were available however were very impressive. Choosing to include units and heroes from all their franchises players can battle with heroes from StarCraft such as Raynor and Zeratul but also futuristically enhanced characters such as the Blademaster and Abomination from Warcraft III both popular heroes from the original DotA and we can expect to see Diablo inspired heroes in the near future. Deckard Cain with a laser-firing Horadric staff anyone?

Heroes also have six spells now rather than four which is very cool. This includes many "passive" abilities like the ones found in League of Legends. There is also a normal level six ult (or ultimate spell) and then another ult than can be taken at level ten. These "Ultimate Ults" are very powerful spells and should add a lot of depth to the heroes and builds.

A very neat feature of the heroes is that they change appearances and names depending on which team they are fighting for. For example when selecting Raynor if you are on "The Guardium"(formerly known as The Sentinel in DotA) he will remain Jim Raynor but if one chooses the team which was known as The Scourge he becomes "Emperor Raynor" complete with more evil looking armor and weaponry. This adds flavor to the game where often times mirrored heroes are selected while still making them easily identifiable as the same hero despite somewhat different costuming.

HEROES
GRUNTY
Grunty is a Murloc Marine. He is an AGI (agility) carry type hero with high damage and very low hit points. Think of him as the Stealth Assassin with a ranged attack replacing cloak.

KERRIGAN
Kerrigan is an AOE spellcaster INT (Intelligence) hero. She can be compared to heroes like Krobelus Darchow or Lion from the original DotA.

LEVEL 80 ELITE TAUREN CHIEFTAIN
L80ETC is a short-ranged tank STR (Strength) hero. He is less comparable to DotA heroes but he has a stun similar to Storm Bolt a scatter shot like the Dwarven Sniper and a AOE buff like the Lycanthrope. He also has very high HP.

LEON
Leon is a new character an AGI based Dominion Sniper. He has cloak long ranged snipe attacks and can call down Nukes.
MURADIN
Muradin is a carbon copy of the Mountain King from DotA with an armor passive and a defense buffing AOE Warcry added on.

RAYNOR
Raynor is a support INT hero featuring many buffs and reinforcement abilities befitting his role as a battlefield leader.

STITCHES
Stitches is another carry over from DotA - Pudge from the original DotA. In addition to Pudge's classic abilities. He also has a powerful new AOE ult and and armor building passive.

SYLVANAS
Sylvanas is the Dark Ranger from DotA with added abilities such as a spread shot to make her even more deadly.

ULTIMATON
Ultimaton the Ultralisk is an interesting tank hero that blends the functionality of the Ultralisk in StarCraft II with abilities such as trample and cleave and Leoric the Skeleton King from DotA including Reincarnation.

VAEVICTUS
Vaevictus the Hydralisk combines abilities like Shadowstrike and Poison like his counterpart the Venomancer with things like Burrowed Movement and even the activatable Rapid Regeneration similar to Dr. Mundo's in League of Legends.

ZA'MURO
Za'Muro is a more enhanced version of DotA's Blademaster. He gains damage from the number of enemies in his area while maintaining his classic abilities like counter attack and Bladestorm.

ZERATUL
Zeratul is an AGI hero similar to the Phantom Lancer. Only better because he's Zeratul - period.

These twelve starting heroes were a great introduction to the potential of Blizzard DotA in the future. If things continue in the trend of quality and fun that this map presents so far and I'm certain they will this will be my Action RTS of choice. Along with the coming of new heroes and items things such as official ladder support and long-term Blizzard care have been promised. Clean beautiful graphics crisp gameplay and the potential to have The Lost VIkings fighting alongside Jim Raynor made this mod the crown jewel of Blizzard's StarCraft II showings at BlizzCon 2010.


Editor

Actors were used to modify the basic look of a unit to get its concept across for testing purposes. One of the easiest ways to customize art is to change tint color. Another awesome tool is the mover system. You can even use to create effects that don't even look like missiles. We really love playing your guys' maps. One of the things we saw was a feature to track mouse movement of players; this feature will be available when patch 1.2 goes up.



Q&A:

  • The marketplace is still on the list of things to do. It is coming we don't know when. We've also been looking at upgrading the map size limit for battle.net.
  • Blizzard DoTA is something that will continually be supported by Blizzard.
  • Blizzard is looking into the lag and delay that comes with mousetracking.
  • For DoTA Blizzard is creating new heroes from old games. There is no mechanism for transferring data from War3 to SC2.
  • Blizzard has not looked into adding a mechanism for adding custom maps to all servers simultaneously.
  • Blizzard custom maps will not be locked and all its assets will be free for use.
  • Blizzard hopes to provide some tools for new users to get into the editor.
  • Map locking will eventually be more secure and will do more than just lock triggers.
  • The Blizzard maps will eventually be released on battle.net but there is no official date.
  • When the UI is removed certain hotkeys have to be reserved.
  • Blizzard maps will have a score screen that show off all kinds of stats from the custom game itself and there will be ways to see what hero/race is winning the most.
  • The inventory system is a work in progress. The DoTA map was a wakeup call and we will definitely imrpove the system now.
  • Blizzard hasn't explored adding blinking multiplayer maps on battle.net but will look into it.
  • The bank system can be used to store names of players who won.
  • Blizzard plans on exposing their art tools between now and Legacy of the Void.
  • How premium maps will be decided is still up in the air.
  • Creation of custom single-player campaigns will be implemented in the future.

 

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