Hercanic's SC2 Beta Exposure! (Scandalous!)

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Hercanic's SC2 Beta Exposure! (Scandalous!)

Postby Hercanic » Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:10 am

Starcraft 2 Beta has finally started! Having played SC2 previously at BlizzCon '09, my initial impression was already deflowered. Like any post-teen, my memory after the fact has grown fuzzy, but I remember the inebriated excitement, the unfamiliar sensations, and how disappointingly quick it ended. Now that SC2 has matured, we can take our time together and appreciate all the little things. In no particular order, here are my various observations:

  • Wow, look at its size! 1.64GB, and my download bottleneck was so narrow it was painful!


  • CharacterName.Identifier is how SC2 wants to remember me? Awkward, but sure, let's go with it.


  • Finally, I'm in! Ladder play? I don't think I'm ready for sodomy. I at least need a little foreplay first. Let's feel around and make sure nothing is missing or grossly infected. "Very Easy" AI it is!


  • Terran add-on salvaging has been dropped. Too bad, I rather liked the efficiency it offered. I wonder at the reason, but if pressed for a guess, I would wager Blizzard didn't feel it necessary. Update: The Bunker still has Salvage.


  • Infested Terrans are gone. Lore-wise, they were problematic being spit out from the Infester like bad leftovers.


  • No Lurker to be found. It seems a shame to lose such a popular unit with an interesting (and devastating) attack. I suppose the siege angle they were trying didn't work out.


  • Dark Pylon is axed. In its place, Protoss have an innate Nexus ability that can be cast on any unit producer for 25 energy (100 max Nexus energy), increasing training speed by 50%. This can be used on the Nexus itself for fast workers, or the Stargate for rapid Carrier deployment.


  • When Vespene Geysers are depleted, the refinery shuts down permanently. I imagine Blizzard is just trying this out, as a number of art assets are not in place to support it. For instance, there is nothing that distinguishes a depleted geyser from a normal geyser, other than an error message if you try to build on one (even the placement ghost is still shown).


  • Interceptors from Carriers cannot be selected. I do not believe they can be targeted anymore, preventing unit AI confusion that was a big advantage for them in SC1. Interceptor count is displayed on the Build Interceptor button, rather than the weapon icon. This allows the weapon icon to properly display the upgrade tier.


  • Void Rays keep their attack charge for a number of seconds after killing their target, and can engage a new enemy or switch targets without losing the damage bonus. This is contrary to what was originally the Void Ray's pivotal weakness, in that it had to shift its lenses into place to build up damage, but would have to reset this process every target, thereby making it useful only against high HP units. Now, the mechanic merely limits the Void Ray's ability to hit-and-run.


  • Brood Lords are pretty destructive, commanding bat/manta-like Broodlings to descend down on targets for an initial blast and then continue to chew away at the feet of the enemy for a few seconds of timed life, drawing away fire like Protoss Carriers of old. What is interesting to note is that Brood Lords start with two Broodlings in tow, but while fighting only regenerate one Broodling at a time. This means the first attack is a high spike compared to prolonged engagements. Though Brood Lords are as slow as their Guardian forefathers, there is something to be said about hit-and-run with these guys.


  • When a Zerg tech building is destroyed, Broodlings are expunged from its corpse to assail the intruders. Against a large force, this matters little, but it can weaken and pick off a small raiding party of Marines.


  • Reapers have a special building attack, like the Ultralisk's head attack. D8 Charges, which was at one point an ability, is now a basic attack with a whopping 40 damage. Not only can a team of Reapers shred workers and light infantry, but they'll make quick work of buildings. The fact that they can jump up cliffs by default to circumvent any defensive chokes make these guys very scary on certain maps. It only takes a Tech Lab to get them, so fast gas is required. Your one hope of early defense is something armored, like Stalkers, Roaches, or Marauders. I really am not seeing how Hellions can compete with these guys at this point.


  • Unit weapon icons are generic, like armor was in Starcraft 1, mirroring the icon of their upgrade.


  • Most transition buttons, such as Siege Mode, cloaking, or the Viking's transformation, are in different positions, so when you have a mixed group you can do either operation.


  • I love how expanding Creep kills plants, vaporizing grass and shriveling larger flora.
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Re: Hercanic's SC2 Beta Exposure! (Scandalous!)

Postby Hercanic » Sun Feb 21, 2010 12:38 pm

Managing larva is very time-consuming, making Zerg rather challenging to play; moreso than SC1, as the faster gameplay pace and Queen micro compound the stress. I worry about this balance against the other races.

In SC1, Zerg's high unit production was offset by competing demands, such as Drones and Overlords to military; vulnerable supply (Overlords); and the choice between managing decentralized production across expansions versus resource inefficiency with clustered hatcheries.

In Starcraft 2, Terran and Protoss have been given several production boosts. Terran have Reactor add-ons to double Marine, Hellion, Viking, and Medivac output; and Calldown Supply from the Orbital Command, which instantly and permanently adds +8 supply to a depot. Protoss can transition Gateways into Warp Gates, creating units in mere seconds anywhere in a Pylon field; and the new Nexus ability reduces train time of any producer by 50%. All these perks minimize Zerg's production advantage, while Zerg still has the same disadvantages.

The Queen does help to centralize production and compensate for Drone and Overlord demands, but it requires a lot of attention and far more micro than the other race's equivalents. Part of this is due to the wait involved that the other races don't have to worry about. First, you must cast the Spawn Larva spell, which the Queen must then physically travel to the targeted Hatchery (other races have no such delay). Once cast, you must wait ~20 seconds for the larva to actually spawn. Finally, you can queue up the units you want from the larva, but must repeat this process again ad nauseam throughout the entire game.

Contrast that with Reactors, where once built (click of a button now; no add-on placement needed unless lifted-off) they can be used freely without any additional tasks. Hit the supply cap? Get instant, free supply with Calldown Supply. Click spell, target depot, done.

For Protoss, selecting all Warp Gates have their own dedicated hotkey (W). Pick and place the units you want and within seconds you have them. Use as needed. On buildings with queues, click and cast your Nexus spell for instant gratification.

See the difference? Queens, being so vital to Zerg now, are also much more vulnerable than Warp Gates, Nexuses, Reactors, or Orbital Commands, making her a ripe target for harassment (in addition to Overlords and Drones). Zerg are just not easy to play when it comes to the other races.
Last edited by Hercanic on Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hercanic's SC2 Beta Exposure! (Scandalous!)

Postby tipereth » Sun Feb 21, 2010 12:50 pm

I want a select All Larvae button like the protoss' select All Warp Gates. I guess I could hotkey all my hatcheries, but a protoss player could hotkey the warpgates. Would make macro a bit lighter.

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Re: Hercanic's SC2 Beta Exposure! (Scandalous!)

Postby Hercanic » Sun Feb 21, 2010 1:48 pm

I wholeheartedly agree, and have been working on a list of suggestions for Blizzard that includes something to that effect. The reason Warp Gates have a hotkey, though, is because you actively choose the spawn point. With larva, or any other unit producer, units spawn at that location. Management can get messy, particularly with larva spread across all your expansions. If you try to set one global rally point, travel can become dangerous.

One idea I have is building a Nydus at every expansion and setting the Hatchery's military rally point to the local Nydus (units will then load into it automatically). The Nydus Network is available immediately after Lair, and Nydus Worms are cheaper than Networks. All ground forces created across all expansions are able to stay together and defend or deploy anywhere at a moment's notice.

As an aside, I like how Bunkers and Nydus Worms/Networks can set their own rally points.
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Re: Hercanic's SC2 Beta Exposure! (Scandalous!)

Postby tipereth » Sun Feb 21, 2010 2:03 pm

To be able to quickly order all my eggs to build shit while I'm maneuvering forces is well worth the risk in my opinion. Obviously you wouldn't use it if location of the unit mattered.

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Re: Hercanic's SC2 Beta Exposure! (Scandalous!)

Postby Hercanic » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:28 pm

  • Salvage is not completely dropped. The Bunker still has it. This means cheese like bunker hopping won't be nearly as expensive, as you get 100% of the resources returned from Salvage.


  • Some notes about the Bunker: units inside gain +1 to range, Marauder and Ghost take up 2 slots, a bar above the bunker shows how many units are inside, it has two visual states for when empty (lights off, door open) or loaded (lights on, door closed), an upgrade increases Bunker space by 2, and building armor can be upgraded by 2.


  • SCV Repair can be set to auto-cast. Very, very handy.


  • You can make Marines and Marauders /dance and /cheer.


  • Energy upgrades add 25 starting energy, not 50 maximum energy. This is an odd choice, as it means the upgrade is only viable within the first two and a half minutes of the caster's life. Most cost 150 minerals and 150 gas to research.


  • Hatcheries support a maximum of 19 larva. Using the Queen's Spawn Larva after this causes four older larva to perish when the new ones hatch. This means you'll max on larva after four casts, which equates to about 80 seconds (20 seconds between each cast).


  • Broodlings in the tow of a Brood Lord seem to be able to independently engage a target. At one point I noticed only one of the two Broodlings launching itself at a building, while the other Broodling and Brood Lord itself faced away and did nothing.


  • Spells display their casting range around the caster when selecting a target for the spell.


  • Lifted-off buildings can rotate in flight, showing thrusters in the back.


  • Protoss Chrono Boost, the Nexus spell that increases a structure's activity by 50%, can be cast on tech buildings. I have not verified whether it speeds up research and upgrades, but the language of the spell does not exclude anything.

    Image


  • The Siege Tank, while selected in siege mode, shows its weapon range. Which can get a little...

    [spoiler]Image[/spoiler]

Last edited by Hercanic on Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hercanic's SC2 Beta Exposure! (Scandalous!)

Postby Lavarinth » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:20 am

Correction possibly, to my knowledge, you don't even have to select it! Ugh, even worse!

And I believe Chrono Burst doesn't affect upgrades to my knowledge, I thought I heard someone say that.
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Hercanic's big ol' list of UI suggestions

Postby Hercanic » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:32 am

The following are my ideas to help improve the interface of Starcraft 2. Some are minor, others major. You can view my Battle.net post here.



Changes

  • Movement and Attack Speed Tooltips
    Give us numerical values for these, not blunted terms from Wacraft III like "Normal" and "Fast". Otherwise, you might as well have "Short" and "Long" for weapon range. When both my Zerglings and Roaches read as "Fast" on Creep, but my Zerglings outpace the Roaches by miles, you know something's not right with the scale. It is just as important to know whether a unit is 1 point faster or slower than another unit as it is to know who has the longer range.




  • Protoss Sentry
    Add a tooltip to Hallucination in order to specify that it is a submenu and not a targeted spell like its SC1 counterpart. For example:

    Hallucination
    Opens a menu of possible units to hallucinate.




  • Adding Friends (Errors)
    Preserve entered information after an error message is given, so that typos can be corrected without needing to restart from scratch.




  • Adding Friends (Fields)
    Combine the separate fields, or allow a toggle setting between "[enter character ID] . [enter identifier]" and a single field. People often share their usernames on social sites and forums, and it is usually easier to copy-paste that information (such as with long or complex names). This is made difficult in Battle.net due to having two separate fields and limited characters in both, requiring you to copy-paste, minimize, and copy-paste a second time. Otherwise, to be consistent, separate the email line into two fields with a big bolded @ when adding Real ID friends (can you see why the dot separator is a little silly and cumbersome?).




  • Adding Friends (Fields addendum)
    It would be even more useful if that one field could accept multiple names in one submission, with each line being read as one username. While players will normally be adding to their friends list in a piecemeal fashion, community rosters would benefit from the quick setup. A lot of these issues could also be sidestepped if we were able to manage our friends list from the Battle.net website, like Steam.




  • Adding Friends (RealID and Character)
    If you have one of these and add the other for the same person, you end up with two entries in your friends list. Why not just merge them?




  • Character ID dot Identifier ID
    Cut it. It's awkward to use, looks bad, is wholly confusing, and has a huge potential for abuse. For those reading, the way it works is anyone can have any character ID or identifier ID no matter if it's used by anyone else. The only thing that is unique to you is the combination of the two, and most people will only see your Character ID. I could be SlayerS_BoxeR or Jaedong if I wanted, and so could a million other people. Blizzard, if you're really set on this idea of "anyone can have any username" then do what Steam does and have an account name with a customizable display name, and if anyone has the same name in a game you asterisk it with a number.




  • Enemy Health Bars
    Make them sylistically different from friendly health bars. Rounded, jagged, something so they are distinguishable from your own. Other ways would be to use a different color scheme, change the black dividing lines to another color, or some combination thereof.



Additions

  • Ingame Clock
    A clock is provided when on Battle.net, but not while in a game. For consistency, display the clock in-game (under Options, it could be turned on/off). Clicking on it could toggle between real time (windows clock) and game time. Game time would show elapsed time since match start (00:00:00), allowing players to time their build orders.




  • Ally Resource Display
    When an ally is defeated, leaves, or is disconnected, the remaining team gains access to the leftover resources. The problem is that this is not shown anywhere on the interface.




  • Nydus Tabs
    The Nydus can store more than it shows, but has no numbered tabs like normal group selections do. I can see there is a position conflict with the Nydus' wireframe and health, but something's got to give.




  • Neutral "Info-buttons"
    "Info-buttons" are present on many units, explaining innate abilities like the Marauder's slow effect, Reaper's cliff-jumping, Dark Templar's invisibility, Observer's detection, etc. How about one for the Xel'naga Watchtower, Destructible Rocks, and/or High-Yield Minerals? These are to acquaint new players with their mechanics and explain any rules (like how only non-burrowed ground units, not buildings or flyers, activate the Watchtower).




  • Splash Range Stat
    For any units that deal splash damage, give us a stat with a numerical value in their weapon tooltip.




  • Supply Stat
    In Starcraft 1, anything that provided supply listed how much it gave next to its wireframe. How about a simple supply stat in the armor tooltip? Or it could be shown as an "info-button." Or it could be in the actual unit/building description where it says "Provides [#] supply." Or it could be in the unit/building description as a "Bonus:" field.




  • Defense Range on Placement
    When placing a Creep Tumor, you are treated to a radius graphic that expresses how far it will generate creep. How about applying that concept to the weapon range of defenses when placing them? Then you can actually see whether that Photon Cannon can cover that nook behind your mineral line, etc.




  • Visually Show Weapon Range
    While a Siege Tank is in siege mode, a radius is displayed that shows its range. How about expanding that concept to all units, but only show the radius when you mouse-over the unit's weapon icon?




  • Visually Show Detection Range
    When you mouse-over the Detector "info-button", show the range of detection as a radius graphic around the unit. The Changeling's morph range could also be shown when you mouse-over its "info-button".




  • Unit Roster
    Clicking on your supply icon would toggle open a condensed display of all your units. Formatted like the "Units" option in replays (with unit icons and their count in the picture's corner), only smaller and vertically aligned on the right-hand side of the screen in one or two columns. Clicking on an icon would cycle through each unit like the Idle Worker function, and shift-clicking (or right-clicking) would select all of those units. Uses include keeping track of your units, finding where errant units have wandered off to, seeing how many workers you actually have past early game, selecting all your larva at once, etc.




  • Building Roster
    A separate Building Roster is also a possibility. For either roster, being able to customize what is displayed under Options would further their usefulness to an individual player, who may only want to keep track of certain units and buildings (like production buildings). The ability to assign global hotkeys to these, like the Warp Gate's "W", would further empower players. To facilitate assigning global hotkeys, a keyboard map with a dropdown for each race could highlight unused and available keys. This would naturally need to be integrated into any full hotkey customization suite we might get down the line (if WCIII allowed custom hotkeys, SC2 shouldn't disappoint).




  • Assigned Workers Button
    A special button on all resource depots (Command Center, Nexus, Hatchery, and their upgraded forms) that shows how many workers are delivering resources to it (like the Carrier's Interceptor button). Clicking the button selects those workers. The count would help players figure out if they are oversaturated or not, and in emergencies they can quickly select all workers without accidentally grabbing any defenders doing their job.
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Re: Hercanic's SC2 Beta Exposure! (Scandalous!)

Postby IskatuMesk » Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:21 am

Lavarinth wrote:Correction possibly, to my knowledge, you don't even have to select it! Ugh, even worse!

And I believe Chrono Burst doesn't affect upgrades to my knowledge, I thought I heard someone say that.


Pretty sure it does, as well as allied structures.
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Re: Hercanic's SC2 Beta Exposure! (Scandalous!)

Postby Hercanic » Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:56 am

Lavarinth wrote:Correction possibly, to my knowledge, you don't even have to select it! Ugh, even worse!

Siege Tank, you mean? Just tested to verify: no it doesn't. The range is only displayed while the unit is selected.
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Re: Hercanic's SC2 Beta Exposure! (Scandalous!)

Postby Lavarinth » Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:38 pm

Hercanic wrote:
Lavarinth wrote:Correction possibly, to my knowledge, you don't even have to select it! Ugh, even worse!

Siege Tank, you mean? Just tested to verify: no it doesn't. The range is only displayed while the unit is selected.


I'm still gonna say it displays at all time when in Siege Mode simply cause it was like that in last nights game, kept annoying me as I kept thinking they were radar towers.
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Re: Hercanic's SC2 Beta Exposure! (Scandalous!)

Postby Hercanic » Fri Feb 26, 2010 4:01 pm

Yeah, I think the graphic needs to change for one of them. They use the same arrows for spell range, too, even for Protoss and Zerg. With multiple fields overlapping like that, I'm wondering if they should use an occluding system. Though, they should just get rid of the Siege Tank display range while selected, and instead only show it when you mouse-over the weapon tooltip (or the transform button if it's important to show the range fields of your entire selection of tanks).

  • I've noticed AoE spells do not show their casting range like single-target spells. An odd discrepancy.


  • Interceptors can be set to auto-cast. I am now wondering if Interceptors can be targetted or destroyed, as otherwise setting auto-build just saves you 3 extra clicks.


  • You can chain-cast spells with Shift like you can with building structures or setting movement waypoints. Hold shift, hit the hotkey once, and madly click on the targets or spots where you want things to die. Very handy for the Ghost's Snipe or quickly spawning a massive army of Infested Terrans with the Infestor.
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Re: Hercanic's SC2 Beta Exposure! (Scandalous!)

Postby Lavarinth » Fri Feb 26, 2010 8:07 pm

Interceptors can be destroyed, if you don't focus fire on the carrier your squad'll suffer the consequences quickly.
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Re: Hercanic's SC2 Beta Exposure! (Scandalous!)

Postby Hercanic » Fri Feb 26, 2010 9:44 pm

I see, that would explain some of the twitch-spin behavior I've seen units occassionally exhibit when a Carrier first strikes. I suspected they were targetting the interceptors, but the moment was so brief I wasn't sure.

I did some testing on Chrono Boost, and it does in fact accelerate research and upgrades. I made two Forges and queued up Armor and Shields, both listed as having the same time.  I compared their progress to make sure what was listed was accurate. Then I Chrono'ed Shields, which I had started just after Armor (so Armor was a tad ahead). Shields won the race like a mile to a kilometer.

Chrono Boost even reduces the cooldown on Warp Gates and increases shield regeneration. Talk about a versatile spell (which is good), and you don't even have to research it! (Which may not be so good compared to what the other races have to do) Every casting essentially shaves off 10 seconds.
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Re: Hercanic's SC2 Beta Exposure! (Scandalous!)

Postby Hercanic » Fri Feb 26, 2010 11:17 pm

May I present, courtesy of Voyager, the first SC2 mod:

Image

The vicious Lyotes you see before you hail from the new, almighty Placeholder race. As terrifying as they appear, do not fear, they truly do have green-plated hearts of gold. They'll ravage your body only after killing you, see.

Voyager has been poking around the MPQ files, and was able to accomplish this by editing RaceData.xml in Base.SC2Data (which is actually an MPQ, despite the extension). I wouldn't recommend anyone in Beta trying this, however, as Blizzard has stated in the EULA that modding is not allowed. (Must mean custom mapping, right?)

This is interesting:

Code: Select all

        <ResourceDropOff index="Terrazine" value="1"/>
        <ResourceDropOff index="Custom" value="1"/>

Terrazine gas is from SC: Ghost, and was something Blizzard stated they planned to continue. There's stuff for a Terrazine Refinery in the files, for a doodad at least.

Also, if you are set as the owner of the Xel'naga Watchtowers, they will give you vision even if they appear inactive.

DiscipleOfAdun has been prodding the Beta files as well, and by the looks of things he is thinking that the entire game is in itself a mod atop their engine. He is investigating to confirm this, but if true the possibilities for mods will truly be staggering.
Last edited by Hercanic on Fri Feb 26, 2010 11:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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