14 November 2008

How sad...

Along with my Wc3 campaign this blog seems to be dying slowly due to my inactivity on both projects. I just can't muster the time to do anythign significant because of school and job obligations. It all just takes too much time.

Last week my computer broke, for good, so I bought a new one. Now at least I'm confident that I'll be able to play StarCraft II and Diablo III smoothly when they come out. And it also doesn't hurt too much that I can play this holiday season's new games. Well, at least if I had the time... WotLK is out and I haven't even bought it because it's also way too time-consuming, but who knows, maybe next week when I get my next paycheck? Job's going well by the way, one more week and I'll be past the trial period.

11 October 2008

StarCraft 2 Trilogy: My beef!

So, Blizzard announced that the Single-Player campaign in StarCraft 2 is going to be so epic that they are going to divide it into three parts, each representing one of the races, and selling them seperately. Before we jump to any conclusions we should consider the following facts:

What we know:
- Each following campaign (in order: Terran, Zerg, Protoss) will be based on the previous, but Blizzard will definetely avoid cliffhangers or simple continuation.
- The Multiplayer-Part will be part of the first campaign.
- Each race will have about 26 to 30 missions, roughly the size of Starcraft, Broodwar or WarCraft 3 (or any other standard RTS).
- The terran campaign will feature a Protoss mini-campaign.
- Protoss are going to have diplomatic options while Zerg will be more aggresive.

What we don't know.

- If the Multiplayer-Part will bve included in the second and third product.
- The cost of each product.
- The time we have to wait for the second and third campaign to be released.

Each campaign will feature:

- A deeply rooted mission-tree.
- Optional character interaction.
- Selectable apporach on missions (sometimes up to six different).
- Secret missions.

Apparently Blizzard decided to select this method because they didn't want to pack everything into fewer missions, thus diminishing the epic feel of their campaign. This way, they are also able to create more terrain, cinematics and extras than in a classic approach.

What I am thinking:
Since we don't know anything about the price or the time we have to wait inbetween campaigns it's hard to tell how bad it is (that it IS bad, I am sure of).
Each product could cost 50€ thus tripling the usual price of a pc game, and it's not like we are getting any new game for our money either: It's still the same engine and units. And it also sucks that we'll probably have to wait very long, it's a Blizzard product after all (note that I'm not really sure anymore if I should call it a game or a product...).
On the other hand, there could be a price offering for owners of one of the products. I guess 50€ + 25€ +25€ is fair.

If Blizzard had just kept their mouths shut, everyone would've been happy with 8 - 10 missions per race. I wonder what all the illegal downloaders are thinking... ("Dude, I'll just buy the first and DL the others, so I can still play online, dude!").

Oh, let's all blame Activision for this!

Don't forget:
Some videos showing ingame multiplayer fights, an ingame cinematic scene and a pre-rendered cinematic video have found their way to the internet.

09 October 2008

Stormwind is ready!

Finally, after 9 weeks my biggest WarCraft-map so far has reached Alpha-Status, so I can start planning for the next foru chapters of the book, all of which are set inside Karazhan. Therefore, I'll probably split it into two playable chapters. We'll see. No ETA, because of my new job I won't have the time I used to.

(Click to enlarge, fool!)

08 October 2008

League of Legends

What looks like DotA, plays like DotA, sounds a bit like DotA and comes from the creators of DotA? Read the title!

Yes, it's true. The most popular WarCraft 3 modification gets its own game, removing the engine limitations bound to WC3, and creating the DotA (Defence of the Ancients)-experience the way it was meant to be.

No, I've never been a big DotA-fan myself but I think it's great to see community projects become so big they can compete with professional stuff nowadays. I'm certainly going to keep an eye on this one, it might become the next Counter-Strike.

- League of Legends Homepage (kinda looks like a Blizzard website)

06 October 2008

Got a job!

Some exciting things have been going on in my life lately. When I got well from my leg-injury I started looking for a job, and as every sane people do I started looking for a job that fulfills my personal interests, so I wouldn't end up working for McDonalds straightaway.

By mere accident (pun?), I found out that a famous German video game developer has been looking for a level designer for an internship. I applied a couple of week ago. I got a phone call for the interview that was today, which went pretty well. They told me they would contact me in 1-2 weeks. They'll probably not do it anymore, because they friggin' called me thirty minutes after I had left the building! I can start next monday! I'll get paid for enjoying my hobby! Life is finally getting good!

Anyway, I don't feel safe revealing the name of the company yet. Maybe I never will. I haven't signed a non-disclosure agreement yet, though I'd like to stay faithful to the company nonetheless.

Of course this has a negative point, so I'll probably not be spending a lot of time on The Last Guardian anymore. I just hope I can manage to get it out before StarCraft 2 is released.

23 September 2008

New Screenshots/Example of riddles in TLG

I started getting bored playing WoW so I decided to pay TLG a little more attention. Here's an example of gameplay from my newest map.

(Khadgar and Medivh fly into Stormwind)

(In the book Lothar is already there explaining the situation. In my campaign you have to find him first)

(There is a fight at the bar and you can't get through. Notice the item at the upper part of the screen. A golden tooth that will be useful later)

(Draw the mob's attention away by hitting an innocent child)

(Lothar's in the bar, drunk!)

(The Barkeeper explains that you can sober him up by getting four items as ingredients for a special liquid

(In the garden(not to be seen here) you find the first item. In this well you fill your potion to create the second item)

(A chest you can open with the right left-right combination of your arrow keys. The third item is in there)

(You could have bought the fourth item at this nice lady. Too bad you don't have enough money...

(This gambler plays games where you can win money. Too bad you lose every time...)

(A boring old man tells the story of his sea life, and reveleas that he collects rare items. The golden tooth! You get a lucky coin in return

(You are able to win against the gambler with oyur lucky coin

(You get the ability to create alchemic potions in one of the previous levels. You have to use this ability in very mission to create important potions, but you can also use it for other stuff)

Lothar is finally not drunk anymore, so he can explain the situation to you and get you to the mage chambers)

(To be continued. (Not in this post, in the campaign!))

15 September 2008

Oh no, the King is coming!

I had just reactivated my account after a half-a-year break, and while I consider myself in no way a WoW-freak (so I'm just passing the time until the next 'real' Blizzard-title is released.), the announcement of the WotLK release date is bad news indeed, as it will eat up my time working on my new WarCraft 3 campaign. So, that will leave me with six weeks of time for my project. If all goes well I'll have Chapters 4, 5, and 6 ready by then. If not I'll still be busy with the current Stormwind-map, which would push a release date far back, probably summer 2009, thus, very close to StarCraft 2.

Oh, it's still not an official announcement, but it's a pretty safe bet in my opinion.

Update: Blizzard confirms. It's official!

11 September 2008

Busy with WoW

Since the beginning of September I've started playing World of Warcraft again, so there'll probably not be any newsworthy updated on TLG for a while. But have no fear, I'll ony be playing it until the end of the month, just so I can get my fix.

22 August 2008

The Last Guardian - 2 new screenshots

I've updated the picture slideshow of 'The Last Guardian' with two brand-new ingame screenshots of Chapter Four.

In the first picture you can see the harbour of Stormwind, wchich will be added in World of Warcraft, with the new Wrath of the Lich King. I've taken the liberty and created my own version of it for my own Stormwind-Map.

The second picture shows what is supposed to be part of a housing area for the upper class, in Stormwind. In this picture you can also see Streetsigns, which help you find your way around if you click on them.

The terrain of this map is ready and fully walkable. It still lacks citizens, guards and other types of NPCs to give it the necessary atmosphere of a densily inhabited capital city. I will add them as I continue working on triggers, starting this weekend.

20 August 2008

Blog changes

You might notice a few changes here and there. First of all I had to replace the background and the header. I had had some problems with the host, so I had to delete all my files on their server, but with no backup in sight I had to redo some of my work. While the simple background didn't change all that much, the header was changed almost completetely, now showing my true affection, which is mapping.

Which leads me to the next change: On the right bar you can see a slideshow of screenshots of my newest WC3 campaign, 'The Last Guardian'. You can view more pictures than the slideshow is currently capable of showing if you click on it. I'll reveal more details about 'The Last Guardian' in the coming days (or weeks, depending on my blogging-mood :P).

Oh, and now you can see what the 'XE' in my nickname really stands for.

Batch #43, Graphic card requirement & Single-Player Screenshots

Q&A Batch #43

As mentioned in previous conversations, the development team is working extremely hard on the single player campaign, which we will be talking in more detail about at a later time. In the meantime, questions will be 'light' over the next couple of batches, to give the Dev Team ample time to work on their latest design challenges. There are also many preparations being made for both the Games Convention coming up in Leipzig, as well as BlizzCon, to make sure the StarCraft II community definitely gets their feed of info. Nonetheless, in this batch we were able to talk a bit more with Dustin and our balance designer to look into the current Zerg versus Zerg match up towards the end of our Q&A. Enjoy!

As always, feel free to give the Devs and I a w00t if your enjoying these Q&As!

---StarCraft II Q&A Batch 43---

1. What happens if a Nullifier targets a Colossus with the Anti-Gravity ability? (garmgarf battle.net)

When Anti-Gravity is used upon a Colossus, the Colossus will still be immobilized and lifted up, which will still allow it to be hit by units that can attack air targets. Colossi will not be able to shoot while under the effect of Anti-Gravity.

2. How many critters will there be available and will they have attack animations? (SatanicLaser battle.net)

There will be critters, but there have not been any detailed discussions yet about their attack animations. On that note, there is a possibility that BlizzCon panels may fill the community in a bit more on what type of critters there will be.

3. Can the Infestor infest any building, or only specific ones, such as Barracks or Gateways, if the Protoss can be infested? (Son_Of_Korhal Battle.net)

This is actually a mechanic they are currently testing quite a bit. It is undecided if the Infestor will be able to infest Protoss or Zerg buildings, as there are gameplay and lore reasons which support many different options. Either way, at the end of the day, the development team will choose an option that will be balanced and fun in terms of gameplay for multiplayer.

4. What units are currently undergoing major art changes? (starcraft2forum.org)

There are several artistic revisions every week, though the two newest units to get some artistic updates are the Nomad and the Stalker. The Terran Nomad is getting a complete artistic redesign from any versions the community has seen thus far. Furthermore, the Protoss Stalker is also being updated to look more similar to the concept art piece as seen here: http://starcraft2.com/art.xml?s=6

5. How do Zerg vs Zerg games play out in SC2? Is it still mostly a battle of mutalisks and zerglings or have the new units changed things around? Ideas (teamliquid.net)

ZvZ (Zerg vesus Zerg)matchup usually opens up in 2 different ways, Zerglings or Roaches. Aggressive players can use Zerglings mobility to take control of the early game, whereas going Roaches is more of a defensive strategy. Zergling vs. Roach relationship is such that for cost, Zerglings wins out in the open, Roaches win at chokes, but in mid/late games when numbers are greater, Roaches can stand up to or even beat Zerglings for cost out in the open. Hydralisks dont have much use in ZvZ early game, as they are more of an anti air unit in StarCraft II.

The tier 2 battle continues with Banelings that can dominate Zerglings, but with micro, Zerglings can actually come out ahead in Zergling vs. Baneling battles. Similarly, Lurkers counter Roaches for cost, but Roaches have the mobility advantage. Mutaliks counter Zerglings/Roaches since these units cant hit air. Whats different in StarCraft II is that Hydralisks counter Mutalisks extremely well, meaning something like Roach/Hydralisk combo can stand up to the classic Zergling/Mutalisk combo. Also, another great way to fight vs. mass Mutalisks is to tech to infestation pit (same tech level as the Spire), and make Corruptors or Infestors. Infestors have the disease ability that is great for fighting vs. units that clump really well such as the Mutalisk, and Corruptors are Zergs anti air air unit.

Due to the fast pace of the ZvZ game, most games dont end up in tier 3, but ultralisks, with their cleave attack, or swarm guardians that use swarms to soak up a lot of ground vs. ground damage are great options if the game does happen to go into tier 3.

Overall, StarCraft II has a variety of options even in a mirror match such as Zerg vs. Zerg. Players can use different unit compositions to counter the classic Zergling/Mutalisk strategy that is a still powerful but not the only option.

---End of Transmission---

Also the graphic card requirement and some Storymode Screenshots have been revealed and confirmed by Blizzard.

15 August 2008

Day of the Dragon Endfight found on YouTube

A user named sumkidnamedwillis has recently uploaded the Endfight of my second WarCraft III-campaign Day of the Dragon.

It's not the best quality but I feel honored by it nontheless.

(The introduction to the Endfight)

(The arrival of Alexstrasza)

(The final fight)

(The outro cinematic)

09 August 2008

Healing process

After my return to Germany I spent a week in the hospital. I was operated on, something the doctors in Greece also didn't find worth doing, whereas the german doctors clearly stated that I would have problems with my leg at an older age.

So, the last three weeks I spent mostly at home, playing video games (Penumbra and Sam and Max Season 2, two very good Adventures, also as a little clue-helper for a special project I will announce here soon), and I realized how sad life can just be. People seem to have gotten out of the habit over the past months in being close to me. No visitors, no letters, almost no phone calls... And with my stupid leg I couldn't even get out of the house to change this situation myself. I feel like I'm in limbo, I'm not really here at home, nor in Greece with the army.

At least my health's been improving. Ten days after the operation, where they put screws around my bone, the gypsum was removed. A dqy later I went to the physotherapist to help me with my leg-movement. Today, I started making steps, slowly, without the help of crutches, though the doctor said I should wait a couple more weeks before putting any pressure on my leg. We'll see.

Oh, Monday I'll be visiting a new school, where I'm sure I'll be able to make new contacts and get my need to socialize more out of harm's way.

14 July 2008

Hell, I'm back!

I had to break my fucking leg to get out of this hellhole... And now, I'll be disabled for about two months and I'll still have to do the rest of my 35 days of service in about half a year. Thank you Motherland Greece for screwing with my life.

Stay tuned for more personal announcements!

...Just checked some other blogs. It seems like everyone who's been missing and 'back' seems to post some sort of lame picture accompanying his message. Here's mine:

07 February 2008

Up up and away!

So, tomorrow I am going to leave Germany and drive(!) to Greece. About 2,200km away from where I live. Not just for show (the leaving, not the driving). I need to do my military-service so there'll probably not be any new posts for two to six months (still don't know for how long I have to be there but I'll prepare for the worst). Wish me luck.

05 February 2008

Batch #28 + Lots of SCII tidbits

First of all here's the official Q&A Batch #28:

Hope everyone had a great week! Make sure to keep that Q&A Questions thread packed, as we are making plans to tackle Q&As both in these batches, as well as the BlizzCast. Post your questions to be considered for Q&As here: http://www.battle.net/forums/thread....&p=1&#post9620

Chat with Devs: It has been a busy week, in which I had a chance to talk to multiple Devs this and I am happy to say that we have finished recording for our second episode of BlizzCast. We have also added a mini Q&A section to the show, to get direct answers straight from the developers!

Gameplay Blog: Following up on the last game I played in Batch 27, I had mentioned the Terran Marauder being a huge factor in my defeat. This new Terran unit visually looks similar to the Firebat, but instead packs the punch of dual Concussion Grenades (also able to be Stim Packed), which slows the movement rate of biological units, and also does additional bonus damage to armored units. These units are excellent at supporting any pack of Marines & Medics, with the ability to slow charging Zealots, as well as fast moving Zerg units. Playing as Terran, there is a sense of relief, when you watch an incoming army slowed down considerably, to be mowed down by your Stim Packed Marines. In addition, because the Marauders are able to be built at a Barracks with a Tech Lab, they are considered formidable early support units, able to pick off units of a weaker early game army.

As always, feel free to give the Devs and I a w00t if your enjoying these Q&As!

---StarCraft II Q&A Batch 28---

1. I noticed the Stalker "Blink" ability looked as though it was on a cooldown (similar to many abilities in World of Warcraft). This seems appropriate for some abilities, but is this restricted to the Stalker or will other units have abilities on cooldowns rather than energy? (Battle.net Malorn)

Currently, the Protoss Stalkers Blink ability is on a 15 second cooldown and is one of the only abilities that do not require energy. One of the reasons this was done for the Stalkers Blink, was to make sure that players wouldnt have the problem of having only part of their Stalker army blink up on a hill with some left behind. The Protoss Phoenix also carries an Overload ability, which is based on a cooldown timer rather than energy. Whether the Stalker or the Phoenix will use energy or not, will be mostly determined through much more balance testing.

2. The Thor now is anti-aircraft unit, but will it continue to have surface-to-surface attacks? (www.Sc2-esp.com)

In the current build, the Thors role has been changed to exclusively hit ground units, putting the transforming Viking back in the primary role as an air to air fighter. The Terran Viking is also now built from the Factory rather than the Starport.

3. In the original SC, powers like Irradiate and Psionic Storm affected cloaked units and killed them even if you couldn't see them. Will the Phoenix's Overload ability target cloaked units as well? (Battle.net DrakeClawFang)

Yes, the Phoenixs Overload ability does affect cloaked units, such as Terran Banshees. The Devs are all for these types of soft counters.

4. Does energy regenerate at about the same speed as in normal SC? Since the game goes faster, has that been speed up too? (Battle.net nerdpride)

Energy regenerates at the same speed as the original StarCraft. At the fastest game speed, both StarCraft II and the original should feel the same in terms of speed.

5. Now that the Force Field ability has been moved to the Nullifier, what other abilities does the Templar have? Does he still have Hallucination? (Battle.net Blazur)

The Hallucination ability has been cut from the High Templar. Instead, it will have an Anti-Gravity ability in addition to its classic Psi Storm ability. This ability will allow a High Templar to lift up buildings and units in the air, disabling their movement and attack, while also making them an air target. This ability can be cast on Supply Depots blocking choke points, as well as incoming Thors, or even Pylons powering a base. This has been the first ability the Devs have been comfortable with, in giving players a real choice to be made, to use Psi Storm or the Anti-Gravity ability. This ability is still being balanced, in terms of the duration units and buildings will stay in the air, energy cost, and if it will be a channeling spell (which means the High Templar will be unable to move or cast other abilities while casting the Anti-Gravity ability).

6. Will there be an icon on the left hand side of the screen to alert the player of idle workers? (Battle.net- Elminster)

Yes, we currently have the ability to select idle workers built into the UI.

---End of Transmission---

Then there's lots of other infos that Karune and other Blizzard employees scattered across the Battle.net-Forums:

Originally Posted by Karune
Neither the Immortals nor the Reapers can attack air units. Immortals are currently awesome counters to any high damage unit, and are able to be countered well by any type of rapid attacking unit, such as Zerglings or M&Ms with Stim. The Immortals' bonus damage against armored add to their ferocity against many Terran units going into Tier 2 and beyond. Nonetheless, bringing in Terran Banshees will ruin any players' day who masses Immortals.

Originally Posted by Cavez
I don't know what this forum is "officially" for but I know what I use it for. I come in to this forum to see what you guys think about the game, to listen to you guys talk about the original StarCraft and to read some ideas/suggestions. I know a lot of other developers on the team do the same thing.

Originally Posted by Cavez on the Protoss Warp-in Mechanic
- You build Gateways.
- You purchase the Warp-In upgrade on the Cybernetics Core.
- You select your Gateways and transform them into Warpgates. This is extremely fast.
- You may select your Warpgates and transform them back into Gateways (also fast) any time you want. You would mostly do this if you wanted to reduce your Macro and rely on queues. Skilled players never go back to Gateways once they have Warpgates.

Now that you have Warp Gates:
- Select a Warpgate.
- Select a unit to build.
- Target anywhere within a power radius.
- Unit begins to warp-in where you selected.
- Warp-In is very fast.
- Unit is vulnerable during the warp-in process and can be killed before the warp-in is complete.
- Warpgate must now "cooldown" with a time equal to the build time of the unit created before it can warp-in again.

That's how it works right now. In games it is extremely effective with Immortals and Dark Templars though I have seen it used with everything at one time or another.

Originally Posted by Cavez
We are still working on the Mothership, trying to make it as cool as possible. It currently is not a super-unit by our defenition (its health and damage are balanced for cost) though you are allowed only a single Mothership.

Its powers are pretty epic and are currently way too powerful. Nerfs are in-coming but we are focused on the Zerg so we havent put a ton of work into her for several weeks. When there is something worth updating on this unit, we will update.

Originally Posted by Cavez
We are putting a lot of effort into the Zerg right now. I played 5 fun games on friday with them (1v1s). I lost 1 and won 4 (woot) but to be fair at this point I know who I am going to lose to who and who I am going to beat before the game begins because we have played each other so often. =P Also, some of the new Zerg stuff is way over-powered IMHO.

In terms of time, the Zerg still need some work. We understand you guys are anxious to see them. Best I can still say is "soon." Sorry. =(

Originally Posted by Cavez on team gameplay
It is currently in the game but it is pretty troubled. We have not done a ton of balance testing with resource sharing as the focus, but we did do some before Blizzcon in the design group and we were able to do some pretty unpleasant things with it.

For example it was easy for some races (at the time Protoss) to focus on minerals-only units while feeding gas to another player (at the time Terran) so they could tech up more quickly and get access to some pretty rough gas-heavy units (at the time, Banshees) before the other team had a chance to be really prepared.

We're reserving judgement on this until we get to really test it properly and see if we can come up with some solutions to make it workeable. But, if it can't be fixed then it gets cut.

Originally Posted by Cavez on the High Templar's new Anti-Gravity ability
It works on all ground units as well as all buildings (barring "town-hall" buildings like the Command Center, Nexus, etc.).

It is obviously useful against Thors and other big-guy ground units. Not super-useful against lots of the smaller ground units since this spell is competing with Psi Storm for your energy and you would rather use Psi Storm against just about everything else (Anti-Grav is 50 energy at the moment).

It's use against buildings is what is most interesting since it is so easy to block up a choke these days with buildings (especially Terran). But we shall see. We have been so focused on the Zerg that it hasn't gotten all that much testing time yet.


28 January 2008

Biography of Jim Raynor revealed

The boys and girls of Blizzard have added a new feature to the SC2-Website. The Biographies of the heroes of the Singleplayer-Campaign. First featured hero is Jim Raynor. Ex-marshall and heavy drinker.

26 January 2008

SCII Q&A Batch #27 out already! + SCII Community Site launched

Original Q&A post: http://www.battle.net/forums/thread.aspx?fn=sc2-general&t=283143&p=1&#post283143

We're back to tie up some loose ends about the Nullifier from our last batch, as well as some more focus on gameplay design, to fuel our discussion on the forums (especially to those who are already anxiously creating their build orders- don't lie, I know you are out there )

Chat with Devs: This week I talked with Dustin Browder, our Lead Designer for StarCraft II, to answer some more questions in regards to StarCraft II gameplay. I presented Dustin with some very specific gameplay questions from teamliquid.net, which he was very excited to be able to answer for the eSports community. Hopefully I will be able to get him back for a BlizzCast interview down the road.

Gameplay Blog: By the way, Im still looking for a good name for this section, that I hope everyone here could help me with Additionally, this week I want to elaborate on the second ability of the Protoss Nullifier mentioned in the last Q&A Batch. The Null Void, an ability currently at 50 energy cost, prevents abilities from being cast in an area of effect radius. In recent skirmishes with Terran opponents, when my Zealots engaged a group of M&Ms (Marines & Medics), my Nullifiers were able to cast Null Void over the enemy group, and the Medics were unable to heal for a good 15 seconds. When they retreated out of the Null Void area, I cast a second Null Void on them, and by that time, more than half of their Marines had fallen to my Zealots. Furthermore, my Nullifiers, having a base ranged attack, were able to focus fire on fleeing Marines.

However, I still did end up losing that game versus the Terran player, as Ghosts later on were able to devastate my army with EMP, followed with their Marauder units, replacing the old Firebat, making quick work of my ground army. GG. Next time.

As always, feel free to give the Devs and I a w00t if your enjoying these Q&As!

---StarCraft II Q&A Batch 27---

1) How will the map pool for the ladder be handled? Only maps made by Blizzard or will there be opportunities for mapmakers to contribute? If so, how will new maps be selected/balanced and how often are you planning on updating the map pool?

[Dustin Browder] The map pool for competitive play will only be Blizzard maps or Blizzard-approved maps. We are always excited to see new maps from the community and when we see new cool maps we will definitely include them in the pool. I have no idea how often this will happen. It really depends on the map makers and our schedule. We also have some really cool plans for mod support for Battle.net for StarCraft II, which we will be rolling out to the community soon. We have all watched with great enthusiasm the impact that mod makers have had upon our previous games, especially Warcraft III, and we really want to continue to support and encourage this community.

2) Terran in StarCraft 1 had a very interesting dynamic in that the optimal strategy combating a Zerg would require large amounts of infantry and science vessels, whereas Protoss would require a large amount of factory units, leading to more diverse gameplay between the two matchups. This dynamic existed in mirror matchups as well - Goliaths, Battlecruisers and Wraiths were very useful in Terran vs Terran, but are rarely seen versus Protoss and Zerg (with the exception of Goliath vs Carrier).

Protoss and Zerg also had this trait - Protoss would often need large amounts of Corsairs, Zealots, and Archons to combat Zerg and a large amount of Dragoons, Arbiters, and Carriers to combat Terran, skipping zealots entirely until the speed upgrade is done. Zergs would frequently use Hydralisks versus Protoss, but would always immediately morph them to Lurkers vs Terran until Plague was researched.

For some people this was viewed as a positive aspect of SC, others are frequently disappointed that Terran cannot realistically integrate marines into their strategy vs Protoss and so forth. What style of gameplay is StarCraft II looking to attain - will each of the 9 different matchups play in a unique fashion with less viable strategies overall, or is the game looking to ensure that every unit has a useful role against every race?
- Zanno

[Dustin Browder] So far StarCraft II plays similar to the original StarCraft in that different matchups require a different unit mix. On the design team we enjoy this type of gameplay and prefer to have players use different strategies and different units against different races. Our goal is that every unit will have some use against each race, but that players will tend to prefer certain units against certain races. We are going to strive to make sure that no unit is completely worthless against any one race but there will definitely be better and worse choices depending on the enemy race, strategy, the map, and your start position on the map.

3) In StarCraft 1 the basic tier 1 units were balanced against higher tech units almost equally by their unique role within each race as they were by unique unit upgrades and a greater benefit from the standard upgrades.
How much effort are you putting into making lower tech units viable higher up in the tech tree in ways other than upgrades that just makes them a "better unit" such as hit points and damage?

(This question is brought up because of the Terran Marine +HP upgrade which IMHO is really cheap)
- CuddlyCuteKitten

[Dustin Browder] We are putting a huge amount of effort into making sure that the tier 1 units are useful throughout the game. We are also putting a large amount of effort into trying to get as much mileage as we can out of each of our upgrades so that upgrades really change how you can use a unit (but without fundamentally altering its role). The Marine is an example of a work-in-progress unit. We think the shield looks cool, but we are still working on how it will affect gameplay. Actually, in current builds Marines+Medics+Stim are so powerful that the shield is not that necessary in a lot of matchups.

4) Some new maps used in the pro scene for StarCraft have started to include permanent spells like "Dark Swarm" and "Disruption Web" as a part of terrain. Are there any plans to allow this as a kind of special terrain by default or allow map makers to add it as a special attribute to some sections of the terrain?
Examples would be areas with decreased movement for some or all units like shallow water, terrain making units immune to missile fire like dark swarm or terrain making the units unable to fire like web.

If you plan to include it will it be usable on melee maps or UMS only?
- CuddlyCuteKitten

[Dustin Browder] Our data editor allows the creation of this type of terrain. You could easily put this type of terrain on melee maps. We have not finalized our feature set for terrain yet so I dont know what will make the final cut for the default Blizzard maps.

---End of Transmission---

Weather that affects units? I'm going to have sex with this game!

Also Blizzard has launched a community site, to provide additional service for all SCII fans.

24 January 2008

My Top 8 (and Flop 3) Movies of 2007

Got distracted over the holidays but I finally managed to finish my point of view on 2007's best and wort movies. Look forward to more personal writing stuff in the future, and not just writing!

12/19-20/07; My Top 8 (and Flop 3) Movies of 2007; OutsiderXE

The year is over (really?), and since every other Blog, TV show or magazine already did their year-hits in December, I thought I'd be clever and wait until the year is really over (that and the fact that I was kind of lazy typing all this).

First thing you might notice about my top-list is that there's 'only' 8 movies listed, instead of the usual 10 one would go for in this scenario. I decided to eliminate 1408 and Resident Evil: Extinction, they were good but not good enough for me to appear in a top-list. You can look at this little text as some sort of honorable mention. Also it was very hard for me to decide exactly which movie was better than another, and I might feel otherwise about certain decision the following day, but I guess that's how its supposed to be again in a list with the best of the best. So here we go:

8.The Bourne Ultimatum
The most realistic spy movie. Its exactly like the other two. Except maybe a little better. A little better car chases, a little better hand-to-hand combats, a little better playing-of-villains-for-a-sucker. There's also this mood that this one's going to be the last one and therefore supposed to be the best. And unlike Pirates 3 or Spider-Man 3 this one actually delivers.

7.Live Free or Die Hard
For the better part it lacks this usual Die Hard-feeling people have gotten accustomed to. John McClane has become a super-hero who kills dozens of villains, even armed jets and helicopters. But if you manage to forget that its a very solid piece of action, and in my opinion has the best use of the line "Yippie-Kay-Yeeh, Motherfucker!", in any of the Die Hard movies. Also, whenever you watched a Bruce Willis movie before this one came out, you just want to be reminded of his role of McClane, so it's good to have the real deal adter such a long wait.

6.Number 23
I loved the mix of styles in this one. it has the narrative effect of someone reading a book (guess what, it's because the main character actually does read a book!), mixed with the color scheme of Sin City (but better dialogue), a decent detective story with some scary parts, and a crazy use of numbers. It takes what the Matrix movies started in a subtle way (there you also had the number 5 appearing in computer binary like 101, in 23 or reversed, or substracted or...you get the gist), and makes it the main focus of a story. Also Jim Carrey once again proves that he doesn't need to do a twisted face to be a convincing actor, he just is.

5.The Simpsons Movie
A movie I was looking forward to but in the end refused to watch in cinema, for exactly the same reason Homer states in the beginning of the movie. Why should anyone pay for something (in cinema) that he can get for free (on TV)? Well, I for one don't regret waiting for the movie to be released on DVD. The movie itself is solid Simpsons humor, a little wild, like the newest episodes, but for the better part very funny. Everytime I thought it started to become boring, it always surprised me with funny situations or comments. Especially Homer's crush on his new friend had me cracking. What I didn't like so much was the move of the scenery to Alaska. Though I like snow in the winter, especially Christmas time, I'm just not a fan of continuously snowy places. It seems as if my warm greek heart (don't take this the wrong way, I am not a nice guy) just resents them. All in all it's an epic version of a Simpsons episode, and even better than the South-Park movie whose only flaw were its overuse of musical interludes.

4.Transformers: The Movie
More than meets the eye. Exactly! My only critic point on the movie is that most of the time, whenever a big fight was happening the camera work seemed to be out of place. Either too close, too shaky or completely out of place. Other than that it was amazing to see the giant robots fight in real live I so liked when I was a child. Besides that the leader of the Autobots has always been somewhat of the ultimate classic leader. Charismatic and always right in his decisions. Also Bumblebee was a great sidekick leading the first scenes of action and some funny moments. Unfortunately the evil Decepticons and most of the other Autobots weren't depicted thoroughly enough, you only got a glimpse of what their attitudes really was. Nontheless a great action flick, one that raised the bar for special effects to the next level.

'300' is based on a Frank Miller‘s comic which is loosely based on greek history. I write loosely because the persian god-king Xerxes is a nine feet tall metrosexual with jewelry all over his body, and other factual errors. Generally, the persian army is not only depicted very inaccurately, but also grotesque. Warriors appear like monsters from ‘Lord ofthe Rings‘, some having weapons where limbs should be, and usually showing very twisted faces. The spartan arrny is the exact opposite of that. They are sun-tanned bodybuilders in hot pants, not wearing any body-armor so as to show off the months the actors spent in gym. lt works for the movie itself, but taking this scenery and the characters‘ dialogues too serious could lead one to believe that this movie is actually USA propaganda for a war in Iran. The dialogue, which is also the weakest part in the movie, is mostly about strength, honor and glory on the battlefield, and the fight to free one‘s homeland from possible slavery. There‘s nothing good about Persia/lran, only death and destruction. But if a viewer can see past these points, he will see what the movie is originally about: entertainment through visual style. The most amazing parts in the movie are the fight scenes. The camera is either very focused on one character or moving through different characters showing them altemate!y in slow-motion or in fast-motion slicing through hordes ofenemy fighters, all accompanied by persian-influenced rock-music. lt‘s ‘Lord ofthe Rings‘ meeting ‘The Matrix‘. Beautiful! ‘300‘ will entertain everyone who is not out for a history-lesson like in "Troy", can look past the USA/Iran-conflict, can live with zero-character-development and repeating oneliners. lt is basically a movie for macho-men and muscle-loving women, and one we need more of.

2.Grind House: Planet Terror
What's the appeal of movies that were done badly on purpose? Probably no other than the hype over the creators' names. In Germany the term 'Grind House' is unknown which is probably why the studios decided to have the german audience (and I think in the rest of Europe too) pay twice for what can be get a lot cheaper in the USA. Now while the Grund House movies looked interesting indeed, from what one could see from their trailers, and I did have confidence in the directors' skills (hype!), I refused to pay for any of the movies in cinema, for exactly this reason. Though Tarantino's 'Death Proof' did not make my list I have to comment on that one too: I did not like it very much, except for the car chase in the end. It seemed to be like Tarantino did not understand the idea of a B-movie, trying to put too much of his own style into the movie. There's too much (boring) dialogue, the pictures are way too clean and there is not enough gore to give a feeling of unserious exaggaration (though the one gory scene that is in there is excellent). Anyway, Robert Rodriguez 'Planet Terror' is were the fun is. A B-movie plot (Zombies overrun a small town), B-movie characters (a kung fu soldier, a one-legged stripper, a crazy doctor), B-movie visual style (white lines, broken images, bad coloring) and extra violence (no spoilers here) make this one almost a classic. There's just so much to look at, so much to listen to. Perfect entertainment, but not for the easy-fainting.

1.Mr. Brooks
2008 was the year of serial-killing for me. I wrote some short stories twisting true events a little bit around (like I would admit a real murder now), and watched some very cool movies based on the topic. The best of them all being Mr. Brooks. Yeah, it probably does not desever to be on number one, but I just couldn't decide which of the other movies to give the grand spot so I decided to pay an underdog some well-deserved attention. The movie is mainly so good because of Kevin Costner's performance as a schizophrenic killer. I didn't like him much before in his other movies. Waterworld was OK, but most of his other projects were rather long and dull, or just out of my range. I might not even like him after this one, since, as far as his imdb.com-profile is concerned there is not one future project on the list which grabs my attention. Nontheless I did love him in this one. It's hard to describe without giving away too much of the plot. Suffice to say that he plays Mr. Brooks in a fashion you actually always sympathize with him. Think in the lines of Darth Vader, a bad guy who does bad things and comes off as a victim, justifying his killing. Word has is there were two sequels in planning but discarded due to the failure of the movie at the box office. I hope they reconsider, but on the other hand there's always fear that they mess up the sequels, thus ruining the memory of the first one too. Almost like they did with The Matrix-franchise (yeah, luckily I am one of the few who actually could enjoy both Reloaded and Revolutions, albeit their errors).

Flop 3

3.Spider-Man 3
I had to think about this one really hard. Is it really so bad, or does it only seem like that because the first two movies were so good? That probably shouldn't affect me. What affects me is is the fact as to how they messed up Spider-Man's greatest villain, Venom. He just shouldn't have been in this one. Green Goblin II and Sandman were enough, Venom should have been in a fourth movie, standing for his own, thus also providing a clear path for other alien villains, like Carnage.

They say reality writes the best scripts. Nope. Reality sucks! Being no american citizen I had never heard of a zodiac killer until this movie came up, so I just didn't know that it would be so open ended. The movie starts out really well, good cinematography, interesting characters. You feel like it's a classic douche-hunting-psycho film, and after a while you realize that the whole story is going nowhere. Very dissapointing ending.

1.Pretty Cool Too
A wannabe teenager comedy. The biggest pile of crap next to 'Erkan und Stefan 2' (German movie, so don't ask.). The picture quality, the background, the music, the effects, the script, EVERYTHING, looked like it was filmed on a camcorder by an amateur. I'm not just saying that, it REALLY looks that way. Of course the occasional naked body and sex scene doesn't save this movie from getting into the Flop 3-list. It's more fun to get shot in the knee than watching this. Avoid!

(2012 words)

Missed News - Miscellaneous

Other missed news of the last few weeks:

- We can now download and play an alpha demo-mission of The Dark Mod, a Doom 3 modification. Now if I could only get my Doom 3 installation to work...

- The psycho wife of my neighborhood, who killed her husband and flushed his body down the toilet, was found in a psychiatric clinic in Macedonia.

- I finished Hellgate: London with a Guardian. Waaaaay to repetetive. Yeah, the gameplay you think, but this is not the problem as every Action-RPG is like that. Even the Level-Graphics, Monsters and Quests are the same after almost 40 hours of play time. The whole game feels like one giant Act instead of five small ones which it tries to sell. The story is there, I think, just didn't feel like reading at all.

- Pyritie and his team have released a first playable map to their WarCraft III adventure project Pyritie's Adventure.

Missed News - Blizzard Entertainment

I seem to have missed some interesting news lately (or were just too lazy to update the blog). In order not to overwhelm this site now with theses masses, I'll just link to the news items.

- StarCraft 1 was updated, it can now be run without an inserted CD.

- WarCraft III will also recieve a NO-CD Patch, along with a Balance Patch.

- Check out StarCraft II Q&A Batches #25 and #26.

- The January 2008 Discussion: eSport & SCII.

- Unit update on Starcraft2.com: The Crucio Siege Tank.

- StarCraft II is in Alpha Stage 2, Families & Friends testing will start with Alpha 4/5.

- Blizzard Podcast: Episode 1.

- World of WarCraft reached 10 millions subscribers.

10 January 2008

Woman kills husband, on my street!!!

I found it hard to write up the news myself so I copied it off another website.

A woman in Germany put an end to her troubled marriage by chopping up her husband and flushing parts of him down the toilet, authorities said today.

"'You won't find him, I've flushed him down the toilet', is what she told (her children)," said Andre Hartwich, a spokesman for police in the western city of Duesseldorf.

The children, who reported their father missing before Christmas, told police the marriage was "steeped in hatred" and that the woman had previously attempted to poison her husband.

It was not clear exactly how the man died.

The Macedonian-born wife threw the biggest chunks of her husband into a bin, which was later emptied at an incineration plant, police said.

Investigators have so far only found traces of the 58-year-old taxi driver's blood in the toilet.

The woman, 52, fled to Macedonia after the killing.

German authorities are now attempting to have her extradited.

I had no personal contact with the family, though I might have seen them once in a while while bringing out the trash or so. It's just so unbelievable that something horrible like this can happen so close without noticing. I didn't even know until the police arrived two days ago to question the neighborhood for any suspicious activities of the married couple. The actual murder happened on the night of December the 18th. Neighbors reported that they heard the toilet being flushed unusually often. Nothing more.