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.