Yet Another Post About Starcraft II

By Alec Meer on November 20th, 2009 at 7:03 pm.

Today on Games I’m Not That Interested In But Kinda Wish I was, it’s Starcraft II. I’m still waiting for the reveal as to quite what it is about the singleplayer that necessitated trifurcating the game, because I’ve never been much of a one for multiplayer RTS. I can’t, however, imagine that Blizzard are unaware of this kind of mindset, especially in light of what their name means to that hefty slice of the WoW crowd who aren’t into the PvP or raid elements. They’re up to something, I don’t doubt – I just don’t know quite what yet. Hopefully it won’t just involve bombarding us with expensively-made cutscenes until we pass out from lore exhaustion. There’s a hint of what they’re up to in a new dev diary here, which includes the magic word ‘decisions’. Ooh! I like making those! Unless they’re about what to eat or whether I should put any clothes on, anyway. Also: new Zerg footage below. It’s SC2′s take on The Spy…

Here’s a key phrase from that diary that sheds some light on the kind of dilemmas you’ll face:


One example of the latter occurs in an early part of the game on a small farming colony located on a remote fringe world named Agria. After some daring heroics and righteous exploits, Jim Raynor and his band of rebels find themselves aboard their ship and receive a distress call from Agria, which has been abandoned by Dominion defenders and is facing a zerg invasion. Players can choose whether to heed the distress call or chase down an alien artifact to fund their own fight against the Dominion, leaving the other to tackle later.

There’s also a video worth watching in the middle of that diary, sadly non-embeddable for now. It demonstrates a) that the missions don’t seem to involve yet traditional base vs base battles and b) that the Terrans say “outstanding” an awful lot. There’s even a boss fight of sorts. Whaddaya think? Can they make traditional singleplayer RTS feel all spicy again, or is it a bit King Canute?

And here’s that promised Zerg Changeling video, which reveals quite how irritating this viscous wee fella will be to enemy forces. There’s also a short story about it here, if you’re into that kind of thing. Pervert.

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80 Comments »

  1. JohnArr says:

    …and then what? It’s like a ‘what happens next?’ video. Does one of them get hit in the nads by a football?

    • Gap Gen says:

      I think it’s that if the Zerg player is feeling sorry for you, it can give you a few free units.

  2. Beast says:

    Players can choose whether to heed the distress call or chase down an alien artifact to fund their own fight against the Dominion, leaving the other to tackle later.

    So you get to chose which you want to do first…and then do the other afterwards Brilliant! I don’t remember facing this tough of a decision since I had to pick between World 1-3 or World 1-4 in Super Mario Bros 3.

    • Steve the Imperial Guardsmen says:

      I heard SC2 will be following MW2 footsteps and will be offering unique features like mouse and keyboard support, and the ability to adjust your graphic settings

    • Tei says:

      I think theres a NPC on your ship, that let you buy “change the resolution” as DLC. And another to build units with real money. Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure. (read: not… lets hope not)

  3. Sartoris says:

    Man, that looks purty. SC was one of my first games, and even though I suck at RTS it drew me in with its characters and level of polish. The moment that cyborb-woman with wires for hair popped up in the trailer, I got all misty-eyed.

  4. 1stGear says:

    Sounds like they’re taking cues from DoWII’s campaign. Not necessarily a bad thing. Primary concern for the game right now is whether or not there’s going to be enough content in each part to justify splitting them up.

    • Vandelay says:

      Not so much whether there will be enough content, but more whether the content will be interesting enough to sustain the length of the game.

      I’m fairly certain that they have said that there will be 30 missions in this first release, which is plenty in terms of content. The problem will be if these missions aren’t varied enough to keep everyones interest throughout the game. The original, which had the same number of levels, was constantly interesting because you had only 10 missions for each race. If there had of been much more then it would have gotten old pretty quickly.

      It does look like they are attempting to make the missions varied, but I don’t think we will really know whether they have achieved this properly until someone gets their hands on it.

    • LintMan says:

      I’m really really hoping they don’t stick with the hackneyed “dribble the units out over the course of the whole game and reserve the best unit until the last mission” gameplay that all the other Blizzard and EA RTS’s use. You know what I mean:

      Mission 1: One basic unit type available

      Mission 2-4: phase in two more infantry types

      Mission 5-6: Add in a basic mechanized unit

      Mission 7-8: Bring on the medium tank!

      Mission 9-10: add in the basic air unit
      :
      :
      Final Mission: Maybe we’ll let you use your sides best unit, in a limited or heavily scripted way.

      Meh. I’m still angry that in Warcraft 3, the Night Elf campaign never let you use their super unit.

    • Azradesh says:

      Super unit? o_0

    • sinister agent says:

      Well, strictly speaking it was more a super-power than a unit. I understand it was a limited-use spell called “examine sexuality”. Devastating on most multiplayer maps.

    • The Pink Ninja says:

      He means you could never make the almighty Chimera. The best you got were Druids of the Claw.

  5. ChampionHyena says:

    Futurists predict that by 1998, gamers will be able to build ALL KINDS of boxy unappealing buildings.

    Ehhh, I kid Blizzard. But outside of the editor (and in its vein, what we can do to Starcraft to make it… well, shamefully, less Starcraft), I haven’t had my big “holy shit” moment for this game.

  6. Sporknight says:

    DoWII is actually the first thing I thought of when reading the article. Space Marines are Space Marines are Space Marines, apparently. Or maybe this is more of the format for RTS games moving forwards? It did always feel silly having to re-research uranium rounds and stim packs every level…

    • Tei says:

      I wonder where are the marines with exoskeleton that let then jump buildings, like in Tribes. Why RTS games have to use the Warhammer40.000-ish type of spacemarine. Hell, why are space marines, in a planet, and not in space. Nuke then from orbit, I say.

    • Golden_worm says:

      “Nuke then from orbit, I say.”
      @ Tei this comment send this particular barely sentient being on some quite enjoyable circular thoughts.
      Like how good would a multi payer,operation wolf / tower-defense hybrid be with rpg element and a planetary bombing theme? Players take an attack or defense stance in matches over a massive universe. Each round would see player face off against each other in a battle over a planet. the winner gains the territory and resources from the loser, who, as long as they haven’t lost all their planets, can recapitulate and make a counter attack. You engineer federations and corperations into the structure of the game, EvE style, and battle planet by planet over entire galaxies. twood make a fine MMO i think. Please tell me someone somewhere is making this.

      As for Blizzard, WoW has eaten away at their souls, i’m not sure they could make a game now with as much respect for their potential audience as they did pre WoW. the cash cow is blocking a clear view of the fun, Same with IW and MW2. Shame, that.

      of possible planet

    • Golden_worm says:

      Also, just wanted to say, b’cause no one ever does….
      ….YAY! MY REPLY WORKED!…
      feels good.

    • Psychopomp says:

      “I wonder where are the marines with exoskeleton that let then jump buildings, like in Tribes.”

      http://www.starcraft2.com/features/terran/reaper.xml

    • Nerd Rage says:

      @Tei

      Space Marines are on the planet for the same reason actual Marines are on the ground. There isn’t a lot of large scale, ship to ship boarding action anymore. Since at least the 1940′s the “marine” aspect of Marine operations is the mode of transport and deployment. They get around on ships. Space Marines, therefore, would get around on space ships. They’re still essentially soldiers like you’d find in the army, but specialized for a particular role, generally rapid deployment and assault. Very much like the Airborne troopers. Nobody asks why they don’t fight in the sky though.

    • Gorgeras says:

      If Rockstar gave the Republican Space Rangers their own game, I’d forgive them for the botched GTA IV port.

    • Alex says:

      @rage

      In addition to mode of transport, marines are designed to be the first ones in, overwhelming a position with numbers. Expected to have the highest casualty rate as a result.

  7. rocketman71 says:

    More milking from Kotick coming.

  8. shiggz says:

    Most decisions make themselves if you think about the variables. Food=whatever smells good? eat it until full. Clothes= add or take away until right temperature. All that thought about whats healthy whats in fashion who else is wearing what. Circular thoughts for barely sentient animals dependent on acceptance by the pack.

    Now lets get back to trying to guess what small unique feature will be involved in this RTS game to widen its audience. I think command and conquer cut-scenes had it about right, except too little nudity in of the females also more lasers and girl on girl fighting would be good.

  9. Adam Whitehead says:

    I think “Outstanding” is a tribute to the original game, where the marines would say it incessantly.

    My interest in the game is mildly re-ignited after seeing the Battlecruiser do a massive napalm-bombing run on the Zerg horde. That was quite good.

    • Nerd Rage says:

      “Outstanding” was among the most used words when I had a short, jar-like haircut. I suspect someone on the original team had similar exposure to the lingo.

  10. PHeMoX says:

    Quote:
    “I’m still waiting for the reveal as to quite what it is about the singleplayer that necessitated trifurcating the game,”

    It’s Blizzard, they want to cash in on this franchise. I don’t think there’s any true sense behind spliiting it into three parts.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      SC1 had 30 missions, SC2 has 30 missions per race. That not good enough?

    • Azradesh says:

      People don’t seem to like hearing that little fact.

    • Vinraith says:

      It does depend a bit on the scale and size of said missions, but this is Blizzard and they aren’t exactly known for making short, half-assed games. I think it’s worth giving them the benefit of the doubt until there’s a reason not to, anyway.

    • lagmint says:

      (This comment was supposed to go here)

      How long are the new missions? Are they, as mentioned, the same over and over? If you choose what to do, might one map be two ‘missions’ depending on how you play it?

      These are what concern, well, me. I want to see these ‘30 missions’ so I can judge if it’s the same amount of content, not the person selling it to me.

    • Zaphid says:

      I think they mentioned that they main story is like 10? missions, the rest are side missions which fill in the story and give you some sweet units and upgrades to use later on. So far they showcased missions where you had to mine minerals from low ground on a lava planet and every few minutes the lava flooded right in and you had to evacuate your SCVs, then there was a mission where you were escorting civilians and protecting them from zerg, some treasure hunting for protoss artifacts and the obvious last stand vs zerg. Seems like the build, search, destroy missions will be in minority, if not rarity.

  11. Lord_Mordja says:

    As always, game looks neat, maybe I’ll pick it up sometime, but it’s not on my “must buy” list. I don’t know, I was never excited about SC, I played the campaigns through (and with liberal use of cheats- I was young give me a break) and managed to never beat a skirmish. I’ve just always found Blizzard RTS games to be very “inorganic” alongside Total Annihilation and Homeworld. Ironically both of these games are about robots and spaceships with nary a squishy unit. Hmmm.

    Some friends are trying to get me into SC multiplayer now and I actually kind of detest it.

  12. Biz says:

    great…

    now the APM dependence will double as you need to check whether each of your units are actually yours

  13. Radiant says:

    That diary excerpt is a prime example of over lore.
    A word I just made up where developers disappear completely up their own stories leaving the rest of us, who haven’t bought all 38 limited edition comic books, wondering what the hell was just explained to us in the game.

    See: Halo 2

    • Radiant says:

      On cutscenes.
      I remember in Warcraft 3 I played the opening human section of the game running around in this cartoon world of funny voices and marvellous colours.
      Only to finish and get hit with the most horrendously magnificent cutscene where my previously mildly comic hero became this monster who sets about murdering his own dad.

      It ended and I honestly did not know what the fuck just happened.

    • mrrobsa says:

      I loved that bit! And how it segued nicely into the Undead campaign. The cinematics in that game are still amazing and better than a lot of more modern efforts. Warcraft III might be the best narrative of any RTS game I’ve played.

    • Ybfelix says:

      Halo 3 is just as bad. Actually make it see most modern “franchise” in general.

  14. MrMelons says:

    Didn’t Tiberian Sun have choices as far as what missions you could do? I thought it would give you an overlay of the globe and once in awhile there would be two arrows and you chose which mission you wanted to do. One would usually make the other main mission easier and resulted is some sort of covert saboteur sorta level. I’m just getting sick of games recycling old ideas from games that are ancient and then praising themselves for their brilliance. Its like bioshock and system shock 2, bioshock had less content than its older game equivalent but the developers still ranted about how amazingly new the game was. Honestly I would say the 90′s had the games that tried to implement the biggest change in gameplay. Now publishers just have everyone running on a treadmill trying to sell us the idea that we are actually going somewhere.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Tiberian Sun != Tiberian Dawn

      That being said, yes, the original did give you options.

  15. Tei says:

    Look no further!

    Dune 2 was like that. There was options about what region to attack.

  16. Nesetalis says:

    @Golden_worm

    well there is some funky ideas a few friends and I are working on.. name is due to change on the game, but were currently calling it our Rising Star.

    only page we have for it is a wiki (click me name)

    its not quite what your refering to.. as its going to be a hell of alot more than simple territory.. but territory will be a large part of it.. planet scale.. system scale.. and galactic scale.

  17. We Fly Spitfires says:

    Huh? How can you not be interested in SC2? It’s like the chocolate cake of bakery?! Yeah… I don’t understand what I just said either.

  18. lagmint says:

    How long are the new missions? Are they, as mentioned, the same over and over? If you choose what to do, might one map be two ‘missions’ depending on how you play it?

    These are what concern, well, me. I want to see these ’30 missions’ so I can judge if it’s the same amount of content, not the person selling it to me.

  19. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    Outstanding

  20. Dain says:

    Given the rest of SC2 looks pretty much like SC with shinier graphics, I imagine the levels will be “Here is your small base – the enemy controls the rest of the map, kill them and trigger the occasional scripted event”

    It’ll be interesting to see how such an ultra-traditional RTS does though..

    • Psychopomp says:

      Considering we haven’t had a good one since Starcraft, I’m just going to point at Baldur’s Gate 2 and Dragon Age.

  21. ChampionHyena says:

    Reply function is TOTALLY BUSTED. I was responding to Tei’s remark about building-jumping marines.

  22. goodgimp says:

    Does anyone honestly care if it’s “OMG 30 missions!” if all 30 of them are repeats of the same four variations? I already typically get bored with an RTS campaign as it is, mainly sticking through it if I want to see the completion of the story. I don’t want to slog through 30 repeats to get there.

  23. Dain says:

    I haven’t played those, but have there been better RPGs since which Dragons Age ignored?

    Because I think there’s certainly been better RTS.. I infinitely prefer an RTS (Or since what follows seems to be the very definition of the genre, a strategy game) which requires me to do more than simply churn out units faster than my opponents and occasionally micro some units to use an ability.. I honestly find it hard to play any game like those days.

    But clearly there is a market otherwise Blizzard wouldn’t do it.

    • Dain says:

      Arg, that was meant to be in reply to

      “Considering we haven’t had a good one since Starcraft, I’m just going to point at Baldur’s Gate 2 and Dragon Age.”

    • Psychopomp says:

      Oh, there’s always a market for anything Starcraft.

      It’s called Korea.

  24. Caddy says:

    What about the people that have no interest in campaign are they still going to be forced to buy all 3 versions. I never touch campaign in rts games im guessing im not the only one.

  25. mrpier says:

    Love StarCraft and have never played a minute of multiplayer, i think I must be one of the few who cheered when Blizzard announced that they would split the the game in three parts. Hopefully this would mean a considerable single-player campaign.

  26. Riesenmaulhai says:

    I really hoped nobody would ever mention this devilish idea. It’s evil.

  27. Eplekongen says:

    Ok, great… I read the blog post:

    “The decisions you make will change how the game’s story plays out; you’ll see certain events, cut scenes, and cinematic moments only by following a particular path in StarCraft II’s mission structure.”

    Looks like Starcraft is going for the, nowadays, all too popular “re-playability” factor. Am I the only one that does NOT have time, or want, to replay every single game three times just to see everything?

    I’m somewhat of a completionist, I want to see, and do everything I can in a game. I constantly quicksave and try all the dialogue options. But I simply do not have time to play, for example, Dragon Age more than one time. I’ll probably play all the origins, but only complete the game with my current one (male city elf warrior). And in that play-through I hope (against hope) to get to see most of the game.

    Does anyone else recognize themselves in this problem? Please tell.

    • WilPal says:

      I hear that.

    • DerangedStoat says:

      I too have this problem, although I persist and play through the game again (and still must do everything I can on subsequent play-throughs, even though there would be nothing new to see in most of it). It’s sucked the fun out of many games for me, but I still do it for some reason.

  28. Carra says:

    Warcraft 3 wasn’t only fun in singleplayer. It had one kick-ass campaign. Idem dito with starcraft;

    You can have hours of fun with those games without even going online.

  29. Digit says:

    There really isn’t much they can do to make me want to buy this game I think. :/

  30. The Pink Ninja says:

    I loath RTS competitive multi-player

    But I loved WC3′s single player campaign

    For me however the most important part will be the custom maps. Those are what turned WC3 into my most played game ever.

  31. Seraphim2150 says:

    actually, I believe Blizzard has promised that you’ll be able to tweak sound settings as well as graphics

    Oh what a groundbreaking time we live in

  32. Quests says:

    I like decisions too, and i despise multiplayer on RTS.

    Thing is they can’t be a one-click matter, they’re boring that way… they should be well blended with the core gameplay. So you should choose during missions, and even there, they can’t be EASY to make, they must be blended with the challenges contained in the main mechanics.

  33. bill says:

    I’m with you. Replayability is a ridiculous goal. Very few players even finish the game the frist time, let alone go back and play it again.

    I’ve been playing games for almost 2 decades now, and I think I’ve replayed Jedi Knight. And Quake. Er…. can’t think of any others.

    Choices are good, but replayability is a total waste of resources…

  34. bill says:

    Definition of hell: RTS singleplayer with 90 missions to force yourself through.

    Rebuild the same base 30 times. x3.
    Rebuild the same units 30 times. x3.
    Play the same 3 mission types 30 times each.
    Listen to the same Order Confirmations 30 times. x3.

    Sounds like some form of torture to me… ;-)

    • Damien Stark says:

      If only there were some way for you to avoid playing game-types you didn’t like…

      Oh well, until someone discovers a way, I’m off to the Team Fortress 2 forums to complain about how crappy the single player experience is.

  35. bill says:

    reply fails galore!!

  36. Saul says:

    I’m really looking forward to the single-player, after being very disappointed with Dawn of War 2. Variety is the spice of games, and Blizzard have promised that every single mission will change things up. I’m hopeful, as I really enjoyed the WC3 single-player. Relic take note!

  37. Ci2e says:

    @ Nerd Rage

    Nicely put, also brings to mind why buffalo really don’t have wings hence buffalo wings, or why tuna really isn’t chicken but it’s considered the chicken of the sea, to a certain brand. lols

  38. subedii says:

    There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding SC2′s singleplayer campaign.

    Basically the entire structure of the SP game is going to be completely different. I just wanted to go through some of the changes.

    Story’s getting a lot more emphasis this time around. It’s not just about making mission choises either (although those are a big part of the campaign). Between missions you’ve got your Starship / hub, which is where you get a lot more background on game events and characters. From watching it it reminds me a lot of the Wing Commander games, and the between mission crew interactions. It actually seems pretty involved.

    Over the course of the singleplayer campaign you don’t just get to choose which missions you progress along. Over the course of missions you’re going to be earning resource points which you can invest in enhancing your units or buying new unit types. These basically depend on how you want to play the game and what types of strategies you want to deploy on specific missions.

    For the missions, they’re changing things around a bit. The goal isn’t to have 30 freaking base building missions. The stated objective is to have each mission be a unique vignette, almost like its own minigame. You’ve got the traditional base-building and escort missions. Then you’ve also got missions that take place on a lava planet where sections of floor become molten at regular intervals. Or other quirky scenarios. The purpose is to make each mission something different.

    Finally onto the pricing, and the splitting up of the game into three packages. People keep harping on about how it’s going to be 90 missions of tedium, how they’ve split one game into three in order to rake in more cash. The thing is, I was quite happy working my way through 60 missions, and those certainly didn’t get tedious for me. It’s a question of how diverse they can make things, and by the looks of it, the SP campaigns are going to be very, VERY different across all three packs. The Protoss campaign for example, is going to have a very heavy diplomacy bent to it, and is going to be structured very differently from how the Terran campaign is.

    The controversy is reactionary, and based around the idea that people are being gouged for 3 separate games. Blizzard have already stated that this isn’t 3 games, it’s one game and two planed expansion packs. They’ve already stated that they view the next two units as expansion packs, and will be pricing them as such. Starcraft got Brood War, and I don’t recall anyone crying foul over that. The difference here is that there’s one more expansion pack, and most importantly, they announced it before the release of the game, which is where most of the aggro about price gouging comes in.

    Me personally? I can’t get upset about the game getting two expansion packs instead of just one. As long as the gameplay’s good and the expansion packs are worth the price, I’ll certainly get them. There are complaints and whinging about how you can’t play the “complete” game unless you’ve got all three (which are probably going to be spaces about a year or so apart at least, given Blizzard’s previous time schedules), but the exact same thing can be said of Starcraft. There’s no major SC league anywhere where you can play Starcraft without the Brood War expansion pack. And realistically, most people aren’t going to be playing the multi, so it’s a question primarily of whether you view the SP campaigns and add ons as worth the price. Given Blizzards previous history, I have a hard time imagining that won’t be the case. And if it is, then hey, I won’t buy them.

    • Vandelay says:

      In reality, Blizzard is doing something very similar to both Dawn of War and its sequel. Neither of those had campaigns for multiple races and no one complained that much (there was a little bit, but not to the same extent.)

      I think we should give them the benefit of doubt for the time being. The impression they are giving is that the missions will be varied. The question still remains whether they will achieve making it varied enough to maintain interest, but I don’t think we should be passing judgement until someone impartial has played.

  39. subedii says:

    I really enjoyed DoW2′s campaign. And the thing is, for having four sides, the campaign only focussed on one of them. They just gave it a lot more depth via the RPG mechanics and equipment.

    By the looks of things SC2′s campaign is going to be more in-depth than that (especially with a far more in-depth starship hub), so I’m not seeing it as a problem. I didn’t get bored playing Space Marines in DoW2, they provided plenty enough variety besides to keep things interesting. As long as they’re working to make the campaign in SC2 something more involved, I don’t really have a problem with it.

  40. Merus says:

    I know I love it when a game says, “hey, what do you want to do first?” and then after I pick it decides to inform me that the “first” was implied, and now I’m stuck with my ‘decision’ and have to slog through the game again in order to see the other part of the game that I also paid for. It’s just super.

  41. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    All the people whining about branching campaigns should look up something called a “save game” function. If you can’t handle replayability because you have zero attention span, you can still get around it.

    • Wilson says:

      Sometimes you don’t always get a chance to save the game. Like in the old C&C, the choices came after a mission ended, so if you didn’t quite save before the end of every missions, you could get caught out a bit. I guess most games nowadays are better in that regard (hopefully). I personally quite like choices like that, even though they don’t often make much difference in the long term.