Q. Hi. So many people are complaining about this on the forum... is it true that there will be no chat channels? I hope not!
A. We do have plans for chat channels. Specifically, we want to organize chat channels around users' interests so you know what types of conversations you are going to get into when you join a channel. This feature is not something that will be in for beta. Currently we plan to do this feature in a patch after the game launches. Q. Are you guys still working on the Map Editor; and if so, what features are you planning to incorporate into the final piece?
A. Yes. We're still working on the Map Editor and currently working on the publishing system. We intend to release an early version of the editor during the beta so the map-making community can get a head start creating their own maps. This is going to be a stretch for us to pull off, but our hope is to get it out before the end of April. Q. Do you really use beers to balance units? And do you really use that rubber gun to make a decision??
A. I'm drunk now!
Seriously the Jace Hall show was fun to do, but we take our jobs pretty seriously when it comes to the actual work. =) Q. Will we be able to play with our friends on other continents like we could in StarCraft's Battle.net?
A. Currently we do not have plans to integrate friends between regions for launch. In the long run that's definitely something we'll be looking at. Q. Do you feel that the High Templar and Colossus fill the same role in the protoss army?
A. The Colossus and the High Templar both attack small units with a powerful attack, but there are some key differences. The High Templar is effective against ground and air but is also very vulnerable to certain types of counter-attacks (snipe and EMP for example). The Colossus can take a ton more damage but is very vulnerable to air-to-air attacks. Since the protoss have to make some more hard choices about how to tech than some of the other races, we feel that having splash in several places is important for the race. Q. Playing StarCraft II before beta and playing StarCraft II today do you think balance between races is better?
A. The race balance has improved greatly since before BlizzCon of last year and has continued to improve during the beta. Though really we don't even know yet how good the balance really is since the community has been playing for such a short time. =)
We are currently looking at the protoss vs. protoss matchup as well as terrans. Terrans are losing a little too frequently in almost every match up and the protoss vs protoss game is currently a little stale with a few strategies dominating both the early and the end game. Q. In the campaign mode, will players who do not have much experience with Real-Time-Strategy games have a chance to play a tutorial?
A. Definitely. We have a more integrated tutorial experience than any of our previous games. There is a hands on tutorial and new video tutorials that allows you to reference game play information in case you've forgotten basic controls as you start playing the campaign itself. Q. Is logging in to Battle.net version 2.0 mandatory even for Single-Player Games?
A. Yes. StarCraft II does require an online connection and you must login the first time you play. We are in the middle of adding an "Offline" feature which allows you to play the Campaign offline if you, for example, are traveling and want to play on a laptop. Playing while connected allows your progress in the campaign to be saved online to your account. This means if you switch to a different computer to play you can pick up from where you were. Q. Will there be an achievement or something similiar that labels a player who has participated in the beta?
A. There are no plans to have a "beta" achievement. But I love the idea. =) Q. What is your overall opinion about the beta right now? Have you already achieved what you were looking for?
A. The beta has been a great success so far. We're extremely happy with the information we've been getting back from the community and are reacting each week to all the information we're seeing. We definitely have NOT achieved our final goals and are continuing to work on balance, stability, our patching process, and more. We intend to release a patch next week that helps with readability of the zerg on creep, protoss team color with regards to Warp In, and other issues raised by the community.
Beyond that we have plans to release a major content patch in approximately mid-April that will add in a few example achievements, improved Voice Chat, and a whole lot more. We're definitely reading and listening to the feedback from our community and will continue to do so until the beta ends. Q. What race are the developers least happy about as far as balance goes? Who needs the most work or a major change?
A. Terrans are currently losing more games than they are winning at gold and platinum skill levels. We are going to be looking to address some of these issues in future patches. Q. Is there support to build symmetrical maps in the editor, if so, does it include rotational symmetry and odd player numbers?
A. You can build whatever types of maps you want in the editor but there are no methods of auto-mirroring parts of the map. Q. Have you considered moving the Terran scan ability to the sensor tower? Other improvements to that building would be welcome.
A. The Sensor Tower has some uses but is not required for every match. We do not want to move Scan to the Sensor Tower since that would take off a lot of the energy tension that exists between Scan and MULE. Q. Do you agree that the zerg currently suffers from a lack of diverse army composition, and if so what are your plans to fix it?
A. Yes, we are looking at the zerg diversity issue. We are working to make the Infestor a more core part of more match-ups. We will continue to moniter the use of Banelings, Roaches, Hydras, Zerglings, Mutalisks and Corruptors to make sure the zerg army remains diverse in each match-up. Q. Considering the current number of unit types, do you foresee having too many unit types a problem once you reach the second expansion?
A. We are obviously concerned about the number of units that may exist once we get to the second expansion. We are working on some plans to make sure that the user is not overwhelmed. When we get a good plan that we can show you guys, we will present it to the community for feedback. Q. Are there any plans to try to fine-tune or reduce the innate built-in latency for StarCraft II over Battle.net 2.0?
A. We will definitely be experimenting with this over the weeks ahead. We want to make sure the playing field is balanced for all participants as far as "best connection latency." At the same time, internet connectivity and latency has definitely improved over the years and our current 250ms expected latency may be too high. Q. Do you plan to open the Beta to everyone? If yes, when?
A. We have no plans to make an open Beta at this time. Q. I was wondering when you were going to introduce the 2 new races in the upcoming StarCraft II expansion sets?
A. We are not doing new races in the expansions. Each expansion will feature a new 20-30 mission campaign as well as new units and abilities for all three races in each expansion pack. Q. Are there any potential balance tweaks to Phoenixes and/or Mutalisks being considered? Do you consider these units balanced?
A. We are happy with the current relationship between Mutalisks and Phoenixes. That doesn't mean we won't see problems in the future or there may even be current problems that have not yet come to our attention. We don't consider anything "balanced" yet. =) Q. Mac beta please! Any information?
A. We are currently working on a Mac version of the beta and hope to release it sometime in April. Hang in there!! Q. Will there be an option to log into World of Warcraft with an authenticator, but StarCraft II without one? Do I need to protect my StarCraft II account?
A. The authenticator is used to protect your Battle.net account and is NOT specific to the game you're playing. If you have an authenticator attached to your Battle.net account with a World of Warcraft license and then buy StarCraft II, you will use the same authenticator to log into StarCraft II. Q. What is your overall opinion about the beta right now? Have you already achieved what you were looking for?
A. We have not begun to achieve our goals for the beta. For the first week we watched as the community learned the game. As the beta went forward we began to see a lot of the Pylon, Photon Cannon and Gateway rushes. Now we we are starting to see lots of "single unit" strategies. We have a ways to go with the beta before we are satisfied. Q. Zerg seem to be missing one more ground unit to really diversify the race. Is this something you have considered?
A. We think the zerg have plenty of ground units. If we have a need for a specific unit later on in the beta, we will add one. Q. Will we see any familiar characters from the novel in the campaign? Michael Liberty, Nova, Rosemary Dahl, etc?
A. You'll have to wait and see, but we did look to the greater StarCraft universe lore in creating the story for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. Q. The Mothership feels like a slow useless arbiter. What are your plans for this unit? Are you happy with it?
A. We will continue to evaluate the Mothership. I do not agree that it is useless but we can make fixes if we need to in the future. Q. Are you still confident about releasing the game in mid-summer?
A. Yes. We are still on target to release the game in the middle part of this year. Q. Before implementing patch ideas, how do you test them? Do you just crunch numbers or does a player like David Kim do the testing?
A. We crunch numbers as well as play internally. In many cases in the beta we are shipping patches with only a few days of testing. That is not something we will be able to do once we launch the game, but in beta we can still be a little more aggresive with our patches. Q. Can we expect to have new maps or the map editor in the beta soon?
A. Yes. We will be adding a few new maps as we continue to release patches including a few 3v3 and 4v4 maps. Additionally, we are hoping to release the map editor to the community sometime in April. Q. How much does Dustin Browder get paid each year?
A. Over a hundred dollars a year. I also get free WoW accounts (I get banned a lot). Q. Have there been any strategies that the community has come up with that have surprised you guys? Examples would be nice!
A. We were surprised by some of the proxy Pylon stuff in the first few days. We had seen it internally, but not nearly as often or as aggresive once the game went live. Also the triple Gateway strategies in protoss vs. protoss games were a surprise. The Planetary Fortress rush was a good one. =)
I still think there are lots more surprises waiting for us in the months to come. Q. How come you didnt attempt to add a fourth race?
A. Several reasons; a) we felt like we had a lot more left to do with the three we had; b) each race and each unit in StarCraft needs to feel as different as possible from every other race and unit, and we felt that with four races we would likely start repeating roles and game mechanics, and we would lose some of the diversity that makes the game so great. Q. Why are the load times (loading screen) for StarCraft II so long, will we be able to get in games quicker?
A. We are always looking at performance and load times and seeing what we can do to improve them. Q. Are there plans to clean up or enhance the look of the replay function?
A. We are cleaning up the replay list UI and eventually replays will be able to be saved to Battle.net (after launch). However, there are no specific changes to the replay play/fast forward UI. If you have any specific features you would like to see, please post them in our Suggestions Forum. Q. Where are the critters?!
A. There are a few critters in the beta, but more are on the way. Critters were not a high priority item for us in getting the beta to the community. Q. Will it be technically possible to recreate a Defense of the Ancients custom map complete with ladder and matchmaking?
A. You will be able to recreate the map and we are looking at different ways for community maps to become part of the ladder and matchmaking. Q. Are there any specific units that you are unsatisfied with that you plan on changing but have not yet changed? Which?
A. We are still working on the Infestor (see today's patch) and we will continue to evaluate every unit until we ship. We have a "watch list" for units which means we are concerned about their balance and we are looking for data that will prove the unit has issues or prove that it is okay. The Roach and the Reaper are currently on our watch list. Q. How many hours do you estimate the single player campaign will be?
A. We don't know for sure. I'm guessing 20-30 hours depending on your skill level, though I imagine if you are very good and playing on an easy setting you could finish much faster than that. Q. Is there a way to report abuse/innapropriate behavior in beta? I had some issues and couldn't find a way to report...
A. There is a way to "Report Abuse" by right-clicking on players' names when in chat with them or in a lobby. However, the usual time you want to do this (during a game) is not properly supported. Currently, if you want to report someone you just played a game with you must:
1. "Add Friend" from the score screen.
2. Right-click on their name from your friends list and click the "More . . ."
3. Choose "Report Abuse" and follow the directions.
4. Remove them from your friends list.
We will be addressing this in our upcoming content patch which we hope to release in mid-April. Q. Just want to say thanks to you guys for all the hard work. I'm not yet in the beta but am enjoying watching streams. =)
A. Thanks for the thanks!
We definitely will be adding a lot more people to the beta over the next several weeks so stay tuned. If you haven't opted-in to participate in future betas, now is the time to do so!! Q. Great job with terran. Mech seems weaker and less reliable than a bio build at the moment. Any plans to buff mech?
A. We are looking at the terran mech build now. Actually right now. The balance guys are currently testing some fixes we tried this morning. We will get something to you guys as soon as we can. Q. Will you be able to host and share replays via Battle.net?
A. This is definitely our long-term goal. This will not be ready at ship, but we do intend to release functionality that allows you to share your replays in a patch sometime after ship. Q. Besides the protoss Mothership, in your original designs, did the designers create any super weapons for the terran or zerg?
A. We did talk about a massive zerg flier at one point, but it didn't feel right. The Queen at one point was a "hero" style unit, but that also didn't feel right. Q. Does map publishing also store any extra resources (sounds, graphics, etc.) specific to the map, or is this a limitation?
A. Yes. If you add art or sound to a map, it's stored in the map and is therefore downloaded with the map once it's published. Long-term we will be adding support for custom mods where other maps can depend on a single mod pack. For example, if the community wanted to build a "Classic StarCraft" mod, they could do that and share it online and then many maps could be built that depend on that mod. Q. Can we expect to have new maps and/or the map editor in the beta soon?
A. We are going to release some new maps for 2v2 specifically pretty soon. We are seeing problems with terran+terran teams on some of our maps and we are interested in testing a fix that involves changing the map pool. We will release the editor during the beta if we get it ready in time. Q. Obvious concerns about the Roach and how it "fits in" with the zerg. What role was it created to fill? Does the zerg need it?
A. We have heard this concern many times from many sources. There is no way to add units to StarCraft without changing the nature of these races. Since we are adding new units the personality of the races will alter.
The Roach was created to be an early game assault unit. We also wanted a unit that could maintain constant contact with the enemy. Not just through speed but through sheer durability. Looking at our inspiration for the zerg (a variety of hollywood, comic book and role-playing game aliens) this kind of "kit" seemed appropriate for the zerg. Q. Any plans to allow games to be watched by a LOT of people through battle.net? Like a built-in stream to watch tournament finals?
A. This is a feature that we've talked about for a while and do intend to implement at some point in the future. It's quite a lot of work to put together and will likely correspond with one of the future expansions. Q. Are the voices and effects present in the beta finalized, or are they subject to change?
A. We are mostly done with the voice and effects. However, based on feedback we are taking a look at a few of the attack and hit sound effects to ensure they have the right "umph" to be noticeable during frantic gameplay. Q. StarCraft: Brood War counters were more about inherent abilities (speed, size, spells, etc.), while StarCraft II emphasizes a hard counter damage system. Why the change?
A. Brood War also had many hard counters (Firebats vs. Zerglings). We also have many ability-based relationships. Stalkers for example are easily beaten by Zealots unless the Stalkers use their speed and mobility to their advantage. Banelings will easily kill Marines unless Stim or Marauders are used to defend the Marines. Battles at choke-points favor certain units that could easily be killed in the open. I guess I don't agree that there was a change, but if we are going too "hard counter," we will learn that in the beta and scale it back. Q. It was previously mentioned that the balance team feels Archons were underused. Is this still the case?
A. The Archon is intended to be a unit you can use when your High Templar run out of energy. It is not meant in StarCraft II to be a core counter to a variety of threats. Currently it is functioning reasonably well in that role but we are always looking for additional data that will prove our assumptions wrong. Q. Are there plans to implement something like a "Draw" function for multiplayer games?
A. Not during a multiplayer game for all players. However, we do intend to implement drawing functionality for referees to use which will likely correspond with the first expansion - Heart of the Swarm. Q. Static defenses are very weak at the moment. It is more interesting to use the minerals on mobile units instead. Do you have any thoughts about this?
A. Static defenses have always been vulnerable in StarCraft. They are used primarily to defend against raids, not to stop frontal assaults. The biggest current weakness in defenses in StarCraft II is not the weaknesses of the defenses themselves but the mobility of the armies that allow them to bypass the defenses in the first place. We have introduced several counters to increased mobility including Sensor Towers, Bunker Salvage, Spine and Spore Crawler movement as well as Warp-In which allow each race to have some answers to a sudden enemy attack. Q. There is an issue with people wanting to try a new race but not wanting to lose ladder placements due to inexperience. What are your thoughts on this?
A. We are very aware of this issue and we are actively looking for a solution. Thanks for the great question! Q. Will we ever be able to play as the Xel'naga?
A. "Ever" is a long time, but there are no plans currently to intoduce a fourth race. Q. How exactly does the ladder/division/league system work? How do players move up and down? What exactly is the top 8 for? Tournaments?
A. We are working on a FAQ for this right now that we will release to the community soon. At some point in the future we will be looking at doing tournaments and that is what the top positions are for. Q. Will units that have been cut from the game still be in the Galaxy Editor, or higher tier units from original StarCraft?
A. Units that have been cut from the game completely will NOT be in the editor. However, there are many units that make an appearance in the single-player campaign that WILL be available to use in the editor, such as the Medic, Firebat, and Goliath. Q. Will there be an option that allows you to choose between different customized hotkey configurations?
A. We are in the process of adding a few hotkey templates for ship which include left and right-handed "name-based" options. Grid based left and right-hand templates. Finally, we also intend to add a "Classic" hot key template which will, as best as possible, attempt to mimic the hotkey settings from the original game. We'll default to "name-based" right-handed for ship, but the end user can then choose from any of the other four templates.
Long term we're exploring allowing fully customizable hot keys. Assuming we can solve the many user interface challenges to make this work we will either release it in a patch or in the upcoming expansion. Q. Will you be adding additional zoom-out levels since it was suggested by a lot of players?
A. No, we will not be adding zoom-out levels. StarCraft II plays well only at a very specific camera height. Too close and you cannot see what is going on, too far and you cannot effectively micro your units. We have picked a camera position that maximizes the tension between the player's need to see a lot of space as well as micro units. There are also game perfomance implications of a zoomed out camera. If we zoom out more, we are drawing more units on screen at one time and game perfomance will suffer. Q. The protoss templar line seems much less reliable to use than a robo build. Same for terran mech builds. What are your plans?
A. We are looking hard at the terran mech builds and will hopefully bring out some fixes in the next patch. I don't know that I agree that Templars not useful. We are certainly seeing that at some skill levels, but other skill levels are getting quite a bit out of High Templars. We will continue to evaluate as we go forward in the beta. Q. Will more than one user profile per account be allowed?
A. At ship we intend to have only a single profile per user. This encourages better player behavior and allows us to do better match-making between players. It obviously causes a number of issues. For example I may want to try a new race as a player but I'm afraid of losing rating, what do I do? We are looking to fix these types of issues for launch. Q. High and Dark Templars have split into two techs. Are you seeing a lot of people just going for other tech options now?
A. High Templars are not a given in every game, nor are Dark Templar, but we are certainly seeing these units get a lot of use. Q. Do you agree with players about the zerg voice, or are you happy with it?
A. We are looking at pulling some different takes for the zerg Queen that change the personality of her voice (a little bit). Q. Who would win in a fight, Greg Street or Dustin Browder?
A. The battle would be close, but both parties would suffer TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE DAMAGE!