Day 7 - Blizzard shows their support!
In other news, here's a write-up of all the serious questions asked in the AMA for StarCraft Universe on Reddit, answered by lead developer Ryan Winzen. We hope this answers the most burning questions for everyone who couldn't make it!
Q: As powerful SCII's mapeditor is, it's very intimidating for even an experienced developer to get into. How experienced are your team members at the editor?
A: I've got about 16 years of experience with Blizzard RTS editors (on and off of course), Mille has about 6 or so, and I think Dark Revenant has about 12. Combined, there is nothing we can't do or figure out.
Q: Why not implement multiple control schemes other than the WASD and middle mouse button to look? I'm sure it would be possible to add more of a Diablo-ish control system
A: Improving our control schemes is a top priority right now. The Diablo scheme probably won't work too well in a third person view but we're building in a ton of game options so that players can find their feel good spot with camera and movement.
Q: Are you currently planning to add extra gameplay mechanics such as, say, mercenaries? Don't add anything runescape-ish though.
A: I was just thinking about mercs again today. It's easy to do, we just have to make sure it balances properly with our progression and current values. Possibly and hopefully, but no promises. That said, the Marine has an ability at higher levels called 'Fireteam' where he warps in three other marines to assist him. :)
Q: How will you make this as close to a true MMO as possible? I don't remember but doesn't the terrain editor have a max map size?
A: There is a max map size. SCU will be spread across multiple instances, and hopefully in the future, Blizzard will allow for loading between maps.
Q: Do you have any inspiration for this map? There have been a million warcraft3 RPGs and some SC2 RPGs.
A: There's a little piece of every game I have ever played in StarCraft Universe. Don't worry, StarCraft Universe will feature very original content ideas. We plan on doing a lot of things no one has ever seen before in gaming.
Q: How does the combat flow? Is it based around a similar style of World of Warcraft, with more focus on the spells/abilities? As well, do you have any plans of introducing a Player vs Player arena/battlegrounds? Or even World PvP?
A: Yeah it's heavily focused on spells and abilities like WoW. One thing that is a bit different though is that we use collision, where as WoW doesn't. Things feel much more weighted that way, we just have to be careful of pathing abuse.
We plan on making a video about combat next week so like us on facebook and you won't miss it. Regarding PvP, dueling is already built into the game. We do want a MOBA-like battleground, it's just about priorities and funding at this point.
Q: Will it take you as long to make the next part as it will the first one? I remember hearing about it for like a year before it came out and was surprised that it was only 40 min of play time (even though it was pretty cool).
A: Not even close. Most of the first three years we were converting the RTS engine into an action RPG engine and building player-side content. On top of that we were all going to school or working full-time jobs. If we get funded, it will dramatically speed up the progress of things and we should have an open beta by January.
Q: Will we see the UED anytime in SCU, should it be successful? I've always wanted to see them ever since the UED Expeditionary Fleet was destroyed in SC: BW.
A: We have to be very careful and creative about involving large groups like the UED in StarCraft Universe since we still don't know the storyline of LoTV. I will say maybe for now. :)
Q: What other projects have you and members of your team completed? Before I pledge any money I would like to see a portfolio of past works just so I know "these people can maybe do what they promised".
A: StarCraft Universe is my portfolio and it's been nearly 3 years now for myself. All of my previous prototypes were on old computers and laptops that have long since been lost. I can tell you I've been designing games since I was 6 and I've worked with every Blizzard RTS editor since WarCraft II.
I think Mille has been modding Blizzard RTS's for about 6 years. He's got an IQ of 148, and single-handedly programmed most of the logic needed to create an MMO engine.
We have demonstrated that we have the technical capability, the creativity, and the drive to convert an RTS engine into a completely modified third person action RPG engine, tell a story, create compelling gameplay mechanics, and attract a supportive player-base.
Furthermore we have created a contracting LLC for all parties involved in the project's development. If you're worried about our commitment to the project, I did four years in the Marine corps. If we get funded, there is no quitting.
Q: Can we get your thoughts on the whole latency and control issue?
A: Yeah. So for those who don't know, the biggest challenge we face is with the control input delay.
The StarCraft II engine uses something called a non-asynchronous system which requires all input commands to communicate with battle.net, all players in-game, then be re-routed back to the client before the action is seen on your screen. For example: anyone with high latency who presses ‘W’ to move forward, might experience a 0.5 second delay between the time they press the ‘W’ key and the they see their character move.
We hope one day Blizzard can implement an asynchronous system like WoW uses, but don't hold your breath. We know from chatting in the Mapster IRC that their programmers are always brainstorming ways to improve it and are even planning some improvements in the near future.
One solution they could allow is to reduce the communication buffer, but it's extremely dangerous to do that because as soon as someone gets out of synch you're going to see the dreaded "WAITING FOR PLAYERS", or they might just drop altogether.
There ARE however things you can do to reduce latency in SCU.
- Make sure you're playing in the correct region.
- Close any other programs that use your internet connection.
- Get faster internet, lol.
- Keep your PC clean!
Remember that all games have lag, we just feel it differently depending on what type of engine is being used. The world really needs a genius that just cures lag. nods sagely Q:
Why do you need $80,000 for a custom game in SC2?
A: Developing SCU is just as complex and time consuming as developing a stand-alone. Remember we've had to build a brand new engine on top of the SC2 engine for this to work.
Our Kickstarter page outlines a lot of things the money will be spent on in the pie chart.
Primarily, the money will be spent on the lead developers so we can produce the mod full-time just like a job. Split among us, we are taking a VERY small amount of money for basic living expenses over the next 1.5 to 2 years of production. Remember that 80,000 quickly becomes 72,000 after Kickstarter and Amazon take their share, and then there's a 26% income tax on top of that. We also have to pay our voice actors, pay for software, hardware, our musical composer, etc.
Modding isn't anything like it used to be. People's standards are VERY high now, and to produce something of quality takes significant time, energy, and sacrifice.
If we don't get 80,000, we get nothing. Kickstarter will refund all backers their money and we fail.
Q: On your kickstarter, you list Zerg heroes as a stretch goal. You have previously said that you won't be introducing Zerg characters for lore reasons. How are you going to justify Zerg heroes from a lore standpoint?
A: First we thought about doing Broodmothers/Queens since some, like Zagara, have enough sentient capabilities to command the Swarm without Kerrigan alive. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that mechanically and conceptually, it would not make sense for a Queen to pilot a Viking or Thor. Since much of SCU will involve vehicles, we had to nix that idea.
Then we thought about infested Terran, since Stukov appears quite capable in HoTS, however realized that he is a very rare exception to the rule.
So finally, seeing as how the zerg have rapid evolutionary capabilities, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to create a new sentient zerg entity in our own vision as it relates to StarCraft Universe 2523. We know we want to create some type of unit that has control over other Zerg units so players will have their own little command of the swarm.
Q: Do you get annoyed that everyone refers to it as an mmo when it's just a custom map?
A: Yes, it's like nails on a chalkboard... and then we get flamed because it's not an MMO.
Big companies have PR that can go out and correct all the media outlets when they post misinformation... but there's just so many...
It's just like Diablo really. It's an online multi-player role playing game where players will gather in lobbies and decide what acts or missions they want to do in an instance.
Q: The interaction between the Protoss and Terran characters was well done in the prologue. But how's the interaction between Protoss and Terran societies in your lore? Is it 100% convenience or is there some syncretism like the Umojan desired? How much are Ps and Ts strangers to each other?
A: Thanks. In my vision, by 2523 the Terran and Protoss societies have been largely wiped out or consumed by the Hybrid. The only survivors are scattered across various Asylums on different planets, like Asylum Tarsonis in the prologue. Beyond that, I can't reveal too much without spoiling the first Act.
Q: More than anything I'm excited for the "flashback zones". If you had to choose 3 events to be "flashbacked" right now, what would them be?
A: That's tough. If we make it to flashback stretch goals, I want our backers to be able to vote on what events are re-created.
My top three would probably be: Belly of the Beast, The Battle of Gettysburg, and facing Ulrezaj post merging. But there's so much going through my head right now from this question that I'd actually have to watch StarCraft 1 and 2 from start to finish on youtube to come up with a for certain answer.
Q: Do you have a favorite SC book?
A: I've honestly never read any of them, though I know much of the lore from doing heavy research in the StarCraft Wiki. Don't worry though, we've got a couple guys on the team who have ready every book who I defer to when writing.
Q: Is this going to be another WoW-clone, themepark MMO or is there going to be any cool, like open world PvP, or innovative stuff? Because as much as I like the concept of a SC MMO, I dislike the concept of playing another WoW clone even more.
A: A lot of the core gameplay mechanics are similar to WoW and Diablo, but we have some very fresh ideas in mind regarding the actual content. I promise you will never have to quest for bread or wood, and will make every attempt possible at giving you all the adrenaline rush of wing-suiting.
Q: To what extent have you been in talks with Blizzard about this project? It's obvious that they support it by now, but do you think they will ever do more?
A: The only real difference between us and other featured Arcade devs is we had to work together regarding the game’s name. I think they really want to see it happen, but I don't know to what lengths they will go to support it. Blizzard is a pretty big company with a lot of priorities and moving parts.
Q: Is this the mod that is being developed by a team of people who have never met in real life?
A: Yeah. Not a single one of us working on SCU have met face-to-face, and three of our members live in other countries. Mille barely spoke English when we started, but I digress.
Q: Have you considered using a different engine instead of the Blizzard one?
A: Yes, But we didn't for a couple of big reasons. - Using any engine external to the StarCraft II engine would not only violate Blizzard's EULA, but also their intellectual property rights. - Everyone on our team has spent years modding with Blizzard RTS engines so we're quite efficient at using the SC2 Editor.
Q: What happens if the Kickstarter fails?
A: We'll likely have to stop production on the project and I personally, will begin looking for a job in the industry.
Q: When can we expect the earliest bouts of real testing outside the demo already uploaded?
A: Hopefully by January if we can work on this thing full-time.
Q: How many people does the team have in full and will you be looking for more?
If we get significant funds I will be returning to mapster to contract some of the talent there. Alternatively, people are always welcome to join the team as unpaid contributors if there is a mutual fit. Feel free to send examples of work to my e-mail: RyanWinzen@yahoo.com
Stay tuned for more updates!