StarCraft Universe could redefine our core standards of what makes a good videogame mod.
Back in January of this year, a modder by the name of Ryan Winzen posted early footage of a World of Warcraft-style MMO built using StarCraft 2's map editor - and while was rudimentary it was still impressive. Then Activision's lawyers hit the video with a copyright claim, kicking off a kerfuffle that was finally resolved when Blizzard said "Hey, this is actually really cool," gave the project an official thumbs-up, and invited Winzen to visit the home campus in Irvine, California.
That was back in January. Seven months later, Winzen and his team have released the first gameplay trailer for Starcraft Universe - and it's truly amazing how far the World of Starcraft project has come in seven months. In the video here to the right you can see character creation (admittedly fairly simplistic), but the real star of the show here is the boss battles.
Sure, the combat here is hardly on the same level of an AAA-level game like Batman: Arkham Asylum, but if you told me that this had all been created using a map editor in an RTS, I would have never believed you. The fights look dynamic, the combat looks enjoyable, and it's all very, very pretty. The highlight is probably the battle against the mutalisks, but everything in the video is impressive as hell.
StarCraft Universe isn't a full-fledged MMO - it would be very difficult if not impossible to create a persistent world in StarCraft - but rather a game that "takes the team oriented raiding style of World of Warcraft and combines it with many slasher action RPG elements of Diablo," says Winzen. In other words, it's all three of Blizzard's major franchises thrown together and mixed up. Works for me.
And speaking of Blizzard, Winzen has no harsh words even after the January brouhaha. "For as big as they are, and as hard as they work on games, Blizzard is way above the bar when it comes to their community relations," he told Pixelated Geek. "It's not easy having millions of fans and appeasing them all, but all I can say is they've been good to me, and have definately made improvements on how they interact with the mapping community in general."
The full game won't be complete until around the launch of Heart of the Swarm, said Winzen, but he hopes to have PvP arenas ready for this year's Blizzcon.
Seriously, Blizzard, just hire this guy (and his team) already. He made this game in a map editor. Albeit an incredibly flexible map editor that was always touted as having the potential to build entire games, but a map editor nonetheless.