Late last month I posted an article about the "World of Starcraft" video that was pulled from YouTube at Blizzard's request. The game's creator, Ryan Winzen, received a cease and desist letter on trademark grounds, but the episode ended rather happily with an invitation to tour the Blizzard campus and, more importantly, an interview offer from Riot Games. Blizzard stated that they were not looking to kill the project, and in fact looked forward to following further development by Winzen and his fellow designers. To avoid future legal conflicts, the project has been renamed Starcraft Universe, and it seems that some headway has indeed been made. While no one of sound mind honestly thought this would turn into a proper MMO, Starcraft Universe aims to replicate the experience in a single player form using Starcraft II's map editor -- and from the video (which can be found in my previous article, which has been linked above) it looks like they've done an impressive job of nailing both the aesthetics and gameplay. Techspot reports that Blizzard has decided to distribute the content as map packs through Battle.net, and it promises a couple of rather interesting features:
* A wide variety of monsters, bosses, and character classes. SCU classes include: Infantry, Special-Ops, Demolition, and many others.
* A game save system. These maps will allows players to create, save, and load existing characters (a unique function uncommon to custom StarCraft maps).
* Hundreds of customizable weapons, runes, and equipment to choose from. They can be acquired as loot or bought in shops.
* Multiplayer experience. These maps allow (and encourage) up to twelve players in one match.
The article also notes the lack of a leveling system, though allocation points and rank will serve as a sort of substitute. It's a disappointing omission -- Counterstrike, for example, has user-made mods that feature leveling -- and it seems like an obvious enough thing to include, but it's a start. No release date has been set yet, but we'll keep you updated as things develop.
Minor gripes aside, Starcraft Universe seems like an interesting endeavor. It may not be an MMO, but it's as close as we're going to get for the foreseeable future. Now if only someone could convince Blizzard that money raining from the sky (like so much ash after a profit eruption) would be a good thing...