Do you want to know what ex-Blizzard RTS veterans have been cooking up for the past few years?
Then you've come to the perfect place! This article provides you with a giant compilation of almost everything that Frost Giant Studios – a video game studio formed by ex-Blizzard employees with a passion for RTS and over two decades of experience in the field – has revealed so far about their upcoming game, Stormgate.
And for your reading pleasure, the entire compilation is sourced, and the video citations will take you directly to the part of the video that is relevant to what is being described.
The last section of this article will include updates as new information is released. The last update was on June 14th, 2023.
What Is Stormgate?
Stormgate is a traditional Blizzard style RTS with full-on base-building, economy management, tech trees, asymmetric factions, and individual unit control (rather than squad-based unit control like Company of Heroes or Total War games). It seeks to maintain the depth of RTS games while making it easier for new players to get into the genre without needing to dumb down the game. The game will feature Ranked Play (1v1 and 3v3), Campaign, Co-Op vs AI, and Custom Games on release.
Stormgate will be available on Steam for Windows PCs. Specific system requirements have not been revealed, but you can get a baseline by seeing Unreal Engine 5’s requirements. 1
There will be 3 or 4 races. They’ve confirmed multiple times that we’ll have more than two factions.2 And on this interview, it is mentioned that they’re considering whether to have three or four races.
The two already confirmed races are the Human Resistance, who rely on futuristic technology they’ve preserved after their near-extinction at the hands of the Infernal Host, which is the other confirmed race.3 The Infernals are an alien race of demonic creatures that use Stormgates (portals to other worlds) to invade other planets and exploit their resources, drain their life force (anima), and assimilate powerful creatures into their ranks. 4
The Infernals are not a purely evil faction, as there seems to be some sort of universe-threatening force they are preparing against. They justify their conquests by claiming that it is necessary to save the universe from whatever this threat is. This is shown in the email “Frost Giant Newsletter - December '22”, which includes the following passage: “As domineering as they may seem, they believe they're serving a greater purpose: that strength in numbers and powerful magic will be necessary to save the universe.”
We do not know what the 3rd or possible 4th race(s) are. If you ask me, after the mountains of content I’ve watched and read, we’ll probably get flying dolphins with lasers.
The Human Resistance’s mechanics have been described as having a Protoss-like mechanic, a couple of mechanics that felt Terran-like and WC3 Human-like by Neuro, who got to play the game early.5 He also mentions that it didn’t feel exactly like playing Terran. 6
The Infernal Host is described as the “Swarm” faction, which uses superior numbers to overwhelm enemies.7 But they may have playstyles that have a lower number of more elite units. 8
– In general, they’re experimenting with factions having different “tracks” or “trees” of compositions, some with more units, some with fewer, similar to SC2 Terrans, which has a playstyle of few very powerful units (Mech), and a higher-numbers, higher mobility playstyle (bio). 9
Pre-apocalypse humans had a lot of research and technology aimed at dealing with climate change. Their roster will have a variety of units that were repurposed from tasks such as agriculture and industry into war, providing an army that has a lot of supportive, healing, and synergy units. 10
They’re aiming for about as much military unit asymmetry as SC2, but more worker asymmetry than SC2 had, moving closer to WC3’s level of worker asymmetry. 11
Asymmetrical late game design for races: instead of just balancing the game around big late game army vs big late game army, they instead want differences like one faction being a better ability to harass the opponent, while another is better at direct big army combat, for instance. 12
A 3rd/4th race is likely to have a low number of very elite units, as the devs have mentioned they want to have higher highs and lower lows than Starcraft 2 in terms of faction army sizes (with a faction having even lower numbers than Protoss, and a faction having even more units than Zerg). 13
On the Stormgate Announcement Cinematic Trailer at Summer Games Fest 2022, we saw a hologram of a different race at 0:46 and 0:49. One wields a spear, and the other wields a shield, both wearing armor, hinting at a more classic medieval fantasy visual identity for them (although said equipment could be sci-fi as well). They may be one of the playable unrevealed races, but it is not confirmed, and they could be an unplayable, or even extinct, race in the setting.
There will be 2 resources: a plentiful resource akin to minerals in Starcraft, and a “tech” resource that is rarer, akin to vespene gas. One of the advantages of a tech resource is that it can give scouting opportunities, such as by deducing how much gas an opponent can have. 14
– The tech resource is called “Therium” and is described as “crystalline”. Human resistance workers will return to the refinery with Therium after it’s been collected, rather than returning to the main base structure. 15
– The second resource has been described as “unlike anything we've seen in previous Blizzard RTS.” 16
Supply buildings will be in the game, which means you won’t start the game with a max of 200 supply right off the bat. 17
Supply blocks will be less punitive. It is not set in stone exactly how, but some ideas they’re testing include the ability to train units at a slower rate while you’re supply blocked instead of full denial, having supply buildings be fast to build, and requiring fewer supply buildings in total. 18
Supplies will not be buildings that you spam, but rather, tactical buildings with secondary effects besides providing supply (such as Warcraft 3 ones) and will provide interesting strategic decisions in regards to placement. And together with fewer total supply buildings needed, it should result in each supply building’s placement being a strategic decision. 19
Workers will have diminishing returns. Meaning that the 60th worker will collect slower than the 59th. This change accomplishes two main things: Firstly, it incentivizes more bases and territory expansion to have the most cost-effective gathering per worker possible. Secondly, it reduces the power of worker kills (for example, if you have 100 workers, and you lose 20 of them, in SC2 you’d normally lose 20% of your economy. But in Stormgate, it’d be less than 20%, it could be 10% for instance). 20
Races will probably have asymmetric workers/economy mechanics, such as collecting a certain resource differently, or being safer or more vulnerable when gathering certain resources. An example of this is the Warcraft 3 Night Elf’s wisp, which is vulnerable while collecting wood, but protected while collecting gold. 21
– In SC2, harassment is symmetrical: every race will target the enemy’s workers. But with this change, they can make it asymmetrical. For instance, if you’re against race A, you might attack their workers that are vulnerable while collecting the secondary resource, but against race B you’d target their particularly vulnerable supply buildings.
There’ll be less macro busywork. Non-strategic actions that must be continually repeated throughout the match without any decision making, such as SC2 queens injecting larvae, where every half a minute you have to use each queen to inject a hatchery, will be removed or diminished. Theoretically, the queen could have interesting decision points of deciding to inject larva or spread creep, but most of the time players just make extra queens for creep instead. They want macro mechanics to create interesting decisions instead rather than just being busywork. 22
– Instead, macro mechanics will be closer to the Protoss’ chrono boost where you choose whether to boost the production of military units, upgrades, or workers. 23
They do not plan on having a Warcraft 3-style upkeep system, where you get lower income as you reach higher supply thresholds. 24
Over a year ago they already reached SC2-levels of pathfinding.25 And as we’ll see next on the Engine section next, the game will probably be even smoother than previous Blizzard RTS games.
Neuro, who got to play the game, has described how crisp the pathfinding and responsiveness already are. 26
They’re using a combination of two engines: Unreal Engine 5 (UE5) and Snowplay. UE5 is behind the graphics, sound, and more. While Snowplay is Frost Giant’s custom-built engine created to deal with the unique challenges of RTS tech, such as high unit counts, a replay system, and its own networking model. 27
Snowplay will simulate Stormgate at 64 hertz,28 compared to SC2’s 22.4 Hz,29 which should result in an even smoother performance.
Games can support up to 1300 units in a single game. 30
Snowplay might include a version of rollback netcode. A piece of technology that would make games feel more responsive, and can result in ping mattering less, which would be great for higher-ping scenarios like cross-region play. 31
The engine is also being built to allow joining a game in progress. 32
The ability to spectate games after they’ve started, similar to Dota 2 and Age of Empires 4, is in consideration, and they’re building the tech in a way that allows them to include the feature even if it isn’t there on launch. 33
With all of these improvements over previous Blizzard RTS engines, technology, and network, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Stormgate be an even smoother and more responsive game than any of Blizzard’s previous RTS games.
New Player Experience & Making the Game More Approachable
Lowering the barrier to entry (but not the skill ceiling),34 and better onboarding tools are a big focus of Frost Giant,35 and include improved tutorials,36 tools for players coming in through Co-Op to learn the game without needing to play other game modes,37 and reactive tutorials for new players, such as noticing that the new player’s camera is not shifting and giving them a warning. 38
Automated Control Groups: You’ll have the option of selecting specific units to automatically join a control group when they’re created. For instance, making it so that every time you make a Marine, it immediately joins the control group “1”. 39
Quick Macro Panel: There’ll be an improved UI with easily accessible panels for Buildings, Unit Production, and Upgrades, that have all Buildings/Train/Upgrades under their respective tabs. By clicking the “Buildings” tab for instance, you’d get a card with all of your faction’s buildings on the card, and use it to send a worker to construct the building of choice from this panel, without having to click a worker first, and a worker close to where you placed the building would move to build it. 40
Merged Command Cards: They’re making it so you’ll get a single panel with the abilities (or at least the primary ability) of each different type of unit that you have selected. For instance, if you have both a High Templar and an Oracle selected at once, you’d be able to cast both of their abilities from the same panel while they’re selected, instead of needing to select just the High Templars or just the Oracles, requiring either different control groups or tab-ing between the units in the group. 41
– On top of this, they’re also making it so the key for each of those units’ primary ability doesn’t overlap. For example: Casters 1, 2, and 3, would have their primary ability be Q, W, and E, respectively. That way, even when they’re all selected, their primary ability key would remain the same, instead of having to use a different one when all those units are selected. 42, 43
Multiple spells will have an Autocast option to facilitate control. 44
The default hotkeys setup will be Grid Style (Each row in a command card will be Q-W-E-R-T… A-S-D-F-G… Z-X-C-V-…). 45
The individual hotkey buttons will be customizable, but the individual abilities may not be. For instance, the top-most, right-most square on the command card will always be a certain hotkey that you design, rather than that same square having the possibility of being different hotkeys depending on the unit selected. 46
No more blink and you lose your whole army abilities (Disruptor, Widow Mines, Nukes), as those abilities will be less volatile, and high damage units will need to be in a position of risk to utilize their potential, allowing for counterplay.47 The units will also be a bit larger on average than SC2, which can also help prevent this issue.48 And they want you to have more time to respond to fights and encounters, rather than losing your whole army because you didn’t look at the fight half a second faster. 49
How to make a wall with your buildings is an extra obstacle for new players playing PVP modes to learn, like Protoss and Terrans having to wall off against Zerg. They want to solve this by having an early defender’s advantage in the game, such as a starting base that attacks enemies to reduce the need for wall-offs. This initial defender’s advantage would also help prevent game-ending damage in the very early game, like with cheese strategies. 50
Spawn locations are revealed on every game, instead of having 2+ possible start locations and not knowing which one the enemy is at. 51
Easier scouting – when you see an enemy building, it will be clear what the enemy is going for. In Starcraft 2, you could see a Robotics Bay, and that could mean either Colossus or Disruptor, with each unit requiring a different response. In Stormgate, scouting what the enemy is doing will be easier by reducing this ambiguity. 52
– They want more tools and opportunities to scout, including units that are good at it. 53
– The Infernal Host has a unit called the “Shadowflier”, described as an early flying scout unit54 and Neuro mentions an early cheap scouting unit for the Humans.55 These two units further confirm that each race will have early and affordable methods of scouting.
– The human scout unit has been described as a “Cute little scouting unit”56 and may be the small spider-like robot on the left from this mousepad art, or the drone seen on the trailer. This is just speculation and it could be something else entirely.
A lack of scouting will be less punitive, with fewer auto-losses like instantly losing the game because you didn’t scout that they’re going for a stealth unit and dying because you didn’t tech into detection. 57
On the Co-Op Commanders mode, we’ll get options and roles that are easier to play, so new players can pick easier-to-play commanders or roles, and we’ll have harder roles and micro-intensive options for more advanced players. 58
One of their core philosophies is that each of the 4 main game modes (Campaign, Co-Op, Ranked PVP, and Custom Games) are largely isolated game modes, with little crossover and conversion from one game mode to another. They will focus on providing each segment with significant support and will not focus on trying to use one game mode as an on-ramp for another game mode (like using the campaign as an onboarding step towards Ranked PVP). 59
They’ve tested and considered heroes in every game mode, including 1v1.60 We do not have solid knowledge on whether they’ll show up on 1v1 at all. And if they do show up, we do not know the extent of it (A single hero per game? Multiple? Does only a single race have it? Or maybe a single race does NOT have it?).
– Neuro’s playtest did NOT have any heroes on the Human vs Human 1v1 matches that he played. 61
If Heroes are in 1v1, they’re unlikely to be like Warcraft 3’s (high power, centers army around them, leveling, items and inventory, attributes, etc), as Frost Giant has expressed disliking some of the downsides of Warcraft 3’s hero design like snowballing and having fewer army splits due to the centralization of combat around heroes. 63
– We also have confirmation that Heroes won’t have an inventory and items like in WC3. 64
The hero is more likely to take on a supportive role and not be highly lethal, like an empowered version of a Starcraft 2 Queen, and include decision-making with its abilities by having to decide on which ability you want to spend its mana on. 65
The game’s lethality (How fast units die/kill) is going to be higher than Warcraft 3, but lower than Starcraft 1 & 2. 66
As noted previously, aoe burst damage won’t be so volatile, which is also going to help slow down the game’s pace and lethality. 67
Similar to SC2 in how fast the game start is, following a design philosophy that is closer to the 12-worker start era of SC2 than the 6-worker start era. 68
– On top of it, Neuro says it felt a little bit slower to expand than Starcraft 2’s Zerg Hatch First, but about the same speed as a Terran. 69
In 3v3, they’re aiming for games to last for 20 minutes on average, with very low variance from this length. While 1v1 will have a close to 20-minute average, but will have a greater range of game times (like having matches that last 15 minutes, and ones that last 30 minutes to average out to 20). They also want to limit the number of games that end very early, and having early defender’s advantage will help with that as mentioned previously. 70
They’re aiming to have a wider range of map designs and layouts, unlike SC2’s formulaic and repetitive same-y maps. 71, 72
Maps may have objectives. This may be exclusive of 3v3, not 1v1. 73
Maps may have creeps – Non-aligned enemies on the map you can defeat for rewards. They’d respawn, unlike WC3. This might be exclusive of 3v3 and Co-Op. 74
Neuro’s thoughts after his tests mention new ways in how players can interact with the map, and that there are new incentives for players to contest. 75
At the start, maps will be primarily made by Frost Giant. Over time, they expect to use more community-made maps. 76
They want the unit design to restrict map design as little as possible to increase how many map layouts can be made. Not having units like Reapers in SC2 which can jump cliffs is an example of this. 77
During Neuro’s games, there were different types of terrain not present in SC2, like narrow forests that you probably can’t move giant units through. 78
They’re experimenting with having more terrain levels/layers than SC2, where the maps mostly had only 2 levels. 79
They’re taking multiple measures to prevent deathballs, including lower DPS density, lower unit ranges on average to reduce DPS density, and designing units that are particularly good when split off from the main army,80 as well as having harder counters to late game units to make sure there’s no perfect unbeatable, ultimate comp or single unit that you can mass that doesn’t have a counter. 81
Late game units will also be more specialized to have greater room for counters and army composition shifting and adaptation, rather than finding the perfect good-against-everything unit and spamming it, or having the perfect mix of units that never needs to be changed. 82
They identify turtling as a potential problem, and one that can make some games stretch for longer than they should. Part of the way they’re addressing this is experimentation with powerful late game finisher units to break turtling and finish the game when you’re ahead instead of not being able to end the game against a turtler. 83
– “Lumbering mega units” is mentioned in this comment too.
– The GigachadGigamech human unit, and the giant 4-legged creature we see in this Infernal concept art might be examples of such units. One of the lead designers, Kevin Dong, also mentions having units with turtle-breaking potential. 84
The game will have stronger defender’s advantage than SC2, and it is likely going to be race-asymmetric. 85
– Since there’s a stronger defender’s advantage, we’ll have to see how it interacts with the big game-ending units above. It may be that the defender’s advantage is at its peak in the early/mid game but not strong enough to cost-effectively stop these game-ending units.
Air Combat & Territory Control
Air vs Air fights can be quite unfun, especially when compared to Ground vs Ground and Air vs Ground combat, partly because they completely ignore terrain control. So they’re taking steps to reduce Air vs Air combat by creating strong anti-air ground units like the Brood War’s Goliath, and making air units weaker overall.86 They’re also looking to add pathing blockers for air, which would further weaken Air and their ability to ignore terrain. 87
Territory control is a core part of the game – fighting for resources, creating more bases, and increasing risk as the more you expand the more places you’ll have that can be attacked and harassed. They’re designing units with territory control and defender’s advantage in mind. 88
Territory control also comes into play with how they’re designing air units, units that can carry other units over terrain like SC2 Medivacs, and other forms of abilities that ignore terrain, as their power will be decreased. 89
Team Games (3v3 Ranked PVP)
Unlike SC2, team games (3v3) will be heavily supported. 90
1v1 and 3v3 ranked play will likely have different rules, such as different objectives and different balance (while trying to make the units as similar as possible between both modes). 3v3 will be its own game mode designed from the ground up.91 It may also have alternative win conditions, such as a capture-the-flag style win condition. 92
Creeps (Neutral enemies to defeat on the map) in 3v3 may have rewards for the entire team, rather than just the player who did them (it won’t necessarily be every creep). 94
When you die in most team-based games, you’re allowed to keep playing, such as by respawning. This isn’t the case in RTS, and they’re looking to change that for Stormgate. 95
There will be many campaign missions at launch. 96
Campaigns will have a Co-Op mode where you can play the campaign as a trio. (Not to be confused with the “Co-Op Commanders” mode, which is its own separate 3-player vs AI game mode). 97
Campaigns will have constant, episodic releases and progress year after year. 98
Stormgates are portals between worlds that open on solar storms. 99
The setting is a futuristic Earth where Humans survived an apocalyptic invasion by the Infernal Host, a demonic alien race that travels through Stormgates to conquer different planets. 100
Humanity is responsible for opening a Stormgate on Earth. As a result of climate change, extreme weather, and overpopulation they’ve initiated a scientific project called the Sigma Program, with the goal to find new habitats for humanity. One of the program’s branches, Sigma Six, worked on portal technology. In their attempt to open a portal to another dimension, they ended up opening up a portal to the Infernal world. Humanity was then brutally invaded, and brought to near-extinction. 101
The humans managed to survive, and after many years of rebuilding, they've managed to become a fairly stable civilization with a sense of hope and optimism. That is, until now, with the Infernals coming back for Infernal Invasion 2: Electric Boogaloo – Salty Infernals Complain That Humans Are OP Special Edition. 102
Infernals have been to Earth thousands of years before their first invasion. They’re not Judeo-Christean demons, but an alien version of demons.103 Human myths about demons come from early contact with the Infernals. 104
In the cinematic trailer, we see a human archeologist retrieve a powerful shield amid ruins. According to the email “Re: War Update”, this shield is a relic called the “Aegis Cipher”.
The shield isn’t just for blocking demonic attacks. It also has a constellation map that can be used to find the locations of relics that have been hidden for millennia. Part of the campaign will be about retrieving said relics to help fight against the Infernal Boogaloo. 105
We’ll get short stories leading up to release. 106
Certain esports results may impact the game’s story and lore. 107, 108
The current moment in the story will also be represented in other game modes. For instance, if the new season is covering the story in a new place, that new place would have new tilesets, which would also be used on ranked maps. 109
The choice of setting came from asking “What is a universe that allows us to tell the stories that we want to tell” and that allows for specific game mechanics they want in the game.110 And it provides a wide range of nerdy concepts – magic, fantasy, sci-fi, technology, etc. 111
There are already 5 years of the story planned out. 112
Co-Op Commanders (it may be called something else on release) will be a fully supported game mode present at launch, alongside Campaign, Custom Games, and Ranked play. 113
Unlike SC2’s 2-player Co-Op Commanders mode, Stormgate’s Co-Op will have 3 players. 114
Stormgate’s lower lethality allows for a wider range of different effects, playstyles, and commanders to be possible, unlike SC2’s where the main thing to care about is damage and whether you can one-shot an enemy force. Doesn’t matter if the enemy is stunned or not when you can just destroy their whole army in 3 seconds. Effects like debuffs (Stuns, Slows, Poison, etc) become more viable to include in this Co-Op by having a lower overall lethality as it gives enough time for these effects to be worth it. 115
Higher focus on combos and interaction between players’ commanders, top-bar powers, and compositions, unlike the more stand-alone design of SC2. 116
There will be more support and cooperative abilities than in SC2. 117
The progression in Co-Op will be significantly different from SC2. Being built from the ground up with an eye for long-term development support and high replayability value. They won’t be building one clunky progression system on top of another creating a Frankenstein progression system, similar to what they had to do with SC2’s development constraints. 118
There will be heroes in Co-Op Commanders, but not all commanders will feature an in-game hero unit. 119
Co-Op Commanders will have an itemization progression system, where you can change different items to get different effects, like getting a frost wand that makes your hero deal ice damage instead of fire damage. 120
They plan on eventually having leaderboards for Co-Op Commanders that let you compare yourself globally and with your friends. 121
Mutators that change missions will be present in Co-Op. 122
Forced cooperation sucks (like needing both you and an ally to stand on the objective together), as it can result in frustrating experiences where your ally doesn’t do the objective with you. As such, Stormgate’s Co-op will avoid implementing it. In its place, they want an “extreme bonus” philosophy, where you can get the objective just by yourself, but it goes 10x faster with an ally present as well. 123
As previously mentioned, the Co-Op mode will have an onboarding experience for new players, unlike SC2 where there was none, despite how many new players came in through Co-Op.
Custom Games & The Editor
On custom games, you can have up to 32 players + 32 observers. 124
The game editor will be implemented inside the game’s menu, rather than having a separate launcher. 125
The devs want to learn and take the best from WC3’s ease-of-use editor and SC2’s powerful, but difficult-to-use, editor.126 And it might have a Simple and Advanced mode. 127
There will be an open lobby list where you can see created custom games to join, and there’ll also be other methods of map discoverability. 128
They have 3 core pillars for the editor: The Terrain Editor (Create Melee Maps), the Script Editor (Create different game types), and the Data Editor (Allows you to create new units and abilities). These 3 should allow people to make the vast majority of maps that can already be made in SC2. 129
– They want to have visual/flowgraph scripting for the script editor to facilitate use. 130
– Data editing will be made much easier to use, especially on the Simple mode of the editor.131 And they want the editor and its hotkeys to mimic the game in some way to make it easier to get into the editor. It might have grids, for instance. 132
They’re trying to make the designers at FGS use the tools that will also be provided for modding. They weren’t there yet at the time of the interview but were getting closer to it.133 They want it to reach the point where players can open and look at the FGS-built maps and projects to see how they were built using the same tools that will be available to players. 134
– Doing this is really hard and requires a lot of work, which showcases their commitment to modding and custom games. 135
– The UI system is an exception, where they’re using the Unreal Engine 5 UI system to create Stormgate’s UI and modders won’t have said tools in the in-game editor. But they’re considering implementation with UE5 so players who create new UI-related modding on UE5 can import it to Stormgate, and are also considering to add a secondary modding tool just for UI. 136
The editor will likely be released in stages, starting with the terrain editor to create multiplayer maps and releasing more tools over time. 137
They have many ideas for editor tutorials. They may not have enough time and resources to build them. They’re also considering user-created tutorials. 138
– They found bite-sized tutorials to be the most effective, e.g teach people how to make a unit, then how do you make a turret, and so forth one piece at a time, instead of a complete “how to make a TD game”, as it makes learning less overwhelming. They’re also looking at “example maps” as an example of bite-sized teaching, where editors interact with a map that is just a standard rules map + a single change like a certain unit getting one new ability. 139
Steam Workshop integration isn’t completely out of the table, but it is unlikely to be implemented since their mods are expected to be multiplayer and for most maps and mods to be multiplayer, unlike Steam Workshop’s single player focus. It would also be limiting in case they branch out to more platforms other than Steam. 140
You’ll be able to use the editor for camera changes and manipulation.141 It could be used for creating cutscenes. 142
The plan for launch is to have a 1v1 ranked play circuit that is divided into 3 seasons over the year and for it to match with content releases (new heroes, maps, cosmetics, etc). 143
– The baseline format is Qualifiers -> Regular Season -> Playoffs -> Seasonal Championship. There'll also be an annual World Championship at the end. 144
The circuit will have a clear on-ramp to join each season, rather than a closed-off elite thing that needs the right connections to get into. 145
They want you to have a clear path to pro, and for players to know the exact next step in their journey to becoming a pro. 146
Besides the official pro circuit, they’re also going to allow 3rd party events, instead of banning non-official competitions. 147
Not only that, but they also plan to integrate community tournaments into the path to pro to make a cohesive esports system/circuit. 148
They want to integrate eSports more into the game client. There’ll be an in-game tournament system where players can set up tournaments to make it smoother and easier to run events without needing to go off-client to join tournaments or increase operation costs by needing more people to manage the event, while also increasing visibility by being in-game. 149
There will also be automatic tournaments like SC2’s. 150
A percentage of the revenue share of seasonal products will be fueled straight into esports. 151
There’ll be tournaments and esports programs in the closed beta. 152
They don’t plan to have 3v3 as its own official competitive ecosystem,153 but are open to expanding it depending on its popularity. 154
They want to provide deeper ways to interact with each game mode and are considering ways to do Co-Op Commanders competitions. But on launch, it’ll be focused on 1v1. 155
They’re looking to engage players of different levels in competition. 156
There will be out-of-game progression. SC2 had a limited out-of-game progression system that was very short, but they want Stormgate to have a more robust one, and for you to always earn some progression after each game, even after losses. 157
They’re planning on having achievements and campaign objectives that you can work towards, and earn meaningful rewards from. 158
No meta progression will make you more powerful in 1v1. 159
A Social RTS
They’ve mentioned multiple times, including on the Steam page, that they want to make this the first truly social RTS. But, besides knowing that they’ll have good Co-Op support (Co-Op vs AI and Co-Op Campaign), we don’t know what other social features will be in the game yet.
They have mentioned the importance of Discord in nowadays gaming sphere, and are considering integrating it into Stormgate. 160, 161
The game will be Free to Play. The first campaign chapter and the initial heroes for the Co-Op mode will be free. Money will be spent on Campaigns, Cosmetics (like unit skins), more Heroes/Commanders for Co-Op, and more. 162
1v1 and 3v3 Ranked will not have purchasable power. Players will be competing on an even playing field. 163
There’s a strong emphasis on a consistent and clear release schedule for content releases and seasons to provide players a clear point to come back into the game. 166, 167
We’ll have 3 seasons a year. Each will bring new content (such as Co-Op Heroes, Campaigns, Cosmetics, and more). 168
They want each campaign release to be substantial, rather than being too fragmented over many small releases, which could be underwhelming and frustrating. 169
Besides new units coming into the game, we might also see unit replacements (existing unit(s) rotating out of the faction's roster). 170
Balance changes are expected to come with each new season and give professional players time to adapt. 171, 172
They’re also open for emergency balance changes mid-season in case of emergencies or severe imbalance. 173
Patches and balance will prioritize the perception of balance and fun over raw win rate and will consider both top players and lower-level players. 174, 175
New competitive balance changes will have a testing phase, where you’ll be able to test the changes before they’re implemented to make sure they’re good enough and to prepare pro players for the next patch. 176
Frost Giant’s been releasing Concept Art here and there, which showcases environments and possible units for the Human Resistance and the Infernal Host. You can see some of the most important ones on the following links: Infernal Host Concept Art 1, 2, 3 and Human Resistance concept art 1, 2, 3, 4. We also had an illustration on a special mousepad Frost Giant sent to content creators, showcasing multiple Human characters and units. You can check it here.
One of the goals of the art style and graphics is the visibility and readability of units and the battlefield. They also want backgrounds to be more lit and brighter to improve readability. 177
The first closed test phase, dubbed pre-alpha, will start in July.178 It will feature only the Human Resistance and will be focused on 1v1.179 It will have an NDA and will not be streamable. 180
Only a small number of players will participate in the first test phase. Further testing phases will increase the number of players, and add more races, maps, and game modes over time. 181
Players will be invited from a variety of regions. 182
How Can I Get Into the Beta?
By being a lucky bastardBy signing up at playstormgate.com. Frost Giant may also host promotions and giveaways in the future to get invites. 183
How Can I Support Frost Giant?
The biggest factor right now is wishlisting it on Steam. It may seem useless at first, but wishlisting is a big deal because the more wishlisted a game is, the more the game will be showcased on Steam.
We’ve recently become the 95th most wishlisted game on Steam and got some extra concept art for it! Let’s get it higher boys! 184
Neuro’s first playtest had a low number of spellcaster units on the army roster.185 The devs also mentioned how they like to make units distinct without adding new active abilities since they can increase the complexity of the army and multiple spellcasters management, which might mean we’ll get fewer spellcasters per faction in Stormgate than in SC2/WC3. 186
Lancer: A tanky tier 1 melee unit with slightly longer reach than other melee units due to its long spear. It has the Lancer Shields upgrade to take less damage from highly-damaging attacks, similar to the SC2's Protoss Immortal. 187
Evac: The earliest flying unit of the Human Resistance. It has the ability to carry units. They won't have any other capabilities besides carrying units. 188
Vulcan: A tier 2 mech unit that deals damage in a line area and increases its damage the longer it shoots without moving. It needs a minisecond to charge up before it starts firing, and it has a jet pack ability that dashes in a line, stunning the first enemy hit. The jet pack ability does not reset the attack speed on their gun. 189
We have seen multiple other unit arts and screenshots (including Infernal ones), like those on the Concept Art subheading, but we have no confirmation on their mechanics.
Gameplay Footage Shown So Far
We’ve seen screenshots (like those at Steam), and two very short clips during Summer Games Fest 2022, but no full in-game footage yet.
This little Valentine’s clip showcases the Machine Factory building (with a Valentine’s skin) and a snippet of official music.
Big Names Behind Stormgate
Tim Campbell: The president of FGS, Stormgate’s Game Director, and one of Frost Giant’s Founders. He’s worked on Command & Conquer: Red Alert, Command & Conquer Generals, and was the campaign lead in Warcraft 3. He also worked on the early SC2 days.
Tim Morten: The production director for Stormgate and the other Frost Giant Studios founder. He worked as the production director and lead producer for Starcraft 2. He also worked as the Director of Product Development on Command & Conquer.
Kevin Dong: The Lead Co-Op Commanders designer, who was one of the main Co-Op designers in SC2 and worked at Team Liquid before that. He designed the last 4 commanders to be released for SC2, and is also part of the balance team.
James Anhalt: Chief architect for Stormgate. Another man with a legendary career – helped program battle.net during the early days and was the lead pathfinding engineer for SC2, he’s one of the main reasons SC2 is as smooth as it is.
Gerald Villoria: Communications director for FGS and dog dad (and dad dad) you’ll see responding to comments here on the Stormgate subreddit and giving the occasional cryptic teases. Worked at Blizzard for over 11 years, but didn’t hesitate to leave it behind to work for a team that is actually brimming with passion and art (Frost Giant).
Cara LaForge: Head of business operations, worked with the Blizzard eSports team, and is the mother to two of the most iconic RTS figures: Tasteless and Day9.
Ryan Schutter: Lead UI/UX Designer who’s the wizard behind the macro panel and automated hotkeys, as well as much of the modding and editor work. Before Frost Giant, Ryan worked on Starcraft 2 for 6 years as a lead UI designer. Before working for Blizzard, he made the GameHeart observer UI which was a mainstay of SC2 esports and replays.
Jesse Brophy: The Art Director for Stormgate and another Blizzard veteran, who’s worked for 13 years on it from 2007 to 2020. He was the lead artist on SC2 and would later become the principal artist. He has also worked on Heroes of the Storm and Diablo. You can see some of his work on his ArtStation page.
Micky Neilson: Stormgate’s Lead Narrative Designer who worked as Publishing Lead for Blizzard, managing books, comics, and short stories for the company. He has also worked as Story Lead for Hearthstone and has authored multiple comics and stories for Warcraft, Starcraft, Overwatch, and Diablo. He also wrote some of the unit lines in SC2 and WC3. His works “World of Warcraft: Ashbringer” and “World of Warcraft: Pearl of Pandaria” have both made it to the New York Times Bestsellers list.
Trevor Housten: The Senior Esports Manager you’ll often see answering esports-related questions on Frost Giant interview. He’s worked at Blizzard for 8 years on the esports division, and at esports-related jobs at GoMTV, IGN, and OGN before that. He’s behind much of the vision for Stormgate esports.
Tracy W. Bush: Do you love SC1 and Warcraft 3 music? Then you’ll be happy to hear that the same sound designer and composer that worked on those titles is also collaborating with Frost Giant to create new iconic RTS music. He has also worked on Warcraft 2, Diablo 2, and World of Warcraft.
… And a bunch of other awesome people that all deserve a giant post dedicated just to thank each of them for the amazing games and memories they’ve helped create, and the (probably) amazing game they’re currently working on.
Stormgate will have game replays.190 And it will have similar baseline functionalities as Wings of Liberty’s replay system had at launch – with features like speed up/down, pause, rewind, and more. 191
The game will have both all-rounder units (like the Marine, which is kind of good against everything) and hard counter units, with hard counters being particularly present against late game units. 192
There won’t be a limit to how many units you can have selected at once. 196
They want low-tier units to have roles or come back in the late game, much like Starcraft games. And one of the ways they’ll do this is by keeping a clear limit on units per faction. 197
And they're aiming for each race's army roster size to be on the shorter end, with fewer units per race than Starcraft 2 and closer to that of Starcraft 1 and Warcraft 3. One of the reasons for this decision is that they do not want too many units competing for the same role or niche. 198
Highest supply on a single unit will be 8-10 supply. 199
They want to have more post-game stats. SC2 had a few of these, like tracking your APM and supply blocked time on the post-match screen and telling you whether you’ve performed above average. Stormgate is planned to have an expanded version of this, with even more stats being tracked. 201
FGS was founded in 2020 and Stormgate has been in production since then. 202
The philosophy on camera zoom level is that they want it to be restricted since players can optimize the fun out of the game by using a high zoom out option that gives gameplay advantage but reduces the fun of the game by making it harder to tell what’s going on and making the art less pronounced. 203
Frost Giant is taking an inclusive methodology to game development, with consistent ongoing design discussions, where FGS proposes a topic to discuss about, and later gives their organized ideas on the topic. You can see the list of topics here. And the latest discussion as of this post is about progression. 206
The plan is to have just the Human Resistance campaign on the first public/open version of the game. 207
The primary, abundant resource is called Luminite, and the second, tech resource is called Therium. 208
Luminite can be mined by up to 12 workers at a time before harsh diminishing returns on each new worker collecting it, according to the official Stormgate PR fact sheet.
Diminishing returns on Luminite collection will be present even before full saturation. Even the 2nd worker will collect less than the 1st. 209
Therium will replenish and grow over time, creating strategic decisions of when to mine it and how much. Do you keep a low number of workers on it, so that it never runs out as it replenishes faster than you mine? Or do you oversaturate it and get a burst of Therium right now? 210
Therium, or at least some Therium locations, will spawn far from your base. 211
Therium deposits will be underneath the ground and require you to attack the blockage to release it, allowing it to start growing and spreading. The one exception is the first Therium deposit, which starts the game open and growing. 212
Workers take a long time to mine resources, so they spend more time collecting and less time moving. This also incentivizes long-distance minining Therium deposits as the Human Resistance. 213
The Human Resistance’s supply building, the Habitat, may have an upgrade that gives you a small amount of extra supply plus an extra benefit (which hasn’t been defined yet). 214
Creeps fit their philosophy of territory control, as they incentivize you to be out on the map and take map control. 216
There will be fewer creeps on the map than WC3 since creeps respawn. 217
When you defeat a creep camp, they’ll give you resources (Luminite/Therium), a buff to all the units you own (that don’t change unit interactions and play patterns such as increasing the armor of your units, but rather something outside of combat like faster construction speed),218 or a temporary structure on the map that any player can capture for a benefit, like vision, similar to SC2’s Xel Naga towers or a WC3 Health Fountain. Temporary structures will last until the creeps respawn. 219
Buffs from creeps will be specific, like having worker training speed increase, instead of increasing the training speed of all of your units. 220
The creep rewards are pre-determined, not random. 221
There will be trees that only small units can pass through called light forests. 222
There won’t be heroes in 1v1, but they’ll be in Co-Op Commanders, the 3v3 Ranked Play mode, and the campaign. 223
They’re aiming to have units and abilities that are based on attacking and movement, rather than focused on active abilities. 224
Air Units will have an ability called Return to Hangar, which gives the unit a speed up and makes it move towards the closest Hangar Bay (the air production building). 225
Each race will start with a basic scouting unit. Each race’s scout unit will be different. They’ll be trainable too. 226
Humans are designed to be an approachable faction to people already familiar with RTS with easy-to-understand mechanics and units.227 Each gradual faction will have more different ideas. 228
As the resistance of an oncoming invasion, Humans will have a defensive bent and have defensive modes on units. They also have very specialized units with specific roles. 229
Humans construct their buildings by 3d printing them. 230
Infernals do not care about individual lives and will have mechanics that benefit or incentivize killing your own units. 231
Infernals will have a “map-encroaching” mechanic called the Demon Shroud. 232
Confirmation that Infernals will have an alternative playstyle that is low on unit numbers with more elite units besides its primary swarm-y playstyle. 233
B.O.B: The Human worker. Besides gathering resources and constructing buildings, it can also repair mechanical units and has a special ability that empowers its fighting capabilities. Unique among the factions, Humans can speed up the construction of their buildings by devoting more workers to it, decreasing the time it takes to finish for each B.O.B working on it. 234
S.C.O.U.T: The Human Resistance starter scout unit. It is a cyborg dog with a very weak attack. It has a scouting ability that lets you detect if there are any enemies just outside of its vision range (similar to SC2’s Sensor Tower). You can activate this ability to extend its vision range to be the same as the detection range. It can also be made into a combat unit with upgrades against specific armor types. 235
Exo: A generalist ranged unit wielding a rifle with a similar appearance to the StarCraft Marine. It has the Double Time ability upgrade. While Double Time is active, Exo units fire two shots instead of one and have increased movement speed. 236
Medtech: A spellcaster unit that gradually unlocks new abilities with upgrades. Its base ability lets you heal biological units and give them extra armor. The second ability nanoswarm will create an area around the targeted unit. If the target is an ally, the swarm will heal friendly mechanical units. If the target is an enemy, it will damage all enemy units in its area. The final ability will be an area of effect dispel that removes positive buffs from enemies, and debuffs from allies. 237
Hedgehog: A jeep that quickly fires missiles and needs to spend time reloading its ammo. 238
They plan on testing Co-Op Commanders in a testing phase later this year according to the email “The Stormgate Hot Summer Newsletter”.
We’ll get to see the Infernals in the beta later this year. 239
Stormgate’s development team size is roughly 50 full-time employees and 20 contractors, which is similar to the early SC2 development days. 240
Update 2 (June 17th, 2023) - Reddit Developer AMA
Attack & Armor Systems
The attack/armor system will have Tags like that of SC2 (like a unit having the “tag” Light or Armored, Biological or Mechanical, etc) and units having extra damage against specific tags. They will NOT be like WC3’s different types of Attack and Armor, where each attack type deals a different percentage of damage based on the attacked unit’s armor type. 241
– In SC2, units rarely have a damage bonus against more than one tag. In Stormgate, there'll be more cases of a unit that has extra damage against multiple different types. 242
Armor will be % based like WC3, rather than a static number like SC2 (e.g Reducing 30% of all incoming damage instead of reducing 2 damage from all instances of damage in SC2). 243
– 1 Armor will equal 1% effective HP, and 100 armor will mean double the effective HP of a unit. 244
– Some specific units may have the static damage reduction of SC2. 245
The game currently has weapon/armor upgrades that do nothing but increase the Attack Damage/Armor of units (just like SC2 and WC3 has), but they might remove it. 248
Ping & Latency
Server algorithms will try to choose a server that puts both players at a similar ping instead of a server whose ping favors one player over another. 249
Servers will be flexible. By using the Hathora platform, and will spin up new servers as demand increases, or close existing ones as demand falls. This should happen in seconds, and prevent server issues like a quick influx of players due to a big event. 250
The Co-Op Campaign can be played as 2 players, not just 1 or 3. 251
There will be easter eggs and hidden goodies in the campaign, much like WC3's campaign. 252
Maps have an attribute system that allows changes to be made to the game, and they’re interested in eventually implementing StarCraft 2’s mod system that can greatly change the rules of created maps. 254
The tone and maturity level of the story will be similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 255
There are multiple Human Resistance groups scattered on Earth. The main one players will play as will be called the Human Vanguard. 256
The upcoming beta will occur in multiple isolated playtests that last for a definite amount of time before the next playtest session. 257
Creep camps have different difficulty levels, like Warcraft 3’s green/brown/red creep camps. 258
UI & Visuals
The UI will have some level of customization, such as changing the minimap location to be on the bottom right or bottom left, but there are no plans for deep UI customization. 259
There will be static unit portraits, but we probably won’t have animated 3d portraits (such as those in SC2 and WC3) on launch. 260
Unit skins are being made with color-based visibility in mind so that the unit’s primary and secondary colors are always present in the same area as the original unit. 261
The supply cap will be 300, as opposed to SC2's 200 supply cap and WC3's 100. 262
Stormgate armies composed of high-tier units will have a similar size to Starcraft 2’s, but armies composed of lower-tier units will be larger. 263
Factions won’t have the same number of different units in their army roster. And the devs like Starcraft 1 and Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty’s number of units per faction. 264
Camera locations like Starcraft 2’s are in the game, so you can set a specific key to always redirect your camera to a designated location on the map. 265
When an air transport unit carrying other units dies, the units inside also die. This might change in the future. 266
There is currently no automated base building, worker training, or army training. 267